Photo of Donald Trump

Remarks in an Exchange With Reporters

June 15, 2018

Former Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James B. Comey, Jr.

Q. Do you think James Comey's actions were unfair to Hillary?

The President. No, I think that James Comey was unfair to the people of this country. I think what he did was a disgrace. I think he goes down as the worst FBI Director in history, by far. There's nobody close. And I think I did the country a tremendous favor by firing him.

Former Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James B. Comey, Jr./2016 Democratic Presidential Nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton

Q. [Inaudible]—speak so passionately about Otto?

Q. [Inaudible]

The President. No, I think—actually, if you take a look, when he totally exonerated her—her last—because I call it "Comey three." Comey three—you had one, two, and then you had Comey three. He totally exonerated her. And if anything you're saying is correct, what she did is—they tried to pretend it didn't happen. I would have gone out there, and I would have had the greatest news conference in history. They tried to pretend the exoneration didn't happen.

Now, the exoneration was incorrect, because there's no way they could have checked that number of emails in just a few days. But if you remember, just before the election, he went out, and he exonerated her, and they didn't even talk about it. That was the greatest political mistake.

Now, with all of that being said, I won Wisconsin, I won Michigan, I won States that a Republican hasn't won in many, many decades, years. She didn't do a good job, and you never gave me credit for doing a great job. But the fact is, I did a great job.

Congressional Oversight of the Department of Justice/North Korea/Department of Justice Inspector General's Report Relating to 2016 Presidential Election

Q. Mr. President, there was a Fox News report this week that the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is pushing back and threatening to investigate the congressional investigators who just want documents. Do you think that that is appropriate?

The President. Well, I hope that's not so. And I know they're getting documents. And I purposely—look, if you see what I've done with North Korea and with the State Department, Mike Pompeo, it's running so well. It's—I have this running so well. I have purposely, because of this ridiculous witch hunt, I have said I'm going to stay away from the Justice Department until it's completed. So I wanted to stay away. Now, that doesn't mean I have to, because I don't have to. I can get involved. But I don't want you people to say that I'm interfering, that I'm doing anything.

I think that the report yesterday, maybe more importantly than anything, it totally exonerates me. There was no collusion. There was no obstruction. And if you read the report, you'll see that.

What you'll really—— Q. On North Korea——

Federal Bureau of Investigation

The President. Excuse me. Wait, wait, wait. What you'll really see is, you'll see bias against me and millions and tens of millions of my followers. That is really a disgrace.

And yet, if you go—and yet, if you look at the FBI, and you went in and you polled the FBI—the real FBI—those guys love me, and I love them.

Department of Justice Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III/Department of Justice Inspector General's Report Relating to 2016 Presidential Election

Q. Are you going to suspend Mueller? Are you thinking of suspending Mueller?

The President. No, but I think that whole investigation now is—look, the problem with the Mueller investigation is everybody has got massive conflicts. You have Weissmann who was at Hillary Clinton's funeral, meaning, her party that turned into a funeral. And they were screaming and crying—they were going crazy. How can you have people like this? So you have—I call them the "13 Angry Democrats." You have a tremendous animosity.

Now, here's the good news: I did nothing wrong. There was no collusion. There was no obstruction. The IG report yesterday went a long way to show that. And I think that the Mueller investigation has been totally discredited.

North Korea's Nuclear Weapons Program/News Media/Remains of U.S. Servicemembers Killed in Korean War

Q. Mr. President, you have spoken so passionately about the circumstances that led to Otto Warmbier's death.

The President. Yes.

Q. In the same breath, you're defending now, Kim Jong Un's human rights records. How can you do that?

The President. You know why? Because I don't want to see a nuclear weapon destroy you and your family. Okay? I don't want to see——

Q. By the way, you declared the nuclear threat from North Korea is over.

The President. Excuse me. Because I don't want to see a nuclear weapon destroy you and your family. I want to have a good relationship with North Korea. I want to have a good relationship with many other countries. And what I've done, if you remember, if you're fair, which most of you aren't—but if you're fair, when I came in, people thought we were probably going to war with North Korea. If we did——

Q. You say the threat is over. Is it over?

The President. Quiet. Quiet. Quiet. If we did, millions of people would have been killed. I don't mean like 100—you know, people are saying 100,000. Seoul has 28 million people 30 miles off the border. You would have had 30, 40, 50 million people killed. Who knows what would have happened?

