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Remarks in an Exchange With Reporters at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland

November 05, 2018

The President. Hello, folks. So we're going to Ohio. We're going to Indiana. We're going to Missouri. And I think we're going to have a very good day. They're packed houses. Every one of them is packed.

And there is a great electricity in the air. I don't know if you report it that way, but there's a great electricity in the air, like we haven't seen, in my opinion, since the '16 election. So something is happening. We'll see.

But I think we're going to do very well, and you're going to have three very exciting stops. We'll be doing three major speeches in front of big crowds, very big crowds.

Q. Mr. President——

The President. Jennifer [Jennifer Jacobs, Bloomberg], go ahead.

Russia-U.S. Relations

Q. Oh, sir, can you tell us a little bit about your meeting with President Putin in Paris? What are you expecting from that meeting, sir?

The President. Well, we haven't set anything up yet. We don't know that that's going to be the right place. I'm going to be in Paris for other reasons. But we will be meeting at the G-20. And probably, we'll have meetings after that, probably plenty of meetings.

Getting along with Russia, China, and all of them would be a good thing; I've said it for a long time. So we'll have plenty of meetings. But I'm not sure that we'll have a meeting in Paris. Probably not.

2018 Congressional Elections

Q. Mr. President, several of the networks have declined to run your immigration ad that you posted last week, saying that it was potentially too racist. Do you have a response to that?

The President. I don't know about it. I mean, you're telling me something I don't know about. We have a lot of ads.

Q. Do you know who made that ad?

The President. And they certainly are effective, based on the numbers that we're seeing.

Q. Well, Mr. President, a lot of folks have said that ad was offensive. Why did you like that ad? What were you trying to accomplish with it?

The President. Well, a lot of things are offensive. Your questions are offensive a lot of times, so you know.

2018 Congressional Elections

Q. Mr. President, what about the idea that this midterm election is more about your style as President than anything else? The President. Well, I don't think so. But, I mean, I'm willing to accept that. I think we're doing well. I think the Senate, we're doing very well. And I think we're going to do very well in the House. If you look, over a hundred years, for whatever reason, the party with the President doesn't do very well. I think we're going to do pretty well.

I have never seen—look, you're covering me. The energy that our—that we have, the energy that this whole party has now, it's really incredible. Whether it's the great economy or the immigration—our strong stand and their very weak stand, where they have open borders, which, to me, means nothing but crime—I don't know. But I can tell you that there's a lot of energy.

2018 Congressional Elections

Q. Mr. President, if you lose the House, what's your strategy to get funding for the border wall?

The President. Well, we'll see what it is. I mean, we're going to see what happens. And I have a feeling that others will want to get things done. And right now we're before the election. But after the election, I would imagine other people will want to get things done. We'll see.

Q. Mr. President, what proof do you have that people are intending to illegally vote in the midterms?

The President. Oh, just take a look. All you have to do is go around, take a look at what's happened over the years, and you'll see. There are a lot of people—a lot of people—my opinion and based on proof—that try and get in illegally and actually vote illegally. So we just want to let them know that there will be prosecutions at the highest level.

U.S. Sanctions Against Iran

Q. Iran sanctions. Why did you decide to give some countries waivers on the oil—on Iranian oil?

The President. With the oil, it's very interesting. We have the toughest sanctions ever imposed. But on oil, we want to go a little bit slower, because I don't want to drive the oil prices in the world—this has nothing to do with Iran—I don't want to drive the oil prices in the world up. So I'm not looking to be a great hero and bring it down to zero immediately.

I could get the Iran oil down to zero immediately, but it would cause a shock to the market. I don't want to lift oil prices. And if you notice, oil prices are going down very substantially, despite the fact that already half of their capacity is gone.

But I don't want to do that. I saw some people saying, "Oh, why aren't you tougher on that?" Well, number one, the sanctions are very tough. Number two, I don't want to lift the oil prices worldwide by clamping down a hundred percent. It will be a gradual.

Potential Executive Branch Personnel Changes

Q. How soon will we see changes in your administration after the midterms? You said Jeff Sessions would probably leave after the midterms?

The President. Well, everything—yes. Administrations make changes, usually after midterms. And probably, we'll be right in that category too. I think it's very customary.

Attorney General Jefferson B. Sessions III/The President's Accomplishments

Q. And any timeline, though, on when your Attorney General will leave? The President. No timeline. No, no timeline. I really—I mean, for the most part, I love my Cabinet. We have some really talented people. Look at the deals we're making on trade. Look at the job we've done in so many different things, including foreign affairs.

I mean, we've done record-setting work. I don't know that we get the credit for it, but that's okay.

Q. Who would you like to send out?

Successor to U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Nikki R. Haley

Q. How's your U.N. search coming for your U.N. Ambassador, sir? How's that search going?

The President. Very good. I'll announce before the end of the week. The U.N. Ambassador I will announce before the end of the week.

Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis

Q. Sir, do you plan to make a change to Secretary of Defense?

The President. Why would I do that?

Q. That's one of the——

The President. Oh, I don't know, is that the new rumor? No. No, I don't at all.

Q. What about Secretary Zinke?

The President. I was surprised by that question. I hadn't heard that one.

Secretary of the Interior Ryan K. Zinke

Q. What do you think of Secretary Zinke's—[inaudible]?

The President. Well, I think he's done a very good job. I do think he's done a very good job.

Q. Are you troubled by some of the things you've read and seen about him?

The President. Well, I haven't seen it yet, but I'll take a look. I'm going to look at any reports. I'll take a look. Certainly, I would not be happy with that at all. But I will take a look. But he's done a very good job as Secretary.

Okay? Thank you all. See you. Have a good day.

Q. Do you expect to get rid of——

NOTE: The President spoke at 1:24 p.m. prior to departure for Cleveland, Ohio. In his remarks, he referred to President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin of Russia.

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

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