On his 100th day in office Saturday,spoke to CBS News’ chief Washington correspondent and host of “Face the Nation,” John Dickerson, about his accomplishments at the traditional milestone and beyond, before flying to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to give a speech at a rally.
What follows is a full transcript of the interview, which aired on CBS at 10:30 a.m. ET, and on CBSN at 11 a.m. ET and will air again at 6 p.m. ET.
JOHN DICKERSON: Mr. President, you and the administration said to North Korea, “Don’t test a missile.” They have tested a missile. Is the pressure not working?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, I didn’t say, “Don’t test a missile.” He’s going to have to do what he has to do. But he understands we’re not going to be very happy. And I will tell you, a man that I’ve gotten to like and respect, the president of China, President Xi, I believe, has been putting pressure on him also. But so far, perhaps nothing’s happened and perhaps it has. This was a small missile. This was not a big missile. This was not a nuclear test, which he was expected to do three days ago. We’ll see what happens.
JOHN DICKERSON: You say, “Not happy.” What does that mean?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I would not be happy. If he does a nuclear test, I will not be happy. And I can tell you also, I don’t believe that the president of China, who is a very respected man, will be happy either.
JOHN DICKERSON: Not happy mean military action?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I don’t know. I mean, we’ll see.
JOHN DICKERSON: The Chinese, our allies, have been allies with North Korea. How are you sure that they’re not using this as a way to test you?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: You can never be sure of anything, can you? But I developed a very good relationship. I don’t think they want to see a destabilized North Korea. I don’t think they want to see it. They certainly don’t want to see nuclear on — from their neighbor. They haven’t liked it for a long time. But we’ll have to see what happens.
The relationship I have with China, it’s been already acclaimed as being something very special, something very different than we’ve ever had. But again, you know, we’ll find out whether or not President Xi is able to affect change.
JOHN DICKERSON: Why do–
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I hope he is.
JOHN DICKERSON: Why do these missiles keep blowing up?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, I’d rather not discuss it. But perhaps they’re just not very good missiles. But eventually, he’ll have good missiles.
JOHN DICKERSON: You don’t want to discuss it because maybe we have something to do with it?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I just don’t want to discuss it. And I think you know me very well, where you’ve asked me many times over the last couple of years about military. I said, “We shouldn’t be announcing we’re going into Mosul.” I said, “We shouldn’t be announcing all our moves.” It is a chess game. I just don’t want people to know what my thinking is. So eventually, he will have a better delivery system. And if that happens, we can’t allow it to happen.
JOHN DICKERSON: What do you make of the North Korean leader?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I have — I really, you know, have no comment on him. People are saying, “Is he sane?” I have no idea. I can tell you this, and a lot of people don’t like when I say it, but he was a young man of 26 or 27 when he took over from his father, when his father died. He’s dealing with obviously very tough people, in particular the generals and others.
And at a very young age, he was able to assume power. A lot of people, I’m sure, tried to take that power away, whether it was his uncle or anybody else. And he was able to do it. So obviously, he’s a pretty smart cookie. But we have a situation that we just cannot let — we cannot let what’s been going on for a long period of years continue. And frankly, this should’ve been done and taken care of by the Obama administration. Should’ve been taken care of by the Bush administration. Should’ve been taken care of by Clinton.
JOHN DICKERSON: Let me ask you a question about the presidency. George W. Bush said this about being president. He said, “You think one thing going in, and then the pressures of the job or the realities of the world are different than you thought.” Do you agree?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I think I can agree with that. I love doing it. I’m, you know, thoroughly enjoying it. It’s always a challenge, like life itself is a challenge. But it’s something that I really love and I think I’ve done a very good job at it.
JOHN DICKERSON: You said in an interview with Reuters that you thought it would be easier. Why?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, it’s a tough job. But I’ve had a lot of tough jobs. I’ve had things that were tougher, although I’ll let you know that better at the end of eight years. Perhaps eight years. Hopefully, eight years. But I’ll let you know later on. I think we’ve done very well with foreign policy. I think we’ve done very, very well with relationships with other leaders.
