9:34 A.M. EDT
Q How do you think your Labor Secretary did?
THE PRESIDENT: I think he was a great Labor Secretary, not a good Labor Secretary. He’s done a fantastic job. He’s a friend of everybody in the administration. And I got a call this morning, early, from Alex. And I think he did a very good job yesterday. Under a lot of pressure, he did a fantastic job and he explained it. He made a deal that people were happy with, and then, 12 years later, they’re not happy with it. You’ll have to figure all of that out.
But the fact is, he has been a fantastic Secretary of Labor. And Alex called me this morning and he wanted to see me. And I actually said, “Well, we have the press right out here, so perhaps you just want to say it to the press.”
But I just want to let you know, this was him, not me, because I’m with him. He was a — he’s a tremendous talent. He’s a Hispanic man. He went to Harvard. A great student. And, in so many ways, I just hate what he’s saying now because we’re going to miss him.
But, please, Alex.
SECRETARY ACOSTA: Thank you, Mr. President. Over the last week, I’ve seen a lot of coverage of the Department of Labor, and what I have not seen is the incredible job creation that we’ve seen in this economy — more than 5 million jobs. I haven’t seen that workplace injuries are down, bucking a three-year trend; workplace fatalities are down, bucking a three-year trend; that we had the safest year ever in mining, the lowest number of fatalities ever in mining.
I have seen coverage of this case that is over 12 years old, that had input and vetting at multiple levels of the Department of Justice. And as I look forward, I do not think it is right and fair for this administration’s Labor Department to have Epstein as the focus, rather than the incredible economy that we have today.
And so I called the President this morning. I told him that I thought the right thing was to step aside. You know, Cabinet positions are temporary trusts. It would selfish for me to stay in this position and continue talking about a case that’s 12 years old, rather than about the amazing economy we have right now.
And so I submitted my resignation to the President –effective seven days from today, effective one week from today — earlier this morning.
Q If the Secretary explained himself, as you say he did two days ago, why the need for him to resign?
THE PRESIDENT: There’s no need at all, as far as I’m concerned. I would have — I watched Alex yesterday. I thought Alex did a great job. And, you know, you could always second guess people, and you could say it should have been tougher. They do it with me all the time. I make a great deal with anybody, and then they say — like, the Democrats — “Oh, it could have been better.”
I got $1.2 billion settlement fined from a company, from ZTE. And the next day — and everybody couldn’t believe it. The next day, the Democrats said, “Oh, he should have gotten more.” So you can always be second guessed. That’s what people do.
I just want to tell you: This is a person that I’ve gotten to know. There hasn’t been an ounce of controversy at the Department of Labor until this came up. And he’s doing this not for himself; he’s doing this for the administration.
And, Alex, I think you’ll agree. I said, “You don’t have to do this.” He doesn’t have to do this.
Q Why would you — why would you accept his resignation?
Q But you accepted the resignation. You accepted the — why did you accept the resignation if he hasn’t done anything wrong?
THE PRESIDENT: I do, and we have — we have — as everybody knows, we have Pat Pizzella, who right now is a deputy, and he’ll be Acting for a period of time. I think you know Pat. He’s a good man, highly recommended by Alex. But Pat is going to be Acting, and we’ve already informed him.
Q Why did you have a falling out with Jeffrey Epstein? Why did you have a falling out with Jeffrey Epstein? And did you ban him from Mar-a-Lago?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes. And I did have a falling out a long time ago. The reason doesn’t make any difference, frankly. But I haven’t spoken to him in probably 15 years or more. I wasn’t a big fan of Jeffrey Epstein, that I can tell you. And now, if you look, the remnants hurt this man. And I hate to see it happen.
I will say this, and I say it again and I say it loud and clear: Alex Acosta was a great Secretary of Labor. What he’s done with plans and — you see the plans coming one after another. You’re just about done with the 401(k) and —
SECRETARY ACOSTA: That’s correct.
THE PRESIDENT: — and that happened. Things that nobody would even think of. So it’s very sad. But at the same time, he wants the focus to be on accomplishments, not on what you’re talking about.
Q But do you believe — do you believe, Mr. President, that Epstein has become and Mr. Acosta has become a distraction to the Labor Department?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, Alex believed that. I’m willing to live with anything, John. I think you know me. I’ve lived through things that you wouldn’t believe.
