On Thursday February 16, 2017, President Trump announced his new nominee for labor secretary, Alexander Acosta, during a news conference at the White House. Following is the transcript of that event, as prepared by the Federal News Service.
Hailing from New York, being a proud American, flag-waver, a believer in justice and liberty, nationalist, Christian, patriot and, wanting America to become even better – I applauded Donald Trump and his recent speech. President Trump has delivered to the USA in his first month in office. In fact, I would give him an A+ for his first month!
I also am so pleased, President Donald Trump labeled CNN ‘very fake news’ as he took a question from its White House correspondent Jim Acosta (Senior White House Correspondent for CNN.) The exchange was at a press conference where he railed against media coverage of his administration, and like many Americans and patriots, I think CNN and many other news networks must get behind our recently elected President and give him a chance. Both Trump and America deserves it! I also agree, CNN especially must improve their ‘tone’ when reporting on America or President Trump.
BUT, looking at President Trump’s vast workload and results over the past month – I am sure some very big things are going to transform America back to its best. e.g. Withdrew the United States from the Trans Pacific Partnership, ‘greenlit’ construction on the wall along the U.S. border with Mexico, reversed a planned cut on mortgage insurance for many first-time homebuyers, ordered executive branch agencies to begin repealing the Affordable Care Act, met and spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signaling that a promise to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem won’t be fulfilled immediately and many more PRO AMERICAN efforts!
Watch the Full Video: President Trump Holds Press Conference https://nyti.ms/2lbVzlL
Following is the full Transcript from President Trumps speech:
I just wanted to begin by mentioning that the nominee for secretary of the Department of Labor will be Mr. Alex Acosta. He has a law degree from Harvard Law School, great student, former clerk for Justice Samuel Alito, and he has had a tremendous career. He’s a member and has been a member of the National Labor Relations Board, and he’s been through Senate confirmation three times, confirmed, did very, very well. And so Alex, I wished him the best. We just spoke, and he’s going to be a tremendous secretary of Labor. And, also, as you probably heard just a little while ago, Mick Mulvaney, former congressman, has just been approved, weeks late. I have to say that, weeks, weeks late, Office of Management and Budget, and he will be, I think, a fantastic addition. Paul Singer just left. As you know, he was very much involved with the anti-Trump or as they say, Never Trump, and Paul left and gave us total support. It’s all about unification. We’re unifying the party and hopefully we’ll unify the country. It’s very important to me. I’ve been talking about that for a long time, but it’s very, very important to me. I thank Paul for being here, coming up to the office, he was very strong opponent, and now he’s a very strong ally, and I appreciate that. I think I’ll say a few words and take some questions.
I had this time, we’ve been negotiating a lot of different transactions to save money on contracts that were terrible, including airplane contracts that were out of control and late and terrible. Just absolutely catastrophic in terms of what was happening. And we’ve done some really good work and we’re proud of that. Right after that, you prepare yourselves for questions, unless you have no questions, that’s always a responsibility. I’m here today to update the American people on the incredible progress that has been made in the last four weeks since my inauguration.
We have made incredible progress. I don’t think there’s ever been a president elected who in this short period of time has done what we’ve done.
A new Rasmussen poll, in fact, because the people get it, much of the media doesn’t get it, they actually get it but they don’t write it, let’s put it that way, but a new Rasmussen poll came out a short while ago, and it has our approval rating at 55 percent and going up.
The stock market has hit record numbers, as you know, and there’s been a tremendous surge of optimism in the business world, which means something different than it used to. Now it means it’s good for jobs. Very different. Plants and factories are already starting to move back into the United States, big league, Ford, General Motors. I’m making this presentation directly to the American people with the media present, which, it’s an honor to have you this morning because many of our nation’s reporters and folks will not tell you the truth and will not treat the wonderful people of our country with the respect that they deserve. And I hope going forward we can be a little bit different, and maybe get along a little bit better, if that’s possible. Maybe it’s not and that’s OK too. Unfortunately, much of the media in Washington, DC, along with New York, Los Angeles, in particular, speaks not for the people, but for the special interests and for those profiting off a very, very obviously broken system.
The press has become so dishonest that if we don’t talk about it, we are doing a tremendous disservice to the American people. Tremendous disservice. We have to talk about it. We have to find out what’s going on because the press, honestly, is out of control. The level of dishonesty is out of control. I ran for president to represent the citizens of our country. I am here to change the broken system so it serves their families and their communities well. I am talking, and really talking, on this very entrenched power structure and what we’re doing is we’re talking about the power structure. We’re talking about its entrenchment. As a result, the media’s going through what they have to go through to oftentimes distort — not all the time — and some of the media’s fantastic, I have to say, honest and fantastic — but much of it is not. The distortion, and we’ll talk about it, you’ll be able to ask me questions about it. We’re not going to let it happen because I’m here, again, to take my message straight to the people.
As you know, our administration inherited many problems across government and across the economy. To be honest, I inherited a mess. A mess. At home, and abroad. A mess. Jobs are pouring out of the country. You see what’s going on with all of the companies leaving our country, going to Mexico and other places. Low pay, low wages.
Mass instability overseas, no matter where you look. The Middle East, a disaster. North Korea, we’ll take care of it, folks. We’re going to take care of it all. I just want to let you know. I inherited a mess. Beginning on day one, our administration went to work to tackle these challenges. On foreign affairs, we’ve begun enormously productive talks with foreign leaders, much of which you’ve covered, to move forward to security, stability and peace in the most troubled regions of the world, which there are many.
We’ve had great conversations with the United Kingdom and meetings, Israel, Mexico, Japan, China and Canada. Really, really productive conversations. I would say far more productive than you would understand. We’ve even developed a new council with Canada to promote women’s business leaders and entrepreneurs. Very important to me. Very important to my daughter, Ivanka.
I have directed our defense community headed by our great general, now Secretary Mattis, he’s over there now working very hard, to submit a plan for the defeat of ISIS, a group that celebrates murder and torture of innocent people in large sections of the world. Used to be a small group. Now it’s in large sections of the world. They’ve spread like cancer. ISIS has spread like cancer.
Another mess I inherited. We have imposed new sanctions on the nation of Iran, who has totally taken advantage of our previous administration. And they are the world’s top sponsor of terrorism. And we’re not going to stop until that problem is properly solved, and it’s not now. It’s one of the worst agreements I’ve ever seen drawn by anybody. I’ve ordered plans to begin for the massive rebuilding of the United States military.
I’ve had great support from the Senate. I’ve had great support from Congress, generally. We’ve pursued this rebuilding in the hopes that we will never have to use this military. I will tell you, that is my — I would be so happy if we never had to use it, but our country will never have had a military like the military we’re about to build and rebuild. We have the greatest people on earth in our military.
They don’t have the right equipment, and their equipment is old. I used it. I talked about it. At every stop. Depleted. It’s depleted. It won’t be depleted for long. One of the reasons I’m standing here instead of other people is, frankly, I talked about we have to have a strong military. We have to have strong law enforcement also.
So we do not go abroad in the search of war. We really are searching for peace. It’s peace through strength. At home, we have begun the monumental task of returning the government to the people to a scale not seen in many, many years. In each of these actions, I’m keeping my promises to the American people. These are campaign promises. Some people are so surprised that we are having strong borders. Well that’s what I’ve been talking about for a year and a half, strong borders. They are so surprised. Oh, he is having strong borders. Well, that’s what I’ve been talking about to the press and everybody else.
