11:57 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you very much. Please, thank you.
It was a big day yesterday. An incredible day. And last night, the Republican Party defied history to expand our Senate Majority while significantly beating expectations in the House for the midtown and midterm year. We did this in spite of a very dramatic fundraising disadvantage driven by Democrats’ wealthy donors and special interests, and very hostile media coverage, to put it mildly. The media coverage set a new record and a new standard.
We also had a staggering number of House retirements. So it’s a little tough. These are seats that could’ve been held pretty easily, and we had newcomers going in, and a lot of them worked very hard. But it’s very difficult when you have that many retirements.
We held a large number of campaign rallies with large, large numbers of people going to every one — and to the best of my knowledge, we didn’t have a vacant or an empty seat; I’m sure you would have reported it if you spotted one — including 30 rallies in the last 60 days. And we saw the candidates that I supported achieve great success last night.
As an example, of the 11 candidates we campaigned with during the last week, 9 won last night. This vigorous campaigning stopped the blue wave that they talked about. I don’t know if there ever was such a thing, but could’ve been. If we didn’t do the campaign, probably there could’ve been. And the history really will see what a good job we did in the final couple of weeks in terms of getting some tremendous people over the finish line. They really are tremendous people, but many of them were not known. But they will be known.
This election marks the largest Senate gains for a President’s party in a first midterm election since at least President Kennedy’s in 1962.
There have been only four midterm elections since 1934 in which a President’s party has gained even a single Senate seat. As of now, we picked up, it looks like, three. Could be four. Perhaps it could be two. But we picked up a lot. And most likely, that number will be three. You people probably know that better than I do at this point, because you’ve looked at the more recent numbers.
Fifty-five is the largest number of Republican senators in the last 100 years. In the last 80 years, a sitting President’s party has only gained a cumulative total of eight Senate seats, averaging one per decade. So, if we picked up two, three, or four, that’s a big percentage of that number. So in the last 80 years — you think of that — only eight seats.
In President Obama’s first midterm election, he lost six Senate seats, including in the deep-blue state of Massachusetts.
Republicans captured at least four Senate seats held by Democrat incumbents. And these are tremendously talented, hardworking people that did this — Indiana, North Dakota, Florida, Missouri. We also won two open Senate seats in Tennessee — I want to congratulate our great champion who did such a great job in Tennessee, Marsha — and in Utah. And Arizona is looking very good. Really, very good. She’s done a terrific job. That was a tough race, and she’s done a fantastic job.
In each of these open seats, Democrats recruited very strong candidates with substantial fundraising and media support. We were getting bombarded with money on the other side.
In the House, Republicans dramatically outperformed historical precedents and overcame a historic number of retirements — the most House Republican retirements in 88 years; 43 House Republicans retired.
Now, I will say this — that, in many cases, they were chairman of committees, and they left because they weren’t chairman, because the Republicans have a rule — for six years. And what that does is wonderful in one way; it lets people come through the system and become chairman. And, in another way, it drives people out. Because when they’re a chairman, they don’t want to go and not be a chairman. You’re the chairman of a committee, and you’re a big deal, and then all of a sudden you’re not doing that anymore. So they leave. We had a lot of them leave. I guess you can flip a coin as to which system is better. The Democrats do the other. Some of their folks have been in these committees for a long time as chairman.
In 2010, President Obama’s first midterm, he lost 63 seats. By contrast, as of the most current count, it looks like around 27 House seats or something. And we’ll figure that out pretty soon.
We also had a slew of historic wins in the governors’ races — the governors’ races were incredible — against very well-funded, talented, and skilled Democrat candidates and people that worked very, very hard, respectfully, for those candidates, like Oprah Winfrey, who I like. I don’t know if she likes me anymore, but that’s okay. She used to. But she worked very hard in Georgia. Very, very hard.
And if you look at them, we won four governors’ races crucial to 2020 and the presidential race: Florida, Iowa, Ohio, and Georgia. The big ones: Florida, Iowa, Ohio, and Georgia. Can’t get much more important than that. They were incredible. They were actually incredible campaigns, too. Incredible.
As of right now, Republicans will control the majority of governorships across the country, including three great women who worked very hard: the governors of Alabama, South Dakota, and Iowa. They worked very, very hard. They’re very talented.
By expanding our Senate majority, the voters have also clearly rebuked the Senate Democrats for their handling of the Kavanaugh hearings. That was a factor. I think maybe a very big factor. The way that was handled, I think, was — tremendous energy was given to the Republican Party by the way they treated then-Judge Kavanaugh, now Justice Kavanaugh. And expressed their support for confirming more great pro-Constitution judges.
Candidates who embraced our message of low taxes, low regulations, low crime, strong borders, and great judges excelled last night. They excelled. They really — I mean, we have a list of people that were fantastic, and I’m just going to point them out: Mike Bost; Rodney Davis; Andy Barr was fantastic. I went to Kentucky — for the most part, I didn’t campaign for the House, but I did actually make a special trip for Andy Barr because he was in a very tough race in Kentucky, and he won. That was a very tough race. The polls were all showing that he was down, and down substantially. And he won. And that one, I did do.
Pete Stauber, of Minnesota. Great guy. He’s new and ran a fantastic race.
On the other hand, you had some that decided to “let’s stay away.” “Let’s stay away.” They did very poorly. I’m not sure that I should be happy or sad, but I feel just fine about it.
Carlos Curbelo; Mike Coffman — too bad, Mike; Mia Love. I saw Mia Love. She’d call me all the time to help her with a hostage situation. Being held hostage in Venezuela. But Mia Love gave me no love, and she lost. Too bad. Sorry about that, Mia.
And Barbara Comstock was another one. I mean, I think she could have run that race, but she didn’t want to have any embrace. For that, I don’t blame her. But she — she lost. Substantially lost.
Peter Roskam didn’t want the embrace. Erik Paulsen didn’t want the embrace. And in New Jersey, I think he could have done well, but didn’t work out too good.
Bob Hugin, I feel badly because I think that’s something that could have been won. That’s a race that could have been won. That’s a race that could have been won. John Faso.
Those are some of the people that, you know, decided for their own reason not to embrace, whether it’s me or what we stand for. But what we stand for meant a lot to most people. And we’ve had tremendous support, and tremendous support in the Republican Party. Among the biggest support in the history of the party. I’ve actually heard, at 93 percent, it’s a record. But I won’t say that, because who knows. But we’ve had tremendous support.
America is booming like never before. Doing fantastic. We have Larry Kudlow here, and he said the numbers are as good as he’s ever seen — numbers — at any time for our country. But he’s a young man, so he hasn’t seen that many numbers. (Laughter.) Where’s Larry? You’re a young man. Right, Larry? And you haven’t been doing this too long, but they’re as good as you’ve ever seen. And we may have — if you have a question for Larry, we’ll do that.
But I want to send my warmest appreciation in regards to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. We really worked very well together. We have been working very well together. We actually have a great relationship. People just don’t understand that, which is fine.
And also to, perhaps — it looks like, I would think — Speaker Nancy Pelosi. And I give her a lot of credit. She works very hard, and she’s worked long and hard. I give her a great deal of credit for what she’s done and what she’s accomplished.
Hopefully, we can all work together next year to continue delivering for the American people, including on economic growth, infrastructure, trade, lowering the cost of prescription drugs. These are some of things that the Democrats do want to work on, and I really believe we’ll be able to do that. I think we’re going to have a lot of reason to do it.
And I will say, just as a matter of business, I was with some very successful people last night. We were watching the returns. So if the Republicans won — and let’s say we held on by two, or one, or three — it would’ve been very hard out of that many Republicans to ever even get support among Republicans, because there will always be one, or two, or three people that, for a good reason or for a bad reason, or for grandstanding — we have that too; you’ve seen that. You’ve seen that. Plenty of grandstanding. But for certain reasons that many people — you’re always going to have a couple that won’t do it. So that puts us in a very bad position.
In other words, had we kept it, and this is no — I’m saying this for very basic reasons, common sense — it puts us in a very tough position. We win by one, or two, or three, and you’ll have one, or two, or three, or four or five even, come over and say, you know, “Look, we’re not going to along with this. We want this, this, this…” And all of a sudden, we can’t even — we wouldn’t even be able to get, in many cases, out of the Republicans’ hands before we sent it on to the Senate.
And now we have a much easier path, because the Democrats will come to us with a plan for infrastructure, a plan for healthcare, a plan for whatever they are looking at, and we’ll negotiate. And as you know, it’s been very hard in the Senate because we need, essentially, 10 votes from Democrats, and we don’t get those votes. Because the Democrats do really stick together well. I don’t agree with them on a lot of policy, but I agree with them on sticking together. They stick together great.
So now we go into the Senate. We don’t have the 10 votes. And what happens? It doesn’t get passed. Even if it gets out of the House, it doesn’t get passed. So under the new concept of what we’re doing, I say, “Come on. Let me see what you have.” They want to do things. You know, I keep hearing about investigations fatigue. Like from the time — almost from the time I announced I was going to run, they’ve been giving us this investigation fatigue. It’s been a long time. They got nothing. Zero. You know why? Because there is nothing.
But they can play that game, but we can play it better. Because we have a thing called the United States Senate. And a lot of very questionable things were done between leaks of classified information, and many other elements that should not have taken place. And all you’re going to do is end up in back and forth, and back and forth. And two years is going to go up, and we won’t have done a thing.
I really think, and I really respected what Nancy said last night about bipartisanship and getting together and uniting. She used the word “uniting” and she used the word the bipartisanship statement, which is so important because that’s what we should be doing. So we can look at us, they can look at us, and we can look at them, and it’ll go back and forth. And it’ll probably be very good for me politically. I could see it being extremely good politically, because I think I’m better at that game than they are, actually.
But we’ll find out. I mean, you know, we’ll find out. Or we can work together. You can’t do them simultaneously, by the way. Just think if somebody said, “Oh, you can do them both.” No, you can’t. Because if they’re doing that, we’re not doing the other, just so you understand. So we won’t be doing that.
