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Remarks and an Exchange With Reporters Prior to Departure for Houston, Texas

September 22, 2019

The President. Good morning. We have a busy day planned. We're leaving now for Ellington Air Force Base in Texas. We're going to spend some time on the floods. We're going to be briefed on the floods. We're going to make a big investment so we can try and help Texas with this terrible flooding that they've been having. So we'll be talking to a lot of people and meeting a lot of people. That's going to be at Ellington Air Force Base.

Then, we're going to Houston. Some of you are coming with me, I guess. And we'll be going to Houston, and we'll be at a very nice, big stadium packed full of people with Prime Minister Modi of India. He asked if I'd go with him, and I've accepted. And we're going to have a good time with Prime Minister Modi. We have—I hear it's a tremendous crowd. So that will be in Houston.

And then after that, I'm going to Ohio. Pratt Industries is opening a $1 billion plant. And I told Mr. Pratt, who is a great—Anthony—I told him if he does something really spectacular, I'll go and cut the ribbon. And he did; he invested a billion dollars in Ohio. So that's Pratt Industries. They're great people. It's a great company, headed by a very great businessman from Australia. So they're bringing a billion dollars into Ohio, and I said I'd go and cut the ribbon, and here it is. We're ready to cut a ribbon. It's a great plant. So we look forward to that.

Then, we're coming home, and then we have a lot of work at the United Nations during the next week.

Q. Mr. President——


Q. Mr. President, is a meeting at the U.N. with Iran completely off the table?

The President. Nothing is ever off the table completely, but I have no intention of meeting with Iran. And that doesn't mean it doesn't happen. I'm a very flexible person. But we have no intention; it's not set up. We're meeting with a lot of leaders. We have about 15 meetings set up, but Iran is not one of them.

The President's July 25 Telephone Conversation With President Volodymyr Zelenskiy of Ukraine/Corruption Issues in Ukraine/International Assistance to Ukraine

Q. [Inaudible]—with the President of Ukraine—[inaudible]?

The President. We had a great conversation. The conversation I had was largely congratulatory. It was largely corruption—all of the corruption taking place. It was largely the fact that we don't want our people, like Vice President Biden and his son, creating to the corruption already in the Ukraine.

And Ukraine has got a lot of problems. He—the new President is saying that he's going to be able to rid the country of corruption. And I said that would be a great thing. We had a great conversation. We had a conversation on many things. In fact, I believe Ukraine put out a statement yesterday saying that we covered many different topics. It was a warm and friendly conversation. We backed—I backed Ukraine from the beginning. But I'm very upset that other countries aren't doing the same. Germany should be spending much more. France, all of the European Union should be spending money. Why are we spending money, and they're not? Or least they're spending very little by comparison.

So I'm not happy about that.

Q. Mr. President——

Personal Attorney to the President Rudolph W. Giuliani/Corruption Issues in Ukraine

Q. Will you let Rudy Giuliani talk to Congress about what he asked Ukraine to do?

The President. Oh, I would have no problem with it. Rudy is a very straight shooter. And Rudy wants to see the same thing as a lot of other people with respect to your Ukraine. Ukraine has had a tremendous corruption problem. Somehow, they were involved in a lot of different things that took place in our country, and hopefully, it can be straightened out.

And I will say, the new President—we had a very good talk. The new President got elected based on the fact that he would end corruption. That was probably his number-one thing.

Intelligence Community Whistleblower/The President's July 25 Telephone Conversation With President Volodymyr Zelenskiy of Ukraine/The President's Communications With Foreign Leaders

Q. Mr. President, do you think somebody was spying on you on that call with Ukraine?

The President. Well, this whistleblower—or whoever it was—because it sounds like it's not a whistleblower. You can't have that happen to a President of the United States.

The conversation, by the way, was absolutely perfect. It was a beautiful, warm, nice conversation, and it was put out last night, also, by Ukraine. But you can't have people doing this. And you can't have people doing false alarms like this.

And you know, when the President speaks to the head of another country, he has to be able to speak to those people. And those people don't want to know that that they're being recorded or that you have a stenographer working. You don't want to have to hear that. You can't do that to a President, and you can't do that to other countries.

But with all of that being said, we had a very great conversation, very straight, very honest conversation. I hope they can put it out.

