President Trump Holds a Press Conference

The President:
Thank you very much. I just wanted to begin
by mentioning that the nominee for Secretary of
the Department of Labor will be Mr. Alex Acosta. He has a law degree from
Harvard Law School, was a great student. Former clerk for
Justice Samuel Alito. And he has had a
tremendous career. He's a member, and has
been a member, of the National Labor Relations
Board, and has been through Senate
confirmation three times, confirmed — did
very, very well. And so Alex, I've
wished him the best. We just spoke. And he's going to be
— I think he'll be a tremendous
Secretary of Labor. And also, as you probably
heard just a little while ago, Mick Mulvaney, former
congressman, has just been approved — weeks late,
I have to say that. Weeks, weeks late. Office of Management
and Budget.

And he will be, I think,
a fantastic addition. Paul Singer has just left. As you know, Paul was very
much involved with the anti-Trump, or, as they
say, "Never Trump." And Paul just left and he's
given us his total support. And it's all about
unification. We're unifying the party,
and hopefully we're going to be able to
unify the country. It's very important to me. I've been talking about
that for a long time, but it's very, very
important to me. So I want to thank Paul
Singer for being here and for coming up
to the office.

He was a very strong
opponent, and now he's a very strong ally. And I appreciate that. I think I'll say a few
words, and then we'll take some questions. And I had this time —
we've been negotiating a lot of different
transactions to save money on contracts that were
terrible, including airplane contracts that
were out of control and late and terrible. Just absolutely
catastrophic in terms of what was happening. And we've done some
really good work. We're very proud of that. And then right after that,
you prepare yourselves and we'll do some questions
— unless you have no questions. That's always
a possibility. I'm here today to update
the American people on the incredible progress that
has been made in the last four weeks since
my inauguration. We have made
incredible progress. I don't think there's ever
been a President elected who, in this short period
of time, has done what we've done. A new Rasmussen poll, in
fact — because the people get it; much of the
media doesn't get it. They actually get it, but
they don't write it — let's put it that way.

But a new Rasmussen poll
just came out just a very short while ago, and it
has our approval rating at 55 percent and going up. The stock market has hit
record numbers, as you know. And there has been a
tremendous surge of optimism in the business
world, which is — to me means something much
different than it used to. It used to mean,
oh, that's good. Now it means that's
good for jobs. Very different. Plants and factories are
already starting to move back into the United
States and big league — Ford, General Motors,
so many of them. I'm making this
presentation directly to the American people with
the media present, which is an honor to have you
this morning, because many of our nation's reporters
and folks will not tell you the truth and will not
treat the wonderful people of our country with the
respect that they deserve.

And I hope going forward
we can be a little bit different, and maybe get
along a little bit better, if that's possible. Maybe it's not, and
that's okay too. Unfortunately, much of the
media in Washington, D.C., along with New York, Los
Angeles, in particular, speaks not for the people
but for the special interests and for those
profiting off a very, very obviously broken system. The press has become so
dishonest that if we don't talk about it, we are
doing a tremendous disservice to the American
people — tremendous disservice. We have to talk about it
to find out what's going on, because the press honestly is out of control. The level of dishonesty
is out of control. I ran for President to
represent the citizens of our country. I am here to change the
broken system so it serves their families and
their communities well.

I am talking, and really
talking, on this very entrenched power
structure, and what we're doing is we're talking
about the power structure, we're talking about
its entrenchment. As a result, the media is
going through what they have to go through to
oftentimes distort — not all the time — and some
of the media is fantastic, I have to say; they're
honest and fantastic. But much of it is not
— the distortion. And we'll talk about it,
and you'll be able to ask me questions about it. But we're not going to let
it happen, because I'm here again to take my
message straight to the people. As you know, our
administration inherited many problems across
government and across the economy. To be honest, I inherited
a mess — it's a mess — at home and abroad.

A mess. Jobs are pouring
out of the country. You see what's going on
with all of the companies leaving our country, going
to Mexico and other places — low-pay, low-wages. Mass instability overseas,
no matter where you look. The Middle East,
a disaster. North Korea — we'll
take care of it, folks. We're going to take
care of it all. I just want to let you
know I inherited a mess. Beginning on day one, our
administration went to work to tackle
these challenges. On foreign affairs, we've
already begun enormously productive talks with many
foreign leaders — much of it you've covered —
to move forward toward stability, security, and
peace in the most troubled regions of the world,
which there are many.

We've had great
conversations with the United Kingdom — and
meetings — Israel, Mexico, Japan,
China, and Canada. Really, really productive
conversations. I would say far more
productive than you would understand. We've even developed a new
council with Canada to promote women's business
leaders and entrepreneurs. It's very important to
me, very important to my daughter Ivanka. I have directed our
defense community, headed by our great general, now
Secretary Mattis — he's over there now, working
very hard — to submit a plan for the defeat
of ISIS, a group that celebrates the murder and
torture of innocent people in large sections
of the world. It used to be a small
group, and now it's in large sections
of the world.

They've spread
like cancer. ISIS has spread
like cancer. Another mess I inherited. And we have imposed new
sanctions on the nation of Iran, who's totally taken
advantage of our previous administration. And they're the world's
top sponsor of terrorism. And we're not going to
stop until that problem is properly solved. And it's not
properly solved now. It's one of the worst
agreements I've ever seen drawn by anybody. I've ordered plans to
begin for the massive rebuilding of the
United States military.

I've had great support
from the Senate. I've had great support
from Congress generally. We've pursued this
rebuilding in the hopes that we will never have
to use this military. And I will tell you that
is my — I would be so happy if we never
had to use it. But our country will never
have had a military like the military we're about
to build and rebuild.

We have the greatest
people on Earth in our military, but they don't
have the right equipment. And their
equipment is old. I used it, I talked
about it at every stop. Depleted — it's depleted. It won't be
depleted for long. And I think one of the
reasons I'm standing here instead of other people is
that, frankly, I talked about we have to have
a strong military. We have to have strong
law enforcement also. So we do not go abroad
in the search of war. We really are searching
for peace, but it's peace through strength. At home, we have begun
the monumental task of returning the government
back to the people on a scale not seen in
many, many years. In each of these actions,
I'm keeping my promises to the American people.

These are campaign
promises. Some people are so
surprised that we're having strong borders. Well, that's what I've
been talking about for a year and a half
— strong borders. They're so surprised —
"oh, you're having strong borders." Well, that's
what I've been talking about to the press
and to everybody else. One promise after another
after years of politicians lying to you
to get elected. They lie to the American
people in order to get elected. Some of the things I'm
doing probably aren't popular, but they're
necessary for security and for other reasons.

And then coming to
Washington and pursuing their own interests, which
is more important to many politicians. I'm here following through
on what I pledged to do. That's all I'm doing. I put it out before
the American people. Got 306 Electoral
College votes. I wasn't supposed
to get 222. They said there's no
way to get 222; 230 is impossible. Two hundred and seventy,
which you need, that was laughable.

We got 306 because people
came out and voted like they've never seen before. So that's the way it goes. I guess it was the biggest
Electoral College win since Ronald Reagan. In other words, the media
is trying to attack our administration because
they know we are following through on pledges that
we made, and they're not happy about it for
whatever reason. But a lot of people
are happy about it. In fact, I'll be in
Melbourne, Florida, five o'clock on Saturday, and I
heard — just heard that the crowds are massive
that want to be there.

I turn on the TV, open
the newspapers, and I see stories of chaos. Chaos! Yet, it is the
exact opposite. This administration is
running like a fine-tuned machine, despite the
fact that I can't get my Cabinet approved, and they're outstanding people. Like Senator Dan Coates
whose there — one of the most respected men of the
Senate — he can't get approved. How do you not
approve him? He's been a colleague,
highly respected — brilliant guy, great guy,
everybody knows it — but waiting for approval. So we have a wonderful
group of people that's working very hard,
that's being very much misrepresented about, and
we can't let that happen. So if the Democrats, who
have — all you have to do is look at where they are
right now — the only thing they can do is
delay, because they've screwed things up
royally, believe me. Let me list to you some of
the things that we've done in just a short
period of time.

