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President Trump and GOP Leadership Remarks on Government Shutdown. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired January 4, 2019 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have done the deal and signed the deal with South Korea, which a lot of people said was not going to happen, would be impossible. It's a good deal. It was a horrible deal. It's a good deal.
I think a lot of this has to do with the fact, though, that already companies are moving back into our country that have left our country, in some cases. In some cases they're moving back because they want to be here, but in many cases these are automobile companies that have left and gone to other countries, and now they're coming back to the United States. So it's nice to see.
One of the things that's so beautiful to watch is 3.2 percent wage growth. That hasn't happened in so long for our country. That's an incredible thing. That means people are actually getting more money, taking home more money, and that's something that's really nice to see. A lot of you have been following me when we were on a thing called a campaign -- that was an exciting campaign, a great campaign -- and I used to talk about wages going down, not going up, but going down for years, 19 years, and now they just went up 3.2 percent. And yet there's no inflation because other things are going down, like the price of your gasoline at the tank. It's low. And that doesn't happen by luck. I work hard on that. That's like a tax cut for people.
So a lot of good things are happening. Labor participation rate increased to 63.1 percent. That's an incredible number also. So I just wanted to bring that out. The economy is very good. And, remember, from the time of my election, the stock market's gone up very close to 30 percent, and that's with all of the things that are happening, and there are a lot of things happening. We have a massive trade negotiation going on with China. President Xi is very much involved. So am I. We're dealing at the highest levels and we're doing very well. We're doing very well.
In the meantime we've taken in billions and billions of dollars in tariffs from China and from others. Our steel industry has come roaring back and that makes me very happy. I think we'll have to build a steel wall, as opposed to a concrete wall, because we have steel companies again. There's something awfully nice about that sound.
So we had a productive meeting today with Speaker Pelosi and Senator Schumer. I thought it was really a very, very good meeting. We're all on the same path in terms of wanting to get government open. We're going to be meeting -- I have designated a group and we're going to be meeting over the weekend, that group, to determine what we're going to do about the border. Really, I want to thank a lot of the Border Patrol people and ICE people who came up yesterday. They had a tremendous impact on, I think, a lot of Democrats, frankly, but a lot of people. Because they were able to lay out exactly what the problem is.
And one of the problems described to me as an example, your ports of entry. We're going to agree with Chuck and Nancy and Steny and Dick Durbin was there.
We're going to agree that -- and we want to make the ports bigger, more powerful, able to handle more traffic. Have very, very powerful drug equipment there. So they make very good stuff, now. We don't have it because of budgets and other reasons.
But we're going to make our ports of entry very powerful, very strong. We're going to have the best drug-finding equipment anywhere in the world. They make it much better today than they made it even two years ago.
And I explained to them, the problem is though, we can have a wonderful port of entry. But you have 2,000 miles of border between the United States and Mexico.
And if you take a look and you see, like we do, through certain technology, including cameras and airplanes, not just drones. You'll see vast numbers of vehicles driving through the desert and entering where you don't have a very powerful fence or a wall.
That happened this week, where a wonderful young police officer -- I spoke to his wife yesterday -- where he was shot, viciously shot for simply stopping a person that came over the border illegally. Got shot and killed. And took the most beautiful picture just hours before, a Christmas picture. We don't want that happening.
But I always explain, too, and I explain to people because it's really common sense. So you have ports of entry. We have great security at the ports of entry.
And then you may have fencing or walls up and down, left and right, east and west. But they stop. Because we don't have proper border security. These people have vehicles. And they drive to the right.
They're not going through where we have great border patrol officers and ICE officers and military, now. I tell you, the military's done a fantastic job. They don't stop. They go right to the easiest part and the weakest part, sometimes out in desert.
But you have miles and miles and miles of unprotected area. And you can see where they drive over. You even have people walking that trek. That's a very dangerous trek.
And they bring children or even worse, they use children. You know, children are the biggest beneficiaries of what we want to do. Children are hurt more than anybody else.
These coyotes, what they do with children. All because we have open borders, because they think they can get away with it. They don't come in through the port where we have a lot of protection. They come in through empty areas, vast spaces. Empty areas.
