Photo of Donald Trump

Remarks in a Roundtable Discussion With Business Executives on the Resumption of Economic and Commercial Activity During the Coronavirus Pandemic and an Exchange With Reporters

May 29, 2020

Death of George Floyd During an Arrest by Police Officers in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 25

The President. All right. Thank you very much. Appreciate it. I want to express our Nation's deepest condolences and most heartfelt sympathies to the family of George Floyd. A terrible event. Terrible, terrible thing that happened.

I've asked that the Department of Justice expedite the Federal investigation into his death and do it immediately, do it as quickly as absolutely possible. It's a local situation, but we're also making it into a Federal situation. And it's a terrible thing. We all saw what we saw, and it's very hard to even conceive of anything other than what we did see. It should never happen. It should never be allowed to happen, a thing like that.

But we're determined that justice be served. And I spoke to members of the family. Terrific people. And we'll be reporting as time goes by. We think that we also have to make the statement—and it's very important—that we have peaceful protesters and support the rights for peaceful protesters. We can't allow a situation like happened in Minneapolis to descend further into lawless anarchy and chaos. And we understand that very well.

It's very important, I believe, to the family, to everybody that the memory of George Floyd be a perfect memory. Let it be a perfect memory. The looters should not be allowed to drown out the voices of so many peaceful protesters they hurt so badly. What is happening—and it's so bad for the State and for that great city.

So we are working very closely with the Justice Department. We're working with local law enforcement. We're working with everybody. And we're speaking with the family, and hopefully, everything can be fairly taken care of. I understand the hurt. I understand the pain. People have really been through a lot. The family of George is entitled to justice, and the people of Minnesota are entitled to live in safety. Law and order will prevail.

The Americans will honor the memory of George and the Floyd family. It's very important to us. It's very important to me to see that everything is taken care of properly. It's a horrible, horrible situation. And so we'll be reporting back in due course and as quickly as possible.

Resumption of Economic and Commercial Activity

I'm pleased to welcome American industry leaders to the White House as we continue to safely reopen America. We're glad to be joined by Geoff Ballotti of Wyndham Hotel and Resorts. Wyndham Hotels have been really a terrific company over the years. Brian Goldner of Hasbro; David Hoffmann of Dunkin' Brands; Gary Kelly of Southwest Airlines. Really good jobs they've done. Rodney McMullen of Kroger. Thanks, Rodney. Oscar Munoz of United. Thank you, Oscar. United Airlines. Brad Smith of Microsoft. That stock has done very well, I will say. Great job. Great job. Sonia Syngal of Gap. And—thank you very much.

Also with us are Secretary of Treasury Steve Mnuchin and Secretary of Labor Gene Scalia.

Our Nation continues to mourn for the lives claimed by the virus and grieve for the families who have lost loved ones. We continue to battle the invisible enemy. We are directing the full resources and support of the Federal Government to safeguard high-risk populations, especially in nursing homes. We've been a very powerful strategy on nursing homes for quite a while. The best strategy for public health is to aggressively protect the most vulnerable while allowing younger and healthier Americans to work safely.

Nationwide hospitalizations, new cases, and deaths are all declining. We're tracking cases and hospitalizations daily, and States are demonstrating their ability to rapidly identify and contain new outbreaks. Our testing is the best in the world. We've now surpassed 15 million tests, which is much more than any other country by a factor of many times. We've completed over 15 million, and that is—I think we can say that's a record by a lot.

And we're going to give you a big report on testing tomorrow. We have new tests coming out that are above and beyond anything that anybody would have thought even possible just a couple of months ago.

In many places, we've had more tests available than people seeking them. Florida and others have said that they have testing and they don't have enough people to take the tests. So we've come a long way. We started with an empty cupboard. We didn't have a lot that we inherited. And we are—I think, really, they've stepped up to the plate on ventilators, on tests, and on equipment and gowns and everything else, gloves. If you look at masks, everybody has masks now.

To maintain the health and safety of our society, we must also maintain the health of our economy. There's a reason why our Nation's life expectancy is closely correlated with economic development. A never-ending shutdown would increase, not reduce, the total loss of life in the United States, while failing to focus resources on the most vulnerable.

