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Remarks and an Exchange With Reporters Prior to Departure for Havelock, North Carolina

September 09, 2019

The President. So thank you very much, everybody. Gianni Infantino is the head of FIFA.

Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) President Giovanni V. Infantino. Hello.

The President. He's the biggest man in soccer. And we are, as you probably know, getting the World Cup in 2026 for the United States. Some of it is a partnership with Mexico and Canada. And it's coming into the United States for a large percentage of the games, and we're very excited about it. Plus, Gianni and I just had a meeting on women's soccer and what everybody is going to do to make that even better and more equitable, et cetera, et cetera.

So, Gianni, thank you very much. We had a great meeting. Very big, though—we're getting the World Cup in 2026, so that's a big thing. Gianni, thank you for being here.

Mr. Infantino. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you. Well, indeed, it's fantastic to be here and to boost even more soccer in this country. Soccer, which is the number one global sport. World Cup 2026 taking place here. But we start already now. It's the biggest event ever. It's more than 4 billion viewers all around the world. And we will make it the biggest not only sports event, but the biggest social event that we can think of.

Soccer, which is a big part of this country as well. And women's soccer, where you are world champion, there is much more to do. The President was saying this to me, and he is right. And we are working on that, and we will announce very soon some new initiatives.

Thank you.

The President. Well, Gianni, we're going to have to extend my second term, because 2026—I'm going to have to extend it for a couple of years. I don't think any of you would have a problem with that. [Laughter] But I hope you're going to remember me in 2026.

Mr. Infantino. Oh, for sure. Oh, for sure. [Laughter]

The President. Thank you very much, Gianni.

Mr. Infantino. Thank you.

The President. You take care of yourself. Thank you.

Mr. Infantino. Thank you. My pleasure. I go.

Taliban-U.S. Peace Negotiations/Suicide Car Bombing in Kabul, Afghanistan

Q. Mr. President, are peace talks with the Taliban dead?

The President. Say it?

Q. Are peace talks with the Taliban dead? And why did you——

The President. They're dead. They're dead. As far as I'm concerned, they're dead.

They thought that they had to kill people in order to put themselves in a little better negotiating position. When they did that, they killed 12 people. One happened to be a great American soldier, a wonderful young man from Puerto Rico. Family is from Puerto Rico. And you can't do that. You can't do that with me.

So they're dead, as far as I'm concerned. And we've hit the Taliban harder in the last 4 days than they've been hit in over 10 years. So that's the way it is.

Q. Sir, why would you consider meeting with the Taliban, Mr. President?

Cancellation of the President's Planned Meeting With Taliban Leaders at Camp David, Maryland

Q. Did you get talked out of that meeting with Taliban?

The President. Say it? What?

Q. Did your administration, did your advisers, talk you out of that meeting with the Taliban?

The President. No. Actually, in terms of advisers, I took my own advice. I liked the idea of meeting. I've met with a lot of bad people and a lot of good people during the course of the last almost 3 years. And I think meeting is a great thing. I think that meeting with—you know, you're talking about war. There are meetings with war. Otherwise, wars would never end. You'd have them go on forever.

We had a meeting scheduled. It was my idea, and it was my idea to terminate it. I didn't even——

Q. [Inaudible]

The President. I didn't discuss it with anybody else. When I heard, very simply, that they killed one of our soldiers and 12 other innocent people, I said, "There's no way I'm meeting on that basis. There's no way I'm meeting." They did a mistake. And by the way, they are telling people they made a big mistake. They're saying it loud and clear that they made a big mistake.

John [John Roberts, Fox News].

Camp David, Maryland/Afghanistan/Taliban-U.S. Peace Negotiations

Q. Mr. President, why did you want to have them at Camp David? And what will you do about Afghanistan now?

The President. Well, Camp David has held meetings with a lot of people that would have been perceived as being pretty tough customers and pretty bad people. There have been plenty of so-called "bad people" brought up to Camp David for meetings. And the alternative was the White House, and you wouldn't have been happy with that either.

