You are currently browsing the daily archive for May 4, 2017.

On Friday, April 21, 2017, President Donald Trump gave an interview to Julie Pace, White House Correspondent with the Associated Press (AP).

Excerpts from the transcript follow. Emphases and subheads below are mine. I have kept the AP text in the original, although I have rearranged the topic order slightly. I have also interspersed a few other sources for certain topics.

Life as president

Well the one thing I would say — and I say this to people — I never realized how big it was. Everything’s so (unintelligible) like, you know the orders are so massive …

Number One, there’s great responsibilityThis is involving death and life and so many things. … So it’s far more responsibility. (unintelligible) ….The financial cost of everything is so massive, every agency. This is thousands of times bigger, the United States, than the biggest company in the world. The second-largest company in the world is the Defense Department. The third-largest company in the world is Social Security. The fourth-largest — you know, you go down the list.

It’s massive. And every agency is, like, bigger than any company. So you know, I really just see the bigness of it all, but also the responsibility. And the human responsibility. You know, the human life that’s involved in some of the decisions.

The difference between the presidency and business

Well in business, you don’t necessarily need heart, whereas here, almost everything affects people. So if you’re talking about health care — you have health care in business but you’re trying to just negotiate a good price on health care, et cetera, et cetera. You’re providing health. This is (unintelligible). Here, everything, pretty much everything you do in government, involves heart, whereas in business, most things don’t involve heart.

The press

I used to get great press. I get the worst press. I get such dishonest reporting with the media. That’s another thing that really has — I’ve never had anything like it before. It happened during the primaries, and I said, you know, when I won, I said, “Well the one thing good is now I’ll get good press.” And it got worse. (unintelligible) So that was one thing that a little bit of a surprise to me. I thought the press would become better, and it actually, in my opinion, got more nasty.

Meeting and working with world leaders

I think I’ve established amazing relationships that will be used the four or eight years, whatever period of time I’m here. I think for that I would be getting very high marks because I’ve established great relationships with countries, as President el-Sissi has shown and others have shown. Well, if you look at the president of China, people said they’ve never seen anything like what’s going on right now. I really liked him a lot. I think he liked me. We have a great chemistry together. …

I’ve developed great relationships with all of these leaders. Nobody’s written that. In fact, they said, “Oh, well, he’s not treating them nicely,” because on NATO, I want them to pay up. But I still get along with them great, and they will pay up. In fact, with the Italian prime minister yesterday, you saw, we were joking, “Come on, you have to pay up, you have to pay up.” He’ll pay.

You can also read a transcript of the press conference. About NATO, Gentiloni said:

Italy is convinced of its strategic commitment in favor of the transatlantic relationship.  We have also spoken about common commitments in NATO and the goals that were identified in 2014, and the commitments on military expenses and the contribution that each country must make towards collective security.  We are proud of our contribution.

Renegotiating fighter jet prices

A little before I took office there was a terrible article about the F-35 fighter jet. It was hundreds of billions of dollars over budget. It was seven years behind schedule. It was a disaster. So I called in Lockheed and I said, “I’m sorry, we’re going to have to bid this out to another company, namely Boeing,” or whoever else. But Boeing. And I called in Boeing and I started getting competing offers back and forth. …

I saved $725 million on the 90 planes. Just 90. Now there are 3,000 planes that are going to be ordered. On 90 planes I saved $725 million. It’s actually a little bit more than that, but it’s $725 million. Gen. Mattis, who had to sign the deal when it came to his office, said, “I’ve never seen anything like this in my life.” We went from a company that wanted more money for the planes to a company that cut. And the reason they cut — same planes, same everything — was because of me. I mean, because that’s what I do.

Now if you multiply that times 3,000 planes, you know this is on 90 planes. In fact, when the Prime Minister (Shinzo) Abe of Japan came in because they bought a certain number of thoseThe first thing he said to me, because it was right at the time I did it, he said, “Could I thank you?” I said, “What?” He said, “You saved us $100 million.” Because they got a $100 million savings on the 10 or 12 planes that they (bought). Nobody wrote that story. Now you know that’s a saving of billions and billions of dollars, many billions of dollars over the course of — it’s between 2,500 and 3,000 planes will be the final order. But this was only 90 of those 2,500 planes.

Kindness to the interviewer

TRUMP: … Do you want a Coke or anything?

AP: I’m OK, thank you. No. …

China

There has to be flexibility. Let me give you an example. President Xi, we have a, like, a really great relationship. For me to call him a currency manipulator and then say, “By the way, I’d like you to solve the North Korean problem,” doesn’t work. So you have to have a certain flexibility, Number One. Number Two, from the time I took office till now, you know, it’s a very exact thing. It’s not like generalities

But President Xi, from the time I took office, he has not, they have not been currency manipulators. Because there’s a certain respect because he knew I would do something or whatever. But more importantly than him not being a currency manipulator the bigger picture, bigger than even currency manipulation, if he’s helping us with North Korea, with nuclear and all of the things that go along with it, who would call, what am I going to do, say, “By the way, would you help us with North Korea? And also, you’re a currency manipulator.” It doesn’t work that way.

And the media, some of them get it, in all fairness. But you know some of them either don’t get it, in which case they’re very stupid people, or they just don’t want to say it. You know because of a couple of them said, “He didn’t call them a currency manipulator.” Well, for two reasons. Number One, he’s not, since my time … That’s Number One, but much more important, they are working with us on North Korea. Now maybe that’ll work out or maybe it won’t. Can you imagine? …

The White House issued a lengthy briefing on the meeting between Presidents Trump and Xi held on April 6 and 7.

Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch

Well, I — first of all I think he’s a great man. I think he will be a great, great justice of the Supreme Court. I have always heard that the selection and the affirmation of a Supreme Court judge is the biggest thing a president can do. Don’t forget, he could be there for 40 years. … He’s a young man. I’ve always heard that that’s the biggest thing. Now, I would say that defense is the biggest thing. You know, to be honest, there are a number of things. But I’ve always heard that the highest calling is the nomination of a Supreme Court justice. I’ve done one in my first 70 days.

You can read more about Neil Gorsuch and his family at Heavy. The Gorsuchs are Episcopalians. According to Heavy, their home church in Boulder, Colorado, is St John’s, where Gorsuch’s daughters, Emma and Belinda, were acolytes.

Syria

When it came time to, as an example, send out the 59 missiles, the Tomahawks in Syria. I’m saying to myself, “You know, this is more than just like, 79 (sic) missiles. This is death that’s involved,” because people could have been killed. This is risk that’s involved, because if the missile goes off and goes in a city or goes in a civilian area — you know, the boats were hundreds of miles away — and if this missile goes off and lands in the middle of a town or a hamlet …. every decision is much harder than you’d normally make.

The attack took place on Thursday, April 6, during a dinner with President Xi of China and his wife at Mar-a-Lago. The Military Material YouTube channel has the following video, accompanied by a brief written description of what was targeted:

The wall

My base understands the wall is going to get built, whether I have it funded here or if I get it funded shortly thereafter, that wall’s getting built, OK? One hundred percent. One hundred percent it’s getting built. And it’s also getting built for much less money — I hope you get this — than these people are estimating. The opponents are talking $25 billion for the wall. It’s not going to cost anywhere near that.

I think $10 billion or less. And if I do a super-duper, higher, better, better security, everything else, maybe it goes a little bit more. But it’s not going to be anywhere near (those) kind of numbers. And they’re using those numbers; they’re using the high numbers to make it sound impalatable (sic). And the fact it’s going to cost much less money, just like the airplane I told you about, which I hope you can write about.

NATO

I was on Wolf Blitzer, very fair interview, the first time I was ever asked about NATO, because I wasn’t in government

I did an interview with Wolf Blitzer, and I said NATO was obsolete — I said two things — obsolete, and the country’s aren’t paying. I was right about both. I took such heat for about three days on both, because nobody ever criticized NATO. I took heat like you wouldn’t believe. And then some expert on NATO said, “You know, Trump is right.” But I said it was obsolete because they weren’t focused on terror. …

It’s not fair that we’re paying close to 4 percent and other countries that are more directly affected are paying 1 percent when they’re supposed to be paying 2 percent. And I’m very strong on it and I’m going to be very strong on it when I go there in a month.

Job creation

we create a lot of jobs, 500,000 jobs as of two months ago, and plenty created since. Five hundred thousand. … As an example, Ford, General Motors. I’ve had cases where the gentleman from China, Ma, Jack Ma (chairman of Alibaba Group), he comes up, he says, “Only because of you am I making this massive investment.” Intel, only because of you. … The press never writes that.

WikiLeaks

TRUMP: When Wikileaks came out … never heard of Wikileaks, never heard of it. When Wikileaks came out, all I was just saying is, “Well, look at all this information here, this is pretty good stuff.” You know, they tried to hack the Republican, the RNC, but we had good defenses. They didn’t have defenses, which is pretty bad management. But we had good defenses, they tried to hack both of them. They weren’t able to get through to Republicans. No, I found it very interesting when I read this stuff and I said, “Wow.” It was just a figure of speech. I said, “Well, look at this. It’s good reading” …

AP: Can I just ask you, though — do you believe it is a priority for the United States, or it should be a priority, to arrest Julian Assange?

TRUMP: I am not involved in that decision, but if Jeff Sessions wants to do it, it’s OK with me. I didn’t know about that decision, but if they want to do it, it’s OK with me.

If Trump lets Mike Pompeo or Sessions persuade him that an arrest of Julian Assange is OK, then he will have alienated a sizeable chunk of his base. A lot of young Trump supporters — Bernie voters and other anti-Hillary people — will be very unhappy.

I do not think Trump knows enough about Assange or how much the Podesta WikiLeaks helped garner him the victory on November 8, 2016. The two Stephens — Bannon and Miller — must set him straight right away.

Immigration

AP: And that’s going to be the policy of your administration to allow the dreamers to stay?

TRUMP: Yes. Yes. That’s our policy. I am not saying … long-term, we are going to have to fix the problem, the whole immigration problem. But I will tell you: Right now we have a great gentleman, one of my real stars is Gen. (John) Kelly, now (Homeland Security) Secretary Kelly. We are down 73 percent at the border, we are cleaning out cities and towns of hard-line criminals, some of the worst people on earth, people that rape and kill women, people that are killing people just for the sake of having fun. They are being thrown in jails and they are being … all over the country and nobody’s ever done it like us, so we are being unbelievably thorough with that. We are out in Long Island cleaning out the MS-13 scum, they are all scum, that’s probably the worst gang anywhere on Earth. …

AP: A lot of the dreamers have been hoping to hear something from you. I don’t want to give them the wrong message with this.

TRUMP: Here is what they can hear: The dreamers should rest easy. OK? I’ll give you that. The dreamers should rest easy. …

The release of Aya Hijazi from an Egyptian prison

AP: How did you hear about this story?

TRUMP: Many people, human rights people, are talking about it. It’s an incredible thing, especially when you meet her. You realize — I mean, she was in a rough place.

AP: Did you have to strike a deal with (Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah) el-Sissi over this?

TRUMP: No. No deal. He was here. He — I said, “I really would appreciate it if you would look into this and let her out.” And as you know, she went through a trial. And anyway, she was let go. And not only she, it was a total of eight people. …

There is much more at the AP link.

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