The President's Communications With Foreign Leaders/The President's July 25 Telephone Conversation With President Volodymyr Zelenskiy of Ukraine/Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr.

Q. Is there a recording? Is there a recording, sir, of that call?

The President. Well, I don't say anything, but whenever I speak to a foreign leader, I assume there are many people on the line. I don't assume I'm talking to the leader. Any time I'm on the phone with a foreign leader, many, many people are on the line. Sometimes, they're taping calls. Sometimes, they're doing a stenographer.

But I also assume many people are on the line from the other side. So if I'm speaking to a country, they also have people on the line.

Q. Mr. President——

The President. So who would say a thing like what you're saying?

Now, I will say this: I said absolutely nothing wrong. It was perfect. Q. Mr. President, you acknowledged here, sir, that—[inaudible].

The President. Listen to me. Listen.

Q. ——talked about the Bidens in your earlier answer.

The President. Listen to me.

Q. You acknowledged that you——

The President. Listen to me.

Q. ——talked about the Bidens. Is that correct, sir?

The President. Listen to me. I assume many people are on the line. I know that before I make the call. And that's what you have—intelligence agencies, everybody listening. That call was a great call. It was a perfect call. A perfect call.

What wasn't perfect is the horrible thing that Joe Biden said. And now he made it a lie when he said he never spoke to his son. I mean, give me a break, he's already said he spoke to his son. And now he said, yesterday, very firmly. Who wouldn't speak to your son? Of course, you spoke to your son. So he made the mistake of saying he never spoke to his son. He spoke to his son.

But more importantly, what he said about the billions of dollars that he wouldn't give them unless they fired the Prosecutor. And then, he bragged about how they fired the Prosecutor, and then they got the money.

Flooding in Texas/India-U.S. Relations

Q. [Inaudible]—was that a snub or—[inaudible]?

The President. No, it's not a snub at all. I'm very busy. I'm going on the floods today. The floods are very important to me. And climate change—everything is very important.

But today I'm going to Texas on the floods. Then, I'm going to Houston on the big rally. It's a rally for Prime Minister Modi, and he asked me to do it—of India—and I look forward to doing it.

Q. Mr. President——

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr./Ukraine-U.S. Relations/The President's July 25 Telephone Conversation With President Volodymyr Zelenskiy of Ukraine

Q. Do you believe that Biden—Joe and Hunter Biden have enriched themselves personally, because of their involvement in Ukraine?

The President. Well, not only in Ukraine; take a look at China. They took a tremendous amount of money out of China. Now, if they ever took over a China negotiation, he would sell us out. Look at all the money he's made in China.

The son, he knew nothing. The son is a stiff. He knew nothing, and he's making hundreds of thousands and millions of dollars. And he did the same thing in Ukraine. He knows nothing.

This is a very dishonest thing that Joe Biden did. And then, he said he never spoke to his son. Does anybody believe that one? But then, he also said, long before, that that he did speak to his son. So he lied, again.

But what he said is that he wouldn't give, I think it was billions of dollars to Ukraine, unless they fired the Prosecutor who was looking at his son and his son's company—the company that his son worked with. And that's a very dishonest thing. And I'm not looking to hurt Biden. I'm not even looking to hold him to it, to be honest. But he said a very bad thing. He said a very foolish thing.

Now, me, on the other hand, my conversation with the President—the new President of Ukraine was perfect. They put out a statement last night. They said the same thing. It was a warm, friendly conversation. There was no quid pro quo. There was nothing. It was a perfect conversation.

Q. Mr. President, a question about guns?

Q. [Inaudible]

The President. Go ahead.

Q. Question about guns?

U.S. Assistance to Ukraine

Q. How do you explain the military aid, sir? How do you explain delaying military aid, given that—[inaudible]?

The President. Because I want Germany and I want France and I want the European Union to put up money. And I didn't delay anything. We paid the military aid, to the best of my knowledge.

Q. [Inaudible]—sir.

The President. Listen to me. I gave so much more to Ukraine than Obama did. Go back and check your record.

