Oval Office

2:11 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Okay, thank you very much.  I had a great conversation this morning with President Moon of South Korea.  And we obviously discussed the upcoming trip next week, where we’re going Hanoi, in Vietnam.  And I look forward to be with Chairman Kim, and I think a lot of things will come out of it.

We had a tremendous first summit.  That was really breaking the ice, but a lot of things came from that, including good relationships.  And we’re looking forward to having a very good meeting.  And President Moon and I discussed, I think, probably every aspect of the meeting; it was a good conversation.  I’ll be speaking tomorrow with Prime Minister Abe of Japan, and we’ll be having a similar conversation.  So I think next week is going to be very exciting.

It’s going to be the second summit.  I think a lot can come from it — at least, I hope so — the denuclearization, ultimately.  I’m in no particular rush.  The sanctions are on, the relationships are very strong, and a lot of good things have happened.

We’ve gotten our hostages back.  The remains are coming back.  Vice President Pence was in Hawaii when the first large number, actually, had come.  And now, certain have been identified.  Their families members have found out exactly what’s going on, and they’ve had ceremonies that are absolutely beautiful.  That was an incredible event.

In fact, when we were campaigning, so many people would say — even though it was many years ago, they would say, “Is it possible to get the remains back from North Korea?”  So we’ve done that.  And as you know, there’s been no testing of rockets, missiles, or nuclear.

So we’re in no rush.  A lot of the media would like to say, “Oh, what’s going on?  Speed, speed, speed.”  No rush whatsoever.  We are going to have our meeting; we’ll see what happens.  And I think, ultimately, we’re going to be very, very successful.

When I became President, the relationship with North Korea was a very dangerous one for the world, and I think now it’s far less dangerous.  And there’s a lot of sanity, a lot of really sane thinking.

So he looks forward to it; I look forward to it.  And the talk with President Moon, and tomorrow with Prime Minister Abe, I think will be very helpful.

Today, I’m thrilled to sign a new order taking the next step to create the United States Space Force.  So important, when you look at defense, when you look at all of the other aspects of where the world will be someday.  I mean, this is the beginning.  This is a very important process.

First, I want to recognize our wonderful Vice President, Mike Pence, who serves as the Chairman of the National Space Council.  Thank you, Mike.  Great job.  I know you feel the same way I do.

I also want to thank Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, who is with us; Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson; Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Paul Selva; and the Executive Secretary of the Space Council, Dr. Scott Pace for being here today.

They’ve all worked very hard on the Space Force.  They all believe in it very strongly, as I do.  It’s the future.  It’s where we’re going.  I suspect, whether we like it or not, that’s where we’re going.  It’s space.  That’s the next step, and we have to be prepared.

Our adversaries and — whether we get along with them or not, they’re up in space.  And they’re doing it, and we’re doing it.  And that’s going to be a very big part of where the defense of our nation — and you could say “offense” — but let’s just be nice about it and let’s say the defense of our nation is going to be.

America must be fully equipped to defend our vital interests.  Our adversaries are training forces and developing technology to undermine our security in space, and they’re working very hard at that.

That’s why my administration has recognized space as a warfighting domain and made the creation of the Space Force a national security priority.  I think we’ll have great support from Congress, because they do support something when we’re talking about such importance.  And a lot of the generals, a lot of the people involved have been speaking to Congress.  And we have some very interesting dialogue going on.

We’re investing in new space capabilities to project military power and safeguard our nation’s interests, especially when it comes to safety and defense.

This directive calls on the Secretary of Defense to develop a legislative proposal that will establish the structure and authority of the Space Force as the sixth branch of the United States Armed Forces.  That would mean a high-ranking — the highest-ranking person there would go on to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  So it’s a very, very important deal.

The Space Force will organize, equip, and train the next generation of warriors to deter aggression and defend the nation, our allies, and American interests against hostile actions in the form of space and taking place in space.

So we have a lot of things on the books.  We have a lot of new defensive weapons and offensive weapons designed specifically for this, and now we’re going to start taking advantage of.  This is something they could have done sooner but they decided to wait.  And here I am, and we’re going to do it.  And I’m very proud that, during my administration, we’re doing so much in space.  We need it.

We’ve already taken historic action to create the United States Space Command, as you know, within the Department of Defense to oversee the nation’s military space operations.

Now, in the face of these threats all around the world, American leadership in space is more important than it ever has been.  Before, it used to be something that we’d aspire to, we’d talk about, but we wouldn’t do anything.  Now we have to do something because that’s where it’s at.

With today’s action, we will ensure that our people are secure, our interests are protected, and our power continues to be unmatched.  There will be nobody that can come close to matching us.  It won’t be close.

What we have on the books are things that you wouldn’t even believe.  You wouldn’t even believe.  It’s going to mean the safety of our nation for many, many decades and many, many generations, and that’s what I’m here for.  I guess when you get right down to it, more importantly than anything else, that’s why I’m here.