I came in; that was what I inherited. I should have never inherited. That should have been solved long before I got there. I did a great job this weekend. The fake news said, "Oh, you met." But the only thing they saw that I gave up—one broadcast said, "He gave up so much." You know what I gave up? I met. I met. We had great chemistry. He gave us a lot. You haven't had a missile test in 7 months. You haven't had a firing. You haven't had a nuclear test in 8½ months. You haven't had missiles flying over Japan. He gave us the remains of our great heroes. I have had so many people begging me—parents and fathers, mothers, daughters, sons—wherever I went, "Could you please get the remains of my boy back?" They're giving them back. Nobody thought that was possible.

Q. Sir——

The President. Wait, wait. They're doing so much for us. And now, we're well on our way to get denuclearization. And the agreement says there will be total denuclearization. Nobody wants to report that.

So the only thing I did was, I met. I got along with him great. He is great—we have a great chemistry together. That's a good thing, not a bad thing.

Human Rights in North Korea/North Korea's Nuclear Weapons Program

Q. How can Kim love his people if he's killing them?

The President. I can't speak to that. I can only speak to the fact that we signed an incredible agreement. It's great. And it's going to be great for them, too.

Q. But why not speak about human rights. Mr. President?

The President. Because now North Korea can develop, and North Korea can become a great country economically.

Q. Why not speak about human rights?

The President. It can become whatever they want. But there won't be nuclear weapons, and they won't be aimed at you and your families.

South Korea-U.S. Military Cooperation

Q. Mr. President, why did you offer to halt the military exercises with South Korea?

The President. That was my offer. Just so you understand. Military——

Q. [Inaudible.]

The President. Okay, do you want to hear?

Q. Yes.

The President. Okay. Military—I call them war games. I hated them from the day I came in. I said, why aren't we being reimbursed?

Q. That's North Korea's term. War games.

The President. That's my term.

Q. They use it too.

The President. They might use it. We pay for it. We pay millions and millions of dollars for planes and all of this. It's my term. I said, I'd like to halt it, because it's bad to be negotiating and doing it. It costs us a lot of money. I saved lot of money. That's a good thing for us.

Okay, go ahead.

News Media Q. What did you mean just now when you said you wished Americans would sit up at attention when you spoke——

The President. I'm kidding. You don't understand sarcasm. Who are you with?

Wait, wait, who are you with? Who are you with?


The President. You're with CNN! Hey, you are the worst.

Q. Mr. President——

Q. Mr. President, there are a couple different—a few different—there are a few different court cases going on.

The President. Wait, wait, we have time.

Investigation Into Russia's Interference in 2016 Presidential Election

Q. So there's some high-profile court cases going on. You've got a former campaign manager, your former lawyer. They're all dealing with legal troubles. Are you paying close attention?

The President. Well, I feel badly about a lot of them, because I think a lot of it is very unfair. I mean, I look at some of them where they go back 12 years. Like Manafort has nothing to do with our campaign. But I feel so—I tell you, I feel a little badly about it. They went back 12 years to get things that he did 12 years ago?

You know, Paul Manafort worked for me for a very short period of time. He worked for Ronald Reagan. He worked for Bob Dole. He worked for John McCain, or his firm did. He worked for many other Republicans. He worked for me, what, for 49 days or something? A very short period of time.

I feel badly for some people, because they've gone back 12 years to find things about somebody, and I don't think it's right. I don't think it's right that they burst into a lawyer's office on a weekend and early in the morning. I never heard of that before. I mean, could you imagine if they burst into Barack Obama's lawyer's office? It would not be acceptable. It would not be acceptable. I mean, that's really a terrible thing.

Now, I feel badly for a lot of those people. I feel badly for General Flynn. He's lost his house. He's lost his life. And some people say he lied, and some people say he didn't lie. I mean, really, it turned out maybe he didn't lie. But—so how can you do that?

Q. And since we're talking about——

The President. Who—can you do that, because who has lied more than Comey? I mean, Comey lied a tremendous amount.

Q. And since we're talking about——

Presidential Pardons and Commutations

Q. Since you say that you feel badly, is there any consideration at any point of a pardon for any of the people that you——

The President. I don't want to talk about that. No, I don't want to talk about that. They'll run—but look, I do want to see people treated fairly. That's what it's all about. I mentioned the other day—you saw what I did with the woman—she's in jail for 23 years on charges where other people are out after 3 months. I thought it was a very unfair—it was brought to—and she had another 20 years left, okay? She was 63 years old.

