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Remarks in an Exchange With Reporters Prior to Departure for Tokyo, Japan

May 24, 2019

Attorney General's Review of Intelligence Activities Relating to 2016 Presidential Election

Q. Mr. President, are you ordering—[inaudible]—investigation into James Comey and McCabe?

The President. So we want to be very transparent. So, as you know, I declassified everything. Everything they want. I put it under the auspices of the Attorney General. He's going to be in charge of it. He's a great gentleman and a highly respected man.

So everything that they need is declassified, and they'll be able to see how this hoax—how the hoax or witch hunt—started and why it started. It was a—an attempted coup or an attempted takedown of the President of the United States. It should never, ever happen to anybody else. So it's very important.

Now, people have been asking me to declassify for a long period of time. I've decided to do it. And you're going to learn a lot. I hope it's going to be nice, but perhaps, it won't be.

U.S. Troop Deployment to Middle East

Q. Why order troops to the Middle East, Mr. President?

The President. We want to have protection. The Middle East—we're going to be sending a relatively small number of troops, mostly protective. And some very talented people are going to the Middle East right now, and we'll see how——

Q. How many?

The President. And we'll see what happens.

Q. [Inaudible]—Iran?

The President. It will be about 1,500 people.

Congressional Oversight of Executive Branch/Prescription Drug Prices/Investigation Into Russia's Interference in 2016 Presidential Election

Q. [Inaudible]—you and Speaker Pelosi working together to pass any legislation at all in 2019?

The President. Sure, that's possible. But I do believe you can't go down two tracks. Because if you look at judiciary, if you look at what's going on, all they talk about in the House is this.

I'd like to talk about lowering drug prices, which I've done better than any President ever. We had a year—this year, as you know, drug prices went down, first time in 51 years. I'd like to talk about—because, with Congress, I can get prices down 40 and 50 percent. But I can't do that when all they do is want to try and do a redo of the Mueller report. They were very unhappy with the Mueller report. They want to do a redo of the Mueller report. It's over. There is no redo. They lost. It's very clear: There was no collusion. There was no obstruction. So there's no redo.

Q. Mr. President, why——

Q. Theresa May, Theresa May.

The President. Yes.

Transgender Rights

Q. Should doctors be forced to perform transgender reassignment surgeries?

The President. We're going to see. We'll see.

Resignation of Prime Minister Theresa May of the United Kingdom

Q. Mr. President, Theresa May's resignation. Theresa May?

The President. I feel badly for Theresa. I like her very much. And she's a good woman. She worked very hard. She's very strong. She decided to do something that some people were surprised at, some people weren't. It's for the good of her country. But I like her very much. In fact, I'll be seeing her in 2 weeks.

David [David Martosko, Daily Mail].

Presidential Pardons/U.S. Servicemembers

Q. Mr. President, why are you considering pardoning war criminals? And does that endanger our troops?

The President. We're looking at a lot of different pardons for a lot of different people. Some of these soldiers are people that have fought hard, long. You know, we teach them how to be great fighters, and then when they fight, sometimes, they get, really, treated very unfairly.

So we're going to take a look at it. I haven't done anything yet. I haven't made any decisions. There's two or three of them right now. It's a little bit controversial. It's very possible that I'll let the trials go on, and I'll make my decision after the trial.

Attorney Michael J. Avenatti

Q. Anything to say to Michael Avenatti?

The President. I with him a lot of luck.

Investigation Into Russia's Interference in 2016 Presidential Election

Q. Mr. President, are you going to talk to Theresa May about potential Five Eyes spying into your campaign as well?

The President. I may very well talk to her about that, yes. The—there's word and rumor that the FBI and others were involved, CIA were involved, with the U.K., having to do with the Russian hoax. And I may very well talk to her about that, yes.

Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi/National Economy/Congressional Oversight of the Executive Branch

Q. Mr. President, has your relationship with Nancy Pelosi soured to a point of being too personal? And some of the altered videos that are being disseminated, is that going too far? The President. Well, I don't know about the videos. I can tell you that what I'm here is to help the country. That's why I did this. Our country is doing unbelievably well. We have the best economy we've probably ever had. We have the best job numbers we've ever had. We have the best unemployment numbers we've ever had. With all of the things happening, that's what I'm all about.

I don't think they can go down two tracks. I want to get drug prices down. I want to get things like—if you look at infrastructure and others, I want to get a lot of things done. I don't think it's—I don't think they're capable of going down two tracks. I think they can only do one thing or the other.