One promise after another after years of politicians lying to you to get elected. They lied to the American people In order to get elected. Some of the things I’m doing probably aren’t popular, but they’re necessary for security and or other reasons. And then coming to Washington and pursuing their own interests, which is more important to many politicians.
I’m here following through on what I pledged to do. That’s all I’m doing. I put it out before the American people, got 306 electoral college votes. I wasn’t supposed to get 222. They said there’s no way to get 222. 230 is impossible. 270, which you need — that was laughable. We got 306. Because people came out and voted like they have never seen before. So that’s how it goes. I guess it was the biggest electoral college win since Ronald Reagan. In other words, the media is trying to attack our administration because they know we are following through on pledges that we made, and they are not happy about it for whatever reason. And, but a lot of people are happy about it. In fact, I’ll be in Melbourne, Florida, at 5 on Saturday, and I heard, just heard the crowds are massive that want to be there. I turn on the TV, open the newspaper and I see stories of chaos. Chaos. Yet it is the exact opposite.
This administration is running like a fine-tuned machine. Despite the fact that I can’t get my Cabinet approved. They are outstanding people. Like Senator Dan Coats, who is there, one of the most respected men in the Senate. He can’t get approved. How do you not approve him? He’s been a colleague, highly respected, brilliant guy, great guy, everybody knows it, but were waiting for approval.
So we have a wonderful group of people that’s working very hard, that’s being very much misrepresented about, and we can’t let that happen.
So if the Democrats. all you have to do is look where they are right now. The only thing they can do is delay because they screwed things up royally. Believe me. Let me list things we’ve done in just a short period of time.
Just got here. I got here with no Cabinet. Again, each of the actions is a promise I made to the American people, going over just some of them. We have a lot in the next week and weeks coming. We have withdrawn from the job killing disaster known as Trans-Pacific Partnership. We’re going to have trade deals but we’re going to have one-on-one deals, bilateral. One-on-one deals.
We directed the elimination of regulations that undermine manufacturing and called for expedited approval of the permits needed for America and American infrastructure, meaning plants, equipment, roads, bridges, factories. People take 10, 15, 20 years to get disapproved for a factory. They go in for a permit, it’s many, many years, and at the end of the process, they spend tens of millions of dollars on nonsense, and at the end of the process, they are rejected. They may be rejected with me, but it’s going to be a quick rejection. Not going to take years, but, mostly, it’s acceptance. We want plants and factories built. We want the jobs. We don’t want the jobs going to other countries.
We’ve imposed a hiring freeze on nonessential federal workers. We’ve imposed a temporary moratorium and new federal regulations. We issued a game-changing new rule that says for each one new regulation, two old regulations must be eliminated. Makes sense. Nobody’s ever seen regulations like we have.
You go to other countries, and you look at industries they have, and you say, let me see your regulations. They are a fraction, just a tiny fraction of what we have. I want regulations because I want safety. I want environmental, all environmental situations to be taken properly care of. It’s very important to me. You don’t need four or five or six regulations to take care of the same thing.
We’ve stood up for the men and women of law enforcement, directing federal agencies to ensure they are protected from crimes of violence. We’ve directed the creation of a task force for reducing violent crime in America, including the horrendous situation — take a look at Chicago and others — taking place right now in our inner cities. Horrible. We’ve ordered the Department of Homeland Security and Justice to coordinate on a plan to destroy criminal cartels coming into the United States with drugs. We’re becoming a drug-infested nation. Drugs are becoming cheaper than candy bars. We’re not going to let it happen any longer. We’ve undertaken the most substantial border security measures in a generation to keep our nation and our tax dollars safe and are now in the process of beginning to build a promised wall on the southern border.
[I] met with general, now Secretary Kelly, yesterday, and we’re starting that process. And the wall is going to be a great wall, and it’s going to be a wall negotiated by me. The price is going to come down, just like on everything else I’ve negotiated for the government. And we’re going to have a wall that works. We’re not going to have a wall like they have now that is either nonexistent or a joke. We ordered a crackdown on sanctuary cities that refuse to comply with federal law and that harbor criminal aliens, and we’ve ordered an end to the policy of catch and release on the border. No more release. No matter who you are.
We’ve begun a nationwide effort to remove criminal aliens, gang members, drug dealers, and others who pose a threat to public safety. We are saving American lives every single day. Court system has not made it easy for us. And we’ve even created a new office in Homeland Security dedicated to the forgotten American victims of illegal immigrant violence, which there are many. We’ve taken decisive action to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of our country. Though parts of our necessary and constitutional actions were blocked by judges, in my opinion, incorrect, an unsafe ruling.
Our administration is working night and day to keep you safe — including reporters — and is vigorously defending this lawful order. I will not back down from defending our country. I got elected on defending our country. I keep my campaign promises, and our citizens will be very happy when they see the result, they already are. I can tell you that. Extreme vetting will be put in place, and it already is in place in many places. In fact, we had to go quicker than we thought because of the bad decision we received from a circuit that has been overturned at a record number. I’ve heard 80 percent, I find that hard believe. That’s just a number I heard, that they are overturned 80 percent of the time. I think that circuit is — that circuit in chaos and that circuit is frankly in turmoil.
But we are appealing that and we are going further. We’re issuing a new executive action next week that will comprehensively protect our country, so we’ll be going along the one path and hopefully winning that. At the same time we will be issuing a new and very comprehensive order to protect our people and that’ll be done sometime next week in the beginning or middle at the latest part.
We’ve also taken steps to begin construction of the Keystone pipeline and Dakota Access pipelines, thousands and thousands of jobs, and put new buy American measures in place to require American steel for American pipelines. In other words, they build a pipeline in this country and we use the powers of the government to make that pipeline happen, we want them to use American steel. And they are willing to do that, but nobody ever asked before I came along. Even this order was drawn, and they didn’t say that and I’m reading the order and I say why aren’t we using American steel? They said, that’s a good idea. We put it in.
To drain the swamp of corruption in Washington D.C., I’ve started by imposing a five-year lobbying ban on White House officials, and a lifetime ban on lobbying for a foreign government.
We’ve begun preparing to repeal and replace Obamacare. Obamacare is a disaster, folks. It’s a disaster. You can say, oh, Obamacare. They fill up our alleys with people that you wonder how they get there, but they’re not the republican people that our representatives are representing. So, we’ve begun preparing to repeal and replace Obamacare and are deep in the midst of negotiations on a very historic tax reform to bring our jobs back. Bring our jobs back to this country, big league.
It’s already happening. Big league.
I’ve also worked to install a Cabinet over the delays and obstruction of Senate Democrats. You’ve seen what they’ve done over the last long number of years. That will be one of the great cabinets ever assembled in American history. You look at Rex Tillerson. He’s out there negotiating right now. General Mattis I mentioned before. General Kelly. We have great, great people, makers with us now. We have great people. Among their responsibilities will be ending the bleeding of jobs from our country and negotiating fair trade deals for our citizens.
