Subject: In Town Pool Report 1a – Full Cabinet Room Transcript
Here are President Trump’s full remarks from before the Cabinet meeting as well as his answers to the questions from reporters afterwards.
“Thank you very much. We have a lot of things happening. As you know, last night was a very big night for the Republican Party. Every candidate that we wanted won and they did very well. There was tremendous enthusiasm. … With the economy going so strong and so good, with all of the things that are happening, including a tremendous foreign affairs picture, if we look at what’s going on with so many different elements.
And right now flying back are three — what they were calling hostages. We call them fine people, three really fine people, seem to be healthy. They’ll be landing at two o’clock in the morning at Andrews Air Force Base and I’ll be there to greet them. Mike will be with me. It will be, I think, a very special time.
Nobody thought this was going to happen and, if it did, it would be years or decades. Frankly, nobody thought this was going to happen and I appreciate Kim Jong Un doing this and allowing them to go.
We picked a time, we picked a place for the meeting — or summit as you like to call it — and I think it will be very successful. But, as I always say, who knows? Who knows what’s going to happen? But it’s going to be a very important event.
Again, I think this is something that nobody thought was going to happen for years or more and I really believe it’s going to be a great thing for North Korea, a great thing for South Korea and Japan.
And I want to thank President Xi, who was very helpful to us two days ago on something very specific. President Xi of China. China has been very helpful, and we’re working on trade with China, and we’re doing OK because they’re helping us. And I guess they’re probably doing a little bit better because they’re helping us. But they have really helped us on North Korea. We appreciate it and we appreciate President Xi.
I just spoke to President Moon and explained what was taking place with respect to the three gentlemen. And President Moon of South Korea was very, very happy to hear it. He likewise has been incredibly helpful. So, the relationships we have with Prime Minister Abe, President Moon, President Xi, I think it all goes into what is taking place right now. And we very much look forward to having the meeting between the United States and North Korea. That will be announced over the next couple days as to timing.
We have a lot of things going on within our country. We have very much toughened up the border, but the laws are horrible. The laws in this country for immigration and illegal immigration are absolutely horrible. And we have to do something about it —not only the wall, which we’re building sections of wall right now. We’re at 1.6 billion. We’re fixing a lot of wall that basically was nonexistent because it’s been ripped to pieces. It was fully built and it wasn’t — it was really only temporary in some cases.
San Diego has asked us to go forward with their section of the wall in California. And rather than not doing that and letting them lobby for us with Governor Brown, we decided to do it. And we’ll have a little bit less of a lobby, but we’ll have a lot of people happy in San Diego.
We have, I think, the numbers coming out from the economy, you’re seeing what’s going on, it’s— they’re extraordinary. The stock market is up almost 35 percent from the election. But I think companies are doing even better than that and they’re really ready to rock.
The conference we had yesterday is a very important one. You look at the deal we had with Iran, it was a one-sided deal that ultimately was going to lead to nuclear proliferation all over the Middle East. … Other countries were talking about it. It was going to lead to that. They’re all very happy at what I did.
It was a one-sided deal that we spent $150 billion and $1.8 billion in cash on getting done. And it was not good, and it was not appropriate, and we’ll see how we do with Iran. Probably, we won’t do very well with them but that’s OK too. They’ve got to understand life, because I don’t think they do understand life. If you look at what’s happening in the Middle East, with Syria, with Yemen, with all of the places they’re involved, it’s bedlam and death and we can’t allow that to happen.
So we have terminated a terrible, terrible deal that should have never, ever been made. And we will be putting on among the strongest sanctions that we’ve ever put on a country. And they’re going into effect very shortly. They’re mostly constituted and drawn already and we’ll just have to see what happens.
But we can’t allow a deal that hurt the world. That’s a deal to hurt the world. That’s not a deal for the United States. That’s a deal to hurt the world and certainly Israel. You saw Benjamin Netanyahu get up yesterday and talk so favorably about what we did.