So let them finish the one. What I don't think is right is, you do a redo. They were very—they're very unhappy with the Mueller report. No collusion, no obstruction. No nothing. They're very unhappy. They're angry about it. They have to get over their anger. They have to get over——

Investigation Into Russia's Interference in 2016 Presidential Election/Prescription Drug Costs

Q. Have you gone too far, sir, in attacking the Speaker?

The President. Wait a minute. They have to get over their anger, and they have to get into infrastructure, drug prices, and things like that. Because they want to do a redo. Like even the fact that they're asking Bob Mueller to come and testify. He just gave them a 434-page report, which says no collusion, which leads to absolutely no obstruction. He just gave that report. Why does he have to testify? It's ridiculous.

They ought to get on to drug prices, lowering them. We can cut them by 50 or 60 percent. The one thing I'm very proud of also, on drug prices—I brought it down; first time in 51 years that drug prices went down. But if I could work with Congress, we could cut 50 percent and more off drug prices.

Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi

Q. But can you work with the Speaker, sir, if you say she's a mess?

The President. I can work with the Speaker. Sure. I can work with the Speaker. I can absolutely work.

Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi

Q. Mr. President, what do you hope to accomplish with your personal attacks on the Speaker? You're saying she's lost it. You're saying she's——

The President. Excuse me, this just shows how fake you and the news are. When you say——

Q. You haven't—[inaudible]?

The President. When you say a "personal attack," did you hear what she said about me long before I went after her? Did you hear?

Q. Yes, I—[inaudible].

The President. She made horrible statements. She knows they're not true. She made—she said terrible things. So I just responded in kind. Look, you think Nancy is the same as she was? She's not. Maybe we can all say that.

Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi/Investigation Into Russia's Interference in 2016 Presidential Election

Q. What do you mean by that? What's that mean?

The President. But I think—frankly, I think right now we are—I'm only speaking for myself. I want to do what's good for the country. I think Nancy Pelosi is not helping this country. I think the Democrats are obstructionists. They're hurting our country very, very badly. We can pass so many different bills right now, but all they want to do is investigate, because they failed with Robert Mueller and the Mueller report. They want to try and get a do-over of the Mueller report. It doesn't work that way.

And just so you know, I was the most transparent—and am—transparent President in history. We gave 500 witnesses. I allowed attorneys to testify in front of Bob Mueller. Two thousand five hundred subpoenas. One million four hundred thousand pages of—we gave it. I didn't have to give any of it. We gave it. And then, we get a great result, and they say: "Oh, this is terrible. Let's do it over again." You can't do it. Our country doesn't have that kind of time.

Q. So what about the court decision, sir?

Attorney General's Review of Intelligence Activities Relating to 2016 Presidential Election

Q. What if the Barr investigation does not turn out the way you think it will?

The President. Well, we're going to see. I gave—as you know, I declassified, I guess, potentially, millions of pages of documents. I don't know what it is. I have no idea. But I want to be transparent. Everybody wanted me to declassify. I've done it. And you can almost say he's the trustee. He's a highly respected man. Our Attorney General is in charge. Let's see what he finds.

But we have——

[At this point, several reporters began asking questions at once.]

We have documents now that I have declassified for the purpose of the Attorney General. He can then show them to the public, do whatever he wants to do with them.

But you have to get down to what happened. Because what happened is a tremendous blight on our country. What happened—the investigation—they tried to do a takedown, and you can't do that. And let me just tell you: This should never, ever happen to another President again.

Q. Mr. President, do you hear——


Q. Mr. President, what message do you want to send to military families who are concerned about you sending troops to the Middle East?

The President. Well, I think it's going to be very good in the Middle East. Iran has been a—as you know, they stage terror all over the world. They're a much different country now than when I first got here. When I first got here, they were at 14 different locations, fighting. Right now they don't—I don't think Iran wants to fight. And I certainly don't think they want to fight with us. But they cannot have nuclear weapons. And under the Obama horrible agreement, they would've had nuclear weapons within 5 or 6 years. They can't have nuclear weapons, and they understand that.

Attorney General's Review of Intelligence Activities Relating to 2016 Presidential Election

Q. Mr. President, why should people trust the Attorney General to select what to declassify? Even Robert Mueller expressed concerns about the way Barr handled his findings.

The President. The question is so false and so phony. The Attorney General——

Q. The Special Counsel sent a letter to the Attorney General——

The President. Let me just explain—let me explain to you something. The Attorney General is one of the most respected people in this country, and he has been for a long period of time. He is going to look at a lot of documents. Some he might find interesting; maybe he'll find none interesting.