But now what happens is we send it to the Senate, and we’ll get 100 percent Democrat support, and we’ll get some Republican support. And if it’s good, I really believe we have Republicans that will help with the approval process — and they will really help with the approval process.
So it really could be a beautiful bipartisan type of situation. If we won by one or two or three, or four or five, that wouldn’t happen. And the closer it is, the worse it is. This way, they’ll come to me, we’ll negotiate. Maybe we’ll make a deal, maybe we won’t. That’s possible. But we have a lot of things in common on infrastructure.
We want to do something on healthcare; they want to do something on healthcare. There are a lot of great things that we can do together. And now we’ll send it up and we will really get — we’ll get the Democrats and we’ll get the Republicans, or some of the Republicans. And I’ll make sure that we send something up that the Republicans can support, and they’re going to want to make sure they send something up that the Democrats can support.
So our great country is booming like never before, and we’re thriving on every single level, both in terms of economic and military strength; in terms of development. In terms of GDP, we’re doing unbelievably.
I will tell you, our trade deals are coming along fantastically. The USMCA and South Korea is finished. USMCA has gotten rave reviews. Not going to lose companies anymore to other countries. They’re not going to do that because they have a tremendous economic incentive, meaning it’s prohibitive for them to do that.
So it’s not going to be like NAFTA, which is one of the worst deals I’ve ever seen — although we’ve made some other pretty bad ones too.
Now is the time for members of both parties to join together, put partisanship aside, and keep the American economic miracle going strong. It is a miracle. We’re doing so well. And I’ve said it at a lot of rallies. Some of you have probably heard it so much you don’t want to hear it again. But when people come to my office — presidents, prime ministers — they all congratulate me, almost the first thing, on what we’ve done economically. Because it is really amazing.
And our steel industry is back. Our aluminum industry is starting to do really well. These are industries that were dead. Our miners are working again.
We must all work together to protect our military — I have to do that — to support out law enforcement, secure our borders, and advance really great policy, including environmental policy. We want crystal-clean water. We want beautiful, perfect air. Air and water, it has to be perfect.
At the same time, we don’t want to put ourselves at a disadvantage to other countries who are very competitive with us and who don’t abide by the rules at all. We don’t want to hurt our jobs. We don’t want to hurt our factories. We don’t want companies leaving. We want to be totally competitive, and we are.
And right now we have just about the cleanest air, the cleanest water we’ve ever had, and it’s always going to be that way. We insist on it. So environmental is very important to me.
And with that, I’ll take a few questions if you’d like. Woah. (Laughter.) I didn’t know what happened.
All right, go ahead, John.
That was a lot of hands shooting up so quickly.
Q There’s a lot to talk about.
THE PRESIDENT: There’s a lot to talk about.
Q Mr. President, you talked at length just now about bipartisanship. The presumed Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, talked about it last night. I’m sure that’s encouraging for the American people. But do you really believe, given what the relationship has been like between this White House and the Democratic Party, that that will happen? Will —
THE PRESIDENT: I think there’s a good chance, John. I think there’s a very good chance that —
Q If I could just finish —
THE PRESIDENT: — it will happen.
Q Wil you have to compromise on certain issues to the point where it could hurt you in 2020? And do you expect that when the Democrats take over the chairmanship of all these important committees, you’re going to get hit with a blizzard of subpoenas on everything from the Russia investigation —
THE PRESIDENT: Well, then everything is going to come — okay.
Q — to your cellphone use, to your tax returns?
THE PRESIDENT: Ready? Then you’re going to — if that happens, then we’re going to do the same thing and government comes to a halt. And I would blame them because they now are going to be coming up with policy. They’re the majority in the House.
I expect that they will come up with some fantastic ideas that I can support on the environment, on so many different things, including prescription drug prices — which we’ve made a big dent in already, including some of the things that we’re working on for the vets. We’ve gotten choice approved. We’ve gotten a lot of things approved. But they have some other elements that we want.
There are many things we can get along on without a lot of trouble — that we agree very much with them and they agree with us. I would like to see bipartisanship. I would like to see unity. And I think we have a very good chance of — and maybe not on everything — but I think we have a very good chance of seeing that.
Q One question on the lame duck, sir, and one on your Cabinet. You toyed with the idea during the campaign of a shutdown before the midterms in order to secure border wall funding. Are you prepared to go on a shutdown strategy during a lame duck, since this might be your last, best chance —
THE PRESIDENT: Not necessarily my last chance.
Q — to secure that?
THE PRESIDENT: Look, I speak to Democrats all the time. They agree that a wall is necessary. Wall is necessary. And as you know, we’re building the wall. We’ve started. But we should build it at one time, not in chunks.
Q But you want much more money, and you want it much sooner.
THE PRESIDENT: No, we need the money to build the wall — the whole wall — not pieces of it all over. And we are doing it.
Now we have the military. Now we have other elements of wall that are pretty nasty, to be honest with you. But it’s — nevertheless, it’s pretty hard to get through it.
But no, I’d like to see the wall. Many of the people that we’ll be dealing with, you know, in 2006, they approved the wall, essentially. It was a very strong border fence, but it was the same thing. And they all approved it; they all agreed. I have statements from every one of them. We have them saying, “We need the wall.” I mean, they sound like me.
But we do need it because we have people coming — and I’m not just talking about the caravans. We have people coming through our border that you physically can’t put that many people. It’s a 2,000-mile stretch. You can’t put that many people along that stretch to guard it. And even if you did, tremendous fighting would ensue.
So we need the wall. Many Democrats know we need the wall. And we’re just going to have to see what happens. I mean, we’ll be fighting for it. They have done everything in their power to make sure we’re — I got the military $700 billion and $716 billion. The wall is a tiny, tiny fraction of the cost of that. But their whole agenda has been to try not giving me anything for the wall.
I really believe, politically, they’re hurting themselves. I actually think, politically, that’s a good thing for me. But I want to get the wall up because we need it for security.
Q So no shutdown scenario for the mid — for the lame duck?
THE PRESIDENT: I don’t know. I can’t tell you that. No, I can’t commit to that, but it’s possible.
Q And can you give us clarity, sir, on your thinking currently now, after the midterms, about your Attorney General and your Deputy Attorney General? Do they have long-term job security?
THE PRESIDENT: I’d rather answer that at a little bit different time. We’re looking at a lot of different things, including Cabinet. I’m very happy with most of my Cabinet. We’re looking at different people for different positions. You know, it’s very common after the midterms. I didn’t want to do anything before the midterms.
But I will tell you that, for the most part, I’m extremely happy with my Cabinet. I think Mike Pompeo has fit in so beautifully. He’s done an incredible job as —
Q How about your Interior Secretary?
THE PRESIDENT: We’re looking at that, and I want — I do want to study whatever is being said. I think he’s doing —
Q Is he in jeopardy?
THE PRESIDENT: I think he’s doing an excellent job, but we will take a look at that in a very strong — and we’ll probably have an idea about that in about a week.
Q Thank you, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Okay? Thank you.
Wow, this is —
Go ahead, Jon. He gave me a fair interview the other day, so I might as well ask him a question.
Q All right, thank you, Mr. President. And picking up there, you told me the other day that you are an “open book.” So —
THE PRESIDENT: I think I am an open book.
Q So point blank, if Democrats go after your tax returns, will you try to block that or will you allow them to have it?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, look, as I have told you, they’re under audit. They have been for a long time. They’re extremely complex. People wouldn’t understand them. They’re done by among the biggest and best law firms in the country. Same thing with the accounting firms. The accountants are — a very, very larger, powerful firm, from the standpoint of respect. Highly respected. Big firm. A great law firm. You know it very well. They do these things; they put them in. But people don’t understand tax returns.
Now, I did do a filing of over 100 pages, I believe, which is in the offices. And when people went and saw that filing and they saw the magnitude of it, they were very disappointed. And they saw the — you know, the detail. You’d get far more from that. And I guess we filed that now three times. But you get far more from that than you could ever get from a tax return.
But when you’re under audit — and I’m on under very continuous audit because there are so many companies, and it is a very big company — far bigger than you would even understand. But it’s a great company, but it’s big and it’s complex. And it’s probably feet high. It’s a very complex instrument.
And I think that people wouldn’t understand it. But if I were finished with the audit, I would have an open mind to it. I would say that. But I don’t want to do it during the audit. And, really, no lawyer — even from the other side, they say often — not always — but when you’re under audit, you don’t have — you don’t subject it to that. You get it done, and then you release it.
So when that happens, if that happens, I would certainly have an open mind to it.
Q So that means that if the audit is still on, you will not turn over the tax returns, or you’ll fight to block it?
THE PRESIDENT: When it’s under audit — no, nobody would. Nobody turns over a return when it’s under audit, okay?
Yeah, go ahead. Please.
Q One, I was tempted to ask you why you like Oprah so much, but I think I’ll go on to the question that —
THE PRESIDENT: Why do I like Oprah?
THE PRESIDENT: What kind of a question is that?
Q I’m just asking. Just curious. But the real question —
THE PRESIDENT: He’s a comedian here.
Q The real question is —
THE PRESIDENT: I do like Oprah, by the way. I do. She was a person I knew well. Came to my place in Palm Beach often. And I have a lot of respect for her. Unfortunately, she didn’t do the trick.
Q The real question is, you just said up here, and said from this podium, that it’s — are you offering a my-way-or-highway scenario to the Democrats? You’re saying —
THE PRESIDENT: No. Negotiation. Not at all.
Q — that if — if they start investigating you, that you can play that game and investigate them.
THE PRESIDENT: Oh, yeah. Better than them.
Q Can you compartmentalize that —
THE PRESIDENT: And I think I know more — and I think I know more than they know.
Q Can you compartmentalize that and still continue to work with them for the benefit of the rest of the country? Or are you —
THE PRESIDENT: No.
Q Are all bets off?
