Photo of Donald Trump

Remarks in an Exchange With Reporters Prior to Departure for Charlevoix, Canada

June 08, 2018

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

Q. Is the Comey report going to be your birthday present?

The President. Well, it seems that it's coming out on my birthday. Maybe that's appropriate. Let's see if it is. Look, he's a very dishonest man; I've been saying it for a long time. I think I did our country a great fire—a really great favor when I fired him. And we'll see what happens. We'll see what the report says. But I guess it just got announced it's coming out on June 14, so that'll be maybe a nice birthday present. Who knows?

Q. Are you glad they caught a leaker?

Trade/Group of Seven (G-7) Nations Summit in Charlevoix, Canada

Q. [Inaudible]—Trudeau?

The President. We're going to deal with the unfair trade practices. If you look at what Canada, Mexico, the European Union, all of them have been doing to us for many, many decades, we have to change it. And they understand it's going to happen.

North American Free Trade Agreement

Q. What are you going to do if they form an agreement without you?

The President. We are going to do very well. Now, if we're unable to make a deal, we'll terminate NAFTA; we'll have a better deal. If we are unable to make a deal, we will be better off. Right now we are not going to live with the deals the way they are. European Union treats us very unfairly. Canada, very unfairly. Mexico, very unfairly.

With that being said, I think we'll probably very easily make a deal.

Q. Why are you trying——

The President. Go ahead.

North Korea

Q. Were you serious about really not needing to prepare for the Kim summit? Or were you——

The President. No, I didn't say that. I said I've been preparing all my life. I always believe in preparation, but I've been preparing all my life. You know, these 1-week preparations, they don't work. Just ask Hillary what happened to her in the debates.

So I've been preparing for this all my life. And frankly, it's really just the fake news. Because if you run, Peter [Peter Alexander, NBC News], just a little but longer, the clip, you would see: I've really been preparing all my life. I said that, but you know, the news doesn't pick that up because it's fake news.

Leaking of Classified Information/Former Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James B. Comey, Jr. Q. Are you glad they caught a leaker?

The President. It's very interesting that they caught a leaker in a very important—and it's a very important leaker. So it's very interesting. I'm getting information on it now. Happened last night. It could be a terrific thing.

I know—I believe strongly in freedom of the press. I'm a big, big believer in freedom of the press, but I'm also a believer in classified information. Has to remain classified. And that includes Comey and his band of thieves who leaked classified information all over the place.

So I'm a very big believer in freedom of the press, but I'm also a believer that you cannot leak classified information.

Deaths of Chef, Author, and Television Personality Anthony Bourdain and Fashion Designer Kate Spade

Q. Do you have a reaction to Anthony Bourdain's death this morning?

The President. Yes, I think it's very sad. In fact, I want to extend to his family my heartfelt condolences. That was very shocking. When I woke up this morning: Anthony Bourdain is dead. And I enjoyed his show. He was quite a character, I will say. But—so I just want to extend my condolences. And also to the family of Kate Spade.

Q. Do we have a G-6-plus-one?

The President. Say it?

Group of Seven (G-7) Nations Summit in Charlevoix, Canada/Russia

Q. [Inaudible]—a G-6-plus-one?

The President. It may be. You can call it anything you want. It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter what you call it. It used to be the G-8 because Russia was in it. And now Russia's not in it.

Now, I love our country. I have been Russia's worst nightmare. If Hillary got in, I'd think Putin is probably going, "Man, I wish Hillary won." Because you see what I do. But, with that being said, Russia should be in this meeting. Why are we having a meeting without Russia being in the meeting? And I would recommend, and it's up to them, but Russia should be in the meeting. It should be a part of it.

You know, whether you like it or not—and it may not be politically correct—but we have a world to run. And in the G-7, which used to be the G-8, they threw Russia out. They should let Russia come back in. Because we should have Russia at the negotiating table.

Q. Seriously—[inaudible]?

Group of Seven (G-7) Nations Summit in Charlevoix, Canada/Trade

Q. Mr. President, why did you decide to cut—[inaudible]—short?

The President. Say it? What?

Q. You're leaving a little early from the summit. Why did you decide—[inaudible]?

The President. I may leave a little bit early. It depends on the timing. But I may leave a little bit early. And it depends what happens here. Look, all of these countries have been taking advantage of the United States on trade. You saw where Canada charges our dairy farmers 270-percent tariffs. We don't charge them, or if we do, it's, like, a tiny percentage. So we have to straighten it out.

