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Remarks in an Exchange With Reporters Prior to Departure for New Orleans, Louisiana

January 14, 2019

The President. Good morning. Beautiful—it's beautiful. Too bad they took the snow off the ground. It's too bad. It was more beautiful last night.

The President's Schedule

Q. [Inaudible]—any plans to meet with Democrats?

The President. I'll be going to New Orleans right now. I'm going to be speaking in front of our great farmers. I look forward to that. I did it last year, and I look forward to it. So we'll be back a little bit later.

I believe—I don't know if the weather changes things, but the Clemson championship team, the national championship team, will be coming tonight. It'll be exciting. A very great team. An unbelievable team.

They'll be coming tonight. And I think we're going to serve McDonald's, Wendy's, and Burger King, with some pizza. I really mean it. It'll be interesting. And I would think that's their favorite food. So we'll see what happens. But they're coming tonight—the national champions—subject to the weather.

Federal Government Shutdown/Border Security

Q. [Inaudible]—shutdown? When are you going to talk to Democrats?

The President. So I've been here all weekend. A lot of the Democrats were in Puerto Rico, celebrating something. I don't know, maybe they're celebrating the shutdown. We have a very big crisis—a humanitarian crisis—on the border. Everybody knows it. They know it. And many of them are saying, "We agree with you." Many of them are calling, and many of them are breaking.

The Republicans are rock solid. We've got to take care of our border. Many of the people—they're all going to get their money. Many of the people that aren't being paid right now are in total agreement with us. You saw the Border Patrol agents. You saw what was happening. They're in total agreement with us.

So we'll see how it all goes. I will tell you this: We have a priority. It's the safety of our Nation. The southern border has been horrible for decades, and it's now—because of the success of our country, it's now at a level that we cannot put up with.

The Democrats have to do something. We need their votes. Otherwise, we can't solve it without their votes. They now control the House. Let's see if they can lead. I don't know that they can lead, but we're going to soon find out.

Senator Lindsey O. Graham/Federal Government Shutdown

Q. Did you hear about Senator Lindsey Graham's suggestion that you reopen temporarily?

The President. What did you say? Q. Lindsey Graham suggested that you open the Government temporarily while you continue to negotiate.

The President. Well, that was a suggestion that Lindsey made. But I did—I did reject it, yes. I'm not interested. I want to get it solved. I don't want to just delay it. I want to get it solved.

The President's Meetings With President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin of Russia

Q. [Inaudible]—you willing to share the interpreter's notes from your meetings with Vladimir Putin?

The President. I just don't know anything about it. I read it this morning; it's a lot of fake news. That was a very good meeting. It was actually a very successful meeting. And I have those meetings with everything. I just know nothing about it.

It was a very, very successful meeting. We talked about Israel. We talked about the pipeline, that Germany is paying Russia a lot of money; I don't think it's appropriate, we talked about that. We talked about many subjects. But I have those meetings, one on one, with all leaders, including the President of China, including Prime Minister of Japan, Abe. We have those meetings all the time. No big deal.


Q. [Inaudible]—have you ever worked for Russia?

The President. I never worked for Russia, and you know that answer better than anybody. I never worked for Russia. Not only did I never work for Russia, I think it's a disgrace that you even asked that question, because it's a whole big, fat hoax. It's just a hoax.

Representative Steven A. King

Q. Mr. President, what about Steve King's remarks on White supremacy?

The President. Who?

Q. Steve King. Congressman Steve King. He said White supremacy—

The President. I don't—I haven't been following it. I really haven't been following it.

Federal Government Shutdown/Border Security

Q. Mr. President, Kellyanne Conway said on a gaggle—[inaudible]—you are close on a deal. Do you agree with Kellyanne? Do you think that you're close on a deal?

The President. A deal with what?

Q. In terms of ending the shutdown.

The President. I don't know if we're close to the deal. This should be the easiest deal that I've ever seen. We're talking about border security. Who can be against it? We're talking about drugs pouring in; human trafficking, tying up women, putting tape on their mouth, and pouring into our country. We can't have that. We can't have that.

We have drugs, we have criminals, we have gangs, and the Democrats don't want to do anything about it. They say, "Oh, it's immoral." But it wasn't immoral 3 years ago, 5 years ago, 6 years ago, and 10 years ago, when they all raised their hands to approve a wall. All of the sudden, it's immoral. It's immoral because—one reason. Because they know they're going to lose in the 2020 election. That's the only reason, to them, it's immoral.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Q. Mr. President, Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez has called you a racist.

