3:41 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Okay, well, thank you very much. Great honor to be here with some of the most incredible people in our country — people that have been with me from the beginning and I’ve been with them from the absolute beginning. The relationship has been very good.
So we’re here with the vital action support for the American farmers: people that we love; people that have been going for a long time and they’ve done really well, and they have ups and they have downs. It’s a wild business, but you wouldn’t trade it for anything. I know that, right? I know that, a hundred percent.
We’re grateful to be joined by Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. Sonny, thank you very much. Sonny, great job. Come here.
Thanks also to Representatives G.T. Thompson. Thank you. Thank you very much. Lloyd Smucker and Mike Conway. Thank you, fellas. Appreciate it very much. Been very helpful. Along with Missouri Agricultural Director Chris Chinn. Thank you, Chris. Great job.
Also with us today are several of our nation’s greatest farmers, including American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall. Zippy. Oh, Zippy has been so good to me. Thank you, Zippy. I appreciate it very much. Along with members of the farm groups representing producers of corn, soybeans, wheat, and pork.
For years, our politicians have allowed other countries to steal our jobs, punish our workers, and target American industry and American agriculture. I can’t say this is just the Democrats, but, in particular, the Democrats have done absolutely nothing about this.
From the year 2001, when China joined the World Trade Organization — which was, by the way, a disaster — until the year 2016, the United States lost more than 60,000 factories and millions and millions of jobs. China imposed massive barriers to American farm products — you people know that very well, right? — very well — and engaged in the theft of trade secrets from American agri-business.
We racked up nearly $4 trillion in trade deficits in goods with China during those years. And the numbers are absolutely astounding — what’s been happening over the last 10 years in particular. But you go back 30 years and you wouldn’t even believe it.
This was a massive transfer of wealth from the United States to China, financing China’s infrastructure, commerce, technology, and military. And you’ve heard me say it many, many times before: We helped rebuild China.
You’ve also heard me say I don’t blame the Chinese. I blame the people that were standing right here before me and their representatives to allow that to happen, to allow China to get along and be able to do that. And they did it like nobody else has ever done it before. And you know the United States has been taken advantage of for many years by many countries, but nobody has done it like China.
To end these chronic trading abuses, my administration took necessary and very lawful action to protect America’s economy, security, and farms. We’re taking swift action to remedy all of the injustice that’s been done over the years — in particular, you could say with our farmers. They’re patriots. They stood up and they were with me. They didn’t say, “Oh, you shouldn’t do this because we’re going to have a bad year.” Because they’ve had 20 bad years, if you really look. You take a look at those charts way back — longer than that. It’s just been a steady spiral down.
So we will ensure that our farmers get the relief they need and very, very quickly. It’s a good time to be a farmer; we’re going to make sure of that.
So, today, I’m announcing that I have directed Secretary Perdue to provide $16 billion in assistance to America’s farmers and ranchers. It all comes from China. We’ll be taking in, over a period of time, hundreds of billions of dollars in tariffs and charges to China. And our farmers will be greatly helped. We want to get them back to the point where they would have had if they had a good year.
This support for farmers will be paid for by the billions of dollars our Treasury takes in. We’ll be taking in — depending on what period of time we’re talking — many billions of dollars. Far more than the $16 billion that we’re talking about. But the $16 billion in funds will help keep our cherished farms thriving and make clear that no country has veto on America’s economic and national security. Can’t let that happen ever.
And if you remember, not so long ago, during the time of our negotiation — and China broke the deal with us, and that’s okay. That’s fine. But during that time of negotiation, if everyone remembers, we had periods where China would target our farms, right? They would actually target. They took a — an ad in a newspaper from Iowa — big ad — saying lots of bad things about the administration, about the fact that we’re negotiating too tough; we’re not going to make a deal.
But they steal intellectual property by the billions. Somebody estimated it at $300 billion. Nobody knows how you estimate it but somebody does. They say $300 billion a year in theft — intellectual property theft. So we can’t let that happen.
Our economy is booming. Our nation is prospering. And now is the time to insist on fair and reciprocal trade for our workers and for our farmers.
I remain hopeful that, at some point, we’ll probably get together with China. If it happens, great. If it doesn’t happen, that’s fine. That’s absolutely fine. And I look forward — I’ll be seeing President Xi at the G20, very shortly. Many of you are going to be there, many of the media present — you’ll be at the meeting. And we look forward to that.
But in the meantime — and maybe for a long time — I appreciate the incredible bipartisan support that my administration has had on trade and trade policy, especially as it pertains to placing very massive tariffs on China. And just so you understand: These tariffs are paid for largely by China. A lot of people like to say by “us.” In fact, Larry Kudlow was quoted but they didn’t have the second part of his quote, which was a very good quote. China subsidizes a lot of businesses. And China came out, and, in subsidizing the business, they pay for a big portion of that tax.