Now look, fair trade. Not free. Fair. If a country is taking advantage of us, we’re not going to let that happen anymore. You know, every country takes advantage of us, almost. I may be able to find a couple that don’t, but for the most part, that would be a tough job for me to do. Jobs have already started to surge. Since my election, Ford announced it will abandon its plans to build a new factory in Mexico, and will instead invest $700 million in Michigan, creating many, many jobs. Fiat Chrysler announced it will invest $1 billion in Ohio and Michigan creating 2,000 new american jobs. They were with me a week ago. You know, you were here. General Motors likewise committed to invest billions of dollars in its American manufacturing operation, keeping many jobs here that were going to leave, and if I didn’t get elected, believe me, they would have left, and these jobs, these things that I’m announcing would never have come here.
Intel just announced that it will move ahead with a new plant in Arizona that probably was never going to move ahead with. And that will result in at least 10,000 American jobs. Wal-mart announced it will create 10,000 jobs in the United States just this year because of our various plans and initiatives. They’ll be many, many more, many more. These are a few that we’re naming. Other countries have been taken advantage of us for decades, decades, and decades and decades, folks, and we’re not going to let that happen anymore. Not going to let it happen.
And one more thing, I have kept my promise to the American people by nominating a justice of the United States Supreme Court, Judge Neil Gorsuch, from my list of 20, and who will be a true defender of our laws and our constitution. Highly respected. Should get the vote from the Democrats. You may not see that, but he’ll get there one way or another. He should get there the old fashioned way, and he should get those votes. This last month has represented an unprecedented degree of action on behalf of the great citizens of our country. Again, I say it, there’s never been a presidency that’s done so much in such a short period of time, and we haven’t even started the big work that starts early next week. Some very big things are going to be announced next week. So we’re just getting started. We will be giving a speech as I said in Melbourne, Florida, at 5 p.m., I hope to see you there. And with that, I just say God bless America, and let’s take some questions.
Mara? Mara, go ahead, you were cut off pretty violently at our last news conference.
Reporter: [ inaudible ]
Mike Flynn is a wonderful person, and I asked for resignation, he respectfully gave it. He is a man who there was a certain amount of information given to Vice President Pence, who’s with us today, and I was not happy with the way that information was given. He didn’t have to do that because what he did wasn’t wrong. What he did in terms of the information he saw. What was wrong was the way that other people, including yourselves, in this room, were given that information. Because that was classified information that was given illegally. That’s the real problem.
You know, you can talk all you want about Russia, which was all, you know, “fake news” fabricated deal to try to make up for the loss of the Democrats and the press plays right into it. In fact, I saw a couple of the people supposedly involved with all of this. They know nothing about it, never in Russia, never made a phone call, never received a phone call. It’s all fake news. It’s all fake news.
The nice thing is I see it starting to turn where people are now looking at the illegal — I think it’s very important — the illegal giving out classified information, and let me just tell you, it was given out so much.
For example, I called, as you know, Mexico. It was a very confidential classified call, but I called Mexico, and in calling Mexico, I figured, oh, well that’s nice, I spoke to the president of Mexico, had a good call, all the sudden it’s out there for the world to see. It was supposed to be secret.
Supposed to be either confidential or classified in that case, same thing with Australia. All of the sudden, people are finding out exactly what took place. The same thing happened with respect to General Flynn. Everybody saw this.
And I’m saying, the first thing I thought of when I heard about it, is how does the press get this information that’s classified? How do they do it? You know why? Because it’s an illegal process, and the press should be ashamed of themselves, but more importantly, the people that gave out information to the press should be ashamed of themselves. Really a shame.
Trump: Yes, go ahead.
Reporter: Why did you keep your vice president in the dark for almost two weeks?
Trump: Because when I looked at the information, I said, I don’t think he did anything wrong. If anything, he did something right. He was coming into office, looked at the information, and he said, “huh, that’s fine.” That’s what they are supposed to do.
They are supposed to be — he just didn’t call Russia, he called, and spoke to both ways, I think, there were 30-some odd countries, just doing his job. You know, he was just doing his job.
The thing is he didn’t tell our vice president properly, and then he said he didn’t remember, so either way, it wasn’t very satisfactory to me. And I have somebody that I think will be outstanding for the position, and that also helps, I think, in the making of my decision, but he didn’t tell the vice president of the United States the facts, and then he didn’t remember, and that just wasn’t acceptable to me. Yes?
Reporter: Since you brought up Russia, I’m looking for some clarification here. During the campaign, did anyone from your team communicate with members of the Russian government or Russian intelligence, and if so, what was the nature of the conversations?
Trump: Well, the failing New York Times wrote a big long front page story yesterday, and it was very much discredited, as you know. It was— it’s a joke. The people mentioned in the story, I noticed they were on television today saying they never even spoke to Russia.
They weren’t even a part, really, I mean, there was such a minor part. I had not spoken to them—I think the one person, I don’t think I’ve ever spoken to him or ever met him, and he actually said he was a very low level member of, I think, committee for a short period of time. I don’t think I ever met him.
Now it’s possible I walked into a room and he was sitting there, but I never met him, I never talked to him ever, and he thought it was a joke. The other person said he never spoke to Russia, never received a call, looked at his phone records, et cetera, et cetera, and the other person people knew that he represented various countries, but I don’t think he represented Russia, but represented various countries. That’s what he does. People know that. That’s Mr. Manafort, by the way, a respected man, a respected man, but I think he represented the Ukraine or Ukraine government or somebody, but everybody knew that. Everybody knew that. So these people… and he said that he has absolutely nothing to do and never has with Russia. He said that very forcefully. I saw his statement. He said it forcefully. Most of the papers do not print it because it’s not good for their stories.
So the three people they talked about all totally deny it, and I can tell you, speaking for myself, I own nothing in Russia. I have no loans in Russia. I don’t have any deals in Russia.
President Putin called me up nicely to congratulate me on the win of the election. He called me up extremely nicely to congratulate me on the inauguration, which was terrific, but so did almost all other leaders from almost all other countries.
That’s the exception. Russia is fake news. Russia — this is fake news put out by the media. The real news is the fact that there are people probably from the Obama administration because they are there. We have new people going in place right now, as you know, Mike Pompeo is now taking control of the CIA, James Comey at the FBI, Dan Coates is waiting to be approved. I mean, he’s a senator, a highly respected one, and he’s still waiting to be approved. But our new people are going in.
Just while you’re at it, because you mentioned this, the Wall Street Journal did a story today that was almost as disgraceful as the failing New York Times story yesterday. And it talked about — you saw it, front page — so director of national intelligence just put out, acting, a statement, any suggestion that the United States intelligence community — this was just given to us — is withholding information and not providing the best possible intelligence to the president and his national security team is not true.
So they took this front page story out of the Wall Street Journal top, and they just wrote the story, but it’s not true.
I’ll tell you something. I’ll be honest. I sort of enjoy this back and forth, and I guess I have all my life, but never seen more dishonest media than frankly the political media. I thought the financial media was much better and more honest, but I will say that I never get phone calls from the media.
How do they write a story like that in the Wall Street Journal without asking me or how do they write a story in the New York Times put it on the front page. That was the story they wrote about the women and me, front page, big massive story. And It was nasty. And then they called, they said, we never said that. We like Mr. Trump. They called up my office. We like Mr. Trump. We never said that.