Just like this terrible person came in when he shot Officer Singh. They come in through these vast open areas. You don't even have a sign saying, "Mexico-U.S." There's no sign designating, "You have just entered the United States." It's just open space.
And I explained that to the meeting today with Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and a lot of other people at the meeting. And I said, "One of the things that happens there is human traffickers."
Maybe that's the worst of all. Where you'll have traffickers having three and four women with tape on their mouths and tied up, sitting in the back of a van or a car.
And they'll drive that van or the car, not through a port of entry where we have very talented people that look for every little morsel of drugs or even people or whatever they're looking for, they're not going to go there. They get off the road and they drive out into the desert and they come in, they make a left turn -- usually it's a left, not a right -- most of them come out because in San Diego and in areas of California, we just finished brand new walls, beautiful walls, steel walls.
And they wanted them badly. They were asking us, that's why we did it there. I said let's not do it in California, California always complains through their great governors. They're always complaining, I said let's not do it, let the governor ask us.
But we did it anyway because they really needed it. They were having a tremendous problem, so we built a brand new wall in San Diego and it's working really well. You should go and look at it. It's amazing, it's incredible how well it works.
But these coyotes and these human traffickers, they make a right turn before they get to the port of entry, they go as far as the wall is or as far as the barricade is and then they make a left, welcome to the United States and what they do with usually the women, sometimes children, that they're trafficking with and in, you don't want to know about.
So the only way you're going to stop that is by having a solid steel structure or concrete structure, whether it's a wall or some form of very powerful steel. Now the steel is actually more expensive than the concrete, but I think we're probably talking about steel because I really feel the other side feels better about it and I can understand what they're saying, it is more expensive.
We mentioned the price, that we want $5.6 billion very strongly, cause numbers are thrown around -- 1.6, 2.1, 2.5. This is national security we're talking about, we're not talking about games, we're talking about national security.
This should've been done by all of the presidents that have preceded me, and they all know it. Some of them have told me that we should have done it. So we're not playing games, we have to do it. And just remember, human traffickers, remember drugs.
The drugs are pouring into this country. They don't go through the ports of entry. When they do, they sometimes get caught. When we finish and the Democrats do want this -- they want ports of entry strengthened and I want to do that, too.
In fact, we have it down, it's about $400 million and we can have the best equipment in the world. Now what they'll do -- if we have the protection and we have strong ports of entry with this incredible drug-finding equipment, I don't know what they're going to do, because they're not coming in through -- past the steel gates or the steel walls or the concrete walls, depending on what's happening, because we are meeting this weekend.
We have a group -- I've set up a group, they are going to tell us who their group of experts and probably people in the Senate and Congressmen and women are going to come and we have three. I said give us three, then I said you know what, send over nine or six or three or two, doesn't matter, send over whoever you want, but it's common sense.
So now when they make that turn, they make it and now, all of a sudden, they can't go any further and they have to go back. And that's going to stop the caravans for two reasons. Number one, they're not going to be able to get through, but when they realize they can't get through, what's going to happen? They're not going to form and they're not going to try and come up.
And they can apply for asylum and they can -- most importantly, they can apply for citizenship because the companies that I told you that created these great job numbers -- they're incredible job numbers beyond anybody's expectations.
I don't think there was one Wall Street genius, of which I know many of them, but they're not geniuses -- there's not one that predicted anywhere close to these job numbers. I thought they were going to be good, but there wasn't one that I saw.
So now we have everything so beautifully handled. We need to have, however -- we need border security and all of this security, if we do what I think what the Democrats want, all of the border things that we'll be building will be done right here in the good old USA by steel companies that were practically out of business when I came into office as president and now they're thriving.
You call up the heads of U.S. Steel and I could name 10 companies -- you look at what's going on with the steel industry, it was almost a miracle. It was a dead industry. We need steel for defense, we need steel for a lot of things -- steel and aluminum.
But those industries were in deep trouble. The steel industry was almost dead, and now it's a very vibrant, vibrant industry.
So what I'm going to do is ask first of all Mike Pence, Vice President to say a couple of words cause Mike is -- we put together a team of people that will work over the weekend and they'll be negotiating on the border, on the look, on different things having to do with border security, including at the ports of entry.
