Photo of Donald Trump

Remarks in an Exchange With Reporters Prior to Departure for Ahmedabad, India

February 23, 2020

The President. Hello, everybody.

Q. What's your message to the people of India today?

Nevada Democratic Caucus Results/2020 Democratic Presidential Candidate Senator Bernard Sanders

Q. [Inaudible]—win for Bernie Sanders?

The President. So I think it was a great win for Bernie Sanders. We'll see how it all turns out. They've got a lot of winning to do. I hope they treat him fairly. Frankly, I don't care who I run against. I just hope they treat him fairly. I hope it's not going to be a rigged deal, because there's a lot of bad things going on. And I hope it's not going to be one of those. So we'll see what happens.

But I congratulate Bernie Sanders. And if it's going to be him, he certainly has a substantial lead. We'll see what happens.

Russia's Reported Interference in the 2020 Presidential Election

Q. Mr. President, have you been briefed that Russia is trying to help Bernie Sanders? And if so, what's your message to Putin? Are you comfortable with him intervening?

The President. Nobody said it. I read where Russia is helping Bernie Sanders. Nobody said it to me at all. Nobody briefed me about that at all. The—what they try and do is—certain people like certain people to have information. No different than it's been.

But I have not been briefed on that at all. Nobody told me about it. They leaked it. Adam Schiff and his group, they leaked it to the papers and—as usual. They ought to investigate Adam Schiff for leaking that information. He should not be leaking information out of intelligence. They ought to investigate Adam Schiff.

Q. Why did—[inaudible]—put out a very harsh statement——

Former National Security Adviser John R. Bolton

Q. Are you trying to block the publication of Bolton's book?

The President. You'll have to ask the Attorney General. I don't know where it stands. But you'll have to ask the Attorney General.

Q. Did you call him a traitor? Mr. President, did you call him a traitor?

Q. [Inaudible]

The President. Say it?

Russia's Reported Interference in the 2020 Presidential Election/Senator Bernard Sanders/Nevada Democratic Caucus Results

Q. Do you believe that Russia is trying to interfere to help Bernie Sanders?

The President. You'll have to ask Bernie Sanders that. I mean, he'd know better than me. I have not been briefed to that effect. But you'll have to ask Bernie Sanders that. Q. Are you concerned about Russian interference?

The President. I think what it could be is, you know, the Democrats are treating Bernie Sanders very unfairly. And it sounds to me like a leak from Adam Schiff, because they don't want Bernie Sanders to represent them. It sounds like it's '16 all over again for Bernie Sanders.

And he won. He had a great victory yesterday. But you know what's happening. You can see the handwriting on the wall. And I watched last time, with respect to him. And they might have tried to do it with me, but I was able to catch it. That would be a terrible thing if that were the case.

Russia-Ukraine Relations

Q. Vladimir Putin said the other day that other countries are trying to split Russia and Ukraine apart, and if they came together, they would actually be a world superpower—Ukraine and Russia. What do you make of President Putin's comments?

The President. Well, I'd like to see them come together. I think if they came together in the sense that they got along with each other, that would be a great thing. It would be a great thing for the world. If Ukraine and Russia could work out some agreement where they get along, to me that would be very good.

Acting White House Chief of Staff John M. "Mick" Mulvaney

Q. [Inaudible]—confidence in Mick Mulvaney as the Chief of Staff?

The President. Yes, sure. He's here now. Sure. No problem.

Prosecution of Political Consultant Roger J. Stone, Jr.

Q. Mr. President, what's your updated thinking about a pardon for Roger Stone?

The President. Well, I've seen a very sad thing going on with respect to Roger Stone. You have a juror that's obviously tainted. She was an activist against Trump. Said bad things about Trump and said bad things about Stone.

And she somehow wheedled her way onto the jury. And if that's not a tainted jury, then there is no such thing as a tainted jury. I think it's a disgrace. And I could say plenty more about that whole situation, but I'll hold it.

I don't know why they gave a judgment—why the judge ruled prior to ruling on that. Because, in theory, you should rule on that, and then you see what happens. But the judge gave a sentence without discussing that, and I guess she's going to bring that up at a later date.

But I do think this: That juror is so biased and so tainted that that shouldn't happen in our criminal justice system. That's for sure.

Q. What if he doesn't get a new trial? What if she says no new trial? What are you going to do?

The President. We'll see what happens.

Director of National Intelligence Nomination Process

Q. Who will you nominate for Director of National Intelligence?

The President. We have four or five people that are great, very respected. In the meantime, we have our Ambassador to Germany, who is a very smart person. And he's doing a great job.

Q. Who's on the list? The President. I can't tell you yet, but I'll be announcing it shortly.

Former Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire

Q. Why did you dismiss Maguire? Why did you dismiss him? Were you unhappy with him?

The President. His time came up. You know, I think it was—March 11, his time comes up. He ran out of time. Because on March—I think it was a date of March 11. He's a very nice man. His time came up, so he had to leave on March 11.

India-U.S. Relations/The President's Schedule

Q. What is your message to the people of India? You are traveling to India today. What is your message to the people of India?

The President. Well, I look forward to being with the people of India. We're going to have many millions and millions of people. It's a long trip.

But I get along very well with the Prime Minister, Prime Minister Modi. He's a friend of mine. I committed to this trip a long time ago, and I look forward to go—going.

