Photo of Donald Trump

Interview with Maria Bartiromo on Fox Business Network

April 11, 2017

The President. For them, at some point very soon, I think we're doing very well on health care. It's been very much miss reported that we failed with health care. We haven't failed, we're negotiating and we continue to negotiate and we will save perhaps nine hundred billion dollars. You know if you look at, if you look at the kind of numbers that we're talking about, that's all going back into the taxes. We have to do healthcare first to pick up additional money so that we get great tax reform. So, we're going to have a phenomenal tax reform. But, I have to do healthcare first. I want to do it first, to really do it right. Health care has been going along you know it's a negotiation so I do. And it's just a negotiation. And it's going to take a little while longer but as you probably hear in Congress is coming along with some great people at congress. They want it to happen. We will have no Democrats. Zero. That means we have to get close to a hundred percent of the Republicans. Not an easy way to run a government. You saw that with Justice Gossage which is we're very proud of but he had no almost no democrat support even though he was central casting like the perfect Supreme Court Judge. So, we'll see what happens. I think we're doing very well with health care which surprises us like breaking news but they all know it they just don't tend to write it and after that we're going to start on tax reform and infrastructure.

Bartiromo. But do you have to do a health care before tax return? When I speak with business managers they say tax reform is so much more impactful to moving the needle on economic worlds

The President. They're all right but because I'm saving a tremendous amount hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars we're saving on health care so we're going to have a much better plan than Obamacare, which is failing. Even now, as I came in here, they're saying payments have to be made that weren't scheduled to be made on Obamacare. If you don't make them, it fails. I mean you know it's just a mess. Obamacare is a total mess so we're saving tremendous amounts of money on health care when we get this done, number one. And most importantly actually, we're going to have great health care. And all of that saving goes into the tax. If you don't do that, you can't put any of these savings into the tax cuts and the tax reform

Bartiromo. How do you know you're not going to have a similar battle and on the tax reform to be because you've got a border adjustment act the deductions? So who's to say that tax reform doesn't fail the way the bill the House bill

The President. I think tax reform will be easier but it's going to be tough. You have a lot of people out there that what you know they have their own agendas including a lot of supporters of different people that are in Congress. They have their own agendas. They want certain things. Tax reform is going to be tough but it won't be as tough as healthcare. Healthcare is very very difficult. You look at that. Look at Hilary Clinton, that failed. And you look at so many of the others. Obamacare failed. Obamacare was just, you know, they just in the end just gave up just to get the vote. You look at what they had to do in Nebraska where they essentially gave it away for Nebraska to get that final vote

Bartiromo. And we know the premiums up 169 in Arizona and across the country

The President. Many many of the and this is going to be much worse year than last year for Obamacare. So Obamacare is a disaster. It's really gone, essentially it's gone. If Obamacare isn't bailed out almost on a monthly basis, it fails. It immediately fails. We have a great health care plan that I think will happen and if it happens then I go immediately to tax reform and that will happen. That will be easier than healthcare.

Bartiromo. How are you on the border adjustment tax? Have you decided?

The President. I haven't really wanted to talk about it. I have my own feelings. I don't like the word adjustment because our country gets taken advantage of, to use a nice term, by every other country in the world. So when I hear border adjustment, adjustment means we lose, we lose so I don't like to turn border adjustment.

Bartiromo. Any tax at the border?

The President. Let's call it an import tax let's call it a reciprocal tax you know we have

Bartiromo. [crosstalk] So it's in there? You want it?

