November 17, 2018
4:06 P.M. PST
THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you very much. And again, this is our second stop and this is incredible. We’re in Malibu — and a certain section of Malibu that was lovely. You don’t get much better than this. And you see the devastation. I guess a total, you said, of — what would you say, over 100,000 —
DEPUTY CHIEF SCHULER: Just under 100,000 acres, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: — over 100,000 acres, which is a tremendous amount of land. You know, 100,000 acres — people can’t envision what that is. It’s a tremendous piece of land. And it’s devastating to see it.
I have to say, the government officials have done an incredible job. When you look at this devastation and, I guess, at this moment, there are — in this area, there are three deaths so far.
DEPUTY CHIEF SCHULER: Yes, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Three deaths. That’s pretty incredible. It’s horrible, but it’s also pretty incredible — the job they’ve done.
They evacuated very early and they took a lot of heat and they made the right decision. So I congratulate you on that because that’s a lot of political pressure on not having to do it because nobody thinks this is going to happen. They’re all unhappy, but now they’re very happy that they left. So that’s a great decision.
Law enforcement, again; first responders; the military really helped a lot in both sites that we visited today. And, of course, FEMA and Brock. I think Brock has done a great job. Done a great job. So maybe I’d ask you to say a few words, Brock. Brock Long of FEMA.
ADMINISTRATOR LONG: Absolutely. Thank you, Mr. President. So we’re here, not only down in Southern California but also up in Paradise. And it’s our job at FEMA to coordinate the firepower of the federal government down through the governor here to ultimately help the firefighters at the local level and police and emergency managers overcome this disaster.
And so the assistance that we provide is not only going to be able to assist with the debris removal, but more importantly taking care of people. And, you know, mass care to also fire mitigation.
So as you can see, as the wildfires go through an area like this, the land is scorched. And, you know, a little bit of rain is nice but too much rain could be a problem too. So we’re already trying to think ahead and work with our partners to try to mitigate what we can of the additional impacts coming. So —
THE PRESIDENT: The towns and everyplace we’ve visited — I see and I’ve asked the question — they’re all going to do an expedited rebuild — meaning the permits are going to come a lot faster than would normally be the case.
Actually this is an area where it’s pretty tough to get permits, and I know they’re going to go very fast with expediting and get it rebuilt and redone. And that’s a great thing. That will make things happen a lot faster.
Jerry, would you like to say something?
GOVERNOR BROWN: Yeah, as a matter of fact, I’ve signed an executive order to cut red tape and speed up the permit processes as well as other recovery actions. So that’ll help.
And all I can say is that we are going to have to learn a lot more about nature, about the wind, about the fire potential, about how to build, how not to build, how to escape, what measures of protection we can build in.
And it’s not going to be cheap but I think we have to carefully, really look into the facts here and take all that we learn and apply it going forward.
And, of course, I won’t have to do that; Mr. Newsom will do that. (Laughter.) So.
GOVERNOR-ELECT NEWSOM: Thanks for the baton. (Laughter.) Yeah. But I mean, it’s just, you know, the Mendocino Fire, the Tubbs Fire, the Thomas Fire — I mean, you just go down this list. And, you know, this is unaccept — I mean, we’re at a point — past a point. People have had enough of this. And we’ve got to deal with this head on.
I mean, the governor has done an amazing job with the legislature the last couple of years. We’ve invested a record amount of money into our efforts, but we have to do more and this clearly underscores that.
But I also want to underscore a more fundamental point and that is the collaboration and cooperation we’re getting from the federal government, and we’re very grateful for that. There’s no politics being played here.
The President signed an emergency declaration immediately, and I cannot impress upon all the folks here how grateful I am for the conversations we’ve had — private, not just public — over the course of the last few hours, in terms of the expectation going forward that the federal government is not just going to be here today with all of you, but tomorrow and over the course of the next few years as we rebuild.
THE PRESIDENT: That’s right. That’s true. Okay, 100 percent. We’ll get it — we’ll get it going.
Would you like to say something?
DEPUTY CHIEF SCHULER: I would just say, on behalf of CAL FIRE and the state fire department: Throughout California, we still remain in critical fire weather. So as this fire and the fires up north continue to gain containment, the challenge isn’t over. And through cooperation of agencies throughout California, we are successful. So thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Good. Chief?
CHIEF OSBY: All right, well, Daryl Osby. Fire chief. Los Angeles County Fire Department.