We're taking—as you know, the First Lady is coming. Some of you are coming. I hear it's going to be a big event. Some people say the biggest event they've ever had in India. That's what the Prime Minister told me. This will be the biggest event they've ever had. So it's going to be very exciting. I'm going to be there one night. That's not too much.

And then, I'm stopping in South Carolina. We're doing a big rally. And then, I'll be doing CPAC on Saturday. So there's not a lot of time for rest, I will say that.

Q. [Inaudible]—about coronavirus?

2020 Democratic Presidential Candidate Senator Bernard Sanders

Q. Will Bernie be the nominee? Will Bernie be the nominee?

The President. I think so, unless they cheat him out of it. I think so. I think Bernie is looking more and more like he'll be the nominee unless they cheat him out of it. A lot of people thought he was going to be the nominee last time, and that didn't work out. I think they're watching it very closely. I would imagine so.

Coronavirus Outbreak in China/Domestic Containment Efforts

Q. Have you been updated on the coronavirus, sir?

The President. Yes, we're very much involved. We're very cognizant of everything going on. We have it very much under control in this country.

Global Coronavirus Outbreak/Domestic Containment Efforts

Q. Are you concerned for that virus expansion in Japan?

The President. Well, it's a big situation going on throughout the world. And I can say, the United States, we've very much closed our doors in certain areas, in about certain areas, through certain areas. And we'll see what happens. But we have the greatest doctors in the world. We have it very much under control.

We accepted a few people—a small number of people. They're very well confined, and they should be getting better fairly soon. Very interestingly, we've had no deaths. We have a—I mean, you know, we've had a great practice. We had—we had 12, at one point. And now they've gotten very much better. Many of them are fully recovered.

Coronavirus Outbreak in China

Q. Do you think President Xi should be doing something different?

The President. No, I think President Xi is working very, very hard. I spoke to him. He's working very hard. I think he's doing a very good job. It's a big problem. But President Xi loves his country. He's working very hard to solve the problem and he will solve the problem. Okay?

Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard A. Grenell

Q. Will you be—[inaudible]—Ambassador to Germany, Mr. Grenell, to continue?

The President. I'll be appointing a Ambassador to Germany. I will say Ambassador Grenell has done a fantastic job. This is just a temporary job. We have five people that we're looking at very seriously, expert people. And at a certain point in the not-too-distant future, we'll be announcing who they are. Okay?

Kosovo-Serbia Relations

Q. Are you also appointing a new Envoy to Kosovo and Serbia talks?

The President. Say it?

Q. Are you also appointing a new Envoy to Kosovo and Serbia talks?

The President. Well, the Ambassador will be doing that. He did a great job. He's very familiar with the people, and he will be—he has done a fantastic job on that. He's going to continue to maintain that, because he's got such a good dialogue. Everybody said that was a deal, you know, that couldn't be done. And we got it done. It's a great thing for those two countries.

Russia's Reported Interference in the 2020 Presidential Election

Q. Mr. President, when the DNI is in place, are you ordering the IC to not investigate Russian interference for the 2020 election?

The President. I'm not involved in it. I'm not involved. I don't have to, but I stay uninvolved. I don't have to; I can be totally involved, as you know. But I very much stay uninvolved, and it's all working out very well.

Q. Mr. President——

Afghanistan/Reconciliation Efforts

Q. [Inaudible]—Afghanistan, sir, do you trust the Taliban to keep their word?

The President. Look, the Taliban has been fighting for decades. We've been over there 19 years. We're like a law enforcement force. We think they want to make a deal; we want to make a deal. I think it's going to work out. We'll see.

We're, right now, in a period that's been holding up. You know, we have a certain period of nonviolence. It's been holding up. It's a day and a half. So we'll see what happens.

But people want to make a deal, and I think the Taliban wants to make a deal too.

Q. Would you sign the deal with them?

The President. They're tired of fighting. Q. Would you sign a deal with them? Would you have them here? Or where would you do that?

The President. We haven't made—we haven't decided. I want to see how this period of a week works out. We can do that very quickly.

Q. But you would put your name on it?

The President. Yes. Yes. Assuming it works out over the next less than a week, I would put my name on it, sure. It's time to come home. And they want to stop. You know, they've been fighting a long time. They're tough people; we're tough people. But after 19 years, that's a long time.

Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd.

Q. Sir, what's your latest thought on Huawei? Great Britain, the other week, signed a deal with them.

The President. We have to be very careful. National security. Huawei. National security. We have to be very careful.

Thank you very much, everybody.

World Boxing Council Heavyweight Championship

Q. Mr. President, did you watch the fight?

The President. I did. Great fight. By the way, that was a great fight. Did you watch it?

Q. [Inaudible]

The President. You liked it? That was a great fight. Two great fighters. It was, really, very exciting. Maybe we have to bring them both to the White House—I don't know. Because that was really a good one. In fact, I think we'll do that. Have a good time. Have a good time.

NOTE: The President spoke at 9:03 a.m. on the South Lawn at the White House prior to boarding Marine One. In his remarks, he referred to Rep. Adam B. Schiff, in his capacity as chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence; former Memphis City Schools Board President Tomeka Hart, in her capacity as jury foreperson in the Federal prosecution against Mr. Stone; Amy Berman Jackson, judge, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia; Acting Director Grenell in his capacity as Special Presidential Envoy for Serbia and Kosovo Peace Negotiations; and professional boxers Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder. A reporter referred to President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin of Russia.

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

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