I think we’re doing great on trade deals. It’s set. And I think we’re doing well. I mean, our country is being out-traded at every single point. We’re losing tremendous amounts of money on trade. And I think actually, I’ve been very consistent. You know, it’s very funny when the fake media goes out, you know, which we call the mainstream media which sometimes, I must say, is you.
JOHN DICKERSON: You mean me personally or?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, your show. I love your show. I call it Deface the Nation. But, you know, your show is sometimes not exactly correct. But when they talk about currency manipulation, and I did say I would call China, if they were, a currency manipulator, early in my tenure. And then I get there. Number one, they — as soon as I got elected, they stopped. They’re not — it’s not going down anymore, their currency.
JOHN DICKERSON: But that had been true before. That had been true–
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: No.
JOHN DICKERSON: –during the campaign, sir.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: No, not true to the extent that we’re talking about. Much more important than that, as to when, but, you know, it did stop. And I was talking about it all during the campaign. And I would say that I was the one that got them to stop. But forget that.
JOHN DICKERSON: You were the one who got China–
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: He is working with us–
JOHN DICKERSON: –to stop manipulating their currency?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I think so, during the campaign I talked about.
JOHN DICKERSON: Even if they were doing it before?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: No, they were doing it before. I mean, there was no question. I mean, they were absolute currency manipulators before. But somebody said, “Oh, you didn’t call him a currency manipulator.” Now, you and I are just talking about how he’s working — I believe that President Xi is working to try and resolve a very big problem, for China also.
And that’s North Korea. Can you imagine if I say, “Hey, by the way, how are you doing with North Korea? Also, we’re going to announce that you’re a currency manipulator tomorrow.” So the mainstream media never talks about that. They never say that. And that’s, you know, unfortunate. It’s just–
JOHN DICKERSON: Let me–
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: –it’s just one of many things, John.
JOHN DICKERSON: You’re a negotiator. If you need something from somebody, you need China to help you with North Korea, doesn’t that send a message to China, “We’re not going to bug you about human rights, about intellectual property. In the South China Sea we’re not going to put too much heat on you”? Aren’t you breaking one of your own negotiating rules?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: No. I think that, frankly, North Korea is maybe more important than trade. Trade is very important. But massive warfare with millions, potentially millions of people being killed? That, as we would say, trumps trade.
JOHN DICKERSON: Let me ask you–
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Okay? You understand what I’m saying. And if I can use trade as a method to get China, because I happen to think that China does have reasonably good powers over North Korea. Now, maybe not, you know, ultimate, but pretty good powers. Now, if China can help us with North Korea and can solve that problem–
JOHN DICKERSON: Let me ask–
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: –that’s worth making not as good a trade deal for the United States, excuse me, right?
JOHN DICKERSON: What do you know now on day 100 that you wish you knew on day one of the presidency?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, one of the things that I’ve learned is how dishonest the media is, really. I’ve done things that are I think very good. I’ve set great foundations with foreign leaders. We have you know — NAFTA, as you know, I was going to terminate it, but I got a very nice call from a man I like, the president of Mexico.
I got a very nice call from Justin Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada. And they said please would you rather than terminating NAFTA — I was all set to do it. In fact, I was going to do it today. I was going to do as we’re sitting here. I would’ve had to delay you. I was going to do it today. I was going to terminate NAFTA. But they called up and they said, “Would you negotiate?” And I said, “Yes, I will negotiate.”
JOHN DICKERSON: That’s all you’ve learned, about the media? You knew from the campaign about the media. You said it all the time —
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: No, no, but the media didn’t cover it that way. The media said, oh, I didn’t terminate NAFTA.
JOHN DICKERSON: So–
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: First of all, if you look at my statements, I said–
JOHN DICKERSON: No, no, I meant–
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: “If I’m not able to renegotiate NAFTA, I will terminate NAFTA.” Well, I’ll make that statement right now.
JOHN DICKERSON: Here’s a question.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: If I’m not able to renegotiate NAFTA, we will terminate NAFTA.
JOHN DICKERSON: Let’s step back a minute.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Okay.
