Luke Air Force Base
Maricopa County, Arizona
5:07 P.M. MST
THE PRESIDENT: Well, it’s great talent around this beautiful room. And thank you all for being here. By the way, the head of Boeing and the head of Lockheed, and the head of Raytheon and the head of everything else, we have them all. We have them all around. So thank you all for being here. It’s an honor.
I want to thank General Todd Canterbury for the tour. That’s pretty lethal weaponry. I’ve been going around the last week or so, more so than ever — I’ve been saying we make the greatest — the greatest military equipment in the world. Not even a contest. There’s nothing close. And every other country knows it. And, you know, we’re talking about something right now, where a particular country ordered — you’ll never guess who this is — about $110 billion worth of equipment. And I assume you’d like to keep those orders probably. (Laughter.)
PARTICIPANT: Yes, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: But if you don’t — Boeing, Dennis — you can let me know. (Laughter.) It’ll make things a lot easier. But you make the best, and that’s why you have it.
Also, Luke Air Force Base — I’ve heard about it for so long; so good. Top of the line, isn’t it? Huh? Thank you very much, General.
I also want to thank our roundtable participants today: Secretary Wilbur Ross, doing a great job. All those trade deals we’re making, Wilbur. Right? Representative Martha McSally, who is a special woman. And I met her when she was in Congress, and we work together well. She’s a great pilot. A lot of people told me she’s really a talented pilot as opposed to one that just about made it. She made it easily. And she likes a specific plane; we won’t tell them what the plane is. (Laughter.) They don’t make that plane anymore.
REPRESENTATIVE MCSALLY: (Inaudible.)
THE PRESIDENT: That’s right. But she’s been fantastic.
Also, Representative Tom O’Halleran, thank you very much. Where’s Tom? Tom? What are you doing over there, Tom? You can join us, even though you’re a Democrat. (Laughter.) Representative Debbie Lesko. And, Debbie, a great job you’ve done. You’ve done a great job. We worked hard a couple years ago —
REPRESENTATIVE LESKO: We did.
THE PRESIDENT: And now your district loves you, right?
REPRESENTATIVE LESKO: I sure hope so.
THE PRESIDENT: They better.
REPRESENTATIVE LESKO: More elections in one year, I’ll tell you.
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah, that’s true. You set a record.
REPRESENTATIVE LESKO: Well, welcome to my district.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you very much. It’s great to be here. Thank you.
Also, Secretary — Deputy Secretary Patrick Shanahan. And, Patrick, thanks. Great job you — he’s a good purchaser of equipment. I hope you find that he negotiates well, because if he doesn’t, I’m going to be very disappointed. What do you think, Dennis? Is he okay?
MR. MUILENBURG: He’s tough.
THE PRESIDENT: Huh?
MR. MUILENBURG: He’s tough. He’s good.
THE PRESIDENT: I would expect you to say that. (Laughter.) Dennis is Boeing.
So thank you very much, Patrick. And it’s been great working with you. And we have — we’ve made some big purchases, some good deals. A little bit better than presented. And it’s the best. There’s nothing like the stuff.
Secretary Heather Wilson — Heather, thank you very much. Appreciate it. Thank you. Great job you’re doing. Under Secretary Ellen Lord, thank you. Thank you. Thank you, Ellen. You’re keeping busy, right?
UNDER SECRETARY LORD: Absolutely.
THE PRESIDENT: Good. I think so. And all of the outstanding representatives who join us today from America’s aerospace and defense industries, civil society. I mean, if you look at the civil society and the business society, it’s been pretty amazing what’s happened over the last two years. And you’re all doing well, and we’re doing well. The country is doing well. We’re setting new records on jobs. We’ve got every category — just about every category is a new record, or very close. And a lot of them work for you. A lot of them work for your great companies. And they are great companies. Thank you very much.
This incredible state is home to six major military installations, more than 30,000 military personnel, and thousands of defense companies. Arizona’s military industry supports 76,000 jobs — that’s big — and creates $11.5 billion in economic output.
So what state would be comparable or larger? Is it larger? I mean, Texas does great.
REPRESENTATIVE MCSALLY: I think we’re number three. I think we’re number three on the list.
THE PRESIDENT: Number three? All right. But knowing you, you’ll be —
REPRESENTATIVE MCSALLY: (Inaudible.)
