Oval Office

10:35 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Okay, well, thank you very much everyone. Before we begin, I’ll just say that we’re very well prepared for the incoming hurricane. We have another coming. So we’ve done very well — North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico –so many places.

And we have another one coming, and a big one — much bigger than they anticipated a week ago, seven days ago. I heard, for the first time, there was a very small drop of weather that looked like it was forming. And now, it’s pretty close to a Category 3, if it’s not already a Category 3.

So we are very well prepared. FEMA is ready. We’re all ready. I spoke with Governor Scott, spoke to everybody that you have to speak to. And I think that hopefully we’ll get lucky, but maybe that won’t happen. But we’re prepared.

I wanted to do this because Nikki Haley, Ambassador to the United Nations, has been very special to me. She’s done an incredible job. She’s a fantastic person, very importantly — but she also is somebody that gets it. She has been at the United Nations from the beginning with us — right from the beginning — and worked with us on the campaign. It’s been really a long time — very intense.

And she told me — probably six months ago, she said, “You know, maybe at the end of the year — at the end of a two-year period, but the end of the year — I want to take a little time off. I want to take a little break.”

She’s been a very successful, as you know, governor of South Carolina for eight years. And then she did this, and this is possibly even more intense —

AMBASSADOR HALEY: Yes.

THE PRESIDENT: — with what’s going on in the world, and very dangerous, and a lot of things.

But she’s done a fantastic job, and we’ve done a fantastic job together. We’ve solved a lot of problems, and we’re in the process of solving a lot of problems. At the beginning, North Korea was a massive problem, and now we’re moving along. It’s moving along really nicely.

I can speak for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — he thinks the world of Nikki. And so we’re all — we’re all happy for you, in one way, but we hate to — you’ll — hopefully, you’ll be coming back at some point.

AMBASSADOR HALEY: (Laughs.)

THE PRESIDENT: But you want to just — in maybe a different capacity. You can have your pick.

But I just wanted to let you know — so at the end of the year, Nikki will be leaving. And we’ll be in constant touch, I know that. Whenever you have any ideas, you’re going to call me —

AMBASSADOR HALEY: Yes.

THE PRESIDENT: — because you know all the players.

And that was really the thing I think she did best at the United Nations; she got to know the players. She got to know China, Russia, India. She knows everybody on a very first-name basis. And they like her — except for maybe a couple, which is normal, right?

AMBASSADOR HALEY: (Laughs.)

THE PRESIDENT: They can’t all like you. But they do; they really like her. And I think, maybe more importantly, they respect her.

So, Nikki, I just wanted to tell you that we will miss you. We’ll be speaking all the time, but we will miss you nevertheless. And you have done a fantastic job. And I want to thank you very much.

AMBASSADOR HALEY: Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you.

Well, I want to say — first of all, I want to thank the President for just, you know, allowing us to come out and talk to you this way. It has been an honor of a lifetime. You know, I said I am such a lucky girl to have been able to lead the state that raised me, and to serve a country I love so very much. It has really been a blessing, and I want to thank you for that.

But I’m most excited — look at the two years. Look at what has happened in two years with the United States on foreign policy. Now, the United States is respected. Countries may not like what we do, but they respect what we do. They know that if we say we’re going to do something, we follow it through. And the President proved that — whether it was with the chemical weapons in Syria; whether it’s with NATO — saying that other countries have to pay their share; I mean, whether it’s the trade deals, which has been amazing. They get that the President means business, and they follow through with that.

But then if you look at just these two years at the U.N., we cut $1.3 billion in the U.N.’s budget. We’ve made it stronger. We’ve made it more efficient.

South Sudan — we got an arms embargo, which was a long time coming.

Three North Korean sanctions packages, which were the largest in a generation, done in a way that we could really work towards denuclearizing North Korea.

The Iran deal — bringing attention to the world that every country needs to understand you can’t overlook all of the bad things they’re doing; you have to see them for the threat that they are.

I think you look at the anti-Israel bias, and the strength and courage that the President showed in moving the embassy, and showing the rest of the world we will put our embassy where we want to put our embassy.

You know, all of those things have made a huge difference in the U.S. standing. But I can tell you that it’s — the U.S. is strong again. And the U.S. is strong in a way that should make all Americans very proud.