And it was totally — they totally misrepresented those very wonderful women. I have to tell you. Totally misrepresented. I said, give us a retraction. They never gave us a retraction, and, frankly, I then went on to other things.
Okay. Go ahead.
Reporter: Mr. President, you said today that you have biggest electoral margins since Reagan with 350 electoral votes, and, in fact, president Obama got 365 — [Trump mumbles in response] why should America — [ Trump tries to protest in response] why should America trust you when you accuse the — [ inaudible ]
Trump: Actually, I’ve seen that information around. It was a substantial difference, do you agree with that?
Reporter: You’re the president.
Trump: Okay. [laughing]
Reporter: Can you tell us, can you determine that General Flynn never wronged you? What evidence — did you ask your transcripts [inaudible] you said you’d aggressively pursue [inaudible]
Trump: We are.
Reporter: [inaudible] review of the intelligence community — what can you tell us?
Trump: First of all, about that. We now have Dan Coates, hopefully soon, Mike Pompeo, and James Comey, and they are in position, so I hope that we’ll be able to straighten that out without using anybody else. The gentleman you mentioned is a very talented man, a very successful man, and he’s offered his services, and you know, it’s something we may take advantage of, but I don’t think we’ll need that at all because of the fact that, you know, I think that we’re going to be able to straighten it out easily on its own.
As far as the general is concerned, when I first heard about it, I said, huh, that doesn’t sound wrong. My counsel came, Don McGahn, White House Counsel, and he told me, and I asked him, and he can speak very well for himself. He said he doesn’t think anything is wrong. You know, really didn’t think — really what happened after that — but he didn’t think anything was done wrong. I didn’t either, because I waited a period of time and thought about it. Well, I said I don’t see, to me, he was doing the job.
The information was provided by, who I don’t know, Sally Yates, and I was a little surprised because I said, “Doesn’t sound like he did anything wrong there,” but he did something wrong with respect to the Vice President, and I thought it was not acceptable as far as, as far as, the actual making the call. In fact, I’ve watched various programs, and I’ve read various articles where he was just doing his job. That was very normal.
You know, first everybody got excited because they thought he did something wrong. After they thought about it, it turned out he was just doing his job. So, and I do — and, by the way, with all of that being said, I do think he’s a fine man. Yes, john?
Reporter: What will you do on the leaks? You have said twice today [inaudible]
Trump: I’ve actually called the Justice Department to look into the leaks. Those are criminal leaks.
They’re put out by people either in agencies you’ll see it stopping because now we have our people in. You know, again, we don’t have our people in because we can’t them approved by the Senate. We just had Jeff Sessions approved and just as an example. So, we are looking into that very seriously. It’s a criminal act.
You know what I say, when I was called out on Mexico, I was shocked. Cause all this equipment, all this incredible phone equipment. When I was called out on Mexico, I was, honestly, I was really, really surprised.
But I said, you know, it doesn’t make sense. That won’t happen. But that wasn’t that important to call. It was fine. I could show it to the world, and he could show it to the world, the president, who is a very fine man, by the way, same thing with Australia.
I said, that’s terrible that it was leaked, but it was not that important. But then I said to myself, what happens when I’m dealing with the problem of North Korea? What happens when I’m dealing with the problems in the Middle East? Are you folks going to be reporting all of that very, very confidential information? Very important, very, you know, I mean, at the highest level, are you going to be reporting about that too?
So I don’t want classified information getting out to the public. In a way, that was almost a test, so I’m dealing with Mexico, I’m dealing with Argentina. We were dealing with this case on Mike Flynn, all the information gets put into the Washington Post and gets put into the New York Times, and I’m saying, what’s going to happen when I deal on the Middle East? What’s happening when I’m dealing with really, really important subjects like North Korea?
We got to stop it. That’s why it’s a criminal penalty. Yes? John?
Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President. I just want to get you to clarify, because it’s a very important point, can you say definitively that nobody on your campaign had any contacts with the Russians during the campaign, and on the leaks, is it fake news or are these real leaks?
Trump: Well, the leaks are real. You’re the one that wrote about them and reported them. I mean the leaks are real. You know what they said. You saw it and the leaks are absolutely real. The news is fake because so much of the news is fake.
So one thing that I felt it was very important to do, and I hope we can correct it, because there’s nobody I have more respect for— well, maybe a little bit, but than reporters, than good reporters. It’s very important to me. Especially in this position. It’s very important.
I don’t mind bad stories. I can handle a bad story better than anybody as long as it’s true and over the course of time, I’ll make mistakes, and you’ll write badly and I’m okay with it. But I’m not okay when it is fake.
I mean I watch CNN, and it’s so much anger, hatred, and just the hatred, I don’t watch it anymore because it’s very good — he’s saying now, it’s okay, Jim, you’ll have a chance. But I watch others too. You’re not the only one, don’t feel badly. But I think it should be straight. I think it should be, I think it should be frankly more interesting.
I know how good everybody’s ratings are right now, but I think it’ll actually be better. People, you have a lower approval rate than Congress — I think that’s right, I don’t know Peter is that one right? I think they have, I think I heard lower than Congress. But, honestly, the public would appreciate it. I would appreciate it.
I don’t mind bad stories when it’s true, but we have an administration where the Democrats are making it very difficult. I think we’re setting a record or close to a record in the time of approval in the cabinet. Numbers are crazy. Some of them had them approved immediately. I still have a lot of people that we’re waiting for.
And that’s all they’re doing is delaying. You look at Schumer the mess that he’s got over there. And they have nothing going. The only thing they can do is delay. And you know, I think they would be better served by, you know, approving and making sure that they’re happy and everybody’s good.
And sometimes, and I know President Obama lost three or four, and you lose them on the way, and that’s okay. That’s fine. I think it would be much better served, John, if they just went through the process quickly. This is pure delay tactics. And they say it. And everybody understands it. Yeah, go ahead, Jim.
Reporter: The first part of my question is can you definitively say [inaudible]
Trump: I had nothing to do with it. I have nothing to do with Russia. I told you, I have no deals there. I have no anything.
Now, when Wikileaks — which I have nothing to do with —comes out and happens to give, they are not giving classified information. They are giving stuff, what was said in an office about Hillary cheating on the debates, which, by the way, nobody mentions.
Nobody mentions that Hillary received the questions to the debates. Can you imagine, seriously, can you imagine if I received the questions? It would be the electric chair, okay? He should be put in the electric chair and you’d even call for the reconstitution of the death penalty, okay? Maybe not you, John. Yes, you next.
Reporter: Mr. President, I just want to clarify an important point, I think. Did you direct Mike Flynn to discuss sanctions with the Russian ambassador? Prior to your inauguration? Would you have fired him if that information hadn’t leaked out?
Trump: I fired him because of what he said to Mike Pence. Very simple. Mike was doing his job. He was calling countries, his counterparts, so it certainly would have been okay with me if he did it. I would have directed him to do it if I thought he was not doing it. I did not direct him, but I would have directed him because that’s his job. It came out that way, and, in all fairness, I watched Dr. Charles Krauthammer the other night say, he was doing his job. And I agreed with him.
Since then, I’ve watched many other people say that. You know, I didn’t direct him, but I would have directed him if he did not do it, okay? Jim?
Reporter: Just for the record, We don’t hate you.
Reporter: Pass that along.
