THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
January 23, 2018
BY PRESS SECRETARY SARAH SANDERS, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR GENERAL H.R. MCMASTER, AND NEC DIRECTOR GARY COHN
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
3:47 P.M. EST
Q : One for the General also. General McMaster, there have been reports in the news recently that leaders -- authoritarian leaders in other countries, particularly in Southeast Asia, are using one of the President's favorite phrases, "fake news," to describe reporting that is not flattering and it reflects poorly on their country, and reports inconvenient truths.
And President Trump has made a point of not publicly talking about things like human rights and freedom of speech, freedom of expression. Is he concerned at all, or are you concerned that the President's rhetoric, combined with his silence on these issues, is creating a climate where authoritarian leaders feel they have free rein to do what they want, and the United States will not speak up publicly?
GENERAL MCMASTER: Well, it's just not true. It's just not accurate that the President hasn’t spoken loudly, both in words and in deeds, against those who violate human rights. So I would ask you to go to his speech that he delivered in Warsaw, where he talked about the importance of individual rights and rule of law.
I would say, go to his speech in Riyadh, where he said all nations of the world have to come together to defeat this wicked ideology that perpetuates terrorism.
I would say, look at his U.N. General Assembly speech where he defined sovereignty as strong, sovereign nations who respect the sovereignty of their citizens and the sovereignty of their neighbors.
Look at his deeds -- look at his deeds in confronting the most brutal dictatorial regime in the world, North Korea. How could that not be a human rights issue?
How about in Syria, when the Syrian regime committed mass murder of its own people, with the most heinous weapons on Earth. What did the President do? He struck against that regime's ability to deliver those weapons. How is that not human rights?
Look at the Cuba policy, when the previous policy had done nothing but strengthen the grip of that authoritarian regime. There's a new Cuba policy, which now tries to encourage a more pluralistic economy and different power centers within Cuba that can then better protect the rights of the Cuban people.
Look at what the President has said and done on Venezuela. The list goes on. So this premise -- I mean, this false premise that the President hasn’t spoken on human rights, it's demonstrably false in words but also in deeds.
Thanks for that question.