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Remarks in an Exchange With Reporters Prior to Departure for Houston, Texas

October 22, 2018

Border Security

Q. [Inaudible]

The President. Well, you're going to have to see that. I have reports. And they have a lot of everybody in that group. It's a horrible thing. And it's a lot bigger than 5,000 people. And we've got to stop them at the border.

And unfortunately, if you look at the countries, they have not done their job. Unfortunately, they have not done their job.

U.S. Aid to Central American Nations

Q. Mr. President, have you spoken to the leaders of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador about——

The President. Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador—they're paid a lot of money. Every year, we give them foreign aid. And they did nothing for us. Nothing. They did nothing for us.

So we give them tremendous amounts of money. You know what it is; you cover it all the time: hundreds of millions of dollars. They, like a lot of others, do nothing for our country.

Q. Have you spoken to the leaders, Mr. President?

Death of Saudi Journalist Jamal Khashoggi

Q. Have you spoken to the Saudi Crown Prince, Mr. President?

The President. I have. I spoke to the Crown Prince. We have people over in Saudi Arabia now. We have top intelligence people in Turkey. And we're going to see what we have. I'll know a lot tomorrow. They'll be coming back either tonight or tomorrow morning. But we have people in Saudi Arabia and people in Turkey.

Q. [Inaudible]—a month—[inaudible]—investigation, and will you give them——

The President. I think that's a long time. You said—you said they want a month?

Q. They want 1 month.

The President. That's a long time. There's no reason for that month. Be faster.

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights

Q. What about your promise to protect transgender Americans? Are you giving up on that?

The President. We're looking at it. We have a lot of different concepts right now.

Q. [Inaudible]—reassigning——

The President. They have a lot of different things happening with respect to transgender right now. You know that as well as I do. And we're looking at it very seriously. Q. But what about your promise to protect the LGBTQ community?

The President. I'm protecting everybody.

Q. Transgender Americans say you've given up on them.

The President. You know what I'm doing? I'm protecting everybody. I want to protect our country.

Q. How is that doing that?

Texas Senatorial Election

Q. Mr. President, you're headed to Texas. Why hasn't Ted Cruz put this race away already?

The President. Oh, I think he has. I think it's going to be. I think they wanted to see that I'm on his side, and I am, a hundred percent. We have—I mean, you people have been reporting—over 100,000 people. They lined up 2 days ago, and it's very exciting.

Q. But they're there to see you. Why does Ted Cruz need your help?

The President. Oh, I think Ted will be a big factor tonight. He's going to get up; he's going to make a great speech. I'm going to get up; I'm going to make a great speech. I hope—are most of you going? You're not going. I can't believe it; you're not going to be there tonight. That's terrible.

Texas Democratic Senatorial Candidate Robert F. "Beto" O'Rourke

Q. Do you regret "Lyin' Ted"? Beto O'Rourke is now calling him "Lyin' Ted." You started that. Do you regret it?

The President. I think Beto O'Rourke is highly overrated. When I heard about him, I figured he must be something a little special. He's not. I thought he got beaten badly in the debates. I think he's a highly overrated guy.

Q. [Inaudible]—ahead of November 1, sir?

Senator R. Edward "Ted" Cruz/Germany-U.S. Energy Cooperation

Q. Have you buried the hatchet with Senator Cruz entirely?

The President. Say it?

Q. Have you buried the hatchet with Senator Cruz?

The President. Oh, I have, yes. Ted and I get along very well, very late into the campaign. And I said: "Don't worry about it. It's only a question of time." And then, it became very nasty, and then it was over. And when it was over, we've gotten along great. No, I like Ted.

If you remember, he was the last one that we really had—I mean, I went very late into the campaign. We actually held a rally together late into the campaign. I said, it will end—and it did—and then it got back.

No, we've very close. We've done great on tax cuts. We've done great on regulation cuts. No, he's been really terrific.

And if you look at what's happening in Germany, with respect to the pipeline, they want to now start buying our natural gas. It just came out. So take a look at that. Yes.

Senator R. Edward "Ted" Cruz

Q. So is he no longer "Lyin' Ted"?

The President. To me, he's not "Lyin' Ted" anymore.

Q. What is he now?

The President. He's "Beautiful Ted."

Q. Beautiful Ted?

The President. He's Texas—I call him "Texas Ted." No, Ted Cruz and I had a very, very nasty and tough campaign. It was a very competitive—it was a very tough campaign. Once it ended and we got together—and, by the way, very late into the campaign we lasted. People were shocked. I said, "Don't worry, it's only a question of time."

