Remarks in an Exchange With Reporters Prior to Departure for Dover Air Force Base, Delaware
The President. So I'm going to Dover Air Force Base. A very sad occasion. We'll then be back, and we have a very busy day planned.
We had a very good meeting yesterday with North Korea. That was an incredible meeting. It lasted almost 2 hours. And we've agreed to meet sometime, probably the end of February. We've picked the country, but we'll be announcing it in the future.
Kim Jong Un is looking very forward to it, and so am I. We've made a lot of progress that has not been reported by the media, but we have made a lot of progress as far as denuclearization is concerned. And we're talking about a lot of different things. But we've made tremendous progress that has not been reported, unfortunately, but it will be. Things are going very well with North Korea.
Things are going very well with China and with trade. There were some false reports about sanctions being removed. We have taken in tremendous amounts of money in the United States because of the sanctions. And we'll see how it goes. And if we make a deal, certainly, we wouldn't have sanctions. And if we don't make a deal, we will. But I think China has been—we've really had a very extraordinary number of meetings, and a deal could very well happen with China. It's going very well, I would say about as well as it could possibly go and without a question.
Deaths of U.S. Servicemembers and Defense Contractors in Syria
Q. Mr. President, what goes through your mind in a moment like this when you're about to visit with relatives of Americans killed in Syria?
The President. I think it's the toughest thing I have to do. When I'm going to meet relatives of some of our great, great heroes that have fallen, I think it might be the toughest thing I have to do as President.
Q. Why, Mr. President?
Syria/Islamic State of Iraq and Syria Terrorist Organization
Q. [Inaudible]—ISIS in Syria, you said—[inaudible]?
The President. Well, what we've done is, we've—when I took over, Syria was loaded with ISIS. And again, when you say to it—and I've always said, who are we killing ISIS for? You know, the worst enemy of Russia, Iran, Syria, you look at it, is ISIS. So we're killing ISIS for people that aren't necessarily always in agreement with us, let's put it that way.
We've gone into Syria, and in 2 years we've, I guess, reduced it to about 99 percent of the territorial caliphate. Now, that doesn't mean you're not going have somebody around. And who knows what happened and who it was, because nobody is sure. But I will say this: We've taken it; I—Syria was a mess. We've done Asad a very big favor. We've also done our country a favor. But we've brought it down to less than 1 percent. As you know, we didn't stop. We could be pulling back, but we've been hitting ISIS very hard over the last 3 weeks, in particular over the last 3 weeks. And it's moving along very well. It's moving along very well.
But when I took over, it was a total mess. But you do have to ask yourself: We're killing ISIS for Russia, for Iran, for Syria, for Iraq, for a lot of other places. At some point, you want to bring our people back home. I've been talking about this since the campaign. But we've done a very—we're down to 99 percent. We have control of 99 percent, and we're hitting the rest of it very, very powerfully over the last 3 weeks.
Q. Sir, does ISIS—[inaudible]—as President of the Unites States——
Q. Will you announce a national emergency today?
The President. Well, I'm going to be making a statement at 3 o'clock, Steve [Steve A. Holland, Reuters]. I hope you'll be there. But I think it will be an important statement having to do with the—as you know, caravans are coming up. They have a big one coming up now.
I'm disappointed that Mexico is not stopping them. I mean, Mexico seems, unfortunately, powerless to stop them. Many got through. They broke through the Mexican area where, in theory, they were guarded. And they weren't so well guarded.
So you have a lot of people in caravans coming up. If we had a wall, we wouldn't have a problem. But we don't; we have too many open areas. The walls that we fixed and the walls that we built hold beautifully, but we have a lot of open areas, and that's too bad.
Now, the previous caravans we've stopped. They're right now in Tijuana. I don't know what they're doing in Tijuana, but they're not in our country, that I can tell you.
Q. What's your message to Democrats going to be during your address? Are you going to—[inaudible]?
The President. Well, you're going to see at 3 o'clock. You'll see at 3 o'clock.
Q. Are you looking to compromise?
Q. Have you gotten too personal—[inaudible]? This shutdown makes it too personal—[inaudible]—to resolve it.
The President. Well, I hope that Speaker Pelosi can come along and realize what everybody knows. I mean, no matter who it is, they know that walls work. And we need walls. And whether it's personal or not, it's not personal for me. She's being controlled by the radical left, which is a problem. And you know, she's under total control of the radical left. I think that's a very bad thing for her. I think it's a very bad thing for the Democrats.
Everybody knows that walls work. You look at different places they put up a wall, no problem. You look at San Antonio, if you look at so many different places, they go from one of the most unsafe cities in the country to one of the safest cities immediately. Immediately. It works. We have to put them up, and we will put them up. We've got to.
Border Security Q. You've spoken about Federal workers. What is your message to those who are lining up at the food banks and running out of—[inaudible]?
The President. I think we're making a lot of progress. You know, we're building wall as we speak. Nobody covers that, and I understand that. But we're building wall as we speak. We're going to continue. This country cannot be secure. You have human trafficking. You have criminals of all kind. You have drug pushers and drug smugglers, like, at a level that people haven't seen over the last 5 or 6 years. It's gotten to a point nobody has seen anything like it.
The Border Patrol has done an incredible job, but we need the help and the backup of a wall. Okay.
[At this point, many reporters began asking questions at once.]
The President. Yes, I thought it was—I thought that the BuzzFeed piece and, maybe equally as bad, the coverage of the BuzzFeed phony story—it was a total phony story. And I appreciate the Special Counsel coming out with a statement last night. I think it was very appropriate that they did so. I very much appreciate that.
I think that the BuzzFeed piece was a disgrace to our country. It was a disgrace to journalism. And I think also that the coverage by the mainstream media was disgraceful. And I think it's going to take a long time for the mainstream media to recover its credibility. It's lost tremendous credibility. And believe me, that hurts me when I see that. I'm the President of this country. Media could pull this country together. It hurts me to say it, but mainstream media has truly lost its credibility.
And I can say, as far as I'm concerned, from before the election, during the campaign, I said: "Wow, this is really crooked stuff. This is really dishonest reporting." When the New York Times apologized after the election for their bad coverage and their faulty coverage, and then they were wonderful for 2 weeks, and then they went back to being worse than ever before. And so many others. I'm not just blaming the Times.
But the mainstream media has lost its credibility, and that's a very bad thing for our country.
Thank you very much.
NOTE: The President spoke at 9:42 a.m. on the South Lawn at the White House prior to boarding Marine One. In his remarks, he referred to Chairman of the State Affairs Commission Kim Jong Un of North Korea; Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jonathan R. Farmer, USA, Chief Petty Officer Shannon M. Kent, USN, Army contract interpreter Ghadir Taher, and Defense Intelligence Agency contract operations support specialist Scott A. Wirtz, who were killed in the terrorist attack in Manbij, Syria, on January 16; President Bashar al-Asad of Syria; and Department of Justice Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III.
Donald J. Trump, Remarks in an Exchange With Reporters Prior to Departure for Dover Air Force Base, Delaware Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/332805