I just got here. I got here with
no Cabinet. Again, each of these
actions is a promise I made to the
American people. So we'll go over just some
of them, and we have a lot happening next week and
in the weeks coming. We've withdrawn from the
job-killing disaster known as Trans-Pacific
Partnership. We're going to make trade
deals, but we're going to have one-on-one
deals — bilateral. We're going to have
one-on-one deals. We've directed the
elimination of regulations that undermine
manufacturing, and called for expedited approval of
the permits needed for America and American
infrastructure, and that means plants, equipment,
roads, bridges, factories. People take 10, 15, 20
years to get disapproved for a factory. They go in for a permit
— it's many, many years. And then at the end of the
process — they spend tens of millions of dollars on
nonsense — and at the end of the process,
they get rejected. Now, they may be rejected
with me, but it's going to be a quick rejection.

It's not going
to take years. But mostly, it's going
to be an acceptance. We want plants built, and
we want factories built, and we want the jobs. We don't want the jobs
going to other countries. We've imposed a hiring
freeze on nonessential federal workers. We've imposed a temporary
moratorium on new federal regulations. We've issued a
game-changing new rule that says for each one
new regulation, two old regulations must
be eliminated. Makes sense. Nobody has ever seen
regulations like we have. If you go to other
countries and you look at industries they have, and
you say, let me see your regulations, and they're
a fraction, just a tiny fraction of what we have. And I want regulations
because I want safety, I want all environmental
situations to be taken properly care of. It's very important to me. But you don't need four or
five or six regulations to take care of
the same thing. We've stood up for the
men and women of law enforcement, directing
federal agencies to ensure they are protected from
crimes of violence.

We've directed the
creation of a task force for reducing violent crime
in America, including the horrendous situation —
take a look at Chicago and others — taking place right now in our inner cities. Horrible. We've ordered the
Department of Homeland Security and Justice to
coordinate on a plan to destroy criminal cartels
coming into the United States with drugs. We're becoming a
drug-infested nation. Drugs are becoming cheaper
than candy bars, and we're not going to let it
happen any longer. We've undertaken the
most substantial border security measures in a
generation to keep our nation and our tax dollars
safe, and are now in the process of beginning to
build a promised wall on the southern border. Met with General, now
Secretary, Kelly yesterday and we're starting
that process. And the wall is going to
be a great wall, and it's going to be a wall
negotiated by me. The price is going to come
down, just like it has on everything else I've
negotiated for the government. And we're going to
have a wall that works.

We're not going to have a
wall like they have now, which is either
nonexistent or a joke. We've ordered a crackdown
on sanctuary cities that refuse to comply with
federal law and that harbor criminal aliens,
and we've ordered an end to the policy of catch and
release on the border. No more release, no matter
who you are — release. We've begun a nationwide
effort to remove criminal aliens, gang members, drug
dealers, and others who pose a threat to
public safety. We are saving American
lives every single day. The court system has not
made it easy for us. And we've even created a
new office in Homeland Security dedicated to the
forgotten American victims of illegal immigrant
violence, of which there are many. We've taken decisive
action to keep radical Islamic terrorists
out of our country. Though parts of
our necessary and constitutional actions
were blocked by a judge's, in my opinion, incorrect
and unsafe ruling, our administration is working
night and day to keep you safe — including
reporters safe — and is vigorously defending
this lawful order.

I will not back down from
defending our country. I got elected on
defense of our country. And I keep my
campaign promises. And our citizens will be
very happy when they see the result. They already are. I can tell you that. Extreme vetting will be
put in place, and it already is in place
in many places. In fact, we had to go
quicker than we thought because of the bad
decision we received from a circuit that has been
overturned at a record number. I've heard 80 percent — I
find that hard to believe; that's just a number I
heard — that they're overturned 80
percent of the time.

I think that circuit is in
chaos and that circuit is, frankly, in turmoil. But we are appealing that
and we are going further. We're issuing a new
executive action next week that will comprehensively
protect our country, so we'll be going along the
one path and hopefully winning that. At the same time, we will
be issuing a new and very comprehensive order to
protect our people, and that will be done some
time next week, toward the beginning or middle
at the latest part. We've also taken steps to
begin construction of the Keystone Pipeline and
Dakota Access Pipelines — thousands and thousands of
jobs — and put new "Buy American" measures in
place to require American steel for American

In other words, they build
a pipeline in this country and we use the powers of
government to make that pipeline happen. We want them to use
American steel. And they're willing to
do that, but nobody ever asked before I came along. Even this order was drawn
and they didn't say that. And I'm reading the order,
I'm saying, why aren't we using American steel? And they said,
that's a good idea. We put it in. To drain the swamp of
corruption in Washington, D.C. I've started by
imposing a five-year lobbying ban on White
House officials and a lifetime ban on lobbying
for a foreign government. We've begun preparing to repeal and replace Obamacare. Obamacare is a
disaster, folks. It's a disaster. You can say, oh, Obamacare
— I mean, they fill up our alleys with people
that you wonder how they get there, but they're not
the Republican people that our representatives
are representing. So we've begun preparing
to repeal and replace Obamacare and are deep in
the midst of negotiations on a very historic tax
reform to bring our jobs back.

We're bringing our jobs
back to this country big league. It's already happening,
but big league. I've also worked to
install a Cabinet over the delays and obstruction
of Senate Democrats. You've seen what they've
done over the last long number of years. That will be one of the
great Cabinets ever assembled in
American history. You look at Rex Tillerson
— he's out there negotiating right now. General Mattis I mentioned
before, General Kelly. We have great,
great people. Mick is with us now. We have great people. Among their
responsibilities will be ending the bleeding of
jobs from our country and negotiating fair trade
deals for our citizens.

Now, look, fair trade
— not free — fair. If a country is taking
advantage of us, we're not going to let that
happen anymore. Every country takes
advantage of us, almost. I may be able to find
a couple that don't. But for the most part,
that would be a very tough job for me to do. Jobs have already
started to surge. Since my election, Ford
announced it will abandon its plans to build a new
factory in Mexico and will instead invest $700
million in Michigan, creating many, many jobs. Fiat-Chrysler announced it
will invest $1 billion in Ohio and Michigan,
creating 2,000 new American jobs. They were with
me a week ago. You know — you were here. General Motors, likewise,
committed to invest billions of dollars in its
American manufacturing operation, keeping many
jobs here that were going to leave. And if I didn't get
elected, believe me, they would have left. And these jobs and these
things that I'm announcing would never
have come here. Intel just announced that
it will move ahead with a new plant in Arizona that
probably was never going to move ahead with.

And that will result in at least 10,000 American jobs. Walmart announced it will
create 10,000 jobs in the United States just this
year because of our various plans
and initiatives. There will be
many, many more. Many more. These are a few
that we're naming. Other countries have been
taking advantage of us for decades — decades and
decades and decades, folks. And we're not going to
let that happen anymore. Not going to
let it happen. And one more thing. I have kept my promise to
the American people by nominating a justice of
the United States Supreme Court, Judge Neil Gorsuch,
who is from my list of 20, and who will be a true
defender of our laws and our Constitution — highly
respected, should get the votes from the Democrats
— you may not see that, but he'll get there
one way or the other. But he should get there
the old-fashioned way, and he should get those votes. This last month
has represented an unprecedented degree of
action on behalf of the great citizens
of our country. Again, I say it —
there has never been a presidency that's done
so much in such a short period of time.

