9:12 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: So I just want to tell you the economy is doing fantastically well. We have people over in China right now. We’re negotiating with China. We’ll see what happens. We’re either going to make a great deal or we’re not going to make a deal at all. But a lot of great things are happening, and including with China.
Our country has gone way up in terms of its differential. We’re the number one economy in the world. It’s picked up tremendously in the last three years since I’ve been here. So a lot of great things are happening. A lot of really great things are happening. The economy is through the roof. I guess we’ll hopefully get good decisions from certain branches of government. We’ll see what happens. But we have a lot of good things happening.
We were just speaking with the Department of Commerce, and we have interest in our country like we’ve never had before.
Q Mr. President, do you regret targeting Baltimore?
THE PRESIDENT: No. Baltimore has been very badly mishandled for many years. As you know, Congressman Cummings has been there for a long time. He’s had a very iron hand on it. It’s a corrupt city; there’s no question about it. All you have to do is look at the facts. The government has pumped in, over the years, billions and billions of dollars to no avail — to absolutely no avail.
Baltimore is a — it’s an example of what corrupt government leads to. Billions of dollars have been given, and I feel so sorry for the people of Baltimore. And if they ask me, we will get involved. But we’re already involved from the standpoint that, over many years, billions and billions of dollars have been given to Baltimore. It’s been misspent. It’s been missing. It’s been stolen with a lot of corrupt government. And as you know, Cummings has been in charge.
Now, I will say this: I think that Representative Cummings should take his Oversight Committee and start doing oversight on Baltimore. He’d find out some real things.
Q On China, how did the talks go today? And on the Fed, what should the rate cut be?
THE PRESIDENT: So the talks are moving very well with China, but they were often with China. But China always makes a new deal at the end, or seems to. We’re taking in billions and billions of dollars from China in the form of tariffs. Our people are not paying for it. China reduced their currency. They devalued their currency, and they’re pumping money into the system in order to pay for it.
They had the worst year in 27 years. They’ve had a terrible year because of the tariffs. A lot of companies are moving out of China. You’ve never seen this before. The United States is doing phenomenally well and we’re taking in tens of billions of dollars for — from China.
We’re giving some money to our farmers who have been really targeted by China to do a number on them, and — because they like me. The farmers like me and I love the farmers. And I will say that the farmers are very grateful. The most they’ve ever spent on agricultural product is $16 billion. So when they pulled out, I took just a small part of the money that China is paying us, and I gave it toward the farmers and the farmers are very happy.
Q Is a quarter-point rate cut from the Fed enough for you, sir?
THE PRESIDENT: The Fed moved, in my opinion, far too early and far too severely. It puts me at a — somewhat of a disadvantage. Fortunately, I’ve made the economy so strong that nothing is going to stop us. But the Fed could have made it a lot easier. I would like to see a large cut, and I’d like to see immediately the quantitative tightening stopped. It should be stopped. For them to have done quantitative tightening and also higher interest rates simultaneously, I think, was a big mistake.
I also think that had they not done it — as good as we’ve done, we’ve set a record, as you will tell, as you will say, in the stock market. We have the all-time high in the history of the stock market. I think I would have been 10,000 points higher and I think we would have been in the fours with GDP.
President Obama had zero interest rates; we have normalized interest rates. With zero interest rates, anything happens. And yet we still blew his economy away.
Q Was it a mistake not retaining Janet Yellen?
THE PRESIDENT: I don’t talk about that. I just — I’m very disappointed in the Fed. I think they acted too quickly by far. And I think I’ve been proven right. People have said I was right; they were wrong. The Fed is often wrong. The Fed is often wrong.
Q (Inaudible) Washington Post op-ed called Mitch McConnell a “Russian asset.”
THE PRESIDENT: The Washington Post called Mitch McConnell what?
Q A Russian asset.
THE PRESIDENT: I think the Washington Post is the Russian asset, by comparison. Mitch McConnell loves our country. He’s done a great job. We’re trying to pass an infrastructure bill. It’s being written up right now, as we speak, for our highways and our roadways.