And I do want to say that it’s not just the President I want to thank. The family in general — the First Lady has been nothing but very, very kind to me.

I can’t say enough good things about Jared and Ivanka. Jared is such a hidden genius that no one understands. I mean, to re-do the NAFTA deal the way he did. What I’ve done working with him on the Middle East Peace Plan — it is so unbelievably well done.

And Ivanka has been just a great friend. And they do a lot of things behind the scenes that I wish more people knew about because we’re a better country because they’re in this administration.

I also just have to say, certainly, thank you to my family. Michael is a saint. And my two little ones, I adore them.

And to Team U.S.-U.N. You know, they sacrificed a lot. They put a lot of time and energy into it. But they have a lot of heart, and really wanted to make America proud.

And so, with that, I’m not leaving until the end of the year. My goal is that we make sure that everything is in good place, and — for the next ambassador to come in. But it’s a great day in the United States. And I’m proud to have been part of a team.

Now, I don’t have anything set on where I’m going to go. I think that the main thing was — I was Governor for six years, and we dealt with the Hurricane, a thousand-year flood, a church shooting, a school shooting. There was a lot. And then, to come in and do two years of Russia and Iran and North Korea — it’s been eight years of intense time, and I’m a believer in term limits.

I think you have to be selfless enough to know when you step aside and allow someone else to do the job. So, thank you, Mr. President —

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Nikki. I’m so proud of you.

AMBASSADOR HALEY: — it’s been an honor of a lifetime. And I will say this: For all of you that are going to ask about 2020; no, I’m not running for 2020. I can promise you what I’ll be doing is campaigning for this one. So, I look forward to supporting the President in the next election.

THE PRESIDENT: That’s so good. Thank you, Nikki.

Q Ambassador Haley, you list a long list of accomplishments. Why would you want to leave that all behind? Is it really a personal decision because you’ve been away from your family for so long? Or is it something else, too?

AMBASSADOR HALEY: My family is very supportive. So, no, there’s no personal reasons. I think that it’s just very important for government officials to understand when it’s time to step aside. And I have given everything I’ve got these last eight years. And I do think that sometimes it’s good to rotate in other people who can put that same energy and power into it.

So there really is — a lot of people are going to want to say there’s a lot of reasons why I’m leaving. The truth is I want to make sure that this administration, the President, has the strongest person to fight. It was a blessing to go into the U.N. with body armor every day and defend America. And I’ll always do that; I’ll never truly step aside from fighting for our country. But I will tell you that I think it’s time.

Q Then, Mr. President, why make the announcement now as opposed to after the midterms?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, Nikki’s going to be staying until of the — until the end of the year, which will be just about two years. And I just think — and I was just — as Nikki was speaking, I was thinking, when we came into office, it was almost inevitable in the minds of many that we were going to war with North Korea. If you ask President Obama, I’m sure he’ll tell you that that was by far his biggest problem when we sat in that — right here. But that looked like a real problem.

Iran looked like a real problem. It was a question of when would they take over the Middle East, prior to my coming here. And now, Iran is fighting for their lives. They’ve got riots in all their cities. It’s blowing up. Their inflation, their economy is in tatters. And at some point, they’ll probably come and want to make a real deal, not the deal that they made — the ridiculous deal that they made that was unacceptable to me.

And so we’ll see what happens. But what a difference between Iran, when we first came — I’d like to say the day before we came. And also, if you look at North Korea. I mean, there was a deal that — it was something that was — it was a devastating — potentially devastating problem. And now, the relationships are very good.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo just left. Had a great meeting — also was in China. Also spoke to many of the Asian leaders, or went there and had some good meetings. But had a really very good meeting with North Korea and Chairman Kim. And we’ve just made a lot of progress on so many other fronts, also.

And I think the world — as Nikki said, the world is really respecting the United States again, much more so they have — than they have in many, many decades. We are respected again, that I can tell you. Very much respected again.

And people want to be on our side. Even if you look at the votes in the United Nations. I mean, votes that we would normally get no votes, we’re getting very strong votes now.