And we haven't even
started the big work that starts early next week. Some very big things are going to be announced next week. So we're just
getting started. We will be giving a
speech, as I said, in Melbourne, Florida,
at 5:00 p.m. I hope to see you there. And with that, I'd just
say, God bless America, and let's take
some questions. Mara. Mara, go ahead. You were cut off pretty
violently at our last news conference. The Press: Did you
fire Mike Flynn? The President: Mike Flynn
is a fine person, and I asked for his resignation. He respectfully gave it. He is a man who — there
was a certain amount of information given to Vice
President Pence, who is with us today.

And I was not happy with
the way that information was given. He didn't have to do that,
because what he did wasn't wrong, what he did in
terms of the information he saw. What was wrong was the
way that other people, including yourselves in
this room, were given that information, because that
was classified information that was given illegally. That's the real problem. And you can talk all you
want about Russia, which was all a fake news,
fabricated deal to try and make up for the loss of
the Democrats, and the press plays right into it.

In fact, I saw a couple
of the people that were supposedly involved with
all of this — they know nothing about it. They weren't in Russia,
they never made a phone call to Russia, they never
received a phone call. It's all fake news. It's all fake news. The nice thing is I see it
starting to turn, where people are now looking at
the illegal, Mara — and I think it's very important
— the illegal giving out classified information.

And let me just tell you,
it was given out, like, so much. I'll give you an example. I called, as you
know, Mexico. It was a very
confidential, classified call, but I called Mexico. And in calling Mexico, I
figured, oh, well, that's — I spoke to the
President of Mexico, had a good call. All of a sudden it's out
for the world to see. It's supposed
to be secret. It's supposed to be either
confidential or classified in that case. Same thing with Australia. All of a sudden people are
finding out exactly what took place. The same thing happened
with respect to General Flynn. Everybody saw this, and
I'm saying — the first thing I thought of when
I heard about it is, how does the press get this
information that's classified? How do they do it? You know why? Because it's an illegal
process, and the press should be ashamed
of themselves. But, more importantly, the
people that gave out the information to the press
should be ashamed of themselves.

Really ashamed. Yes, go ahead. The Press: Why did you
keep your Vice President in the dark for
almost two weeks? The President: Because
when I looked at the information, I said,
I don't think he did anything wrong. If anything, he did
something right. He was coming into
office, he looked at the information. He said, huh, that's
fine, that's what they're supposed to do. They're supposed to be —
and he didn't just call Russia. He called and spoke to,
both ways — I think there were 30-some-odd
countries. He's doing the job. You know, he was
just doing his job. The thing is he didn't
tell our Vice President properly, and then he
said he didn't remember. So either way, it wasn't
very satisfactory to me. And I have somebody that I
think will be outstanding for the position, and that
also helps, I think, in the making of my decision. But he didn't tell the
Vice President of the United States the facts,
and then he didn't remember.

And that just wasn't
acceptable to me. Yes. The Press: President
Trump, since you brought up Russia, I'm looking for
some clarification here. During the campaign, did
anyone from your team communicate with members
of the Russian government or Russian intelligence? And if so, what was
the nature of those conversations? The President: Well, the
failing New York Times wrote a big, long
front-page story yesterday. And it was very much
discredited, as you know. It was — it's a joke. And the people mentioned
in the story — I notice they were on television
today saying they never even spoke to Russia. They weren't even a part,
really — I mean, they were such a minor part —
I hadn't spoken to them. I think the one person,
I don't think I've ever spoken to him. I don't think
I've ever met him. And he actually said he
was a very low-level member of, I think, a
committee for a short period of time. I don't think
I ever met him. Now, it's possible that I
walked into a room and he was sitting there, but I
don't think I ever met him.

I didn't talk
to him, ever. And he thought
it was a joke. The other person said he
never spoke to Russia, never received a call. Look at his phone records,
et cetera, et cetera. And the other person,
people knew that he'd represented various
countries, but I don't think he represented
Russia — but knew that he represented
various countries. That's what he does. I mean, people know that. That's Mr. Manafort,
who's, by the way — who's, by the way,
a respected man. He's a respected man. But I think he represented
the Ukraine, or Ukraine government, or somebody. But everybody —
people knew that. Everybody knew that. So these people — and
he said that he has absolutely nothing to do
and never has with Russia. And he said that
very forcefully. I saw his statement. He said it very
forcefully. Most of the papers don't
print it because that's not good for
their stories.

So the three people that
they talked about all totally deny it. And I can tell you,
speaking for myself, I own nothing in Russia. I have no loans in Russia. I don't have any
deals in Russia. President Putin called
me up very nicely to congratulate me on the
win of the election. He then called me up
extremely nicely to congratulate me on the
inauguration, which was terrific. But so did many other
leaders — almost all other leaders from almost
all other countries. So that's the extent. Russia is fake news. Russia — this is fake
news put out by the media. The real news is the fact
that people, probably from the Obama administration
because they're there — because we have our new
people going in place right now.

As you know, Mike Pompeo
is now taking control of the CIA. James Comey at FBI. Dan Coats is waiting
to be approved. I mean, he is a senator,
and a highly respected one. And he's still waiting
to be approved. But our new people
are going in. And just while you're at,
because you mentioned this, Wall Street Journal
did a story today that was almost as disgraceful as
the failing New Times's story yesterday. And it talked about —
you saw it, front page. So, Director of National
Intelligence just put out — acting — a statement:
"Any suggestion that the United States intelligence
community" — this was just given to us — "is
withholding information and not providing the best
possible intelligence to the President and his
national security team is not true." So they took this
front-page story out of The Wall Street Journal —
top — and they just wrote the story is not true. And I'll tell you
something, I'll be honest — because I sort of enjoy
this back and forth, and I guess I have all my life,
but I've never seen more dishonest media than,
frankly, the political media.

I thought the financial
media was much better, much more honest. But I will say that I
never get phone calls from the media. How do they write a story
like that in The Wall Street Journal
without asking me? Or how do they write a
story in The New York Times, put it
on front page? That was like that story
they wrote about the women and me — front page. Big massive story. And it was nasty. And then they called. They said, "We
never said that. We like Mr. Trump." They
called up my office — we like Mr. Trump; we
never said that. And it was totally — they
totally misrepresented those very wonderful
women, I have to tell you — totally misrepresented. I said, give us
a retraction. They never gave
us a retraction. And, frankly, I then
went on to other things. Go ahead. The Press: Mr.
President — The President: You okay? The Press: I am. Just wanted to
get untangled. Very simply, you said
today that you had the biggest electoral margins
since Ronald Reagan with 304 or 306
electoral votes.

In fact, President
Obama got 365 in 2008. The President: Well, I'm
talking about Republican. Yes. The Press: President
Obama, 332. George H.W. Bush, 426 when he
won as President. So why should
Americans trust — The President: Well, no,
I was told — I was given that information. I don't know. I was just given. We had a very,
very big margin. The Press: I guess my
question is, why should Americans trust you when
you have accused the information they receive
of being fake when you're providing information
that's fake? The President:
Well, I don't know. I was given that
information. I was given — actually,
I've seen that information around.

But it was a very
substantial victory. Do you agree with that? The Press: You're
the President. The President:
Okay, thank you. That's a good answer. Yes. The Press: Mr. President,
thank you so much. Can you tell us in
determining that Lieutenant General Flynn
— there was no wrongdoing in your mind, what
evidence was weighed? Did you have the
transcripts of these telephone intercepts
with Russian officials, particularly Ambassador
Kislyak, who he was communicating with? What evidence did you
weigh to determine there was no wrong doing? And further than that,
sir, you've said on a couple of occasions this
morning that you were going to aggressively
pursue the sources of these leaks. The President: We are. The Press: Can we ask
what you're doing to do? And also, we've heard
about a review of the intelligence community
headed by Stephen Feinberg. What can you tell
us about that? The President: Well, first
of all, about that, we now have Dan Coats, hopefully
soon Mike Pompeo and James Comey, and they're
in position.