We've made a lot of progress in terms of the invisible enemy. A lot of progress. A lot of things have happened that have taught us a lot. Nobody has ever seen anything like this, and there certainly hasn't been anything like this since over a hundred years, 1917.

I want to thank all of these great companies for being here and representing their company and themselves and our country so well. We're going to be having a discussion with the companies as to suggestions they have. We think we're going to have a very strong opening, which has just started, really.

We had the greatest economy in history of any country, not just ours—the greatest in history. We had the best employment numbers that we've ever had. We've had the best numbers in every way, whether it's the biggest tax cuts, the greatest regulation cuts of any President. Nobody has even come close.

We've rebuilt our military. We have the strongest military we've ever had. New equipment coming in all the time; a lot of it already arrived. And very importantly, all made in the U.S.A. And so many other things.

You look at what we've done for the vets with choice and accountability, the combination. They weren't able to get that done for over 40 years. And we got them both approved. "Right to try," got it approved. We've done so much, and then we had to turn it all off in order to be in a position where we are right now.

Numbers were estimated to be 2 million deaths, 1½ million deaths, maybe 1 million, but it could have been over 2 million and maybe substantially over. Unfortunately, one is too many. It should have been stopped. It could have been stopped in China. It should've been stopped in China, but it didn't stop. And the world got infected, and it's very sad—a very sad thing. But we turned off the greatest economy ever, and we turned it off very quickly, very rapidly. We banned people coming in from China early, very early. In fact, most people said, "Don't do it." Even a month later, they were saying, "You shouldn't have done it." And we turned out to be right. But we have now a long way to go, but we're getting very good early numbers, as everyone knows. The stock market has been doing very well, because people have a lot of confidence. We're doing very well on therapeutics. We're doing very well on vaccines. I think we're going to have some very good answers soon.

And we're set up, logistically, with our military. Our military is set to move and to act so that when—I think I can say "when"—we have that vaccine—I think I can say it with pretty good surety, based on what we're seeing—that rather than taking long periods of time and bringing it out slowly, we're able to bring it out very, very quickly.

So we have a general in charge of logistics—that's what he does, and he's supposed to be the best—usually moving soldiers and moving various things for other reasons, but now he's going to be moving vaccines or therapeutics, depending on what ultimately ends up.

But we're doing very well on vaccines. We're doing very, very well on therapeutics. And maybe I could use the word "cure," as opposed to purely therapeutic.

So I want to thank everybody for being here. We have a lot of positive things to report. You see some of the numbers coming out with some of the States that have been opened. And some of the numbers have been really, really beyond expectation. So we're very happy.

And I think what we'll do is, we'll go around the room quickly, and we'll say a few things about any ideas you might have, your company—how well you've done with your companies. And might as well give it a little buildup. You have plenty of firepower back here.

So please. Maybe you'd start. Thank you.

Gap Inc. Chief Executive Officer Sonia Syngal. Well, great. Thank you, Mr. President. I'm honored to be here today, as representing Gap Inc. and working with all of you to safely open our stores, which is very important for us right now.

I have the honor of running America's largest clothing company. Gap Inc. had over $16 billion in revenue last year, and we house four billion-dollar brands, between Old Navy, Athleta, Banana Republic, and our namesake Gap. And Old Navy is the second largest apparel brand in the U.S.

The President. Wow. That's great.

Ms. Syngal. So you know, we have serviced American families for our 51 years, and we—these brands represent the best of American values. And we're anxious to get going and anxious to open up the economy.

We have 2,500 stores here in the U.S., and we've begun the opening process. You know, prior to COVID, we had over a million American customers walking through our doors every day.

The President. Wow.

Ms. Syngal. And so when we shut in March, we lost 70 percent of our sales overnight. And we reacted very quickly. We had to make really big, unfortunate decisions to furlough employees and to retrench.

[At this point, Ms. Syngal continued her remarks, concluding as follows.]

We—you know, we've developed these safe shopping protocols with industry leaders in retail, and we feel really good about them. We're anxious to reopen our stores with these protocols and have been excited about what's happening so far as we've opened. Our employees feel safe, our customers feel safe, and they're coming back to shop with us. And so we are committed to opening at least 800 stores this month.