THE PRESIDENT: No. If they do that, then it’s just — all it is, is a warlike posture.
Yeah, go ahead.
Q And so then the — wait a minute, then the follow-up then —
THE PRESIDENT: You heard my answer. Go ahead.
Q Well, since it’s Jim, I’ll let it go.
Q Okay. Thank you, Mr. President. I wanted to challenge you on one of the statements that you made in the tail end of the campaign in the midterms, that this —
THE PRESIDENT: Here we go.
Q Well, if you don’t mind, Mr. President —
THE PRESIDENT: Let’s go. Let’s go. Come on.
Q That this caravan was an “invasion.” As you know, Mr. President —
THE PRESIDENT: I consider it to be an invasion.
Q As you know, Mr. President, the caravan was not an invasion. It’s a group of migrants moving up from Central America towards the border with the U.S.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you for telling me that. I appreciate it.
Q Why did you characterize it as such? And —
THE PRESIDENT: Because I consider it an invasion. You and I have a difference of opinion.
Q But do you think that you demonized immigrants in this election —
THE PRESIDENT: Not at all. No, not at all.
Q — to try to keep —
THE PRESIDENT: I want them — I want them to come into the country, but they have to come in legally. You know, they have to come in, Jim, through a process. I want it to be a process.
And I want people to come in. And we need the people.
Q Right. But your campaign had — your campaign —
THE PRESIDENT: Wait. Wait. Wait. You know why we need the people, don’t you? Because we have hundreds of companies moving in. We need the people.
Q Right. But your campaign had an ad showing migrants climbing over walls and so on.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, that’s true. They weren’t actors. They weren’t actors.
Q They’re not going to be doing that.
THE PRESIDENT: They weren’t actors. Well, no, it was true. Do you think they were actors? They weren’t actors. They didn’t come from Hollywood. These were — these were people — this was an actual — you know, it happened a few days ago. And —
Q They’re hundreds of miles of way though. They’re hundreds and hundreds of miles away.
THE PRESIDENT: You know what?
Q That’s not an invasion.
THE PRESIDENT: I think you should — honestly, I think you should let me run the country, you run CNN —
Q All right.
THE PRESIDENT: — and if you did it well, your ratings would be much better.
Q But let me ask, if I — if I may ask one other question —
THE PRESIDENT: Okay, that’s enough.
Q Mr. President, if I may — if I may ask one other question.
THE PRESIDENT: Okay, Peter, go ahead.
Q Are you worried —
THE PRESIDENT: That’s enough. That’s enough. That’s enough.
Q Mr. President, I didn’t — well, I was going to ask one other. The other folks that had —
THE PRESIDENT: That’s enough. That’s enough.
Q Pardon me, ma’am, I’m — Mr. President —
THE PRESIDENT: Excuse me, that’s enough.
Q Mr. President, I had one other question if —
THE PRESIDENT: Peter. Let’s go.
Q — I may ask on the Russia investigation. Are you concerned that you may have indictments —
THE PRESIDENT: I’m not concerned about anything with the Russia investigation because it’s a hoax.
Q — that you may indictments coming down? Are you —
THE PRESIDENT: That’s enough. Put down the mic.
Q Mr. President, are you worried about indictments coming down in this investigation?
Q Mr. President —
THE PRESIDENT: I’ll tell you what: CNN should be ashamed of itself having you working for them. You are a rude, terrible person. You shouldn’t be working for CNN.
Q I think that’s unfair.
THE PRESIDENT: You’re a very rude person. The way you treat Sarah Huckabee is horrible. And the way you treat other people are horrible. You shouldn’t treat people that way.
Go ahead. Go ahead, Peter. Go ahead.
Q In Jim’s defense, I’ve traveled with him and watched him. He’s a diligent reporter who busts his butt like the rest of us.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I’m not a big fan of yours either. So, you know.
Q I understand.
THE PRESIDENT: To be honest with you.
Q So let me — so let me ask you a question if I can —
THE PRESIDENT: You aren’t — you aren’t the best.
Q You repeatedly said — Mr. President, you repeatedly — over the course of the —
Q (Off-mic.) (Inaudible) called the enemy of the people —
THE PRESIDENT: Okay, just sit down, please.
Q (Off-mic.) (Inaudible) campaign (inaudible) and sent pipe bombs. That’s just (inaudible).
THE PRESIDENT: Well, when you report fake news —
Q (Off-mic.) (Inaudible.)
THE PRESIDENT: No. When you report fake news, which CNN does a lot, you are the enemy of the people.
Q Mr. President, over the course — over the course of the last several days of the campaign, sir — sir, at the end of the campaign, you repeatedly said that Americans need to fear Democrats. You said Democrats would “unleash a wave of violent crime that endangers families everywhere.” Why are you pitting Americans —
THE PRESIDENT: Because they’re very weak on crime.
Q — why are you pitting Americans against one another, sir?
THE PRESIDENT: Excuse me. Peter. Peter, what are you — trying to be him?
Q No, I’m just asking a question.
THE PRESIDENT: Peter, just let me just — let me just tell you, very simple: Because they’re very weak on crime. Because they have often suggested — members and people within the Democrat Party, at a high level, have suggested getting rid of ICE, getting rid of law enforcement. That’s not going to happen, okay?
We want to be strong on the borders. We want to be strong on law enforcement. And I want to — I want to cherish ICE because ICE does a fantastic job. The — what they do for us is so — really, it’s so unrecognized how good a job they do.
So we want to take care of them, and we want to hold them very close because they do a good job.
Q But the question, to be clear —
THE PRESIDENT: Okay, yeah, go ahead.
Q — to be clear, though, the question, sir, is, why are you —
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Sit. Sit down, Peter.
Q — but the question — but you didn’t answer my question. Just very simply, the question is, why are you pitting Americans against one another, sir?
THE PRESIDENT: I’m not.
Q Is that how you view citizens of this country?
THE PRESIDENT: No, I’m not. Well, look, I’ll tell you what — we won a lot of elections last night. We did very well last night, and I think it’s going to have —
Q But in many ways, it divided the country.
THE PRESIDENT: — I think it’s going to have a very positive impact. I watched NBC this morning; they didn’t report it exactly correctly, but that’s, you know, very, very — that’s the fact with NBC. Nothing I can do about that.
But I want this country to have protection. We want security in our country. I want security, Peter. I mean, you maybe don’t think it’s so important. And I think when you don’t have it, you are indeed unleashing crime. I feel that.
Go ahead. Go ahead.
Q You said you would sign an executive order on birthright citizenship. Are you still going to sign the executive order on birthright citizenship?
THE PRESIDENT: You will answer — you’ll ask me that question a little bit later.
THE PRESIDENT: Go ahead. Sure.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. The investigation by the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller, has been going on since last spring. It’s been over —
THE PRESIDENT: It’s been a long time.
Q Yeah, it’s been over your head, over Republicans’ head during the midterms as well. Is this an opportunity for you, Mr. President, to end that investigation? Would you consider removing Mr. Mueller from his position?
THE PRESIDENT: I could have ended it anytime I wanted. I didn’t. And there was so collusion. There was no anything. I didn’t.
They went after hackers in Moscow. I don’t know about that. They went after people with tax problems, from years ago. They went after people with loans and other things. Had nothing to do with my campaign.
This is a investigation where many, many millions of dollars has been spent. And there’s no collusion. It was supposed to be on collusion. There’s no collusion. And I think it’s — I think it’s very bad for our country, I will tell you. I think it’s a shame.
And a poll came out today — by the way, from NBC — or least I saw it on NBC — where a majority of the people do not agree with the Mueller investigation, or it wasn’t approved. They have approval and disapproval, and it had a much higher disapproval.
It should end because it’s very bad for our country. It’s —
Q So if it’s bad —
THE PRESIDENT: — and I’m not just talking about the tremendous expense. And the other thing is, they should look at the other side also. They only look at one side. They’re not looking at all of the things that came up during this investigation. They don’t do that.
They should also get people that can be fair, not 13 or 14 or 17 — I call them the “Angry Democrats.” They are angry people. And it’s a very unfair thing for this country. It’s a very, very — forget about unfair to me; it’s very bad for our country.
Q So, Mr. President, if it’s un —
THE PRESIDENT: Go ahead. No, no, no. Please.
Q Mr. President, just to make the point — if it’s unfair to the country and it’s costing millions of dollars, why don’t you just end it?
THE PRESIDENT: Give him the mic, please. I’ve answered the question.
THE PRESIDENT: Go ahead, take the — take the mic.
Q Voter suppression — Mr. President, voter suppression.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I’ll give you voter — I will give you voter suppression. You just have to — sit down, please.
THE PRESIDENT: Sit down. I didn’t call you. I didn’t call you. I didn’t call you.
I’ll give you voter suppression: Take a look at the CNN polls, how inaccurate they were. That’s called voter suppression.
Go ahead, please.
Q Thank you, Mr. President.
Q In Georgia, sir? In Georgia?
THE PRESIDENT: I’m not — I’m not responding. I’m responding to —
Q (Off-mic.) (Inaudible.)
THE PRESIDENT: Excuse me, I’m not responding to you. I’m talking to this gentleman. Will you please sit down?
Q (Off-mic.) (Inaudible.)
THE PRESIDENT: Would —
Q (Inaudible) but you said (inaudible).
THE PRESIDENT: Excuse me. Excuse me. Would you please sit down?
Please, go ahead.
Q Thank you, Mr. President, now that the — now that the House of Representatives has —
THE PRESIDENT: Very hostile — such a hostile media. It’s so sad. You ask me about —
Q (Off-mic.) (Inaudible.)
THE PRESIDENT: No. You rudely interrupted him.
Q You responded (inaudible).
THE PRESIDENT: You rudely interrupted him.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. Do your demands remain the same to the United States Congress on immigration in exchange for a DACA fix? In exchange for an amnesty for 1.7 million, are you willing to change any of those demands that you gave to Congress earlier?