Trump: Well, ask Jeff Zucker how he got his job.
Reporter: If I may follow-up on questions taking place here sir, well, not too many —
Trump: I don’t know which microphones to hold. You have other people and your ratings are not as good as some of the others.
Reporter: They are pretty good right now, actually, Mr. President.
Trump: Go ahead.
Reporter: If I may ask sir, you said earlier that WikiLeaks was revealing information about the Hillary Clinton campaign during the election cycle. You welcomed that at one campaign rally, you said you loved WikiLeaks, and in a press conference, you called on the Russians to find the missing 30,000 e-mails. I’m wondering, sir if you
Trump: Well, she was missing 33, and that was extended with
Reporter: Maybe my numbers are off
Trump: I did say 30, but it was higher.
Reporter: I’m asking, sir, it sounds you don’t have much credibility here when it comes to leaking if that is something that you encouraged in the campaign.
Trump: Fair question.
Reporter: If I may ask you —
Trump: Do you mind me saying something?
Reporter: Yes, sir.
Trump: So in one case, you are talking about highly classified information. In the other case, you’re talking about John Podesta saying bad things about the boss. If John Podesta said that about me and working for me, I would have fired him so fast your head would have spun. He said terrible things about her. But It was not classified information. In one case, you are talking about classified. Regardless, if you look at the RNC, we had a very strong, at my suggestion, and I give Reince great credit for this. At my suggestion, because I know something about this world, I said I want a very strong defensive mechanism.
I don’t want to be hacked. And we did that. And you have seen that they tried to hack us and failed.
The DNC did not do that. If they did it, they could not have been hacked. They were hacked. Terrible things came in. You know, the only thing I think is unfair is some of the things were so — when I heard some of those things, I picked up the papers next morning, and said, “Oh, this will be front page,” but it was not even in the papers.
Again, if I had that happen to me, it would be the biggest story in the history of publishing or newspapers. I would have been the headline in every newspaper. I mean, think of it.
They gave her the questions to the debate, and she should have reported herself. Why didn’t Hillary Clinton announce that, I’m sorry, I have been given the questions to a debate or a town hall, and I feel that it’s inappropriate, and I want to turn in CNN for not doing a good job.
Reporter: If I may follow up on that what was asked about. You said the leaks are real, but the news is fake. I don’t understand. It seems there’s a disconnect there. If the information coming from the leaks is real, then how can the stories be fake?
Trump: The reporting is fake.
Reporter: I have to ask — yes, sir?
Trump: Here’s the thing. The public is — you know, they read newspapers, they see television, they watch. They don’t know if it’s true or false. Because they are not involved. I’m involved. I’ve been involved with the stuff all my life. But I’m involved. I know when you are telling the truth or when you are not.
I just see many, many untruthful things. And I’ll tell you what else I see. Tone. I see tone. You know the word tone. The tone is such hatred. I’m really not a bad person, by the way. No, but You know, but the tone is such — I do the get good ratings, you have to admit that. But the tone is such hatred.
I watched this morning a couple of the networks, and I have to say, Fox and Friends in the morning, they are very honorable people — not because they are good — because they hit me when I do something wrong, but they have the most honest morning show. That’s all I can say.
It’s the most honest, but the tone, Jim, if you look, the hatred, the — I mean, sometimes —
Reporter: We don’t hate you, sir.
Trump: Well, you look at your show that goes on at 10 in the evening. You just take a look at the show. It’s a constant hit. The panel is almost always exclusive anti-Trump.
The good news is he doesn’t have good ratings, but the panel is almost exclusive anti-Trump, and the hatred and venom from his mouth. And hatred from other people on your network. I’ll say this. I watch it. I see it. I’m amazed by it. And I just think you’d be a lot better off. I honestly do. The public gets it.
You go to rallies, they’re screaming at CNN, they want to throw their placards at CNN. You know, I think you would do much better by being different. But you just Take a look. Take a look at some of your shows in the mornings and evening.
If a guest comes out and says something positive about me, it’s brutal. Now, they’ll take this news conference, I’m actually having a very good time, okay, but they’ll take this news conference — don’t forget, that’s the way I won. I used to give you a news conference every day and made a speech, which was every day. That’s how I won, with news conference and probably speeches. I certainly did not win by people listening to you people. That’s for sure.
But I’m having a good time. Tomorrow, they will say, Donald Trump rants and raves at the press. I’m not ranting and raving. I’m telling you you’re dishonest people, but I’m not ranting and raving. I love this. I’m having a good time doing it, but tomorrow’s headlines are going to be Donald Trump, rants and rants. I’m not ranting. Go ahead —
Reporter: A follow-up —
Trump: Should I let him more — sit down — well —
Reporter: Just because of the attack of fake news and attacking our network, I just want to ask you, sir —
Trump: Changing it from fake news, though.
Reporter: I know —
Trump: To very fake news —
Reporter: I know but aren’t you—
Trump Go ahead. Go ahead. [ laughter ]
Reporter: Real news, Mr. President —
Trump: You’re not related to our new —
Reporter: I am not, sir. [ laughter ] I do like the sound of Secretary Acosta —
Trump: I looked at the name, and said wait a minute, is there any relation —
Reporter: I’m sure you checked it out.
Trump: Yeah I checked it and they said, no, sir, I said, do me a favor, go back and check the family tree.
Reporter: Aren’t you concerned, sir, you are undermining the people’s faith in the first amendment, freedom of the press, the press in the country when you call stories you don’t like fake news? Why not just say it’s a story I don’t like —
Trump: I do.
Reporter: When you call it fake news, you’re undermining the confidence in the news media.
Trump: Here’s the thing, I understand, you’re right about that. Except I know when I should get good and when I should get bad. And sometimes I say, wow, that’s going to be a great story, and I’ll get killed. I know what’s good and bad, I’d be a good reporter, but not as good as you. I know what’s good. I know what’s bad. And when they change it, and make it really bad, something that should be very positive, they’ll make it okay. They’ll even make it negative. I understand it. So because I’m there. I know what was said. I know who is saying it. I’m there.
So it’s very important to me. Look, I want to see an honest press. When I started out today by saying it’s so important to the public to get an honest press. The public doesn’t believe you people anymore.
Maybe I had something to do with that, I don’t know. But they don’t believe you. If you were straight and really told it like it is as Howard used to say, right, of course, he had some questions also, but if you were straight, I would be your biggest booster. I would be your biggest fan in the world, incoming bad stories about me.
But If you go, as an example, you’re CNN, I mean, it’s story after story after story is bad. I won. I won.
The other thing, chaos. There’s zero chaos. We are running — this is a fine-tuned machine. Reince happens to be doing a good job, but half his job is putting out lies by the press. You know, I said to him yesterday, you know, this Russia scam you are billing so that you don’t talk about the real subject, which is illegal leaks. But I watched him yesterday working so hard to try to get the story proper.
I’m saying, here’s my chief of staff, a really good guy, did a phenomenal job at RNC, I may have won the election, right, won the presidency, but we got some senators, all over the country, take a look. He’s done a great job. I said to myself, you know, I said to somebody there, look at Reince working so hard putting out fires that are fake fires. They are fake. They are not true. Isn’t that a shame because he’d rather be working on health care. He’d rather be working on tax reform, Jim. I mean that. I would be your biggest fan in the world if you treated me right.