Q. What about those who don't have a celebrity talking for them?

The President. What?

Q. What about all those folks who don't have Kim Kardashian speaking on their behalf?

The President. Well, I'm looking at them too, if you don't mind. I'm looking at them too.

Former Attorney to the President Michael D. Cohen

Q. Do you worry that Michael Cohen might flip?

The President. One second.

Q. Are you worried that Michael Cohen might flip?

The President. Look, I did nothing wrong. You have to understand, this stuff would have come out a long time ago. I did nothing wrong. I don't do anything wrong.

Q. Is Michael Cohen still your friend?

The President. It's really nice.

Q. Is he still your friend?

The President. I always liked Michael Cohen. I haven't spoken to Michael in a long time.

Q. Is he still your lawyer—[inaudible]

The President. No, he's not my lawyer, but—anymore.

Q. Your personal lawyer?

The President. But I always liked Michael, and he's a good person. And I think he's been——

Q. Are you worried he will cooperate?

The President. Excuse me, do you mind if I talk?

Q. I just want to know if you're worried——

The President. You're asking me a question; I'm trying to ask it.

Q. I just want to know if you're worried if he's going to cooperate with Federal investigators.

The President. No, I'm not worried, because I did nothing wrong.

Q. Got it. Got it.

The President. Nothing wrong.

Investigation Into Russia's Interference in 2016 Presidential Election/News Media

Q. Mr. President, did you dictate that statement about Don Jr.? Did you dictate the statement about Donald Trump, Jr.?

The President. Let's not talk about it. You know what that is? Q. But can you tell us?

The President. It's irrelevant. It's a statement to the New York Times—the phony, failing New York Times.

Q. Well, just to clear it up. To clear it up.

The President. Just wait a minute. Wait a minute. That's not a statement to a high tribunal of judges.

Q. Understood.

The President. That's a statement to the phony New York Times.

In fact, frankly, he shouldn't even speak to the New York Times, because they only write phony stories anyway, although yesterday they wrote a nice story about what a good job I'm doing.

Q. Mr. President, why don't you clear it up?

Q. Did you dictate it?

Department of Justice Inspector General's Report Relating to 2016 Presidential Election

Q. Thank you, sir. On the IG report, you've said twice now that it exonerated you, and it proved there's no collusion. The IG report——

The President. If you read the IG report, I've been totally exonerated. As far as I'm concerned——

Q. It had nothing to do with collusion. It had nothing to do with that.

The President. Take a look at it. Take—no, take a look at the investigation. Take a look at how it started. Take a look at the horrible statements that Peter Strzok, the chief investigator, said. And take a look at what he did with Hillary Clinton. Take a look at——

Q. Should he be fired? Should Peter Strzok be fired?

Q. Sir, that has nothing to do with collusion. Why are you lying about it, sir?

The President. Yes, I would, I'll tell you what—you're asking me about Peter Strzok being fired?

Q. Should he be fired?

The President. I am amazed that Peter Strzok is still at the FBI, and so is everybody else that read that report. And I'm not even talking about the report; I'm talking about long before the report. Peter Strzok should have been fired a long time ago, and others should have been fired.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator E. Scott Pruitt

Q. Mr. President, are you going to fire Scott Pruitt?

The President. I'm looking at Scott, and Scott has done a fantastic job at EPA. But, you know, we'll—we'll make——

Q. You don't see anything problems with his ethical——

The President. I'm not happy about certain things, I'll be honest. Q. Are you going to fire him?

The President. Excuse me. Excuse me. I'm not happy about certain things. But he's done a fantastic job running the EPA, which is very overriding. But I am not happy about it.

Q. Do you think he's used his position for private gain?

The President. I hope not.

Separation of Children From Parents at Mexico-U.S. Border

Q. Mr. President, do you agree with children being taken away from—[inaudible]—at the border?

The President. No, I hate it. I hate the children being taken away. The Democrats have to change their law. That's their law. They will force——

Q. Sir, that's your own policy. That's your own policy. Why do you keep lying about it, sir?

The President. Quiet. Quiet, quiet. That's the Democrats' law. We can change it tonight. We can change it right now. I will leave here——

Q. You're the President. You can change it right now.

The President. No, no. You need their votes. You need their votes. The Democrats, all they have to do——

Q. Mr. President, you control both Chambers of Congress.

The President. The Democrats——

Q. The Republicans do.

The President. Excuse me. By one vote? We don't need it. You need 60 votes.