The President. Great.

Ms. Syngal. And so we're on track for that. In fact, we're a little ahead of that, which feels good. And as customers come in, you know, they'll have new protocols, social distancing, masks, and cleaning, et cetera.

The President. Right.

Ms. Syngal. So it's going to, you know, create trust, and everyone is responding really well. I visited our stores in Virginia last night, and I visited our stores in Texas and Arizona, California, over the last couple of weeks, and our customers are thrilled to be back, our employees are thrilled to be back. In fact, one of our store managers came up to me and burst into tears, thanking—thanking me for giving her her job back.

The President. Great.

Ms. Syngal. You know, it's a really, very important thing. And as much as the Government has helped, our employees want to be back. So that feels great. One in four Americans work in retail, as you know. So this is now my time to ask what we need. And during this closure process, half of retail stayed open, and half of retail has been shut. So we've really created this lack of level playing field, you know, the haves and have-nots.

You know, as we look forward and as we think about a possibility of a resurgence or something, we must stay committed to these safe retailing protocols and really stay there and work through any future issues with that so we can have an equal playing field.

So I look forward to working with you.

The President. Thank you, Sonia.

Ms. Syngal. And Secretary Mnuchin has been fantastic to work with, so——

The President. That's good. He's done a great job. Thank you, Sonia. Appreciate it.


Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin. Thank you, Mr. President. I really want to thank everybody. And, Sonia, thank you for all the work you've done, and everyone else.

I do want to just particularly thank Gary and Oscar. As part of the CARES Act, we've worked with both of you and the rest of the airline industry. I know many of the businesses here have been hit very hard, but the travel industry in particular, and we appreciate everything you've done with us. Thank you.

The President. Thank you very much.

Oscar, please.

United Airlines Holdings, Inc., Executive Chairman Oscar Munoz. That's a heck of a lead-in. Thank you as well. Thank you. The CARES Act was great and everybody that was involved. Larry, you were terrific, as well, in the waning moments. You know our story, so I won't belabor it. I have two slides—really one—just to give you a sense of the things that we're doing.

[Mr. Munoz continued his remarks, concluding as follows.]

And then, lastly, this is the big ask from our perspective: You know, we are global. We fly over 60 countries. And this isn't a China question, this is just a general aspect of, when the world restarts to fly, it's historically every government, every country will have its own regulatory scheme to start flying. That is called patchwork. That is not harmonization. In order to get the economy going and flying, from a perspective of the entire planet, it's important that we work with your teams to get that harmonization and avoid patchwork.

The President. Good.

Mr. Munoz. So thank you again for everything.

The President. Thank you, Oscar. Appreciate it. You've been very much a factor in what we've done. You've been really helpful. We appreciate it.

Larry Kudlow, please.

National Economic Council Director Lawrence A. Kudlow. Thank you, sir. Thanks to everybody who has come here and worked with us. And I hope everything continues apace.

[Director Kudlow continued his remarks, concluding as follows.]

And we had a number today from the income report: The saving rates, sir, is 33 percent for the month of April—33 percent—which is to say, we've given them a lot of income. Government income has boosted things—liquidity, cash, and so forth. Steven's great efforts on Capitol Hill. And of course, the stores have been closed; they have nowhere to spend. So they're saving at a 33-percent rate. That's almost 10 times the norm.

So that—my final point—as we open and as the stores open, we are going to see a boom in spending——

The President. I think so.

Director Kudlow. ——and at the stores.

The President. I agree.

Director Kudlow. A boom.

The President. I think we're starting to see it.

Director Kudlow. Yes, sir.

The President. I think you're going to be very—people going to be very surprised. We're going to have a great third quarter, a great fourth quarter. I think next year is going to be one of our better years. So that's really great. Thank you very much, Larry.

Director Kudlow. Yes, sir.

The President. So Jay Clayton is the head of the SEC—Securities and Exchange Commission—and he's done a fantastic job. And I thought, maybe, I'd invite him up. And you could say a few words, if you'd like, Jay.

Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Walter J. "Jay" Clayton III. Thank you, Mr. President. What I'm going to say is, I appreciate the information that your companies have given us today. Investors want to understand the operational and financial challenges you're facing. The more they understand them, whether they're good or bad, the more your plans are solid for overcoming them, the more confidence they have, and our markets work better.

I'd be remiss if I didn't thank Secretary Mnuchin and our friends at the Fed for the way they have supported our markets through this uncertain time. And I really want to thank the many companies who've been very candid with their disclosure about where they stand. That's what our investors expect, and I think you've done a terrific job giving our investors what they expect. And I look forward to continuing to work with you.

The President. Thank you very much, Jay. Thank you. Southwest Airlines, what a great company. Go ahead.

Southwest Airlines Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer Gary C. Kelly. Well, thanks, Mr. President. It's a pleasure to be here on behalf of all the Southwest people. And my name is Gary Kelly. And again, I want to thank you. I want to thank Secretary Mnuchin.

[Mr. Kelly continued his remarks, concluding as follows.]

The one thing that we would like to see, and I know that the administration is looking very carefully at this, is to add a health screening at the TSA checkpoint. I think a temperature check like we had today coming into the White House would be very sensible——

The President. Right.

Mr. Kelly. ——along with a health declaration. And we're working closely with the TSA on that point.

I think—beyond that, I think ongoing tax burden reduction would be very helpful in terms of ticket taxes. I know we've got a ticket tax holiday for 2020. As sales begin to pick up and airlines begin to get back on their feet, that could be something worth looking at.

[Mr. Kelly continued his remarks, concluding as follows.]

Lastly, again, I wanted to thank you all for the support with a Payroll Support Program. We've never had a furlough or a layoff or a pay cut in our history at Southwest, and we sure don't want to have that now. So thank you, again, and we're going to fight the good fight here.

The President. And thank you, Gary. Great job you do, for a long time. Thank you very much.

Deborah, please.

White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Deborah L. Birx. Thank you, Mr. President. We've made amazing progress together with the American people and with you all. As you heard the President describe, new hospitalizations are down month over month by 50 percent. Mortality—the fatalities that we all grieve are down significantly, week over week.

[Ambassador Birx continued her remarks, concluding as follows.]

So as we open up the economy, we also want to assure the Americans are not only COVID-free, but have all their health care taken care of.

The President. So you're seeing much-improved numbers?

Ambassador Birx. Much-improved numbers. And I think this proactive testing—having enough tests available not only for diagnosing at the hospitals and clinic, but having an abundance of testing available to really be able to do what we talk about is proactive surveillance. Going into nursing homes and then testing a hundred percent of the residents, a hundred percent of the workers; working in food processing plants to test everyone that is there and really stopping outbreaks before they start.

This asymptomatic piece is a—is unique among diseases. And we have that in HIV; we have it in this particular respiratory disease. And so you have to test proactively to find the asymptomatic. No one intends to infect others; they just don't know they're infected themselves. And so, working with States and Governors and mayors to really set up those testing sites has really been extraordinary. And having a testing available at that level—I think we're about 350-, 400,000 tests today. We're up to having tested 5 percent of every American in less than 2 months. The President. That's fantastic. That's great. I wish the press would report it. But someday, they will. Someday, they're going to do that. Thank you very much, Deborah. I appreciate it. A lot of progress has been made. Great job you're doing. Thank you.


Hasbro, Inc., Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer Brian D. Goldner. Hi, Mr. President. I'm Brian Goldner with Hasbro. And thank you for your leadership and for working closely with the private sector to reopen the American economy. You may know that Hasbro is a nearly 100-year-old, Rhode Island-based play and entertainment company with brands like Monopoly, Transformers, Play-Doh, Peppa Pig, and Nerf. And it's really an honor to be here today.

[Mr. Goldner continued his remarks, concluding as follows.]

So, again, I'm very pleased to be here. I'm very proud of our employees. They're all very excited about getting back to work. And we've been working all along. And as our factories closed down during certain times over the last few months, our teams came together to make face shields in our factories—50,000 a week—to give——

The President. That's right.

