South Lawn

10:44 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everybody.  We’re going to New York.  We’re going to New Jersey for work.  It’s going to be all work.  And I think you see what’s happened.  The economy is maybe better than it’s ever been.  The numbers are coming out — the best they’ve ever had.  We just came out with youth numbers.  They’ve been just fantastic, off the charts.  So we’re very happy about that.

And I think for that reason, I think, in November, we’re going to do extremely well. Extremely well.

Q    (Inaudible) two times or four times a year?  Should companies report twice or four times a year?

THE PRESIDENT:  I’d like to see twice, but we’re going to see.  This took place when I had, as you know, the world’s top executives — among the world’s top executives.  And the head of Pepsi Cola — a great woman, who is now retiring, she said — because I asked, “What could we do to make it even better?”  And she said, “Two-time-a-year reporting, not quarterly.”

And I thought of it, and it made sense to me.  Because, you know, we are not thinking far enough out.  We’ve been accused of that for a long time, this country.  So we’re looking at that very, very seriously.  We’re looking at twice a year, instead of four times a year.

Q    Admiral McRaven says take his pass, too.

THE PRESIDENT:  I don’t know McRaven.  I know that I’ve gotten tremendous response from having done that, because security clearances are very important to me.  Very, very important.  And I’ve had a tremendous response for having done that.

Q    Sir, what do you say to those who say you’re trying to silence your critics by taking away the clearances?

THE PRESIDENT:  There’s no silence.  If anything, I’m giving them a bigger voice.  Many people don’t even know who he is, and now he has a bigger voice.  And that’s okay with me, because I like taking on voices like that.  I’ve never respected him; I’ve never had a lot of respect.  And Senator Burr said it best: If you knew anything, why didn’t you report it when you were before all of these committees, including their committee?

So he had a chance to report; he never did.  This was just — came up lately, and it’s a disgusting thing, frankly.  Look, I say it.  I say it again: That whole situation is a rigged witch hunt.  It’s a totally rigged deal.  They should be looking at the other side.  They should be looking at all the people that got fired by them.  All of the people that got fired.  They should be looking at Bruce Ohr and his wife Nellie for dealing with, by the way, indirectly, Russians.

They should be looking at Steele.  They should be looking at all these FBI guys who got fired and demoted.  It’s a really — it’s not us.  It is a rigged witch hunt.  I’ve said it for a long time.

Q    Bruce Ohr’s security clearance?

THE PRESIDENT:  Say it?

Q    Bruce Ohr’s security clearance?

THE PRESIDENT:  I think Bruce Ohr is a disgrace.  I suspect I’ll be taking it away very quickly.

I think that Bruce Ohr is a disgrace, with his wife, Nellie.  For him to be in the Justice Department, and to be doing what he did, that is a disgrace.  That is disqualifying for Mueller.  And Mr. Mueller has a lot of conflicts, also, directly yourself.  So you know that.

Mr. Mueller is highly conflicted.  In fact, Comey is like his best friend.  I could go into conflict after conflict.  But sadly, Mr. Mueller is conflicted.  But let him write his report.  We did nothing.  There’s no collusion.

But if he was doing an honest report, he’d write it on the other side.  Because when you look at criminality, and you look at problems, take a look at what they did, including colluding with the Russians — the other side.

Q    Mr. President, who’s next?  Bruce Ohr?

THE PRESIDENT:  I can’t hear you too well; you have a helicopter.

Q    On Turkey, what is your next — what is your next move on Turkey?  Will you speak with President Erdoğan?  What do you want to happen?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, Turkey has been a problem for a long time.  They have not acted as a friend.  We’ll see what happens.  They have a wonderful Christian pastor.  He’s a wonderful man, Pastor Brunson.  They made up this phony charge that he’s a spy, and he’s not a spy.

He’s going through a trial right now, if you call it a trial.  They should have given him back a long time ago.  And Turkey has, in my opinion, acted very, very badly.  So we haven’t seen the last of that.  We are not going to take it sitting down.  They can’t take our people.  So you will see what happens.

Q    Mr. President, will you pardon Paul Manafort?  Will you pardon Paul Manafort if he’s convicted?

THE PRESIDENT:  I don’t talk about that, no.  I don’t talk about that.  I think the whole Manafort trial is very sad.  When you look at what’s going on there, I think it’s a very sad day for our country.

He worked for me for a very short period of time.  But you know what?  He happens to be a very good person.  And I think it’s very sad what they’ve done to Paul Manafort.

Thank you very much.

END

10:49 A.M. EDT