Subject: Travel Pool 3 — Konichiwa / Trump gaggle
Air Force One was wheels down in Tokyo at 10:38 am local Sunday, 9:38 pm on Saturday in Washington. About 6.5 hours into the 8-hour flight, POTUS unexpectedly walked back to the press cabin and spoke for a little less than 12 minutes. During that time, he went off the briefly went off the record at two different moments. Wearing a white shirt with no tie and his collar open, he was in good spirits — joking with reporters, and taking a few questions from the trip.
Full transcript is below. Special thanks to Ashley Parker for her assistance and overall supplemental pool skills. But first, some highlights:
* He expects to meet with Putin: “I think it’s expected we’ll meet with Putin, yeah. We want Putin’s help on North Korea, and we’ll be meeting with a lot of different leaders.”
* On Xi’s consolidation of power come, vs his domestic troubles: Trump insisted he was coming in with strength, too: “Excuse me, so am I. Highest stock market in history, lowest unemployment in 17 years, a military that’s rapidly rebuilding, ISIS is virtually defeated in the Middle East. We are coming off some of the strongest numbers we’ve ever had, and he knows that and he respects that and he’s a friend of mine.”
* Explaining his Aramco tweet: Said he spoke to the Saudi King during the flight: “I know they’re looking at London, I know they’re looking at others, they’re probably looking at themselves, they have a much smaller stock market. So I would like them to consider the New York Stock Exchange or NASDAQ.”
* On the North Korean people: “I think they’re great people. They’re industrious. They’re warm, much warmer than the world really knows or understands. They’re great people. And I hope it all works out for everybody.”
* His response to criticism from the Bushes: “I don’t need headlines. I don’t want to make their move successful. “
Sat. Nov 4
Flight from Honolulu to Tokyo.
I think we’re going to have a great 10, really 12 days, I guess. We’re going to be a little bit longer. I think we’ll be, hopefully in a very positive way, very historic. One of the things we’re going to be discussing very big is—have you ever met this young lady? No? She’s doing a great job. [Gesturing to Sarah Huckabee Sanders]—one of the things we’re going to be very focused on is trade, because trade has not been done well for 25 years by the United States, with this part of the world or with any part of the world, so we’ll be discussing reciprocal trade, reciprocal trade, fair trade, but reciprocal. And I have very good relationships with Prime Minister Abe and Moon and Xi. We have very good relationships.
Q if TV can record it:
No, I just wanted to come back and say hello.
Q what to expect on North Korea:
Well, obviously that will be a big subject for the three, first three in particular. So what we’re doing is, when we go to the Philippines, we’ll really be second day is a very big day, and they asked whether or not I’d stay and I decided to stay. You know, we were going back to Hawaii, and now what we’ll do is we’ll stay and we’ll go direct, we’ll go direct.
Q on if he thinks he’ll meet w Putin:
I think it’s expected we’ll meet with Putin, yeah. We want Putin’s help on North Korea, and we’ll be meeting with a lot of different leaders.
Q on his plans to continue his tough rhetoric on North Korea while in Asia:
Well, we want to get it solved. It’s a big problem for our country and for the world, and we want to get it solved. And there’s been 25 years of total weakness, and so we’re taking a very much different approach.
Q on if North Korea will use Trump’s trip to Asia to demonstrate a missile test:
We’ll soon find out. Good luck! [Brief off the record moment]
Q on Aramco Tweet:
I want to—Aramco is going public. It will be perhaps the biggest going public ever. It’s the Saudi Arabian oil company and it will be just about the biggest ever. And I want them to consider, because right now they’re not looking at it, because of litigation, risk and other risk, which is very sad, they’re not looking at it, but I want them to strongly consider the New York Stock Exchange or NASDAQ, or frankly anybody else located in this country, but those are the big two. So either NASDAQ or the New York Stock Exchange. I just spoke to the King a little while ago, and they will consider it.
Q on why it’s important:
Oh it’s very important, because we want to have all the big listings. I know they’re looking at London, I know they’re looking at others, they’re probably looking at themselves, they have a much smaller stock market. So I would like them to consider the New York Stock Exchange or NASDAQ.
Q on North Korea being a state sponsor of terrorism:
We’re going to make that decision very soon.
Q on if he’ll make the decision in Japan:
[Brief off the record response]
Q about Xi’s consolidation of power, compared with Trump entering China, with Xi coming off a very successful run:
Excuse me, so am I. Highest stock market in history, lowest unemployment in 17 years, a military that’s rapidly rebuilding, ISIS is virtually defeated in the Middle East. We are coming off some of the strongest numbers we’ve ever had, and he knows that and he respects that and he’s a friend of mine. We’re friends. Now, with that being said, he represents China, I represent the United States. But we’re going in with tremendous strength. We’re going in with a stock market that’s higher than ever before. We literally Friday closed at the highest point in the history of the stock market. You look at the unemployment numbers—we picked up 5.5 trillion dollars since my election in market value. These are tremendous numbers. Whether it’s China or anybody else, these are massive numbers.
