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Remarks in a Meeting With Newly Elected Governors and an Exchange With Reporters

December 13, 2018

The President. Well, thank you very much. We have invited the Nation's—our great Nation's—newly elected Governors. And some really terrific people. They're going to do a wonderful job.

All of them had great victories. Some had very, very outstanding victories, in terms of the percentage of victory, and even surprising. We have some real stars in the room. And they became stars because of the way they handled themselves. I could almost say—I think I could pretty much say, Mike—most of them have become stars, if not all. Because you won. Winning is a wonderful thing. [Laughter]

So I thought what I'd do is go around the room, and maybe you could just introduce yourself; say hello. We have some Cabinet members too. You can quickly introduce yourself, because we've all seen you guys. But I'd love to—maybe say a couple of words. And it's an honor to have you all.


Governor-elect Kristi L. Noem of South Dakota. Yes. Thank you, Mr. President.

The President. Thank you.

Governor-elect Noem. I appreciate the invitation to be here today. I'm Kristi Noem, the Governor-elect in South Dakota. Farmer, rancher, small-business owner. Served in our State legislature and leadership, and spent the last 8 years in Congress, representing and fighting for the State of South Dakota. So thank you for the invitation.

The President. Great job. Great job.

Governor-elect Noem. Yes, thank you. And tax reform.

The President. That's right.

Governor-elect Noem. Appreciate that.

The President. That's right. We did a job.

Governor-elect Noem. Yes.

The President. Mike.

Governor-elect Mike DeWine of Ohio. Mr. President, thank you for having us. We appreciate it very, very much.

The President. Thank you. Thank you, Mike. And good job.

Mr. Secretary.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex M. Azar II. Alex Azar. I'm the Secretary of Health and Human Services. And, as you get to know your budgets, you'll realize we'll spend a lot of time together. [Laughter] And we just—we pride ourselves on being a great partner to Governors and States and flexibility. So please, open door, everybody. The President. Thank you.

Governor-elect J. Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma. Kevin Stitt, newly elected governor of Oklahoma. And excited to be here, and it was wonderful getting the phone call from you after our primary victory.

The President. That was a great victory. Great job.

Governor-elect Stitt. Thank you.

The President. Great job.

Governor-elect Brad Little of Idaho. I'm Brad Little, from Idaho. I'm the Lieutenant Governor. I'm the new Governor-elect, and thank you also for the phone call. [Laughter] It put a big punctuation point.

The President. Thank you very much. Great going.

Jared you know. Secretary.

Secretary of Labor R. Alexander Acosta. Alex Acosta, Secretary of Labor. And, Mr. President, we just spent about an hour chatting with the Governors, and so we're off to a great start in this partnership.

The President. Johnny, thank you.

Governor-elect Albert Bryan, Jr., of the United States Virgin Islands. Albert Bryan, Governor-elect, United States Virgin Islands. Thank you, Mr. President and Vice President Pence. Donna Christian sends her regards.

Would really like to thank the administration for their support in the hurricane recovery thus far. And looking forward to a continued, growing relationship and the support of the administration moving forward.

The President. Good. Thank you. Congratulations.

Secretary of Commerce Wilbur L. Ross, Jr. Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Commerce.

Governor-elect Gretchen E. Whitmer of Michigan. Gretchen Whitmer, Governor-elect in Michigan, the Great Lakes State.

The President. Yes.

Governor-elect Whitmer. And I'm happy to be here and looking forward to a good working relationship with your administration.

The President. Oh, we're going to have it. Thank you very much. Congratulations.

Governor-elect Whitmer. Thank you.

Governor-elect William B. Lee of Tennessee. Mr. President, I'm Bill Lee, and I'm the Governor-elect of Tennessee.

The President. That's right.

Governor-elect Lee. And I'm honored to be here today with you and with Mr. Vice President. We look forward to serving the people of Tennessee and partnering with you.

The President. Fantastic race.

Governor-elect Lee. Thank you very much. The President. You did a great job. Thank you, Bill.

Governor-elect Anthony S. Evers of Wisconsin. Tony Evers, Governor-elect from Wisconsin. Thank you very much for the invitation today. Looking forward to working with your administration.

The President. Congratulations.

Governor-elect Evers. Thank you.

Governor-elect Michael J. Dunleavy of Alaska. Mike Dunleavy, from the great State of Alaska. And I want to thank you for your words of encouragement and offer of assistance with our recent earthquake, Mr. President.

The President. And that worked out quite well, hasn't it? Huh?

Governor-elect Dunleavy. Nobody passed away. Nobody died in that whole——

The President. Amazing.

Governor-elect Dunleavy. Yes, it is.

The President. Just hit the right spots, I guess.

Governor-elect Dunleavy. It's hard to describe. [Laughter]

The President. Because that was a big one.

Governor-elect Dunleavy. It was a big one. Second largest.

The President. Great, Mike. Thank you very much.