Q. Will there be more pardons?

The President. We have massive trade deficits with almost every country. We will straighten that out. And I'll tell you what, it's what I do. It won't even be hard. And in the end, we'll all get along.

But they understand. And you know, they're trying to act like, "Well, we fought with you in the wars with"—they don't mention the fact that they have trade barriers against our farmers. They don't mention the fact that they're charging almost 300-percent tariffs. When it all straightens out, we'll all be in love again.

Presidential Pardons and Commutations

Q. Will there be more pardons?

The President. There will be more pardons. I thought Alice, yesterday, was beautiful. I thought Jack Johnson, which was recommended by Sylvester Stallone and some great boxers—I thought Jack Johnson was a great one.

I'm thinking about somebody that you all know very well. And he went through a lot. And he wasn't very popular then——

Q. Is it O.J.?

The President. And he wasn't very popular then. No, I'm not thinking about O.J.

Q. All right.

The President. But he's not—only you could say O.J. But he was—look, he was not very popular then. He's—certainly, his memory is very popular now. I'm thinking about Muhammad Ali. I'm thinking about that very seriously. And some others. And some folks that have sentences that aren't fair. But I am thinking about Muhammad Ali.

Q. What will it take for you to fire Pruitt?

The President. In fact, we're doing right now, recommendations on—frankly, we're doing recommendations on Muhammad Ali.

Q. On the pardon topic, do you think that—[inaudible]?

The President. Say it, Peter [Peter Alexander, NBC News]. What?

Presidential Pardons and Commutations/Investigation Into Russia's Interference in 2016 Presidential Election

Q. On the pardon topic, do you think that you are above the law?

The President. No. No. No, I'm not above the law. I'd never want anybody to be above the law. But the pardons are a very positive thing for a President. I think you see the way I'm using them. And yes, I do have an absolute right to pardon myself. But I'll never have to do it because I didn't do anything wrong. And everybody knows it. There's been no collusion. There's been no obstruction. It's all a made-up fantasy. It's a witch hunt. No collusion, no obstruction, no nothing. Now, the Democrats have had massive collusion, massive obstruction, and they should be investigated. We'll see what's happening.


Q. [Inaudible]

The President. I haven't even thought about it. I haven't even thought—I haven't thought about any of it. It certainly is far too early to be thinking about that.

Q. [Inaudible]

The President. They haven't been convicted of anything. There's nothing to pardon. It's far too early to be—it is far too early to be thinking about it.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator E. Scott Pruitt

Q. Mr. President, what will it take for you to actually get tired of Scott Pruitt and say, "Enough"?

The President. Well, Scott Pruitt is doing a great job within the walls of the EPA. I mean, we're setting records. Outside, he's being attacked very viciously by the press. And I'm not saying that he's blameless, but we'll see what happens.

Q. But he's an embarrassment. Are you not tired of him?

Presidential Pardons and Commutations

Q. [Inaudible]—pardons? What about people who—[inaudible]?

The President. That's what I want to do. We have 3,000 names. We're looking at them. Of the 3,000 names, many of those names really have been treated unfairly. You know, this is a group of 3,000 that we've assembled. And I would get more thrill out of pardoning people that nobody knows, like Alice, yesterday.

I thought Kim Kardashian was great because she brought Alice to my attention. Alice was so great. And the way she left that jail and the tears and the love that she has with her family, I mean, to me, that was better than any celebrity that I can pardon.

So we're looking at it. But we are looking at literally thousands of names of people that have come to our attention that have been treated unfairly or where their sentence is far too long.

White House Visits by Championship Sports Teams

Q. Mr. President, in the NBA, both Lebron James and Steph Curry say, if they win, they're not coming to the White House.

The President. I didn't invite them. No, I didn't invite LeBron James, and I didn't invite Steph Curry. We're not going to invite either team. But we have other teams that are coming.

Q. What about the Caps?

The President. You know, if you look, we had Alabama, national champion—we had Clemson, national champion; we had the New England Patriots; we had the Pittsburgh Penguins last year.

Q. What about the Caps? The President. I think we'll have the Caps. I mean, we'll see. You know my attitude: If they want to be here—it's the greatest place on Earth—I'm here. If they don't want to be here, I don't want them.