The President. [crosstalk] Countries, where they charge our companies a hundred percent tax. If they sell a motorcycle or if they sell they make it in America. They make it in the United States. They sell it to various countries. They sell very little because the tax is a hundred percent in some countries. The tax is fifty percent thirty percent forty percent. But if they make a motorcycle and they sell it back into the United States, they have no tax. Now do you think that's fair? And you think that's smart? So I love the idea of reciprocal. You can call it a reciprocal or a matching tax or a mere tax or numerous terms but the reciprocal tax is very important. And you know, the funny thing is that nobody gets angry when you say reciprocal tax. When you say we're going to charge your border tax. We'd be a rich nation if we did it by the way. But you know but when you say reciprocal nobody fights you. When you say I'm going to charge a ten percent or a 20-percent border tax everyone goes crazy because they like free trade. Well they don't say that the other countries are charging you much more than that. But when you say a reciprocal tax, and I'm not saying that's what I'm doing, but there has to be a certain reciprocal nature to it. But when you say reciprocal tax nobody can get angry. Even the other countries if like they're charging you a fifty percent tax you say okay whatever you charge we will charge

Bartiromo. Like China and India?

The President. Then they may not like it but they can't get angry because they can't win that battle

Bartiromo. What if you have a debate you can't get to an agreement on that. Do you prefer just cutting taxes? If you have to do one, can you do just one?

The President. Yeah, we can keep trade and we can keep certain things separate. We may put it in the tax bill or we may make it separate. We have a lot of different things. Don't forget, we're going to be bringing back as part of this I think the number is closer to five trillion dollars. You know you've been hearing, you've been using, and you keep using two and a half trillion right? But the money the corporate inversions and the money over there is two and a half trillion dollars. So I think that money because we've been saying that number for what five years

now, would you say? So I know it's much more. It's probably five trillion dollars or four trillion dollars. That money is coming back. We're going to charge a very small tax on that money and the companies are going to bring that money back into the United States and do lots of good things with it. Right now they can't bring it back and it's not only the high-techs it's also because the bureaucracy is so horrible. I have friends that want to bring money back, even if they were willing to pay the tax which very few people are willing, the bureaucracy the paperwork the the work to get it in it's not worth it

Bartiromo. Which is why you're rolling back to go through your executive orders? You're rolling back regulations. So if you have to do one, corporate tax or individual tax, what's more important? If you had to do one this year

The President. Both. Both. I almost think individual from my standpoint because you know the middle class has just been taken advantage of in this country for so many years. But in terms of jobs I mean, I think, both. But I think probably corporate. But they gonna both go hand in hand. It's not going to matter.

Bartiromo. Have you moved off of this soft deadline that your team put in place of August to get this done? Are you looking at the later in the year?

The President. Well you know, I put a deadline on health care and the fake news immediately went crazy because when I didn't make the deadline don't forget I said withdraw I didn't even say take a vote I say withdraw. Well that same thing is being negotiated and great points are being won and lost. The great points are being won that are going to lower premiums and make our health care incredible. But by putting a deadline they say "Trump didn't make it he didn't make it." So I don't want to put deadlines. Health care is going to happen at some point. Now, if it doesn't happen fast enough I'll start the taxes. But the tax reform and the tax cuts are better if I can do healthcare first

Bartiromo. What about infrastructure? How do you see it? When do you see it?

The President. Very soon. I see it as part perhaps of the health care plan because phase two of the health care plan, in order to get the votes, I need sixty percent for that and if I put that in the Democrats are actually going to love the infrastructure plan. So we're going to actually, I believe, despite their tremendous hostility for years this isn't just for Trump this is for years. It's been so hostile. You know, when I used to come to Washington, because I've been a very political person all my life even though I'm not on this side of the equation. But I've been very very political. I used to see Democrats and Republicans, they were best friends and they'd fight a little bit during the day and then they'd have dinner with their families at night you'd see them at restaurants. They used to joke look at this look at this and you know a Republican

Bartiromo. They would have a coffee together

The President. Yeah, they'd be together. Have breakfast together, then they go and fight and then they have lunch. Today you don't see that. The level of hatred is incredible and I'm not just saying in the last 90 days, I'm saying this has been for the last few years. It's incredibly divisive

Bartiromo. Has it gotten in the way of getting things done?