But right now, a lot of companies are moving out of China because of the tax. They’re moving to non-tariffed countries. So it’s a bad thing for China. We don’t want that, but that’s just the way it works out.
But we’re taking in tremendous amounts of tariffs. And you don’t have to pay, by the way, tariffs for companies when they move into the United States. You move to the United States; it’s very simple business: There are no tariffs to pay. And many companies are already plan — and planning to move back to the United States, or to move to the United States for the first time so they don’t have to pay the 25 percent tariff. But they’re moving to Vietnam; they’re moving to other places. But we’ll get plenty of them.
Our country must maintain a united front to achieve maximum results for our people. Very simple. For years, farm income has declined. And we’re talking about many years. This year, however — and I was a little surprised to see this because I know that there’s been really a trade attack on our great farmers. Net farm income, because our economy is doing so well, is forecast to be nearly $8 billion higher than in 2016. Did you know that? You’re doing better than you were doing in 2016. Nobody told me that. But that’s because our economy has been so strong. Our economy is about as good as it’s ever been, maybe better than it’s ever been.
And the agricultural exports are expected to be $10 billion more than in 2016. It’s not bad. You’ve done a good job. Huh? We both have. We all have. The farmers have.
So we’re fixing broken trade deals to open up markets for American exports, including with the brand new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, an agreement that the Democrats in Congress, many are supporting, I must say. They’ve told us they’re supporting it regardless of leadership. I don’t think Nancy Pelosi understands the deal. It’s too complicated. But it’s not a complicated deal. It’s actually not a complicated deal.
It’s a deal that’s going to be many, many times better than NAFTA. I consider NAFTA to be one of the worst trade deals ever made in the history of our country. I think the World Trade Organization, Larry Kudlow, may be even worse. It may be even worse because of what it’s done with respect to trade and international trade, and trade with China — what it’s done for China and how much money our country has been losing to China every year. So, World Trade Organization has been really bad, but the NAFTA has been one of — one of the worst deals ever made in trade.
Just last week, we reached an agreement with Canada and Mexico to lift major tariffs on American agriculture, and we opened up the beef exports with Japan. Did you know that? Right? That’s a big deal. So we opened it up with Japan. First time ever. So, beef is now going to be starting to flow to Japan. And our folks that do beef, they are very much happy. They were shocked to see that one, but it’s happening. It’s happening fast.
And I think things, probably, are going to happen with China fast because I can’t imagine that they can be thrilled with thousands of companies leaving their shores for other places.
We’re saving our farmers and ranchers from ridiculous regulations also, and we’re — as of next week, we’re signing some additional voiding of some really dumb regulations, Sonny, that will make farming a lot easier, a lot better. And one of the regulations we did, Waters of the United States rule — it sounds beautiful, but once you open the document, it’s a total catastrophe. And you know that better than anybody. I got rid of it. I terminated it. It’s got a beautiful title. Everything inside is a disaster for our farmers and, actually, for our country.
We’re ensuring that ethanol remains a vital part of America’s energy future, and we increased it to E15. And that’s tremendous for, in particular, for the most part, our corn farmers, for corn. And the people in Iowa and lots of other places are very happy. I just did it recently, and I made a promise during the campaign that I was going to do it. And I don’t know if it had an impact, but I won Iowa by a lot. And perhaps it did; perhaps it didn’t. I don’t really care. It’s the right thing to do. So you’re going to be at E15, which is something, I think, you’ve been waiting for, for a long time.
And we’re going to also make that available year around. They had it for a period of eight months; now we’re going to make year around. That was a ridiculous rule.
We’re fighting for rural broadband, improving rural healthcare, and bringing new prosperity to distressed rural communities through Opportunity Zones. Opportunity Zones — Tim Scott and I and others have worked so hard on Opportunity Zones. They’re really working, far greater than anyone thought, including me.
People are coming in, they’re investing large amounts of money in places that they would have never invested before — inner-city locations and others. And it’s been incredible. It’s one of the reasons our African American unemployment is the lowest ever. Hispanic, Asian, the lowest ever. We have the lowest unemployment rates ever.
And we have today — literally today — I just saw another report; it’s been this way for a while — the most people working in the history of our country, working today. So that’s really great.
Mike, I mean, if you look at that, that’s pretty good news, right?
So our nation will always be proud of the unmatched grit and faith and skill of the American farmer. It’s my honor to do what we did. I want to thank Sonny Perdue and all of the people that worked so hard on getting this done. It’s being implemented right now. Billions of dollars is already flowing into our treasury that we never saw before. We never saw 10 cents from China. China didn’t give us anything. Now they’re giving us billions. And some of that money is going to go to the farmers to help them out during a period where trade has been very unfair to them.
So I’m very honored to have done this for you. And I don’t consider it a gift at all. It’s not a gift.