THE PRESIDENT: I think we could really do something having to do with DACA. And what really happened with DACA — we could have done some pretty good work on DACA. But a judge ruled that DACA was okay. Had the judge not ruled that way, I think we would have made a deal. Once the judge ruled that way, the Democrats didn’t want to talk anymore. So we’ll see how it works out at the Supreme Court.
Q Will you take questions from the international media —
THE PRESIDENT: From where?
Q From the international media.
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah, go ahead. Go ahead.
Q Afghanistan, Mr. President. Afghanistan —
THE PRESIDENT: Go ahead. Which group? Where do you want me to take a question from? Go ahead, ma’am. Go ahead. Take the —
Either one. Either one.
Q Okay. (Laughs.)
THE PRESIDENT: Or both. Are you together? Go ahead.
Q We’re not together. Mr. President, how do you respond to critics who say that your message on the campaign with minorities have been polarizing?
THE PRESIDENT: I don’t think it has been at all.
Q But is the election of two Muslim women — one of them is veiled to the House, which is making history. Is this a rebuke of this message, do you think?
THE PRESIDENT: I don’t understand what you’re saying. What?
Q Is it a rebuke of this message? Do you think that this is more reflective of multiethnic and multicultural America?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, that question — I can only say this: If you look at the employment and unemployment numbers for African Americans, for Asian Americans, for Hispanic Americans, they’re at a historic high. A poll came out recently where my numbers with Hispanics and with African Americans are the highest — the best they’ve ever been. That had — that took place two or three days ago, the poll.
I have the best numbers with African American and Hispanic American that I’ve ever had before. And you saw the same poll. So, I can’t say that. I can say this: If you look at median income, you look at all of the employment and unemployment numbers, they’re doing the best they’ve ever done. And it reflects — it really is very reflective in the polls.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, go ahead.
Q Mr. President, I’m from Brooklyn, so you’ll understand me.
THE PRESIDENT: Good. I understand you very well.
Q My question is on healthcare. How is it possible to keep premiums down and cover preexisting conditions without the individual mandate to fund it?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, what we’re doing — and we’re — if you look at the Department of Labor also — Secretary separately — Secretary Azar, what they’ve done. They’ve come up with some incredible healthcare plans, which is causing great competition and driving the prices right down.
But we are getting rid of the individual mandate because it was very unfair to a lot of people. But at the same time, we’re covering the people that need it. But the individual mandate was a disaster because people that couldn’t necessarily afford it were having to pay for the privilege of not having to pay for healthcare. And it was bad healthcare, at that.
So we are working many plans for healthcare. We’re creating tremendous competition. We had Obamacare repealed and replaced. Unfortunately, one person changed his mind at the last moment. And we had no Democrat support. I have to say that. We didn’t have one vote. We would have repealed it, replaced it. We would have had a large-scale, very good healthcare plan. Now we’re doing it a different way. We’re doing it a different way.
But getting rid of the individual mandate is a very, very popular thing and a very important thing. And people very much appreciate it.
THE PRESIDENT: No, no. That’s enough.
Go ahead, please.
Q Thank you, sir. Two questions: One, I know you went through the results and you obviously studied them late last night. What lesson did you learn most from looking at those results? Was there one thing that, as you kind of reviewed them, that you’ll change your strategy not just for Congress, but kind of going forward?
And then just a follow-up question.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think the results that I’ve learned, and maybe confirm, I think people like me. I think people like the job I’m doing, frankly. Because if you look at every place I went to do a rally, I couldn’t do it with everybody. But — and it was very hard to do it with people in Congress because there are just too many — it will be too many stops.
But I did it with the Senate. I did it with Andy Barr, as you know. And — and he won. He won a very tough race against McGrath.
It was a very, very tough race in Kentucky, and he was down quite a bit. And I went there, and we had a tremendous, very successful — some of you were at that rally. And he won that race.
But I could only do that so much because there are just so many players involved. But I did focus on the Senate, and we had tremendous success with the Senate. Really tremendous success.
Q Can I ask you one more — one more question, sir. Mr. President, one more question, if you don’t mind. I’m so sorry, sir. It’s a rare opportunity.
A lot of people are going to be rushing to Iowa, rushing to New Hampshire. You know that the Democrats are already looking ahead to 2020. Do you want to lock down your ticket right now, sir? Will the Vice President be your running mate in 2020?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I haven’t asked him, but I hope so. Where are you? (Laughter.)
Mike, will you be my running mate? (Laughter.) Huh? Stand up, Mike, please. Raise your right hand. No, I’m only kidding. (Laughter.) Will you? Thank you, okay good. (Applause.) The answer is “yes.” Okay?
Q Thank you, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: That was unexpected, but I feel very fine.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. Going back to the Russia investigation and the potential investigations from the now- Democratic majority in Congress, some say that you could stop all this by declassifying —
THE PRESIDENT: I could. I could fire everybody right now. But I don’t want to stop it, because politically, I don’t like stopping it. It’s a disgrace. It should have never been started because there was no crime. It is — everybody has conflicts. They all have conflicts over there that are beyond anything that anybody has ever seen in terms of conflicts — from the fact that people ask for jobs; from the fact that they have very good friends on the other side, like really good friends, like Comey — who, by the way, lied and leaked, and also leaked classified information. Nothing happened there. It might, perhaps. Maybe something is happening that I don’t know about.
I stay away from it. But do you know what I do? I let it just go on. They’re wasting a lot of money, but I let it go on because I don’t want to do that. But you’re right — I could end it right now. I could say that investigation is over.
But it’s — it’s really — it’s a disgrace, frankly. And it’s an embarrassment to our country. It’s an embarrassment to the people of our country. And it’s too bad.
Q What about the declassification of the documents? Some say that that would clear it all up.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we’re looking at that.
Q Are you still considering it?
THE PRESIDENT: No, no. We’re looking at that very seriously. Declassification? We’re looking at that very seriously.
Q Okay. Can I ask one more question?
THE PRESIDENT: It’s amazing how people on the other side just don’t want those documents declassified. But, no, we’re looking at that very carefully. I certainly wanted to wait until after the midterms.
Q Can I ask you one more question, Mr. President? Okay, thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Go ahead.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. You have campaigned as a pro-life President. You have defended the rights of unborn children. You now have a divided Congress. It’s unlikely to pass —
THE PRESIDENT: That’s right. Tough.
Q — to pass any pro-life bills.
THE PRESIDENT: Very tough issue.
Q How are you going to push forward your pro-life agenda?
THE PRESIDENT: Just going to push. I’ve been pushing. I’ve done a very good job, too. Very happy with me. But it’s a tough issue for the two sides. There’s no question about it.
Q But what are you going to do to —
THE PRESIDENT: There is great division — what am I going to do? I won’t be able to explain that to you, because it is an issue that is a very divisive, polarizing issue. But there is a solution. I think I have that solution, and nobody else does.
We’re going to be — we’re going to be working on that.
Yes, go ahead, please. She took your place, but that’s okay.
Q Mr. President, just a quick question on rural America. In states like Indiana and North Dakota, folks turned out for Republican candidates. Could you talk a little bit about what this means for your agenda in terms of trade and the farm bill?
THE PRESIDENT: The farm bill is working really well. I mean, we could have had it approved any time. But we’re looking to get work rules approved. The farmers want it. I’d like it. The problem is, the Democrats are not giving us the 10 votes that we need.
We are — everybody wants it. The farmers want it. But the Democrats are not approving the farm bill with work rules. We could have it very fast without the work rules, but we want the work rules in, and the Democrats just don’t want to vote for that. So, at some point, they’ll have to pay maybe a price.
Jeff, go ahead.
Q Thank you very much, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much.
Q Have you seen any evidence that Russia or China intervened in yesterday’s election?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we’ve going — we’re going to make a full report. And unlike the previous administration, we’ve done a lot of work on that issue. And if you look — speak with the FBI, speak with the Department of Justice, speak to Homeland Security, we’ve spent a lot of time. It gets very little coverage in the papers. I mean, you cover the nonsense part, but you don’t cover the important. This is very important.
And we have been working very hard on China and Russia, and everybody else, looking into our elections or meddling with our elections. But people tend not to write about it. But we have worked very hard, as you probably heard.
Q What do you — what do you intend to say, sir, to President Xi and to President Putin when you meet with them later this month?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I have a good relationship with both. I know President Xi better. But I think I have a very good relationship with both. I actually had a very good meeting in Russia that you people didn’t agree with, but that’s okay. It doesn’t much matter, obviously. Because here I am.
Q You mean Helsinki?
THE PRESIDENT: But the fact is that I had a very, very good meeting — a very, very good meeting with President Putin, and a lot was discussed about security, about Syria, about Ukraine, about the fact that President Obama allowed a very large part of Ukraine to be taken. Right now, you have submarines off that particular parcel that we’re talking about. You know what I’m talking about.
Q That was President Putin who annexed Crimea, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: That was President Obama’s regime. That was during President Obama. Right? That was not during me. No, that was President Obama —
Q But it was President Putin who did the annexation.
THE PRESIDENT: No, no. It was President Obama that allowed it to happen. It had nothing to do with me.
Yeah. Go ahead. Go ahead. Go ahead.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. Cordelia Lynch, Sky News. You’re a man who likes to win, but last night was not an absolute victory for you.
THE PRESIDENT: I’ll be honest: I thought it was a — I thought it was a very close to complete victory. When you look at it from the standpoint of negotiation, when you look at it from the standpoint of deal making — because it’s all about deal making — again, if we had the majority, and we had one or two or three votes to play with, we would never — we would have been at a standstill.
I really believe that we have a chance to get along very well with the Democrats. And if that’s the case, we can do a tremendous amount of legislation and get it approved by both parties.
So I consider it to be — hey, look, I won Georgia. President Obama campaigned very hard in Georgia. Oprah Winfrey campaigned very, very hard. All over the television. I said this is going to be tough. I only had me. I didn’t have anybody else. And I went to Georgia, and we had one of the largest crowds that anybody here has seen, ever, at a political rally. And you know what? He won. And he won actually by, you know, pretty good margin. He won.
