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Donald J. Trump: Remarks in an Exchange With Reporters
Donald
Donald J. Trump
784 - Remarks in an Exchange With Reporters
October 25, 2017
Daily Compilation of Presidential Documents
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2016 Presidential Election

Q. What's your reaction to Democrats paying for the dossier?

The President. Well, I think it's very sad what they've done with this fake dossier. It was made up, and I understand they paid a tremendous amount of money, and Hillary Clinton always denied it. The Democrats always denied it. And now, only because it's going to come out in a court case, they said, yes, they did it. They admitted it, and they're embarrassed by it.

But I think it's a disgrace. It's just really a—it's a very sad commentary on politics in this country.

Q. Do you know which Republicans helped fund that?

Q. Mr. President, do think Mitch McConnell should strip Senator Bob Corker of his chairmanship?

Republican Party

The President. I don't think so. No, I think it's fine the way it is. We have actually great unity in the Republican Party. Yesterday I was——

Q. Even with Bob Corker and Jeff Flake?

The President. No, that's okay. Look, you know, they have to do their thing. We have great unity. If you look at what happened yesterday at the meeting, we had, I guess, virtually every Senator, including John McCain. We had a great conversation yesterday—John McCain and myself—about the military.

I think we had a—I called it a lovefest. It was almost a lovefest. Maybe it was a lovefest. But we—standing ovations. There is great unity. I mean, if you look at the Democrats with Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, that's a mess. There's great unity in the Republican Party.

Q. Bob Corker says that you have debased the Nation, Mr. President.

Q. Do you worry that they will block—[inaudible]—sir?

News Media/Republican Party

Q. [Inaudible]—this country is in the gutter right now. Do you agree with that? Do you bear any responsibility for that?

The President. Well, I think it's sad. But I think to a large extent, in all due respect, I think the media causes a lot of it. Fake stories are being reported. A lot of bad things are being reported that aren't true, and you know, I think to a certain extent, maybe I can blame the media.

But politics is a rough business, there's no question about it. I will say this: I think the Republican Party has a pretty good unity. When I looked at that room yesterday at lunch—and you know, and you reported on it very well, Kristen [Kristen Welker, NBC News].

Q. Thank you. The President. I mean, you gave it a very good report. The fact is there was tremendous unity in that room, and we're really unified.——

Q. Are there other——

The President. We're really unified on what we want to do.

We want tax cuts for the middle class. We want tax cuts for businesses to produce jobs. There's great unity.

Yes.

Senator Jeffrey L. Flake

Q. Mr. President, what about Senator Flake saying you are a danger to democracy? He said you were dangerous to our democracy.

The President. Well, look, he was against me from before he ever knew me. He wrote a book about me before I ever met him, before I ever heard his name. His poll numbers in Arizona are so low that he couldn't win, and I don't blame him for leaving. I think he did the right thing for himself.

But if you know, long before he ever knew me, during the campaign, even before the campaign, I mean, he came out with his horrible book, and I said, who is this guy?

In fact, I remembered the first time I saw him on television, I had not really been—nobody knew me in terms of politics. But the first time I saw him on television, I said, I assume he's a Democrat. Is he a Democrat? They said he's a Republican. I said, that's impossible.

So look, his poll numbers are terrible. He's done terribly for the great people of Arizona, a State that likes Donald Trump very much as you—even you will admit. And he would have never won. In fact, even in the primary, he's way down in the primary. So he did the smart thing for himself. This way, he can get out somewhat gracefully. But——

Senator Jeffrey L. Flake

Q. But what about this comment that you're dragging down the discourse, that you're poisoning the discourse in Washington?

The President. Well, he's saying that—he's saying that because he has nothing else to say.

Q. Mr. President——

The President. But I do think this—I do think this—I wish him well. I really believe he's going to do the right thing for the country. He's going to vote for tax cuts, because we desperately need tax cuts to put our people back to work. We need tax cuts also to be able to compete with other countries.

Senator Robert P. Corker, Jr.

