Photo of Donald Trump

Remarks in an Exchange With Reporters Aboard Air Force One

September 14, 2017

Former National Security Adviser Susan E. Rice/2016 Presidential Election

Q. What I'm wondering, Mr. President, is that Susan Rice has finally come out and said that she did unmask officials in your campaign, and I'm wondering what your reaction is.

The President. She's not supposed to be doing that, and what she did was wrong. And we've been saying that, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. What she did was wrong. Not supposed to be doing that. You know it. The unmasking and the surveillance, and I heard she admitted that yesterday. Just not right.

Let's go, folks. We'll go a few more. Go ahead. Anybody have any questions?

Hurricane Irma Relief and Recovery Efforts/Governor Richard L. Scott of Florida

Q. What did you think of the trip today—handing out the sandwiches?

The President. I think the Governor has done a great job. I think the Federal Government, working with State and local, has really done a terrific job.

Now, the Keys are in—we've just gotten word on the Keys. That was just wiped out. That got—that was a hurricane 5 hit it. But we're getting tremendous amounts of supplies and medical and a lot of other things out to the Keys.

But for most—for the most part, the electric is going back on. It's already on in certain locations like Miami, but it's going back on on a daily basis. We have masses of—massive amounts of electricians, massive amounts of electrical workers all over the State. They came from all over the country. They came from Canada, as far away as Canada.

There's never been a mobilization of electrical workers like we have in the State of Florida, and it's going on very rapidly. Much of it is already on.

Hurricane Irma Relief and Recovery Efforts/72d Session of the United Nations General Assembly

Q. Are you going to the Virgin Islands?

The President. I'll be going to the Virgin Islands. This next week, as you know, is United Nations. And I'm going to be going to the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico sometime the end of next week or the following week.

Q. Sir, are you——

The President. I spoke to both Governors. We've got it very well covered. Virgin Islands was really hit. They were hit, like—just about as hard as I've ever seen. But the Virgin Islands were hit. But I'll be going there at the end of the week or the beginning of the following week.

I'll also be going to Puerto Rico the same day.

Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action To Prevent Iran From Obtaining a Nuclear Weapon Q. You mentioned United Nations next week. Your administration has undertaken a review of the Iran deal. Will you be announcing——

The President. A review of what?

Q. The Iran deal. I'm wondering if you will be announcing, or if you can tell us, give us a hint about whether you will make any decisions about adding more sanctions on Iran or even pulling out.

The President. Well, you'll see what I'm going to be doing very shortly in October. But I will say this: The Iran deal is one of the worst deals I've ever seen. Certainly, at a minimum, the spirit of the deal is just atrociously kept, but the Iran deal is not a fair deal to this country. It's a deal that should have never, ever been made. And you'll see what we're doing in a couple of weeks. It's going to be—it's going to be in October.

Q. Will we have some major action, you think, by your administration?

The President. Well, we're going to see. You're going to see. But we are not going to stand for what they're doing to this country. They have violated so many different elements, but they've also violated the spirit of that deal. And you will see what we'll be doing in October. It will be very evident.

Bipartisanship/Health Care Reform/Border Security/President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico/Earthquake in Mexico

Q. Mr. President, what do you say to Republicans who are looking at your outreach to Democrats and saying, "What's going on here"?

The President. Well, many Republicans really like it. As you know, I was with a great Republican Representative just now, who you know very well—and two of them—and they are very, very happy with what I'm doing. And I'm a Republican through and through, but I'm also finding that sometimes to get things through, it's not working that way.

And you know, we got very poorly treated on the health care plan, and now you see what's happening, where people are going single-payer, exactly what I said would happen. And single-payer would be a terrible thing for our country.

So I am—look, my relationship with the Republicans is excellent. Many of them agree with what I'm doing. You just saw two—Mario—you know who I'm talking about—we just met with two great Republican Representatives who love what I'm doing.

But we have to get things passed, and if we can't get things passed, then we have to go a different route. But we have to get things passed.

Now, you've covered my statement very accurately on the dinner last night, and they cannot obstruct for a wall, because we definitely need a wall. I just spoke, by the way, to the President of Mexico, and as you know, it's been impossible to reach him because of the—he was in the mountains where they had the earthquake, and there was no cell. We spoke yesterday, but the phone, the connection never got put together, because he had no access to cell. But we just had a good talk—just got finished with him.

And that whole earthquake is terrible, it's just terrible. So we paid our respects, and he, likewise, also paid his respects with respect to Irma and Harvey.

Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin/National Economic Council Director Gary D. Cohn Q. Mr. President——

Q. What is your response to Steven Mnuchin's taking a Government plane or looking into having a Government plane take him——

The President. I don't know anything about it. I just heard about it.