And then ultimately, what happened, we fought it out. The outcome was obvious. And we have worked together very closely. I like him a lot. I actually like him a lot. And he's a very smart guy. He loves the people of Texas—which I do. And in fact, right now, I guess they said they've never seen it. It's like a big tailgate. It goes on for miles; it's over 100,000 people.

Investigation Into Russia's Interference in 2016 Presidential Election

Q. What do you think about Nellie Ohr taking marital protective status before Congress?

The President. I think Nellie Ohr is a disgrace, and I think her husband is not much better. Maybe he's worse. I think Nellie Ohr is a disgrace, taking marital protection so she doesn't have to talk about corruption. I think she's a disgrace.

U.S. Aid to Central American Nations/Border Security

Q. [Inaudible]—Central America. Won't that cause—[inaudible]?

The President. Hey, look, I can't tell you. I can only tell you this: We give them hundreds of millions of dollars. They do nothing for us.

Q. How will cutting aid provide—[inaudible]?

The President. You know what? Maybe it will, and maybe it won't. But it certainly hasn't affected. They can do a lot better job. If you look at the three countries in particular—and I don't know what's going on with Mexico. I guess it looks like the people are walking right through the middle of Mexico, so I'm not exactly thrilled there either.

Death of Saudi Journalist Jamal Khashoggi/U.S. Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia

Q. Mr. President, do you believe what the Saudis have said about Khashoggi now? Are they telling the truth now?

The President. You know what, Jon [Jonathan Karl, ABC News], I'm going to know very shortly, because I have a great group people in Turkey right now and a great group of people in Saudi Arabia. We will know very soon. We have tremendously talented people that do this stuff very well. They're coming back tonight, tomorrow. And I will know very soon. And I am not satisfied with what I've heard.

Q. And what do you say about—Rand Paul says that he's convinced that this had to be the Crown Prince? The President. Well, look, Rand has some ideas. I agree with Rand on a lot of things. I don't want to lose all of that investment that's being made in our country. I don't want to lose a million jobs. I don't want to lose a $110 billion in terms of investment. But it's really $450 billion if you include other than military. So that's very important. But we're going to get to the bottom of it.


U.S. Aid to Central American Nations/U.S. Foreign Aid

Q. The new Mexican President says he'd like to work with you on a Central American aid package, figuring that if he can put more money to those countries, maybe people would stay put. Are you open to that?

The President. I'm really looking to make America great again. That's what I do. I'm making America great again. We have been giving so much money to so many different countries for so long, and it's not fair, and it's not good. And then, we ask them to keep their people in their country, they're unable to do it. It's called "Make America Great Again."

Tax Cuts

Q. You said "lower tax cuts." You said that you wanted tax cuts by November 1. Congress isn't even in session. How is that possible?

The President. No, we're going to be passing—no, no. We're putting in a resolution sometime in the next week, or week and a half, 2 weeks.

Q. A resolution where?

The President. We're going to put in—we're giving a middle-income tax reduction of about 10 percent. We're doing it now for middle-income people. This is not for business; this is for middle. That's on top of the tax decrease that we've already given them.

Q. What about the Army?

Q. Are you signing an Executive order for that?

The President. No. No. No. I'm going through Congress.

Q. But Congress isn't in session though.

The President. We won't have time to do the vote. We'll do the vote later.

Q. Congress is out.

The President. We'll do the vote after the election.

Q. Mr. President, you said Californians are rioting over the sanctuary cities issue——

2018 Congressional Elections

Q. Mr. President, there's 2 weeks until the midterms. What's your level of confidence about holding on to the House? [Inaudible]

The President. I think their tremendous spirit, maybe like I've never seen, other than in '16. You don't remember '16; you're too young. I have never seen spirit like the spirit that we have right now, except the week before the race, the Presidential race, 2 years ago.

I think the Republicans are going to do very nicely. We're doing very well with the Senate. And I thought—he was just asking about the race. Other than 2 years ago—the Presidential race—I have never seen spirit like I see right now. I think the Republicans are going to do very well.

Q. Do you regret implying that—[inaudible]?

The President. People are tired of high taxes. We gave the tax cuts. We've done so much. And they want a strong military. They want protection. They want safety. They want security. We give that; the Democrats do not give that. The Democrats don't know what they're doing. They don't know what they're giving.

I think we're going to do very, very well in the race.


2016 Presidential Election

Q. Do you regret implying that Ted Cruz's dad killed JFK?

The President. I don't regret anything, honestly.

Q. Hey, Mr. President——

The President. It all worked out very nicely.

California/Sanctuary Cities

Q. You said Californians were rioting over the sanctuary cities. Where?

The President. You shouldn't have—take a look. They want to get out of sanctuary cities. Many places in California want to get out of sanctuary cities.

Q. But that's not rioting, sir, right?

The President. Yes, it is rioting in some cases.