And I think they're going to be very successful, cause I found that Democrats really want to do something. So we're at $5.6 -- if you look at it, $5.6 billion, but we are able to also, in addition to that -- because what we want to do has to be done properly and we're negotiating very tough prices -- very, very tough, cause you heard much higher numbers.
Those higher numbers were very much a misnomer -- you heard $20 and $25 billion in DACA. What happened is when a judge incredibly -- cause it was an incredibly -- I will say wrong decision.
In fact President Obama, when he signed the DACA with the Executive Order, made a statement to the effect this isn't going to work and some judge from the Ninth Circuit, here we go again, upheld it, and then it was upheld by the Ninth Circuit Appellate and now it's going before the United States Supreme Court and hopefully that will be properly adjudicated, because if it is, talks will begin on larger immigration matters, having to do with DACA, having to do with other things.
So that is taking place. We may add a few things onto our discussions over the weekend, but I'm going to ask Mike Pence and then I'll have Leader McCarthy say a few words and we'll take a couple of questions. But we're very proud of the jobs and the jobs numbers, that was incredible.
And I think I'll be even more proud if we can have great border security for the first time in really the history of our country. The southern border is a dangerous, horrible disaster. We've done a great job, but you can't really do the kind of job we have to do unless you have a major, powerful barrier, and that's what we're going to have to have.
So first we start with Mike Pence. OK, Mike?
PENCE: Thank you, Mr. President. We are nearly two weeks into a government shutdown, but our nation is also in the midst of a crisis on our southern border. And today President Trump convened, for the second time this week, Republican and Democrat leaders from the Congress to address both issues.
And we are truly grateful for the candid and constructive dialogue that took place today here at the White House. With Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer, with -- with our Republican Senate leadership as well. And we look forward to continued dialogue over the course of this weekend.
Make no mistake about it. We are in the midst of a crisis at our southern border. Every day, nearly 2,000 people are apprehended or stopped, attempting to come into our country, that have no lawful claim to be here.
Last year alone, 17,000 individuals with previous criminal records were apprehended attempting to come across our southern border. Every day all across this country, in a single week, 300 Americans lose their lives to the scourge of heroin addiction. Ninety percent of the heroin in this country flows through our southern border.
And the human trafficking that the president just described so compellingly. Last month alone, 20,000 minors were brought, alone, across our border or interdicted by border patrol personnel.
You heard the president's passion today here at the podium. And we all -- Leader McCarthy and all the leaders, gathered in the Situation Room today -- you heard the president's passion -- for the better part of two hours. Not just to address a government shutdown, but to address border security and this crisis at our southern border.
And today, President Trump provided the kind of leadership that the American people expect in such a moment. He made it clear that we are committed to achieving border security as we resolve this budget impasse. He made it clear that we are going to build a wall on our southern border.
As I said, the conversations were constructive and substantive. And at the close of the meeting, the president directed me and Jared Kushner and Secretary Nielsen to meet with top-level staff of Democrat and Republican leadership in the House and Senate over the course of this weekend, and see if we could build on the common ground that we identified in the discussions today.
Our aim will be to find a solution, not just simply to end the government shutdown, to provide funding to end the crisis at our southern border, to achieve real border security and to build a wall on our southern border.
And Mr. President, I promise -- I promise you, as you promised the Republican and Democrat leaderships today, that we will work earnestly over the weekend. We will work in good faith. The American people deserve nothing less.
And we -- we enter this weekend and these discussions, hopeful, again, not simply that we will end a budget shutdown but that we will make, finally, meaningful progress on securing our southern border to prevent the flow of narcotics, human trafficking, illegal immigration that has so beset our country now for more than a generation.
And with the president's leadership and direction, we'll hope to accomplish just that.
TRUMP: Thank you, Mike. Thank you very much.
MCCARTHY: I came down for the second time this week. Basing on the meeting that we had earlier in the week, I didn't expect the meeting to last very long. It was two hours. This was much more productive than we've had at any other time.