On behalf of the county of Los Angeles, I just really want to thank the governor and the President here for their presence to get the state and federal resources here and support as it relates to combating this fire. Now, the — also the resources to rebuild our community.
But I also just want to thank, you know, my counterpart here from CAL FIRE. And our law enforcement partner is not here but, we had all hands on deck as it relates to trying to protect this community and we were successful in getting tens of thousands of people out. And unfortunately we lost property but we saved a lot too.
If you could imagine hurricane-type force winds coming through this community, that we had firefighters and sheriffs protecting the citizens here.
But in conclusion, just once again, Mr. President, governor, thank you for your support. And we’re looking forward to rebuilding our communities. And then also looking forward — from the local, state, and federal level — to really talk about these challenges and what we can do to mitigate and prevent these things from occurring in the future.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Chief.
MAYOR MULLEN: Rick Mullen, mayor of the city of Malibu. And Mr. President, thank you very much for coming down here —
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
MAYOR MULLEN: — and showing your concern. And also thank you for all the support you’ve given us. Governor and governor-elect, I also appreciate everything you’ve done.
Malibu took it on the chin here, but compared to the fire up north, we didn’t lose as many lives. So if there’s a silver lining here, it’s that we saved a lot of lives. And we’ve paid for it in frustration for people who are outside, who got the mandatory evacuation order. So thank you for all your patience. We’re going to get you back in as quickly as possible.
And for everybody who has suffered a loss here of all their personal belongings and their precious memories, we’re going to do everything that we can with the assistance of these fine gentlemen to get it back together. And we will leave no stone unturned to come together. And Malibu will be strong again.
So thank you very much, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. I appreciate it.
SUPERVISOR FOY: And Mr. President, appreciate — Peter Foy Ventura County Supervisor — I just appreciate everything you’ve done. I appreciate that our fire, and — both from LA County and Ventura County — coming together to save lives, like you said.
I mean, it was amazing being a part of this stuff. We’ve seen a lot of tragedy in Ventura County with the shooting, the whole bit. And I just — it’s been amazing.
But we will rebuild. We will get through this. And I do appreciate, Mr. President, your prayers, your wife’s prayers, and all — and the whole country’s prayers for this community. We’re strong here in California.
And I appreciate the governor and the governor-elect being here to show that support. And we are going to get through this. But it’s going to be tough and I do appreciate everything that’s happened here in Malibu too, and the rest of it. So thank you. Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you, Peter, and all. You’ve done such a great job. And you mentioned the shootings. And we’re now going over to see some of the families of the victims and the first responders and the police and the law enforcement. Generally, the job they’ve done is really incredible. Brave.
SUPERVISOR FOY: We saw Ron —
THE PRESIDENT: First one in that door. Right. First one in that door. He took —
SUPERVISOR FOY: He’s the hero. Yeah. And I appreciate both the governor, governor elect being at that memorial that happened.
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah. That’s so — it’s a beautiful memorial.
SUPERVISOR FOY: So I appreciate you being out here. Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: But so we’re going to go over and see them and maybe you’re going to be joining us. But we really appreciate. Great job.
SUPERVISOR FOY: Well, thank you. Thank you for what you’re doing here too, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: And thank you all.
DEPUTY CHIEF SCHULER: Thank you, sir.
CHIEF OSBY: Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much.
Q Mr. President, actually seeing this with your own eyes, how does that change your perception? Has it changed your perception?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think it’s just a horrible thing and it’s been going on for a long time. And I think we’re going to come up with some plans and methods and mitigation. We’re going to have some great success. It’s something we can work on — do much better.
I really believe — I’m a strong believer — a lot of cities are in forests — if you look at Europe and other places. We have a lot of forest states, where they’re mostly forests, and they just don’t have this problem.
California is a very unique place. And it’s got some very unique leadership and some great leadership. And we’re going to be working with the leadership — working with Gavin now, for the most part. And I think we’re going to come to some pretty good conclusions and maybe, more importantly, some real solutions to a problem that is a very, very big problem.
Because every year, especially at a certain time of the year, you just turn on and it’s automatic that you have these massive forest — I mean, these are massive fires.
Now, in this case, when you look at where we just left, you’re talking about tremendous numbers of death. And here, we had three, I guess. At a minimum, three. That’s too much.
SUPERVISOR FOY: That’s too many.
THE PRESIDENT: So we’re going to work on a lot of means of mitigation and solving a problem that’s been a big problem for decades — long before Jerry, long before Gavin, long before all of us. I mean, this has been going on too long. And I think we can come up with some really great solutions.