So Camp David would have been a good place, but I don't want to meet under circumstances where they go around and try and make themselves a little bit more important by killing a soldier; by killing, actually, also a great NATO soldier, in addition to our soldier; and also a total of 12 people. I don't want that.

But you know, Camp David has had many meetings that, I guess, people would not have considered politically correct.

Yes, Steve [Steve A. Holland, Reuters].

Q. Mr. President, could you address—[inaudible]—mishandling Russian intelligence?

Drawdown of U.S. Troops in Afghanistan

Q. Are you still going to draw down troops there? Or what's the status of that? The President. Well, we're looking at that, and we're thinking about it. You know, as I've said, we've been policemen there for a long time. And the Government is going to have to take responsibility or do whatever it is they do.

I've been saying, from the campaign, that we want to get out at the earliest possible time. We're doing a very good job. Our soldiers are incredible, but they're serving as policemen, to a large extent. I just made a statement on it. Yes, we'd like to get out, but we'll get out at the right time.

Q. Are you okay keeping the military as——

Q. [Inaudible]

The President. What?

Kashmir/India-Pakistan Relations

Q. Can I ask a question on India and Pakistan, sir? Can I ask a question on India and Pakistan? Do you intend to—[inaudible]—Prime Minister Modi?

The President. Well, India and Pakistan are having a conflict over Kashmir, as you know. I think it's a little bit less heated right now than it was 2 weeks ago, and I'm willing to help them. I get along with both countries very well. I'm willing to help them if they want. They know that that is out there.

David [David Martosko, Daily Mail].

Republican Presidential Candidates

Q. Mr. President, are you willing to debate the Republicans who are running against you?

The President. You know, I don't even know who they are, other than I know that——

Q. Joe Walsh, Mark Sanford.

The President. I guess you could say—no, but I don't know them. I don't know them. I would say this: They're all at less than 1 percent. It's a—I guess it's a publicity stunt. We just got right—a little while ago, 94-percent popularity or approval rating within the Republican Party.

So, to be honest, I'm not looking to give them any credibility. They have no credibility. One was a person that voted for Obama, ran as a Vice President 4 years ago, and was soundly defeated. Another one got thrown out after one term in Congress, and he lost in a landslide. And the third one—Mr. Tallahassee Trail or Appalachian Trail—he's the Appalachian Trail, right? The Tallahassee Trail is nice too, but I think he was the Appalachian Trail. But he wasn't on the Appalachian Trail; he was in Argentina.

Yes, go ahead.

Q. Does the—[inaudible]—fit to be President?

Mexico's Cooperation With U.S. Immigration Enforcement/Border Security

Q. Are you okay with using the military as the police force on our southern border?

The President. Say it louder.

Q. Are you okay with using the military as a police force on our southern border?

The President. Well, right now Mexico has been doing a great job for us. And frankly, we're very appreciative. But we've also been very—pretty rapidly changing the regulations, the rules, winning in court. We've had a lot of wins. We did it early on, but we're having a lot of wins in court right now. The courts are backing us up, and that has a lot to do with our success on the southern border. In addition, a lot of wall is being built. And every time we put up a mile of wall, that helps us a lot.

Q. Are you concerned at all about——

Hurricane Dorian/Bahamas/Hurricane Response and Recovery Efforts

Q. Are you prepared to offer temporary protected status to people from the Bahamas?

The President. So we're talking to a lot of different people on that. You know, we're recovering from the hurricane also. Florida did get hit, not as hard as we anticipated. And you look at Georgia. You look at South Carolina, North Carolina. I'm going to North Carolina right now—North Carolina—to have a rally for Dan Bishop. But before I go to the rally, we're going to be stopping at one of the sites that got hit very hard by the hurricane.

So we're also recovering from a hurricane. But we have to be very careful. Everybody needs totally proper documentation because the—look, the Bahamas had some tremendous problems with people going to the Bahamas that weren't supposed to be there. I don't want to allow people that weren't supposed to be in the Bahamas to come into the United States, including some very bad people and some very bad gang members and some very, very bad drug dealers. So we are going to be very, very strong on that.

