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Remarks on the National Economy and an Exchange With Reporters Prior to Departure for Huntington, West Virginia

November 02, 2018

The President. Okay. Thank you very much, and it will be a very exciting 5 days. We're doing numerous trips to numerous great places, great States. And I hear we're doing very well, but we'll let you know on Tuesday night. You'll know before I will, I suspect.

I will say that we had tremendous job numbers today. It was just released: 250,000 new jobs created in the month of October. That was shocking for a lot of people; that was a tremendous number by any standard. And that's despite the hurricanes. The hurricanes normally have a big impact, and I'm sure these hurricanes—they were massive—they had a big impact. But—so the 250,000 new jobs in October was an incredible number.

We also had a wage increase of 3.1 percent. It's like a perfect increase. It's an incredible number, but it's a perfect increase.

So the country is doing—I think, maybe you could say—better than it's ever done. We have a lot of new companies moving into the United States. And that's where we're letting people in. We're letting them in based on merit. We need workers. We need people to come in at 3.7 percent, which was also announced this morning: 250,000 jobs, 3.7 percent, and a 3.1-percent-or-so wage increase. It's like, really unbelievable numbers. So that just came out. I'm sure you people know about it.

2018 Congressional Elections

Q. Mr. President, if you lose the House, will you work with—compromise with—Nancy Pelosi and the other Democrats?

The President. Sure. I would. Sure.

Deployment of U.S. Armed Forces Personnel to Mexico-U.S. Border

Q. Mr. President, are you really okay with the U.S. military firing on the caravan people?

The President. No, they won't have to fire. What I don't want is, I don't want these people throwing rocks. It's turned out—in fact, it was just announced by Homeland Security—you have, in just certain areas, over 300 people that they know are trouble.

What they did to the Mexican military is a disgrace. They hit them with rocks; some were very seriously injured. And they were throwing rocks in their face. They do that with us, they're going to be arrested. There is going to be problems. I didn't say "shoot." I didn't say "shoot." But they do that with us, they're going to be arrested for a long time.

Q. But the military can't arrest them. What's the military going to do?

The President. They will arrest them. No, but ICE and Border Patrol is there with the military.

Birthright Citizenship

Q. Sir, who said you could change a constitutional amendment through an Executive order? Did Don McGahn tell you that? The President. Which are you talking about? Who?

Q. You said that you were told that you can change birthright citizenship as outlined in the Constitution.

The President. You know who's going to determine that? The Supreme Court of the United States. The Supreme Court will determine that.

Q. [Inaudible]—the Executive order?

Q. [Inaudible]—White House Counsel?

The President. The Supreme Court is going to determine that. Many, many people feel that.

Yes, go ahead.

Q. Iranian sanctions?

China-U.S. Trade

Q. Are you prepared to make a deal with China and announce it at the G-20? Or do you think that deal is not going to come together?

The President. We've had very good discussions with China. We're getting much closer to doing something. They very much want to make a deal. As you know, their economy went way down since we've been doing this skirmish.

I spoke with President Xi yesterday. They very much want to make a deal. I think we'll make a deal with China. And I think it'll be a very fair deal for everybody, but it will a good deal for the United States.

China-U.S. Trade/Group of Twenty (G-20) Nations Summit

Q. Mr. President, do you see an end to tariffs?

Q. When will you make the deal, sir?

The President. Wait.

Q. Will you make it by the G-20, sir?

The President. Say it?

Q. Will you make it by the G-20

Q. Or when will you have the deal ready, sir?

The President. Well, we're going to meet at the G-20. We're going to have dinner. President Xi and I have agreed to meet at the G-20. We'll be having dinner. We'll be discussing it. But I think a very good deal will be made with China. They want to make it very badly. We want to make a deal if we can. And a lot of progress has been made, a lot of progress.

Q. Mr. President—[inaudible]—why are you going——

The President. And they understand that if a deal isn't made, we're doing very well the way we're doing it right now, you understand that. Two hundred and fifty billion dollars at 25 percent, and it could be elevated by another $267 billion at 25 percent or more.

So we're doing very well, but I believe—I know—they want to make a deal. They've been hit very hard. Their economy has been very, very bad. I will say this: If we can make the right deal for this country—and also, they're going to make the right deal for them—if we can open up China and make it fair for the first time ever—this should have been done years ago by other Presidents, but it wasn't—I am very willing to do it.

But China very much wants to make a deal.