Q. Do you think it's inappropriate?

The President. I doubt he would do it. I've known him a long time. He is a very straight shooter. So it could be that he used a plane, and he's paying for it. I don't know anything about it, I really don't. I just heard about it a little while ago.

Q. And do you have full confidence in Mnuchin and Cohn?

The President. Total confidence. I've known him for a long time. He's a very honorable man. He's a——

Q. How about Gary Cohn?

The President. I have confidence in Gary too.

Senator Timothy E. Scott/Antifa Protest Movement/Civil Unrest and Violence in Charlottesville, VA

Q. You met yesterday with Senator Tim Scott.

The President. Yes.

Q. He seemed to go back to the Hill and suggest to reporters there that he expressed some frustration about the way you had handled the aftermath of Charlottesville and maybe even pressed to add some more African Americans in senior ranks in your administration, African American Republicans. Were those things discussed? Can you tell us a little bit more about how you reacted?

The President. Yes, they were, and we had a great meeting. Tim Scott has been a friend of mine for a long time. I've been a supporter of his when I was civilian. I was one of his earliest supporters, and I supported him when he ran.

And we had a great talk yesterday. I think especially in light of the advent of Antifa, if you look at what's going on there, you know, you have some pretty bad dudes on the other side also. And essentially, that's what I said.

Now, because of what's happened since then, with Antifa, you look at, you know, really what's happened since Charlottesville—a lot of people are saying—in fact a lot of people have actually written—"Gee, Trump might have a point." I said, you've got some very bad people on the other side also, which is true.

But we had a great——

Q. What did he ask you——

The President. We had a great conversation, and he also has legislation, which I actually like very much—the concept of which, I support—to get people going into certain areas and building and constructing and putting people to work. And I told him yesterday, that's a concept I could support very easily.

Diversity of White House Staff/Job Creation Q. Did he ask you to make any additions to high-ranking—diversity or African Americans to the inner circle and to the White House staff?

The President. We did talk about that, yes.

Q. Did you make any promises? What do you think about it?

The President. And by the way, it's something I do. But it's something I certainly would continue to do, and we did talk about that.

Q. Did you make some promises in that regard to him?

The President. I would do it. I told him I would do it. And he knows we've——

Q. Did he give you a list of names?

The President. Let me tell you, he knows we've already done it. But I told Tim—and I told him very strongly—I like that, and I also like very much legislation having to do with jobs, in certain areas.

Senator John S. McCain III/Health Care Reform/Tax Reform

Q. Mr. President, can I come back on making deals for a second?

The President. Say it. Tell——

Q. Come back on making deals?

The President. Go ahead, John [John Roberts, Fox News].

Q. Marc Short said the other day that you learned from the Obamacare process that you can't count on members of your own party——

The President. You bet.

Q. ——to get your legislation across the goal line. Do—is that true? Do you share that?

The President. Well, I will give you a great example. So we had a surprise from John McCain, and we had the vote, and then John McCain, he came out of nowhere. And we had a surprise. It was a very unpleasant surprise, and now what are we looking at? We have people now talking about single-payer, and that's what we get. So the Republicans have to stick together better. They had the votes, and then John McCain changed his mind, pure and simple.

And if the Republicans don't stick together, then I'm going to have to do more and more. And by the way, the Republican Party agrees with me. The people out there definitely agree with me. If they're unable to stick together, then I'm going to have to get a little help from the Democrats, and I've got that.

I'll tell you, for the tax bill, I would be very surprised if I don't have at least a few Democrats. I have States that I won by 30 points and more, where they have people running. And frankly, I think—and I get the impression—that they very much like the ideas of this tax plan.

We'll be submitting on the week of the 25th, the detailed—everything—but most of—most people know about the plan in terms of the details. But we'll actually be opening up the week of the 25th. And I think it's going to be something that's going to be very successful, and I do believe we'll have some Democratic votes. Tax Reform

Q. Mr. President, on the tax plan, Democrats—most Democrats—have said that if the 1 percent gets a tax cut, they will be against it. Can you confirm whether or not the 1 percent will get a tax cut?

The President. Yes, well, his is not a plan for the rich. This is a plan for the middle class, and this is a plan for jobs, and this is a plan to bring $4 trillion back into the United States that people have wanted to do for years, both Democrat and Republican. For years, they've wanted to bring that money back into the United States.

This is a plan to bring, it could be more than $4 trillion. Frankly, nobody really knows what the number is. They've been saying for years it's $2.5 trillion, but that was—for 4 years, I've been hearing that, so obviously it's much more. I think it's anywhere between $4 trillion and $5 trillion, could even be more than that. We'll be bringing that back into the United States. I will have tremendous Democrat support and Republican support for that.

