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Trump Talks with Reporters Before Heading to Kentucky. Aired 12:30-1p ET
Aired August 21, 2019 - 12:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[12:30:00] JOHN KING, CNN HOST: CNN's Ted Barrett reporting he will not see the Senate majority leader while in Kentucky. Mitch McConnell recently had surgery for a shoulder in an injury. The president of the United States and the Republican leader could have conversations about a number of things including is there a Republican appetite for gun control. Is there any congressional appetite for economic stimulus as we look for these recession warnings?
Here's the president speaking to reporters before he headed there.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: -- whether or not they finally get smart and reduce interest rates like many other places around the world that we have to compete with. But our economy is the strongest in the world by far, nothing even close. And a lot of good things are happening. We had some very good retail numbers this morning as you saw. And I guess the stock market is quite a bit up. So, good.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you demanding that Jay Powell lower interest rates?
TRUMP: No, I don't demand it. But if he uses his head, he would lower them. In Germany, they have a zero interest rate. And we do compete -- we're much stronger than Germany but we do compete with Germany. In Germany, they have zero interest rate and when they borrow money -- I mean, when you look at what happens, look at what's going on over there. They borrow money. They actually get paid to borrow money. And we have to compete with that.
So, if you look at what's happening around the world, Jay Powell and the Federal Reserve have totally missed the call. I was right and just about everybody admits that. I was right. He did quantitative tightening. He shouldn't have done that. He raised interest rates too fast, too furious and we have a normalized rate. You call it that. Now we have to go the other direction. We'll see if he does it.
If he does it, you'll see a rocket ship. You'll see -- if he does it, we have a very strong economy. But we could have -- we could be in a place that this nation was seldom at if we had interest rates cuts by the Federal Reserve. The Federal Reserve has let us down. They missed the call. They raised it too fast, they raised it too high, and they did quantitative tightening. They shouldn't have done the tightening and they shouldn't have raised them to the extent. We could have had some raises but nothing like they did. (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What happened to the strong appetite for background checks?
TRUMP: Oh I have an appetite for background checks. We're going to be doing background checks. We're working with Democrats, we're working with Republicans. And we already have very strong background checks but we're going to be filling in some of the loopholes as we call them at the border. And speaking about at the border, it would be really nice if the Democrats would indeed fix loopholes because it would be really nice.
But despite that, I want to thank Mexico. They have 26,000 soldiers at our border and they're really stopping people from coming in. So what happens is, with background checks, we're dealing with Democrats, we're dealing with Republicans, we're dealing with the NRA, we're dealing with gun owners, we're dealing with everybody. And I think we're going to have something hopefully that's meaningful.
TRUMP: No, I didn't say anything about that. We had a great talk with Wayne yesterday, I didn't say anything about that. We just talked about concepts. Wayne agrees things have to be done also. And we have areas where we can close and, for instance, we did fix nix last time. We have a lot of background checks right now. Gun owners can tell you that, others can tell you that. But there are certain weaknesses. We want to fix the weaknesses and I think that will happen. Let's see what happens.
I'm concerned that no matter what we agreed to, when we get there, I'm concerned the Democrats will say, oh, well, we now want this and we want -- and, you know, it's a slippery slope and that's what actually you gun owners and a lot of other people are concerned with. But assuming that that's not going to take place by the Democrats, assuming they really want to get this done, we can get it done.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Speaking with AMVETS today, organizers there say they remain concerned about veteran suicides.
TRUMP: You have to speak up.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Veteran suicides. AMVETS says it's their top priority. Talk to me about what the administration's task force has done since its creation.
TRUMP: Well, we're doing a lot having to do with veteran suicide. We have a task force set up. There's a product that's made right now that just came out by Johnson & Johnson which has a tremendously positive, pretty short-term but nevertheless a positive effect. I've instructed the head of the VA to go out and buy a lot of it and we are buying a lot of it. Hopefully, we're getting it at a very good cost. And this is a -- I guess it's a form of a stimulant where if somebody is really in trouble from the standpoint of suicide, it can do something. It's pretty well known. Just came out. It's made I believe by Johnson & Johnson and we have called in now to Johnson & Johnson. Those calls we've been dealing with them for two months on buying a lot of it.
[12:35:06] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, can you explain your decision not to go to Denmark? Is it really because they wouldn't talk about selling Greenland?
TRUMP: Well, no. Denmark, I look forward to going but I thought that the prime minister's statement that it was absurd, that it was an absurd idea, was nasty. I thought it was an inappropriate statement. All she had to do is say no, we wouldn't be interested. But we can't treat the United States of America the way they treated us under President Obama. I thought it was a very not nice way of saying something. They could have told me no.
This is something that's been discussed for many years. Harry Truman had the idea of Greenland. I had the idea. Other people have had the idea. It goes back into the early 1900s but Harry Truman very strongly thought it was a good idea. I think it's a good idea because Denmark is losing $700 million a year with it. It doesn't do them any good. But all they had to do is say, no, we'd rather not do that or we'd rather not talk about it. Don't say what an absurd idea that is because she's not talking to me.
Excuse me. She's not talking to me. She's talking to the United States of America. You don't talk to the United States that way at least under me. Now, President Obama, when they wouldn't let him land in the Philippines when they treated him so badly in so many places, the Philippines is one that comes to mind, that's different. That's different. They can treat him any way they want to. That's up to him but they can't treat the United States with the statement, how absurd.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, quick question. Mr. President -- excuse me --
TRUMP: Let your wife do it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, Mr. President.