And then we went to Florida, and they had celebrities all over the place. And a man, who happens to be very smart person, was running — Ron DeSantis. And people didn’t give him a chance. And I went and we had — we did some great work. And they’re going to have a great governor of the state of Florida.
And then we talked about the Senate, and a lot of money was pouring in for the Democrat. This is a man who’s been in office for like 44 years or something. This is man who was like a professional at getting elected and being in office. So he’s not — Bill Nelson — not easy to beat. Okay? And — but they had a lot of celebrities coming out for Nelson. They had everybody coming out for Nelson. And Rick Scott won. And I helped him.
And I think we’ve done an amazing job. And you could look at many other places — if you just take a look at some of the other places. And we just got the word that, in Iowa, you have a governor who just got extended, who’s — Kim just got extended. And numerous other places.
I think it was a great victory. I’ll be honest: I think it was a great victory. And actually, some of the news this morning was that it was, in fact, a great victory.
But if you look at it from the standpoint of gridlock, I really believe there’s going to be much less gridlock because of the way this is going, than any other way.
Q Mr. President, a quick follow-up on that.
THE PRESIDENT: Sit down, please.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. Let me ask you about one of the campaign promises you made down the stretch, which was a 10 percent tax cut for the middle class. You just talked about gridlock. Democrats, they now run the House Ways and Means Committee. If it means a tax cut of some kind for the middle class, but that means raising rates elsewhere — corporations, on the wealthiest — is that a trade-off that you would be willing to make, and able to enact a middle-class tax cut?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, it could be. You know that this will have to be now proposed. Because if we did it now, we don’t have the votes in the Senate. You don’t have — we need — we would need 10 Democrat vote; we probably couldn’t get them. If we could, we could pass it very easily in the House. But there’s no reason to waste time because you don’t have the votes in the Senate.
But if the — as an example, if the Democrats come up with an idea for tax cuts, which I’m a big believer in tax cuts, I would absolutely pursue something even if it means some adjustment.
Q Some adjustment on which side? The corporate? The individual?
THE PRESIDENT: Some adjustment. Yeah, to make it possible. But I would love to see a tax cut for the middle class. Now, that’s going to be their decision. They’re going to have to make that decision.
As you know, if we bring it up to the Senate, we’d need Democrat votes — 10 — and we don’t have those 10 votes.
Q And just because the markets would — and just because the markets would want to know, sir — some adjustment, would that be one, two, three percent on either side?
THE PRESIDENT: Oh, I’m not telling you that. I’m just saying, I would be certainly willing to do a little bit of an adjustment.
Go ahead. Behind me. Go ahead, please.
Q Mr. President, thank you very much. Two questions. One is, you had talked about leaders who had called to congratulate you. Did President Putin call to congratulate you? And will you, in fact, meet with him at lunch this coming weekend?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, as I understand it, we’re having — and I guess a lot of you are going over. We’re having a lunch for numerous countries. I’ll be there. I believe President Putin is going to be there. We don’t have anything scheduled. I don’t think we have anything scheduled in Paris. And I’m coming back very quickly.
We’re going over — there’s a great event. This is an important — really, it’s going to be very important and, I think, a very beautiful ceremony. I’m looking forward to going. And we’re representing the incredible heroes of the world, but the heroes of our country from World War I. And so I’ll be going there, and I am very proud to go there.
Q And did he call you?
THE PRESIDENT: I don’t think we have time set aside for that meeting.
Now, with that being said, we’re very shortly meeting again at the G20, where he’ll be there and I’ll be there. And that’s where we’re actually looking forward to meeting.
We will be having — we will be having a lunch, but I think there are many people there.
Q And did he call you to congratulate you? And if I could also just invite you, since this is quite a gathering we’ve got here, to go ahead and talk about the staff changes that you expect in the White House, while we’re here. We’re eager to hear about them. Is General Kelly going to stay on?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think what I’ll do is — as we make changes, we’ll sit down and talk to you about it. I mean, there’s no great secret. A lot of administrations make changes after midterms. I will say that, for the most part, I’m very, very happy with this Cabinet. We’re doing a great job.
Q But what about in the White House? What about in the White House, sir? You’ve got a lot White House staff. Some have been talking about leaving. General Kelly has been rumored to be leaving. Is he?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, that’s okay. No, people leave. People leave.
Q And is that going to happen, sir?
THE PRESIDENT: People leave. I haven’t heard about John Kelly. But, no, people — people leave. They come in, they’re here. It’s a very exhausting job. Although, I love doing it, I must tell you. But it’s exhausting for a lot of people. I’m surprised at a lot of people. They start off, they’re young people, they’re there for two years, and they’re old by the time they leave. (Laughter.) It’s quite exhausting. But I love doing it.
And I’ll tell you, there will be changes. Nothing monumental from that standpoint. I don’t think very much different than most administrations. But — and we have — I mean, we have many people lined up for every single position. Any position. Everybody wants to work in this White House. We are a hot country. This is a hot White House. We are a White House that people want to work with.
Okay. No, no. Please. Behind you. Behind you. Go ahead.
Q Mr. President, this has been a very challenging campaign. It is — this has been a very challenging campaign.
THE PRESIDENT: It’s been a very challenging campaign. That’s true.
Q It has involved quite of a lot of abuse and a lot of violence. People have died during the course of this campaign.
THE PRESIDENT: Right.
Q Is there any way in which you think the temperature could be lowered? Perhaps peace could break out with the media? Perhaps you bipartisan relationships across the House and the Senate may now produce some change. Or are we going to have more of the same?
THE PRESIDENT: It’s a very fair question. Look, I would love to see unity and peace and love, and any other word you want to use. And obviously, I think we had to, especially at this particular juncture, we had to wait until after the midterms were over. Now they’re over.
If they would cover me fairly — which they don’t. Which they don’t. I’m not saying that in a hostile way. I get extremely inaccurate coverage. I can do something that’s fantastic, and they’ll make it look like not good. And I don’t mind being — having bad stories. If I make a mistake, cover it. I would like you to cover it fairly, but cover it.
But when you do something terrific — look how little the economy is talked about. A poll came out this morning talking about how little the three networks — I don’t think they included CNN — but how little the three networks talk about how good the economy is. How little. Almost not at all.
If President Obama had this economy — and, by the way, if that administration, through somebody else, kept going, you would have had negative 4.2 instead of positive 4.2 percent growth. You would have had negative. It was heading down.
But here — the point is this —
THE PRESIDENT: Excuse me. I would love to see unity, including with the media. Because I think the media — I’ll be honest: I think it’s a very divisive thing for our country. And you would be amazed at how smart people are that are reading your stories and seeing your stories and watching. You would be amazed how perceptive and how smart they are. They get it. And it really does bring disunity.
Q (Off-mic.) (Inaudible.)
THE PRESIDENT: Excuse me. You are not — you are not called on.
Q Mr. President —
THE PRESIDENT: Go ahead. Go ahead. Go ahead, please.
Q Thank you, President Trump. Shortly after your victory speech on the historic night of — back in November 2016, I asked you to what single factor you most attributed this victory to.
THE PRESIDENT: Say it? You have to speak up.
Q Sure. On the night of your victory, I asked you, right after your speech, to what you would attribute your victory. You pointed up to the ceiling, and you said that it was God. Based off of that, how would you say, over the last two years, God plays — what kind of a factor He plays in the day-to-day execution of the Office of the Presidency?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, God plays a big factor in my life, and God plays a factor in the lives of many people that I know very well in this room, like your Vice President. God plays a very big role in my life.
Q And one more — one more back to — a quick one. Quick follow-up. Which loss last night surprised you the most? And which of these unsuccessful candidates are you most likely to consider for a future administration?
THE PRESIDENT: Nothing surprises me in politics.
Q Would you consider any —
THE PRESIDENT: But there were some losses last night. And there were some victories last night that have been incredible. I mean, there were victories last night that nobody would believe, especially based on the suppression polls. They had a lot of suppression polls.
Q Would you consider any —
THE PRESIDENT: And there were some victories last night that were very surprising, but I’m not going to pick out special — you know, special people.
Q Would you consider any for a post?
THE PRESIDENT: It’s tough enough for those people to have a loss.
Q Would you consider any for an administration post, moving forward? As one of the very few of the 3.7 percent unemployed —
THE PRESIDENT: Would I what? What?
Q Would you consider any of the people who lost last night for a post in the administration in the near future?
THE PRESIDENT: I know a couple of very good ones. Yeah, I would, actually.
Go ahead, please.
Q Mr. President — Mr. President, I asked you on Monday if there was anything that you regret in your first two years. And you said that, at times, you could have and should have used a, quote, “softer tone.” Your critics, as you can imagine — your skeptics — they say they’re not holding their breath on that happening. Will you indeed have to change your tone if you’re to get things passed through Congress after losing the House?
And you also said you might extend an olive branch. What would that look like?
THE PRESIDENT: I would love to have — I would love to have — I’d be very good at a low tone. But when things are done not correctly about you — written about you, said about you on television, on wherever it is — you have to defend yourself.
I would love to do a very — a very even tone. It’s much easier than what I have to do. I have to go around. And going around is much easier than facing somebody and being treated fairly. But when you’re not treated fairly, you really have no choice.
I would love to have a very even, modest, boring tone. I would be very honored by that. But you know what? When you have to fight — all the time fight — because you’re being misrepresented by the media, you really can’t do that.
Q But not about the media, sir. But, sir, real quickly — not about the media, but what about with Congress?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, please. Go ahead.
Q Mr. President, can you tell us how you focus on the economic —
THE PRESIDENT: Where are you from, please?
Q Japan. Prime Minister Abe.
THE PRESIDENT: Okay. Say hello. Say hello to Shinzo.