So I just want to thank everybody.  The Space Force is a very important part of my administration and it’s a very important part of this nation.  And it’s an honor to be with you all.  And I’ll sign and we will then maybe take a few questions and ask a few.  You may want to say something.  In fact, Mike, why don’t you start off?  You’ve been — you and I have been working on this very hard.  Why don’t you say a few words?  Please.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  We have.  Thank you, Mr. President.  From the first days of this administration, President Trump has made national security a priority.  We’ve secured historic investments in our national defense.

But from very early on, the President also said that America needed to be as dominant in space as we are on the Earth.  And now, with this fourth Space Policy Directive, America is leading in space once again.

But in this respect, the President is calling on the Department of Defense to fashion what we have literally been working on for months, consulting with members of Congress and military experts.  It will be a legislative proposal that will establish the United States Space Force as the sixth branch of our armed forces.

It will build on the President’s leadership of a United States Space Command, a joint combatant command that we’ve already organized at the President’s direction.  But this is now the foundation of ensuring that even as we are dominant in space today, now we’ll begin to bring all of our resources together under U.S. Space Command, which will operate under the Department of the Air Force.  And in so doing, we’ll ensure that we bring the best resources and the best minds together to protect the American people and advance our interests.

And, Mr. President, all the members of the National Space Council and the agencies that are a part of it are gathered behind you today —

THE PRESIDENT:  That’s right.

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  — and we thank you for your leadership and your support in this effort.

THE PRESIDENT:  Some great talent, I will say that.  Would you like to say something?  You’ve helped us so much.  Please, Paul.

GENERAL SELVA:  Sir, you’ve been incredibly supportive in bringing space to the fore as not only a domain of potential warfare, but also recognizing it as a place where a large amount of our economic power comes from.  And so our job to protect our national security includes protecting our economy as well.  And so, as your Vice Chairman, the Joint Chiefs endorse all this effort to make sure that we get the right emphasis on defending our interests and our assets in space.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much, Paul.  Patrick?  How about you?

ACTING SECRETARY SHANAHAN:  Yes, sir.

THE PRESIDENT:  Mr. Secretary.

ACTING SECRETARY SHANAHAN:  This is a historic moment.  The dawn of a new service.  I’d like to thank you for your leadership and, most importantly, the resources so that we can do our job.

Mr. Vice President, thank you for pushing us.  We’ve come quite a distance in a very short period of time.

And then to my counterparts here, thank you for all the remarkable teamwork.  We will deliver the capability better, sooner, faster so we can sustain our margin of dominance.

Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.

Maybe John Bolton — you’ve been very much involved and I know how you feel about it.

AMBASSADOR BOLTON:  Well, this is a visionary project, Mr. President — your leadership, the Vice President, and really everybody on the Space Council.  This is not something for the next year or two, or even the next six years.  This is on into the century.  A place where, as President Kennedy once said, “I believe space is a new ocean and the United States must sail upon it.”  And you’re taking the steps to make sure that, from the national security perspective, the United States will be dominant on that new ocean.

THE PRESIDENT:  And we will be.  Okay, thank you.

Anybody have anything to say?  Huh?  Would anybody like to say?  Fine?  No?  Good.  We’re all (inaudible).  (Laughter.)  Right?  We’ve said enough.  Let’s sign.  Let’s sign.  It’s very exciting.

(The directive is signed.)

So how about we give this one to Paul?  Mike, do you want to do that?  Okay.  Come on, Paul.  That’s a big deal.  (Applause.)

It’s very important.  Thank you very much.  Thank you very much, everybody.  Thank you.

Q    Mr. President, there’s another round of trade talks starting this week here in Washington.

THE PRESIDENT:  That’s right.

Q    How confident are you that it will be finished by March 1?  Or are you considering extending that deadline?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, they are very complex talks.  They’re going very well.  We’re asking for everything that anybody has ever even suggested.  These are not just, you know, “let’s sell corn or let’s do this.”  It’s going to be selling corn but a lot of it — a lot more than anyone thought possible.  And I think the talks are going very well — with China, you’re referring to?

Q    Yes.

THE PRESIDENT:  And the talks are going very well.

Our group just came back and now they’re coming here.  I can’t tell you exactly about timing, but the date is not a magical date.  A lot of things can happen.

The real question will be: Will we raise the tariffs?  Because they automatically kick in to 25 percent as of — on $200 billion worth of goods that they send.  So I know that China would like not for that to happen.  So I think they’re trying to move fast so that doesn’t happen.  But it’s — we’ll see what happens.

I can only say that the talks with China on trade have gone very, very well.  In the meantime, our economy is very strong.  We’re doing well.

I don’t know if you noticed, but deficits seem to be coming down.  And last month it was reported, and everybody was surprised, but I wasn’t surprised.  We’re taking in a lot of money coming into our Treasury from tariffs and various things, including the steel dumping.  And our steel companies are doing really well.  Aluminum companies also.  So we’re very happy about that.

I think that it’s — they’ll be coming very shortly.  They’re going to have very detailed discussions on subjects that have never really been even discussed by people that sat in this chair and they should have been.  Very important subjects.  And I think we’re doing very well.  Okay?

Q    (Inaudible) terrorists from Pakistan have been — struck, inside India, 40 security persons last week.  How do you see this issue?  What’s the message to Pakistan?