THE PRESIDENT: She’ll be number one very quickly. That’s why she’s doing so well. They all know.
The United States must always invest in a strong military. And it’s been very important for me. The military has been vital. That’s why we had, Wilbur, $700 billion approved last year, and $716 billion this year. And, General, everybody that passes me, from the military, thanks me for the new equipment. We were very depleted, and we’re not depleted anymore. Although the equipment is pouring in, but we’re not depleted anymore. So that’s fantastic.
We’ve secured record funding for the armed forces. The funds will support new fighter jets, ships, tanks, thousands of new recruits. And we also gave something very important, and that was a pay increase — the first in 10 years. A nice, substantial pay increase to the people that deserve it so badly.
And one of the things that was very important to me is to totally modernize and rebuild our nuclear arsenal. And we’re doing that. And we will, very shortly, be in a position where there won’t be anybody close — not that we ever want to think about using it, but we’re not going to use it. The best way, the only way is — that’s the way we don’t have to use it, right? So we’re doing a lot of work on that. And in a very short period of time — already we’re superior, but we will be at a level that nobody competes with.
Earlier this month, we released our landmark Defense Industrial Base report, which outlines new ways to strengthen our defense and manufacturing base. American-made military products are more effective, more lethal, and more precise than any other equipment in the world. And I’ve been going around saying that. And we have a lot of countries that are dying to order our stuff, but we don’t like them that much, so we don’t let them order. But overall, Marillyn, I don’t think you’re complaining, right? And that F-35 is special. That is a special — that’s a special fighter, right? It’s great.
So we have to ensure that our warriors — our brave, brave warriors — have the resources that they need and deserve, and that our allies and partners continue to purchase American products. We want them to purchase our products. They’re the best products.
Joining us today are several inspiring leaders who all share my commitment to supporting our military. And they’re making America more prosperous, more competitive, secure and proud. And we really do. I mean, I know these people pretty well. I knew them a little bit in private industry. I know them a lot from what I’ve been doing for the last almost two years. Can you believe that, Dennis? It’s almost two years already.
We just gave him an order for Air Force One. Air Force One now is 30 years old. And it was time. And they wanted to do it for the last two administrations; they never got it done. But we got it done.
MR. MUILENBURG: Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: And hopefully you’re going to speed it up. (Laughter.)
MR. MUILENBURG: Going fast.
THE PRESIDENT: And it’s going to be incredible. Actually, Boeing is doing it. It’s going to be a new color system: red, white, and blue. And it looks phenomenal. It’s the right color system. And if it looks as good as it does in print and in the models, it’s going to be fantastic. Right? So I hope you’re moving along. That’s moving along very fast, I hear.
MR. MUILENBURG: Yep. We’re moving fast and continuing to focus on getting it delivered.
THE PRESIDENT: Very good. Very good. So I just want to thank you all for being here.
And if you have any questions, I’d like — maybe before that, I’d like to introduce Martha McSally, say a few words. She is very special. A person that has taken the whole country by storm. They’re talking about her all over the country.
I don’t know — I don’t want to make you feel a little bit like, “Oh, gee, what’s happening,” but they’re talking about you all over the country. And I fully understand that, and I got it a long time ago. I think you’re going to be very, very successful.
This is a non-politician who is brilliant and brave, and became a politician, and was very successful. Her area, her district loved her. And now, as you know — as some of you know, she’s running for the Senate in Arizona. She has a very, very strange opponent. (Laughter.) I have to tell you, Martha, that should be easy, but you got to get in there fighting, right? Huh?
REPRESENTATIVE MCSALLY: (Inaudible) capacity.
THE PRESIDENT: That’s right. I know. Official is right. So anyway, please say a few words, Martha. We’re very proud of you. Thank you.
REPRESENTATIVE MCSALLY: Thank you, President Trump. I really appreciate you spending the day here and taking the time to come to Luke Air Force Base. I mean, this base has a long history here in Arizona of being part of keeping our country safe. And we have such tremendous partners here around the community, in the West Valley, that are very committed to making sure that this base is protected and that our airmen are protected. And we’ve got the Fight Country partnership as well. They’re just amazing, the partnership. We’ve got the same kind of partnership in southern Arizona — the Southern Arizona Defense Alliance here.
