Interview with Lou Dobbs of FOX Business Network
Dobbs: In nine months in office, you've already accomplished more in the way of job creation. The move in the equities markets has been extraordinary and record setting. All of the indexes, at or near record levels. You have accomplished so much in that nine months. And yet, as you say, we need tax reform. You're meeting resistance from within your own party. You're meeting resistance from the Democrats. How do you move from here?
The President: Well, I think we're going to get it. I think these Senators are going to come together. I think the House is looking really good, you know, they're passing this bill along very rapidly. In fact, that's going to happen hopefully today. And I did make a couple of calls. I said -- fellas, please, no changes. Just pass it along. We have to get tax cuts. And just pass it along.
We have to get tax cuts. And just pass it along. Now normally, they want to make their 15 points or their 20 points and then it has to go back and it has to be re-voted and everything else. I said just pass it along. And they said think we're going to do that. And let's see what happens.
But I think they're going to do that. And so look, we have actually in the Republican Party, in a true sense, we have great unity. Look at the Democrats with Bernie Sanders who got absolutely taken advantage of by the DNC. And now see it, you know, all the stuff coming out. You see worse happening.
But you look at Hillary and Bernie, that's big league stuff. We have very, very minor -- we have great unity. I was with the Senate yesterday, the entire Republican Senate. And other than two people, I tell you, there was a lot of love in that room.
Dobbs: A lot of love and a lot to get done.
The President: A lot to get done. Yes.
Dobbs: And -- and the -- and tax reform is critical because of what you have established as the standard now for economic growth under the Trump presidency, tax reform is going to be absolutely critical to driving that growth, job creation and bringing capital back, which you've been talking about for two years before you were elected --
The President: For many years.
The President: Many years before.
Dobbs: So where do we go, in terms of capital repatriation for corporate America, how do you incentivize corporations to get back to America with all of that money for investment in jobs, plant equipment, research and development?
The President: So we have many things. Number one, we're bringing the corporate rate down to 20 percent from 35 percent. That's a massive -- this will be the biggest tax --
The President: ...cut in history. In the history of our country. And that's great. And we need it. Because right now, our country's about the highest taxed or certainly one of the highest taxed in the world. And we can't have that. So we're going to have a country that's toward the lower end. I can't say it's the lowest. You know, Ireland is going now lower and others are going lower.
They played the game a lot better than our people have played the game, I can tell you that. But we're going to have a country that's going to have tax incentive now. And we are going to bring back -- you know, I've been talking and I even heard you say it not so long ago -- two and a half trillion.
But you and I have both been using that number for years.
Dobbs: A conservative number
The President: That number is much higher now, because it's, you know, built up over the years. And I would be surprised if it weren't close to $4 trillion. That money's coming back. And nobody would bring it back now because the tax is so astronomical, they'd have to be desperate to bring it back.
I mean any company that would bring it back and pay the tax that they have to pay, which probably ends up being close to 40 percent, who's going to pay that to bring money back in? So what they do is they leave their money in these other places and other countries and they spend it there and they create a lot of additional wealth there.
We want the money coming back here. But it could be $4 trillion. And what we're doing is substantially lowering the tax. And we're also getting rid of all the bureaucratic hurdles. It wasn't just the tax. I have friends that want to bring money back. The amount of work they have to do to get the approval to bring the money back is absolutely ridiculous.
So that's going away also.
Dobbs: And the middle class -- you say this is for the middle class and small business and the pass-through rates are all very attractive. What do you expect the impact to be for working men and women, the middle class, those who aspire to be in the middle class?
The President: You know, we've done so well. Pretty much record setting, certainly record setting for nine months in so many different ways. Nine months of a presidency. But you look at the market, how well it's doing, so you'd say well why do you have to do anything. We can actually do better.
And I think we will do better. We are going to have so many jobs created by what we're doing. And you know, we're going to have companies that aren't going to be leaving our country anymore. You look at what's happened over the last 25 years, you go down and take a look at Mexico --
The President: -- and see how many car companies have built these massive factories in Mexico. Not here. We want them built in Michigan, and Ohio, and our places. And they just leave, and they fire everybody, and they go and open up plants. That's not going to be happening anymore, plus they're going to be penalized in many different ways if they do it.