THE PRESIDENT: I’m sure he’s happy about tariffs on his cars. Go ahead.
Q That’s my question, actually. So how you focus on the trade and economic issues with Japan? Will you ask Japan to do more? Will you change your tone?
THE PRESIDENT: I don’t — I really don’t understand you.
Q How would you focus on trade and economic —
THE PRESIDENT: Trade with Japan?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we’re dealing with Japan right now on trade. Japan has — it’s a great country. You have a great Prime Minister who just had a very successful election. He’s a very good friend of mine. He’s one of the people I’m closest with.
And — but I tell him all the time that Japan does not treat the United States fairly on trade. They send in millions of cars at a very low tax. They don’t take our cars. And if they do, they have a massive tax on their cars.
Japan — and I’m not blaming Japan; I’m blaming the people that were in charge of the United States for allowing that to happen.
But as you know, we have close to $100 billion trade deficit with Japan. And Japan has treated us very unfairly. But don’t feel lonely because you weren’t the only one.
Q How about North Korea? How about North Korea?
Q Thank you, Mr. President. Two international questions. The first one: Secretary Pompeo’s talks with North Korea have been postponed. What is happening there?
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah, nothing —
Q And will your meeting still happen with —
THE PRESIDENT: No, we’re going to change it because of trips that are being made. We’re going to make it at another date. But we’re very happy how it’s going with North Korea. We think it’s going fine. We’re in no rush. We’re in no hurry. The sanctions are on.
Q You still expect to meet Kim Jong Un?
THE PRESIDENT: No, no. Listen. Excuse me. Wait.
Q Sorry, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: The sanctions are on. The missiles have stopped. The rockets have stopped. The hostages are home. The great heroes have been coming home.
Mike Pence was in Hawaii, where the — one of the most beautiful ceremonies that anyone has ever seen for the fallen. These are great heroes. Very important. When I was running, a lot of people — as many years ago as it was — in many cases, grandchildren — but they were asking about that. They’re coming home and they’re being provided to us as we speak.
But I’m in no rush. I’m in no rush. The sanctions are on. I read a couple of times, and I’ve seen a few times where they said, “He’s done so much.” What have I done? I met.
Now, I’d love to take the sanctions off. But they have to be responsive, too. It’s a two-way street.
But we’re not in any rush at all. There’s no rush whatsoever. You know, before I got here, they were dealing with this for over 70 years. And I guess, on a nuclear front, for 25 years. That’s a long time.
I’ve been there; I probably left Singapore four or five months ago. And we made more progress in that four or five months than they’ve made in 70 years. And nobody else could have done what I’ve done.
But I’ll say this — I’ll say this very simply: We’re in no rush. The sanctions are on. And whenever it is — but that meeting is going to be rescheduled.
Q That meeting — but about your meeting with Kim Jong Un, sir, will it happen in the next months?
THE PRESIDENT: Sometime next year, I would say.
Q Sometime next year?
THE PRESIDENT: Sometime — sometime early next year. Yeah.
Q And a quick question on the USMCA. Now that it’s been concluded, have you repaired your relationship with Prime Minister Trudeau?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I have. We have a very good relationship.
Q Thank you very much, Mr. President. We’ve been talking a lot about division and the division that exists in this country right now.
THE PRESIDENT: True. That’s true.
Q And some of the statistics are disturbing, I think, to just about everyone. Anti-Semitic incidents have increased by 57 percent since 2016. Hate crimes are on the rise. Why do you think that is? And what will you do about it as President?
THE PRESIDENT: It’s very sad to see it. I hate to see it. And, as you know, I’ve done more — in fact, if you were with us the last time we met, Prime Minister Netanyahu said that, “This President has done more for Israel than any other President.” Those words. Those exact words.
Jerusalem, protection, working together — so many different things. But the big thing is Jerusalem. You know, many, many President have said they are going to build the embassy in Jerusalem. Never happened. Making it the capital of Israel — never happened. Never happened. But it happened with me, and quickly.
And not only did it happen, we built the embassy. That would have taken another 15 or 20 years and cost probably billions of dollars, and we did it for a tiny amount of money. It’s already done. It’s open.
Nobody has done more for Israel than Donald Trump. And the nice part is that’s not me saying it; that’s Prime Minister Netanyahu.
Q But what about the — Mr. President, what about the divides in this country? Mr. President, what about healing the divides in this country — addressing those issues, specifically?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we want to see — we want to see it healed. And one of the things I think that can help heal is the success of our country. We are really successful now. We’ve gone up $11.7 trillion in — in worth.
If you know, China has come down tremendously. Tremendously. China would have superseded us in two years as an economic power; now, they’re not even close.
China got rid of their “China ’25” because I found it very insulting. I said that to them. I said, “China ’25” is very insulting, because “China ’25” means, in 2025, they’re going to take over, economically, the world. I said, “That’s not happening.”
And we’ve gone way up. They’ve gone down. And I don’t want them to go down. We’ll have a good meeting and we’re going to see what we can do.
But I have to say this: Billions of dollars will soon be pouring into our Treasury from taxes that China is paying for us. And if you speak to Mr. Pillsbury, who probably is the leading authority on China — he was on the other day saying he has never seen anything like it. And you know who else hasn’t? China hasn’t.
Q And Mr. President —
THE PRESIDENT: But we’re going to try and make a deal with China because I want to have great relationships with President Xi, as I do, and also with China.
Q — you’re talking about the economic —
THE PRESIDENT: Okay.
Q How do you see your role —
THE PRESIDENT: All right.
Q — as a moral leader?
THE PRESIDENT: Go ahead, please.
Q Mr. President, just how do you see —
THE PRESIDENT: Go ahead, please. Please, please.
Q — your role as a moral leader?
THE PRESIDENT: Please, please. Go ahead. There’s so many people, I’m sorry. Go ahead.
Q As a moral leader, though?
THE PRESIDENT: I think I am a great moral leader, and I love our country.
Go ahead, please.
Q Thank you, sir. You said earlier in this press conference that Democrats had a choice; that you would not work with them on legislation if they were investigating you. Do you not have a choice in the matter as well? Don’t you have a responsibility —
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think it’s inappropriate — no, no. I think it’s very inappropriate.
We should get along and get deals done. Now, we can investigate. They look at us. We look at them. It goes on for two years. Then, at the end of two years, nothing is done.
Now, what’s bad for them is, being in the majority, I’m just going to blame them. You understand. I’m going to blame them. They’re the majority.
Honestly, it makes it much simpler for me. I — they will be blamed. But I think Nancy Pelosi — and, you know, I put that statement out on social media today about Nancy Pelosi that, if she’s short of votes — because frankly, I think she deserves — and a lot of people thought I was being sarcastic or I was kidding. I wasn’t.
I think she deserves it. She’s been fighting long for it. She’s been fighting — I really mean this. This was — there was nothing sarcastic about it or — it was really meant in — with very good intentions. I think she deserves it. She’s fought long and hard. She’s a very capable person. And, you know, you have other people shooting at her, trying to take over the Speakership.
And I said, if — if it’s appropriate — I said, if we can and if we will, if she has a problem, I think I would be able to very easily supply her the necessary votes.
That’s not said in any way other than I really believe she deserves that position. I also believe that Nancy Pelosi and I can work together and get a lot of things done, along with Mitch and everybody else that we have to work with. I think we’ll get a lot done.
Q Mr. President, why can’t you —
THE PRESIDENT: Okay, go ahead.
Q Mr. President, why can’t you —
THE PRESIDENT: Go ahead.
Q Mr. President, why can’t you do that while subpoenas are coming through?
THE PRESIDENT: Excuse me?
Q Why can’t you work together while there are subpoenas or while there are investigations in process?
THE PRESIDENT: I think we will. Look, now that the election is over — the election is over. Now everybody is in love. But then I see the hostility of questions in the room. I come in here as a nice person wanting to answer questions and I have people jumping out of their — their seats, screaming questions at me.
No, the election is over. And I’m, you know, very — I am extraordinarily happy. I really am. And, by the way, I’d tell you if I wasn’t.
Look at what happened in Florida. Look at what happened in Georgia. Look at what happened in so many locations with governorships. Nobody talks about the governorships. Look at the amount of work that was given to these other candidates against my candidate.
And, I mean, I’m extraordinarily happy. And if I wasn’t, I’d let you know. There’s nothing wrong. I mean, look, you look at midterms and you look at elections — elections generally, you see it’s very rare that a party who has the presidency does well. We did unbelievably well. To win Florida, both the Senate and the governorship against two very talented people.
I’ll tell you what: We did incredibly. To win Georgia, where you had some of the biggest stars campaigning endlessly, including President Obama. You know, I’ll tell you what: This was a great victory for us. And again, from a dealmaking standpoint, we are all much better off the way it turned out. Because I really believe, if the Democrats want to, we can do a tremendous amount of great legislation.
Yes, please. Go ahead.
Should we keep this going for a little while?
Q Yes, I think you should keep this going.
THE PRESIDENT: When you get bored, would you please tell me? Seriously, tell me. I don’t want to —
Q We’re never bored.
THE PRESIDENT: Oh, no. Hopefully not. I don’t want to overstay. But, yes, please. Go ahead.
Q Hi, Mr. President. Yamiche Alcindor with PBS NewsHour. On the campaign trail, you called yourself a nationalist. Some people saw that as emboldening white nationalists. Now people are also saying —
THE PRESIDENT: I don’t know why you’d say that. That’s such a racist question.
Q There are some people that say that now the Republican Party is seen as supporting white nationalists because of your rhetoric. What do you make of that?
THE PRESIDENT: Oh, I don’t believe that. I don’t believe that.
I don’t believe — well, I don’t know. Why do I have my highest poll numbers ever with African Americans? Why do I have among the highest poll numbers with African Americans? I mean, why do I have my highest poll numbers? That’s such a racist question.
Honestly, I mean, I know you have it written down, and you’re going to tell me. Let me tell you: It’s a racist question.
