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Politics

Watch: White House addresses press after canceling previous briefing

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Press secretary Sarah Sanders is scheduled to address reporters on Thursday, stepping into a whirlwind of news about the White House's trade policy, gun control stance, security clearance revisions and high-level staff departures.

Unanswered questions piled up on Wednesday after Sanders canceled the press briefing at the last minute, instead inviting reporters to monitor a freewheeling discussion on gun control with President Donald Trump and a group of lawmakers an hour later.

Trump's close aide, Hope Hicks, on Wednesday announced plans to resign as White House communications director. Hicks, who had worked with Trump since before he announced his candidacy for president, became entangled in a number of scandals that thrust her into the national spotlight she had long avoided.

Earlier this week, Hicks reportedly told House Intelligence Committee members in closed testimony that she had to tell "white lies" as part of her job in the White House — an admission that incensed the president, multiple outlets reported.

Though the New York Times said Hicks' hearing did not affect her decision to resign, the testimony added additional baggage to the top-level staffer, who had been weighed down for weeks by her role in the ouster of former staff secretary Rob Porter.

Porter resigned in February after UK tabloid The Daily Mail published allegations of physical abuse from his former wives. An assistant to Chief of Staff John Kelly, Porter reviewed all documents before they passed Trump's Oval Office desk, and had been operating under a temporary security clearance for more than a year.

The White House said Porter's permanent clearance to view top-secret information was withheld pending a never-completed internal investigation. The FBI, however, said it sent a completed report on Porter to the White House in July, and followed up on the report in November per a White House request.

Hicks had reportedly begun dating Porter shortly before the accusations surfaced, and CNN reported she may have helped draft his initial statement denying the allegations.

As one of Trump's most loyal allies prepares to depart the White House, the president launched another salvo against his own attorney general, Jeff Sessions. In a tweet, he called Sessions' decision to hand his Obama-appointed inspector general control in reviewing potential FBI surveillance abuses "disgraceful."

The Washington Post reported Wednesday that Trump has reportedly taken to calling Sessions "Mr. Magoo," a reference to the elderly, myopic and oblivious cartoon character. Trump and Sessions are both 71 years old.

During the Wednesday meeting on school safety and gun control, Trump listened to a bevy of proposals from a bipartisan group of 17 senators and U.S. representatives. He signaled a desire to pass a comprehensive gun control bill, and posited to his vice president that potentially dangerous people should have their weapons confiscated before law enforcement officers obtain warrants. He also reinforced his position on arming "firearms adept" teachers with guns as a deterrent to mass shooters.

On Thursday, Trump imposed heavy tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum imports, after the White House vacillated on whether or not the announcement would actually be made.

During the previous briefing on Tuesday, the White House said it is "still hopeful that something happens" by next week on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protects hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought to the U.S. as children from being deported. Trump previously set a deadline for Mar. 5, which appeared to fall out of reach after four separate immigration reform bills failed in the Senate on Feb. 15.

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