The President. Who did?

Q. Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez.

The President. Who cares? She's——

China-U.S. Trade

Q. Mr. President, what was your take from last week's talks with China about trade?

The President. We're doing very well with China. They're having a hard time with their economy because of the tariffs. We're doing very well with our economy. We're at records—our unemployment numbers just hit a record, another record. We're doing extremely well, as a country. We're doing better than any country right now, anywhere in the world.

China wants to negotiate. I have a great relationship with President Xi, because it's good to have relationships with Russia and China and Japan and India. And I have relationships with almost everybody, and that's a good thing, not a bad thing.

I think that we are going to be able to do a deal with China. We are—I can tell you, we are getting things that, before I became President, you would have had no chance of getting. They would have laughed at your President's face.

Investigation Into Russia's Interference in 2016 Presidential Election/Federal Bureau of Investigation

Q. [Inaudible]

The President. The people that started that investigation are McCabe, who's a proven liar and was fired from the FBI; or Lisa Page, who was forced to leave the FBI, and her lover, Peter Strzok, who—we've got their text messages, and what they said in those text messages was shocking, when you talk about bias. And also Comey. And I guess they started it because I fired Comey, which was a great thing I did for our country.

So the people doing that investigation were people that have been caught that are known scoundrels. They're in—I guess you could say they're "dirty cops."

And I'll tell you what, it is so unfair what's happened to the FBI, in terms of the men and women working in the rank and file of the FBI. I know many of them. These are great people, and they are so embarrassed by their leadership. You've never seen—I have never seen a turnaround in a bureau or agency like I have with the FBI. They are so embarrassed. I think 12 people now have been terminated. And others—if you look at what's happening, others are going to go. What happened at the FBI——

So when you say, "Should I have confidence in the FBI or intelligence agencies?" When I see Ohr, and I see all of these people; when I see Lisa and her lover, and their notes and their texts get captured, and you see what they said about me, having nothing to do with the investigation. Let me tell you something, when people see that, you have an angry country, because the whole thing is a hoax. It's a big hoax, and it's very bad for our country. So what happened with the FBI—I have done a great service for our country when I fired James Comey, because he was a bad cop, and he was a dirty cop, and he lied. He really lied. And all you have to do——

Q. [Inaudible]

The President. Wait a minute. And all you have to do is take a look at the crooked Hillary Clinton investigation, where they brought her on the July 4 weekend—July 4. They didn't swear her in. They didn't do any tapes. They didn't do anything. They just let her go. And she usually said, mostly said, "I don't know." She didn't know anything.

Just like James Comey, a week ago. He was interviewed by Congress. And you know, unfortunately, people didn't see it, because the Republicans, with Paul Ryan, unfortunately, they didn't put him out there. But what he said was, either he's a bad liar, or he's grossly incompetent. Unfortunately, people didn't see it, but you can read the transcript.

Q. [Inaudible]

The President. What?

Q. Do you think that the—[inaudible]?

The President. You know how I feel. Okay, we'll see you in——

Q. [Inaudible]

The President. What?

The President's National Emergency Powers/Border Security

Q. [Inaudible]—call a national emergency?

The President. I'm not looking to call a national emergency. This is so simple, you shouldn't have to. Now, I have the absolute legal right to call it, but I'm not looking to do that, because this is too simple. The Democrats should say, "We want border security." We have to build a wall, otherwise you can't have border security. And we should get on with our lives.

The Democrats are stopping us, and they're stopping a lot of great people from getting paid. All they have to do is say, "We want border security." That automatically means a wall or a barrier.

Thank you. I'll see you in New Orleans.

NOTE: The President spoke at 9:26 a.m. on the South Lawn at the White House prior to boarding Marine One. In his remarks, he referred to Andrew G. McCabe, former Deputy Director, and James B. Comey, Jr., former Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); Lisa Page, former legal counsel to former Deputy Director McCabe; former FBI agent Peter P. Strzok II, in his former capacity as lead investigator of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's use of a private e-mail server and the investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 Presidential election; former Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce G. Ohr; and former Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul D. Ryan. A reporter referred to Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway. The transcript was released by the Office of the Press Secretary on January 15.

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

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