Mr. Goldner. ——to health care workers. And we've made good use of those factories. And we're now happy to see them back up and running. And so thank you again. And thank you for your leadership.

The President. Great job, Brian. That's really great.

Mr. Goldner. Thank you.

The President. We appreciate that too. Thank you very much.

Dunkin' Brands Chief Executive Officer David Hoffmann. Hi. Thank you, Mr. President. And great to be here. Thank you to the team—your leadership team as well. And look, I'm here representing our great franchisees for both brands, Dunkin' and Baskin. I don't think a lot of people realize that we're a hundred-percent franchised, and so big brand names powered by small, independent business owners.

[Mr. Hoffmann continued his remarks, concluding as follows.]

And my ask in all of this would be, the second round—second version of this that sailed through the House, the flexibility plan on PPP, I'm just hoping that, you know, it's—it sails through cleanly and gets to your desk to be signed because that's another great example of helping small, independent business owners, like our franchisees, keep America working right now.

So thank you for your consideration.

The President. Good. Thank you, David, very much.

Mr. Hoffmann. Thank you.

The President. Appreciate it.

The Kroger Co. Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer W. Rodney McMullen. Thank you, President Trump. And I really appreciate the invitation to talk about reopening businesses in America. My name is Rodney McMullan. I'm the chairman and CEO of Kroger. I represent over 500,000 associates, and we've hired over 100,000 people over the last 2 months. And, you know, our job is to keep our supply chain operating—fresh, affordable food and essentials. And we operate 2,800 stores, 35 manufacturing plants, 44 distribution facilities. [Mr. McMullen continued his remarks, concluding as follows.]

You know, if you look at all the companies in this room, we have a lot of resources. But if you think about somebody with 50 employees or 100 employees or 200 employees, the resources they have is just not the same as us. And so sharing that across has been something that's been important, and it's a real pleasure to represent all the Kroger associates and being able to help America get started again.

So thank you, Mr. President.

The President. Thank you, Rodney, very much. And thank you for all the help too. You've been right from the beginning. Appreciate it.

Mr. McMullen. I'm happy to. Thank you.

The President. Thank you very much.

Kevin, please.

Senior Adviser to the President Kevin A. Hassett. Thank you, sir. Sir, I think that you can sense the optimism around the room that businesses—really, a cross-section of American businesses collected here are getting back to work. And I think this cross-section is extraordinarily representative of what we're seeing all around America.

And, as Larry mentioned, as you know—and as you require us, we watch every little detail of the economy every day. And there are now 27 States—27 States where more than 75 percent of the businesses are open. That was almost none a few weeks ago.

The President. That's great. That's right.

Senior Adviser Hassett. And there are 28 States where 80 percent of the workforce is back to work. And so the question then becomes—and it's last thing I'll say—that the people in this room are saying, "Yes, but will we have demand for our product?"

And what we learned today in the personal income report that Larry said is, because you required historic policy action, we got money to people who needed it while they were laid off. Because of big unemployment insurance checks and because of the $1,200 checks that we mailed people, they have the income—now that the economies are starting again—to go out and demand product. And so we're very, very bullish on what's going on with the restart, sir.

The President. Thank you very much, Kevin. Appreciate it.

Wyndham Hotel Group President and Chief Executive Officer Geoffrey A. Ballotti. Mr. President, thank you, on behalf of 7,000 small-business owners. Wyndham Hotels & Resorts is the world's largest franchiser—great State of New Jersey.

And we have—if I could have the first slide up—remarkably remained open throughout this crisis. Much like Dave and Dunkin', our hotels here in the United States really never closed. We were serving frontline workers. We were serving the National Guard emergency workers.

[Mr. Ballotti continued his remarks, concluding as follows.]

Because as Oscar said, as Gary said, just as planes are safe, hotels are safe. They're safe because we've been safe throughout this crisis with, again, 90 percent of our hotels operating at low occupancy. Demand is coming back, but we need those consumers to feel safe.