Q. But why call Bob Corker "liddle" Bob Corker, l-i-d-d-l-e? Isn't that childish?

Q. Are you going to apologize to Sergeant La David Johnson's——

The President. You know what, I hope Bob—and I really believe that Bob Corker is going to do the right thing also.

Yes, go ahead.

Q. Should you be more civil, Mr. President? Do you feel like that's—[inaudible]? The President. I can't hear you. I can't—what? Say it again.

Senator Jeffrey L. Flake

Q. [Inaudible]—91 percent of the time. Do you risk losing Arizona in the next election without him there?

The President. Well, Senator Flake did vote with me. I understand it was about 91 or even more than that. So from that standpoint, good.

No, I think I'll be boosted in Arizona, because he's very unpopular. I think the fact that he did it the way he did it probably—I mean, I'm very high in Arizona. I love the people; they like me. They like security at the border. You know, all of the thing.

But I think I'm probably helped greatly in Arizona by what happened with Senator Flake.

[At this point, many reporters began asking questions at once.]

Tax Reform

Q. Are you concerned that Flake and Corker could block your agenda, tax reform?

The President. I don't think they'd do that. I really know that they want tax cuts. They know we need it. We need it for the country, we need it for the people, we need if for the middle class, we need it for jobs. I don't think they'd do that, I really don't.

I know them well enough. I don't know Flake very well, but I know Bob Corker. I think they really would do it. I think they feel they have to do it for the country.

Q. [Inaudible]

The President. Say it?

Q. Do you have any Democrats who are "yes" votes yet that you can guarantee?

The President. I think we're going to get some Democrat votes, yes. I do believe——

Q. So no yeses yet?

The President. I haven't started the process, but I believe that there are certain Democrats that, if they don't vote for these massive tax cuts for business, for jobs, and for the middle class, they will lose their races in '18.

News Media

Q. Mr. President, would you ever—should you be more civil as the leader of this country?

The President. Well, I think the press makes me more uncivil than I am. You know, people don't understand: I went to an Ivy League college, I was a nice student, I did very well, I'm a very intelligent person.

You know, I—the fact is, I think—I really believe—I think the press creates a different image of Donald Trump than the real person.

Q. You say you are a counterpuncher, sir. You say you're a counterpuncher. [Inaudible]—Senator Bob Corker—[inaudible]—that Gold Star mom.

Q. In that vein, Mr. President, would you ever apologize to Sergeant La David Johnson's wife?

The President's Response to Critics

Q. When is it okay for you to pull your punches? When will you modify that?

The President. Well, I think it's always okay—when somebody says something about you that's false, I think it's always okay to counterpunch or to fight back.

Q. Even a Gold Star mom, sir—even a Gold Star widow?

Q. Mr. President——

The President. John [John Roberts, Fox News].

Tax Reform

Q. You have talked, Mr. President, about the idea that any changes to tax-free contributions to 401(k)s are off the table. That was the source of your spat——

The President. I wanted to end that quickly—401(k)s, to me, are very important. And they're important because that's one of the great benefits to the middle class. I didn't want that to go too far. That's why I ended it very quickly.

Tax Reform

Q. But Kevin Brady, who is the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said this morning it could be on the table.

The President. Well, maybe it is, and maybe we'll use it as negotiating. But I—trust me, that's one of the great things. You know, there are certain elements of deals you don't want to negotiate with—401(k)s—and Kevin knows it, and I think Kevin Brady is fantastic, but he knows how important 401(k)s are.

Q. Mr. President, quick follow-up: Would you ever aplogize——

The President. John.

Russian Access to U.S. Uranium Reserves

Q. Mr. President, you told me last week you thought that the uranium sale to Russia was one of the big stories of the decade. Three congressional committees are now looking at that. And we haven't heard you comment on it since those investigations were launched.

The President. Well, I think the uranium sale to Russia and the way it was done, so underhanded, with tremendous amounts of money being passed, I actually think that's Watergate, modern age.