Actor Alec Baldwin

Q. Mr. President, Alec Baldwin was just arrested for punching somebody out during a parking dispute. Any reaction to his arrest?

The President. Who was arrested?

Q. Alec Baldwin.

The President. I wish——

Q. He punched somebody out during a parking dispute.

The President. I wish him luck. [Laughter]

Deployment of U.S. Armed Forces Personnel to Mexico-U.S. Border

Q. Mr. President, can you clarify the statement when you said that you're going to arrest people. You're not advocating actually shooting people who are having—throwing rocks?

The President. No, no, no.

Q. Can you clear that up?

The President. No, no, no.

Q. Mr. President——

The President. No. But if our soldiers—or Border Patrol or ICE—are going to be hit in the face with rocks, we're going to arrest those people. That doesn't mean shoot them. But we're going to arrest those people quickly and for a long period of time.

Border Security

Q. Mr. President, your Executive order on asylum—

Q. Mr. President, the sanctions on Iran will start on Monday——

Q. ——how is it legal to make these kinds of changes to asylum through Executive order?

The President. Everything we're doing is totally legal. It's all going through the courts. But we have one of the few systems, where instead of telling people, "You can't come in," we take them in and we have to bring them through a court system. It is the most ridiculous system in the world. It's obsolete, but that's not the problem. The problem is, it's a stupid system. And it doesn't work, and the Democrats and the Republicans could change it immediately.

We could do it 1 day; we could have it fixed. But the Democrats don't want to do it, because they're playing politics. And actually, I think it's very bad politics, because the people of this country know what's going on better than they do.

Q. Mr. President—— The President. And you know what? We could fix our immigration system in 1 day if we could sit down with them. But they don't want to do it because they want open border, and open borders mean crime.

Q. But they——

The President. They want those people coming up by the thousands. And you know, honestly, they always have come up. They want them to pour into our country.

And in the group—and you just saw the report that came out—you have a lot of bad people. You have people that are criminals. You have people with records. You have people with criminal records.

We could fix this system so quickly, so easily. But we need some Democrat votes. Or vote all Republican. If we had more Republicans, it would be fixed immediately.

Q. So can you guarantee——

Q. [Inaudible]—Secretary Zinke——

U.S. Sanctions Against Iran

Q. Iranian sanctions will start on Monday. Do you think they will be—they will come soon to the table for negotiation?

The President. Say it?

Q. The Iranian sanction—oil sanction—will start on Monday?

The President. That's right: Sanctions start on Iran. They're very serious sanctions. They're very big. They'll be elevated from there. But, as you know, sanctions are starting on Iran, and you know, Iran is taking a very big hit. The country is not the same country as when I started almost 2 years ago. Iran is a much different country since I terminated that deal. That was one of the most ridiculous deals ever made by any country, at any time: the Iran nuclear deal.

But sanctions very much are elevated as of—you know when: next week.

Q. So can you guarantee that the military is not going to fire on civilians——

Immigration Reform

Q. The Democrats said they had a bipartisan agreement on immigration, but you won't back it.

The President. The Democrats never had a bipartisan agreement. They're trying to say that. They never had a—then, tell them to come around and see me. They had an agreement that was a one-sided agreement that I would never approve. You've got to get rid of catch-and-release. You've got to get rid of chain migration. You've got to get rid of the visa lottery. They never agreed to any of that. Ask them if they agreed. They never agreed to any of that.

Deployment of U.S. Armed Forces Personnel to Mexico-U.S. Border

Q. So can you promise that the military is not going to fire on foreign civilians?

The President. Well, I hope they won't. We're going to see. I hope they won't.

Q. But you can't promise?

The President. You know what? We're not going to stand for people doing what they did to the Mexican military and to the Mexican police, what they did to those people. They were very badly hurt, very badly injured: the military and the police. What they did with rocks being thrown in their faces, not going to happen to our soldiers.

News Media

Q. Mr. President, a new poll found that half of Americans say that you're encouraging political violence with the way you speak.

The President. No, no. You know what? You're creating violence by your questions, you know.

Q. Me?

The President. You are creating—you. And also, a lot of the reporters are creating violence by not writing the truth. The fake news is creating violence.

Q. Half of Americans——

The President. And you know what? The people that support Trump and the people that support us, which is a lot of people—most people, many people—those people know when a story is true, and they know when a story is false. And I'll tell you what: If the media would write correctly and write accurately and write fairly, you'd have a lot less violence in the country.

2018 Congressional Elections

Q. Mr. President, if you lose the House, will you change your agenda? If your party loses the House, will you change your agenda?