I understand there’s bias, maybe, by Jeff, whatever reason, but I understand that. But you’ve got to be at least a little bit fair. That’s why the public sees it. They see it’s not fair. You take a look at some of your shows and you see the bias and the hate, and the public is smart. They understand it. Okay.
Yeah, go ahead. Go ahead. [ inaudible reporter question ] I think they don’t believe it—I don’t think the public — that’s why the Rasmussen poll has me through the roof. I don’t think they believe it. I guess one of the reasons I’m here today is to tell you the whole Russian thing, that’s a ruse. That’s a ruse.
And by the way, it would be great if we could get along with Russia, just so you understand that. That tomorrow you’ll say: “Donald Trump wants to get along with Russia. This is terrible.” It’s not terrible. It’s good. We had Hillary Clinton try and do a reset. We had Hillary Clinton give Russia 20 percent of the uranium in our country. You know what uranium is, right? A thing called nuclear weapons and other things like lots of things that are done with uranium including some bad things. Nobody talks about that.
I didn’t do anything for Russia. I’ve done nothing for Russia. Hillary Clinton gave them 20 percent of the uranium. Hillary Clinton did a reset, remember, with the stupid plastic button made us look like a bunch of jerks. Here take a look. He looked at her, like, what the hell is she doing, with that cheap plastic button? Hillary Clinton — that was a reset. Remember it said reset. Now, if I do that, oh, I’m a bad guy, but if we could get along with Russia, that’s a positive thing. We have a very talented man, Rex Tillerson, who is going to be meeting with them shortly and I told them, I said, I know politically it’s probably not good for me. Hey, the greatest thing I could do is shoot that ship that’s 30 miles offshore right out of the water. Everyone in this country is going to say, oh, it’s so great. That’s not great. That’s not great. I would love to be able to get along with Russia. Now, you had a lot of presidents that have not taken that tack.
Look where we are now. Look where we are now. So if I can — now, I love to negotiate things. I do it really well and all that stuff. But it’s possible I won’t be able to get along with Putin. Maybe it is. I just want to tell you, the false reporting by the media, by you people, the false, horrible fake reporting makes it much harder to make a deal with Russia. And probably Putin said, you know, he’s sitting behind his desk saying, you know, I see what’s going on in the United States, they follow it closely. It’s going to be impossible for President Trump to ever get along with Russia because of all the pressure he’s got with this fake story. Okay? And that’s a shame. Because if we could get along with Russia, and by the way, China and Japan and everyone, if we could get along, it would be a positive thing, not a negative thing.
Tax reform’s going to happen fairly quickly. We are doing Obamacare, we are in the final stages. We should be submitting the initial plan in March, early March. I would say. And we have to, as you know, statutorily and for reasons of budget. We have to go first. Frankly, the tax would be easier, in my opinion, but for statutory reasons and for budgetary reasons, we have to submit the health care sooner, so well submitting health care sometime in mid-March, and after that, we’re going to come up, and we’re doing very well on tax reform, yes.
Reporter: Mr. President, you mentioned Russia. Let’s talk about some serious issues that have come up in the last week that you had to deal with as president of the United States.
Reporter: You mentioned the spy vessel off the coast of the United States.
Trump: Not good.
Reporter: There was a ballistic missile test that many interpreted as…
Trump: Not good.
Reporter: …a violation of an agreement between the two countries and a Russian plane buzzed a U.S. Destroyer.
Trump: Not good.
Reporter: I listen to you.
Trump: Excuse me, when did it happen? It happened when, if you were Putin, right now, you would say, hey, we’re back to the old games with the United States. There’s no way Trump can ever do a deal with us because the public — you have to understand, if I was just brutal on Russia right now, just brutal, people would say — you would say — oh that’s wonderful, but I know you well enough, then you would say, oh, he was too tough, he shouldn’t have done that. Look.
Reporter: I’m just trying to find out your orientation to those.
Trump: Excuse me.
Reporter: I’m just trying to find out what you’ll do about it, Mr. President.
Trump: All the things you mentioned are recent because probably Putin assumed he cannot make a deal with me because it’s politically not popular for me to make a deal, so Hillary Clinton tries to reset. It failed. They all tried.
But I’m different than those people, go ahead.
Reporter: How are you interpret those moves and what do you intend to do about them? Have you asked Rex Tillerson for any advice or counsel how to deal?
Trump: I have. I have and I’m so beautifully represented, I’m so honored that the senate approved him. He’s gonna be fantastic.
Reporter: Is Putin testing you, do you believe, sir?
Trump: No I don’t think so. I think Putin probably assumes that he can’t make a deal with me anymore because politically it’s unpopular for a politician to make a deal.
I can’t believe I’m saying I’m a politician, but I guess that’s what I am now. Look, it’d be much easier for me to be tough on Russia but then we’re not going to make a deal. Now, I don’t know that we’re going to make a deal. I don’t know. We might. We might not.
But it would be much easier for me to be so tough, the tougher I am on Russia, the better, but you know what? I want to do the right thing for the American people, and to be honest, secondarily, I want to do the right thing for the world. If Russia and the United States actually got together and got along, and don’t forget, we’re a very powerful nuclear country, and so are they.
There’s no upside. We’re a very powerful nuclear country and so are they. I’ve been briefed. I can tell you one thing about a briefing, that we’re allowed to say because anybody that ever read the most basic book can say it, nuclear holocaust would be like no other. They’re a very powerful nuclear country, and so are we. If we have a good relationship with Russia — believe me — that’s a good thing, not a bad thing.
Reporter: So when you say they are not good, do you mean…
Trump: Who did I say is not good?
Reporter: No when I read off the three things that have recently happened each one of them you said are not good…
Trump: No, it’s not good but they happen…
Reporter: Do they damage the relationship, undermine this country’s ability to work with
Trump: They all happened recently, I understand what they are doing because they are doing the same thing.
Now, again, maybe I’m not going to be able to do a deal with Russia, but, at least, I will have tried, and if I don’t, does anybody really think that Hillary Clinton would be tougher on Russia than Donald Trump? Does anybody in this room really believe that?
Okay. But I’ll tell you one thing, she tried to make a deal. She had the reset. She gave all that valuable uranium away. She did other things. You know, they say I’m close to Russia. Hillary Clinton gave away 20% of the uranium in the United States. She’s close to Russia. You know what I gave to Russia? You know what I gave? Nothing.
Reporter: Can we conclude there will be no response to these particular provocations?
Trump: I’m not going to tell you anything about what response I do. I don’t talk about military response.
I don’t say I’m going in Mosul in four months. “We are going to attack Mosul in four months.” Then three months later, “we are going to attack Mosul in one month.” “Next week, we are going to attack Mosul.” In the meantime, Mosul is very very difficult.
You know why? Because I don’t talk about military, and I don’t talk about certain other things. You’re going to be surprised to hear that. And, by the way, my whole campaign, I’d say that, so I don’t have to tell you.
Reporter: Right, so there will be a response?
Trump: I don’t have to tell you. I don’t want to be one of those guys that says, “yes, here’s what we’re going to do.” I don’t have to do that. I don’t have to tell you what I’m going to do in North Korea…
Reporter: In other words, there will be a response.
