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Interview with Bret Bairer of Fox News

June 13, 2018

BAIRER: Thanks for the time. What is this -- 26 hours?

THE PRESIDENT: I'm now on my 26th. We've been negotiating with some very good negotiators. Nice to be with you.

BAIRER: Thank you for having us. You took every question at the news conference.

THE PRESIDENT: I took a lot of them. And we had a lot of reporters. I don't know if you saw that room but their credentials were like record kinds of numbers and I took as many as I could. People are really happy about it, and even I would say non-Trump fans, people are really happy. It's something that I'm very proud of. Now, with that being said, I want to get it done, but I believe that Chairman Kim wants to get it done.

BAIRER: You do?


BAIRER: I mean there was one part of a news conference I think you're a kind of joking that six months from now you could say this was a mistake. And I'm never going to tell you that.

THE PRESIDENT: Sure. No, it could happen. I mean all of a sudden --

BAIRER: But you don't believe that.

THE PRESIDENT: It's deals -- whether it's this, which is so important or buying a building or doing whatever you may be doing. No, I don't think that's going to happen but I said, you know, I only consider it successful if it gets done. I think we've done something very historic already in one way, but to me success is when it gets done.

BAIRER: Is the military drawing down in South Korea? You're kind of hinted at that, and is there going to be this kind of tit for tat?

THE PRESIDENT: No, it's not drawing down at all. In fact, honestly it was never discussed. I'm sure he would like that. It was never on the table. You know, when I met him today, we have a very good relationship I feel. I feel it's good.

You know when we have chemistry -- you know it as well as anybody. And you understand what I mean. But when I met him today -- we had done three months, almost four months worth of work prior to my meeting. So we sort of understood that was never on the table. With that being understood and, you know, you asking a question like that, I would love to get the military out as soon as we can because it cost a lot of money, a lot of money for us. We don't get paid fully for that military which, you know, I will be talking to South Korea about. But we have 32,000 soldiers in South Korea. I would like to get them home. I would like to. But it is not on the table right now. At the appropriate time, it will be.

BAIRER: Do you think China looks at this and says this is kind of what we want? A North Korea that's under control, U.S. that is may be disengaging from the region.

THE PRESIDENT: No, I think China really would like to see no nuclear weapons if you want to know the truth because look, whether you are semi-friendly with a nation or not when they have nuclear weapons and you're that close, it can't be a positive feeling. It just can't be. So China has been very helpful. I think over the last two months, maybe less so. I think the border got a little bit more open. Now, it didn't affect today's negotiation but I think the border opened up a little bit more because China could be a little bit upset about trade because we are very strongly clamping down on trade.

BAIRER: How strongly?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think very strongly. I mean you will see over the next couple of weeks. They understand what we're doing. With that being said, I have a very good relationship with President Xi, he's an incredible guy. Just, you know, essentially presidential life -- it's pretty good.

BAIRER: Yes. So North Korea, you know, they have agreed to things before. They have agreed to several things.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. But that's with a different president and nobody has taken it this far. And presidents have never met with anybody from North Korea. It's been, you know, delegated to other people.

And even if they did meet they wouldn't have been able to pull it off. But this is something that should have been done years ago. I mean you've heard me say it many times. This should have been done 10 years, 15, 20 years ago. This shouldn't be done now where they have an arsenal of nuclear weapons. It should have never allowed to get to this point. With that being said, Chairman Kim wants to resolve the problem because he knew that we weren't playing around. I wasn't playing around. He's not playing around. We have a very -- I really say for, you know, for a fairly short term relationship because it was unbelievably hostile, the rhetoric. Rhetorically it was unbelievably hostile. And I think we have a very good relationship. We understand each other.

BAIRER: You know, you were asked in the press conference a number of different times in different ways about human rights and, you know, that you called this relationship really good and that he was very talented person. You know, you call people sometimes killers. He is a killer. He's executing people.

THE PRESIDENT: He's a tough guy. Hey, when you take over a country, tough country, tough people and you take it over from your father, I don't care who you are, what you are, how much of an advantage you have. If you can do that at 27 years old, I mean that's one in 10,000 that could do that. So he's a very smart guy. He's a great negotiator, but I think we understand each other.

BAIRER: But I mean he has still done some really bad things.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. But so have a lot of other people done some really bad things. I mean I could go through a lot of nations where a lot of bad things were done. Now look, with all of that being said, the answer is yes, I'm going from today. I'm going from maybe 90 days ago because we really started this -- we got a call that he was going to the Olympics. He would like to go to the Olympics and that was sort of the beginning of what we have right now. And we are very far down the line. You saw the agreement -- nobody thought we were going to have an agreement like that. And things were given to me as you know from the news conference, things were given to me, Bret, that were not even part of the agreement. I got them after we had signed the agreement.