The President. Well, we're going to see. I think we're doing very well. Certainly, we're doing very well on the Senate, which is obviously very important. And I think we're going to do also well in the House. We're going to see.

Q. Why are you only going to States that you won——

The President. I can only say this: The House is a lot of stops.

Q. Why are you only going to States that you won in the last few days?

The President. What's your next question?

Q. Secretary Zinke?

The President. How many questions do you have?

Q. Secretary Zinke?

The President. No more.

Q. Mr. President—[inaudible]—Muhammad bin Salman—[inaudible]——

Border Security

Q. On the border, sir—[inaudible]—national crisis, why not sign the Executive order yesterday when you announced it?

The President. We're doing a perfect Executive order, and the border is closed to these people. They're not coming in. They will go through the system, and then they'll be shipped back depending on what happens with asylum.

U.S. Aid to Central American Nations Q. Are you worried about the lawsuit that the Hondurans filed yesterday? Six Hondurans sued you——

The President. Just so you understand—Honduras, El Salvador, all of these countries—they're getting millions and millions of dollars. They're doing nothing for us. They're doing nothing. They let their people come up, and they form their caravans in the country. They are doing nothing. We're paying them hundreds of millions of dollars. Guess what? That money is going to stop very soon.

Thank you all very much.

Q. Mr. President, one question——

Q. [Inaudible]—Syrian Army—[inaudible]?

Q. Mr. President, what do you want to discuss with Putin? What do you want to discuss with Putin in Paris?

The President. Say it again.

Q. With Vladimir Putin, what do you want to discuss in Paris?

The President. I have no idea what you're saying.

National Economy

Q. Mr. President, is the U.S. open for business?

The President. We are. And we are doing very well with China. As I said over here, we're—I spoke with President Xi yesterday; we had a good conversation. They want very much to make a deal right now. We're getting billions of dollars coming in. We're getting $250 billion. That's never happened to China before. And China has been hit very hard. We have not. We're doing well.

We had the best job numbers that you can imagine—250,000, today—it was really amazing. Today it was just announced for the month of October: 250,000 jobs; 3.7 percent unemployment, which is fantastic; and wages going up for people. And also, job opportunity going way up, where people can now get the job they want.

So the numbers are about as good as you'll ever see. And that's despite some really bad hurricanes. It's really—usually, it detracts from numbers. I'm sure it would have even been better, but the 250,000 jobs in October was a shocking number even to some of the great economists. I could tell you: Larry Kudlow, Kevin Hassett, and all of these people, they were so impressed.

So we're really doing it. The economy is on fire. I think it may be the greatest economy our country has ever had. And I hope people realize that when they go out on Tuesday and they vote or if they do early voting. But I hope people realize that.

Thank you.

Q. Mr. President, one question.

2018 Congressional Elections

Q. Mr. President, what's your final message to voters? What's the final message to voters?

The President. Well, a final message to voters is, number one, we want to have strong borders. But if you look at what's happening with our country, we have the greatest economy we probably have ever had. We just had among the best job numbers we've ever had: 250,000 jobs created in October despite tremendous hurricanes, which are always a huge detriment. Everybody thought—even we thought—the number could never be anywhere near that because of the hurricanes.

So really, we have the greatest economy we've ever had. People are working. We're down to 3.7-percent unemployment. We're doing some very special things.

Plus, everybody—we've gotten the tremendous tax reduction. People are bringing home more money. And you know what else about the jobs? They now can go out and get a job they want, because they have a choice. They never had any choices. They can go out and get a job they want.

And speaking of choice, what we've done for the military and the vets, we've gotten them choice, where they can now go to a doctor, and the United States pays for it instead of waiting in line for 2 months and 3 months and not being able to see a doctor and literally dying—dying—while they were waiting on line to see a doctor. After 44 years they've been working on it, I got it approved. And that's choice for veterans. So it's a great thing.

So our country is doing really well, and I will see you in West Virginia. See you in West Virginia.

Q. Mr. President——

NOTE: The President spoke at 2:22 p.m. on the South Lawn at the White House prior to boarding Marine One. In his remarks, he referred to National Economic Council Director Lawrence A. Kudlow; and Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Kevin A. Hassett. Reporters referred to former White House Counsel Donald F. McGahn II; Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman bin Abd al-Aziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia; and President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin of Russia.

Donald J. Trump, Remarks on the National Economy and an Exchange With Reporters Prior to Departure for Huntington, West Virginia Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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