Alex felt that way. And he also felt — we’re so good; we’re doing so well. The economy — the stock market just hit the highest point yesterday in the history of our country. Our unemployment numbers are the best they’ve ever been. If you look at specifically certain groups — African American, Asian, Hispanic — the best unemployment numbers in the history of our country.
You know, there are so many good things, and he didn’t want to distract from that. And I understand that, 100 percent.
Q Did Paul Ryan prevent you from making any bad decisions?
THE PRESIDENT: For what?
Q Did Paul Ryan prevent you from making any bad decisions?
THE PRESIDENT: So Paul Ryan was not a talent. He wasn’t a leader. When the people in Freedom and great congressmen wanted to go after the Dems for things that they did very badly, he wouldn’t give subpoenas, whereas Nancy Pelosi hands them out like they’re cookies.
Paul Ryan was a lame duck for a long time as Speaker. He was unable to raise money. He lost control of the House. The only success Paul Ryan had was the time that he was with me because we got taxes cut. I got regulation cuts. I did that mostly without him.
But for Paul Ryan to be complaining is pretty amazing. I remember a day in Wisconsin — a state that I won — where I stood up and made a speech, and then I introduced him and they booed him off the stage — 10,000 people.
So for him to be going out and opening his mouth is pretty incredible. But maybe he gets paid for that. Who knows? Maybe he gets paid for that.
Q Mr. President, the raids — can you — Mr. President, are you putting law enforcement at risk by having these raids? Is the public at risk now that everyone knows that the raids are coming?
THE PRESIDENT: So people come into our country illegally. We’re taking them out legally. It’s very simple. It’s not something I like doing, but people have come into our country illegally.
We’re focused on criminals. We’re focused on — if you look at MS-13 — but when people come into our country, we take those people out and we take them out very legally. They all have papers. And it’s a process. And I have an obligation to do it. They came in illegally; they go out legally.
What the Democrats should be doing now is they should be changing the loopholes. They should be changing asylum. I’ve been talking to that — to you about this for a long time. They should be changing asylum. There’s so many things.
Now, let me — let me give you the good news: Mexico has done an outstanding job so far. If you look at the border, it’s down now 30 percent, and that’s only one week inclusive where they’ve gotten it together.
The June numbers just came out. It’s down. It looks like it’s going to end up being a little bit above 30 percent down. It’s going to be down more and more. They have 21,000 — and I say “21,000” — Mexican soldiers on the borders — both their southern border and our southern border.
And we really have it in control. The problem is — we have a big problem. The laws are so bad. The Democrats have to help us fix the immigration laws. But even with that, because of the job that Mexico is doing — and, yes, they maybe did it because of tariffs, but they’re doing a great job and I appreciate it.
Q Democrats are portraying your action yesterday on the census citizenship question as backing down. Do you believe that you backed down?
THE PRESIDENT: No, no. Who said — who said that?
Q Democrats are saying you backed down. Do you believe you backed down?
THE PRESIDENT: Look, anything you do, the Democrats will say it’s not good. In the meantime, they had a disaster. They had these laws that are so bad — catch-and-release, and you look at the different laws — visa lottery, that was a Chuck Schumer law. It’s a disaster. A lottery. You pick them out. A lottery.
The Democrats have caused tremendous problems. What they’ve let China get away with — for years and years, China has been ripping us off. They’re not ripping us off anymore. Right now, companies are fleeing China because of the tariffs. And right now, we’re taking in billions of dollars. And, by the way, our people are not paying for it. They’re paying for it — they’re paying for it by depressing their currency and they’re putting a lot of money.
Look, nobody’s ever done what I’ve done with China. And that’s fine. And we’ll get along with China. But you know, when I see a guy like Biden, who is weak and ineffective — and everybody that knows him knows it. He’s a weak man. He’s an ineffective man. President Xi laughs at guys like that.
Now, with that being said, I would say this: President Xi, Putin, all of these guys go to bed at night and they pray that Joe Biden or somebody like him becomes President so they can continue to rip off our country.
Q Two questions, please. With regard to Jeffrey Epstein, did you have any suspicions that he was molesting young women, underaged women?