Investigation Into Russia's Interference in 2016 Presidential Election

Q. What's your response to Paul Ryan saying the FBI did the right thing—[inaudible]?

The President. I think if you looked at what Paul Ryan is saying, it didn't come out that way. The fact is, they had people in our campaign; they had people doing things that have never been done in the history of this country, and it really is a disgrace. And frankly, that stuff is just starting to come out.

Q. Mitt Romney says that—Mitt Romney says that——

Q. [Inaudible]

The President. Fire who?

Q. [Inaudible]

The President. We'll see what happens. We'll see what happens.

2012 Republican Presidential Nominee W. Mitt Romney

Q. What do you think about Mitt Romney now saying you're a shoe-in to win again?

The President. Mitt Romney said what?

Q. Mitt Romney said you're going to find it easy to win again.

The President. Well, we're doing well. Look, Mitt's a straight shooter. Whether people love him or don't love him——

Q. But he called you a "con man" last time.

The President. Mitt Romney is a straight shooter. And yes, he—that's a very nice thing to say. I appreciate that. That's good.

Canada-U.S. Trade

Q. Mr. President, what do you have to say to Canada? What do you have to say to Canada?

The President. I love Canada, but they treat us very unfairly on trade. Very, very unfairly. You see the numbers. Almost 300 percent on dairy. So they treat us very unfairly.

Are you guys all going? You better get going, Peter. We'll leave without you.

Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action To Prevent Iran From Obtaining a Nuclear Weapon/Iran

Q. [Inaudible]—deal about Iran?

The President. I would only do a deal if I get it through Congress. I wouldn't do like Obama did. And fortunately, he wasn't able to get it through. You know, he tried to get it through, the Iran deal. He tried to get it through Congress, failed. So he just did it without, which is why I was able to break it up so easy.

And Iran is now a different country. They're not looking to the Mediterranean anymore; Iran is now a much different company—country since I did—since I signed that out, Iran is a much different country. Marijuana Legalization

Q. Do you support Senator Gardner's marijuana federalism bill?

The President. I really do. I support Senator Gardner. I know exactly what he's doing; we're looking at it. But I probably will end up supporting that, yes.

First Lady Melania Trump's Recovery From Kidney Surgery

Q. [Inaudible]

The President. The First Lady is great. Right there.

[At this point, the President pointed up to the White House.]

She has to—and she wanted to go—can't fly for 1 month.

Q. Why not?

The President. The doctors say. She had a big operation. That was a—close to a 4-hour operation. And she's doing great. I mean, right there. And you know what? She is a great First Lady.

Q. [Inaudible]—on their hearing, these sonic devices—[inaudible]?

The President. Terrible.

Q. [Inaudible]

The President. That's it—we'll be talking to them, but that's terrible. Okay, any other questions?

The President's Former Personal Attorney Michael D. Cohen

Q. How do you feel about the fact that Michael Cohen—[inaudible]?

The President. Was one of my lawyers. Incredible that you can break into a lawyer's office. That's one thing I can say. And I think that was unfortunate that they broke into a lawyer's office. It's not a good practice.

Immigration Reform

Q. [Inaudible]

The President. Well, the Democrats—this is a Democrat bill. The Democrats can end that very quickly. All they have to do is sit down with us and negotiate a real bill that allows us to keep criminals out of this country. It's very easy.

You know, Schumer is a guy—he complains, but he doesn't do anything. Schumer is a guy who is an obstructer. He can't do anything. All he can do is obstruct. All they have to do is call us and we'll draw a bill that gives us great border safety and security and is fair. Because I don't like the children being separated from the parents. I don't like it. I hate it.

But that's a Democrat bill that we're enforcing. We can change it in 1 day. All they have to do is come and see us.

Q. [Inaudible]

The President. I can't hear your question, darling. Too much competition. Go ahead.

Q. [Inaudible] The President. No, you're not prepared. You—I can't believe she's not prepared. See, they're shocked, right?

Q. Are you going to bring up human rights—[inaudible]?

The President. We'll bring it up. Yes. We'll bring it up.

The President's Travel to Charlevoix, Canada

Q. What are you going to do for 5 hours on the plane?

The President. I have work. I have about 15 boxes of work. I will be able to work without being bothered by phone calls, where you people are writing fake stories about me and we have to respond.

No, seriously, I mean, I have a lot of work that's on the plane, so that will be good.