The President. Well, an example on health care, I won't get one Democrat vote even though many of them think it's an incredible plan. Take a look at Justice Gorsuch. You can't get better. Top of the line in every aspect and he got three votes from the Democrats. Should have gotten all of them. Got three votes and those three people, you know, are to be respected for doing it. But it's there's a great level of hostility and they're putting their putting their hatred way way above way above the country and the benefit to the country. You know, things that they do can have such benefit so I probably I always assume no Democrat votes. Now, the good thing is we have the house, we have the Senate, and we have the White House. So, we're all set. But within there, you have certain factions. You have the conservative Republicans. You have the modern Republican. Soon you have to get them together, but we need close to a hundred percent. That's a pretty hard thing to get but we get it.

[broadcast break]

The President. I'm going to build the wall one hundred percent. In fact, we had hundreds of bidders. We have many many designs. I've seen 10 of the top but I want to see more. And what I'm doing is I said to very great secretaries who are doing a great job General Kelly because you see the numbers where they're down sixty-eight percent. Nobody's ever seen numbers it's like on a record in fact people aren't even trying to get through anymore because they know they can't. It's incredible what's happened but on the wall we're looking at designs and we're going to be making a decision very shortly.

[broadcast break]

The President. We've done an amazing job on regulations. We've freed it up, we freed up this country so much. The miners and energy and the banking system is now coming to with dodd-frank which is a disaster.

We freed up so much and we're getting great great credit for we have done so much for so many people. I don't think that there is a presidential period of time in the first 100 days where anyone's done merely what we've been able to do.

On top of it, we just had during the first 100 days a Supreme Court justice approved. Not just nominated, but approved to a very very hostile environment. I am waiting right now for so many people.

Bartiromo. You Understand

The President. Hundreds and hundreds of people, and then they'll say why isn't Trump doing this faster? You can't do it faster because they are obstructing their obstructionists.

So I have people, hundreds of people, that we're trying to get through. I mean you have to see the backlog okay. Get them through and then the newspapers will say "Trump doesn't get them through." Well, nothing to do with me statutorily.

You have to go through this process. So it's been a lousy process. It has taken a long time to get my cabinet done and as you know it's not even done now.

This is record stuff. You know we're talking about records in terms of time and it's it's very sad. Well, you see, even again with the Supreme Court judge that everybody agrees is outstanding and you see what that process is.

Bartiromo. Absolutely and the American people know what I think

The President. I think they know. I think they get it. I wish it would be explained better. The obstruction is nature though because a lot of times I'll say why doesn't so and so have people under him or her. The reason is because we can't get them approved.

Bartiromo. Well, people are still wondering though. They're scratching their heads why so

many Obama era staffers are still here. For example, was it a mistake not to ask Jim Comey to step down from the eye of the FBI at the outside of your presidency? Is it too late now to ask him

to step down?

The President. No, it's not too late. But you know I have confidence and we'll see what happen. You know it's, it's going to be interesting. But you know we have to just look. I have so many people that want to come into this administration. They're so excited about this administration and what's happening. Bankers, law enforcement, everybody wants to come into this administration. Don't forget when Jim Comey came out, he saved Hillary Clinton. People don't realize that he saved her life because I call it Comey one, and I joke about it a little bit.

When he was reading those charges, she was guilty on every charge and then he said she was essentially okay. Well,

Bartiromo. That's why I'm asking

The President. No, I'm just saying well because I want to give everybody a good fair chance. Director Comey was very very good to Hillary Clinton that I can tell you. If he weren't, she would be right now going to trial

Bartiromo. Are you going to push that? Are you going to

The President. I don't want to talk about that right now. All I want to talk about, I want to talk about positive

Bartiromo. In the last weeks of the Obama presidency, he changed all the rules in terms of the intelligence agencies allowing them to sheer raw data

The President. Terrible

Bartiromo. Why do you think he did this?