So I hope that we'll be
able to straighten that out without using
anybody else. The gentleman you
mentioned is a very talented man, very
successful man. And he has offered his
services, and it's something we may
take advantage of. But I don't think we'll
need that at all because of the fact that I think
that we're going to be able to straighten it out
very easily on its own. As far as the general is
concerned, when I first heard about it, I said,
huh, that doesn't sound wrong. My counsel came — Don
McGahn, White House Counsel — and he told me,
and I asked him, and he can speak very
well for himself. He said he doesn't think
anything is wrong. He really didn't think
— it was really what happened after that, but
he didn't think anything was done wrong. I didn't either, because
I waited a period of time and I started to
think about it. I said, well, I don't see
— to me, he was doing the job. The information was
provided by — who I don't know — Sally Yates — and
I was a little surprised because I said, doesn't
sound like he did anything wrong there.

But he did something wrong
with respect to the Vice President, and I thought
that was not acceptable. As far as the actual
making the call — in fact, I've watched various
programs and I've read various articles where he
was just doing his job. That was very normal. At first, everybody got
excited because they thought he did
something wrong. After they thought about
it, it turned out he was just doing his job. So — and I do — and, by
the way, with all of that being said, I do think
he's a fine man. Yes, Jon. The Press: On
the leaks, sir — The President: Go ahead,
finish off, then I'll get you, Jon. The Press: Sorry, what
will you do on the leaks? You have said
twice today — The President: Yes, we're
looking at it very, very seriously.

I've gone to all of the
folks in charge of the various agencies, and
we're — I've actually called the Justice
Department to look into the leaks. Those are criminal leaks. They're put out by people
either in agencies. I think you'll see it
stopping because now we have our people in. You know, again, we don't
have our people in because we can't get them
approved by the Senate. We just had Jeff Sessions
approved in Justice, as an example. So we are looking into
that very seriously. It's a criminal act. You know what I say —
when I was called out on Mexico, I was shocked. Because all this
equipment, all this incredible phone

When I was called out on
Mexico, I was — honestly, I was really,
really surprised. But I said, you know, it
doesn't make sense, that won't happen. But that wasn't that
important to call, it was fine. I could show it to the
world and he could show it to the world — the
President who is a very fine man, by the way. Same thing with Australia. I said, that's terrible
that it was leaked but it wasn't that important. But then I said, what
happens when I'm dealing with the problem
of North Korea? What happens when I'm
dealing with the problems in the Middle East? Are you folks going to
be reporting all of that very, very confidential
information — very important, very — I mean,
at the highest level, are you going to be reporting
about that too? So I don't want classified
information getting out to the public. And in a way, that
was almost a test.

So I'm dealing
with Mexico. I'm dealing
with Argentina. We were dealing on this
case with Mike Flynn. All this information gets
put into the Washington Post and gets put into
the New York Times. And I'm saying, what's
going to happen when I'm dealing on the
Middle East? What's going to happen
when I'm dealing with really, really important
subjects like North Korea? We've got to stop it. That's why it's a
criminal penalty. Yes, Jon. The Press: Thank
you, Mr. President. I just want to get you
to clarify just a very important point. Can you say definitively
that nobody on your campaign had any contacts
with the Russians during the campaign? And, on the leaks, is it
fake news or are these real leaks? The President: Well,
the leaks are real.

You're the one that wrote about them and reported them. I mean, the
leaks are real. You know what they
said — you saw it. And the leaks are
absolutely real. The news is fake because
so much of the news is fake. So one thing that I felt
it was very important to do — and I hope we can
correct it, because there is nobody I have more
respect for — well, maybe a little bit — than reporters, than good reporters. It's very important to me, and especially in this position. It's very important. I don't mind bad stories. I can handle a bad story
better than anybody as long as it's true.

And over a course of time,
I'll make mistakes and you'll write badly and
I'm okay with that. But I'm not okay
when it is fake. I mean, I watch CNN —
it's so much anger and hatred and just
the hatred. I don't watch it anymore
because it's very good — he's saying no. It's okay, Jim. It's okay, Jim. You'll have your chance. But I watch others too. You're not the only one,
so don't feel badly. But I think it
should be straight. I think it should be
— I think it would be, frankly, more interesting.

I know how good
everybody's ratings are right now, but I think
that actually would be — I think that it would
actually be better. People — I mean, you have
a lower approval rate than Congress. I think that's right. I don't know, Peter,
is that one right? Because you know, I think
they have lower — I heard, lower
than Congress. But honestly, the public
would appreciate it.

I'd appreciate it. Again, I don't mind bad
stories when it's true. But we have an
administration where the Democrats are making
it very difficult. I think we're setting a
record, or close to a record in the time of
approval of a Cabinet. I mean, the
numbers are crazy. When I'm looking — some
of them had them approved immediately. I'm going forever, and I
still have a lot of people that we're waiting for. And that's all they're
doing, is delaying. And you look at Schumer
and the mess that he's got over there, and they
have nothing going. The only thing they
can do is delay. And you know, I think
they'd be better served by approving and making sure
that they're happy and everybody is good.

And sometimes, I mean — I
know President Obama lost three or four, and you
lose them on the way. And that's okay. That's fine. But I think they would be
much better served, Jon, if they just went through
the process quickly. This is pure
delay tactics. And they say it, and
everybody understands it. Yeah, go ahead, Jim. The Press: The first
part of my question on contacts. Do you definitively
say that nobody — The President: Well, I had
nothing to do with it. I have nothing to
do with Russia. I told you, I have
no deals there. I have no anything. Now, when WikiLeaks, which
I had nothing to do with, comes out and happens to
give — they're not giving classified information.

They're giving stuff —
what was said at an office about Hillary cheating on
the debates — which, by the way, nobody mentions. Nobody mentions that
Hillary received the questions to the debates. Can you imagine —
seriously, can you imagine if I received
the questions? It would be the
electric chair, okay? "He should be put in
the electric chair." You would even call for
the reinstitution of the death penalty, okay? Maybe not you, Jon. Yes, we'll do
you next, Jim. I'll do you next. Yes? The Press: Thank
you, Mr.

President. I just want to clarify
one other thing. The President: Sure. The Press: Did you direct
Mike Flynn to discuss the sanctions with the
Russian ambassador? The President:
No, I didn't. No, I didn't. The Press: (Inaudible.)
(Off mic.) The President:
No, I didn't. The Press: Did you fire
him because (inaudible) — The President: Excuse me
— no, I fired him because of what he said to Mike
Pence, very simple. Mike was doing his job. He was calling countries
and his counterparts. So it certainly would have
been okay with me if he did it. I would have directed him
to do it if I thought he wasn't doing it. I didn't direct him but I
would have directed him because that's his job. And it came out that way
— and, in all fairness, I watched Dr. Charles
Krauthammer the other night say he was
doing his job. And I agreed with him. And since then I've
watched many other people say that.

No, I didn't direct him,
but I would have directed him if he didn't
do it, okay? Jim. The Press: Mr. President,
thank you very much. And just for the record,
we don't hate you, I don't hate you. If you could
pass that along. The President: Okay. Well, ask Jeff Zucker how
he got his job, okay? The Press: If I may
follow up on some of the questions that have
taken place so far, sir. The President:
Well, not too many. We do have other people. You do have other people,
and your ratings aren't as good as some of the other
people that are waiting. The Press: They're pretty
good right now, actually. The President: Okay. Go ahead, Jim. The Press: If I may ask,
sir, you said earlier that WikiLeaks was revealing
information about the Hillary Clinton campaign
during the election cycle.

You welcomed that
at one point. The President: I
was okay with it. The Press: You said
you loved WikiLeaks. At another campaign press
conference you called on the Russians to find the
missing 30,000 emails. I'm wondering,
sir, if you — The President: Well, she
was actually missing 33,000, and then that got
extended with a whole pile after that, but
that's okay. The Press: Maybe my
numbers are off a little bit too. The President: No, no, but
I did say 30,000, but it was actually
higher than that. The Press: If I may ask
you, sir, it sounds as though you do not have
much credibility here when it comes to leaking if
that is something that you encouraged in
the campaign.