But for over a year, people have asked me to declassify. So what I've done is, I've declassified everything. He can look. And I hope he looks at the U.K., and I hope he looks at Australia, and I hope he looks at Ukraine. I hope he looks at everything, because there was a hoax that was perpetrated on our country. It's the greatest hoax——

Q. How will you protect—[inaudible]—sir? How will you protect——

The President. Excuse me. Excuse me.

It's the greatest hoax, probably, in the history of our country. And somebody has to get to the bottom of it. We'll see. But for a long period of time, they've wanted me to declassify, and I did.

Attorney General's Review of Intelligence Activities Relating to 2016 Presidential Election

Q. Mr. President, you've talked about treason in context of this investigation. What is it truly about? Is it about getting payback for the 2 years of investigation?

The President. This is about finding out what happened. I won an election. I won it easily, 306 to 223. I won it pretty easily. And I'll tell you what: This is all about what happened and when did it happen. Because this was an attempted takedown of the President of the United States, and we have to find out. Why did somebody write a text message—the two lovers—that if she loses, we have an insurance policy? An insurance policy to take down the President. We're going to find out what happened and why it happened.

Let me just tell you——

Q. It sounds like you want payback, sir. It sounds like you want payback.

The President. It's not payback. I don't care about payback. I think it's very important for our country to find out what happened.

The President's Popularity

Q. Are you worried that these investigations——

The President. Say it? Q. Are you worried these investigations are hurting your reelection chances, they've hurt your poll numbers?

The President. I don't know. My poll numbers are very good. You don't like to report them, but my polls—I guess we have a 48 today. We have a 51. We have very good poll numbers, considering.

Now, I have to tell you, if you people would give straight news, I'd be at 70. I'd be maybe at 75. But you don't give straight news; you give fake news.

With fake news, I'm still winning the election. But if you gave serious, good news the way you're supposed to, I'd probably be at 70 or 75 based on the economy alone.

Q. Mr. President, on Iran. On Iran, sir.

The President. Go ahead.


Q. A question on India, Mr. President.

The President. Go ahead.

Q. India just had an election——

The President. I wish—I just spoke to Prime Minister Modi, and I gave him my warmest regards and congratulations.

Q. Kim Jong Un.

Q. Do you regret—[inaudible]—WikiLeaks——

Q. [Inaudible]

The President. I just spoke to Prime Minister Modi minutes ago, and I just conveyed congratulations on behalf of our country, myself, and everybody. He had a great election win. He's a friend of mine. We have a very good relationship with India.

Q. On Iran, sir. On Iran.

Attorney General's Review of Intelligence Activities Relating to 2016 Presidential Election

Q. Do you feel protected by William Barr? You always said you admired how Eric Holder protected President Obama.

The President. No, I just want somebody that's going to be fair. And I think William Barr is the most respected man—one of the most respected men doing what he does in our whole country. I just want him to be fair. I don't want him to be for me or for anybody else. I just want him to be fair, and that's what he is.

And we're going to find out what this yields. But I will tell you, declassifying—people have wanted me to do it for a long time. I think it was very important to do. And basically, what are we doing? We're exposing everything. We're being a word that you like: "transparent." We're being—ultimately, we're being transparent, and that's what it's about.

Q. [Inaudible]

The President. Again—again—this should never, ever happen in our country again. Thank you very much.

Q. [Inaudible]—troops to Iran?

The President. [Inaudible]—in a protective capacity. Very, very talented people.

Q. [Inaudible]

The President. What?

Federal Aid to Farmers

Q. [Inaudible]—farmers?

The President. I'll do whatever I have to do for our great farmers. Our great farmers are—[inaudible].

NOTE: The President spoke at 12:05 p.m. on the South Lawn at the White House prior to boarding Marine One. In his remarks, he referred to Department of Justice Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III; former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent Peter P. Strzok II, in his former capacity as lead investigator of former Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton's use of a private e-mail server and the investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 Presidential election; Lisa Page, former legal counsel to former FBI Deputy Director Andrew G. McCabe; and former Secretary Clinton, in her capacity as the 2016 Democratic Presidential nominee. Reporters referred to former FBI Director James B. Comey, Jr.; Chairman of the State Affairs Commission Kim Jong Un of North Korea; and former Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. Portions of these remarks could not be verified because the audio was incomplete.

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

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