Trump: Wait a minute, I don’t have to tell you what I’m going to do in North Korea. And I don’t have to tell what I’m going to do with Iran. You know why? Because they shouldn’t know.
And eventually, you guys are going to get tired of asking that question. So when you asked me, what am I going to do with the ship, the Russian ship as an example, I’m not going to tell you. But hopefully I won’t have to do anything, but I’m not going to tell you. Okay.
Next reporter: Let me just ask you…
Trump: Where are you from?
Trump: Huh, there’s another beauty.
Reporter: It’s a good line. Impartial free and fair. Uh, Mr. President…
Trump: Just like CNN.
Reporter: …on the travel ban, we can banter back and forth, but on the travel ban, would you accept that was a good example of the smooth running of government?
Trump: Yeah, I do. I do. Let me tell you about…
Reporter: Were there any mistakes in that?
Trump: Wait, wait, wait, I know who you are, just wait. Let me tell you about the travel ban. We had a very smooth rollout of the travel ban.
But we had a bad court. We had a bad decision. We had a court overturned, again, maybe wrong, but I think it’s 80 percent of the time, a lot. We had a bad decision. We’re going to keep going with the decision, we’re going to put in a new executive order next week sometime. But we had a bad decision.
That’s the only thing that was wrong with the travel ban. You had Delta with a massive problem with their computer system at the airports. You had some people that were put out there, brought by very nice busses and they were put out at various locations, despite that, the only problem that we had is we had a bad court. We had a court that gave us what I consider to be, with great respect, a very bad decision. Very bad for the safety and security of our country.
The rollout was perfect. Now, what I wanted to do was do the exact same executive order that said one thing, and I said this to my people. Give them a one-month period of time. But General Kelly, now Secretary Kelly, said, if you do that, all these people will come in, the bad ones. You do agree there are bad people out there, right? Not everybody that’s like you. You have some bad people out there.
So Kelly said, you can’t do that, and he was right. as soon as he said it, I said wow, never thought it of it. I said well how about one week, he said no good. You gotta do it immediately. Because if you do it immediately, they don’t have time to come in. Now, nobody ever reports that. But that’s why we did it quickly.
Now if I would’ve done it in a month, everything would have been perfect. The problem is we would have wasted a lot of time, and maybe a lot of lives because a lot of bad people would have come into our country. Now, in the meantime, we’re vet ing very, very strongly. Very, very strongly. But we need help, and we need help by getting that executive order passed. Uh–
Reporter: Just a brief follow-up, but if it’s so urgent, why not introduce–
Reporter: A yes or no answer one one of these questions involving Russia, can you say whether you are aware anyone who advised your campaign had contact with Russia during the course of the election.
Trump: Well I told you, General Flynn obviously was dealing, so that’s one person, but he was dealing, as he should have been —
Reporter: During the election?
Trump: No, nobody that I know of.
Reporter: So you’re not aware of any contacts in the course of the election?
Trump: Look, look, look. How many times do I have to answer this question?
Reporter: Just say yes or no.
Trump: Russia is a ruse. Yeah, I know you have to get up and ask a question, so important. Russia is a ruse. I have nothing to do with Russia. Haven’t made a phone call to Russia in years, don’t speak to people in Russia, not that I wouldn’t, but I just have nobody to speak to.
I Spoke to Putin twice, called me on the election. I told you this. He called me on the inauguration a few days ago. We had a very good talk. Especially the second one, lasted for a pretty long period of time. I’m sure you probably get it because it was classified, so I’m sure everybody in this room perhaps has it, but we had a very, very good talk. I have nothing to do with Russia. To the best of my knowledge, no person that I deal with, does.
Now Manafort has totally denied it, Denied it, now, people knew that he was a consultant over in that part of the world for a while, but not for Russia, I think he represented Ukraine or people having to do with Ukraine or people that, whoever. But people knew that, everybody knew that.
Report: But in his capacity as your campaign manager, was he in touch with Russian officials during the election?
Trump: I have—you know what, he said no. I can only tell you what he—now. He was replaced long before the election. You know that, right? He was replaced long before the election. When all of this stuff started coming out, it came out during the election, but Paul Manafort, who is a good man, also, by the way, Paul Manafort was replaced long before the election took place. He was only there for a short period of time.
Trump: How much longer should we stay here, folks? Five more minutes, is that okay? Five? Wait, who is, I want to find a friendly reporter. Are you a friendly reporter?
Reporter: I’m friendly.
Trump: Watch how friendly, he is. Go ahead.
Reporter: So, first of all, my name is Jake [ inaudible ] magazine and, I, despite what so many colleagues might be reporting, I haven’t seen anybody in my community accuse either yourself or anyone on your staff of being anti-semitic. However, what we are concerned about and what we haven’t really heard you address is an uptick in anti-semitism and how in this climate you’re going to take care of it. There have been reports out that 48 bomb threats have been made against Jewish centers all across the country in the last couple of weeks. There are people who are committing anti-semitic acts or threatening to —
Trump: You know he’s said that he’s going to ask a very simple, easy question. And it’s not. It’s not a fair question. Sit down. I understand the rest of your question. So here’s the story, folks.
Number one, I’m the least anti-semitic person you’ve seen in your entire life. Number two, racism, the least racist person. In fact, we can very well relative to other people running as a Republican — [ inaudible ]
Quiet, quiet, he lied about getting up asking a straight, simple question, so, you know, welcome to the world of the media.
Let me just tell you something, that I hate the charge. I find it repulsive. I hate even the question because people that know me, and you heard the Prime Minister. You heard Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday. Did you hear him? Bebe, he said, “I’ve known Donald Trump for a long time. Then he said, forget it.” So you should take that instead of having to get up and ask a very insulting question.
Reporter: thank you, I’m Lisa —
Trump: shows you about the press, but that’s the way the press is.
Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President. Lisa from the PBS NewsHour.
Reporter: On national security and immigration, can you give us details on the executive order you’ve planned for next week, even broad outlines? Focused on specific countries, and in addition, on the program for immigration, what is your plan? Do you plan to continue that program or to end it?
Trump: We’re going to show great heart. DACA a very difficult subject for me. To me, it’s one of the most difficult subjects. You have incredible kids, in many cases, not all cases. In some of the cases, they are gang members and drug dealers, too. But you have some absolutely incredible kids. I would say mostly.
They were brought here in such a way — it’s a very, very tough subject. We are going to deal with DACA with heart. I have to deal with a lot of politicians, don’t forget, and I have to convince them what I’m saying is right. I appreciate your understanding on that, but the DACA situation is a very, very — it’s a very difficult thing for me because, you know, I love these kids. I love kids. I have kids. And grandkids.
I find it very, very hard doing what the law says exactly to do, and the laws rough. I’m not even talking about new laws, I’m talking about the existing law and the existing law is rough. It’s very, very rough. As far as the new order, the new order is going to be very much tailored to the, what I consider to be a very bad decision, but we can tailor the order to that decision and get just about everything, in some ways more, but we’re tailoring it now to the decision.
We have some of the best lawyers in the country working on it, and the new executive order is being tailored to the decision we get down from the court. Okay?
Reporter: Reopening of the white house visitors office.
Reporter: She does a lot of great work for the country as well. Can you tell us about what personally Melania Trump does for the country and unique levels in the administration, so by opening the white house visitors office [inaudible]
Trump: Now, that’s what I call a nice question. That is very nice. Who are you with?