Q. On La David Johnson's wife, Mr. President——

U.S. Military Action in Niger/Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Terrorist Organization

Q. Mr. President, what more do you want to know about the mission in Niger? And what have you asked the Pentagon to tell you and tell the country?

The President. I can't—say it again, please.

Q. What more do you want to know about the mission in Niger? And what have you asked the Pentagon to tell you and tell the country about what went wrong?

The President. I can't—— Q. What more do you want to know about the mission in Niger? And what did you ask the Pentagon about what went wrong?

Q. And what went wrong, and what do you want the country to know about that?

The President. Oh. Well, we're going to look at it. Now, I have to say, we are decimating ISIS in the Middle East. What's happening is, they'll go to parts of Africa; they'll go to other places. When they get there, we meet them. It's a dangerous business—I have to say, it's a dangerous business. So what the——

The President's Military Advisers

Q. Did you authorize the mission?

The President. So what—no, I didn't. Not specifically. But I have generals that are great generals. These are great fighters. These are warriors and——

U.S. Military Action in Niger/Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Terrorist Organization

Q. You gave them authority to do this mission?

The President. I gave them authority to do what's right so that we win. That's the authority they have. I want to win, and we're going to win, and we're beating ISIS very badly. You look at what's happened in the Middle East: We have done more in 8 months than the previous administration has done in many years.

Now, what happens is, you decimate them, and that's all we've done. We have decimated ISIS in the Middle East. They go to Africa, they go to places. When they get there, we meet them there. That's what goes on. It's a tough business. It's a tough war, but we are winning it. And you know what? We're going to continue winning it.

With that being said, my generals and my military, they have decision-making ability. As far as the incident that we're talking about, I've been seeing it just like you've been seeing it. I've been getting reports. They have to meet the enemy, and they meet them tough, and that's what happens.

The President's Communication With Family Members of Servicemembers Killed in Action

Q. But Sergeant Johnson's wife said she was really upset by your phone call. Would you ever apologize to her?

The President. I was extremely nice to her. She sounds like a lovely lady. I've never seen her. I've never met her, but she sounds like a lovely lady. But I was extremely nice to her. I was extremely courteous, as I was to everyone else.

You know, it's interesting, you folks have called many people that I spoke to. Everybody has said unbelievable, good things about me, but you never report that.

Q. We reported that.

Q. But she's really upset by your phone call——

The President. Did you report it? Did you report it?

Q. We have reported that. You've talked to other—— The President. Thank you. Come.

[The President shook hands with a reporter]

Thank you.

The President's Communication With Family Members of Servicemembers Killed in Action

Q. You're welcome, but what about your message to her, Mr. President?

Q. You called four families that day——

The President. I can only say this: I was really nice to her. I respect her. I respect her family. I certainly respect La David, he—who—I, by the way, called La David right from the beginning. Just so you understand, they put a chart in front—"La David." It says, La David Johnson.

So I called—right from the beginning, there's no hesitation. One of the great memories of all time. There was no hesitation. I think she's a fantastic woman. I was extremely nice to her, extremely respectful.

Q. But she's wrong?

The President's Communication With Family Members of Servicemembers Killed in Action

Q. Mr. President, you made four phone calls to four different families that day. Did you say anything different to Myeshia Johnson than you did to any of the other three families?

The President. I would say, basically, we talked condolence. I mean, it's all about condolence; it's about warmth. In many cases you listen, because in so many cases—one of the family—families, they were saying, yes, he was a great football star, okay?

And honestly, they pour their heart out, John. It's the hardest calls.

Q. Mr. President——

The President. They pour their heart out. But I am always—and look, you people have called many people that I've spoken to, and every one of them has said I couldn't have been nicer. Now, it's a rough time for these—I mean, how tough is it? There's nothing tougher. But I have such respect for those families. Nobody has more respect than I do—nobody.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Policy

Q. Mr. President, do you want DACA in the budget deal in December? Do you want DACA in that?

The President. We're looking at DACA. We have to get something for it, but we are looking at DACA. And we'll see what happens. I'd love to do a DACA deal, but we have to get something very substantial for it, including the wall, including security, including a strong border.