So, I just want to thank Nikki. And I thought this would be an appropriate way of doing it. Because when you write it out on a piece of paper that, you know, “Ambassador Haley will be leaving,” and you say nice things, people say, “Well, what’s going on?” This is the right way to do it. And when you really think somebody’s done a terrific job, I felt this was an appropriate way of doing it, and we both liked it.

So I just want to thank the Ambassador. I just want to thank Nikki, okay?

Q Mr. President, who are you thinking about for successor?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, we have a number of people that would very much like to do it. It’s a great position. And Nikki realizes it. She’s — I think she’s helped make it a much better position, if you want to know the truth. I think it’s become maybe a more glamorous position than it was two years ago. Maybe — I wonder why, but it is. It is — I mean, she’s made it a very glamorous position. She’s made it a more important — more importantly, a more important position.

So we have a — I can almost say many people that want to do it, and they’re very good people. And I’ll be talking also to Nikki about that, and to the General about that, and to my staff. But we have many people that are very, very much interested in doing it.

Q You said you just saw Secretary Pompeo. Were you frustrated by the lack of actual announcements that are coming from him?

THE PRESIDENT: No, not only am I not frustrated, I think it’s incredible what’s happening. You’re talking about North Korea? It’s amazing the way the media — who are you with?

Q With France 24.

THE PRESIDENT: Who?

Q France 24.

AMBASSADOR HALEY: France.

THE PRESIDENT: So, it’s amazing the way the media says that. You know, for 80 years, they couldn’t do a thing. And I’m — what are we, in three months of negotiation? It’s ridiculous.

As I’ve said about a thousand times, you’ve got no rockets flying. You have no missiles flying. You have no nuclear testing. You have nuclear closings. They’re closing up different areas of North Korea. We’re getting the remains back — it’s already started — of our great heroes. We’re — we got our hostages back. And I didn’t pay $1.8 billion, like the previous administration. We got — I paid nothing.

But I have agreed to meet. And I have agreed to spend time. But, how long has it been since we left Singapore? It was three months or so? And people say — that’s the media saying, like, “How can we be negative? Let’s see, he’s done really well. How can we be negative? Oh, are you disappointed with the speed?”

I think the speed is amazing. You have no nuclear tests. You have no rockets. And we have a very good relationship with Chairman Kim, which is very important. I like him; he likes me. The relationship is good. Mike Pompeo had a very, very good meeting. I mean, I spoke to him at length yesterday, and he’ll be coming back. He’ll be back tonight.

And so, I mean just the opposite. I think we’ve made incredible progress. Beyond incredible. Beyond — I don’t think the — some of the press — (inaudible) some of the press really covers it accurately and right. But some of the press really doesn’t.

Yes, John?

Q Do you want to take this opportunity to tell us when your next meeting with Kim will be and where it will be?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, it is happening. And we’re setting that up right now. That was part of the reason that Mike was going over to meet; they’re setting up the meeting. And we’ll be announcing that — probably a different location. Singapore was fantastic, but we’ll probably do a different location.

Q Can you get him to Mar-a-Lago?

THE PRESIDENT: He’d probably like that. I’d like that, too. I think it would be good. But we’ll see. We’re talking about three or four different locations. Timing — won’t be too far away.

Q Any of those locations —

THE PRESIDENT: We’ve made a lot of progress. And this meeting really is to — you know, people don’t realize the importance of the first meeting. I mean, we said, “Point number one: denuclearization.” And for some reason the press doesn’t pick that out. But that was actually point number one; they’ve agreed to denuclearization. And they continue to agree, and they continue.

Now we haven’t removed sanctions, as you know. You know, people said, “What have we done?” We haven’t removed sanctions. We have very big sanctions. I’d love to remove them, but we have to get something for doing that.

Q Any chance the meeting could be on U.S. soil?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, you know, I don’t want to embarrass anybody by asking. I think eventually we’re going to have lots of meetings on U.S. soil and on their soil, by the way. That’s a two-way street — on their soil, also.

I think that the country of North Korea is going to be a very successful country. I think it’s going to be incredibly economically successful. And I want to make it that way. I think it’s going to be great.

Other countries, other people, entrepreneurs, banks — I will tell you, they’re calling wanting to go there and wanting to invest. At some point when Chairman Kim makes that decision, I think he’s going to unleash something that’s going to be spectacular — really spectacular.