JOHN DICKERSON: Presidents have to learn how to adapt. Every president comes into the job, it’s different than they expect, they must adapt. Surely, you’ve learned something else other than that the media is dishonest.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: No, no, I’m just saying–
JOHN DICKERSON: And how do you adapt?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: –it was one of my disappointments.
JOHN DICKERSON: Give me another thing you learned that you’re going to adapt and change because all presidents have to at this stage.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, I think things generally tend to go a little bit slower than you’d like them to go.
JOHN DICKERSON: Why?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Just a system. It’s just a very, very bureaucratic system. I think the rules in Congress and in particular the rules in the Senate are unbelievably archaic and slow moving. And in many cases, unfair. In many cases, you’re forced to make deals that are not the deal you’d make. You’d make a much different kind of a deal.
You’re forced into situations that you hate to be forced into. I also learned, and this is very sad, because we have a country that we have to take care of. The Democrats have been totally obstructionist. Chuck Schumer has turned out to be a bad leader. He’s a bad leader for the country. And the Democrats are extremely obstructionist.
All they do is obstruct. All they do is delay. Even our Supreme Court justice, as you know, who I think is going to be outstanding, Justice Gorsuch. I think that it was disgraceful the way they handled that. But, you know, I still have people, I’m waiting for them to be approved. Our chief trade negotiator. We can’t get these people through.
JOHN DICKERSON: I want to get to–
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: They are obstructionists. And you know what that’s hurting? It’s hurting the country.
JOHN DICKERSON: Let me ask you about health care — Tucker Carlson interviewed you about six weeks ago when you were in the middle of health care negotiations. And you agreed with him that the health care bill wasn’t going to help your supporters. That those who lived in rural areas, the older, were going to get hurt by that bill. And you told him–
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Excuse me, the health care bill is going to help my supporters.
JOHN DICKERSON: Well, hold on. Let me just finish the question, if I may, sir–
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Otherwise, I’m not going to sign it. I’m not going to do it.
JOHN DICKERSON: Well, this is why I wanted to ask you. You said to Tucker, “We will take care of our people, or I am not signing it.” You said you were going to negotiate.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, that’s what I just said.
JOHN DICKERSON: So tell me what in the bill you’ve been negotiating to get–
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: But let me–
JOHN DICKERSON: –in that helps your supporters. I’m just trying to get the details of how your people–
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Let me just tell you.
JOHN DICKERSON: –will be helped.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Pre-existing conditions are in the bill. And I just watched another network than yours, and they were saying, “Pre-existing is not covered.” Pre-existing conditions are in the bill. And I mandate it. I said, “Has to be.”
JOHN DICKERSON: So–
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We have, we’re going to have lower premiums. And before you start there, let me just tell you something. Obamacare is dead. Obamacare right now, all the insurance companies are fleeing. Places like Tennessee have already lost half of their state with the insurance companies. They’re all going. Obamacare, John, is dead. Okay, because we’re being — we’re being compared to Obamacare. Just, so. Obamacare doesn’t work–
JOHN DICKERSON: I just want to compare you to your own.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: One thing. No, no, it’s important. I’ve got to compare it.
JOHN DICKERSON: No, no, but I want–
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: But you were saying about Obamacare.
JOHN DICKERSON: No, but I’m not. I’m asking what–
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: With Obamacare–
JOHN DICKERSON: –you’re going to do.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: –the premiums are too high. The deductibles are through the roof, so you never get to use it. But more importantly, it’s dead.
JOHN DICKERSON: So but in the bill, as it was analyzed, there were two problems. One, and you talked about this with Congressman Robert Aderholt, who brought you the example of the 64-year-old who under Obamacare the premiums–
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: But that was a long time ago, John.
JOHN DICKERSON: But has that been fixed?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Totally fixed.
JOHN DICKERSON: How?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: How? We’ve made many changes to the bill. You know, this bill is–
JOHN DICKERSON: What kind though?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: –very much different than it was three weeks ago.
JOHN DICKERSON: Help us explain because there are people–
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: The bill–
JOHN DICKERSON: –out there wondering what kind of changes.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Let me explain. Let me explain it to you.