I think there's places that we can find common ground. The president was very strong on what he needs to have happen here. We need border security. We want the government to open. What I found in our discussion, sometimes we're tough, but there is areas that we can find agreement on.
That's when the president interjected that he actually thought what we be best -- that he would designate three individuals, with the vice president being the lead, that work through the weekend, build on this progress, and that each leader would also sit (ph) -- the president was very kind to the speaker. I think he said she could bring twice as many, right, if need be.
TRUMP: Five thousand.
MCCARTHY: I know Mitch McConnell -- Leader McConnell's sending down, I'm sending members down, staffers that could work throughout the weekend. I know the president said he would call us back next week, invite us back as well.
We want to solve this problem. There is a great need to do it, and we can get it done. It just has to have the will. But I see the will from this administration. I will promise you this: I will work with anybody who wants to move America forward, secure our border, and put this government back on path. And I'm making that pledge here and I hope every other leader will make that pledge as well.
And if that means that we're staying the room to get it done, we will stay in the room and get this job done. And there was progress today. I look forward to solving it.
TRUMP: Thank you, Steve. Steve, please.
SCALISE: Thank you, Mr. President, and I thought we had a very important and productive meeting today. And what this has always been about is securing the border and keeping America safe. I want to thank the president for the commitment that he's made for over 2 years now to achieve what many presidents promised and we've seen the promises but it was never followed through with actual law that gets this job done.
Secretary Nielsen has gone over the numbers, and the numbers are alarming. You know, one of the numbers that jumps out is last year, in 2017 actually, over 3,700 known or suspected terrorists tried to enter into this country. Now these are serious numbers. When you seen the human trafficking, in 2017 our ICE agents saved over 900 kids -- 1 year alone, saved over 900 kids from sexual assault and human trafficking, things that are happening at the southern border because there's no wall, there's no physical barrier. There's no way to actually control ports of entry.
If somebody wants to seek asylum, there's a way to do that. There are legal ways to come to this country and legal immigration has made this country great. We -- by the way, America let in over a million people every single year, by far the most generous nation in the world. And yet we have laws that need to be followed to keep Americans safe and to protect the integrity of a system where right now there are millions of people who are waiting in line to come to America to seek the American dream, like Officer Singh did when he sought his chance at the American dream. That dream was taken. It was taken because we don't have a secure border.
We can't let this continue. As we work to open the government, let's always keep the focus on what this is about. It's about securing this country. The Secretary of Homeland Security has made it clear what it's going to take to secure our border. President Trump is following through on that commitment to keep America safe, and hopefully as we work through the weekend we can get a resolution that achieves all of those objectives.
TRUMP: Thank you very much, Steve. Thank you.
TRUMP: Major, go ahead. Sure.
QUESTION: Mr. President, Senator Schumer came out and said that the meeting from his point of view and Speaker Pelosi's was contentious. He also said you said in the meeting -- this is him quoting you, I just want to check -- that the shutdown could go on for months or even a year or longer.
Did you say that? Is that your...
TRUMP: I did, I did.
QUESTION: Is that your assessment of what we are?
TRUMP: I did say that. Absolutely, I said that. I don't think it will, but I am prepared, and I think I can speak for Republicans in the House and Republicans in the Senate. They feel very strongly about having a safe country, having a border that makes sense.
Without borders, I've said it many times, we don't have a country. I hope it doesn't go on even beyond a few more days. It really could open very quickly. I told them that bring who you want. We have three people. You can ideally bring three, but you can bring six, you can bring nine, you can bring twelve.
And they're going to be working over the weekend. I think it may have been somewhat contentious, but I think it was very productive. I have to say that, and I think he said that, too.
QUESTION: What was the productive part from your point of view, Mr. President? Did the Democrats move at all in your direction on funding of a border barrier?
TRUMP: Well, I don't want to get into that, because I don't want to put them in a position where they have to justify anything to a lot of the people that they have to make happy. We want to save lives; we want children to be safe. The children are being decimated, and I'm not talking about necessarily children in our country; I'm talking about wonderful children that are coming up from other places, whether it's Honduras or Guatemala or El Salvador or Mexico or other places.