Q. And the White House.

The President. Excuse me. We have the one vote—excuse me. We need a one-vote—we have a one-vote edge. We need 60. So we need 10 votes. We can't get them from the Democrats in the Senate.

Q. What about executive action?

The President. Now, wait. Wait. You can't do it through an Executive order.

Q. [Inaudible]—your pledge to end DACA?

Q. On North Korea, sir. On North Korea.

Q. Mr. President, why——

The President. Can we do one question at a time? Wait. One question at a time. Ready?

Separation of Children From Parents at Mexico-U.S. Border/Border Security

Q. [Inaudible]

Q. [Inaudible]—pledge to end DACA?

The President. The children can be taken care of quickly, beautifully, and immediately. The Democrats forced that law upon our Nation. I hate it. I hate to see separation of parents and children. The Democrats can come to us as they actually are—in all fairness, we are talking to them—and they can change the whole border security.

We need a wall. We need border security. We got to get rid of catch-and-release. You catch a criminal, you take his name, you release him, and he never shows up again. He goes into our society, and then we end up getting him in a different way, oftentimes after he's killed somebody. We've got to change our laws. The Democrats have control because we don't have the votes. The Republicans need—we need more Republicans, frankly. And that's why I think we're going to do so well in the midterms. That and because——

National Economy

Q. Do you support the immigration compromise, Mr. President?

The President. Wait. That and because we have the strongest economy in the history of our Nation. We have the best jobs numbers in the last 44 years. Top of Drudge: "The best job numbers in 44 years."

Separation of Children From Parents at Mexico-U.S. Border

Q. But then, Mr. President—but then, why did Jeff Sessions announce a zero-tolerance policy at the border on May 7? Is that not a Republican——

The President. Because he's following the law.

Q. Is that not a Republican policy?

The President. No.

Q. Is that not a Republican policy?

The President. No. He's following laws. He following a law that——

Q. But that was a direct order to——

The President. Can I answer your question, please?

Q. Yes.

The President. Okay? You're just asking me the same question over and over. He's following laws, very simply, that were given to us and forced upon us by the Democrats.

Q. That's not true, sir. That's not true.

Separation of Children From Parents at Mexico-U.S. Border/Border Security

Q. But there's no law that says families have to separated at the border. There's another way to go about it, Mr. President.

The President. The Democrats gave us the laws. Now, I want the laws to be beautiful, humane, but strong. I don't want bad people coming in. I don't want drugs coming in. And we can solve that problem in one meeting. Tell the Democrats, your friends, to call me.

North Korea-U.S. Relations/North Korea's Nuclear Weapons Program/U.S. Armed Forces

Q. Mr. President, at the end of the "Fox & Friends" interview, you said that you were going to spend Father's Day weekend doing work, and you said that you were going to have a call with North Korea. Who are you going to talk to in North Korea? The President. Well, I'm going to speak to people in North Korea, and I'm going to speak to my people who are over in North Korea——

Q. Kim Jong Un?

The President. ——and a lot of things are happening.

And I will tell you this: We now have a very good relationship with North Korea. When I came into this job, it looked like war. Not because of me, but because—if you remember the sit-down with Barack Obama, I think he will admit this, he said the biggest problem that the United States has, and by far the most dangerous problem—and he said to me—that we've ever had, because of nuclear, is North Korea. Now, that was shortly before I entered office. I have solved that problem. Now, we're getting it memorialized and all.

Q. You solved the problem?

The President. But that problem is largely solved, and part of the reason is, we signed, number one, a very good document. But you know what? More importantly than the document—more importantly than the document, I have a good relationship with Kim Jong Un. That's a very important thing.

I can now call him. I can now say, "Well, we have a problem." I told him—I gave him a very direct number. He can now call me if he has any difficulty. I can call him. We have communication. It's a very good thing.

People are shocked that this is the kind of—you know, they thought Trump was going to get in, and he was going to start throwing bombs all over the place. It's actually the opposite.

But we're building a military so strong—$716 billion next year; $700 [billion; White House correction.] this year. We're building a military so strong, nobody is going to mess with us. But you know what? I never want to have to use it.