It’s just — in Arizona, I can’t — I mean, I’ve been stationed in a lot of different places. But Arizona is special. And I guess everybody might say that, but I really feel that in my heart. Because so many people here have served, so many people came here to serve, or even came here to work at one of these companies. And then they choose to say, like, this is where I want to be, this is where I want to stay, this is where I want to retire.
But there is this partnership amongst the communities to support our troops and our bases and our defense industry that is really unmatched around the country. And I think everybody nodding here will tell you, it’s really special. And I think it sets the example for the rest of the country. And that’s everyone from — again, I’m thinking about it; you know, I’ve shot some of their air missiles and used their rescue equipment. (Laughter.) We could go around the room. I mean, in the defense industry — I don’t want to leave anybody out — but they are patriots wearing civilian clothes as well. And many of these industries have chosen to locate here.
Also, Arizona is a great state, right? It’s a great state to live. It’s a great state to relocate your family. So all that comes with that has just been so critical for us here in Arizona. And these representations, these leaders who have people who are coming with their families to be a part of the team, which is — they’re partnering us to equip the warfighter, to make sure that we keep our country safe.
So it’s not just our military who’s doing that. It’s the engineers every day that are finding new capabilities for us, that are working at each of these industries. You know, I just visited yesterday — just the idea of, like, “We’re going to break through on some these things, and we’re going to provide better capabilities to be able to go rescue downed airmen.” And the commitment that they have is extraordinary. And that’s at every company here.
And these organizations — Yuma 50, (inaudible) — I mean, they’re doing everything from helping our deployed airmen’s families — or all the services, when they’re deployed — you know, get their oil changed; you know, help with daycare. I mean, you name it. The things that they do to step in, where the military has some legal limitations, and the civilian community, civic society steps in, it’s really extraordinary.
So I just want to leave it at that. I’m so grateful for allowing me to be here. And thank you for coming to see this.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, it’s a great state. We love Arizona. General, could you maybe talk about Luke a little bit? Because it’s got a big reputation.
GENERAL CANTERBURY: Yes, sir. It is an honor and privilege to lead the more than 5,600 men and women of Luke Air Force Base. Our mission is simple: We train the world’s greatest fighter pilots here. Luke Air Force Base is responsible for training about 95 percent of the United States’ Air Force fighter pilots between the 944th Wing and our 56th Fighter Wing. And it is an honor to use the equipment that these men and women provide to us, and the taxpayers provide to us to use this equipment. And we’re not going to fail, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: And your father was the boss here too, right? (Laughter.)
GENERAL CANTERBURY: Yes, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: He showed me a picture. They looked like twins. He showed me a picture. And he’s still around, he’s still healthy, and he’s still telling you what to do, right?
GENERAL CANTERBURY: Yes, sir. (Laughter.) Every night (inaudible) debrief, and he’s anxiously awaiting a phone call at night, sir. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: That’s right. You give him my regards.
GENERAL CANTERBURY: Thank you, sir. Will do.
Marillyn, maybe you could tell us a little about what’s going on with Lockheed Martin.
MS. HEWSON: Well, Mr. President, thank you for the opportunity to participate in this important conversation, especially right here at Luke, where this is the largest F-35 base in the world, and growing. We have — you know, with the aircraft that are coming in here, you highlighted how important the capability is for our nation. And it is the best capability.
But the study that you referenced, I just want to thank you for commissioning that. I think it’s very important, because American aerospace and defense is a major part of the economic strength of this country. And when we look at 2.4 million jobs in aerospace and defense, and a trade surplus of $86 billion, we know it’s important that your study that you commissioned uncovered that we do have fragility in the supply chain, we do have capabilities that we need to bolster.
And so we’re very pleased to be working with your administration, with the Department of Defense, on those recommendations that came out of that. So thank you for the opportunity to be here.
THE PRESIDENT: So, on the F-35, has the stealth gotten even better? Because it was always considered extraordinary. Has it really been upped, or is it at that same level, would you say?
MS. HEWSON: Well, I would say, sir, that we’re at the point where we delivered over 300 aircraft, and the aircraft were out of the initial design phase, and this is (inaudible) design phase. Now, we’ll do upgrades to the aircraft, whether it’s software and other things over time that the U.S. government will commission industry to do.
So we’ll keep it ahead of the threat. That’s the goal. And (inaudible).
THE PRESIDENT: And it is ahead. It’s a great plane. Thank you very much.