You know, in one of the meetings, I talk about it. I’ve never seen anything like it. About six months ago, I was with the American farmer, and I had about 25 of them in the Cabinet Room. And I said, “Well, you know, maybe what we can do during the trade” — this was in the midst of a big portion of trade with China. In the meantime, China agreed to buy a tremendous amount of soybeans. But this was before that. And they were really going, and they were — as I said, they were advertising and doing a lot of negative things to our farmer.
And I said, “You know what we’ll do? We’re going to do a subsidy program. We’re going to help you.” And one of the farmers looked at me and said, “We don’t want subsidy, sir.” I said, “What are you talking about, you don’t want subsidy? Everybody is asking me for subsidy.” Everybody, Sonny, is asking us for money. They don’t care what you call it; they all want money. (Laughter.) And they didn’t want money.
He said, “Just give us a flat table. Just give us a level playing field.” He said, “We don’t want any handouts. We don’t want subsidies. We don’t want anything, sir. Just give us a level playing field.” And I said, “I can’t believe you’re saying it.”
Literally, I’ve been with so many different groups. And if I said I’m going to give you subsidy or I’m going to give you money, they jump they’re so happy. Your people did not want it. You understand exactly what they talk — you, the potato man.
MR. MOSS: Yes, I do. (Laughs.)
THE PRESIDENT: Right? They don’t want it. Because nobody can compete with us. Nobody has the equipment we have. Nobody has the skill we have. And I would say nobody has the soil and land we have. Wouldn’t you say that?
So we’re giving them a level playing field, and we’re helping out a little bit during a time of trade. I don’t want to say “war” because I don’t think it’s a war. It’s a war — if it’s a war, we’re winning it very big. But we’re taking in a lot of money. We’re going to help out our farmers, and we’re giving them that level playing field that’s so important.
So I want to thank all of the farmers for being with us, and I want to thank our great congressmen and senators that have been so fantastic.
God bless America’s farms. God bless our country. And again, thank you, Sonny and Larry, and all of the people that worked so hard on getting this done. We’re in a very strong position. Our economy has never been better.
Okay, thank you all very much.
Yeah, go ahead.
Q A couple questions. You mentioned the USCMA. Can you explain why you don’t think, one, that Pelosi understands the deal? And, two, why don’t you — why doesn’t your administration send that text to Pelosi and force her hand and start the clock on that vote?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, they’re being very nice to her because they really — you know, she’s a mess. Look, let’s face it: She doesn’t understand it. And they sort of feel she’s disintegrating before their eyes. She does not understand it. They want to have her understand it before we — it’s finished, it’s signed. As you know, Mexico has approved the deal. Canada has approved the deal. And they’re waiting to get a signal for her.
Now, I would say this: The farmers should start talking to the Democrats in the House. The Senate is ready to approve it — the Republican Senate. But the Democrat House is not. Pelosi does not understand the bill. She doesn’t understand it. Even though unions are in favor of it, farmers, manufac- — everybody, just about, is in favor of it. It’s a replacement for, as I said, the worst trade deal ever made.
So she’s got to get up to snuff, learn the bill. And, by the way, I think she wants to approve it — I think.
But, so Bob Lighthizer, who you can speak to you if you want, he’s waiting to get the okay from her to send it in. But we’re at a point where we’re just going to have to send it in. It’s all ready.
Q How long will you wait, sir?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, he said she’d like to have two weeks to get to know the bill. I think that’s a long time. I think it’s a — it’s a do-nothing Congress. The Democrats have done nothing in the House. They’ve done absolutely nothing. They don’t get — I mean, other than investigate. They want to, “Let’s investigate.”
After the Mueller report came out — no collusion, no obstruction, no nothing — “Let’s start it all over again.” They weren’t too happy, so they want to just keep it going. And what that does is it takes up tremendous time and energy. And they’ve done absolutely — I mean, it’s just been a — it’s been very bad. So, if they don’t get the USMCA, that would be very sad.
Q Speaker Pelosi said today she hoped your family would conduct an intervention.
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah.
Q What’s your reaction to that?
THE PRESIDENT: No, I saw her read it perfectly, just the way she said it. It’s a very, very — sort of a nasty type statement.
But I will say this: She said I walked into the room, right next door, yesterday, and walked in and started screaming and yelling. Just the opposite. Just the opposite. Because I know that they will always say that, even if it didn’t happen — because this happened once before. I walked out; I was so calm. You all saw me minutes later. I was at a news conference. I was extremely calm. I was probably even more so in that room.
So, I walked into the Cabinet Room. You had the group: Cryin’ Chuck, Crazy Nancy. I tell you what: I’ve been watching her, and I have been watching her for a long period of time. She’s not the same person. She’s lost it.