And I think he knows it. And I think that’s one of the reasons that we’re having very successful conversations. I think he wants to get on with it.

Q When will a successor to Ambassador Haley be named?

THE PRESIDENT: Excuse me?

Q When will a successor to Ambassador Haley be named? When?

THE PRESIDENT: What did he say?

Q When will a successor be named?

THE PRESIDENT: Oh. I would say we’ll name a successor, I don’t know, within the next two or three weeks. Maybe sooner.

Q Mr. President, have you spoken to the Saudis about the missing Washington Post columnist?

THE PRESIDENT: I have not. No, I have not. But I will be, at some point.

Q What do you know at this point?

THE PRESIDENT: I know nothing right now. I know what everybody else knows — nothing.

Q What’s your response to Hillary Clinton saying last night’s swearing-in of Judge Kavanaugh was more a political event than it was a national event?

THE PRESIDENT: I guess that’s why she lost. She doesn’t get it. She never did. I knew that a long time ago. Hillary never got it. That’s why she lost.

Anything else?

Q Sir, the midterms are in four weeks. What’s your prediction right now for the GOP? And how is your stamina out on the campaign trail?

THE PRESIDENT: I think we’re going to do well. Well, you people would say — I guess, if you saw there was a 5 percent drop-off, you’d say, “There’s something wrong with the President.” You would say.
But no, I’m going to Iowa tonight. We have a big, big crowd. We’re going to make a big announcement tonight by the way in Iowa. We’re going to be making a very big announcement.

And I have to say, the farmers are so thrilled with the USMCA — the new agreement. I don’t use the word “NAFTA” because NAFTA was a disaster for our country. NAFTA — we lost millions and millions of jobs; thousands and thousands of factories and plants; and bad for farmers. You look at what happened. Farmers, over the last fifteen years — it’s only gone down. Now, they’re going to go up.

We just opened up Mexico. We just opened up Canada. And it’s great for our farmers.

But I’m going to Iowa tonight. And we’ll be talking a little ethanol tonight. And we’ve got some great things planned.

And speaking of that, I will say: If you look at industries, the steel industry in this country is back like nothing I’ve ever seen before. In a period of six months, since we started doing what I’m doing, the steel industry has literally revived. U.S. Steel is opening up eight plants. Nucor is opening up. Everybody is. The steel industry in our country is really, really hot.

So it’s been — it’s really been great. But I’ll be going to Iowa tonight.

Q What about Secretary Pompeo’s meeting in China? How did that go? The words —

THE PRESIDENT: Very well.

Q — seemed really sharp.

THE PRESIDENT: No, it went very well. We have a very good relationship with China. But, you know, they took out $500 billion out of our country for many years, each year. And we just can’t let that happen. This should’ve been talked about by people in this chair for many years.

Look, for years and years, they were taking out $200 [billion], $300 [billion], $400 [billion], and even $500 billion dollars a year. We helped rebuild China. If we don’t do that, China’s not where they are right now. And that’s fine with me, but we’re not doing it any longer.

Q You promised more tariffs on China if they retaliated.

THE PRESIDENT: Oh sure. Absolutely.

Q Are you going to go forward with that two hundred —

THE PRESIDENT: One hundred percent. If they do that — if they retaliate.

Q Well, they already have.

THE PRESIDENT: What does retaliate mean? They’ve already retaliated. They’ve taken out $500 billion dollars. That’s — I think that’s the ultimate retaliation.

No, look, China wants to make a deal. And I say they’re not ready yet. I just say they’re not ready yet. And we’ve cancelled a couple of meetings because I just say they’re not ready to make a deal.

We can’t have a one-way street. It’s got to be a two-way street. It’s been a one-way street for 25 years. We’ve got to make it a two-way street. We’ve got to benefit also, okay?

Thank you. Any other questions?

So, I just want to finish because this is really — the pure reason for this is — Nikki, you’ve been fantastic. You’re my friend. And I just — on behalf of the country, I want to thank you for a great job. Thank you, Nikki.

AMBASSADOR HALEY: Thank you. I appreciate (inaudible). Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you very much everybody.

END

10:55 A.M. EDT