Q. [Inaudible]

The President. And you know what you should do? Also ask——

Q. [Inaudible]

Gun Control/Congressional Democrats/Congressional Investigations

Q. Mr. President, can you tell us why anybody should be allowed to buy a gun without a background check?

The President. We're looking at it right now. We're studying it very hard. It's an issue that, frankly, Congress is wasting all their time on nonsense. We're studying it very hard. If Congress would ever get back to work, we could work something. But Congress is doing all of this nonsense, this garbage that they're doing. And I'll tell you what—they don't have any time. The Democrats in Congress are doing nothing. I'll tell you what: They're going to lose the election. You know why? Because they're not doing anything.

Q. Why should anybody be allowed to buy a gun without a background check?

Congressional Democrats/Congressional Investigations

Q. [Inaudible]

The President. Well, we're working very hard with some Democrats. The problem I have is that Jerry Nadler and all these people—they keep wasting time in Congress over nothing. They're studying nothing. The Mueller report was perfect. Corey Lewandowski was magnificent. Everybody is perfect. They're wasting time. They couldn't accept the Mueller report. They couldn't accept that defeat. They can't now accept the fact that we have the best economy we've ever had, and we may be hitting another alltime high in the stock market. Gun Control/Congressional Democrats

Q. [Inaudible]—all sales——

The President. We're looking at a lot of different things. They problem we find is, the Democrats have very little time to talk because they're wasting their time. You take a look at what they're doing. It's a total waste of time, and they know it. They know it.

Q. Mr. President——

Q. [Inaudible]

The President. Say it.

Gun Control/Congressional Democrats/Congressional Investigations

Q. [Inaudible]

The President. Well, we're working with Joe Manchin, the Senator, and we're working with Pat Toomey. And we have a lot of people working on this. And we'll be seeing, I'd say, over a period of time.

The problem that I have is, the Democrats, in the House especially, they're totally unavailable to talk because they have hearings all day over something that's already been won by us. They made up a story. It was a false story. It was a hoax. And frankly, we have to get to the bottom of how it started. But they're wasting all of their time on a hoax.

Federal Reserve System/Interest Rates

Q. Mr. President, you said Jay Powell was a "bonehead" with "no guts." But then, you said his job is safe. Why?

The President. Well, he's got a job. And I could do things if I wanted. But I don't want to do that. We're so strong, despite Jay Powell. But Jay Powell is not helping us. Other countries have lower interest rates. We're the primest of them all. But he has the rate—look, it's very simple. He lifted the rates far too quickly, and he lowered them far too slowly. And it's a shame. And it's a shame.

The President's Cabinet

Q. Are there other boneheads in your administration whose jobs are safe?

The President. Not too many. Not too many boneheads.

Q. Mr. President——

The President. We have a great—I'll tell you what, we really now have a great administration. But what we have is a great Cabinet. Our Cabinet has done a great job.

Q. [Inaudible]—Mr. President. At least one bonehead?

The President. Go ahead.

Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire/The President's July 25 Telephone Conversation With President Volodymyr Zelenskiy of Ukraine/Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr.

Q. Is the White House blocking the Director of National Intelligence from sending the whistleblower complaint to Congress?

The President. No, he is a great gentleman, Joe. He's doing a fantastic job. And I know one thing: He's only going to do what's right. But he is doing a fantastic job. And he's only going to do what's right. But just so you understand, the conversation I had with the President of Ukraine was absolutely perfect. And people better find out who these people are that are trying to subvert our country, because here we go again. These are bad people. But the conversation I had with the President of Ukraine was absolutely a 10. It was perfect.

Now, what you have to do is look at the corruption on the Democrat side. Take a look at how the whole witch hunt started. Now they want to try and start another witch hunt. But unfortunately this one is reverting now to Joe Biden, because he's done some very bad things.

And I'm not even looking to hurt him, to be honest. He needs all the help he can get. I'm not looking to hurt him. I'm not looking to hurt his family. But the corruption, and what he said, is a terrible thing.

Thank you.

Q. How was the state dinner? How was the state dinner, Mr. President?

NOTE: The President spoke at 8:35 a.m. on the South Lawn at the White House prior to boarding Marine One. In his remarks, he referred to Anthony Pratt, global chairman, Pratt Industries; R. Hunter Biden II, son of former Vice President Biden; former Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin of Ukraine; Rep. Jerrold L. Nadler, in his capacity as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee; former Department of Justice Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III; former 2016 Donald J. Trump Presidential Campaign Manager Corey R. Lewandowski; and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome H. Powell.

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

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