The President:
Okay, fair question. Ready? The Press: So if I may ask
you that — if I may ask a follow-up — The President: No, no, but
are you — let me do one at a time. Do you mind? The Press: Yes, sir. The President: All right. So in one case you're
talking about highly classified information. In the other case you're
talking about John Podesta saying bad things
about the boss. I will say this: If John
Podesta said that about me and he was working for me,
I would have fired him so fast your head
would have spun. He said terrible
things about her. But it wasn't
classified information.

But in one case you're
talking about classified. Regardless, if you look
at the RNC, we had a very strong — at my suggestion
— and I give Reince great credit for this — at my
suggestion, because I know something about this
world, I said I want a very strong
defensive mechanism. I don't want to be hacked. And we did that, and you
have seen that they tried to hack us and
they failed. The DNC did not do that. And if they did it, they
could not have been hacked. But they were hacked, and
terrible things came. And the only thing that I
do think is unfair is some of the things were so —
they were — when I heard some of those things, I
said — I picked up the papers the next morning, I
said, oh, this is going to front page.

It wasn't even
in the papers. Again, if I had that
happen to me, it would be the biggest story in the
history of publishing or the head of newspapers. I would have been the
headline in every newspaper. I mean, think of it. They gave her the
questions for the debate, and she should have
reported herself. Why didn't Hillary Clinton
announce that, "I'm sorry, but I have been given the
questions to a debate or a town hall, and I feel that
it's inappropriate, and I want to turn in CNN for
not doing a good job"? The Press: And if I may
follow up on that, just something that Jonathan
Karl was asking you about — you said that the leaks
are real, but the news is fake. I guess I don't
understand. It seems that there
is a disconnect there. If the information coming
from those leaks is real, then how can the
stories be fake? The President: Well,
the reporting is fake.

Look, look — The Press: And if I may
ask — I just want to ask one other question. The President: Jim,
you know what it is? Here's the thing. The public isn't — they
read newspapers, they see television, they watch. They don't know if it's
true or false because they're not involved. I'm involved. I've been involved with
this stuff all my life. But I'm involved. So I know when you're
telling the truth or when you're not. I just see many, many
untruthful things. And I tell you
what else I see. I see tone. You know the word "tone." The tone is such hatred. I'm really not a bad
person, by the way. No, but the tone is such
— I do get good ratings, you have to admit that. The tone is such hatred. I watched this morning a
couple of the networks, and I have to say "Fox &
Friends" in the morning, they're very
honorable people.

They're very — not
because they're good, because they hit me also
when I do something wrong. But they have the most
honest morning show. That's all I can say. It's the most honest. But the tone, Jim. If you look — the hatred. I mean, sometimes —
sometimes somebody gets — The Press: (Off mic.) The President: Well, you
look at your show that goes on at 10 o'clock
in the evening. You just take a
look at that show. That is a constant hit. The panel is almost always
exclusive anti-Trump. The good news is he
doesn't have good ratings. But the panel is almost
exclusive anti-Trump. And the hatred and venom
coming from his mouth, the hatred coming from other
people on your network. Now, I will say this. I watch it. I see it. I'm amazed by it. And I just think you'd
be a lot better off — I honestly do. The public gets
it, you know. Look, when I go to
rallies, they turn around, they start
screaming at CNN.

They want to throw
their placards at CNN. I think you would do much
better by being different. But you just take a look. Take a look at some of
your shows in the morning and the evening. If a guest comes out and
says something positive about me, it's brutal. Now, they'll take
this news conference. I'm actually having a
very good time, okay? But they'll take this news
conference — don't forget that's the way I won. Remember, I used to give
you a news conference every time I made a
speech, which was like every day. The Press: (Off mic.) The President: No,
that's how I won. I won with news
conferences and probably speeches. I certainly didn't win by
people listening to you people, that's for sure. But I am having
a good time. Tomorrow they will say,
Donald Trump rants and raves at the press. I'm not ranting
and raving.

I'm just telling you,
you're dishonest people. But — but I'm not
ranting and raving. I love this. I'm having a good
time doing it. But tomorrow the headlines
are going to be: Donald Trump Rants and Raves. I'm not ranting
and raving. The Press: If
I may just — The President: Go ahead. The Press: One more
follow-up because — The President: Should I
let him have a little bit more? What do you think, Peter? The Press: Just
because of this — The President: Peter,
should I have let him have a little bit more? Sit down. Sit down. The Press: Just because
of the attack — The President:
We'll get it. The Press: Just because of
the attack of fake news and attacking our network,
I just want to ask you, sir — The President: I'm
changing it from fake news, though.

The Press: Doesn't
that undermine — The President:
Very fake news now. (Laughter.) The Press: But
aren't you — The President:
Yes, go ahead. The Press: Real
news, Mr. President. Real news. The President: And you're
not related to our new — The Press: I am not
related, sir, no. (Laughter.) I do like the
sound of Secretary Acosta, I must say. The President: I looked —
you know, I looked at that name. I said, wait a minute, is
there any relation there? Alex Acosta. The Press: I'm sure you
checked that out, sir. The President:
No, I checked it. I said — they
said, no, sir. I said, do me a favor, go
back and check the family tree. The Press: But aren't you
concerned, sir, that you are undermining the
people's faith in the First Amendment freedom of
the press, the press in this country when you call
stories you don't like "fake news"? Why not just say it's
a story I don't like? The President: I do that.

The Press: When you call
it fake news, you're undermining confidence — The President:
No, I do that. No, no, I do that. The Press: — in
our news media. The President:
Here's the thing. The Press: Isn't
that important? The President: Okay, I
understand — and you're right about that
except this. See, I know when I should
get good and when I should get bad. And sometimes I'll say,
wow, that's going to be a great story, and
I'll get killed. I know what's
good and bad. I'd be a pretty good
reporter — not as good as you. But I know what's good.

I know what's bad. And when they change it
and make it really bad — something that
should be positive. Sometimes something that
should be very positive, they'll make okay. They'll even
make it negative. So I understand it
because I'm there. I know what was said. I know who is saying it. I'm there. So it's very
important to me. Look, I want to see
an honest press. When I started off today
by saying that it's so important to the public
to get an honest press. The press — the public
doesn't believe you people anymore.

Now, maybe I had something
to do with that, I don't know. But they don't
believe you. If you were straight and
really told it like it is, as Howard Cosell
used to say, right? Of course, he had
some questions also. But if you were straight,
I would be your biggest booster, I would be your
biggest fan in the world — including bad
stories about me. But if you go — as an
example, you're CNN — I mean, it's story after
story after story is bad. I won. I won. And the other
thing: Chaos. There's zero chaos. We are running — this
is a fine-tuned machine. And Reince happens to
be doing a good job. But half of his job is
putting out lies by the press.

I said to him yesterday,
this whole Russia scam that you guys are building
so that you don't talk about the real subject,
which is illegal leaks. But I watched him
yesterday working so hard to try and get
that story proper. And I'm saying, here's my
Chief of Staff, a really good guy, did a
phenomenal job at RNC. I mean, we won the
election, right? We won the presidency. We got some senators. We got some — all over
the country, you take a look, he's done
a great job. And I said to myself, you
know — and I said to somebody that was in the
room — I said, you take a look at Reince, he's
working so hard just putting out fires
that are fake fires. They're fake. They're not true. And isn't that a shame,
because he'd rather be working on health care. He'd rather be working
on tax reform, Jim. I mean that. I would be your biggest
fan in the world if you treated me right. I sort of understand
there's a certain bias, maybe by Jeff or somebody
— for whatever reason.