THE PRESIDENT: No, I had no idea. I had no idea. I haven’t spoken to him in many, many years. But I had — I didn’t have no idea.
Q Secretary Acosta, now that you’re resigning, do you regret that plea deal that you struck with Epstein (inaudible)?
SECRETARY ACOSTA: I’ve already — I’ve already talked about the Epstein matter. I gave a press conference that, according to the media, was longer than any other Cabinet official in this administration.
You know, I will reiterate what I said previously. My point here today is we have an amazing economy. We have unemployment lower than we have seen, literally, in my lifetime. And the focus needs to be on this economy and on job creation, on the decreased fatalities in the workplace and in mining. And going forward, that’s where this administration needs to focus, not on this matter.
Q Mr. President, following up on your Social — following up on the Social Media Summit, you’re instructing agencies to look into this. How long do you think this review is going to take —
THE PRESIDENT: We are looking into it. The platforms are absolutely, in my opinion, 100 percent crooked. They discriminate against Republicans and conservatives. They’re 100 percent dishonest. That’s my opinion. And something is going to be done.
But I can tell you, from personal experience, I see it. I had something happen this morning — I won’t tell you about it yet — but these platforms are 100 percent — they’re 100 percent dishonest.
Q Mr. President, the reason for your falling out with Mr. Epstein matters. Was it related to business or the abuse of underaged girls? People want to know.
THE PRESIDENT: I was not a fan of Jeffrey Epstein. And you watched people yesterday saying that I threw him out of a club. I didn’t want anything to do with him. That was many, many years ago. It shows you one thing: that I have good taste. Okay?
Now, other people, they went all over with him. They went to his island. They went all over the place. He was very well known in Palm Beach. His island — whatever his island was, wherever it is — I was never there. Find out the people that went to the island.
But Jeffrey Epstein was not somebody that I respected. I threw him out. In fact, I think the great James Patterson, who is a member of Mar-a-Lago, made a statement yesterday that, many years ago, I threw him out.
I’m not a fan of Jeffrey Epstein.
Q Mr. President, are you planning to move ahead with deportations intensities this weekend? Are you planning to —
THE PRESIDENT: Yes. Yes.
Q You are.
Q But what about the families, Mr. President?
THE PRESIDENT: You know what? You know what? They came in illegally. They have to go out.
We have millions of people standing on line waiting to become citizens of this country. They’ve taken tests. They’ve studied. They’ve learned English. They’ve done so much. It’s — they’ve been waiting seven, eight, nine years. We have some waiting 10 years to come in. It’s not fair that somebody walks across the line and now they’ve become citizens of the United States.
Q (Inaudible) British ambassador resign?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I wish the British ambassador well. Some people just told me — too bad — but they said he actually said very good things about me. He was sort of referring to other people. And I guess I quoted Lindsey Graham today; he said some things that were pretty nice from the British ambassador.
But look, I wish the British ambassador well. But they’ve got to stop their leaking problems there just like they have to stop them in our country.
Q Why have you pre-announced these ICE raids? Why have you given warning, essentially —
THE PRESIDENT: We’re not giving warning.
Q — to all of these illegals?
THE PRESIDENT: No, we’re not giving warning.
Q They know about the ICE raids, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: There’s nothing to be secret about.
Q They know about the ICE raids.
THE PRESIDENT: Can I tell you what?
THE PRESIDENT: There’s nothing to be secret about. ICE is law enforcement. They’re great patriots. They have a tough job. Nothing to be secret about. If the word gets out, it gets out. Because hundreds of people know about it. It’s a major operation.
So if the word gets out, it gets out. It starts on Sunday, and they’re going to take people out and they’re going to bring them back to their countries. Or they’re going to take criminals out, put them in prison, or put in them in prison in the countries they came from. We’re focused on criminals as much as we can, before we do anything else.
THE PRESIDENT: For instance, MS-13 — very important — we’re taking them out by the thousands. We’ve already been taking — you know, we didn’t stop this. We’ve been taking criminals out for the last year. These people have been here for many years — MS-13. We’re taking them out by the thousands. We’re getting them out.
Q Mr. President, do you believe that using data to fill in the citizenship data on the census will be as effective as a question?