Dennis, from Boeing?
MR. MUILENBURG: Well, thank you, Mr. President, for being here as well. And I think as you saw earlier, you saw one of our Apache helicopters here as well.
THE PRESIDENT: That’s true. Wow.
MR. MUILENBURG: Another great product produced here in the state of Arizona.
THE PRESIDENT: That’s something.
MR. MUILENBURG: We had chance to go down and see our team in Mesa earlier today, and really proud to support our servicemen and women. And training for the future, as well, with the new T-X trainer that will be coming online — we’re looking forward to supporting our U.S. Air Force customer there, as well.
And I want to thank you again for the emphasis on the strength of the industrial base here. And you referenced the report, as did Marillyn. And investing in aerospace and defense is a great thing for the country — economically; from a national security standpoint. And in particular, some of your policies around tax reform and regulatory reform is sustaining the gains there. Really important. That’s allowing us to invest and innovate in defense.
I think we have challenges in the workforce side and our supply chain strength for the future — areas where we’re going to continue to work.
THE PRESIDENT: Now you can solve those challenges.
MR. MUILENBURG: You got it. And I think the work we’re doing together on workforce development and training is very effective there.
We’ve got teammates here from our supply chain. Marti McCurdy here — who runs Spirit Electronics, one of our small businesses in our supply chain here in Arizona — is a great example of investing in that supply chain.
So we want to thank you for those policies.
THE PRESIDENT: I didn’t know you made the missiles to the extent. I’m looking outside, and I was very surprised, actually. Boeing — a lot of them had the name Boeing on them. I didn’t know that was a great specialty of yours. Tell us about that.
MR. MUILENBURG: Yeah, that’s a big area of investment for us as well. So things like the JDAM, which is used significantly around the world. Very effective for our servicemen and women. Small Diameter Bomb is another example. So you saw some of those today.
So again, we’re honored to do that on behalf of our U.S. men and women in uniform. We take that job very seriously. And it was mentioned earlier — the importance of our veterans and investing in our veterans. So thank you for what you’re doing there. Veterans in the workforce, as well, is a big deal to all of us.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Dennis. You’re doing a great job.
MR. MUILENBURG: So you have some great talent there.
THE PRESIDENT: Some incredible things you’re coming up with. Thank you very much.
Would anybody like to say anything while we’re all gathered together? Anybody have any complaints or any suggestions? (Laughter.) Would anybody — come up with any great ideas?
REPRESENTATIVE LESKO: Mr. President, I would love to say thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, Debbie.
REPRESENTATIVE LESKO: I would love to say thank you. It’s so refreshing to have a President that is so strong in supporting the military and the veterans. And we appreciate it. The American public appreciates it. I mean, that’s the number-one mission of government, is to protect its people. And you’re doing it. Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Debbie. That’s really nice. Appreciate it. Anybody? Yes, sir.
MR. BRADY: Mr. President, you know, we do your encryption equipment in the White House.
THE PRESIDENT: Right. That’s right.
MR. BRADY: Voice and data. But like I was saying to Secretary Ross — you know, we have — we can only keep a lead so long if all of our stuff is getting stolen the moment we design it. And the cyber threat is not being properly addressed. And there’s capabilities, even in the products you have —
THE PRESIDENT: So what would you do about that, Chris? You’re right. And they should have been doing this for 15 years, and they haven’t been.
MR. BRADY: Yep.
THE PRESIDENT: So what would you do? Your company is a great company. What would you do about it?
MR. BRADY: Well, so we already ship network encryptors. We’ve embedded capability in those encryptors to pick up the signatures of threats and attacks, even the classified signatures, and store them safely. But we’re not turning them on. It’s not being used.
THE PRESIDENT: So why don’t we get somebody that you would recommend, and let’s bring them into government, and let’s do it the right way. Because you know, it’s such a specific kind of a thing. It’s great knowledge involved. You can’t just hire somebody off the street and say, “Hey, congratulations, you’re in charge of cyber.”
MR. BRADY: But the NSA has the capability to understand that. And we have —
THE PRESIDENT: They have some really good people.
MR. BRADY: And we have industry partners, like Viasat and others, that do products that can do things like that. Together we can get that stuff turned on.