JOHN DICKERSON: Okay.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: This bill is much different than it was a little while ago, okay? This bill has evolved. And we didn’t have a failure on the bill. You know, it was reported like a failure. Now, the one thing I wouldn’t have done again is put a timeline. That’s why on the second iteration, I didn’t put a timeline.
But we have now pre-existing conditions in the bill. We have — we’ve set up a pool for the pre-existing conditions so that the premiums can be allowed to fall. We’re taking across all of the borders or the lines so that insurance companies can compete–
JOHN DICKERSON: But that’s not in–
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: –nationwide.
JOHN DICKERSON: –this bill. The borders are not in–
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Of course, it’s in.
JOHN DICKERSON: –this bill. It’s in that third bill, right, because–
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: It’s in the second phase.
JOHN DICKERSON: Okay.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: It’s called phase one, phase two. And that’s, in effect, second phase, which will get approved, which will quickly get approved.
JOHN DICKERSON: Let me–
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: But let me just explain something. There will be such competition. Right now, there’s no competition. There will be such competition by insurance companies so that they can get health care and the people taking care of health care.
JOHN DICKERSON: So–
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: The other thing we’re going to have is groups. Groups of people can negotiate. What’s going to happen is the competition is going to drive down the premiums. In my opinion, much, much more than people understand.
JOHN DICKERSON: So what you’ve just described is the bill that you previously had said you worried wouldn’t help your people. And here’s why I ask. You said, “Pre-existing conditions.”
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: No, there were things in the other bill, the first version, which were not as good.
JOHN DICKERSON: Okay.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: But when I watch some of the news reports, which are so unfair, and they say we don’t cover pre-existing conditions, we cover it beautifully.
JOHN DICKERSON: Although–
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I’ll tell you who doesn’t cover pre-existing conditions. Obamacare. You know why? It’s dead.
JOHN DICKERSON: In one of the fixes that was–
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: It’s not going to be here.
JOHN DICKERSON: In one of the fixes it was discussed pre-existing was optional for the states–
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Sure, in one of the fixes. And they’re changing it–
JOHN DICKERSON: –oh, okay. So it’ll–
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: –and changing.
JOHN DICKERSON: –be permanent?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Of course.
JOHN DICKERSON: Okay. Well, that’s a development, sir. So you’re saying it’s going to be pre-existing to everybody?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: John, this has evolved over a period of three or four weeks. Now, we really have a good bill. I think they could have voted on Friday. I said, “Just relax. Don’t worry about this phony 100 day thing. Just relax. Take it easy. Take your time. Get the good vote and make it perfect.”
JOHN DICKERSON: Just to–
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Most importantly, we’re going to drive down premiums. We’re going to drive down deductibles because right now, deductibles are so high, you never — unless you’re going to die a long, hard death, you never can get to use your health care–
JOHN DICKERSON: Let me ask you something–
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: –because the deductibles are so high.
JOHN DICKERSON: Okay. So what I hear you saying is pre-existing is going to be in there for everybody, it’s not going to be up to the states?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Pre-existing is going to be in there and we’re also–
JOHN DICKERSON: And it’s not up to the states?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: –going to create pools.
JOHN DICKERSON: Okay.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: And pools are going to take care of the pre-existing.
JOHN DICKERSON: But on that crucial question, it’s not going to be left up to the states? Everybody gets pre-existing, no matter where they live?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: No, but the states–
JOHN DICKERSON: Guaranteed?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: –are also going to have a lot to do with it because we ultimately want to get it back down to the states.
JOHN DICKERSON: Okay. Is it a guarantee?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Look, because if you hurt your knee, honestly, I’d rather have the federal government focused on North Korea, focused on other things, than your knee, okay? Or than your back, as important as your back is. I would much rather see the federal government focused on other things–
JOHN DICKERSON: Let me.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: –bigger things. Now, the state is going to be in a much better position to take care, because it’s smaller.
JOHN DICKERSON: People out there with pre-existing conditions, they are worried. Are they going to have the guarantee of coverage if they have a pre-existing condition or if they live in a state where the governor decides that’s not a part of the health care, or that the prices are going to go up? That’s the worry. The American Medical Association says–
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We actually–
JOHN DICKERSON: –it could effectively make coverage completely unaffordable for people.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: –we actually have, well, forget about unaffordable. What’s unaffordable is Obamacare, John.