And other questions?
Q Mr. President, you often talk about the fact that politics is mean business, sometimes.
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah, it can be, but it’s very nice when we all get together.
Q Yeah, I mean, and now you’re having the opportunity to have some face time —
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah.
Q — with people that you sometimes criticize publically. Do you feel like your relationship with them and potentially with the state of California might change because of that?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think we’ve developed a very good relationship. I’ve known Jerry for a long time, but I think we got closer today than we could ever get over the last 20 years. And Gavin I’ve just met and I’ve heard terrific things, and I think we’ve developed a great relationship.
We have to work together. This is a very big problem and we have to solve this problem. And I know that we’re going to work together. I have no doubt.
Come here. I have no doubt, right? (Laughter.) We’re going to get it done. We have really an obligation.
GOVERNOR-ELECT NEWSOM: Absolutely.
THE PRESIDENT: I think we have an obligation.
GOVERNOR-ELECT NEWSOM: Absolutely.
THE PRESIDENT: We don’t really have a choice. We have to get it done.
GOVERNOR-ELECT NEWSOM: Yep.
THE PRESIDENT: And we’re going to be working together very closely.
Q A lot of people agree with what you said about land management.
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah.
Q But now another big question is, is it possible that climate change is a real issue here and that there needs to be change?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we’ll be looking at everything. I mean, it is land management and it’s forest management, really, is what you mean. But we’re going to be looking at every factor. And we’re going to get to the bottom of it. And I think we can do it fairly quickly. I really do.
We’ll take the areas that are most exposed to the problem and we’ll work on that first. And you know what they are. You probably know what they are right now. But here’s an example.
PARTICIPANT: Exactly. Already know what it is. Yeah, on a regular basis.
THE PRESIDENT: But we’re going to come up with some really good solutions.
Jennifer, did you have something?
Q Yeah, Mr. President, when you said on Air Force One that you feel like you have more similarities with Governor Brown on — than we realize, did you mean on climate change or did you just mean in general?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think we have similarities in many ways. And, you know, one real similarity is we both want to come to the right conclusion. And I know I get there, and I know he gets there. And the right conclusion here is to get these forest fires to stop because I really think there’s a way of doing that.
And we don’t want to turn on every year — at a certain time, you turn on and it’s almost expected. And you’re watching from New York or you’re watching from Washington, D.C. and you don’t really see the gravity of it. I mean, as big as they look on the tube, you don’t see what’s going on until you come here.
And what we saw at Pleasure — what a name — right now.
THE PRESIDENT: But when — what we just saw — we just left Pleasure —
THE PRESIDENT: — or Paradise — and what we just saw at Paradise is just, you know, it’s just not acceptable. You just —
Q So do you think you have similarities with Governor Brown on climate change?
GOVERNOR BROWN: I — let me answer that.
Q Yeah, absolutely.
GOVERNOR BROWN: (Laughs.) No, what I would say is, the shock of all this is going to heighten our focus and attention and also our cooperation. The President said we’re going to get to the bottom of it. There’s a short-term response, mid-term, and longer-term response. And I think we’re all going to pull together to do whatever we need.
And we don’t get it all agreed to or solved in a week or a month or even a year or two. But over time, I think we’re going to get there. We’re going to understand better what we’re up against.
So I would just say, Mr. President, California for 10,000 years never had more than 300,000 people. Now we got 40 million. So you got to learn to live with nature in a very creative and sophisticated way. And I think that’s going to be the challenge. I think we’ll meet it.
At least, Newsom will meet it because I’m going to be watching from the ranch. (Laughter.)
Q Is it going to require some new funding measure that you will seek from Congress (inaudible) —
THE PRESIDENT: So we’re putting in the farm bill, $500 million. And when you look at that and, you know, when you look at the combination of the two, between Malibu and other places — I mean, not just the two; it’s other places — it sounds like a lot of money. It’s not that much money. The state will contribute. We’re all going to contribute. We’re going to get it taken care of.
I mean we saw a sight — and don’t forget there are hundreds of people that still aren’t accounted for. And that’s a tough — that’s a tough situation. Now hopefully they’re with their relatives and there won’t be a problem, but certainly there will be some that are just be not accounted for.
So we’re going to spend the money that — it’s necessary. Is it a — great, great people that live here and it’s unfair to put them through this so often. And Gavin knows that and Jerry knows that. We all know that. All of these folks know it and they’ve done a fantastic job. They really have.