Mitch McConnell has got more judges than probably any — I mean, in all fairness, with my help. But at the combination, we’ve got up — we’re going to be up very soon to 179 federal judges. Nobody has ever seen anything like that. And other than George Washington, we’ll end up having the highest percentage of judges put on the court and it’s going to be a legacy.
Mitch McConnell is a man that knows less about Russia and Russia’s influence than even Donald Trump. And I know nothing.
So I think it’s a horrible thing when a paper — which is really just a paper for the benefit of Amazon — the Washington Post is fake news, just like the New York Times is fake news. It’s put there for the benefit — the Washington Post — of Amazon. That’s my opinion. And I think it’s a disgrace.
And if they actually said that, I didn’t read it. If they actually said that — that Mitch McConnell is an asset of Russia — they ought to be ashamed of themselves and they ought to apologize.
Q Are you going to watch the Democratic debate tomorrow night? And do you have a sense yet, in your gut, as to who your likely opponent will be in 2020?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think right now — I am watching — I think right now it will be Sleepy Joe. I think. I feel he’ll limp across the line. That’s what I think.
So what I think doesn’t mean anything, but I know the other people. I know him. I think he’s off his game by a lot, but I think — personally, I think it’s going to be Sleepy Joe.
Q Mr. President, do you think you’re alienating voters when you tweet at the Squad and at Congressman Cummings?
THE PRESIDENT: No, I think I’m helping myself because I’m pointing out the tremendous corruption that’s taken place in Baltimore and other Democratic-run cities. All you have to do is look at the past mayors in Baltimore — see what happened. No, I think I’m helping myself.
And I’ll tell you what: The White House and myself — in letters and emails and phone calls — have received more phone calls than I think on any other subject, of people from Baltimore and other cities corruptly run by Democrats, thanking me for getting involved. Those people are living in hell in Baltimore. They’re largely African American. We have a large African American population and they really appreciate what I’m doing and they’ve let me know it. They really appreciate it.
And, by the way, the numbers just came out. Unemployment for African Americans is the lowest it’s been. The best numbers — meaning, in the history of our country. The lowest in the history of our country.
But people have called from Baltimore thanking me so much, because all that money that’s been spent over 20 years has been stolen and wasted by people like Elijah Cummings.
Q Do you want a free trade agreement with Brazil?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I have a great relationship with Brazil. I have a fantastic relationship with your President. And he’s a great gentleman. He was here, as you know. In fact, they say the “Trump of Brazil.” I like that. That’s a compliment.
And, by the way, I think he’s doing a great job. It’s a tough job, but I think your President is doing a fantastic job. He’s a wonderful man with a wonderful family.
Q And you will discuss free trade agreement?
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah, we’re going to work on a free trade agreement with Brazil. Brazil is a big trading partner. They charge us a lot of tariffs, but other than that we love the relationship.
Q Are you concerned about the health of Russian opposition leader —
THE PRESIDENT: The what?
Q The Russian opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, who apparently might’ve been poisoned while in prison. Have you heard about that?
THE PRESIDENT: I don’t — I’ve heard about it. I don’t know about it, but I’ll find out about it. This is new. I heard about it last night.
Q Are you concerned more about the Ratcliffe nomination? You have Democrats and Republicans who say a Trump loyalist should not be in a DNI position.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, John Ratcliffe is a brilliant man. He is a wonderful person. I spoke to him long before about this — long before, months ago. I spoke to him long before the Mueller fiasco. That was a fiasco. I think probably nobody in the history of Capitol Hill has embarrassed themselves like what Mueller did to himself and to the Democrats.
But John Ratcliffe — I spoke to him about this for a long time. He’s a very talented guy. He’s a strong man. It’s what we need in that position.
Q More and more people are calling you “racist.” Does that bother you?
THE PRESIDENT: I am the least racist person there is anywhere in the world. When con men — who I’ve known almost — you know, almost all my business life, because I had to deal with him, unfortunately, in New York. But I got along with him — Al Sharpton. Now, he’s a racist. He’s a racist. But when people — when people —
Q Racist against who?
THE PRESIDENT: Let me explain it to you. What I’ve done for African Americans in two and a half years, no President has been able to do anything like it. Unemployment at the lowest level in the history of our country for African Americans — nobody can beat that. You look at poverty levels, they’re doing better than they’ve ever done before. So many things: Opportunity Zones, criminal justice reform. President Obama couldn’t get it done. It was done.