Reporter: [ inaudible ]
Trump: Good, I’m going to start watching. Thank you very much. Melania is terrific. She was here last night. We had dinner with Senator Rubio and his wife, who is, by the way, is lovely, and we had discussions on Cuba. We have similar views on Cuba. Cuba was good to me in the Florida election as you know, the Cuban-Americans.
And I think Melania will be outstanding. And that’s right, she just opened up the visiting center, touring of the White House. She, like others that she’s working with, feel very, very strongly about women’s issues. Women’s difficulties, very, very strongly. She’s a very, very strong advocate. I think she’s a great representative for this country.
And funny thing happens. She gets so unfairly — the things they say, I’ve known her for a long time. She was a very successful person, she was a very successful model. She did really well. She would go home at night and didn’t even want to go out with people. She was a very private person. She was always the highest quality that you’ll ever find, and the things they say — and I’ve known her for a long time — the things they say are so unfair.
And actually, she’s been apologized to, as you know, by various media, because they said things that were lies. But I’ll just tell you this. I think she is going to be a fantastic first lady. She’s going to be a tremendous representative of women and of the people and helping her and working her will be Ivanka, who is a fabulous person and a fabulous, fabulous woman.And they are not doing this for money, they are not doing this for pay.
They are doing this because they feel it, both of them; and Melania goes back and forth and after Baron finishes school, because it’s hard to take a child out of school with a few months left, she and Baron will be moving over to the White House. Thank you that’s a very nice question. Go ahead.
Reporter: Mr. President
Trump: Yes, I know this is going to be a bad question, but that’s okay.
Reporter: No it’s not going to be a bad question.
Trump: Okay, good, because I enjoy watching you on television.
Reporter: Well, thank you so much. Mr. President, I need to find out from you, you said something, as it relates to inner cities, that was one of your platforms during your campaign.
Trump: Fix the inner cities.
Reporter: Fixing the inner cities, what will be that fix and urban agenda, as well as your HBCU executive order coming out this afternoon? See, it wasn’t bad, was it?
Trump: That was very professional and very good.
Reporter: I’m very professional, yes.
Trump: We’ll be announcing the order in a little while and I would rather let the order speak for itself, but it will be something that I think will be very good for everybody concerned, but we’ll talk to you about that after we do the announcement. As far as the inner cities, as you know, I was very strong on the inner cities during the campaign. I think it’s probably what got me a much higher percentage of the African-American vote that a lot of people thought I was gonna get. We did much higher than people thought I was gonna get, and I was honored by that, including the Hispanic vote, which was also much higher, and, by the way, if I might add, including the women’s vote, which was much higher than people thought I was gonna get.
So we are going to be working very hard on the inner cities, having to do with education, having to do with crime. We’re going to try and fix as quickly as possible — but you know it takes a long time, it’s taken a hundred years or more for some of the places to — evolve, and they evolved, many of them, very badly, but we are going to be working very hard on health, on health care, very, very hard on education, and, also, we’re going to work in a stringent way in a very good way on crime.
You go to some of these inner city places, and it’s so sad when you look at the crime.
You have people — and I’ve seen this, and I’ve could of witnessed it, and, in fact, in two cases, I have actually witnessed it — they lock themselves into apartments, petrified to even leave in the middle of the day. They are living in hell. We can’t let that happen. So we are going to be very very strong. It’s a great question. It’s a very — it’s a very difficult situation, because it’s been many, many years. It’s been festering for many, many years. But we have places in this country that we have to fix.
We have to help African-American people that for the most part stuck there. Hispanic-American people, we have Hispanic-American people that are in the inner cities and they’re living in hell.
I mean, you look at the numbers in Chicago. There are two Chicagos, as you know. There’s one Chicago that’s incredible, luxurious and all. And safe. There’s another chicago that’s worse than almost any of the places in the middle east that we talk about and that you talk about every night on the newscasts. So we’re going to do a lot of work in the inner cities. I have great people lined up to help with the inner cities.
Reporter: When you say inner cities, are you gonna include the CBC, mr. President, in the conversations with your urban agenda, your inner city agenda, as well as—
Trump: Am I gonna—am I gonna include who?
Reporter: Are you gonna include the Congressional Black Caucus and —
Trump: Well, I would. I tell you what, you want to set up the meeting? Do you want to set up the meeting?
Reporter: No, no, no I’m just a reporter.
Trump: Are they friends of yours?
Reporter: I know some of them —
Trump: No, go ahead, set up the meeting. Let’s go. Set up a meeting, I would love to meet with the black caucus. I think it’s great, the Congressional Black Caucus, I think it’s great. I actually thought I had a meeting with Congressman Cummings, and he was all excited, and then he said, oh, I can’t move. It might be bad for me politically. I can’t have that meeting. I was all set to have that meeting. You know we called him and called him. And he was all set. I spoke to him on the phone, a nice guy.
Reporter: I hear he wanted that meeting with you as well.
Trump: He wanted it. But we called called called called. I can’t make a meeting with him. Every day, I walk in, I said, I would like to meet with him, because I do want to solve the problem. But he probably was told by Schumer or somebody like that, some other lightweight.
He was probably told — he was probably told, don’t meet with Trump. It’s bad politics. That’s part of the problem in this country. Okay. One more.
Reporter: Yes, two questions
Trump: No no, one question, two we can’t handle, this room can’t handle two. Go ahead, give me the better of your two.
Reporter: I’d just like to follow-up on my colleague’s question about anti-semitism. It’s not about your personality or your beliefs, we’re talking about a rising anti-semitism around the country, some of it by supporters in your name. What—
Trump: And some of it — and can I be honest with you? And this has to do with racism and horrible things that are put up, some of it written by our opponents. You do know that? Do you understand that? You don’t think that anybody would do a thing like that.
Some of the signs you’ll see are not put up by the people that love or like Donald Trump. They’re put up by the other side. And you think it’s, like, playing it straight? No. You have some of those signs and anger that is caused by the other side. They’ll do signs and they’ll do drawings that are inappropriate. It won’t be my people. It will be the people on the other side to anger people like you.
Okay. Go ahead.
Reporter: You’re the president now, what are you going to do about this?
Trump: Who is that? Where is that? Oh—stand up, you can—
Reporter: What are you going to do about the tensions that have been —
Trump: Oh, I’m working on it. You know I’m working on it very—no, no. Look. Hey. Just so you understand, we had a totally divided country for eight years, and long before that, in all fairness to President Obama, long before President Obama. We have had a very divided — I didn’t come along and divide this country. This country was seriously divided before I got here. Were going to work on it very hard. One of the questions that was asked, I thought it was a very good question, was about the inner cities, I mean that’s part of it. But we’re going to work on education. We’re going to work on — stop — try to stop the crime. We have great law enforcement officials. We’re going to try and stop crime. We’re not going to try to stop it, we’re going to stop crime. But it’s very important to me, but this is not Donald Trump that divided a nation.
We went eight years with President Obama, and we went many years before President Obama. We lived in a divided nation, and I’m going to try — I will do everything within my power to fix that.
I want to thank everybody very much. It was a great honor to be with you, thank you, thank you very much. Thanks.
#END of Trump statement
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