Now, as far as the group is concerned — where is Sarah? Kellyanne? Where are you? Come here a minute. You were in that room. Kellyanne. You were in the room. Sarah was in the room. Mercedes was in the room yesterday.
So I just want to let you know: Every time I go into a room, if there aren’t cameras, they come out and say, “Oh, he was yelling. He was screaming.”
Kellyanne, what was my temperament, yesterday, in the room?
MS. CONWAY: Very calm. No temper tantrum. I told the Facts First crowd if they published that you were fuming, temper tantrum, rage, lost it — that that’s just a lie, because everyone was there. I’m sure somebody has it on tape too. But you were very calm. Stood at the edge of the Cabinet table.
THE PRESIDENT: They have it on tape someplace?
MS. CONWAY: Sure.
THE PRESIDENT: Good. That’d be good.
MS. CONWAY: Cabinet — you stood at the end of the table, stated your case.
THE PRESIDENT: And he doesn’t — Peter doesn’t want to hear this, by the way. He wants to ask another one.
MS. CONWAY: But the headlines are written (inaudible).
THE PRESIDENT: Because he doesn’t — he’s fake news. But go ahead.
MS. CONWAY: And, by the way, sir — Mr. President, why would you have to raise your voice? You said to them, when you were done, “There are two tracks. Come back and we’ll talk about infrastructure.” You made that very clear. We’re working on infrastructure, drug pricing —
THE PRESIDENT: We had the meeting set up. Right.
MS. CONWAY: — USMCA. You made that very clear to them.
THE PRESIDENT: And I just don’t know what she’s going to do with USMCA. It’s going to be one of the great trade deals of all time. And, frankly, if we didn’t have tariffs, we would never have a deal like this, because when Canada, when Mexico said they’re not going to agree to certain points, I said, “That’s okay, we’re just going to tariff your nation. We’re going to tariff your — either you’re going to agree or not.” It’s a great deal. In fact, you know, your friends on the other side of the border, they started striking and picketing. So that’s usually not a good sign for the other side, right?
We made a great deal. But whether or not Pelosi understands it, or whether — I don’t think she’s capable right now of understanding it. I think she’s got a lot of problems.
Mercedes, you were in the room yesterday. I walked in, and I would say, in this voice, I said, “Not right what you did. And calling a meeting like this wasn’t right.” And so I said, “So I’m going to postpone it or call it off. But you can focus on one thing: You shouldn’t go down two tracks at the same time.” Because they can’t. They’re so — the whole Democrat Party is very messed up. They have never recovered from the great election of 2016 — an election that I think you folks liked very much, right?
Well, Nancy Pelosi was not happy about it. And she is a mess.
Let me ask you this, Mercedes — you’re always a straight talker: You were in that room yesterday?
MS. SCHLAPP: Yes, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: What was my attitude when I walked in? Did I ever scream?
MS. SCHLAPP: No, you were — no, you were very calm and you were very direct. And you sent a very firm message to the Speaker and to the Democrats. And it’s very discouraging and disgraceful to see that the Speaker would decide, an hour before coming to the White House, to make those comments, call it that there’s a cover-up, and then stride into the White House and expect there to be an constructive meeting.
You know, we want to solve these big issues of infrastructure. We want to solve these big issues of USMCA. You, yourself, have tried time and time again to negotiate and work with them on issues like border security, which they call a “manufactured crisis.” And it’s time for them to wake up and to stop waging this political war and these endless investigations, and start to really find the solutions that the American people are looking for, that our farmers are looking for.
THE PRESIDENT: Right. And I think it’s going to be very hard for Nancy Pelosi to stop that. Now, they’re a do-nothing group of people. The Democrats have done nothing, other than obstruct. They’re obstructing this country, but they are obstructing. And it’ll be interesting to see whether or not they approve the USMCA, which we need.
Is Sarah there? Sarah?
MS. CONWAY: She was called out.
THE PRESIDENT: Larry, were you at the meeting?
MR. KUDLOW: Yes, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Oh, fantastic. The great Larry Kudlow. Could you come here, please? You’re not afraid of television, I know that. Larry has done more live television. Maybe Regis has you by a little bit, right? Not by much.
Larry, you were at the meeting yesterday, right?
MR. KUDLOW: Yes, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: So they have this narrative that they want to put out. Because I saw Cryin’ Chuck yesterday. And he went out, and he said, “He was stomping, and he was this and that and…” Larry, you were there. There were many people there, by the way. Many people. We can get you 25 — 20 other people to say this. What was my attitude, yesterday, at the meeting?
MR. KUDLOW: Mercy is right. Kellyanne is right. You were very calm and you laid out the case. You had a lot of numbers of what you contributed in terms of paperwork and witnesses and so forth.
While you were there, they didn’t say anything. The Speaker didn’t say anything. And you left; you made your case.