THE PRESIDENT:  I’ve seen it.  I’ve watched.  I’ve gotten a lot of reports on it.  We’ll have a comment at the appropriate time.  It would be wonderful if they got along.  It seems like that was a horrible situation.  But we’re getting reports.  We’ll have a statement to put out.  Okay?  Thank you very much.

Q    Mr. President, did you ask Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker to change the leadership of the investigation into your former personal attorney, Michael Cohen?

THE PRESIDENT:  No.  Not at all.  I don’t know who gave you that.  Just more fake news.  A lot of — there’s a lot of fake —
Q    (Inaudible) story in the New York Times.

THE PRESIDENT:  — there’s a lot of fake news out there.  No, I didn’t.

Q    What is the current status of your relationship with Mr. Whitaker?

THE PRESIDENT:  Very good.  I have a lot of respect for Mr. Whitaker.  I think he’s done a great job.  He’s a very, very straight shooter.  I watched him during the hearing — some of it.  I thought he was exceptional.  He’s a very fine man and he should be given a lot of thanks by our nation.

Okay.  Thank you very much.

Q    Mr. President, what’s your reaction to the lawsuits yesterday filed by the states against your executive order?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I think I called it exactly, right?  Including the fact that they would put them in through the Ninth Circuit.  That’s where they put them in.  And I think we’ll do very well.

We have absolute right to do that.  I have an absolute right to call a national security.  We need strong borders.  We have to stop drugs and crime and criminals and human trafficking.  And we have to stop all of those things that a strong wall will stop.  I could call it a barrier, but I think I don’t have to do that so much anymore.  We’ll call it whatever we want.

But the point is that we have to have a stoppage.  Billions and billions of dollars of illicit things are pouring through our border.  And, you know, we talk about points of entry, and one of the things that we do have is a lot of money now from points of entry, because everything was given.  The money was given — so much that you almost don’t know what to do with it — by Congress.  But when it came to the wall, they wanted to hold back because it was politics.  That’s all it is.

In fact, I hear the Democrats want to take down all walls along the southern border.  And if they do that, you’re going to have a very different country.  But they’re not going to do that.  They wouldn’t.  First of all, they won’t do it because they know it’s wrong.  They know walls are necessary, maybe more than we do.  But they’re playing a political game.  And their new game is, “Let’s take down all walls.”  I saw where Beto wanted to take down walls.  I said — they asked me, “What do you think?”  I said, “Well, I think that’s probably the end of his political career.”

We’re doing very well on the wall.  We’re building a lot of wall right now.  You know that.  In the valley, we’re doing tremendous work in a very important area.  We have a lot more under negotiation right now.  We’re working with the Army Corps of Engineers.  They’re fantastic.  And a lot of great things are happening.

I think, in the end, we’re going to be very successful with the lawsuit.  So it was filed — it was filed in the Ninth Circuit.  And I actually think we might do very well, even in the Ninth Circuit, because it’s an open and closed case.

I was put here for security — whether it’s Space Force, which we’re doing today, or whether it’s borders.  Because if our nation doesn’t have borders, we don’t have too much of a nation, especially when drugs and all of the things that — you know better than anybody what’s happening at the border.  It’s a bad situation.  So I think we’re going to do very well with the lawsuit.

Okay?

Q    Just one more on Vietnam.  You said — you referred earlier to your meetings in Vietnam.  What do you want to achieve during that summit?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I’d just like to see, ultimately, denuclearization of North Korea.  I think we will see that ultimately.  I have no pressing time schedule.  And I think a lot of people would like to see it go very quickly from the other side.

I really believe that North Korea can be a tremendous economic power when this is solved.  Their location between Russia, China, and South Korea is unbelievable.  I think that North Korea and Chairman Kim have some very positive things in mind, and we’ll soon find out.  But I’m in no rush.  There’s no testing.  As long as there’s not testing, I’m in no rush.  If there’s testing, that’s another deal.  But there has been no testing.

If you look at the end of the Obama administration, it was a disaster what was going on.  You don’t have that right now; it’s a much different feeling.  I think people have — there’s always danger, but I think people have a much different feeling.

So I hope that very positive things are going to happen.  I think that it will be a very exciting couple of days.
Thank you all very much.

Q    Your reaction to Bernie Sanders running for President?

THE PRESIDENT:  Oh, Bernie Sanders is running.  Yeah, that’s right.  Personally, I think he missed his time.  But I like Bernie because he’s — he is one person that, you know, on trade, he sort of would agree on trade.  I’m being very tough on trade.  He was tough on trade.  The problem is he doesn’t know what to do about it.  We’re doing something very spectacular on trade.

But I wish Bernie well.  It will be interesting to see how he does.  I think what happened to Bernie maybe was not so nice.  I think he was taken advantage of.  He ran great four years ago, and he was not treated with respect by Clinton.  And that was too bad.  I thought what happened to Bernie Sanders four years ago was quite sad as it pertains to our country.  So we’ll see how he does.

You’ve got a lot of people running, but only one person is going to win.  I hope you know who that person is.

Goodbye, everybody.

END

2:31 P.M. EST