And I understand that. But you've got to be at
least a little bit fair. And that's why the public
sees it — they see it. They see it's not fair. You take a look at some of
your shows and you see the bias and the hatred. And the public is smart. They understand it. Okay, yeah, go ahead. The Press: We have no
doubt that your latest story is (inaudible). But for those who believe
that there is something to it, is there anything that
you have learned over these last few weeks that
you might be able to reveal that might ease
their concerns that this isn't fake news? And secondly — The President: I think
they don't believe it. I don't think
the public would. That's why the Rasmussen
poll just has me through the roof.

I don't think
they believe it. Well, I guess one of the
reasons I'm here today is to tell you the whole
Russian thing — that's a ruse. That's a ruse. And, by the way, it would
be great if we could get along with Russia, just
so you understand that. Now, tomorrow you'll say,
Donald Trump wants to get along with Russia,
this is terrible. It's not terrible
— it's good. We had Hillary Clinton
try and do a reset. We had Hillary Clinton
give Russia 20 percent of the uranium in
our country. You know what
uranium is, right? It's this thing called
nuclear weapons and other things. Like, lots of things
are done with uranium, including some bad things.

Nobody talks about that. I didn't do
anything for Russia. I've done nothing
for Russia. Hillary Clinton gave them
20 percent of our uranium. Hillary Clinton did a
reset, remember, with the stupid plastic button that
made us all look like a bunch of jerks? Here, take a look. He looked at her like,
what the hell is she doing with that cheap
plastic button? Hillary Clinton —
that was a reset. Remember? It said "reset." Now, if I do that,
oh, I'm a bad guy. If we could get along with
Russia, that's a positive thing. We have a very talented
man, Rex Tillerson, who is going to be meeting
with them shortly. And I told him, I said,
I know politically it's probably not good for me. Hey, the greatest thing
I could do is shoot that ship that's 30 miles
offshore right out of the water. Everyone in this country
is going to say, oh, it's so great.

That's not great. That's not great. I would love to be able
to get along with Russia. Now, you've had a lot of
Presidents that haven't taken that tact. Look where we are now. Look where we are now. So, if I can — now, I
love to negotiate things. I do it really well and
all that stuff, but it's possible I won't be able
to get along with Putin. Maybe it is. But I want to just tell
you, the false reporting by the media, by you
people — the false, horrible, fake reporting
makes it much harder to make a deal with Russia. And probably Putin said,
you know — he's sitting behind his desk and he's
saying, you know, I see what's going on in the
United States, I follow it closely; it's got to be
impossible for President Trump to ever get along
with Russia because of all the pressure he's got
with this fake story.

Okay? And that's a shame. Because if we could get
along with Russia — and, by the way, China and
Japan and everyone — if we could get along, it
would be a positive thing, not a negative thing. The Press: Tax reform — The Press: Mr.
President, since you — The President: Tax reform
is going to happen fairly quickly. We're doing Obamacare —
we're in final stages. We should be submitting
the initial plan in March, early March, I would say. And we have to, as you
know, statutorily and for reasons of budget,
we have to go first.

It's not like — frankly,
the tax would be easier, in my opinion, but for
statutory reasons and for budgetary reasons, we have
to submit the health care sooner. So we'll be submitting
health care sometime in early March, mid-March. And after that, we're
going to come up — and we're doing very
well on tax reform. Yes. The Press: Mr. President,
you mentioned Russia. Let's talk about some
serious issues that have come up in the last week
that you have had to deal with as President of
the United States. The President: Okay. The Press: You mentioned
the vessel, the spy vessel, off the coast
of the United States. The President: Not good. The Press: There was a
ballistic missile test that many interpreted
as a violation — The President: Not good. The Press: — of the
agreement between the two countries. And a Russian
plane buzzed a U.S. destroyer. The President: Not good. The Press: I listened to
you during the campaign — The President: Excuse me,
excuse me, when did it happen? It happened when — if you
were Putin right now, you would say, hey, we're back
to the old games with the United States.

There's no way Trump can
ever do a deal with us because the — you have to
understand, if I was just brutal on Russia right
now, just brutal, people would say, you would say,
oh, isn't that wonderful. But I know you
well enough. Then you would say, oh,
he was too tough, he shouldn't have done that. Look, of all — The Press: I'm just
trying to find out your orientation to those — The President:
Wait a minute. Wait, wait. Excuse me just one second. The Press: I'm just trying
to find out what you're doing to do about
them, Mr.

President. The President: All of
those things that you mentioned are very recent,
because probably Putin assumes that he's not
going to be able to make a deal with me because it's
politically not popular for me to make a deal. So Hillary Clinton tries
to reset, it failed. They all tried. But I'm different
than those people. Go ahead. The Press: How are you
interpreting those moves? And what do you intend
to do about them? The President: Just
the way I said it. The Press: Have you given
Rex Tillerson any advice or counsel on how to deal? The President: I have. I have. And I'm so beautifully
represented. I'm so honored that the
Senate approved him. He's going to
be fantastic. Yes, I think that
I've already — The Press: Is Putin
testing you, do you believe, sir? The President: No,
I don't think so.

I think Putin probably
assumes that he can't make a deal with me anymore
because politically it would be unpopular for a
politician to make a deal. I can't believe I'm saying
I'm a politician, but I guess that's
what I am now. Because, look, it would be
much easier for me to be tough on Russia, but then
we're not going to make a deal. Now, I don't know that
we're going to make a deal. I don't know. We might, we might not. But it would be much
easier for me to be so tough — the tougher I am
on Russia, the better. But you know what, I want
to do the right thing for the American people. And to be honest,
secondarily, I want to do the right thing
for the world. If Russia and the United
States actually got together and got along —
and don't forget, we're a very powerful nuclear
country and so are they. There's no upside. We're a very powerful
nuclear country and so are they. I've been briefed. And I can tell you, one
thing about a briefing that we're allowed to say
because anybody that ever read the most basic book
can say it: Nuclear holocaust would
be like no other.

They're a very powerful
nuclear country and so are we. If we have a good
relationship with Russia, believe me, that's a good
thing, not a bad thing. The Press: So when you say
they're not good, do you mean that they are — The President: Who
did I say is not good? The Press: No, when I read
off the three things that have recently happened and
each one of them you said they're not good.

The President: No, it's
not good, but they happened. The Press: But do they
damage the relationship? Do they undermine this
country's ability to work with Russia? The President: They all
happened recently, and I understand what they're
doing, because they're doing the same thing. Now, again, maybe I'm not
going to be able to do a deal with Russia, but at
least I will have tried. And if I don't, does
anybody really think that Hillary Clinton would be
tougher on Russia than Donald Trump? Does anybody in this room
really believe that? Okay. But I tell you one thing:
She tried to make a deal.

She had the reset. She gave all the
valuable uranium away. She did other things. You know, they say
I'm close to Russia. Hillary Clinton gave away
20 percent of the uranium in the United States. She's close to Russia. I gave — you know
what I gave to Russia? You know what I gave? Nothing. The Press: Can we conclude
there will be no response to these particular
provocations? The President: I'm not
going to tell you anything about what response I do. I don't talk about
military response. I don't say I'm going into
Mosul in four months. "We are going to attack
Mosul in four months." Then three months later:
"We are going to attack Mosul in one month." "Next
week, we are going to attack Mosul." In the
meantime, Mosul is very, very difficult.

Do you know why? Because I don't talk about
military, and I don't talk about certain
other things. You're going to be
surprised to hear that. And, by the way, my whole
campaign, I'd say that. So I don't have
to tell you — The Press: There
will be a response? The President: I don't
want to be one of these guys that say, "Yes,
here's what we're going to do." I don't have to do that. The Press: There will be a
— in other words, there will be a response,
Mr. President? The President: I don't
have to tell you what I'm going to do in
North Korea. Wait a minute. I don't have to tell you
what I'm going to do in North Korea. And I don't have to tell
you what I'm going to do with Iran. You know why? Because they
shouldn't know. And eventually you guys
are going to get tired of asking that question.

