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Remarks in an Exchange With Reporters Aboard Air Force One

October 03, 2017

[The President interrupted a press gaggle by Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Resident Commissioner Jenniffer A. González-Colón, and Small Business Administration Administrator Linda E. McMahon, who were accompanying the President on his return from Puerto Rico, where he assessed Hurricane Maria damage and recovery efforts. The President joined the gaggle as Rep. González-Colón was asked a question by a reporter as follows.]

Q. You spent a lot of time with the President today. You also were in meetings that were closed to us. Did you hear any constructive criticism of the President?

Rep. González-Colón. You have it here.

The President. Everything good?

Rep. González-Colón. Yes, sir.

The President. That was a terrific visit. That visit was terrific. Really great. Thank you very much for your nice words. Thank you. Appreciate it, very much. That was really nice. That was a great, great visit. Really loved it.

Funding for Hurricane Maria Recovery Efforts

Q. Were you able to make any guarantees to any of the officials there about a supplemental or——

The President. We didn't discuss that. No, we didn't discuss that.

Hurricane Maria Recovery Efforts

Q. Mr. President, we heard a lot of praise for the efforts that you've done, the rest of the Federal Government has done, FEMA has done over the course of the day. We weren't in every meeting, obviously. Did you hear any constructive criticism today?

The President. None. They were so thankful for what we've done. And the Congresswoman will tell you that they are so thankful for what we've done. Even the bringing of the big—you know, it's the largest hospital boat in the world, and that arrived a little while ago.

Here's a man right there, that's been—known him a long time, right, Geraldo [Geraldo Rivera, Fox News]?

But it's been—I think it's been a great day. No, we only heard thank yous from the people of Puerto Rico. They're great people. And it was really something that I enjoyed very much today, being with them.

Hurricane Maria Recovery Efforts

Q. Mr. President, did you mean, earlier this morning, when you were talking to folks before you left, you said, on a local level, they have to give us more help. What did you mean by that?

The President. On a local level, we need the truck drivers. We need the police. We need more help on a local level, that's true. We have tremendous amounts of supplies there. We need them distributed locally, and the best one to do that are local people.

We need local help, and they're helping. They're really gearing up. They're helping. Don't forget, a lot of them lost their homes. And when you lose a home, it's not easy to say, hey, I'm going to go and start delivering water or even be a policeman. So, on a local level, we need help, but they really have responded very well.

The President's Travel to Puerto Rico

Q. What does it, do you think, mean to the people of Puerto Rico, just you're being on the island today after such devastation struck them over the course of the past 2 weeks?

The President. I think it means a lot to the people of Puerto Rico that I was there. They've really responded very nicely, and I think it meant a lot to the people of Puerto Rico.

I mean, I think you folks have seen it. And I guess it's one of the few times anybody has done this. I didn't know that at the time, but I guess, from what I'm hearing, it's the first time that a sitting President has done something like this. Is that a correct statement, Congresswoman?

Rep. González-Colón. Yes, sir. Yes.

The President. You were one of the people that told me.

Rep. González-Colón. Your First Lady and your Cabinet—we used to have one person coming to the island—2, 3 weeks later. But you know, you're here with your whole staff coming back and forth. That never happened before.

The President. And I know the people of Puerto Rico. And I know Puerto Rican people that live in New York, and they're friends of mine. And I will tell you, it's an honor for me to have done it.

Now go back to Linda. She's far more exciting.

Shootings in Las Vegas, NV

Q. What are your goals tomorrow in Las Vegas?

The President. It's very, very sad. I'm leaving early in the morning tomorrow. I will be in Las Vegas. We're going to see some of the folks that are recovering, some of the survivors. We're going to be seeing—it's a very horrible thing even to think about. Really horrible.

We're also meeting with the police, with the Sheriff, and we're going to spend quite a bit of time in Las Vegas. But we'll be leaving early tomorrow morning.

Gun Control/Shootings in Las Vegas, NV

Q. [Inaudible]—this morning to having a debate on gun control at some point in time——

The President. At some point, perhaps that will come. But that's not for now; that's for—at a later time.

Q. Do you think he should have been able to have all those weapons and all those kinds of weapons that they found in that hotel room?

The President. We'll talk about that on a later date.

Shootings in Las Vegas, NV

Q. Did you have any time to get updated on the latest in the investigation?

The President. Yes, I have. I'm fully updated.

Q. What motivated him?

The President. I'm fully updated. Number one, he was a sick and demented person, but I guess we know that without an update. But he was a sick and demented person. Shootings in Las Vegas, NV/Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Terrorist Organization

Q. Do you believe it could have any link to ISIS, one way or the other?

The President. I have no idea. Thank you very much.

[At this point, the President left the gaggle, and Administrator McMahon and Press Secretary Sanders took additional question from reporters.]

NOTE: The President spoke at approximately 5:50 p.m. while en route to Washington, DC. In his remarks, he referred to Sheriff Joseph Lombardo of Clark County, NV; and Stephen C. Paddock, suspected gunman in the shootings at the Route 91 Harvest Festival adjacent to the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV, on October 1. He also referred to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist organization. The transcript released by the Office of the Press Secretary also included the remarks of Press Secretary Sanders, Rep. González-Colón, Administrator McMahon, and reporters. Audio was not available for verification of the content of these remarks.

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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