When you put this — when you turn it on, it lights up like a Christmas tree. The threats are coming every day. I mean, it’s probably more than your normal traffic. And we’re getting compromised every day.
THE PRESIDENT: So do we have the equipment? We definitely have the knowledge. Where are we on the scale of knowledge right now, would you say?
MR. BRADY: We’re very good at tracking the threats, but we’re also very stingy about disseminating the information we already know about the threats.
THE PRESIDENT: Right. Right.
MR. BRADY: That’s what the fear is in the intelligence community, is to let some of that information live in these boxes that we believe are secure. But that’s the only way we can defend all of our installations against these kinds of attacks.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I’d like to talk to you about it.
MR. BRADY: I would love to.
THE PRESIDENT: Because I agree with you, it’s very important. And there’s great knowledge that you have from your company, but there’s — and others here have that great knowledge. Very important — cyber. And I hear more and more about cyber. And we have the brainpower. We have potentially — I mean, there’s nobody that should be able to event compete with us, with what we have just around this table.
So, Jerry, any of you, if you have any ideas, let us know. We’ll do something. Because we’re going to do something. We’ve already started. But I’d rather start it from this table than any other table in the world. Does that make sense? You understand that? We have the brainpower right around this table.
So, good. Thank you, Chris. That’s fantastic.
Would you like to say something?
SECRETARY WILSON: Well, sir, I’d leave it to the community leaders here (inaudible).
THE PRESIDENT: You’re doing a great job though. I think everyone said it.
SECRETARY WILSON: Our job is to keep the country keep safe, sir. And the F-35 is part of that. We like winning. And the F-35 wins.
THE PRESIDENT: It’s a great plane. Great plane. So when is Boeing going to make one to compete with it? (Inaudible.) (Laughter.)
SECRETARY WILSON: They just gave us the T-X.
THE PRESIDENT: You know what, though? You do have — you do have that.
MR. MUILENBURG: We’re in the fighter business, as well.
THE PRESIDENT: And you do have some good —
MR. MUILENBURG: We do a lot of work together.
THE PRESIDENT: And you do have some good stuff, I have to tell you. Some really good stuff. But you are going to one of the super stealths right?
MR. MUILENBURG: Yeah, we’re working all together on future technologies and what will happen next, and next-generation capabilities.
THE PRESIDENT: Good. Next generation.
MR. MUILENBURG: Because I think it’s important that we continue as a country to invest in that innovation.
THE PRESIDENT: I agree.
MR. MUILENBURG: Next-step capabilities. We’re doing that jointly with our customers.
THE PRESIDENT: Wilbur, do you have anything? Yes.
MS. HEWSON: Can I just say that, you know, you make a very important point about how national security also drives economic security. And on the F-35, today it supports 194,000 jobs across the United States and 1,500 U.S. suppliers.
So not only does it have the high capability that we need to keep our citizens safe and to work with our allies to make sure that we have protect and — safe and secure environment for our people, but it also brings a lot of jobs. And even here at Luke, I think we have over 400 industry professionals, and that’s growing to 700 in the next several years that are supporting F-35 on the base here. That’s just a microcosm of all the jobs across the country.
THE PRESIDENT: Right.
MR. DEMURO: I would just add that another example. Even in combat vehicles, where the Army is recapitalizing its ground forces, the investments that are being made in the next generation as well as the modernization.
THE PRESIDENT: And you like what we’re doing?
MR. DEMURO: Absolutely.
THE PRESIDENT: Do you agree with it?
MR. DEMURO: Eighteen-thousand jobs — Pennsylvania, Michigan, Alabama, Oklahoma, all around the country, as you go through the supply chain. So it’s a model that’s being repeated over and over again.
THE PRESIDENT: And you think we’re doing the right thing?
MR. DEMURO: Absolutely. Securing the interest of the United States? Absolutely.
THE PRESIDENT: That’s very good, thank you.
MS. SMITH: Mr. President, I’m Amber Smith, the President and CEO of the Tucson Metro Chamber. But more importantly, I am one of the founding members and the current president of the Southern Arizona Defense Alliance.
And to the Congresswoman’s point, we do exceptionally well at supporting our military. In fact, in southern Arizona, we even have the statistics that — what was it — 93 percent of our citizens support the six installations in southern Arizona.
But what’s really exceptional are the public-private partnerships. And you see that around this table. And I want to thank you for the leadership you have shown in recognizing some really incredible workforce development programs in which we are placing veterans into jobs in the aerospace and defense industry.