Let me just explain. Large sections, believe it or not, of the Bahamas were not hit. And what we're doing is bringing the people to those sections of the Bahamas that have not been hit. We've done a lot of the U.S.A.—AID. We've done a lot of work with our Coast Guard, with our FEMA people, who have been phenomenal. I mean, they have been phenomenal.

So we'll see what happens. We'll see what happens.

Q. Mr. President——

North Korea

Q. On North Korea, sir—on North Korea, when's the last time you heard from Chairman Kim?

The President. Well, I saw a statement was just put out having to do with North Korea, and that will be interesting. We'll see. It just came out over the wires a little while ago. So we'll see what happens.

In the meantime——

Q. Mr. President——

Q. [Inaudible]

The President. In the meantime, we have our hostages back, we're getting the remains of our great heroes back, and we've had no nuclear testing for a long time.

Judicial Review of the President's Immigration Policies/Border Security/Illegal Immigration

Q. Mr. President, on the Ninth District Court judge that continues to issue nationwide injunctions——

The President. Yes.

Q. The Ninth District Court, Judge Jon Tigar. Do you think it's constitutional for a judge—— The President. Again. What was the beginning?

Q. With the judge in the Ninth District Court—the San Francisco judge—that continues to issue nationwide injunctions on immigration policy, do you think that's constitutional?

The President. I think it's very unfair that he does that. I don't think it should be allowed, and we'll see what happens. There's a lot of new law being made on that, but we don't think that should be happening.

Now, with that being said, we're starting to do very well in the Ninth Circuit. We're starting to do well all over. We won the lawsuit on the wall. We won the lawsuit on a lot of different things having to do with illegal immigration. That's why a lot of our very strong points are coming out.

And in addition to Mexico helping us, we're ending up with some great legal victories now on illegal immigration. That's one of the reasons we're doing so well.

Q. Do you think congressional Republicans are——

Q. Are you going to impose tariffs on Mexico if it doesn't do more on illegal immigration?

The President. Go ahead. Go.

Q. [Inaudible]—on illegal immigration?

The President. What? Go ahead. What?


Q. Mr. President, yesterday you tweeted that there are—the prisoner swap between Russia and Ukraine was the first—perhaps the first giant step towards peace. So do you think the United States should join these talks and should join Germany, France, Russia, and Ukraine within the talks called Normandy format?

The President. I think the fact that the prisoner swap took place yesterday with Russia and Ukraine is a very big step and that's a very positive step. If they needed me to get involved, I'd get involved, but that's really a very, very positive event that took place yesterday.

Q. Mr. President, why did you——

Immigration Reform/Border Security/Federal Judicial Confirmations

Q. Are you concerned that the significant drop in illegal border crossings is only temporary and, as Mark Morgan said——

The President. Well, you're always concerned that it's temporary. But we now have much better legal protection. And we'd have total protection if the Democrats would get rid of the loopholes which are there. They could do it in, as I say, 15 minutes if they would get rid of the loopholes and fix asylum. But they don't want to do that. They don't want to do it.

The Democrats want open borders. It means crime. It means drugs. It means human trafficking. And that's what they want. And if they want to run on that, they can run on it.

But our people—a lot of the people in this country—and, I would say, a very large percentage of people—they don't want to have crossings illegal. They don't want to have open borders. They want to have a strong border.

And I've always said: Without a border, we don't have a country. And without a country, I'll tell you what: We wouldn't be—without that border being strong—we are securing the border like it hasn't been before. And when the wall is built—and it's moving rapidly right now. It's moving very rapidly. The lawsuit wins, the legal wins. We've won a lot. And we've won a lot in the courts over the last year. You know, if you look at the beginning, where we were losing, we will have about 180 judges approved over the next 3 or 4 weeks—180.

When I came in, President Obama gave us a beautiful gift. He gave us 138 judges that he wasn't able to get in or didn't pick anybody, or couldn't get them approved. One hundred and thirty-eight. I took that. And now, when you add the other that came through attrition and other things that have happened, we'll have about 180 judges approved very, very quickly.