Q. In the budget deal in December?

The President. We have to be able to stop drugs from pouring into our Nation.

Q. In the budget deal in December? Tax Reform

Q. On taxes, sir, you talk about what the American people will get out of your tax plan. Why not tell them how it will affect you by releasing your taxes?

The President. The tax plan is going to be incredible for this country. It's going to bring back jobs, it's going to cut taxes tremendously. We're going to bring back $4 trillion—I think at least—from overseas. That money is going to be put back to work in our country instead of other countries. The tax cut is going to be massive. It's going to keep companies from leaving our country. So important.

Q. Are there any other Republicans that you want out of—to leave the Senate?

Q. Have any of your family members been interviewed by the Special Counsel?

The President. Say it?

Department of Justice Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III/Investigation Into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election

Q. Have any of your family members or advisers been interviewed by the Special Counsel?

The President. Not that I know of, no.

Q. Have you been contacted——

The President. And I have to say, the whole Russian thing is what it's turned out to be. This was the Democrats coming up with an excuse for losing an election. It's an election that's very hard for a Democrat to lose, because the electoral college is set in such a way that it's very hard to lose that election for a Democrat. They lost it. They lost it very badly and very easily.

I mean, you look at the votes; it was 306 to what, 223 or something. They lost it by a lot. They didn't know what to say, so they made up the whole Russia hoax. Now it's turning out that the hoax has turned around. And you look at what's happened with Russia, and you look at the uranium deal, and you look at the fake dossier. So that's all turned around.

Q. [Inaudible]—yes or no?

Q. But with Flake out, are there any other Republicans you want to see out of the Senate?

The President. No, not at all.

Republican Party

Q. [Inaudible]

The President. No. We have a very good relationship. Honestly, when you look at—when you take a look at what's happened with Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders and the hatred and the division and the animosity, I'll tell you what, honestly, the Republicans are very, very well united.

Q. Mr. President, this Fusion GPS——

Opioid Crisis

Q. Opioids—— The President. We're going to have a big meeting on opioids tomorrow. We're going to be doing——

Q. And on 401(k)s——

The President. We're going to be doing a very, very important meeting sometime in the very short—very near future on opioids, in terms of declaring a national emergency, which gives us power to do things that you can't do right now.

2016 Presidential Election

Q. This Fusion GPS investigation——

The President. John, talk up, please.

Q. I'm sorry. This Fusion GPS investigation began on the Republican side of things during the primary. Do you have any idea who it was who was collecting opposition data on you?

The President. Well, they say it began with the Republicans. I think I would know, but I won't say. It will be determined. It will be determined.

Look, Hillary would have never announced it was them, except for this great court case that's going on where the judge was going to reveal it. So they figured, we'll do it first. They're very embarrassed by it. It's a disgrace. Yes, it might have started with the Republicans early on in the primaries. I think I would know, but let's find out who it is. I'm sure that will come out.

Q. Do you know who those Republicans are? Do you have any idea?

The President. I think I would have—if I were to guess, I have one name in mind.

Q. What's the name, sir?

The President. It will probably be revealed.

Q. How about a preview?

The President's Upcoming Travel to South Korea

Q. Mr. President, the DMZ. Yes or no? [Inaudible]

The President. Say it? What?

Q. The DMZ, yes or no? Are you going? Yes or no?

The President. Well, I'd rather not say, but you'll be surprised.

Q. What does that mean? [Laughter]

The President. You'll be surprised.

Q. What does that mean?


NOTE: The President spoke at 12:50 p.m. on the South Lawn at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, in her capacity as the 2016 Democratic Presidential Nominee; Senator Bernard Sanders; Myeshia Johnson, wife of Sgt. La David T. Johnson, USA, who was killed in an ambush in southwest Niger during an advise-and-assist mission with Nigerien security forces on October 4; and Tanya S. Chutkan, judge, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
Citation: Donald J. Trump: "Remarks in an Exchange With Reporters," October 25, 2017. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=128706.
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