BAIRER: And so verification, you are confident you can set up --

THE PRESIDENT: I'm totally confident. And if we can't, we can't have a deal. We have to be -- you know, it has to be verified. But one of the things that really I'm happy is that the soldiers that died in Korea, their remains are going to be coming back home. And we have thousands of people that have asked for that, thousands and thousands of people. So many people asked when I was on the campaign, I don't have any relationship, but they said when you can, president, we would love our son to be brought back home -- you know, the remains. And I asked -- we had pretty much finished and I said would you do me a favor? The remains of these great fallen heroes, can we do something? He agreed to it immediately. It was pretty great.

BAIRER: Why do you think Kim raced to complete his nuclear program and then decide to give it up?

THE PRESIDENT: I think psychologically he felt it was important and I understand that. But again, this should not have been happening now. This should have happened years ago. And I'm not blaming President Obama, I'm saying during Obama, during Bush, during Clinton -- this should have happened. Clinton got played. I mean when you look at what happened, he gave billions of dollars and it was like just a total waste of money.

BAIRER: So does this summit thing, you seem like you like it, and interacting with these world leaders -- G-7 got a little rocky. And there was a question about that.

THE PRESIDENT: It really wasn't rocky when I left, it was great. In fact, I spoke to Prime Minister Abe. It was great when I left. I spoke to him just recently. I just told him about what had happened and he said it's amazing because you left it was like -- I negotiated a different kind of deal than they wanted but I was ok with it I thought. And then I saw what took place at this news conference. I said that is not really what happened.

BAIRER: So does this make you want to sit down with Vladimir Putin?

THE PRESIDENT: No, but the question was asked by a reporter. It used to be the G-8, Russia was included. And about four or five years ago they expelled Russia. And a reporter asked me do you think you would be better off with Russia and I said absolutely. You know, we spend probably 25 percent of our time talking about Russia. I said to myself, wouldn't it be better if they were here? Now, I'm not for Russia. I'm for the United States. But as an example, if Vladimir Putin were sitting next to me today instead of one of the others and we were having dinner the other night in Canada I could say would you do me a favor? Would you get out of Syria? Would you do me a favor? Would you get out of Ukraine? Get out of Ukraine, you should be there. Just come on. I think I would probably have a good relationship with him or I would be able to talk to him better than if you call somebody on the telephone and talk. If I'm sitting like I was with the others -- for instance new prime minister of Italy. He is a great guy. We had a great relationship. He agrees with me on Putin, by the way, I have to tell you. But this wasn't anything that was up for a vote. This was a reporter asking a question. I said yes, I think it's better off as a G-8 rather than a G-7 and a lot of people agree with me. But I will tell you as an example, if he were at that meeting I could ask him to do things that are good for the world, that are good for our country, that are good for him.

BAIRER: In spite of all that he's done to us? Do you think he's going to --

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, but he didn't -- I'm not sticking up for anybody. I'm just saying this, he didn't respect our leadership previously. He walked all over them. Look what he did to Obama with Crimea. He took Crimea. He took Ukraine -- I mean sections of Ukraine --

BAIRER: -- which is why he got kicked out of the G-8.

THE PRESIDENT: No, I know but he didn't respect our leadership. He didn't respect it and so -- but this wasn't me. You know people say well, look what he did. He did it to Obama. Obama should not have allowed that to happen -- even with the voter stuff. Supposedly the FBI went to Obama. They told him about it. He didn't do anything about it.

BAIRER: Do you think North Korea in this few days here has changed the dynamic in the midterm elections and today where do you think the midterm elections in your head are?

THE PRESIDENT: So Bret -- I saw on your show and I've seen 120 days ago we were down 16 points. Now I see Reuters has us up 2 and another one was up 6 and one it was down 3. I think it's a whole different ball game. I think the economy is so good. I think the tax cuts have been incredible, far greater than even I thought they would be. The regulation cuts have been great. I mean I've done more in 500 days than any president has ever done in their first 500 days. There's nobody close, and that's not -- that's a lot of people saying that. People that would rather not say it are saying it. And I really think that we are going to do very good. Now, history is against me because history for whatever reason, you win the election and then you lose lots of seats. I think we are going to do very well, I really do. The economy is doing so well. We are doing so well as a nation. I think we are going to surprise people and if you look at the numbers and if you look at the kind of turnouts like Texas, how many people showed up to vote as an example, how many Republicans showed up to vote -- people were very surprised.

BAIRER: Mr. President, your people are a little tired because they can't hang with you for 26 hours, so we're going to wrap it up there.

THE PRESIDENT: We're holding up -- I'm very impressed because we are holding up Air Force One for you.

BAIRER: I know. Thank you -- sir.

THE PRESIDENT: That's pretty good. That's a big plane to be holding.

BAIRER: Thank you for the time.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Thank you very much -- Bret. Appreciate it.

BAIRER: Appreciate it.

Donald J. Trump, Interview with Bret Bairer of Fox News Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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