Special Congressional Election in North Carolina

Q. Tomorrow's special election—tomorrow's special election in North Carolina, how important is it for your reelection?

The President. Well, Dan Bishop is a great gentleman, a great man. He's going to be a great—I think he's going to be a great Congressman. It was a very close race. I think it's getting less close. If you look at the numbers from 2 weeks ago—and I got involved about 2 weeks ago—and the numbers have gone way up. I think Dan has a very good chance of winning the election.

Again, I'm not running, but I have a lot of respect for Dan Bishop. I'm going there now to help him campaign. We're going to be doing a big rally tonight, totally sold out as always. Every single one totally sold out. There will be a lot of people outside trying to get in. But it's all in honor of Dan Bishop. North Carolina, I hope they're going to go out and vote.


Q. On Iran, sir. On Iran, will you meet with Rouhani? Would you meet with Rouhani—President Rouhani?

The President. It could happen. It could happen. Yes. No problem with meeting. Iran should straighten out, because frankly, they're in very bad position right now and they should straighten it out, because they could straighten it out very easily.

Central Intelligence Agency

Q. Will you respond to the reports today that say that you have mishandled classified information to Russia?

The President. No, I know nothing about it. I see the CIA responded perfectly. So whatever the CIA said is fine with me. But I heard they responded perfectly. I know nothing.

Gun Control/Second Amendment Rights

Q. Mr. President—Mr. President, how soon will you reveal your gun control proposal? How soon? This week? Next week?

The President. Well, we're dealing with Democrats. We're dealing with Republicans. We're talking about a lot of different things having to do with, as you call it, gun control. But we are talking about a lot of different things. But at the same time, we have to protect our Second Amendment very strongly, and we will always do that.

Q. Mr. President, why does it matter who——

The President. Steve.

Q. Why does it matter who the——

Camp David, Maryland/Suicide Car Bombing in Kabul, Afghanistan/Taliban

Q. Aren't there some internal divisions among your team about how to go forward on Afghanistan? The President. Well, my decision was to have a meeting. And I said: "You know what? I don't like the concept of having it at the White House. That would be a step too far." There have been many very powerful meetings at Camp David having to do with enemies—real enemies, very big enemies, war—and I thought Camp David would be good, and I still do.

The only reason I canceled that meeting is because they killed one of our soldiers and they killed a total of 12 people, trying to build up their importance, because they think that's important, except, to me, it backfired. And they're very upset. They feel that they blew it. And they said it loud and clear. They feel they made a big mistake by doing what they did.

Q. Mr. President——

Border Security/Human Trafficking

Q. Is your administration still looking at designating human smuggling operations at the border as foreign terrorist organizations?

The President. We're looking very much at human smuggling. And if you look at "trafficking," they call it—if you look at what's going on with the human trafficking, we're bringing it down to a much lower level. This should have been done for years and years. But we're bringing the human trafficking, as you can see by the numbers, we're bringing it down. Mostly affects women and children. It's a terrible thing. It's been going on for many years, and we're bringing it down.

Q. Mr. President——

Chairman of the State Affairs Commission Kim Jong Un of North Korea

Q. Are you concerned about the Kim Jong Un's—are you concerned about Kim Jong Un—he will not keep the promise?

The President. Well, it just came out over the wires that he'd like to have a meeting. I have a very good relationship with Chairman Kim—Kim Jong Un. And it just came out; I just saw it as I'm coming out here—it just came out that they would like to meet. We'll see what happens.

Q. But does he not——

The President. But I always say having meetings is a good thing, not a bad thing.

Hurricane Dorian/Bahamas/Chinese Aid and Response Efforts

Q. On the Bahamas, are you concerned about China's relief efforts in the Bahamas?

The President. No, I'm not. Let people go in and help. The Bahamas got hit like no thing that I've ever seen. I've never seen a hurricane with—it was like a massive tornado, more than a hurricane. It got hit like nothing I've seen.

Anybody wants to help, that's okay with me. I think it's a good thing.