THE PRESIDENT: That’s all it was. Very calm, very —
MR. KUDLOW: Much calmer than some of our trade meetings. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: I would say calm like I was at news conference minutes ago — minutes later.
MS. CONWAY: Mr. President, if I could say one more thing.
When the 12 Democrats were here on April 30th for the first meeting, they went out to the sticks and addressed the press. And I think you should go back and play Speaker Pelosi’s comments from that day because she made very clear that it was a productive, constructive move toward infrastructure.
And some of you asked her, “How will you investigate him and work on infrastructure?” And she said, “We didn’t talk about investigations. We’re here to talk about infrastructure.” So that changed yesterday, an hour before she came here.
THE PRESIDENT: And there’s really — if you look at it — hi, Sarah. We’re just talking about the meeting. You were there yesterday?
MS. SANDERS: Yes, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Were you?
MS. SANDERS: Yes.
THE PRESIDENT: Just come forward. Does anybody know Sarah Huckabee Sanders? (Laughter.) Sarah, we’re just talking about the meeting yesterday. The narrative was I was screaming and ranting and raving, and it was terrible. And I watched Nancy and she was all crazy yesterday. She — with the hands and everything. She reminded me of Beto. She actually reminded me of Beto. (Laughter.) Maybe a little bit worse.
Just out curiosity — you were there — what was my tone yesterday at the meeting?
MS. SANDERS: Very calm. I’ve seen both — (laughter) — and this was definitely not angry or ranting. Very calm and straightforward and clear that we have to actually get to work and do good things for the American people. And it’s going to be impossible to do that if we’re spending all of our time fighting. So, yeah.
THE PRESIDENT: I couldn’t have been more calm. I then respectfully said, “Sorry to inconvenience you.” And I left the room. I then went directly to the press conference, right?
MS. SANDERS: Yes, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: The reason I asked them to say it — because this happened to me once before with the same group. Cryin’ Chuck. I don’t want to say “Crazy Nancy,” because if I say that, you’re going to say it’s a copy of “Crazy Bernie,” and that’s no good, because he — Bernie is definitely crazy.
But — but I did it because we had this instance at least once before where I was very, very calm on another occasion. And they walked out to the sticks and they said it was horrible. “He was ranting. He was raving. He was pounding the table.” The reason I didn’t do that was because I didn’t want to them to say I would do that, but they said it anyway. And so I thought they may say it again.
So I’m very glad that you all saw — were you there, Hogan? You know about it.
MR. GIDLEY: No, but I’ve seen the first one, Mr. President. And that accusation that you pounded your fists — and I’ll be honest, you have every right to do that. We face a crisis on our southern border and they’ve done nothing. They have not worked with you. All they’ve done is mocked and derided you.
In fact, calling us “liars” — calling you a liar,” for calling out exactly what’s happening at the southern border. You laid it out — the case — to them. They refused to work with you then and they’re refusing to work you now.
THE PRESIDENT: These are bad people. You know, a lot of people say “deep state.” I don’t say “deep state.” We have a lot of bad people and I think they’re being found out.
I think right now — I saw where Comey is blaming this one and Brennan is blaming another one. And they’re going against each other. And Clapper, I think, yesterday, maybe is blaming President Obama. Oh. So, surprised to see that happening. We got a lot of bad people. We got a lot of bad people and it’s a shame.
But I said to everybody — before I walked in, I said, “I’m going to be very calm because I don’t want them going out to the press and saying that I was anything but calm.” So I was extremely calm, very much like I am right now.
And it was sad when I watched Nancy, all moving — the movement and the hands and the craziness — and I watched — that’s, by the way, a person that’s got some problems. But when I watched that this morning — then I went over to Arlington National Cemetery for a very beautiful moment with the First Lady. But I watched that this morning, and it’s just a narrative they want to put out. And I think it’s pretty sad when they have to play that kind of narrative. I think it’s a very sad thing for our country.
Q Mr. President, a couple of questions I want to ask you about the disaster aid bill and about John Walker Lindh. But first, just to confirm some details as it relates to Nancy Pelosi. She says that you “want to be impeached.” Do you want to be impeached?
THE PRESIDENT: I don’t think anybody wants to be impeached. But I’ll tell you what, we went through two years of Bob Mueller with 18 people that hated Donald Trump. Many of them contributed to Hillary Clinton’s campaign. One of them, in particular — Weissmann. Eighteen prosecutors. FBI agents all over the place. Five hundred interviews. One thousand four hundred pages of documents that I gave. I didn’t use presidential prerogatives or anything having to do with the powers of the presidency. I let everybody go up and speak, including the Counsel — White House Counsel. I let him speak for 30 hours, as they tell me — 30, 32 hours.
I never once said — I could have stopped them very — I could have said, “No, I don’t want White House Counsel to speak. I don’t want Sarah Huckabee to speak” — who went up there also, I believe. Everybody. I didn’t have to let any of them go.
