South Lawn

12:58 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  We — the deal we made with Canada and Mexico has gotten tremendous reviews, as you see.  It’s been very well received by farmers, and ranchers, and industrialists, and workers generally.  And it’s been really something.  And I think it’s also going to be a very good deal for Mexico.  And I believe it’s going to be a very good deal for Canada.

But it’s gotten tremendous reviews, and it’s going through the process.  And even many of the Democrats, including Chuck Schumer, came out and said nice things.  So that’s very nice to hear that.  So it’s nice to see a little bit of a bipartisan approach.

But the trade deal — the big trade deal — the largest deal ever made, so far, in trade — I expect to top it with China or EU or something.  But this is the largest ever made.

And, as you know, now we’re working on China.  We’re working on Japan.  We’re working on EU.  But these are great deals for our nations and great deals for our workers.  So —

Q    (Inaudible.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Say it.

Q    What do you have to do to get Democrats to support your trade deals?

THE PRESIDENT:  Oh, I think the Democrats are going to like the trade deal.  They already do.  A lot of them have come out and said very positive things about it.

We seem to have great support for the trade bill.  It covers just about everybody.

Q    Mr. President, did you direct your son Eric and Michael Cohen to pay Stormy Daniels?

THE PRESIDENT:  I don’t even know what you’re talking about.

Q    There’s a Wall Street Journal story today —

THE PRESIDENT:  I haven’t seen it.

Q    — that says that, at your direction, Michael Cohen and your son (inaudible) —

THE PRESIDENT:  I’d have to read the story because I don’t know what story you’re talking about.

Q    Is lying to Congress, in your view, ever acceptable?

THE PRESIDENT:  I don’t think you should lie to Congress.  And there have been a lot of people over the last year that have lied to Congress.  And, to me, that would not be acceptable.

Q    Are you concerned about Kavanaugh now?

THE PRESIDENT:  Say it.

Q    Are you concerned, now, more about Kavanaugh than you were, say, even two days ago?

THE PRESIDENT:  I think that Judge Kavanaugh is doing pretty well — it seems to me — over the last 24 hours.  A lot is going to depend on what comes back from the FBI, in terms of their additional — number seven — investigation.

But I think that Judge Kavanaugh is doing very well right now.

Q    (Inaudible) meeting with Rod Rosenstein?  When are you planning to have it?  Do you still have confidence (inaudible) —

THE PRESIDENT:  We spoke, and that’s moving along nicely, but I don’t want to interrupt what’s going on with Judge Kavanaugh.  I don’t want to do anything to interrupt what’s happening with Judge Kavanaugh.

Q    (Inaudible.)

THE PRESIDENT:  And I think the process — I must say, I think — hopefully, as Mitch said, they’ll have a vote by the end of the week, and it will be a positive vote.  But it will be dependent on what comes back from the FBI.  The FBI — the FBI is working.  They’re working very hard.  And let’s see what happens.

Q    Mr. President, Jeff Flake expressed concerns about the sharp and partisan tone by Brett Kavanaugh.  Does that concern you — his sharp and partisan tone?

THE PRESIDENT:  I think he was fighting people that were making very tough charges against him, and I thought he did very well; I really did.  I thought he did very well.  He’s fighting very hard for his reputation, for his family.  I thought what happened was really tough.  It was tough stuff.

I’ve been watching this stuff for a long time.  I’ve never seen anything like going on with respect to Judge Kavanaugh.  This is a high quality person.  This is a number-one student — a top intellect.  He’s never gone through anything like this.  I think he did very well.

Q    Do you trust that he can be impartial on the court?

THE PRESIDENT:  I think he’ll be totally impartial.  I think he’s a great judge.  He’s known as a great judge.

If there’s one disappointment, I don’t think that you people covered an aspect that’s very important — very, very important– and that’s what he’s done over the last 30 years.  You know, you’re going back to high school.  You’re going back to college.  What has he done over the last 30 years?  He has been spectacular.  He has been a tremendous, tremendous success.

Q    Lindsey Graham said if the Senate votes Kavanaugh down, you should re-nominate him.  Are you taking that advice seriously?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I heard Lindsey say that, and certainly it’s interesting.  People love him.  I was in Tennessee last night, and I want to say that those people — we had a sold-out arena with thousands of people outside.  Everywhere I go — I’m going to Pennsylvania — it’s the same thing.  They are so in favor of Judge Kavanaugh.  You’ve never seen anything like it.