Some of the senators, I watch them now as they say, ‘Oh, he shouldn’t have done it.’ But they don’t say it— the Democratic senators— they don’t say it with their full throat. They don’t say it with heart because they have one problem, they were totally against it. Like Chuck Schumer was totally against the deal. He voted against the deal. He was fighting with Obama. In fact, I remember reading at the time, they ended up in a fight together over this deal because he wanted to protect Israel and he knows this deal is very bad for Israel and very bad for the Middle East. But I know that they voted against it and then you’ll see Chuck Schumer say, ‘Oh, he shouldn’t have ended the deal. … Perhaps he changed his mind, but, by the way, the deal only got worse.
So, we have a lot of exciting things happening and I think that’s going to be an exciting thing. And perhaps — and you know Iran will never say this because they’re great negotiators.
Kerry was— never had a chance against the gentleman he was negotiating with. First time I saw that man, I watched him on a certain show, a show with an anchor who’s no longer with us. He was taken down. But it was an interesting show, and I looked at him, and after about three minutes of watching the show, I said there’s no way that Kerry can negotiate against this gentleman. And that turned out to be a fact.
So, we’re going to make either a really good deal for the world or we’re not going to make a deal at all. And Iran will come back say, ‘We don’t want to negotiate.’ And, of course they’re going to say that, and if I were in their position I’d say that too for the first couple of months, ‘We’re not going to negotiate.’ But they’ll negotiate or something will happen and hopefully that won’t be the case.
So, I just want to let you know the United States is strong. Our military is in a position that we haven’t had in a long time. We have 700 billion approved and 716 billion for next year, numbers that we’ve never had before. We’re rebuilding our military to a level that it’s frankly never been. And these are good times to have a strong military, and hopefully we’ll never have to use it. You know, peace through strength, which I believe in very strongly.
So, we’re honored by the fact that the three gentleman are coming home. And I look forward to seeing you, probably some of you, maybe a lot of you. It’ll be two o’clock in the morning. It’ll be quite a scene and it’ll be— to me it’s very exciting because it represents something. It represents something very important to this country.
People never thought a thing like this could happen. It can. People never thought you were going to have a situation where we’re having serious and positive communications with North Korea and we are. What happens? Who knows? We have a chance at something really great for the world, and great for North Korea, and great for everyone.
So, I want to thank you all for being here and we will see you at two o’clock in the morning.”
After Trump finished speaking, reporters began shouting questions. Your pooler’s recorder did not catch the exact questions amid the yelling, which included staff encouraging the press to leave.
The first question Trump answered was about when he would announce details of the North Korea meeting.
“Within three days,” Trump said.
Trump was asked if it would be in the DMZ.
“It will not be there,” he said.
Luckily, the recorder caught the remaining questions and answers in full. They are transcribed below:
QUESTION: “Do you deserve the Nobel prize do you think?”
TRUMP: “Everyone thinks so, but I would never say it. You know what I want to do? I want to get it finished. The prize I want is victory for the world, not for even here. I want victory for the world because that’s what we’re talking about. So, that’s the only prize I want.”
QUESTION: “Could something still scuttle this meeting?”
TRUMP: “Everything can be scuttled. Everything can be scuttled. … Lot of things can happen, lot of good things can happen, lot of bad things can happen. I believe that we have — both sides want to negotiate a deal. I think it’s going to be a very successful deal. I think we have a really good shot at making it successful, but lots of things can happen. And, of course, you’ll be the first to know about it if it does. But I think we have a really good chance to make a great deal for the world. Thank you very much.”
QUESTION: “What are you going you do if Iran starts … a nuclear program?”
TRUMP: “Well, we’ll find out. We’re going to find out. I don’t think they should do that. I would advise Iran not to start their nuclear program. I would advise them very strongly. If they do, there will be very severe consequence. OK.”
QUESTION: “Will you ban press from the White House?”
TRUMP: “Thank you.”