Dobbs: Well you're the first President to talk openly and honestly about offshoring of production, the outsourcing of jobs. Millions of jobs --
The President: It's terrible.
Dobbs: that -- that have begun, under your administration, to come back to the country. The idea that made in America, buy in America, hire in America, how -- how likely is it that that can actually be realized with a -- with a business community that has fought those on the wrong side of those issues for a very long time?
The President: Well you're right, and it's surprising to me. For instance, NAFTA is a horrible agreement, one of the worst trade deals ever. It's just one of the worst. Although TPP, which I terminated before it got signed -- before it got finished, someday hopefully people will be thanking. That would have been one of the great disasters of all times, in terms of trade. --
The President: And a lot of people understand that, but a lot of people don't. But I was very honored to have just terminated that. And we'll do bilateral deals with all those countries. We'll do it great. And if they don't do -- treat us properly, we'll do a termination or we'll do whatever we want to do. These deals, once you get into them --
Dobbs: How likely is it that there will be a resolution on NAFTA in these current negotiations? --
The President: OK. So I would say this. In order to have a resolution -- because right now, Mexico and Canada have such a great deal -- it's so good that it's very hard for them to get used to the fact that it can't be that way anymore. And as you know, Mexico has an election coming up and they have a number of people that are running and they're very pro Mexico.
Which is -- in fact, they wore a hat -- a green hat that says, "Make Mexico Great Again." They call them -- they call them the Donald Trump of politics. They have a couple of them, actually. And it's very hard. I said, you -- you negotiate -- I tell my people. I say, right now, it's going to be very hard. And in my opinion, in order to make a fair deal with NAFTA, you have to terminate the deal and you have to see where you're going to come. And we'll come out
But I think you have to give them -- to make a fair deal and a great deal, and you see what's going on, we're being very tough and we're being very fair. But we have to get back a lot. What's happened to this country with NAFTA is unbelievable. The jobs that have been taken, the factories that are moving out of our -- out of Michigan, out of Ohio, out of Pennsylvania, out of our states is incredible.
So what are the chances? I think the chances, ultimately, are good. But right now, I think my people are going to have to get tougher.
Dobbs: And --
The President: And I told them that.
Dobbs: So as you look at the agreement that has, by the most conservative estimates, costs the United States $1 trillion over the course of -- over the course of the past 23 years since its inception --
The President: But look at it a different way.
The President: We have a trade deficit with Mexico. --
The President: Mexico's wonderful. But we have a trade deficit with Mexico of $71 billion a year. This is Mexico. We weren't talking about China, which is much worse. --
The President: We have a trade deficit right now with Mexico of $71 billion. People can't believe it. --
Dobbs: There was a --
The President: That we have trade deficits -- well, we have trade deficits with almost everybody. --
Dobbs: Every --
The President: But we're changing that.
Dobbs: The -- when you focus first on free trade, people are like -- oh, my gosh. He's talking like an isolationist, --
The President: It's unbelievable.
Dobbs: a protectionist. And then they started looking at the numbers to see that we are, amongst all of our trading partners that this country is the only one who said, "You know, please, take what you want. We don't have to have a mature, intelligent relationship with you. We don't have to have balanced trade." Every other major partner does precisely that.
The President: The WTO, World Trade Organization, was set up for the benefit for everybody but us.
The President: They have taken advantage of this country like you wouldn't believe.
And I say to my people, you tell them, like as an example, we lose the lawsuits, almost all of the lawsuits in the WTO -- within the WTO.
Because we have fewer judges than other countries. It's set up as you can't win. In other words, the panels are set up so that we don't have majorities. It was set up for the benefit of taking advantage of the United States. NAFTA and I tell people and I tell good people, they hear me -- I'm going to be very tough with NAFTA.
But they hear I'm getting tough with -- they said 'please don't touch it.' I say, listen. I'm going to make the detail better. 'Oh, don't touch it.' I said, supposing I don't terminate it, but I make it better. 'Oh, don't touch it.' And I say, why would they not want me to make it better?