Q. But does it—[inaudible]?

Afghanistan/Reconciliation Efforts

Q. Mr. President, how do you define victory in Afghanistan?

The President. Well, that's always the question: How do you define victory? We beat them militarily, but as soon as leave, it seems to form again. We would beat them very easily, militarily, if we wanted to, by doing certain things. And I'm not talking nuclear. We could have that over with very, very rapidly. But you'd lose millions and millions of lives, and I don't want to do that. Afghanistan is a very interesting situation. We've been there for 19 years. Nineteen years. And we're now really policemen in Afghanistan.

So what's happening is this: We're talking. We're talking to the Government. We're talking to a lot of different people. And we'll see. But I canceled Camp David on the basis that they did something that they sure as hell shouldn't have done.

Special Congressional Election in North Carolina/2018 Congressional Elections/Federal Judicial Confirmations

Q. Mr. President, do you see tomorrow's election in North Carolina as a bellwether for next year's election?

The President. No. I don't see it as a bellwether. They always ask that question. I mean, you never see talk about the fact—as an example, in '18—that we won the Senate. Nobody ever talks about that. The Senate being very important, because that's how I'm getting all the judges approved. It doesn't go through the House; it goes through the Senate.

So I'm getting all these judges. We'll be up—as I said, we'll be up to 180 judges, plus two Supreme Court judges. And I don't know if there has ever been a record like that.

President Obama gave me a beautiful birthday present when he gave me 138 judges that weren't approved. And frankly, how do you consider that being a great President when you hand to the opposition 138 slots of Federal judges, including appellate court judges and one Supreme Court judge?

So that's the story, where we got two Supreme Court Justices, and we'll have, in a very short number of weeks, 180 judges approved, including appellate. And that number, from 180, will easily and rather rapidly go over 200. And I don't think there's been anything like it.


Q. Mr. President, what specific number of troops should remain in Afghanistan? What do you want to see now?

The President. I would never tell you. I'll tell some people, but I'd never tell you.

Q. Why not?

The President. But we have—we have a very specific number. We have a very specific number.

Special Congressional Election in North Carolina/2018 Congressional Elections/Senate Majority Leader A. Mitchell McConnell

Q. So, to follow up what John asked, for 2020, you don't see as a bellwether, the election tomorrow.

The President. No, I don't see it as a bellwether.

Q. But are you concerned about the Senate races in 2020?

The President. Look, I have to run. Here's what it is.

Q. Do you think you'll hold on to the Senate?

The President. I think we did great in '18, because the Congressmen—like Andy Barr in Kentucky and others—that I campaigned for, they won. Andy Barr was behind. I went to Kentucky. I campaigned for him. I held one or two rallies, and the great State of Kentucky brought him in. And by the way, the same person that we defeated there is now running against Mitch McConnell for the Senate. And he's going to win. He's going to win. Kentucky is an incredible place. They know. They don't give up the most powerful man in the United States Senate for a freshman Senator. You just don't do it. Kentucky is very smart. They know exactly what they're doing.

But I campaigned for Senators. We were supposed to lose the Senate, according to some of you. We ended up picking up two seats, which was fantastic. I get no credit for that. If we didn't pick up those two seats—I just told you we're going to have 180 judges approved—we wouldn't have had almost any judges approved, from the point of the election.

So we're very happy with the way we've done. The '18 election—the big thing was, I was not running. You know, people say, "Oh, it was a referendum on Trump." It wasn't. I'm not running; people are running. But I will go and help Dan Bishop. I'm going to be there in a little while. And I assume some of you, I'll be seeing.

Patronization of Trump Organization Properties by Government Officials/Vice President Michael R. Pence's Recent Travel to Ireland

Q. Mr. President, on Turnberry: Will you discourage the Pentagon from having troops stay overnight at your properties?

The President. I haven't found out—other than when a plane stops at a massive international airport and gets fuel—I don't own the airport. When pilots stay—I own a lot of different places. Soon you'll find that out, when I—because I'll be, at some point prior to the election, I'm going to be giving out a financial report of me. And it will be extremely complete. I'm going to give out—I'm going to give or my financial condition. And you'll be extremely shocked that the numbers are many, many times what you think. I don't need to have somebody take a room overnight in a hotel.