Q. Where are the riots, sir?

The President. It is.

Death of Saudi Journalist Jamal Khashoggi

Q. One more question, Mr. President. On Khashoggi, some conservatives have said that he's an activist, while, you know, there's a general consensus——

The President. Who's an activist? Who?

Q. Khashoggi. Part of the Muslim Brotherhood. And some contend he's a journalist. Who do you think he is?

The President. Well, I'm going to have to find out. We're going to find out a lot. We're going to find out. We're going to know a lot over the next 2 days about the Saudi situation. It's a very sad thing.

Q. [Inaudible]—for journalists——

The President. Any more?

Border Security

Q. Yes. Do you have any evidence that there are terrorists as part of this caravan? Or Middle Eastern—— The President. You know what you should do, Jon? Go into the middle of the caravan, take your cameras, and search. Okay? Search.

Q. Which Middle Eastern—[inaudible]? Who——

The President. No, no. Take your—Jon, take your camera, go into the middle, and search. You're going to find MS-13, you're going to find Middle Eastern, you're going to find everything. And guess what? We're not allowing them in our country. We want safety. We want safety.

Q. What do you mean by "bring in the military"?

2018 Congressional Elections

Q. What will be the deciding factor in the "red wave"?

The President. Well, I think what's going to happen—I'm not saying "wave". I think we're doing really well. I have never seen such spirit, except for maybe '16, the big election 2 years ago. I have never seen the spirit that we have right now.

Q. Mr. President——

The President. I think the Republicans are going to do very well. I have never seen spirit like we have. Now, whether it's Kavanaugh, whether it's tax cuts that we gave, whether it's common sense—I've never seen it. But I'll tell you a big factor is what's happening on the border. What's happening on the border was caused by the Democrats because they won't let anybody change immigration laws that are horrible. The worst anywhere in the world.

Border Security

Q. They had a bill for you to sign, but you didn't sign it.

The President. Huh?

Q. They had a bill for you to sign, right? But you didn't——

The President. No, they didn't. No. No, they didn't. Not at all. That's all fiction.

Q. [Inaudible]—not true. They had a——

Death of Saudi Journalist Jamal Khashoggi

Q. Do you still believe—do you still trust the Saudis are going to go to the bottom of——

The President. What?

Q. Do you still trust the Saudis are going to go to the bottom of the Khashoggi affair?

The President. We're going to see what happens. And I'm going to know a lot in 2 days.

I'll see you in Texas. See you in Texas.

Q. How is the tax cut——

Q. Thank you, Mr. President.

U.S. Nuclear Arsenal/Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty

Q. [Inaudible]—sir, on the arms treaty, Mr. President, are you prepared to build up the U.S. nuclear arsenal? You said you're going to pull out of the arms deal. The President. Until people come to their senses, we will build it up. Until people come to their senses. Russia has not adhered to the agreement. This should've been done years ago. Until people come to their senses—we have more money than anybody else, by far. We'll build it up. Until they come to their senses. When they do, then we'll all be smart, and we'll all stop. And we'll—and by the way, not only stop, we'll reduce, which I would love to do. But right now they have not adhered to the agreement.

Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty

Q. Is that a threat to Vladimir Putin?

The President. It's a threat to whoever you want. And it includes China, and it includes Russia, and it includes anybody else that wants to play that game. You can't do that. You can't play that game on me.

U.S. Nuclear Arsenal/Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty

Q. You want more nukes? You want more nukes is what you're saying? You're building up the nuclear arsenal.

Q. [Inaudible]—build up the nuclear arsenal?

The President. Until people getsmart. Until they get smart. They have not adhered to the spirit of that agreement or to the agreement itself—Russia. China is not included in the agreement. They should be included in the agreement. Until they get smart, there will be nobody that's going to be even close to us.

Q. But have you talked to Putin about it?

The President. No, I have not. I have not.

Q. The Russians say they've been complying.

The President. I don't have to speak to him. I don't have to speak. I'm terminating the agreement because they violated the agreement. I'm terminating the agreement.

Q. When?

The President. Thanks, everybody. Thank you.

NOTE: The President spoke at 2:45 p.m. on the South Lawn at the White House prior to boarding Marine One. In his remarks, he referred to Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia; Nellie Ohr, former researcher and analyst, Fusion GPS; former Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce G. Ohr; and Sen. Randal H. Paul; Supreme Court Associate Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh; and President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin of Russia. Reporters referred to President James Ernesto Morales Cabrera of Guatemala; President Juan Orlando Hernández Alvarado of Honduras; President Salvador Sánchez Cerén of El Salvador; President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico; and Rafael B. Cruz, father of Sen. Cruz.

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

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