Even if assuming you leave it the way it is, which we may or we may not. It depends how the negotiation turns out. We may not. But look, they don't even want you to touch it, even if you tell them, we're going to make it better. Then you say to yourself, what's going on. And then you say, well they must be on the other side of the deal too. And they are. They have companies that have factories in Mexico.
The President: But I'm not interested in them, I'm interested here.
Dobbs: The role of business in this country, critical, off fundamental to the -- to the country's wellbeing and its future to the creation of jobs. But business has taken such a voice in this town, in this swamp that you are the only countervailing influence to that dominance of U.S. multinationals in this country. And it's -- the country owes you a great debt on so much. But on that in particular. And I --
The President: That's very interesting. It's well put. It's true.
Dobbs: And you have focused from June 16th of 2015 on the relationship of our borders, our sovereignty, our economy, whether you're looking at the opioid crisis in this country or the import of drugs that all crosses that border. You're being pushed back against, by the leadership of the House and the Senate on the issue of funding a wall in its entirety.
You have been pushed back against talking about changing all of those trade agreements, again, all the external issues that are so critical to the country's future, your vision for this country. How in the world are we going to be able to deal with all of these issues if you -- if you cannot bring the Republican party together?
The President: I really think they're coming along. I really do. I think they are coming along. One thing you didn't mention which you will mention and I know you talk about it is the power of the pharmaceutical companies.
Dobbs: Oh, yes.
The President: We pay so much more for the same pill, prescription drugs than other countries. You go to Canada -- people go to Canada to buy prescriptions.
We pay for the exact same pill, made from same plant, the same company, we pay in many cases, many, many times more than they're paying in other countries. So we're subsidizing the world in terms of prescription drugs. It's ridiculous. And it's going to stop.
The problem I have is these companies give so much -- I mean the contributions are massive, just massive, the amount. But we do have -- there are a lot of good people that are seeing what's going on. And I think we'll be successful in that. Next week, I'm going to declaring an emergency, national emergency on drugs.
The opioid is a tremendous emergency, what's going on there. The drugs pouring into the country have gotten -- and I tell you what, we've made a big impact. But still, we need the wall. You know, part of the reason we need the wall is for drugs.
Dobbs: For drugs?
The President: Forgetting even about people, we need a wall for drugs. And the wall's coming along. You know, we're building right now prototypes. We have six prototypes. I'm going to be looking at them over the next three weeks.
Dobbs: Do you have a favorite yet?
The President: Well, you know, it's funny. It's very interesting. Almost glad you asked because it's actually pretty easy to understand. You think of a wall as a wall. But honestly you do need some see through ability because you don't know who's – if you do pure concrete which is a wall then you can't see who's on the other side.
You know you have a wall that's this thick and you can't see who's on the other side. So, we're going to need some see through abilities. So, I'm going to be going down. We actually have six prototypes that are all very top of the line. Done with Homeland Security.
We have some incredible people, if you look at the Border Patrol, if you look at the ICE agents and I've had –
Dobbs: Tough job.
The President: But I've had the people at that level. Those are the people, they know so much. They know more than anybody and they also know the wall and the wall systems. And, we're going to take a look at the wall and we're going to get it built and it's going to be – it's going to be quite the wall. It's going to be very effective.
Dobbs: You're obviously enthused about what you're going to get done. You've got to be immensely gratified at what you've been able to do often with a recalcitrant Congress and Senate. Going forward, there's another wall and there's a wall that's just fallen between the American public, the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton's campaign.
The President: Right.
Dobbs: They funded something called the Trump dossier which they ballyhooed for some time. We now know who paid for it. The DNC and Hillary Clinton and one, as yet, unnamed republican. Do you want to –
The President: Wonder who that might be?
Dobbs: Do you have a suspect?
The President: I think I know but you know I'll let them find out. They're going to find out eventually just like they did – don't forget Hillary Clinton totally denied this. She didn't know anything. She knew nothing. All of a sudden they found out. What I was amazed at, it's almost $6 million that they paid and it's totally discredited, it's a total phony. I call it fake news.