And we just thank you for everything that you and the Secretary and Congress is doing on this industry's behalf, because it's going to be a tough road back. The President. Well, it's going away, but I think we'll have vaccines, and I think we're going to have therapeutics, and maybe even beyond that. Maybe a cure. And it won't be in the long distance. So I really think that's going to be helpful. And regardless, it's going away, but that would certainly speed up the process. So we appreciate it, Geoff. Thank you very much.


Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you for bringing together so many great companies—different companies, different sectors of the economy that have—some that have been affected really very different ways during the pandemic: some able to stay open, some really having great difficulty doing it.

[Secretary Scalia continued his remarks, concluding as follows.]

As Larry and Kevin said, Mr. President, we've turned a corner. We put out unemployment numbers yesterday showing that, for the first time since February, the number of people on unemployment dropped. And that's great that the number filing is still much higher than we want.

The President. That's a good sign. That's a good sign, isn't it?

Secretary Scalia. We've turned the corner, Mr. President.

The President. Good.

Secretary Scalia. And we'll get back there to that extraordinary economy that you built so recently, and we're going to do it safely.

The President. Thank you, Gene, very much.

A man who's done a very good job—Microsoft. That's a good job they've done, Deborah, right? Thank you very much.

Microsoft Corp. President Brad Smith. Well, thank you, Mr. President. And you know, I just think this is a fascinating conversation because it really shows how each industry is unique. And as an economy, we need to meet the needs of every industry and put the economy together.

[Mr. Smith continued his remarks, concluding as follows.]

The first is the ability to use technology to work with people to detect the disease. I thought the reference to a health declaration was a really good one. It makes sense at an airport. Many employers are going to want that on some kind of self-attestation basis for their employees. It doesn't make sense to do it on a piece of paper.

The President. Right.

Mr. Smith. We were developing an app for our employees. We realized, "Well, everybody's employees need this." So we're now partnering with United Health Group so it can be made available to everybody.

[Mr. Smith continued his remarks, concluding as follows.]

In closing, I would say, when you step back from this, this is also the right time to close the broadband gap, which you're addressing through stimulus efforts——

The President. Right. We are.

Mr. Smith. ——and I think there are more. It's the right time to invest in more skilling, because we are going to see more jobs demand more digital skills than we did 6 months ago. And it's the right time to maintain the focus, as you have said, on testing.

[Mr. Smith continued his remarks, concluding as follows.] And so that progress, I think, will be another one of the fundamental ingredients that we'll need. So thank you.

The President. Well, thank you very much. And your first picture was so beautiful, the picture of the White House. I don't think I've ever seen one more beautiful than that. [Laughter] I don't know. You must have something very special over at Microsoft. But wasn't that was the beautiful? We appreciate it. Thank you very much, Brad.

Thank you very much. Do you have any questions, please?

Q. Mr. President——

The President. Any for the great executives?

Q. Mr. President——

The President. Yes.

Demonstrations and Civil Unrest Following Death of George Floyd

Q. It's obviously been a long day for a lot of Americans. But I'd like to give you an opportunity to address some of your tweets from this morning. You tweeted, "When the looting starts, the shooting starts." How would you know that phrase and not know its racially charged history?

The President. Well, I've heard that phrase for a long time. I don't know where it came from or where it originated. I view that phrase as——

Q. In 1967, the Miami Police Chief used it——

The President. Well, I don't know. I've also heard from many other places. But I've heard it for a long time, as most people have. And frankly, it means when there's looting, people get shot and they die. And if you look at what happened last night, and the night before, you see that. It's very common. And that's the way that was meant, and that's the way I think it was supposed to be meant. But I don't know where it came from. I don't know where it originated. I wouldn't know a thing like that.

But I will say it's very accurate in the sense that when you do have looting, like you had last night, people often get shot and they die. And that's not good. And we don't want that to happen.

Yes, please.

Death of George Floyd During an Arrest by Police Officers in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 25

Q. Thank you, Mr. President. In the past, you've criticized NFL players for their protests against police brutality. Given what we've seen with George Floyd and what we saw with the delays in the case of Ahmaud Arbery, does that change your views around those NFL protests?

And also, given that you had a message for those in the streets in Minneapolis, do you have a statement to make about the police that are involved in such police brutality incidents?