Governor-elect Dunleavy. Thank you.

Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen. Hi, sir. Kirstjen Nielsen, Secretary of Homeland Security. I congratulate to—congratulations, first of all. But, secondly, we are here to support and assist you against all hazards, manmade threats, natural disasters. So I know you've spent some time with different parts of DHS already, but we look forward to working with all of you very closely. So thank you for being here.

Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway. Kellyanne Conway, Counselor to the President. Congratulations to each of you. And consider us a resource and a partner in working with you on some issues of the day, like workforce development, prison reform, opioids and the fentanyl crisis, and obviously all things economic. Thank you. And infrastructure. Welcome.

The President. Thanks.

Governor-elect Lou Leon Guerrero of Guam. Good afternoon. I'm Lou Leon Guerrero, from Guam, where "America's day begins." [Laughter] My passion is in health care. I'm a nurse by profession, a senator for 10 years, and then ran the only locally owned and locally chartered bank—Bank of Guam—for 12 years. And now Governor-elect of Guam and look forward to working very closely with this administration.

And I ask you, President Trump, to please do not forget Guam out there. We're a tiny island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, but I think we're the first line of national defense for our country. So——

The President. Good. Thank you very much. White House Director of Intergovernmental Affairs Douglas L. Hoelscher. Good afternoon. Doug Hoelscher from White House Intergovernmental Affairs. We look forward to being good partners on behalf of the President and Vice President to you and your teams.

Governor-elect Brian P. Kemp of Georgia. Mr. President, Brian Kemp, Governor-elect of Georgia. I want to thank you and the Vice President for your interest in Georgia in response to Hurricane Michael. And we certainly appreciate Sonny Perdue's interest as well. It's going great on the ground. Long recovery, but we appreciate the response and interest that you guys have shown.

The President. That was a great race. And congratulations. You and I felt very lonely there for a while, right? Had everybody in the world coming down, but you ran a great race.

Governor-elect Kemp. Thank you.

The President. Congratulations, Brian.

Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao. Elaine Chao, Secretary of Transportation.

Governor-elect Jay R. "J.B." Pritzker of Illinois. Mr. President, I'm J.B. Pritzker, the Governor-elect of Illinois. And I founded 1871, which is the—well, named this year as the world's best business incubator. And as I've been speaking with your daughter, I've also been a national advocate for early childhood education.

The President. Very good. Great to see you.

Governor-elect Ronald D. DeSantis of Florida. Ron DeSantis, Governor-elect of Florida. Mr. President, thank you for helping out the folks in the Panhandle—your commitment to rebuild Tyndall Air Force Base, it's important; those are great folks there—and also for your support of the reservoir that we need to build south of Lake Okeechobee so we can fix some of these water problems. We'd like to be able to speed some of this up with the Army Corps. I know you'll be supportive of that.

The President. Good.

Governor-elect DeSantis. And you've been real supportive of Florida. So thank you.

The President. We are very much involved with Lake Okeechobee. And a lot of problems in Florida can be solved by doing that properly. They've been trying to do it for 30 years. So we'll get it done, okay? Good job.

Governor-elect DeSantis. Thanks.

The President. Thank you all very much. We're going to have a little discussion now about how we can help the various Governors, and it's going to be a very good discussion. Thank you all very much.

Q. Mr. President, quick question about Michael Flynn. Mr. President——

White House Chief of Staff Selection Process

Q. Any update on—[inaudible]—your next Chief of Staff?

The President. We're interviewing people now for Chief of Staff, yes.

Q. How long is the short list now?

The President. Five people. Really good ones, terrific people, mostly well known, but terrific people. Former National Security Adviser Michael T. Flynn/Investigation Into Russia's Interference in 2016 Presidential Election

Q. Mr. President, quick question about Michael Flynn. As you know, Judge Emmet Sullivan has asked the Office of Special Counsel and the FBI for the documents related to the interview of Michael Flynn. Do you——

The President. That's great.

Q. ——do you believe that the FBI acted improperly in how they handled his interview?

The President. Well, the FBI said Michael Flynn—a general and a great person—they said he didn't lie. And Mueller said, "Well, maybe he did." And now they're all having a big dispute. So I think it's a great thing that the judge is looking into that situation. That's an honor for a lot of terrific people.

Thank you all very much. Thank you. Thank you.

NOTE: The President spoke at 2:12 p.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to White House Senior Adviser Jared C. Kushner; Counselor to the President John DeStefano; Department of Justice Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III; and Emmet G. Sullivan, judge, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Governor-elect Bryan referred to former Delegate Donna M. Christian-Christensen of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Governor-elect Kemp referred to Secretary of Agriculture George E. "Sonny" Perdue III. Governor-elect Pritzker referred to Assistant to the President Ivanka M. Trump.

Donald J. Trump, Remarks in a Meeting With Newly Elected Governors and an Exchange With Reporters Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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