And we have to take care of those children, also; we can't let them die on the way up. What's happening to women on those caravans, you're not talking about it, but it's horrible, what's happening.
If they know it's not going to take place because they can't through, because we have a great border wall or fence or barrier, they're not going to come up, and you're not going have the problem.
At the same time, they can apply to come into our country legally, like so many people have done. And we need people, Major; we have to have people because we have all these companies coming in.
We need great people, but we want them to come in on a merit basis. They have to come in on a merit basis; they can't come in the way they've been coming in for years. I get calls from the great tech companies, and they're saying we don't allow people at the top of their class, at the bets schools in the country, we don't allow them to say in our country.
So they end up going back to China and Japan and so many other countries, all over the world, and we don't keep them. They get educated in our finer schools, and then we don't allow them, through a various set of circumstances, to have any guarantees of staying.
So we lose out on -- on great minds; we can't do that. We have companies that, if we don't change that -- and we're working on that, and we discuss that with the Democrats, and I think they agree, we're working on that, but we don't to lose our great companies because we have a ridiculous policy that we won't accept smart people.
So call it politically correct or not, but we have to let these great brilliant companies have the smartest people in the world. Yes, ma'am?
One at a time, please. Go ahead.
QUESTION: Mr. President, why not reopen the government to create more space to have that broader conversation about immigration reform?
TRUMP: Well, we think it can go very quickly. No, we won't be opening until it's solved. We think this is a much bigger problem; the border is a much more dangerous problem. It's a much bigger problem; it's a problem of national security.
It's a problem of terrorists. You know, I talk about human traffickers, I talk about drugs, I talk about gangs, but a lot of people don't say we have terrorists coming through the southern border, because they find that's probably the easiest place to come through. TRUMP: They drive right in and they make a left. Not going to happen, not going to happen. So we're not going to do that. We won't be doing pieces; we won't be doing it in drips and drabs, and I'll tell you what. I've seen a lot of people over the last week and a half. I've been right in this magnificent structure right behind you. It's called the White House, and I was here on Christmas and I was here -- my family was in Florida. And I didn't even find it to be a lonely place. There's something very special about the White House.
But I was here Christmas, I was here on New Years Eve, and I will tell you the people that I've spoken with -- and I've gotten to meet a lot of people that I wouldn't have met. A lot of people have been coming through the White House and explaining different things and different attitudes.
A lot of people that you think are upset and certainly they're not thrilled, but they say, "sir, do the right thing. We need border security." And these are people that won't be getting paid. Border patrol yesterday was saying, "sir, we're affected by it. Do what's right. It's time."
This is after many, many decades. Many, many decades. This should have taken place a long time ago. We're going to get it done. Yes, ma'am?
QUESTION: Thank you. Two questions for you. Was DACA a part of the discussions today?
QUESTION: And also, why did it take this many days for a working group to come together? Why didn't you just hash the details out today?
TRUMP: Well, sometimes that's what happens in a negotiation. It does take longer than it should, and sometimes you agree to things that could have been agreed to two weeks ago, but that's just the way a negotiation is.
I mean, we set out a number -- $5.6 billion. We're very firm on our number. We also explained that, as you probably understand, the military's very effected. We may use the military for parts of it. Homeland Security obviously is very effected. We may, in addition to the $5.6 billion (ph), we will use homeland security funds.
So we have things happening in addition to the $5.6 billion (ph), but we have to get a discussion built.
QUESTION: Was DACA part of the discussion? Just a follow up.
TRUMP: Please, go ahead.
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. To follow up on that question, when -- with respect to the DACA program, were you discussing that in terms of a pathway to citizenship being included and end the partial government shutdown?
TRUMP: Well, we discussed it a long time ago as you remember. That was when they had this mythical number of $25 million. Well, actually it was $25 billion but only $1 billion upfront, and we talked $2 billion, $1.5 billion. The rest of it the government couldn't guarantee because it's not set up to guarantee. You remember those discussions.
But where it really ended was when the judge ruled against and it was -- I said as soon as that happened -- because that was a shocking decision. It was shocking to the Democrats and it was more shocking to the Republicans. It was an incorrect decision. It was a political decision made by a judge.