Now maybe I would have lost in court. I doubt it. Everyone tells me I had total — the total power to have that stopped.
With all of that, after two years: no collusion and findings that strongly led a great Attorney General to be able to rule no obstruction.
Okay, now I thought it was over. And now, Jerry Nadler — who I’ve fought for a long period of my life because he’s from Manhattan. He’s a Manhattan congressman — and, before that, something else. But I fought him in one — I fought him very successfully.
And as I said yesterday, lo and behold, I come down to Washington as President and who do I have again? Jerry Nadler. I know him well. I’ve had great success against Jerry and I will again.
But it’s very unfair when you go through the House and then the House again. And then you go through the Senate and then you go through FBI. You have foreign countries, it sounds like, involved.
With all of this: no collusion, no obstruction. And I thought it was over and we can focus on the USMCA for the farmers. And instead they want all the same papers that have just been gone over with.
Now, I would imagine that Mueller went over my financials. He spent $40 million, so I would imagine they went over my taxes, my financials, my everything. But now we have to go over it again.
I’ve been doing this for two and a half years. They started, in my opinion — we’ll find out because I think people — a lot of people want to find out — I think it started moments after I came down that beautiful escalator in Trump Tower. So I’ve been under investigation — a phony investigation based on no facts, based on an overthrow of the President. And I’m very proud of the way we’ve come out. Very proud.
But now, Peter, we have to go through it again. The American public is not standing for it. I saw some polls this morning: 60, 65 percent against. And that’s with a lot of Democrats. So I think it’s a bad thing for our country.
But I thought it was over with four or five weeks ago, when you had no collusion. And now, all of a sudden, we continue to go down this path. I don’t think people are going to stand for it.
Q The release of the so-called “American Taliban,” John Walker Lindh, today — what’s your reaction?
THE PRESIDENT: I don’t like it at all. This was a judge that gave a 17- or a 20-year sentence and he got some time off.
And believe it or not, about two weeks ago, I went to the best lawyers in our country that work for government. I said, “What could we do about this?” Because I heard about this two weeks ago. I got a beautiful letter from the daughter of the first man — they say — killed in Afghanistan, from the CIA.
And I went and checked. And he said, “From a legal standpoint there is nothing we’re allowed to do” — because if there was, I would have done it instantly. But we’ll be watching him. We’ll be watching him closely.
What bothers me more than anything else is that here is a man who has not given up his proclamation of terror and we have to let him out.
Am I happy about it? Not even a little bit. The lawyers have gone through it with a fine-tooth comb. If there was a way to break that, I would have broken it in two seconds. I knew about it very well.
Q Do you support the disaster relief bill that includes no immigration money?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we’re going to get the immigration money later, according to everybody. I have to take care of my farmers with the disaster relief. If I didn’t do that, we were — I mean, really, it’s a long time in coming.
This way, our farmers from not only Georgia, Alabama, different places, some in Florida — but if you look at what happened in Nebraska and Iowa and a lot of different places, they got wiped out. They got hurt badly. And I didn’t want to hold that up any longer.
So the answer is: I totally support it. I’d like to see it happen. We’ll take care of the immigration later. The wall is being built. We just left the Army Corps of Engineers. We have — we will soon have hundreds of miles under construction and we’ll have way over 400 miles completed by the end of next year.
Q Mr. President, why should importers’ money go to American farmers?
THE PRESIDENT: Because the American farmers have been used as a vehicle for China to try and hurt our country —
Q But you’ll (inaudible)?
THE PRESIDENT: — and they’ve been very brave.
No, they — in particular, the farmer. They’ve been very, very brave. They’ve been very patriotic. But China has openly stated they’re going to use the farmer. The reason is because I got the farmer’s votes. You look at a map; it’s all red, meaning Republican, meaning Trump. It’s all red in the middle states, as you know. It’s got a little blue here and a little blue there.
So farmer — so if you look at — I guess, China is probably — they’re definitely a smart player. They went out and they said, “We’re going to attack the farmers.” Then they did. And the farmer said, “You know, what? We’re with our President.”
I never heard — even on some of the networks and cable channels that are negative, I’ve never heard anybody, any of the farmers speak badly. They said, “You know, the…” — you told me that, Mike — “…the President has — he’s doing the right thing.” They’ve been unfair to this country — and they’re not talking about farm; they’re talking about everything.
Q How long are you willing to do it?
THE PRESIDENT: China has been unfair to this country for many, many years. Finally, we have somebody that’s fighting back — and, by the way, successfully fighting back. We’re talking about hundreds of billions of dollars.
But I’ve never had a farmer come out and say, “You know, I’m not doing that well.” They say, “Just go and do it.” You’re going to end up better — much better in the end.
And again, if you look — go back 20 years, the farms have come down; the prices have been coming down for many, many years — long before I ever thought about doing this. So we’re going to be very successful.