The President. Well, I'm going to let you figure that one out but it's so obvious, when you look at Susan Rice, of what's going on. And so many people are coming up to me and apologizing. Now they say, "you know you were right when you said that." Perhaps I didn't know how right I was because nobody knew the extent of it

Bartiromo. When you sent that tweet, was that what you were referring to?

The President. Well, sure we're talking about surveillance. It was wiretapped. In quotes New York Times had the word wiretapped in the headline of the first edition. Then, they took it out of there fast when they realized I put wiretapped in quotes. Meaning, because look wiretapping is old fashioned. Again, that's too many wires. Any room will have a lot of wires. Look at this room. This room, you just have a lot of wires. Now it doesn't have to have so many wires but we talked about surveillance or whatever, and you look at the extent of the surveillance me and so many other people it's, it's terrible

Bartiromo. She said she didn't do it for political reasons. Susan Rice told Anna Mae

The President. Does anybody really believe that? Nobody believes that. Even the people that try to protect her in the news media. It's such a big story and I'm sure it will continue forward, but what they did is horrible.

[broadcast break]

Bartiromo. The Syria strike, has damaged our relationship with Russia?

The President. That I don't know. I can't tell you. But I can tell you that I think aligning yourself with the Sun is a big mistake because he's a butcher. And I think it's very bad for Russia and I think they ought to get peace fast.

[broadcast break]

The President. We're not going into Syria because you know there were some questions Nikki Haley's doing a great job Rex is doing a fantastic job our Secretary of State a general McMaster fantastic but if you add it all up and if they take every little word they'll say oh they were different. Just so you understand. We're not going into Syria. But when I see people using horrible horrible chemical weapons which they agreed not to use under the Obama administration but they violated it.

Bartiromo. They said they got rid of them

The President. Look, what I did should have been done by the Obama administration a long time before I did it and you would have had a much better I think Syria would be a lot better off right now than it has been

Bartiromo. Obama pushed he resisted to it

The President. When I looked he we didn't do it. I don't know what happened, but he didn't do it. In fact, they had a big attack right after he drew the red line in the sand. Had a very big attack and everybody waited. What's going on and nothing happened. And even the Obama people admitted he was wrong for not doing it. I will tell you that when I looked at the pictures on any show or any newspaper but especially when you see them on television and you see these beautiful kids that are dead in their father's arms or you see kids gasping for life, you know, it's over it's over for them. They're hosing them down. Hundreds of them. When you see that, I immediately called General Mattis. I said "what can we do" and they came back with a number of different alternatives and we hit them very hard. Now, are we going to get involved with Syria? No. But if I see them using gas and using things that I mean even some of the worst tyrants in the world didn't use the kind of gases that they use and some of the gases are unbelievably potent. So, when I saw that, I said we have to do something. You should have peace in Syria. It's enough and frankly you know we talked the chemicals because you know people just don't see this the level of brutality. The level of viciousness. But when they drop barrel bombs and bombs of any kind, right on top of a civilian population, that's the worst thing. I've never seen anything like it. And frankly Putin is back in a person that's truly an evil person and I think it's very bad for Russia. I think it's very bad for mankind. It's very bad for this world, but when you drop gas or bombs or barrel bombs. They have these massive barrels with dynamite and they drop it right in the middle of a group of people. And in all fairness, you see the same kids no arms, no legs, no face. This is an animal and I really think that there's going to be a lot of pressure on Russia to make sure that piece happens. Because, frankly, if Russia didn't go in and back this animal you wouldn't have a problem right now. He was going to be overthrown. I thought he was gone. He had another week. I mean he was finished. He had nothing nothing and then Russia came in and saved him and then Obama made one of the worst deals in history with the Iran deal. So you really have Iran and you have Russia and you have Assad.

Bartiromo. You redirected Navy ships to go toward the Korean Peninsula. What are we doing right now in terms of North Korea?

The President. You never know do you, you never know

Bartiromo. That's all you're going to say?