The President: It's disgraceful. It's disgraceful.
Dobbs: I think her word that she likes to use, it's so serviceable about that dossier, debunked. It's been debunked.
The President: And then, I understand recently she said well opposition research. Opposition research is very standard. So, it's very interesting, she denied it, her own people denied it. Everybody denied it and now they're sort of scooting around trying to figure out what to say.
So, they spent, if you think of it, almost $6 million on something like that and I think honestly I just think it's a disgrace.
Dobbs: And, contemporaneously, suddenly the House Intelligence Committee, the House Oversight Committee are turning to the Democratic Party and talking about – not talking about but beginning the investigation of something called Collusion with the Russians.
The President: That's the real collusion. Believe me.
Dobbs: You r thoughts?
The President: There was no collusion on my side. I can tell you that. Everybody knew it. You knew it because you were saying it when it was not in vogue but I always said and I had no idea how right I was because I didn't realize it would be for this extent.
The President: But I always said this was an excuse for losing the election put out by the democrats and that's what it was. But then when you hear the kind of money they spent and when you see all of the things about Podesta and you see all of the relationships that they actually have with Russia and you see in hers.
You know one thing that is interesting and I have to say even the democrats they walk out of those meetings and they say no there is no collusion and we haven't found any yet but we'll keep going.
The President: A wonderful man came to my office a week ago. A very highly respected man and he sat down and he said, "You know it's been very unfair. From the day you have been president you've been under this little veil of Russia, Russia, Russia." And with all of this being said, I want to say this, I think it would be great if we got along with Russia.
I don't think there's anything wrong with – you know they are a power, they're a nuclear power. I think we could have a good relationship. I think that North Korean situation would be easier settled. And I just spoke to the President of China, I congratulated him on his big victory. But it would be wonderful if we could speak to China and Russia. Because China is helping us and maybe Russia's going through the other way and hurting what we're getting.
I mean when I say maybe, I think I know exactly what I'm talking about. If we had a relationship with Russia, that would be a good thing, not a bad thing.
Dobbs: Relationships -- you were criticized for even trying to court, if you will, President Xi of China. Everyone, the so-called intelligentsia of this country's foreign policy establishment, said you're wasting your time, it just can't be done. And obviously you've made significant progress with him and --
The President: Just spoke to him a few minutes ago, just before I walked into the room. You know, something has been given to him that's never been --
The President: -- it's really virtually never happened in China. He's been given powers that nobody's --
Dobbs: -- written into the constitution.
The President: He's a powerful man. I happen to think he's a very good person. Now with that being said, he represents China, I represent the USA, so, you know, there's going to always be conflict. But we have a very good relationship. People say we have the best relationship of any president-president, because he's called president also.
Now some people might call him the king of China. But he's called president. But we have a very good relationship and that's a positive thing. And it would be good to have that relationship with Russia and other countries, too.
Dobbs: Hopefully the whole world. Anything to report to America on your conversation with President Xi?
The President: No, but I'll be going there in two weeks.
The President: And we're going to Beijing and other places, wherever he'd like to take me. And we'll be spending two days there. And we're going also to Japan and South Korea. And it will be, I think -- hopefully it's historic and positive and we have to solve the North Korea problem. It's a very big problem.
It should have never been given to me. This should have been solved long before I came to office, when it would have been easier to solve. But it was given to me and I get it solved. I solve problems. I'm very happy with the way the markets are going, I'm very happy with all of the regulation cuts and all of the things we've done and that's what's driving the markets.
Dobbs: You're nearing a decision on who will chair the fed.
The President: I am.
Dobbs: Any hints?
The President: So I really have it down to two and maybe three people. And I think over the next very short period of time I'll be announcing it. It won't be a big shock. It was sort of interesting, the way it comes out. And you've been talking about the various people on your show, which I watch absolutely almost all the time, even if it means TiVo or whatever device you happen to be using at the time.
Dobbs: We appreciate it.
The President: But no, your show is fantastic. So I'll be announcing this role over the next pretty short period of time.
Dobbs: All right. And you --
The President: Do you have a preference, out of curiosity?