JOHN DICKERSON: So I’m not hearing you, Mr. President, say there’s a guarantee of pre-existing conditions.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We actually have — we actually have a clause that guarantees.
JOHN DICKERSON: Okay, excellent. We got there.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We have a specific clause–
JOHN DICKERSON: Let me ask you–
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: –that guarantees.
JOHN DICKERSON: –about your tax plan.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Go ahead.
JOHN DICKERSON: Tax plan came out this week. It’s got some big deficit numbers. You’ve said that’s going to be made up by growth. Congressional–
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, not only growth. It’s going to be made up by better trade deals. It’s going to be made up–
JOHN DICKERSON: Let me.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: –by many different, reciprocal tax. As an example, we have countries where if we make a product and we send it to that country, they charge us 100% tax. If they make the same product and send it to us, we charge them nothing. You think that’s smart? It’s not.
JOHN DICKERSON: Look–
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We’re going to come up with reciprocal taxes and lots of other things on those countries. But I view that more in trade. We’re also going to fix all of our trade deals. We’re going to have a very wealthy country again.
JOHN DICKERSON: Let me ask you this, Mr. President. Congress may not go along with–
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Always.
JOHN DICKERSON: –so they’re going to try and find some spending. Let me ask you about the question of Medicare. They’re going to want, in Congress, to make up on the spending side, to change Medicare. Will you allow that?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: You’re not going to have to do it.
JOHN DICKERSON: But, sir, will you allow it?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: You’re not going to have to do it. I’m just telling you we are–
JOHN DICKERSON: Does President Donald Trump want them not to do that?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I would much prefer them not to do that, that’s right.
JOHN DICKERSON: It sounds as if, having covered you in the campaign, it sounds like you’re leaving the door open. On the campaign, you were quite clear. You said, “I’m the guy who’s not going to touch Medicare.”
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Okay, then let me more clear. I’m not going to touch it, because I said it. Now, waste, fraud and abuse, I’m going to touch. If there’s something in Medicare that’s been abused, I will touch that. There are certain things, as you know, that have been absolutely abused. There are certain provisions in Medicare that are horrible and abusive and there’s been terrible things happening. So that kind of stuff, I will absolutely touch.
JOHN DICKERSON: So if I–
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: But the concept of Medicare, I’m not touching.
JOHN DICKERSON: For me, if I have it now, or if I’m going to have it in the future, it’s not getting cut?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Waste, fraud and abuse.
JOHN DICKERSON: And that’s it?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: And if there are things within Medicare that are being abused, I will touch that also.
JOHN DICKERSON: Other than that, it’s tightened up?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: That’s right. That’s what it is. But here’s what we do. We’re going to grow. The numbers just came out for Obama’s last year. 1.6 GDP. That means nothing. That’s, like, 1% GDP. So I have gotten to know as you know, I really get along with a lot of other countries. So I talk to the heads of countries. “How are you doing?” “Not well, not well.” “Why?” “GDP is 8%. GDP is 9%. We are doing poorly.” GDP — Our GDP is, like, 1%.
JOHN DICKERSON: Let me ask you about your tax returns, sir. When your Treasury secretary was asked about whether you were going to release them, Secretary Mnuchin said, “The president has no intention.” Is that right?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, I never spoke to him about it. Honestly, he’s never asked me about it. I said, number one, I’m under audit. Right now, I’m under audit. After the audit is complete. It’s a routine audit, but I have a very big tax return. You’ve seen the pictures. My tax return is probably higher than that from the floor. When you look at other people’s tax return, even other wealthy people, their tax return is this big. My tax return is this high.
JOHN DICKERSON: I just wanted to make sure–
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I’m under routine–
JOHN DICKERSON: –you weren’t changing.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: –audit. And I think it’s a very unfair thing because I have been under audit almost, like, since I became famous, okay?
JOHN DICKERSON: Have you–
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Not just political. I mean, I have been under audit, I’ll bet you 12 or 13 or 14 years in a row. Now, I have friends that are wealthy people.