And I was talking to Secretary Ross about the backend technology of this, which you’ve recognized that, civilianizing those HR codes of military, we’ll be able to better place the billions of dollars of exceptional talent we have in our military into these jobs to help immediately address some of these workforce issues, and then be able to build our pipeline as well.
So thank you very much for recognizing that that exists, and supporting our pilot program in Tucson.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you, Amber. That’s very nice. Thank you.
SECRETARY ROSS: We’re going to help publicize the event, the product that’s coming out of her workforce.
THE PRESIDENT: Good. That’s great.
SECRETARY ROSS: It’s a very interesting idea.
We also got some very good suggestions, before you came here, about space. So there are a couple of recommendations I’m going to carry forward to Vice President Pence, for the Space Council —
THE PRESIDENT: So we’re doing a new force. You know that right?
How does the Air Force feel about that? But we’re doing a brand new force. And it’ll be the Space Force. And everybody is excited. Whenever I mention it, everybody goes crazy and they like it. And that’s what it’s all about, I guess.
You know, those planes are all beautiful. But we’re now going into space. And that’s for defense. I mean, we’re not just talking about sending rockets up to the moon. We’re talking about for defense and for offense.
So I think, pretty soon, it’s been well received even in Congress, bipartisan. And pretty soon we’re going to have Space Force, so that’ll be number six. And this way it can be specific. We’ll have a great genius like yourself, comparable, maybe not as good, but pretty good. (Laughter.) And it’ll have an extra person sitting on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and it’s going to be full force. It’s going to very important. I think it’s going to be a big contribution. Something very necessary.
Go ahead, Wilbur.
SECRETARY ROSS: So we had interchange about supply chain management, about all kinds of issues. And we especially addressed the problems of foreign procurement and the things that Congress can do to help them solve this problem.
So I thought it was a very, very worthwhile roundtable. I don’t know how the rest of you felt, but it had very good interchange. And concrete suggestions will come from it.
THE PRESIDENT: Good. Thank you.
Mr. Secretary, what do you think?
DEPUTY SECRETARY SHANAHAN: Sure. I think a lot of things. (Laughter.) You know, I’m just going to start with, I think, where Representative Lesko was.
Thank you. You’ve made us stronger. Under your leadership, we are stronger. And with Congress’s support, we’ve got a budget that makes us stronger. When you look at where we’ve come in terms of readiness, we now have the munitions that we lacked before. Ships are sailing, airplanes are flying. And the most important piece is we’re training more.
Something that probably most people here would also echo is your advocacy on foreign military sales is huge. That has not —
THE PRESIDENT: It’s hurting me right now.
DEPUTY SECRETARY SHANAHAN: I know, but —
THE PRESIDENT: Right now, it’s hurting me with these people.
DEPUTY SECRETARY SHANAHAN: I know. But your advocacy is significant for this industrial base. And I think the most important aspect is the budget will allow us to modernize so that we can compete. The modernization is the single most important work that we have to get to undertake. And we’re undertaking it.
And you know, as you’ve counseled me, we need to be good stewards, buy smart, not over specifying. I think we’ll do that. But thank you very much.
THE PRESIDENT: And when you say “compete,” I would like to say so that nobody can even come to close to competing with us, as opposed to just competing. Because what I’m really doing is putting us in a position where there’s not going to be anybody even close.
And that’s why we’re — again, we’re looking at all of the planes, all of the weapons, all of the rockets, all of the — everything, including, obviously, the nuclear. You hate to even bring up the nuclear because it’s a — it’s such an incredible threat. But we have no choice but to do it because others do it. It would be nice if nobody would do it. Right, Dennis? It would be great. But doesn’t seem to be that way.
So I just want to thank everybody at the table. Would any of you folks have a question for anybody at the table? We have the greatest talent in the world at this table. Anybody have any questions?
Q Can we ask you one question about the Saudis, sir? There’s been a reaction — there’s been a statement from Saudi Arabia. (Inaudible.)
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah. I just saw it. Just came out.
Q What was your reaction to that? Do you consider (inaudible)?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think it’s a good first step. It’s a big step. It’s a lot of people. A lot of people involved. And I think it’s a great first step.