Really, the biggest beneficiary, probably, is African Americans. I got criminal justice reform done. President Obama couldn’t get it done. No other President was able to get it done. What I’ve done for African Americans, no President, I would say, has done.
Now, I’ll say this: They are so happy — because I get the calls. They are so happy at what I have been able to do in Baltimore and other Democratic-run, corrupt cities. The money has been stolen — what they’ve done. It’s been wasted and it’s been stolen — billions and billions of dollars. And the African American community is so thankful. They’ve called me and they said, “Finally, somebody is telling the truth.”
Q Mr. President, do you think there will be a trade deal with China before November of 2020?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think the biggest problem to a trade deal is China would love to wait and just hope — they hope it’s not going to happen. I hope. But they would just love if I got defeated so they could deal with somebody like Elizabeth Warren or Sleepy Joe Biden or any of these people because then they’d be allowed and able to continue to rip off our country like they’ve been doing for the last 30 years.
China has been taking out hundreds of billions of dollars a year with our country. And now what I’ve done with the tariffs is — number one, they had the worst year they’ve had in 27 years, yesterday — the Wall Street Journal. The worst year in 27 years. Companies are leaving China by the thousands, and their prices are coming down.
And I will tell you this: China is dying to make a deal with me. But whether or not I’ll do it — it’s up to me; it’s not up to them.
Q What can you get China to give you this week? Just this week, what do you think you can get China to give you in the negotiations?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think China is willing to give up a lot. But I — that doesn’t mean I’m willing to accept it. I think if China had their wish, they’d wait until after the election, they’ll pray that Trump loses, and then they’ll make a deal with a stiff — somebody that doesn’t know what they’re doing — like Obama and Biden, like all of the Presidents before. Because what they’ve done is they’ve just picked our pockets as a nation. That’s not happening with Trump.
Q On Virginia — the black Virginia lawmakers are boycotting your event today.
THE PRESIDENT: That’s okay.
Q What do you say to them? I mean, they’re offended by your remarks.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think if that’s the case, I’d be shocked. But if that’s the case, they’re fighting against their people because the African American people have been calling the White House. They have never been so happy as what a President has done. Not only the lowest unemployment in history for African Americans; not only Opportunity Zones for — really, the biggest beneficiary are the inner cities; and not only criminal justice reform. But they’re so happy that I pointed out the corrupt politics of Baltimore. It’s filthy dirty. It’s so horrible. And they are happy as hell.
So, you may have a couple of politicians boycott, but it’s all a fix. It’s all a fix. The fact is African American people love the job I’m doing because I’m working for them. I’m not working for the politicians.
Q Mr. President, do you believe that congressional oversight, is (inaudible), in your case?
THE PRESIDENT: Oh, absolutely. It’s — what he should do — what Elijah Cummings should do is he should take his Oversight Committee, bring them down to Baltimore, and invest all of it, and really study the billions and billions of dollars that’s been stolen. It’s been wasted; it’s been stolen. They ought to take that beautiful waste of an oversight committee, go down to Baltimore and other Democratic-run cities, and take a look. See if you can find the billions that have been stolen.
Q Is your goal in North Korea simply containment — just a status quo?
THE PRESIDENT: My relationship with Kim Jong Un is a very good one, as I’m sure you’ve seen.
We’ll see what happens. I can’t tell you what’s going to happen. I know one thing: that if my opponent was President — if she won — you would be in a major war right now with North Korea. And we are nowhere close.
So we’ll see. I have a good relationship with him. I like him; he likes me. We’ll see what happens.
Q Mr. President, are you willing to visit Baltimore to go see — are you willing to visit Baltimore and go tour it today?
THE PRESIDENT: At the right time, I’ll visit.
But the people of Baltimore are very thankful — they have let us know by the thousands of people — because of the fact that finally somebody is pointing out how corrupt Baltimore is, how billions and billions of dollars have been stolen. And the ones that like it the best — what I’m doing — are African American voters. Those are the ones.
9:29 A.M. EDT