Dobbs: I do, and --
The President: Tell me who your preference is.
Dobbs: I think I -- may I constrain myself?
The President: Yes.
Dobbs: Because an ad hoc advisor to the president --
The President: No, but I'd love to hear it. You could even cut it out if you want. You don't have to -- I would love to hear you. I only want that from people I respect.
Dobbs: I personally believe that Janet Yellen might be worth keeping.
The President: I tell you what, she was in my office three days ago. She was very impressive. I liked her a lot. I mean, it's somebody that I am thinking about. I would certainly think about it. In one way, I have to say --
Dobbs: I haven't been utterly rejected --
The President: No, no. In one way, I have to say you'd like to make your own mark.
The President: You understand that.
The President: You like to make your own mark, which is maybe one of the things she's got a little bit against her. But I think she's terrific. We had a great talk. And we're obviously doing very well together, you look at the markets.
Dobbs: And I'm saying that, by the way, not being any fan of interest rate hikes by the fed here, and as has been discussed since December of 2015. I have to ask you in conclusion -- and I really appreciate your time, as does our audience -- you came into this job fighting like hell. And you are fighting like hell every day. --
The President: More than I thought.
Dobbs: I -- I -- that's --
The President: I came in. I said I'm going to fight like hell. I didn't realize -- I had -- it's even more -- more so than I thought. But that's the way it is. And that's good.
Dobbs: And I've got to ask you, I mean, you're one of the most -- I would say, by the left particularly, reviled, even hated men to ever hold your post. --
The President: I would say so.
Dobbs: You're also one of the most loved and respected --
The President: I would say that also.
Dobbs: in history. And how does that feel? How -- where is Donald Trump today, as you are just now beginning your presidency?
The President: So the one thing that I really thought -- because I thought I was treated very unfairly by the press during the campaign. --
Dobbs: Without question --
The President: And when I won, I said, "The good news is, now they'll start treating me well." But they got much worse.
The President: Lou, they put on stories and CNN, and on NBC, and CBS, and ABC, and NBC being an offshoot also with the MSNBC, which is ridiculous. They put on stories that are so false. They have so-called sources that, in my opinion, don't exist. You know, they'll say, "Sources have said," they don't know.
They're sitting down, they just -- they make it up. It is so dishonest. It is so fake. And you know, I have come up with some pretty good names for people. There's -- I think one of the best names is -- you know, I've really started this whole fake news thing. Now they've turned it around and then, now they're calling, you know, stories put out by different -- by Facebook fake. And they're fake.
What could be more fake than CBS, and NBC, and ABC, and CNN when you look at some of these stories? And when you look at the amount of negative -- I know when I do well and when I do badly. --
The President: I know a good story from a bad story. But when you have a really good story and they make it bad, I'll say to my wife, "Oh, tonight, I'm going to enjoy watching television because I did great, and wait until you see this." And then, they put it on and it's like -- oh, that's not so good. They are fake news.
And the good thing about social media is that I have so many millions of people, so many -- I guess, 128 million. You could add up -- you know, you add up all the different platforms -- massive social media. At least I can put out -- it's not that I want to do that. I'd rather not do it. I would love to not do it at all. But at least I can put out the truth. And I can put out the real word. And people agree. And if you look at the level of approval of the -- of media -- of general media --
The President: if you look at it from the day I started running to now, I'm so proud that I have been able to convince people how fake it is -- because it has taken a nosedive. --
Dobbs: Yes. And --
The President: Except for your show, of course -- and Sean, and a few of them. Right?
The President: There's some very good ones. And I have to say, Fox has treated me fairly. And I don't mean good, but they've treated me fairly. I don't want to be treated good. I just want to be treated fairly.
Dobbs: Well -- I -- you -- you are a, if I may say, everything as advertised as you ran for President. And appreciate everything you're doing. Thanks so much.
The President: We're getting it done. I will promise you, we're getting it done. And it's happened -- a lot has already happened. Thank you very much, it's an honor.
Dobbs: Mr. President, thank you.
The President: Thank you. Thank you.
Donald J. Trump, Interview with Lou Dobbs of FOX Business Network Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/332167