You probably know that very fair person, Reuters — and you probably know that — you are; you’re very good. Very, very good.
We have a tremendous order. Probably the people around this table have the vast percentage of the $110-billion order from Saudi. We have $450 billion. But on defense, we have $110 billion. And I would say, almost 100 percent of it would be sitting right around this table with the great companies. Raytheon is here, too. Just great companies.
It’s very important. I don’t want to tell them — I don’t want to look over and tell Marillyn or Dennis, “By the way, we’re going to take $25 billion worth of sales away from you,” because that would mean a lot of jobs, it would mean a lot of everything.
And Saudi Arabia has been a great ally. But what happened is unacceptable. We are going to see. They’ve arrested — just for the people at the table — a large number of people having to do with the event that took place in Turkey and the consulate — the Saudi consulate. And it’s a big first step. It’s only a first step, but it’s a big first step.
Q Do you consider it credible, their explanation, for —
THE PRESIDENT: I do. I do. I mean, it’s — again, it’s early. We haven’t finished our review or investigation. But it’s — I think it’s a very important first step, and it happened sooner than people thought it would happen.
Q Did you know, sir, that it was a fistfight? And as result of the fistfight, Mr. Khashoggi was killed. (Inaudible.)
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I don’t know that that was — I don’t know that that’s — I mean, that’s a theory that’s being thrown out. I don’t think anybody said that. But they’re saying there was a fight. But that’s a theory that was put out. But they’re going to be giving us a full report. But they have arrested a large number of people, and a good first step.
Q Sir, are you concerned that they — the leadership there lied to you, or other members of the administration, when they denied —
THE PRESIDENT: No, I don’t think so at all. Because they weren’t out front with me in terms of, you know, what happened. This is really a — we just got this report from them. And you got it, along with a lot of other people. No. I think that we’ll be talking to them. We’ll see what happens. We may have some questions. We do have some questions.
And as I told you, I’ll be working on this with Congress. Congress is very interested in this one, and we’ll be working with Congress. But I would prefer, if there is going to be some form of sanctions, or what we may determine to do, if anything — because this was a lot of people they’re talking about, and people pretty high up. But I would prefer that we don’t use, as retribution, cancelling $110 billion worth of work, which means 600,000 jobs.
I know it sounds easy and it sounds good, and a lot people have said, “Oh, let’s just not sell them a $110-billion order.” I guess you take it a step further, “Let’s not sell them $450 billion,” which is the largest order in the history of our country. I went there to get that order. Saudi Arabia was my first stop. And everyone thought that was unusual. But I said, I want to order — “I want you to order a tremendous amount of stuff.” Right? Everything. Your stuff and everybody’s stuff. And Wilbur was there. They ordered $450 billion. There’s never been anything like it, or close.
The last thing I want to do is say we’re not going to supply you with that, and therefore we’re going to cut — I guess, if you add the whole thing up, because just for the military was 600,000 jobs. So now if you’re talking about — that was $110 billion — you know, you’re talking about over a million jobs. You know, I’d rather keep the million jobs, and I’d rather find another solution.
But this was a good first step today. Okay?
Q Mr. President, Lindsay Graham said he’s very skeptical of the Saudi narrative. Are you — do you share some of that skepticism, too? And do you intend to speak with the Crown Prince or the King in the next day or two to get their side of the story?
THE PRESIDENT: I will — yeah. Before I start making those statements, I’m going to speak to the Crown Prince. And I’ve spoken to the King. I want to speak with the Crown Prince.
And, you know, I think we’re getting close to solving a very big problem. And again, remembering the people around this table know it better than anyone — Martha McSally knows it better than anyone — they’ve been a great ally in the Middle East. We need them as a counter-balance to Iran. And so it’s not the simplest solution. It’s not the simplest situation to be in.
But I think we’re doing very well, and I think we’ve come a long way in a short period of time. And it’ll get solved. It’ll get solved. Okay?
Q Sir, do you trust the Saudis to carry out an impartial investigation given that the Crown Prince is kind of in charge of it? Or do you think a third party should be involved?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we have third parties involved. We’re involved. You know, we’re involved. Turkey is involved. And I wouldn’t say they’re exactly friends. I would think that Turkey and Saudi Arabia — they’re not too friendly. And Turkey is involved, and others are involved, frankly.