The President. Yes, I didn't like what I saw at all. I thought it was a terrible thing, a terrible picture. I think that it's sad in so many ways, from the standpoint of the family. When you look at George Floyd and his family, and you see what that's done to them, just a terrible thing. It's—he was in tremendous pain, obviously, and couldn't breathe. It was very obvious to anybody that watched it. It was a very, very sad thing for me to see that.

We also know that most policemen—you see the great job they do; they do a fantastic job—but this was a terrible insult to police and to policemen. And I know the Justice Department will—as you know, it's a local case. But I know the Justice Department is also looking at it very strongly.

Q. And does that change your views around, like, the NFL protests?

The President. Say it again? I can't——

Q. Does that change your views around the NFL protests on this issue? They were peaceful protests. Does that change your mind—your stance on that at all?

The President. Yes, it should be a peaceful protest. I think, really, the—in memory of George Floyd, I think it should be peaceful. It's—it's terrible.

They—I spoke with his family today. Terrific people. I think it's so bad for the memory when you see a thing like that going on. And hopefully, that won't happen tonight.

And, as you know, the National Guard has arrived, and they're there. But hopefully, everything will be very different tonight. Last night was very sad on many different levels.

Yes, please. Yes, please.

Coronavirus Outbreak in China

Q. Referencing your Rose Garden event, we see tensions with China over the virus, now over Hong Kong. Are we witnessing the start of a cold war between the United States and China?

The President. Well, we're certainly not happy with what happened with respect to China. They have a virus that started, and when it got out of control, perhaps—I assume that's what happened; it got out of control, whichever way—and they stopped it from going to China, but they didn't stop it from going to the rest of the world. So nobody likes that. That was not good. They did not do a good job.

So I don't know if it was incompetence or it was done for some other reason. But I know that I didn't see anything in Beijing and I didn't see anything in other Chinese cities, but I did see them in New York, in London, in Paris. We saw them in Spain, and we saw them in Italy. We saw that the enemy—the invisible enemy—come out. And all over the world—186 countries and probably more than that now—and they stopped it in China, but they didn't stop it going to Europe and the United States and the rest of the world. So what's that all about? And we have to do a very strong study and figure that out.

Hong Kong/China-U.S. Relations

Q. If I could follow up: Are you going to eliminate the special status for Hong Kong? I know you announced the measures—[inaudible].

The President. Well, we're talking about doing a lot of things. And we're not—we're very, very saddened by what happened to our relationship with China.

They should have never allowed this to happen. They could have stopped it at the source. We asked them to come in and help them, and they didn't want help from anybody. Even the World Health Organization, they wanted to go in, and they were delayed. But we asked to go in, very specifically, and they didn't want any help. They didn't need any help. And then, it got out of control in some form. But it didn't seem to get out of control when it came to going to other parts of China, because it didn't go very far. But it did come to the United States. It did come to Europe. It went all over the world.

Q. Mr. President——

The President. Yes, please. Death of George Floyd During an Arrest by Police Officers in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 25

Q. Your conversation with the Floyd family after the Rose Garden event, what was the thing you were trying to impress upon them? And did they have a message for you?

The President. Well, I just expressed my sorrow. That was a horrible thing to witness. And I've seen bad things. I've seen many bad things. And that was just a horrible thing to witness and to watch. And it would certainly look like there was no excuse for it, frankly.

Q. Mr. President——

Q. Did they have a message for you at all? Did they communicate—[inaudible]?

The President. They were grieving very much. Look, it was their brother, and they were grieving. And I could see very much that they loved their brother. Okay?

Q. Mr. President——

The President. Yes, in the back. Please. Go ahead. Please.

Brazil's Response to Coronavirus/Restrictions on Travel From Brazil to the U.S.

Q. Thank you so much, Mr. President. The United States and Brazil right now have more cases than—of COVID-19 than any other country. Can you understand me? I want——

The President. "Brazil" you said?

Q. Yes. I—my question is: There are many comparisons between the way you and the Brazilian President handled the pandemic. Do you think it's a fair comparison? And how long do you think the travel ban will be in place?