Q. Can you tell us about the verification process? What's the verification process?

The President. Quiet.

Q. What's the verification process?

The President. Boy, she's [Weijia Jiang, CBS News] so obnoxious. Quiet.

Q. What's the verification process?

North Korea's Nuclear Weapons Program/Remains of U.S. Servicemembers Killed in Korean War/China

Q. You told Americans that they can sleep well at night, and you declared there's no more nuclear threat.

Q. What's verification process going to look like? What's verification process going to look like?

The President. We're going to have a very strong verification process.

Q. What's it going to look like?

The President. Now, if you read the agreement, which most of you didn't, point after point after point, he gave, including getting back our—the remains of our great heroes, okay? Of our great, great heroes. Which made—some people are crying in the streets they're so happy. Nobody thought we were going to get that. Point after point.

All they said about me is: "You met. He met. It's terrible he met." Of course I met. Meeting is a good thing, not a bad thing. By the way, it was good for the United States; it was good for them.

I spoke with China. They are very happy. Actually, they were much happier. Now, they may not be as happy today because of what I'm doing with trade. You probably heard that. I assume it's been announced by now. But we're putting tariffs on 50 billion dollars' worth of technology and other things, because we have to, because we've been treated very unfairly.

But China has been terrific. President Xi has been terrific. President Moon, everybody—we're all working together because of me.

North Korea's Nuclear Weapons Program

Q. Mr. President, how long will you give Kim Jong Un to follow through on denuclearization before you——

The President. Well, we're working it as fast as possible.

Q. Is Putin coming to the White House soon?

Q. ——before you put sanctions back on?

The President. We're working it as fast as possible.

Q. Is he visiting the White House, Mr. Trump?

The President. We're working that. We're working denuclearization as fast as possible.

Q. You said there were additional sanctions put on——

Russia-U.S. Relations

Q. Are you planning to meet with Putin this summer?

The President. It's possible that we'll meet, yes. And I thought—you know, this all started because somebody—one of you—asked, "Should Putin be in the G-7?" I said, no, he should be in the G-8.

A few years ago, Putin was in what was called the G-8. I think it's better to have Russia in than to have Russia out, because just like North Korea, just like somebody else, it's much better if we get along with them than if we don't.

So it's possible. Just so you understand——

Russia's Annexation of Crimea/Syria

Q. Is Crimea part of Russia? Do you——

The President. No, no. President Obama lost Crimea, just so you understand. This was long before I got there. Just—I want to make it so the fake news prints it properly. President Obama lost Crimea.

Q. So it's his fault?

The President. Wait, wait. Yes, it's his fault. Yes, yes, it's his fault. Yes, it's his fault.

Q. How is it not Putin's fault, sir? The President. The President—just so you understand——

Q. How is it not Putin's fault, sir? How is it not Putin's fault? He invaded them, sir.

The President. Because Putin didn't respect President Obama. President Obama lost Crimea because President Putin didn't respect President Obama, didn't respect our country, and didn't respect Ukraine.

But President Obama, not Trump—when it's my fault, I'll tell you. But President Obama gave away that. Now, President Obama, by not going across the red line in the sand that he drew—I went across it with the 59 missile hits. But President Obama, when he didn't go across the red line, what he gave away, nobody even knows.

But just to put it—one more time, President Obama gave away Crimea. That should have never happened. Goodbye, everybody.

NOTE: The President spoke at 9:03 a.m. on the North Lawn at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo; Andrew Weissmann, attorney, Department of Justice Special Counsel's office; State Affairs Commission Chairman Kim Jong Un of North Korea; Paul J. Manafort, Jr., former campaign chairman, 2016 Donald J. Trump Presidential campaign; former Sen. Robert J. Dole; Sen. John S. McCain III; former National Security Adviser Michael T. Flynn; Memphis, TN, resident Alice Marie Johnson, whose lifetime prison sentence was commuted by the President on June 6; Federal Bureau of Investigation agent Peter P. Strzok II, in his former capacity as lead investigator of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's use of a private email server and the investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 Presidential election; Attorney General Jefferson B. Sessions III; President Moon Jae-in of South Korea, and President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin of Russia. A reporter referred to reality television personality Kim Kardashian West.

Donald J. Trump, Remarks in an Exchange With Reporters Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under




Washington, DC

Simple Search of Our Archives