I mean, it’s — people are not happy about what happened. But this is a very big turnover when you look at the number of people that they say were involved. That was a very big — that was a very important thing that they did. And they did it soon. They did it — you know, we thought it was going to be the end of next week. They did it soon, which I think is very smart.
But, no, I would have to say they have been our ally. We’ve had great relationships with them. This is a horrible event. It has not gone unnoticed. Okay?
Q Mr. President, can you speak to the family separations policy, where you’re at on that? Arizona has been one of the places where this has been going on.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we have — Mexico has really stepped up to the plate, which is very nice. I’ve said to them, “Look, you know…” We’ve been very nice to Mexico. We have the worst immigration laws in the history of the world. They’re incompetent. And, in fact, we have a great Democrat here; maybe we could negotiate some immigration laws while you’re here?
REPRESENTATIVE O’HALLERAN: I’d love to negotiate that. (Inaudible.)
THE PRESIDENT: You, I would like to do it with, because you know what you are doing.
REPRESENTATIVE O’HALLERAN: Comprehensive —
THE PRESIDENT: That’s — we have just a horrible situation with the laws. The laws don’t allow us to do anything. And then we have the judges that are, let’s say, that are giving us decisions that are horrendous. And, hopefully, they’ll be overturned in the Supreme Court, or sooner.
But I don’t know if you know what’s happening. And probably a lot of the people at the table don’t know what’s happening because this just happened. But people are coming over from Honduras; they have like 5,000 people. Honduras and Guatemala, El Salvador. And some of these people are hard criminals. Hardened criminals. Not good people. And they broke through in Guatemala. I said, “Look, we give you hundreds of millions of dollars, Guatemala. And you’re going to stop those people from coming.”
And they tried, and they broke right through, and they broke through the fences. And Mexico is now really fighting. A very tough situation. Mexican soldiers have been hurt — badly hurt, in a couple of cases. But I very much respect the fact that Mexico is willing to do this.
But these are some bad people coming through. These aren’t babies. These aren’t little angels coming into our country, and going to — you know, go to work for Boeing, and go to work for Raytheon, and for Lockheed, and do a great job. These are some hardened criminals coming in. And we’re not letting them in. We’ve got enough things right now. We’re just not letting it happen.
So, Mexico, on their southern border, is fighting them right now. Literally, fighting them. And these people are fighting, and they put all the women and children up front to show you how brave they are. They put all the women and children up front. And it’s a terrible situation.
And if we had laws, I could sit down, and you give me a group from the Democrats — I could sit down and in one hour, we would solve catch and release, by getting rid of it. You know what catch and release is, Dennis? They walk over; if they put one foot on our land, we catch them. We then take the information, because we have — it’s impossible to bring them to a court. We have to bring them to a court. So we bring them to a court, but the court is never there because you don’t have enough judges. There aren’t enough judges in the world. If you’ve got every judge in the world, you don’t have enough judges. So you catch them and you release them. And they go into our society, because you’re not allowed to release them back into theirs. And that’s one of the better ones, okay? It’s just a horrible situation.
We have the visa lottery, where we take people by lottery from countries. Now, just — you know, from a business standpoint, do you think they’re giving us their finest? We get some real beauties out of the lottery. These countries — I mean, they’re not stupid. They give us people that they don’t want. And we have to take them.
So I could sit down with Democrats and work this thing out in one hour. And we need a wall. We have to have a wall. We’re building a wall now, but we should build it very fast. We should built it — frankly, we should build it even higher, because these people — incredible. They can scale them; they can do things you wouldn’t believe.
But we have a wall, it’s going up. But we should be able to build that in one year. And we could do it in one year. So we’ll see what happens. I think this is going to be a real wake-up call for the Democrats and for the public. And for the public. People are very angry about it. Very, very angry. Okay.
Any other questions? Yeah.
Q Mr. President, what evidence do you have that these are hardened criminals trying to come into the United States?
THE PRESIDENT: Oh, please. Please. Don’t be a baby. Okay? Take a look. Okay? Just take a look. Look at what’s happening. Look at the Mexican soldiers that are laying on the ground. Take a look. These are hardened — I didn’t say in all cases — but in many cases, these are hardened criminals. These are tough, tough people. And I don’t want them in our country, and neither does our country want them in our country. Okay?
Thank you all very much. Thank you. Thank you very much.
5:45 P.M. MST