I mean, you have done, from the law enforcement standpoint, fire and fire prevention standpoint, what you’ve done is incredible. And they really held it back. This could have been far worse.
And I don’t know if you know, but they’re still putting out this fire. This fire in another section. How is that going by the way?
DEPUTY CHIEF SCHULER: It’s 82 percent contained.
CHIEF OSBY: Yeah, we still have some hot spots and some area — canyons that’s we’re concerned about. But we think that by November 19th we’ll have full containment.
THE PRESIDENT: So in Paradise they have a section that’s going absolutely wild right now with additional fire. And just by looking, Jerry, at the map, that’s a very vibrant forest that it’s right next to.
GOVERNOR BROWN: Yeah, it sure is.
THE PRESIDENT: And they have to — you know, they’re out there fighting. As we’re talking here, they’re throwing water, they’re doing everything you can do. There are a tremendous numbers of very brave people. And if those winds change, you know what can happen? Those people are in big trouble.
So you take a look at what’s going on there and you take a look at this because right now, as we’re speaking, that’s happening. And are you going to be successful in — do you have winds coming? How long will it take to put out the rest of the fire?
CHIEF OSBY: We’re pretty confident right now. We still have offshore winds, but they’ve really died down significantly.
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah, this is — this is good.
CHIEF OSBY: You can see now that we have a marine influence and our firefighters are getting some moisture into — in this weather. So we still have several thousand firefighters out there, so we’re confident that we’ll have full containment by November the 19th.
And then, as we stand here, we’re starting to repopulate the entire breadth of this incident. And then with the County of Los Angeles and surrounding cities, we’re trying to start the rehabilitation and help people get their lives back together.
So that’s going to take several years working with our local officials, the county, the state, and the federal government. But once again, we appreciate your support.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we’re sending a lot of extra people to Paradise. They’re going — I mean, literally, as we speak, we have massive numbers of people going up there. We have large numbers of people coming here. You have — seem to have it very much under control. Right now the wind has stopped and I assume that’s a very good thing, but the wind has stopped.
But one of the problems you had, especially in Paradise, the problem you had was the wind. The wind was — I mean, they say 70 or 80 miles an hour. That’s pretty tough.
Okay, any other questions?
Q Mr. President, you spoke earlier today with your CIA Director, Gina Haspel —
THE PRESIDENT: Yes I did.
Q — in the wake of these reports that the CIA has assessed that MBS, the Crown Prince, was behind this assassination of Jamal Khashoggi. What do you believe after speaking with your CIA Director? And do you still trust the Saudi’s denials?
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah, I did. I spoke with our CIA Director who’s terrific and very knowledgeable and been studying this very closely. And it’s a horrible thing that took place — the killing of a journalist. A very, very bad situation. Khashoggi. And somebody who was respected. It should never have happened.
And we’ll be having a very full report of the next two days. Probably Monday or Tuesday, we’ll have a very full report.
Q Did the CIA assess that MBS was behind it?
THE PRESIDENT: They haven’t assessed anything yet. It’s too early; that was very premature report. But that’s possible. We’re going to see. But we’re going to have a report on Tuesday and it will be very complete.
In the meantime, we’re doing things to some people that we know for a fact were involved. And we’re being very tough on a lot of people.
Q What’s this report on Tuesday that you just mentioned?
THE PRESIDENT: We’re going to come up a report as to what we think the overall impact was and who caused it and who did it. You’re talking about a killing. We’re not talking about anything else. We’re talking about a killing. So who did it?
Q What do you say to the shooting victims, Mr. President? What do you say to the shooting victims who have now —
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we’re going to see them right now. We’re going to see them now.
Q — who have lost everything? And is there — does this think maybe there needs to be some changes when it comes to guns or things that could be done? What could be done to prevent this?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I’ll tell you what, we’ll be talking to you in a little while but we’re going to see the families right now.
And I hear they’ve been incredible. The families, the way they’ve handled it has been — that was a horrible, horrible event in a great area. An area that’s one of the most —
SUPERVISOR FOY: Safe — one of the safest cities in America.
THE PRESIDENT: — safest places, right?
SUPERVISOR FOY: Yeah, safest city in America.
THE PRESIDENT: I was reading it, it’s like the safest place in America and it happened there.
So we’re going to see those families right now and we’ll see you back over at the airport. Okay? Thank you all very much.
4:24 P.M. PST