The President. Well, the Brazilian President is a friend of mine, and he's working very hard, and they do have a big, big outbreak. And I can tell you, he's a very good man, and he loves his country incredibly well. They've had a hard time. There's no question about it. They went a different route than we did.

Q. He is against——

The President. We did a shutdown. They decided to do it a different way. They're having a very hard time.

Q. He is against social distancing at the moment where the Brazil is——

The President. Could you take that—just for a second?

Q. Sure.

The President. Yes, it's——

Q. He's against social distancing and lockdown at the moment where the numbers in Brazil are skyrocketing. What do you think about that?

The President. Well, he went a different way. Brazil went a different way, and certainly, they're having a hard time. I don't want to be critical of anybody, because I have great respect for him, and he's doing a very good job with the country. Then, he got hit.

He got hit like everybody else. They went about it differently than us. I closed down from China, I closed down from Europe, and we did a lot of close-downs. We had to close down from Brazil. You're asking about Brazil; we closed down, as you know, the other night from Brazil. But he's—it's a tough time they're having in Brazil. It's a great country, great place, great people, but they're having a very tough time.

Q. How long do you think the ban will be in place for Brazil?

The President. I hope we can——

Q. And are you also thinking Russia and India?

The President. Yes. I'd like to take the ban off as soon as we can. Okay?

Q. Yes. Mr.——

The President. Soon as we can. Yes, please.

Police Brutality/Death of George Floyd During an Arrest by Police Officers in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 25

Q. Yes, Mr. President, do you believe that there's a problem with police brutality in America? And if you do, what would you do about it?

The President. Well, I think that police brutality certainly is something that we've been hearing about, reading about, studying—I have—for many years. And we all have to say, and I think most people would admit, that most of the police men and women that I've seen have been outstanding.

When you have something like this happen, you really—you look at it, and you just say, "How does a thing like that happen?" Because it just seems so bad to watch.

But our police have been very outstanding. Our crime rates are way down right now in this country. And—way down. The police have done a great job. Something like this happens, and you really say, "That's so bad in so many different ways and so unfortunate."

Q. You see the rate——

The President. Yes, please. Go ahead.

Demonstrations and Civil Unrest Following Death of George Floyd

Q. Yes, Mr. President, it certainly seems like you're sympathetic to some of the frustration expressed by the protesters last night. I want to ask you: First off, do you think there were good people out protesting in Minneapolis last night? And also——

The President. Did you say were they—say it. Were there good people?

Q. Were there good people among the protesters?

And then also, more broadly, what is your message to Black Americans and others who just are really frustrated and saddened to see another video of a Black man being killed in police custody?

The President. Well, certainly, there were a lot of different people, and they were good people too. And they were protesting, and they were protesting for the right reason. They were protesting in honor of a man, George Floyd, where something happened that shouldn't have happened.

My opinion, from what I've seen: Certainly, something happened that shouldn't have happened. And yes, you had a lot of people out there that were protesting out of sorrow. And then, you had people that got out of control—some people. And they did a very—I think they did a great disservice to their State and to their city and to, really, our country, what they did last night.

And we brought in the National Guard today, and they're there, and that won't happen again. It can't happen again. We can never let that happen again. That was run by the mayor of a city, and it got—in all fairness to him, he was in a tough position, but I don't think they were very well prepared. But we brought in the National Guard. They'll be very prepared tonight.

Thank you all very much. Thank you, please.

Q. Mr. President——

The President. Thank you.

NOTE: The President spoke at 4:54 p.m. in the State Dining Room at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Gen. Gustave F. Perna, USA, commanding general, U.S. Army Materiel Command, in his capacity as Chief Operating Officer of the Federal Government's interagency "Operation Warp Speed" coronavirus vaccine development program; President Jair Messias Bolsonaro of Brazil; and Mayor Jacob L. Frey of Minneapolis. Mr. Hoffmann referred to H.R. 7010. The transcript was released by the Office of the Press Secretary on May 30.

Donald J. Trump, Remarks in a Roundtable Discussion With Business Executives on the Resumption of Economic and Commercial Activity During the Coronavirus Pandemic and an Exchange With Reporters Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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