So when you ask me, what
am I going to do with the ship — the Russian ship,
as an example — I'm not going to tell you. But hopefully, I won't
have to do anything. But I'm not going
to tell you. Okay. The Press: Thanks. The Press: Can I just ask
you — thank you very much, Mr. President
— the Trump — The President:
Where are you from? The Press: BBC. The President: Okay. Here's another beauty. The Press: That's
a good line. Impartial, free, and fair. The President: Yeah, sure. The Press: Mr.
President — The President: Just
like CNN, right? The Press: Mr. President,
on the travel ban — we could banter
back and forth.

On the travel ban, would
you accept that that was a good example of the smooth
running of government, that fine-tuned — The President: Yeah, I do. I do. And let me tell you
about the travel — The Press: Were there
any mistakes in that? The President:
Wait, wait, wait. I know who you are. Just wait. Let me tell you
about the travel ban. We had a very smooth
rollout of the travel ban, but we had a bad court. We got a bad decision. We had a court that's been
overturned — again, maybe wrong, but I think it's
80 percent of the time. A lot. We had a bad decision. We're going to keep going
with that decision. We're going to put in a
new executive order next week sometime. But we had a bad decision. That's the only thing that
was wrong with the travel ban. You had Delta with a
massive problem with their computer system
at the airports.

You had some people that
were put out there, brought by very nice
buses, and they were put out at various locations. Despite that, the only
problem that we had is we had a bad court. We had a court that gave
us what I consider to be, with great respect,
a very bad decision. Very bad for the safety
and security of our country. The rollout was perfect. Now, what I wanted to do
was do the exact same executive order but said
one thing — and I said this to my people: Give
them a one-month period of time. But General Kelly, now
Secretary Kelly, said, if you do that, all these
people will come in, in the month — the bad ones. You do agree, there are
bad people out there, right? They're not everybody
that's like you. You have some bad
people out there. So Kelly said,
you can't do that. And he was right.

As soon as he said it, I
said, wow, never thought of it. I said, how
about one week? He said, no good. You got to do it
immediately, because if you do it immediately,
they don't have time to come in. Now, nobody ever reports
that, but that's why we did it quickly. Now, if would have done it
a month, everything would have been perfect. The problems is we would
have wasted a lot of time, and maybe a lot of lives,
because a lot of bad people would have come
into our country. Now, in the meantime,
we've vetting very, very strongly. Very, very strongly. But we need help, and we
need help by getting that executive order passed.

The Press: Just a
brief follow-up. And if it's so urgent,
why not introduce — The President:
Yes, go ahead. The Press: Thank you. I just was hoping that we
could get a yes- or-no answer on one of these
questions involving Russia. Can you say whether you
are aware that anyone who advised your campaign
had contacts with Russia during the course
of the election? The President: Well, I
told you, General Flynn obviously was dealing.

So that's one person. But he was dealing — as
he should have been — The Press: During
the election? The President: No, no,
nobody that I know of. The Press: So you're not
aware of any contacts during the course
of the election? The President: Look, look,
how many times do I have to answer this question? The Press: Can you just
say yes or no on it? The President:
Russia is a ruse. Yeah, I know you have to
get up and ask a question, so important. Russia is a ruse. I have nothing to do with
Russia, haven't made a phone call to
Russia in years. Don't speak to
people from Russia. Not that I wouldn't, I
just have nobody to speak to. I spoke to Putin twice. He called me on the
election — I told you this — and he called me
on the inauguration, and a few days ago. We had a very good talk,
especially the second one — lasted for a pretty
long period of time.

I'm sure you probably
get it because it was classified, so I'm sure
everybody in this room perhaps has it. But we had a very,
very good talk. I have nothing to
do with Russia. To the best of my
knowledge, no person that I deal with does. Now, Manafort has
totally denied it. He denied it. Now, people knew that he
was a consultant over in that part of the world
for a while, but not for Russia. I think he represented
Ukraine or people having to do with Ukraine, or
people that — whoever. But people knew that. Everybody knew that. The Press: But in his
capacity as your campaign manager, was he in touch
with Russian officials during the election? The President: I have —
you know what, he said no. I can only tell you what
he — now, he was replaced long before the election.

You know that, right? He was replaced long
before the election. When all of this stuff
started coming out, it came out during
the election. But Paul Manafort, who's a
good man also, by the way — Paul Manafort was
replaced long before the election took place. He was only there for a
short period of time. How much longer should
we stay here, folks? Five more minutes,
is that okay? Five? The Press: Mr. President,
on national security — The President: Wait, let's
see, who's — I want to find a friendly reporter. Are you a friendly
reporter? Watch how friendly he is. Wait, wait — watch
how friendly he is. Go ahead. Go ahead. The Press: So, first
of all, my name is (inaudible) from
(inaudible) Magazine. And (inaudible). I haven't seen anybody in
my community accuse either yourself or any of the —
anyone on your staff of being anti-Semitic. We have an understanding
of (inaudible).

The President: Thank you. The Press: However, what
we are concerned about, and what we haven't really
heard be addressed is an uptick in anti-Semitism
and how the government is planning to
take care of it. There have been reports
out that 48 bomb threats have been made against
Jewish centers all across the country in the
last couple of weeks. There are people who are
committing anti-Semitic acts or threatening to — The President: You see, he
said he was going to ask a very simple,
easy question.

And it's not. It's not. Not a simple question,
not a fair question. Okay, sit down. I understand the rest
of your question. So here's the
story, folks. Number one, I am the least
anti-Semitic person that you've ever seen in
your entire life. Number two, racism —
the least racist person. In fact, we did very well
relative to other people running as a Republican. The Press: (Inaudible.) The President:
Quiet, quiet, quiet. See, he lied about — he
was going to get up and ask a very straight,
simple question. So you know, welcome to
the world of the media.

But let me just tell you
something — that I hate the charge. I find it repulsive. I hate even the question
because people that know me — and you heard the
Prime Minister, you heard Netanyahu yesterday —
did you hear him, Bibi? He said, I've known Donald
Trump for a long time, and then he said, forget it. So you should take that,
instead of having to get up and ask a very insulting question like that. Yeah, go ahead. Go ahead. The Press: Thank you. I'm Lisa from the PBS — The President: See, it
just shows you about the press, but that's
the way the press is. The Press: Thank
you, Mr. President. Lisa Desjardins from
the PBS Newshour. The President: Good. The Press: On national
security and immigration, can you give us more
details on the executive order you planned for
next week, even its broad outlines? Will it be focused on
specific countries? The President: It's
a very fair question.

The Press: And in
addition, on the DACA program for immigration,
what is your plan? Do you plan to continue
that program or to end it? The President: We're going
to show great heart. DACA is a very, very
difficult subject for me, I will tell you. To me, it's one of the
most difficult subjects I have, because you have
these incredible kids, in many cases —
not in all cases.

In some of the cases
they're having DACA and they're gang members and
they're drug dealers too. But you have some
absolutely incredible kids — I would say mostly —
they were brought here in such a way — it's a
very, very tough subject. We are going to deal
with DACA with heart. I have to deal with a lot
of politicians, don't forget, and I have to
convince them that what I'm saying is right. And I appreciate your
understanding on that. But the DACA situation is
a very, very — it's a very difficult
thing for me.

Because, you know,
I love these kids. I love kids. I have kids and grandkids. And I find it very, very
hard doing what the law says exactly to do. And you know,
the law is rough. I'm not talking
about new laws. I'm talking the existing
law is very rough. It's very, very rough. As far as the new order,
the new order is going to be very much tailored to
what I consider to be a very bad decision, but we
can tailor the order to that decision and get just
about everything, in some ways more.