The President. You know I don't talk about the military. I'm not like Obama where they talk about in four months we're rating, we're going to hit Mosel and in the meantime they get ready. And like you never saw look but they're still fighting Mosel was supposed to last for a week. Now they've been fighting it for many months and so many more people died. I don't want to talk about it. We are sending an armada, very powerful. We have submarines, very powerful. Far more powerful than the aircraft carrier that I can tell you. We have the best military people on earth and I will say this he is doing the wrong thing

Bartiromo. Do you think he's mentally fit?

The President. I don't know. I don't know. I don't know him, but he's doing the wrong thing. I had a very very good meeting with President Xi of China. Really liked him. We had a great chemistry. I think, I mean at least I had a great chemistry maybe he didn't like me but I think he liked me. We were going to have a 10 or 15 minutes sit down. It lasted for three hours. Then, the next day, it was another schedule because everything's very orderly with the Chinese frankly and we had meetings scheduled. Well, the 15 minutes on the first day lasted for three hours. The 15 minutes on the second day lasted for two hours just one-on-one the two of us with interpreters. And I mean we understand each other. I think he's, you know, a person that I got along with really. Where we had a good chemistry.

Bartiromo. Did he give you any suggestion that would help with North Korea? Did you get into trade and currency?

The President. First thing I brought up was North Korea. Can he help us with North Korea? Because we can't allow it and it's no good for you and you have a tremendous power because of train. He then explains thousands of years of history with Korea. Not that easy. In other words, it's not as simple as people would think. They've had tremendous conflict with Korea over the years. Now his father was in China four times. He was never in China. So I said look you have a tremendous power because of trading through the border. They don't get food. They don't get you know; they can't sell their coal. In fact, I hear today two massive coal ships from North Korea we sent back to North Korea heading to China. They were sent back which is a very good sign. But I think China can help us. I hope China can help us. We talked about trade and I can tell you china will do much better on trade if they help us

Bartiromo. And you think he knows that?

The President. I think he knows that. I told him that, yeah

Bartiromo. When you were with the president of China you're launching these military strikes. Was that planned? How did that come about that it's happening right then? Because right there you're saying a reminder here's who the superpower in the world is

The President. You have no idea how many people want to hear the answer to this. I have had, I have watched speculation for three days now on what that was like.

Bartiromo. When did you tell him? Before dessert?

The President. I will tell you only because you've treated me so good for so long I have to tell you, right? I was sitting at the table. We had finished dinner, we're now having dessert and we had the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake that you've ever seen. and President Xi was enjoying it and I was given the message from the generals that the ships are locked and loaded.

What do you do? And we made a determination to do it. So the missiles were on the way and I said "Mr. President, let me explain something to you." This is during dessert. "We've just fired 59 missiles", all of which hit by the way. Unbelievable from you know hundreds of miles away all of which hit. Amazing. Really it's so incredible, it's brilliant, it's genius. Our technology, our equipment is better than anybody body by a factor of five. I mean what we have in terms of technology nobody can even come close to competing. Now, we're going to start getting it because you know the military has been cut back and depleted so badly by the past administration and by the war in Iraq. Which, was another disaster. So what happens as I said "we've just launched 59 missiles heading to Iraq."

Bartiromo. Well you headed to Syria?

The President. Yes, heading toward Syria and I want you to know that because I didn't want him to go home. We're almost finished. Was a full day in Palm Beach, we're almost finished and I what does he do finishes dessert and go home and then they say you know the guy who just had dinner with just attacked.

Bartiromo. How did he react?

The President. So, he paused for 10 seconds and then he asked the interpreter to please say it again. I didn't think that was a good sign. And he said to me "anybody that uses gases, you could almost say or anything else, but anybody that was so brutal and uses gases to do that to young children and babies it's okay"

Bartiromo. He agreed?

The President. He was okay with it. He was ok, but we get along. There was a great feeling I think between the both of us. Now, we have two very different countries, two very different peoples but I think he understood the message and I understood what he was saying to me.

Donald J. Trump, Interview with Maria Bartiromo on Fox Business Network Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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