Q And Mr. President —
THE PRESIDENT: I love — and you know what the word is? I love our country. I do. You call — you have nationalists. You have globalists. I also love the world and I don’t mind helping the world, but we have to straighten out our country first. We have a lot of problems.
Q And —
THE PRESIDENT: Excuse me. But to say that — what you said is so insulting to me. It’s a very terrible thing that you said.
Q And Mr. President — Mr. President, people have —
THE PRESIDENT: Okay. Please, go ahead. Go ahead.
Q You’ve talked about —
THE PRESIDENT: Excuse me.
Q You talked about middle-class tax cuts on the campaign trail. How will you get Democrats to support that policy?
THE PRESIDENT: You have to ask them.
Q Well, what’s your plan for working with Democrats —
THE PRESIDENT: Excuse me.
Q — on the middle-class tax plan?
THE PRESIDENT: You know what my plan is? You know what my plan is? I’ll ask them. And if they say yes, I’m all for it. And if they say no, there’s nothing you can do because you need their votes.
Q Yes. Thank you, Mr. President. Francesca Chambers, DailyMail.com. You said many times on the campaign trail that you didn’t want Nancy Pelosi to be Speaker. At least you suggested that. You spent a lot of time talking about her and Chuck Schumer.
THE PRESIDENT: It’s not a question of want. I would’ve — so, let me answer it a little — would I have preferred winning by two or three or four? I would almost have to think about that. But certainly, I like to win. And if I win, she’s not going to be Speaker.
Q What did she say to you though, yesterday, that made you give her your support?
THE PRESIDENT: Honestly, we had a very warm conversation. You know, she loves this country. And she’s a very smart woman. She’s done a very good job. She was really — I mean, she’s had a very — she’s had a very —
Q Did she promise that they wouldn’t seek to impeach you?
THE PRESIDENT: She’s had a very, very — we didn’t talk about impeaching. We didn’t talk about — what do you do? Do you impeach somebody because he created the greatest economic success in the history of our country? “Let’s impeach him because the country is so successful. Let’s impeach him.” “Has he done anything wrong?” They asked somebody, “Has he done anything wrong?” “No, but let’s impeach him anyway.”
And they also said, “Let’s impeach Justice Kavanaugh. Let’s impeach him.” And now they have the second woman coming out that — the first or second. And I hate to say this, but it was public.
“And, after him, we’re going to impeach the Vice President. We’re going to impeach Mike Pence.” Mike Pence doesn’t get impeached for anything. “So let’s impeach the President, and then we’ll impeach the Vice President.”
These people are sick. And you know what? They have to get their bearing. Really, they have to get their bearing. And when you ask about division, they’re the ones that caused the division. They caused tremendous division.
Q Okay. Regarding all the retirements in the House — regarding all the retirements in the House, Mr. President — really quickly — you suggested that —
THE PRESIDENT: Who is retiring?
Q You said that many of the retirements that happened in the House made it very difficult for —
THE PRESIDENT: Many retirements, yeah.
Q — that made it very difficult for you in this election cycle, and that it was because they were chairmans, there were chairmanships that were vacated. But Jeff Flake wasn’t a chairman of a committee, and Paul Ryan also retired this cycle. So why do you think that is? Whose fault is it that there were so many retirements?
THE PRESIDENT: In Jeff Flake’s case, it’s me. Pure and simple. I retired him. I’m very proud of it. I did the country a great service.
Go ahead. Give him a — (laughter). Give him a — he is retired. I’d like to call it another word, but we’re going to treat him with great respect.
Q Thank you, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Jeff Flake. That’s another beauty.
Q Two questions, please.
THE PRESIDENT: No, one. One. One. One. Too many people. Sorry.
Q Well, all right. It’s all right. You seem to enjoy this venue very much. Are you going to make the standard press conference a staple of the remaining two years?
THE PRESIDENT: No. No.
Q Or will you have more briefings with Sarah Sanders?
THE PRESIDENT: No. You know, when I don’t do the — I think Sarah is fantastic. Where is Sarah? Where is Sarah? Sarah is so great. I think, Sarah, you’ve represented me so well and been abused. She’s been horribly treated by a lot of people.
Q So she’s going to stay on as Press Secretary?
THE PRESIDENT: No, no. It’s very interesting because Sarah was telling — we were talking about it the other day.
So I had a period where I figured, you know what I’ll do? I won’t do any real interviews. And then they start saying, “Why doesn’t he do — why?” And they’re all coming up with all kinds —
Then over the last couple of months I decided, I’ll do a lot — we’ll stop at the helicopter, we’ll do this, we’ll do a lot of — and then they say, “Why is he doing so many press conferences? What’s wrong? What?”
So when I don’t do them, you say, “What’s wrong?” When I do do them, you say, “What’s wrong?” And when I go in the middle, you say, “What’s wrong?” But in the media — you know that, Jon. Right?
Q (Off-mic.) (Inaudible) complained about access.
THE PRESIDENT: You’re sort of right.
Q (Off-mic.) (Inaudible) complained about access.
THE PRESIDENT: Okay, good.
Q (Off-mic.) (Inaudible.)
THE PRESIDENT: No, no. You did. Excuse me. Well, you complained about access when I purposely just stayed away from the press for a while because I wanted to see how it worked. And can I be honest with you? It didn’t work well.
Q Mr. President, I did (inaudible) question. So Sarah will stay on as Press Secretary?
THE PRESIDENT: Okay, please. Go ahead. No. Go ahead.
Q Mr. President, first off, I personally think it’s very good to have you here because a free press and this type of engagement —
THE PRESIDENT: I do, too. Actually? I do, too.
Q Yes. It’s vital to democracy.
THE PRESIDENT: It’s called “earned media.” It’s worth billions. Go ahead.
Q Um, so I have two questions for you, if that’s all right? It’s a rare opportunity. Um, first, just a point of clarification on the tax returns issue. You brought up the audit. That doesn’t prevent you from releasing them.
THE PRESIDENT: I know. Sure. But I didn’t say it prevented me, I said lawyers will tell you not to do it. Go ahead. What’s your next question? Go ahead.
Q If, well, just on that —
THE PRESIDENT: Come on. Let’s go. More exciting question than that, please.
Q Okay. The second one: Michael Cohen recently said you called black voters “stupid.”
THE PRESIDENT: That’s false.
Q Omarosa has accused you of using the N-word.
THE PRESIDENT: That’s false.
Q And the rapper, Lil Jon, has said you called him “Uncle Tom.” What’s your response?
THE PRESIDENT: I don’t know who Lil Jon is. I don’t — I really don’t.
Q He was on “The Apprentice.”
THE PRESIDENT: I don’t know. Oh, he was? Okay. Oh, I see. I don’t know.
Q Have you ever made racist remarks?
THE PRESIDENT: No. No, I would never do that and I don’t use racist remarks. And you know what? If I did, you people would’ve known about it. I’ve been hearing there are tapes. For years and years, “There are tapes.”
Number one, I never worried about it because I never did. I never used racist remarks. I have never used racist remarks.
Q Well, one point of fact.
THE PRESIDENT: Go ahead.
Q You have been a — one point of fact, because you told her you have the highest approval —
THE PRESIDENT: Quiet. Quiet.
Q — amongst African Americans.
THE PRESIDENT: Quiet. Quiet.
Q It’s just 8 percent, sir. Single digits.
THE PRESIDENT: See, when you talk about division, it’s people like this that cause division. Great division.
Q Point of fact, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Great — no. No, point of fact is that I never used a racist remark. That’s the point of fact.
THE PRESIDENT: Where — who are you from?
Q I’m from Yahoo! News. (Inaudible.)
THE PRESIDENT: Yahoo! — oh, Yahoo! — oh, good. Good, I hope they’re doing well.
Q MTV Lebanon (inaudible). Sir, first question —
THE PRESIDENT: Where are you from?
Q MTV Lebanon. Lebanon.
THE PRESIDENT: Lebanon. Good.
Q Yes. Thank you, Mr. President. We’re so happy to be — as well have this opportunity. Mr. — President Erdoğan said he’s not going to follow your sanctions and he’s going to keep buying oil from —
THE PRESIDENT: Who said that?
Q President Erdoğan. Turkey.
THE PRESIDENT: I know. I know.
Q And you’re going to meet him soon —
THE PRESIDENT: I just can’t understand his speak —
Q Okay. You’re going to meet him soon. You’re going to have this talk and some countries are going to take the same steps that President Erdoğan is doing and —
THE PRESIDENT: So let me just say about the oil, okay? So we’re — we imposed, just recently, the strongest sanctions in the history of our country, just about. Although I guess North Korea is there, too. But I gave some countries a break on the oil. I did it a little bit because they really asked for some help. But I really did it because I don’t want to drive oil prices up to $100 a barrel or $150 a barrel, because I’m driving them down.
If you look at oil prices, they’ve come down very substantially over the last couple of months. That’s because of me. Because you have a monopoly called “OPEC.” And I don’t like — wait.
THE PRESIDENT: And I don’t like that monopoly. I don’t like it. And oil prices are coming down.
So rather than deciding to be as tough as I am on most of the sanctions, what I’ve done is I said, “We’re not going to do it that way; we’re going to let some of the oil go out to these countries that really do need it because I don’t want to drive the oil prices up to $100 or $150 a barrel, which could happen very easily. It’s a very fragile market. Very, very fragile. I know it very well. And it’s the absolute right decision.
And they’ll get tougher as time goes by, maybe, but I don’t want to have any effect on the oil prices worldwide, where I drive them up. Because I consider that to be a tax, and I don’t like taxes.
Q What happened with the peace process between Israel and Palestine?
THE PRESIDENT: Go ahead. Please. Please.
Q The peace process is over?
THE PRESIDENT: Who?
Q It just came out that Jon Tester won —
THE PRESIDENT: Oh, congratulations to Jon Tester. Congratulations. I’m sure you’re very unhappy about that.
Q Mr. President, can —
MS. SANDERS: (Inaudible.)