THE PRESIDENT: I think we’ll have it in the end where it’ll be actually more accurate than a census. Because we have information, gotten through other means, whether you look at Social Security or other places. We have — including loan applications — we have information that’s probably more accurate than the information we could get by going in and asking somebody, “Are you a citizen?” Because a lot of people aren’t going to tell the truth.
Q Did you back down on that (inaudible)?
THE PRESIDENT: No. No. Not only didn’t I back down, I backed up. Becau- — anybody else would’ve given this up a long time ago. The problem is we had three very unfriendly courts. They were judges that weren’t exactly in love with this whole thing. And they were wrong. But it would’ve taken a long time to get through those courts. You understand that better than anybody, John. It would’ve taken a long time back up to the Supreme Court.
So I asked, “Is there another way?” And somebody said there’s a way that might be better. It might be more accurate. They explained it. I said, “Then what are we wasting time — we’re going to be in court for the next two years. What are we wasting time for?”
In the meantime, we have to, by law, have the printing done. So the printing has starting and we’re already finding out who the citizens are and who they’re not — and, I think, more accurately.
So, when I heard this, I said, “I think that’s actually better. I think what we’re doing is actually better.” And only the fake news, which there’s plenty, would say differently.
Q Did Wilbur Ross let you down, Mr. President? Did Wilbur Ross let you down?
THE PRESIDENT: No, he didn’t let me down. No.
Q How many people are you targeting? How many people are you targeting during the raids? And, again, are you worried at all about law enforcement — putting them at risk because everybody knows about the raids? Two questions.
THE PRESIDENT: These are great professionals. These are people that have done this for a long time. We’re really looking for criminals as much as we can. We’re trying to find the criminal population, which has been coming into this country over the last 10 years. We know who they are, too. We’ve been taking them out by the thousands — specifically, gang members from MS-13 and other gangs. We’ve been taking them out by the thousands.
Q How many?
THE PRESIDENT: But we are really specifically looking for bad players, but we’re also looking for people that came into our country not through a process — they just walked over a line. They have to leave.
Q The mayors don’t want ICE raid. The mayors don’t want the ICE raids, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Some do. No. No. No. The mayors in sanctuary cities, like — a mayor like de Blasio, who is probably the worst mayor in the country — from New York. I don’t even know what his attitude is. Nobody does because he doesn’t work very hard. Nobody knows what the hell he does. But a guy like de Blasio probably wouldn’t want the raid. But many mayors do — most mayors do. You know why? They don’t want to have crimes in their cities or states.
Q What do you think about Christine Lagarde? What do you think about Christine Lagarde running?
Q On military families — what about military families? Will you’re- — is your administration going to reconsider ending the parole in — policy — place on military families and provide assurance —
THE PRESIDENT: So nobody has treated the military better than President Trump. Nobody. Nobody has even come close. And you see that with budgets, you see that with the pay increases, and you see that with medical. But you know where you see it more than any place is with the vets. Because the vets now have Choice. They never had Choice before. For forty- —
Q But can you guarantee that their loved ones won’t be deported?
THE PRESIDENT: Wait. Wait. Wait. For 44 years —
Q Can you guarantee that their loved ones won’t be deported?
THE PRESIDENT: Wait. Wait. For 44 years — we are looking at that. For 44 years, they’ve tried to get Veterans Choice. I got it. Nobody else could’ve gotten it.
Q What did you mean — what did you mean, Mr. President, when you said —
Q Turkey — Turkey is planning to take delivery of —
THE PRESIDENT: Okay. Go ahead.
Q What you would like Robert Mueller to tell Congress next week?
THE PRESIDENT: Say it.
Q What would you like Robert Mueller to tell Congress next week?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think, how many bites at the apple do you get?
THE PRESIDENT: We’ve gone through 500 witnesses, 2,500 subpoenas. I’ve let them interview my lawyers. I’ve let them inter- — because I had nothing to do with Russia. Now that’s come out. There was no collusion.
Q You didn’t do an interview, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: But how many — how many people and how many times — and this has been going on for two and a half years. Rush Limbaugh said there’s nobody else in the world that he knows that could’ve taken it. And on top of taking it, I’ve been a great President. I’ve done more —
Q But, sir, you did not sit down with the Special Counsel.