But in the meantime, they have been attacked. The farmers have been attacked by China. And all I’m doing is helping them get that beautiful, flat, nice, level playing field. Right?
Q Thank you, Mr. President. Would you consider sending troops to the Middle East to counter Iran, as it was reported?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I would if we need them. I don’t think we’re going to need them. I really don’t. But I have a meeting on it in about an hour. I would certainly send troops if we need them.
Iran has been a very dangerous player — a very bad player. They’re a nation of terror and we won’t put up with it. The deal that was signed by President Obama was a horror show. It’s a terrible deal.
The minute I collapsed that deal and terminated it, Iran went in a very bad direction. They’re now suffering massive problems, financially. They have inflation that’s about the highest in the world. They’re people — and they’re great people. I know many Iranians; they’re great people. But the country is in very bad shape.
When I first came here, that was a country of terror. They were all over. I remember — and I’ve told this story — but I’ve been at many different meetings where every single problem caused in the Middle East — and maybe beyond, but in the Middle East — was caused by Iran. They were behind every single — we had 14 different attacks at one point. They were behind every attack.
So we’ll see what happens with Iran. No, I don’t think we’ll need it. But if we need it, we’ll have — we’ll be there in whatever number we need.
Q Do you think that the United States reduced its footprint in the Middle East too far and now we’re needing to —
THE PRESIDENT: No, I don’t think so. I don’t think so. Look, I don’t think — I don’t think we ever should have been there, okay? I inherited this mess. Should we have been there? No. We shouldn’t have been. Should we have gone to Iraq? Should we have attacked Iraq, which did not knock down the World Trade Center?
We had a place that was not conducive to terrorists, okay? The terrorists were killed instantly in Iraq. And now it’s, you know, a tough situation. So I think we should not have been in the Middle East.
With that being said, we’ve done a great job. I took over the ISIS fight. We knocked out 100 percent of the caliphate. That doesn’t mean that they’re not going to blow up a store. They’re totally crazy. But we knocked out 100 percent of the caliphate, and I did it quickly. When I came in, President Obama had totally lost control. He had lost control of the military. He had lost control of the fighting. And our military was totally depleted and in very bad shape. These folks know that better than anybody. They were in very bad shape.
We will soon have the strongest military that we’ve ever had, by far, and nobody is going to mess with us.
Q Can you get a trade deal with Japan relatively soon, do you think?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I’m going to meet with Japan, as you know. I’m going there on Friday. Many of you are going to be coming with us. And it’s a very big thing going on with the Emperor. It’s something that hasn’t happened in over 200 years. I am the guest, meaning the United States is the guest.
But Prime Minister Abe said to me, very specifically, “You are the guest of honor.” There’s only one guest of honor. “You are the guest honor,” as I represent the country. With all the countries of the world, I’m the guest of honor at the biggest event that they’ve had in over 200 years.
So it’s a great thing. And we get along very well with Japan. I get along very well with the Prime Minister. So we’re going to be spending two days over there.
Q Mr. President, is there anything that you are willing to work with Democrats on now? Because you said the two-track thing.
THE PRESIDENT: Everything. I’d like to work with everything. No, no — they have to go down their track. Let them get rid of the nonsense first. And when that’s done, we’ll go very quickly. We can go very quickly. Infrastructure is very easy. For me, that’s very easy. But you can’t go down two tracks at the same time. It doesn’t work that way.
Q But are you willing to work with them on the —
THE PRESIDENT: Their whole focus — let me explain. Their whole focus is on 2020 and trying to demean the Republican Party and demean the President of the United States as much as possible so that either we get his poll numbers down to a point where he can’t win — except a strange thing is happening: My numbers are going up. Someday, you’ll explain that to me, Kelly. (Laughter.) But my numbers are going up.
But it’s very interesting. So they either want to demean so much or they want to try and get him out of office any way we can. I mean, you had one gentleman — Green, Congressman Green — he sounds like a real beauty. He said, “The only way we’re going to beat him is to impeach him.” How about that? “The only way…” — did you see that statement, fellas? “The only way we’re going to beat him is to impeach him.” That is a terrible thing for this country.
Q If they’re still investigating, will you raise the debt limit? Will you sign a budget? Will you go with the USMCA?
THE PRESIDENT: We’ll see what happens. We’ll see what happens.
Q There’s a lot of stuff.
THE PRESIDENT: I’m a very capable person. We’re going to see what happens. I can tell you this: Let them get this angst out of their belt. And when it is, we can do things so quick your head will spin.
And one thing they do is approve the USMCA so that we have our farmers taken care of. And, by the way, it’s not only the farmers, it’s every industry — every industry. But they can approve the USMCA so we can take care of our farmers, our industries, our auto industry. And one of the beautiful things — (applause). Yeah.