THE PRESIDENT: Yes. Please, go ahead.
Q Can you address the —
THE PRESIDENT: We’ll take a couple of more, and then we’ll go.
Q Can you address concerns in places like Georgia where people waited in line to vote for hours, where voting machines weren’t working in certain districts, and there hasn’t —
THE PRESIDENT: Do you think that’s the reason that the candidate lost?
Q Well, there are concerns being raised that it wasn’t —
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I mean, look, I wasn’t involved in Georgia. I wasn’t.
Q I know, but are — but, as President —
THE PRESIDENT: Other than I love the state. I do love the state.
Q Yes, but as President of the United States, are you concerned about the access that people are having to voting?
THE PRESIDENT: I heard it was very efficient in Georgia. I heard it was very efficient. But again, you’d have to ask the state governments because — just one of those things you’re going to have to ask them.
Yeah, go ahead. Please. Please, go ahead.
Q Thank you. Thank you, Mr. President. You expressed some concerns about social media companies unfairly censoring conservatives during the election. Do you anticipate working with Democrats to regulate these companies, or are you satisfied with the way things are?
THE PRESIDENT: I would — I would do that. Yeah. I would look at that very seriously. I think it’s a serious problem. At the same time, you start getting into speech; that’s a very dangerous problem. That could be the beginning. So it’s very dangerous.
Believe it or not, I’m one that really likes free speech. A lot of people don’t understand that. But I am a big believer. And when you start regulating, a lot of bad things can happen.
But I would certainly talk to the Democrats if they want to do that. And I think they do want to do that.
Yes, sir. Go ahead.
Q Former President — former President Barack Obama famously said that he had “a pen and a phone” to use executive power on issues like immigration. Do you see yourself using executive power to get some of your immigration agenda done?
THE PRESIDENT: I do. I do. I think that some of it I can use executive power — on some. Not all. But I got — I mean, he certainly used it.
He used it on DACA. And when he did it, he said something to the effect that “I’m not allowed to do this, it will never hold up, but I’m doing it anyway.” And he did it and they found judges that approved it. We also found judges that didn’t approve it, so it’s obviously going to be determined in the Supreme Court.
And if the Supreme — if the court rules in favor of what President Obama thinks they should rule — which is what he said — then I will probably have a deal with the Democrats in a very short period of time. We were very close to having a deal until we got that very strange ruling.
Q Thank you, sir. You also made some promises about immigration during the campaign, and I want to know if you’re going to follow through with them. Are you going to be aggressive —
THE PRESIDENT: Which one are you talking about?
Q Birthright citizenship. Are you going to sign an executive order to ban —
THE PRESIDENT: We are looking at it very seriously. Absolutely.
Q I mean, is it yes or no? Or are you —
THE PRESIDENT: And I believe we have the absolute right. But that’s another case that will be determined by the Supreme Court of the United States.
Q Are you going to send 15,000 troops to the border?
THE PRESIDENT: You’ve been reading the same documents as I have; you know exactly what I’m doing. You know exactly what I’m doing.
So go ahead. What’s your next question?
Q Also, on the Khashoggi matter, it’s been more than a month since the death of Mr. Khashoggi, the journalist.
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah. Very sad thing. Very terrible thing.
Q Do you think Saudi Arabia is guilty of having him murdered? And if so, what kind of punishment would be involved?
THE PRESIDENT: I’ll have a much stronger opinion on that subject over the next week, and I’m working very closely with Congress. We’re working together. Some very talented people. And we’re working with Congress, we’re working with Turkey, and we’re working with Saudi Arabia. And I’m forming a very strong opinion.
Go ahead, Jon. Go ahead, Jon.
Q Mr. President, just a quick follow up. You said something about Nancy Pelosi. You said that Nancy Pelosi, she loves our country. Do you regret some of the things you said during the campaign?
THE PRESIDENT: No.
Q I mean, at various times, you said Democrats —
THE PRESIDENT: No.
Q — want to put a “wrecking ball…to our future”; they want to “destroy our country.”
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I believe that. I believe that. With their current policy, they are using a wrecking ball on our country. I believe that 100 percent. This would be a wrecking ball.
But I think there’s a compromise somewhere, and I think that could be really good for our country.
Okay, how about one more?
Q Do you regret the ad? Do you regret the ad that you did that was branded as racist ad and even Fox News wouldn’t air it?
THE PRESIDENT: No, I don’t. No. No. No.
Q NBC wouldn’t air it, and other networks.
THE PRESIDENT: Do I regret it?
THE PRESIDENT: Surprised you would ask me that question. I do not.
Go ahead, please.
Q Thank you, sir. And I think we’d all love to have more of these, if you’re willing.
In 2017, shortly after you took office, your Homeland Security Department shuttered a program to counter homegrown, right-wing extremism, white supremacism, and related terrorist groups — domestic terrorist groups; and redirected that funding towards fighting Islamic terrorism. Do you believe that white supremacists, terrorists, right-wing terrorists, these homegrown terrorists on that side of the spectrum are a problem, sir?
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah, I do. I do believe that’s a problem.
Q And what is your administration going to do about it?
THE PRESIDENT: I believe all hate is a problem, but I do believe that is a problem.
Q What are you going to do about it, sir?
THE PRESIDENT: And it’s a problem we want to solve.
Q How, sir? What are you going to do about it, sir?
THE PRESIDENT: Okay, go ahead.
Q Sir — sir, what are you going to do about it? You cut off the funding.
Q Mr. President, you’ve said —
THE PRESIDENT: No, we have given funding for that — a lot of funding. But I do believe it’s a problem. And can I tell you what — it’s a problem that I don’t like even a little bit.
Q Aixa Diaz with Hearst Television. You’ve said, “Pretend I’m on the ballot” — yesterday. You called it a referendum on your presidency. Many local districts across the country rejected your midterm message, particularly suburban women. How do you bridge that divide now — also with the influx of women coming into Congress?
THE PRESIDENT: I think my message was very well received. I mean, just look at the results. Midterm elections are disasters for sitting Presidents and administrations. This has been a very successful — and, look, you can write it any way you want. And if you disagree with me — this has been incredibly success — when you look at the races. How about Ohio? I didn’t even mention. I mentioned Florida; I mentioned Georgia. How about the governor of Ohio? A fantastic —
Q But what’s your message to suburban women voters?
THE PRESIDENT: Excuse me. Excuse me. Excuse me. A fantastic man, who was down on the polls. And everybody was talking about this person that was so great. And I went up there, and I did a rally, and they have now a great governor — you’re going to have a great governor in Ohio for, hopefully, a long period of time. But for four years. And — Mike DeWine is a fantastic person.
And I went up there for two reasons: Because I felt that his opposition was not a good person — and we know a lot about him — and I felt that Mike was a fantastic person. And he won. And not only did he win, he won easily.
So add that to Florida, and add that to Georgia, and add that to all of the other races that we won — outside, even, of the Senate races, which were the biggest of all. Because these were races that — and Mike Pence can tell you, and some of the folks over here can tell you — these were races that were going to be unopposed. We were not going to oppose certain of the people running — certain senators. They said they couldn’t be beaten. They said Heidi could not be beaten. “Please, don’t do it.” This was a year out.
Q What about in the suburban districts? How do you get those back?
THE PRESIDENT: Excuse me. You — no, but you’re telling me about — you’re telling me about popularity. They said many of these people — when I said 9 out of 11 — but I said — when many of these people — these weren’t like easy races; they were tough races.
And so I think the level of popularity — the first question I was asked was about, “Well, what have you learned? What about your own popularity?” I think that’s what I learned, is — I was very well received by this great country, by the people of our great country. And I’m very proud of that, because I love the people of this country. These people — we are the greatest people. I love the people of our country.
Q So what do you say to women, Mr. President?
THE PRESIDENT: And I’ll tell you something: When you look at the races that we won in Florida, which we weren’t expected to win; and Georgia, which we weren’t expected to win; and Ohio, which we weren’t expected to win — and won; I mean, you look at some of them — the number of votes that we got is incredible.
So I’m really happy with not only the way it came out, but the response to me as your President. And as your President, I made our country safe. I’ve rebuilt and am in the process of rebuilding our military. And the jobs are here. Every one of them built here. We’re going to have the strongest — very shortly, we’re going to have the strongest military our country has ever had.
I’ve done more for the vets than any President has done, certainly in many, many decades, with Choice and with other things, as you know. With other things.
But our vets are doing better than they’ve ever done. But if you look at Choice — Choice alone — I mean, just take a look at what we’ve done with Choice. But the people of our country are very happy with the job that I’m doing. And you know, one of the things —
Q But looking ahead to 2020 —
THE PRESIDENT: One of the things — one of the things that they want so much is security. They want security, both at the border — they want it with our military; they want it with law enforcement; they want it with ICE.
You know, we’ve taken out thousands of MS-13 gang members — thousands out of our — hard to believe — thousands — out of our country. Women of our country, who are incredible people, they want security; they want safety. They want financial security also. We’ve done that. But they want physical security.
And we’ve taken out thousands of people that shouldn’t be in this country. But we have to get strong immigration laws so they don’t come in. We want laws where they don’t come in, where we don’t have to take them out, per se.
And again, I’m very honored to be with all of you. It was a great day yesterday. It was a great evening. I think we had a tremendous success. And hopefully the tone can get better. Hopefully —
Q How will you change that?
THE PRESIDENT: Hopefully the tone can get a lot better. And I really believe it begins with the media. I really — we used to call it the “press.” But I really —
Q Does it begin with you, Mr. President?
THE PRESIDENT: But I really believe it begins with the media. If you would cover — and there was a very interesting story written in a very good paper recently that talked about the fact that it isn’t good what the media is doing, and that I do have the right to fight back because I’m treated very unfairly.
So I do fight back. And I’m fighting back not for me; I’m fighting back for the people of this country.
Thank you all very much. Thank you.
1:24 P.M. EST