THE PRESIDENT: Listen. Listen. I’ve done more in two and a half years than any other President — nobody’s even close — including, we just said, Veterans Choice and all of the other things I’ve gotten.
But for two and a half years — so now they have Mueller go make a speech. That goes. Now they wanted to have him again. They want to go it again and again and again because they want to hurt the President for the election. Because I see what I’m running against. You got Sleepy Joe Biden. He doesn’t have the energy to be President. And the people that nipping on his heels — they don’t have what it takes.
And I can tell you that China and Russia — and I’ve been rougher on Russia than any President in the last 50 years. China and Russia and try North Korea — where I have a relationship. You don’t have a man testing nuclear anymore. You have a man —
Q Is there something you want Mueller to say in this hearing?
THE PRESIDENT: Wait. Wait. You have a man that was so happy to see me. That’s a good thing, not a bad thing. You have a man that doesn’t smile a lot. But when he saw me, he smiled. He was happy. You have a man that, when I came into to office, all he was doing before under Obama was testing nuclear weapons and blowing up mountains. And now he’s not doing it.
Q But on Robert Mueller, is there anything you’d like Robert Mueller to say about you?
THE PRESIDENT: There’s nothing he can say. He’s written a report. The report said, “No collusion.” And it said, effectively, “No obstruction,” because there’s no obstruction. And the other thing, it’s very interesting —
Q But he couldn’t clear you on obstruction, sir.
Q Do you think he should (inaudible)?
THE PRESIDENT: So they find out there’s no collusion. The whole thing is about collusion. So they find out it’s no collusion. Now, actually, it was different; it was bad crimes committed by the other side. We’ll find out about that. I’m sure that’s being looked at right now.
Q Do you regret not talking to Mueller?
Q Do you think he should show up? Should he show up show, sir?
THE PRESIDENT: So — so there’s no collusion and there’s no obstruction.
Now, we have a great Attorney General now — he’s strong and he’s smart — and he read it and he studied it — along with Rod Rosenstein, who worked it from the beginning. And Rod Rosenstein and Bill Barr said, “There’s no obstruction.”
It’s also interesting — number one, there’s no crime. And how do you obstruct when there’s no crime?
Also, take a look at one other thing. It’s a thing called Article II. Nobody ever mentions Article II. It gives me all of these rights at a level that nobody has ever seen before. We don’t even talk about Article II.
So they ruled: no collusion, no objection. Very simple.
THE PRESIDENT: And you can only — by the way, you can only get so many bites at the apple. We got to get on to running a country. You got immigration, infrastructure, drug prices. The Democrats aren’t working. All they’re doing is trying to hurt people like Alex Acosta, a man who has done —
Q Do you think Democrats hurt Mr. Acosta?
THE PRESIDENT: — a man who has done — I have no idea. Are you a Democrat?
SECRETARY ACOSTA: I am not, no.
THE PRESIDENT: I have no idea. You know what I know? You know what I know about Alex? He was a great student at Harvard. He’s Hispanic, which I — which I so admire, because maybe it was a little tougher for him, and maybe not. But he did an unbelievable job as the Secretary of Labor. That’s what I know about him. I know one thing: He did a great job.
SECRETARY ACOSTA: And — and —
THE PRESIDENT: And until this came up, there was never an ounce of problem with this very good man.
SECRETARY ACOSTA: And let me — let me just add — let me — let me just add, you know, I hear a lot about how individuals got jobs and whatnot. Before our interview, we had never met, we had never talked. The President selected me as it should be done. It wasn’t that we knew each other. It’s not that we had a longstanding relationship. And I think that’s a testament to his selection process.
Q Mr. President, what do you make of the infighting going on among Democrats in Congress between Nancy Pelosi, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her squad?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think Cortez — who kept Amazon out of New York, and they don’t like her for that; thousands and thousands of jobs — I think Cortez is being very disrespectful to somebody that’s been there a long time.
I deal with Nancy Pelosi a lot, and we go back and forth and it’s fine. But I think that a group of people is being very disrespectful for her — to her. And you know what? I don’t think that Nancy can let that go on.
A group of people that came from — I don’t know where they came from. I’m looking at this Omar from Minnesota, and if one half of the things they’re saying about her are true, she shouldn’t even be in office.