One of the beautiful things about the USMCA — and, to me, the most important part — I used to talk about this 20, 25 years ago as a private person. And for whatever reason — you’ll explain this to me — I always got a lot of publicity. So I said something — even as a private builder, or whatever I was doing at the time, I would get a lot of publicity, and without a lot of trying.
And I was against certain things. But if you look and you take a look back, you’ll see all of the things that you’re talking about and all of the things that you’re asking about, I was against at that time. And I’m still against. I haven’t changed very much. I’ve been very consistent. I’m an extremely stable genius. Okay. (Laughter.)
Yes. Go ahead, Jeff.
Q Mr. President, you mentioned China a few times today. Given the tension now — not only over trade, but over Huawei and technology — what likelihood is there that there will be a trade deal in the next two months?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, there’s a possibility. I think probably a good possibility. I don’t know how China can do this. Because I’ll be honest: We’re getting hundreds of billions of dollars brought into our country. We’ve never gotten 10 cents. We’re getting hundreds of billions of dollars coming into our country.
Q But American companies are paying.
THE PRESIDENT: And I’m helping the farmers.
Q Right? American companies are paying.
THE PRESIDENT: But you know what? That help is a very temporary help because they’ll pay it back a hundred times over — they will — with what they do, with the importance of what they do.
But Huawei is something that’s very dangerous. You look at what they’ve done from a security standpoint, from a military standpoint. It’s very dangerous. So it’s possible that Huawei even would be included in some kind of a trade deal. If we made a deal, I could imagine Huawei being possibly included in some form of or some part of a trade deal.
Q How would that look?
THE PRESIDENT: It would look very good for us.
Q The Huawei part, how would you design that?
THE PRESIDENT: Oh, it’s too early to say. But, I mean, we’re just very concerned about Huawei, from a security standpoint right now.
Q Sir, the Constitution says treason is punishable by death. You’ve accused your adversaries of treason. Who specifically are you accusing of treason?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think a number of people. And I think what you look is that they have unsuccessfully tried to take down the wrong person.
Q Who are you speaking of?
THE PRESIDENT: If you look at Comey; if you look at McCabe; if you look at probably people — people higher than that; if you look at Strzok; if you look at his lover, Lisa Page, his wonderful lover — the two lovers, they talked openly. You know, they didn’t use their private server because they didn’t want to get caught, so they used the government server. That was not a good move. He talked about the insurance policy, just in case Crooked Hillary loses. And that didn’t work out too well for them.
So you look at them — they wanted an insurance policy so that should she, for any reason, lose — remember? One hundred million-to-one. Maybe, he said 100 million to nothing. But should she lose, we’ll have an insurance policy, and we’ll get this guy out of office.
And that’s what they said, and that’s what they meant. That’s treason. That’s treason. They couldn’t win the election, and that’s what happened.
And that’s what’s happening right now because — without the “treason” word, I guess — but that’s what’s happening now. They don’t feel they can win the election, so they’re trying to do the thousand stabs. Keep stabbing. Let’s have a financial. Let’s have…
And if you look, for $40 million, I would think, seriously, that Bob Mueller and his group of 18 killers have gone over my taxes, they’ve gone over my financial statements to a level that nobody has gone over them before. And they were not discussed, even. They weren’t ever discussed or brought up. I have great statements.
Okay, what else?
Q You said you don’t want to do a dual track. On one hand, you don’t want a dual track. But on the other hand, you want the USMCA to pass (inaudible).
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think things are very easy. USMCA is finished, just so you understand. This is a finish. This is not even negotiate. This is a finish. This is a great deal for our country. This is a great deal for our farmers, great deal for our manufacturers.
And one of the things that was absolutely vital to me was that our companies — car companies, in particular — don’t leave our country, go to Mexico, build a car, sell it into our country with no tax whatsoever, and all of our workers are fired and all of those plants are empty, like happened to Michigan, and Ohio, and Pennsylvania, and North Carolina, and Kentucky, and lots of other places.
Guess what? Our car industry now is thriving. And under the USMCA, it’s prohibitive to do that, financially. It’s prohibitive. It will be a tremendous price. Nobody will do it. And if you look, since I’ve been President, the mass exodus — they have almost 30 percent of our business in Mexico, our car business. It’s ridiculous. It’s all stopped. It’s all stopped. Nobody is doing it.
And now, as you saw in Ohio — great state, an unbelievable state — the only thing I had was General Motors closed Lordstown plant — this big Lordstown plant. And I called up Mary Barra and I said, “Mary, you either sell it or open it.” She didn’t like the way I talked to her. I said, “I don’t care. It doesn’t matter to me. You either sell that plant or open that plant.” And she sold it to a very good company, I think, that will do a good job making electric trucks.
Okay, thank you all very much. I appreciate it. Thank you. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
4:28 P.M. EDT