But we're tailoring it
now to the decision. We have some of the best
lawyers in the country working on it. And the new executive
order is being tailored to the decision we got
down from the court. Okay? The Press: Mr. President,
Melania Trump announced the reopening of the White
House Visitors Office. The President: Yes. The Press: And she does a
lot of great work for the country as well. Can you tell us a little
bit about what First Lady Melania Trump does
for the country? And there is a unique
level of interest in your administration, so by
opening the White House Visitors Office, what
does that mean to you? The President: Now,
that's what I call a nice question. That is very nice. Who are you with? The Press: (Inaudible.) The President: Good.

I'm going to
start watching. Thank you very much. Melania is terrific. She was here last night. We had dinner with Senator
Rubio and his wife, who is, by the way, lovely. And we had a really good
discussion about Cuba because we have very
similar views on Cuba. And Cuba was very good to
me in the Florida election as you know, the Cuban
people, Americans. And I think that
Melania is going to be outstanding. That's right, she just
opened up the Visitors Center — in other words, touring of the White House. She, like others that
she's working with, feels very, very strongly about
women's issues, women's difficulties, very,
very strongly. And she's a very,
very strong advocate. I think she's a great
representative for this country. And a funny thing happens
because she gets so unfairly maligned. The things they say —
I've known her for a long time. She was a very
successful person. She was a very
successful model. She did really well. She would go home at night
and didn't even want to go out with people.

She was a very
private person. She was always the highest
quality that you'll ever find. And the things they say —
and I've known her for a long time — the things
they say are so unfair. And actually, she's been
apologized to, as you know, by various media
because they said things that were lies. I'd just tell you this: I
think she's going to be a fantastic First Lady. She's going to be a
tremendous representative of women and
of the people. And helping her and
working with her will be Ivanka, who is a fabulous
person and a fabulous, fabulous woman. And they're not
doing this for money.

They're not doing
this for pay. They're doing this because
they feel it, both of them. And Melania goes back and
forth, and after Barron finishes school — because
it's hard to take a child out of school with a few
months left — she and Barron will be moving
over to the White House. Thank you. That's a very
nice question. Go ahead. The Press: Mr. President. The President: Yes. Oh, this is going to be a
bad question but that's okay. The Press: No, it's
not going to be a bad question. The President: Good,
because I enjoy watching you on television. The Press: Well,
thank you so much. Mr. President, I need to
find out from you — you said something as it
relates to inner cities.

That was one of your
platforms during your campaign. The President: Fix the
inner cities, yes. The Press: Fixing
the inner cities. What will be that fix and
your urban agenda, as well as your HBCU executive
order that's coming out this afternoon? See, it wasn't
bad, was it? The President: That was very professional and very good. The Press: I'm
very professional. The President: We'll be
announcing the order in a little while, and I'd
rather let the order speak for itself. But it will be something
I think that will be very good for everybody
concerned. But we'll talk to you
about that after we do the announcement. As far as the inner
cities, as you know, I was very strong on the
inner cities during the campaign. I think it's probably
what got me a much higher percentage of the African
American vote than a lot of people thought
I was going to get. We did much higher than
people thought I was going to get and I was honored
by that, including the Hispanic vote, which
was also much higher.

And, by the way, if I
might add, including the women's vote, which was
much higher than people thought I was
going to get. So we are going to be
working very hard on the inner cities having to do
with education, having to do with crime. We're going to try and fix
as quickly as possible — you know it takes
a long time. It's taken 100 years or
more for some of these places to evolve, and they
evolved many of them very badly. But we're going to be
working very hard on health and health care;
very, very hard on education. And also, we're going to
working in a stringent way, and a very
good way, on crime. You go to some of these
inner city places, and it's so sad when you
look at the crime. You have people — and
I've seen this, and I've sort of witnessed it. In fact, in two cases, I have actually witnessed it. They lock themselves into
apartments, petrified to even leave, in the
middle of the day. They're living in hell.

We can't let that happen. So we're going to be
very, very strong. It's a great question,
and it's a very difficult situation, because it's
been many, many years. It's been festering
for many, many years. But we have places in this
country that we have to fix. We have to help African
American people that, for the most part are stuck
there — Hispanic American people. We have Hispanic American
people that are in the inner cities, and
they're living in hell. I mean, you look at the
numbers in Chicago. There are two
Chicagos, as you know. There's one Chicago that's
incredible, luxurious and all, and safe. There's another Chicago
that's worse than almost any of the places in the
Middle East that we talk about, and that you talk
about every night on the newscasts.

So we're going to do a
lot of work on the inner cities. I have great people lined
up to help with the inner cities. The Press: Well, when you
say — when you say the inner cities, are you
going to include the CBC, Mr. President, in your
conversations with your urban agenda, your inner
city agenda, as well as your — The President: Am I
going include who? The Press: Are you
going to include the Congressional Black Caucus
and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus,
as well as — The President:
Well, I would. I tell you what, do
you want to set up the meeting? Do you want to set
up the meeting? The Press: No, no, no.

The President: Are
they friends of yours? The Press: I'm
just a reporter. The President: No, g
ahead, set up the meeting. The Press: I know some of
them, but I'm sure they're watching right now. The President: Let's
go set up a meeting. I would love to meet
with the Black Caucus. I think it's great — the Congressional Black Caucus. I think it's great. I actually thought I had a
meeting with Congressman Cummings, and he was all
excited, and then he said, oh, I can't move, it might
be bad for me politically, I can't have that meeting. I was all set to
have the meeting. You know, we called him
and called him, and he was all set. I spoke to him
on the phone. Very nice guy. The Press: I hear he
wanted that meeting with you as well. The President:
He wanted it. But we called, called,
called, called — they can't make a
meeting with him.

Every day, I walked in, I
said, I would like to meet with him. Because I do want to
solve the problem. But he probably was told
by Schumer or somebody like that — some other
lightweight — he was probably told — he was
probably told, don't meet with Trump, it's
bad politics. And that's part of the
problem of this country. Okay, one more. Go ahead. The Press: Yes,
Mr. President, two questions — The President: No, no. One question. Two, we can't handle. This room can't
handle two. Go ahead, give me the
better of your two. The Press: (Inaudible)
it's not about your personality or
your beliefs. We're talking about
(inaudible) around the country, some of it by
supporters in your name. What do you — The President: And some of
it — and can I be honest with you? And this has to do with
racism and horrible things that are put up.

Some of it written
by our opponents. You do know that. Do you understand that? You don't think anybody
would do a thing like that. Some of the signs you'll
see are not put up by the people that love or like
Donald Trump, they're put up by the other side,
and you think it's like playing it straight. No. But you have some of those
signs, and some of that anger is caused
by the other side. They'll do signs and
they'll do drawings that are inappropriate. It won't be my people. It will be the people on
the other side to anger people like you. Okay. Go ahead. The Press: You are
the President now. What are you going
to do about it? The President:
Who is that? Where is that? Oh, stand up. You can — The Press: What are you
going to do about the tensions that have
been discussed? The President: Oh,
I'm working on it.

No, I'm working
on it very hard. The Press: Are you
going to give a speech? The President:
No, no, look. Hey, just so you
understand, we had a totally divided country
for eight years, and long before that, in all fairness to President Obama. Long before President
Obama, we have had a very divided. I didn't come along and
divide this country. This country was seriously
divided before I got here. We're going to work
on it very hard. One of the questions that
was asked — I thought it was a very good question
— was about the inner cities. I mean, that's part of it. But we're going to
work on education.

We're going to work on
lack — you know, we're going to stop — we're
going to try and stop the crime. We have great law
enforcement officials. We're going to try
and stop crime. We're not going to try and
stop, we're going to stop crime. But it's very
important to me. But this isn't Donald
Trump that divided a nation. We went eight years with
President Obama, and we went many years before
President Obama. We lived in a
divided nation. And I am going to try — I
will do everything within my power to fix that. I want to thank
everybody very much. It's a great honor
to be with you.

Thank you. Thank you very much. (Applause.).