JOHN DICKERSON: Let me ask you–
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: They’ve never been audited.
JOHN DICKERSON: You–
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: And I think it’s very unfair.
JOHN DICKERSON: You first said that you were under audit, were going to wait till that was done, about 14 months ago. That seems like a long time. When do you think this might happen? Are you asking them?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: It could happen soon. I don’t know. I mean, I think–
JOHN DICKERSON: When? Give me a sense of–
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: –it’s pretty routine, to be honest with you. But then I’ll make a decision.
JOHN DICKERSON: A member of Congress suggested that a condition for getting tax reform would be releasing your tax returns. What do you think about that?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Oh, I don’t know who did that. I mean, I don’t care who did that. These are the people, you know, the great obstructionists.
JOHN DICKERSON: So you’re not buying that deal.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Look where they are. Look where the Democrats have ended up. Hey, John, they had everything going. Now they don’t have the presidency, they don’t have the House, they don’t have the Senate, and Schumer’s going around making a fool out of himself.
JOHN DICKERSON: You said yesterday on FOX that Russia is a phony story. Which part of it is phony?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: The concept of Russia with respect to us is a total phony story.
JOHN DICKERSON: Meaning the Trump campaign?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Of course, it’s a total phony story. In fact, I just heard where General Flynn got his clearance from the Obama administration.
JOHN DICKERSON: But you don’t mean–
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Excuse me. I didn’t realize this, when he went to Russia, it was 2015 and he was on the Obama clearance. When General Flynn came to us, as you now know, he already had the highest clearance you can have. I think the same clearance as the president of the United States would have. He had this really high clearance. And, by the way, they’re so devastated because this only came up two days ago.
JOHN DICKERSON: Let me ask you this, sir.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Why wasn’t this reported months ago?
JOHN DICKERSON: I–
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: But I watched one of your other competitors, and they were devastated–
JOHN DICKERSON: Look–
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: –by this news, because you know what? That kills them. That’s the end of that subject.
JOHN DICKERSON: You don’t think it’s phony that they, the Russians, tried to meddle in the election? You believe that?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: That, I don’t know. I don’t know.
JOHN DICKERSON: That you don’t know or you do know?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, I have a problem. You have Podesta, who, by the way, I understand has a company with his brother in Russia. Hillary’s husband makes speeches in Russia. Hillary did a uranium deal with Russia. Nobody ever talks about that. But I don’t know–
JOHN DICKERSON: You don’t–
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: –because the F.B.I. was not allowed by Podesta to go in and check all of the records on their servers and everything else that you would normally have to check. That’s number one.
Number two, knowing something about hacking, if you don’t catch a hacker, okay, in the act, it’s very hard to say who did the hacking. With that being said, I’ll go along with Russia. Could’ve been China, could’ve been a lot of different groups.
JOHN DICKERSON: So President Donald Trump is ambivalent–
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: But it could’ve–
JOHN DICKERSON: –about or not ambivalent, you’re not just not sure?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: No. We have to find out what happened. I’d love to find out what happened.
JOHN DICKERSON: But you don’t think it’s the Russians–
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I can tell you one thing. Had nothing to do with us. Had nothing to do with this, and everyone knows it. And by the way, even my enemies on your show said, “We haven’t found anything that the Trump campaign did wrong.”
JOHN DICKERON: But–
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Do you agree with that?
JOHN DICKERSON: But there is agreement in the intelligence communities and other places and investigative communities on the Hill that Russia was–
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I’m okay with it.
JOHN DICKERSON: –involved in the election.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Honestly, John, I’m okay. But why didn’t Podesta and the Democrats, why didn’t they allow the F.B.I. to eject the server? They hired some company who somebody said some pretty bad things about, to go and check their server and give the information. So they were hacked. Why didn’t they — the Democrats allow the F.B.I.? They told the F.B.I., “We are not going to allow you to do it.” Why did they do that? Why did they do that, John? Why wouldn’t they let the F.B.I. go in and check? And by the way, why didn’t the F.B.I. complain about it?
JOHN DICKERSON: Mr. President, I think we’re going to have to end it there.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Thank you.