So what is happening is the following: Every time you find a person landing an airplane within 500 miles of something I own—Mike Pence, as an example, his family lives in Doonbeg, Ireland. And he's actually told me that he stayed there many years ago at the same—I bought it years ago—but he was there before I bought it, I believe, he said. A long time ago. But he was in Ireland, so he said: "You know what I'll do? I'll see my family." I didn't know about that, but I can say he has good taste.

Cancellation of Republican Presidential Primaries/Republican Presidential Candidates

Q. Mr. President, what do you make of States canceling Republican primaries?

The President. Of who?

Q. Of States canceling Republican primaries.

The President. I have nothing to do with that.

Q. Are you worried that you might lose some of those primaries?

The President. No. Because, look, the three people are a total joke. They're a joke. They're a laughing stock. And I have nothing to do—the four States that canceled it don't want to waste their money. If there was a race, they would certainly want to do that. But they're considered to be a laughing stock. They're considered to be a joke. And those four States don't want to waste their money. Having primary campaigns and having a primary election is very expensive.

Afghanistan/Taliban Q. Have you ruled out a future meeting with the Taliban? Are there preconditions under which you would meet them?

The President. We haven't discussed it. I'm not looking to discuss it. We've hit the Taliban and our Afghanistan : U.S. military forces :: Deploymentenemy in Afghanistan harder than we have in over 10 years. So I'm not discussing anything right now.

Republican Rules for Committee Chairmanships in the House of Representatives

Q. [Inaudible]—recent GOP congressional retirements, does that concern you for 2020?

The President. Well, one of the things is that I disagree with the Republican system. When you're the chairman of a committee—we've lost chairmen because they can't go from being a chairman, back to being a regular Congress man or woman. When you're the chairman of a committee, the Democrats, you can stay there forever, like Denny [Steny; White House correction.] Hoyer and others—who's a good man, by the way. But like a lot of them, they're there forever. As a Republican, you get 6 years.

What happens after they're finished, they leave. And I understand that. And frankly, there is good to be said about both, and there's bad to be said about both, to use the famous expression. But let me just tell you, I agree—one of the only things I agree with the Democrats on: I really think it's better to have a longer term.

Q. Mr. President, what about the border wall? The border wall?

China-U.S. Trade/Intellectual Property/National Economy

Q. On China, Mr. President, do you sense a real shift in the Chinese position on intellectual property theft, forced technology transfer?

The President. We have to stop forced technology, international technology theft. If you look at what's going on: Intellectual property theft with China—just so you understand, our country is doing phenomenally well. You know, there's a chance—I don't want to talk about it—but over a very short period of time that we'll hit a yet new record. I think we have 118 records for hitting the top stock market.

Two weeks ago, the fake news was trying to convince people that maybe there's a possibility for a recession. Well, a lot of things have happened, very positive. We're doing very well against China and we could very well have a new high in our stock market. We have gained trillions of dollars of worth, and China has lost many, many trillions of dollars, including 3 million jobs, including companies that are leaving China. Yes, they want to negotiate very badly.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, everybody.

Q. Mr. President, did the Taliban agree to——

NOTE: The President spoke at 2:36 p.m. on the South Lawn at the White House prior to boarding Marine One. In his remarks, he referred to Sgt. 1st Class Elis A. Barreto Ortiz, USA, and Cpl. 3d Class Ciprian-Stefan Polschi, a Romanian Army soldier, who were killed a suicide bomb attack at a checkpoint near NATO headquarters and the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, on September 5; former Gov. William F. Weld of Massachusetts; former Reps. Joe F. Walsh and Marshall C. "Mark" Sanford; North Carolina Republican congressional candidate State Sen. Dan Bishop; Kim Hak-song, Tony Kim, and Kim Dong-chul, U.S. citizens formerly detained by North Korean officials who returned to the U.S. on May 10, 2018; Supreme Court Justices Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh; and Kentucky Democratic senatorial candidate Amy McGrath. Reporters referred to Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India; and Acting Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection Mark Morgan.

Donald J. Trump, Remarks and an Exchange With Reporters Prior to Departure for Havelock, North Carolina Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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