Q on how he wants China to view the US at the end of the trip:
Well I think he’s viewing us very, very strong, and also very friendly. But we have to do better with trade with China, because it’s a one-way street right now and it has been for many years. And we will. But the reason our stock market is so successful is because of me. I’ve always been great with money, I’ve always been great with jobs, that’s what I do. And I’ve done it well, I’ve done it really well, much better than people understand and they understand I’ve done well. But we have a tremendous amount of strength because of what’s happened. You know, think of it — $5.5 trillion worth of value. But also, look at ISIS. Look at our military budget that we just had approved. We’re at $700 billion, and by the way, going up. We make the best military equipment in the world. A shot was just taken by Iran, at my opinion, at Saudi Arabia. You know about that, right? You saw the missile that went out? And our system knocked the missile out of the air. That’s how good we are. Nobody makes what we make, and now we’re selling it all over the world.
One of the reasons our markets are so high and our defense companies are doing so well is I am demanding our allies and people we are working with that they buy our equipment. Now, there’s two advantages to that. Number one, we make by far the best equipment, but, number two, they’re buying from us. So I think we’re going in with tremendous strength. I mean, I don’t think – I mean, there’s a question that you asked, and I understand the question. But when you think on Friday we hit the highest point in the history of our stock market when we picked up from November 8, which can you believe it is almost exactly one year? We going to be at China together? We’ll have to celebrate together. November 8. I hope we’ll all celebrate together, but — in fact I was going to have a big celebration party, and then I said, ‘Well…’ We’ll celebrate together. But, um, what you think of $5.5 trillion, when you think what we’ve done to ISIS. Now, ISIS—the remnants—they go into Africa and other places and we’re meeting them before they get there. So they’ve never seen anything like it. We have been more successful with ISIS than in eight years of the previous administration. So, anyway, I was just coming back to say hello. Go and have a good time. We’ll see you a lot.
Q: What would you say to NK people?
I think they’re great people. They’re industrious. They’re warm, much warmer than the world really knows or understands. They’re great people. And I hope it all works out for everybody. It will be a wonderful thing if we can work out for those great people, and for everybody.
Q: Any response to the Bushes?
I’ll comment after we come back. I don’t need headlines. I don’t want to make their move successful.
Q: On the length of this grueling trip?
It is grueling, they tell me. But fortunately, historically that has not been a problem for me. I mean one thing you people will say — that has not been a problem. We had a choice. I could have done it — I could have done a five, and a four. Or I could have done two fives. Or I could have done one 12. The one 12 was by far the best, most comprehensive and the best timing, because you have the two big conventions and conferences, right? (inaudible) I mean, one very big thing is the fact that we’re going to the Philippines. Because if you remember the previous administration, that was a great embarrassment (inaudible). When they wouldn’t land, it was a very bad thing. Our relationships are very good with the Philippines. So I had a choice of a 5-4 5-5, or one 12.
Q: What are you doing to stay fresh?
I’ll let you know if I don’t stay fresh. If I don’t stay fresh, you’ll be the first to tell me. I’ll stay fresh.
Q: On meeting Duterte:
I look forward to seeing him. I look very much forward to seeing him.
Q: On golfing with Matsuyama:
I’m playing with a great golfer. Hideki Matsuyama. He’s one of the greatest players, currently he’s already, at a very young age, I think he’s 23, he’s probably—he is the greatest player in the history of Japan. Possibly their greatest celebrity. He’s a true player. I think he won five tournaments over the last year and a half. He’s a truly great player, a great athlete. Long ball hitter. I hit the ball pretty long. I promise you one thing, I won’t be hitting it there. If I come back and say I was longer than him, don’t believe it. No, but he’s a great celebrity, a great athlete, he’s really got a lot things going, including the it-factor. And so when I played with Prime Minister Abe, he loves golf. And we played in Palm Beach, and we played with Ernie Els. And so he is reciprocal. It’s going to be a lot of fun. So have a good time. We all have a long trip together. Are all of you staying for the entire 12 days? We’ll do well together.
Q: On goals for the trip:
I think we’re going to have a great success. I mean, look, I’ve had a very successful presidency. You look at the numbers, you look at what’s happening, you look at jobs. Did I hear a new jobs number came out? A million and a half jobs? A million and a half jobs since Nov. 8 have been created. So this is a continuation of that. Our big focus is going to be obviously on North Korea. But a very, very big focus is going to be on fair trade. And that’s very important to me.
The Wall Street Journal.