I actually think it’s like a rallying cry for the Republicans.  They are so in favor of Judge Kavanaugh.

Q    How’s Melania?  How is Melania’s trip to Africa?  Have you spoken to your wife?

THE PRESIDENT:  So Melania is in Africa.  I just saw on television her walking out of the plane — it was beautiful — and saying hello to the kids.  She is really doing a great job as First Lady.

Q    (Inaudible) happens, you’ll re-nominate Kavanaugh?  Is that your message?

THE PRESIDENT:  No, no.  I want to see what happens with the FBI.  They’re coming back with the reports.  They’ll be back —

Q    (Inaudible.)

THE PRESIDENT:  They’ll be back very soon.  Are you talking about a second time?

Q    Yes.

Q    Is that your message to the country?

THE PRESIDENT:  I mean, this was Lindsey’s idea.  Lindsey is a friend of mine — at least for the last six months, as you know.  Lindsey is a friend of mine.  And — and he’s done, really, a great thing and a great service for our country — Lindsey Graham.

But I — I have to say that I really think that Judge Kavanaugh is going to be accepted and voted on and positively voted on.  But we’re going to have to see what the FBI says.  They’ll come back with a report.

Q    Your son, Mr. President, say that he fears more for his sons, at this point in the MeToo era, than his daughters.  Do you agree that men are under attack?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, it’s a tough thing going on.  If you can be a — an exemplary person for 35 years.  And then somebody comes and they say you did this or that; and they give three witnesses; and the three witnesses, at this point, do not corroborate what you were saying, that’s a very scary situation, where you’re guilty until proven innocent.

My whole life —

Q    (Inaudible) Swetnick interview?

THE PRESIDENT:  My whole life, I’ve heard you’re innocent until proven guilty.  But now, you’re guilty until proven innocent.  That is a very, very difficult standard.

Q    What do you say to young men in America?

THE PRESIDENT:  Say it.

Q    What do you say to young men in America at this moment, and the women?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I say that it’s a very scary time for young men in America, when you can be guilty of something that you may not be guilty of.  This is a very, very — this is a very difficult time.

What’s happening here has much more to do than even the appointment of a Supreme Court Justice.  It really does.  You could be somebody that was perfect your entire life, and somebody could accuse you of something.  It doesn’t necessarily have to be a woman, as everybody say — but somebody could accuse you of something, and you’re automatically guilty.

But in this realm, you are truly guilty until proven innocent.  That’s one of the very, very bad things that’s taking place right now.

Q    Is there a message about this moment in our culture?

THE PRESIDENT:  Say it.

Q    Is there a message about this moment in our culture for men and women?

THE PRESIDENT:  There’s not a message now, but you might have a message by the end of the week.  You may have a message.  You’re going to see.  You’re going to see.

But he’s an outstanding person.  He’s an outstanding man.  And for his sake and for the sake of his family, I hope he does well.  I think he’s been very — I think he’s been very brutally treated.

Q    Have you been calling senators?  Have you been calling senators in support of Kavanaugh?

THE PRESIDENT:  I’ve been speaking to people.  I’ve been speaking to people.

Q    (Inaudible) Rod Rosenstein now?

THE PRESIDENT:  We’re going to talk later.  I don’t want to do anything to interrupt what’s happening — this process.  That’s fine, but I don’t want to do anything to interrupt the process.

Q    You’ve always taken a pretty firm stance against drinking.  You’ve talked about your brother’s history with alcoholism.  Are you bothered at all by the reports of Judge Kavanaugh’s drinking and his behavior while drinking?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I don’t drink.  I’ve never had a drink.  I don’t drink beer.  I’ve never had a beer.  And I’m not saying good or bad — some people like it.  I just chose not to do that for a lot of reasons.

I think that — I remember my college days; everybody was drinking.  It was, like, normal.  I was abnormal.  It was totally normal.  Everybody was drinking.  And they used to drink a lot of beer.  And there was nothing wrong — I just didn’t choose to do that.  But almost everybody else did.

So I don’t see anything wrong —

Q    You never tried anything else?

THE PRESIDENT:  No, I never tried anything else.

Thank you.  Thank you, Peter.

END

1:07 P.M. EDT