Tax Reform/National Economy

Q. Will it be a revenue-neutral plan?

The President. It will be revenue neutral when you add growth, because we're going to have magnificent growth. If you look at GDP for the last quarter, it was 3 percent. Everybody was shocked to see that. I think we would have had—I'm not going to use numbers—but I think we would have had substantially more than that for the next quarter in GDP. The problem is, we just got hit with two massive hurricanes, the likes of which we essentially haven't seen before. So that will have a little bit of an impact and maybe more than a little bit of an impact.

But we have GDP—if you raise—if you go up one point in GDP, it takes care of many sins. If you go up two points, it takes care of everything. And I think we're going to rocket in terms of GDP.

And don't forget, I've been saying for a long time that GDP is going to be higher than you thought. When GDP—when it hit 3 percent this last quarter, people, including many of the people here, were very, very surprised because they thought it would be about 1.7 or 1.8. A lot of it has to do with all of the regulations I've cut, where people can actually now go out and build and farm and do all the things they want to do, at the same time being environmentally friendly and regulation friendly.

So I just want to say including growth—because it's a very fair question, a good question—if you want to include growth, because we're going to go like a rocket ship, we're going to more than make up the difference.

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma/Climate Change

Q. Mr. President——

The President. Yes.

Q. ——the severity of these storms—the one in Florida, the one in Texas—has that made you rethink your views of climate change?

The President. Well, we've had bigger storms than this. And if you go back into the 1930s and the 1940s, and you take a look, we've had storms over the years that have been bigger than this. If you go back into the teens, you'll see storms that were as big or bigger. So we did have two horrific storms, epic storms. But if you go back into the thirties and forties, and you go back into the teens, you'll see some storms that were very similar and even bigger, okay?

Federal Reserve Chair Janet L. Yellen/National Economy

Q. Mr. President, speaking of growth, on the Federal Reserve, are you thinking about the next Chairman? Do you want to keep Chairman Yellen? Are you thinking Gary Cohn for that?

The President. Well, I do respect Chairman Yellen a lot. I like her, and I respect her, but we—I haven't made that decision yet. I do think this: The country is doing well. We got hurt by the two hurricanes, but the country is doing very well. The stock market has hit a new high, as you see. Jobs are at a 17-year low. Unemployment is at the highest number it's ever been—if you look at, the unemployment is low, and the employment in the country is just about at the highest point it's ever been. I mean, we're doing well.

And very importantly, just to finish, companies are starting to move back into our country. Expansion of auto firms and plants; expansion of different things—even Foxconn. I'm looking at your iPhone. It's made by you know who: Foxconn. And Foxconn is moving into the country for the first time. Apple is going to be building massive plants. And there's a big reason for that, and the reason happens to be Trump.

Have a good time, everybody.

North Korea

Q. Real quick, it looks like the bomb was bigger than initially thought——

The President. The what was?

Q. The bomb that North Korea exploded might have been two or three times as big.

The President. Oh.

Q. It looks like they might be making preparations for another blast. You've been reaching out to Xi Jinping. Where are you now with North Korea?

The President. We have a very good relationship with China and with the President of China. We are working on different things. I can't tell you, obviously, what I'm working on. But believe me, the people of this country will be very, very safe.

I think that a lot of effort is going to be put into this. We're looking at what's going on. I mean, as we speak, we are literally at it right now, and you will be seeing what we'll be doing.

The President's Travel to Asia/Association of Southeast Asian Nations Conference

Q. Are you going to visit China this fall in November in that Asia trip?

The President. I'll probably be visiting. I was invited by the President. We'll probably all be going over as a group in sometime in November.

Q. You think China?

The President. And we'll be doing——

Q. Japan.

The President. Japan, South Korea, possibly Vietnam with a conference. Okay?

Q. The conference. What about the Philippines for the ASEAN conference? The President. He invited us. We're going to see.

Q. You think you can do that?

The President. We're going to see.

Q. But you think South Korea, China, and Japan for sure?

The President. It looks like right now definite. We've been invited by the Philippines. They want us to go—Vietnam—to the conference.

Q. ——the trade conference, you think?

The President. So we'll possibly do that. It will be a busy 10 days, okay? Keep you guys busy.

Q. Will you be back in time for Thanksgiving?

The President. I hope so. [Laughter] I don't know, but I hope so. Thank you.

NOTE: The President spoke at 2:17 p.m. while en route to Washington, DC. In his remarks, he referred to Gov. Ricardo A. Rosselló Nevares of Puerto Rico; Gov. Kenneth E. Mapp of the U.S. Virgin Islands; Rep. Mario R. Díaz-Balart; Sen. Marco A. Rubio; President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico; Federal Reserve Chair Janet L. Yellen; President Xi Jinping of China; and President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines. A reporter referred to White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short. A portion of these remarks could not be verified because the audio was incomplete.

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

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