But Cortez should treat Nancy Pelosi with respect. She should not be doing what she’s doing.
And I’ll tell you something about Nancy Pelosi that you know better than I do: She is not a racist. Okay? She is not a racist. For them to call her a racist is a disgrace.
Q Mr. President, are you visiting an immigration detention center like the Vice President?
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah — and very importantly, today, in a few hours, Vice President Pence and the head of Homeland Security are taking the press and congresspeople into detention centers. And we’re the ones that said they were crowded. They’re crowded because we have a lot of people. But they’re in good shape.
And the reason is because the fake-news New York Times wrote a phony story. What Border Patrol is doing — they’ve become nurses and janitors and doctors. And they’re not trained for that. What they’ve done is so incredible.
So they’re touring detention centers. And that was my idea because I read a phony story in the New York Times today — or the other day — about the detention centers, about the conditions. And I had people calling me up at the highest levels from Border Patrol and ICE, almost crying, about that phony story.
And they never saw anything. They have phony sources. They don’t even have sources. They write whatever they want. The New York Times is a very dishonest newspaper. They write what they want. And what they do is a tremendous disservice to this country. They are truly the enemy of the people, I’ll tell you that. They are the enemy of the people. And what they wrote about detention centers is unfair.
Now, I believe it’s going to be the center they wrote about, but we’re taking a tour. They are — I’d love to be there, but I’m going to Ohio, Wisconsin.
Q Are you going to — are you going any time?
THE PRESIDENT: I’ll be going. I’ll be going.
But I’ve seen it. I’ve seen it. And these centers are — I mean, to have Ocasio say, “They’re drinking out of toilets.” She made that up, okay? That’s a phony story. She made it up. And these people, they — I’ll tell you what, I’ve been with ICE and I’ve been with Border Patrol a lot. They love those people coming across the border. They love them. And I’ve seen it. They love them.
Q Does your administration have an estimate of how many illegals are living in the United States? Have they given you a number?
THE PRESIDENT: So one of the reasons the Democrats don’t want to have a census is because the number of people in the United States, for many years — you know, for years, you’ve heard 11 million; it’s far greater than that. But we’ll find out because I’m going to do something much more accurate than the way we — the way we did it in the census would never have been very accurate. What we’re doing will be much more accurate.
Q Anything on Iran, Mr. President? Anything on Iran?
THE PRESIDENT: The wall is being built. The wall is being built. We had a couple of very good decisions. We had one bad decision. It’s very tough.
Again, Paul Ryan let us down. Paul Ryan was a terrible Speaker. Frankly, he was a baby. He didn’t know what the hell he was doing. The wall let us down.
Now, in all fairness, the problem with — during — when we had both houses — in the Senate, you need 60 votes. Well, we don’t have 60 votes. We had 51 last time. Now we have 53 because we won during the ’18 election, which nobody wants to say, just so you understand.
So the wall is being built. We had one setback. We had one tremendous victory.
And I had a tremendous victory that was very rarely covered by the press. Two days ago, I won the emoluments case. That was the biggest case of them all. I won the emoluments case. People don’t know that, by being President, I lose billions of dollars. By my being President — and especially in money I can’t make because I don’t do deals. But I lose billions of dollars.
But, another thing, I get a salary of $400- or $450,000 a year. I don’t think any other President has ever given up — it’s a lot of money, almost a half a million dollars. I give it up. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anybody say, “I give up my salary.” I’m not looking for credit, but I give up my salary. I get zero. I get zero.
But you know what makes me happy? That we’re doing a great job. And I want to thank Alex Acosta. He was a great, great Secretary.
Q Anything on Iran, sir? Sir, I asked about Iran. I asked about Iran — I asked about Iran, not the wall. Could you give us an update on your thoughts on Iran?
THE PRESIDENT: Iran better be careful. They’re treading on very dangerous territory. Iran, if you’re listening, you better be careful.
Q Mr. President, on Turkey: Will you sanction Turkey?
Q Should Epstein stay behind bars?
Q Yesterday you got a win in the Ninth Circuit court over Title X funding. What’s your reaction? And are you trying to completely defund Planned Parenthood?
THE PRESIDENT: They had a big win yesterday. We have some very big cases having to do with that. We’ll see where it (inaudible).
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