Attorney to the President Rudolph W. Giuliani

Q. Are you worried at all about the things that Rudy is saying in Israel? Is he giving you any headaches?

The President. Look, Rudy is great. But Rudy is Rudy. But Rudy is doing a very good job, actually. Doing a very good job.

Q. Is a porn star—is being a porn star respectable work? He said it's not.

The President. He said what?

Q. He said that being a porn star is not respectable work.

The President. I'm not going to disagree with him on that.

Q. [Inaudible]

The President. I can't hear a word he's saying.

Former National Basketball Association Player Dennis Rodman/Presidential Pardons and Commutations/National Football League

Q. Was Dennis Rodman invited to North Korea?

The President. No, he wasn't, but I like Dennis, a great rebounder. You know, when you think—Dennis was a great rebounder, and he wasn't, relatively speaking, that tall. So that tells you. You know, there's a rebounding—there's a genius for that. Dennis Rodman was a great rebounder.

One thing we are thinking about, speaking of sports stars: The power to pardon is a beautiful thing. You've got to get it right. You got to get the right people. I am looking at Muhammad Ali. But those are the famous people. And in one way, it's easier, and people find it fascinating, but I want to do people that are unfairly treated like an Alice, where she comes out and there's something beautiful.

What I am thinking to do—you have a lot of people in the NFL, in particular, but in sports leagues. They're not proud enough to stand for our national anthem. I don't like that. What I'm going to do is, I'm going to say to them—instead of talk. It's all talk, talk, talk. We have a great country, you should stand for our national anthem. You shouldn't go in a locker room when our national anthem is played. I am going to ask all of those people to recommend to me—because that's what they're protesting—people that they think were unfairly treated by the justice system. And I understand that. And I'm going to ask them to recommend to me people that were unfairly treated—friends of theirs or people that they know about—and I'm going to take a look at those applications. And if I find—and my Committee finds—that they are unfairly treated, then we will pardon them or at least let them out.

Presidential Pardons and Commutations

Q. Will you invite them to the White House for a roundtable about social——

The President. You know, I don't have to do that. I'm not looking to grandstand. We've got enough grandstanders in this town. I'm just saying, for the leagues, if they have people—if the players, if the athletes have friends of theirs or people that they know about that have been unfairly treated by the system, let me know.

Q. So do you need a celebrity advocate to get a pardon?

The President. Well, you know, if you think about it, that's really—that becomes celebrity advocates. But they know a lot of things that we're not going to know.

Q. What about the other Americans?

The President. They've seen a lot of abuse, and they've seen a lot of unfairness.

Q. How about athletes?

The President. So if they have—how do you like that idea, David?

Q. I'll leave it to you.

Q. But why did you bring up pardons—[inaudible]?

The President. Oh, no. I have the absolute right. I don't have to do it. Never did anything wrong. And you know that better than anybody.

Leaking of Classified Information

Q. Are you concerned about reporters leaking to their sources?

The President. I think you have a double edge. Reporters can't leak. You cannot leak classified information. At the same time, we need freedom of the press. But you cannot leak like Hillary Clinton did, like Comey did; you cannot leak classified information. If you look at the young sailor—Saucier—I mean he went to jail over not classified, a much lower level. And it's very unfair that he goes to jail and that Comey's allowed to do it all over. It's very unfair.

Thank you much. I'll see you in Canada.

NOTE: The President spoke at 8:02 a.m. on the South Lawn at the White House prior to boarding Marine One en route to Joint Base Andrews, MD. In his remarks, he referred to 2016 Democratic Presidential nominee Hilary Rodham Clinton; President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin of Russia; Alice Marie Johnson, whose life sentence at a Federal prison in Alabama for a nonviolent drug offense was commuted by the President on June 6; actor Sylvester Stallone; Orenthal James "O.J." Simpson, former running back, National Football League's Buffalo Bills; reality television personality Kim Kardashian West; LeBron James, power forward/small forward and shooting guard, National Basketball Association's Cleveland Cavaliers; W. Stephen Curry II, guard, NBA's Golden State Warriors; Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul D. Ryan; Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer; and Kristian Saucier, a Navy sailor who pleaded guilty to taking photographs of classified areas inside the USS <i>Alexandria</i> while it was stationed in Groton, CT, in 2009, and was pardoned by the President on March 9. A reporter referred to Prime Minister Justin P.J. Trudeau of Canada.

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

Filed Under




Washington, DC

Simple Search of Our Archives