TRUMP: Who's the boss?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am the boss.
TRUMP: I agree. She's the boss. I agree. Go ahead. You got a lot of people. Yes. She's got a lot of people watching. Go ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Regarding background checks, why should not anyone who wants to buy a gun go through a background check. What's wrong with that?
TRUMP: Well, what we're doing is I want guns to be in the hands of people that are mentally stable. And those people, I want them to easily be able to get a gun. But people that are insane, people that are sick up here, I don't want them to be able to get a gun.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So for the background checks is a good idea for anybody who wants to buy a gun. Wouldn't a background check (INAUDIBLE)?
TRUMP: If a person is sick, if a person is mentally ill, if a person has done things in their past that are a horror like in the case of Dayton, except it got expunged because I guess he was 17-years-old when he wrote a list out and the list said, it was a death -- not about guns. He had a kill list and he had a rape list. But it was 17, and one of the things we're talking about is getting rid of the age limit. He was 17. So when he turned 18, it was expunged so we didn't find out about that. And a big percentage of the school, the parents wouldn't let their kids go to that school because they heard about it, OK?
It was a very big thing. When he was 18, it all went away. We can't let that happen.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hundred people a day die from guns. Do you see that as a public health emergency?
TRUMP: I do, I do. Sure. I do. And they die for a lot of other reasons, too. But they do. And as I've said -- I think I said it very loudly and plainly and I don't think I've changed positions at all. We're working on background checks. There are things we can do. But we already have very serious background checks. We have strong background checks. We can close up the gaps, we can do things that are very good and things that frankly gun owners want to have done.
But we also have to remember the gun doesn't pull the trigger, a person does. And we have a great mental illness.
TRUMP: Go ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) and prosecute the antifa demonstrators under the law that (INAUDIBLE) a federal crime.
TRUMP: We're looking at -- right, we're looking at a lot of different things relative to antifa. Antifa, in my opinion, is a terrorist organization. You see what they've been doing. We've had great support on that. We're looking at various things.
TRUMP: Go ahead. Behind you. Behind you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you looking at any additional lands for potential expansion?
TRUMP: No. We're just looking. Greenland was just an idea, just a thought. But I think when they say it was absurd and it was said in a very nasty, very sarcastic way, I said, we'll make it some other time. We'll go to Denmark. I love Denmark, I've been to Denmark and frankly, we'll do it another time.
[12:40:02] TRUMP: Respect has to be shown to the United States. Go ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yesterday, you said that (INAUDIBLE) for Democrats are disloyal. To whom are they being disloyal, sir? And if that so (INAUDIBLE)?
TRUMP: So I have been responsible for a lot of great things for Israel. One of them was moving the embassy to Jerusalem, making Jerusalem the capital of Israel. One of them was the Golan Heights, one of them frankly is Iran. Iran is a very far weakened nation right now, much different, hopefully, something works out. We'll see if it happens, it happens.
Wait a minute. Wait, wait. No president has ever done anywhere close to what I've done between Golan Heights, Jerusalem, Iran, and other things. Excuse me. Wait a minute. Wait a minute.
No president has done what I've done. We have a group, I call it AOC plus three. You can call the person -- Representative Tlaib, you could say, Representative Omar, you could go any way you want to go. They are anti-Semites, they are against Israel. She had a plan to greatly embarrass Israel by going there with the fact that she wanted to see her grandmother. I assume that's true. I hope that's true. But it was very bad, very bad.
The thing that she and others of that group and other Democrats have said. And they have become the face of the Democratic Party. And I will tell you this, in my opinion, the Democrats have gone very far away from Israel. I cannot understand how they can do that. They don't want to fund Israel. They want to take away foreign aid to Israel. They want to do a lot of bad things to Israel. In my opinion, you vote for a Democrat, you're being very disloyal to Jewish people and you're being very disloyal to Israel. And only weak people would say anything other than that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How do you respond to that?
TRUMP: I haven't heard anybody say that. Just the opposite. I think that if you vote for a Democrat, you're very, very disloyal to Israel and to the Jewish people.
TRUMP: Well, I'm at 94 percent now in the Republican Party, the highest in history. The highest of any Republican so I think they'd have a hard time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- because they outsmarted Obama. In fact, because they annex Crimea so that --
TRUMP: That was outsmarting Obama. So Russia outsmarted President Obama. They took over during his term not during mine. Crimea.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're still there (INAUDIBLE).
TRUMP: They took over Crimea. It stopped being an organ of the Democrats. I mean, you know, let me answer the question, I'll answer it very easily, it's a very simple question. The fact is President Putin totally outsmarted President Obama on Crimea and other things including the red line in the sand, all right. He outsmarted -- he made a living on outsmarting Obama and frankly because of it Obama was upset and he got Obama out of what was the G8 into the G7. It's come up, should we put Russia back in?
We spend a lot of time talking about Russia at those meetings and they're not there. I think it would be a good thing if Russia were there so we can speak directly not have to speak all the -- you know, by telephone and other things. So, here's the thing, it's a vote of what's now the G7. They were taken out because Putin outsmarted on Crimea, on the red line, on other things. Totally outsmarted Obama. Obama was upset. They took him out.
I think Russia should be a part of it because we're looking for world peace and it's -- and other things, trade, and other things. And it would be a lot easier to have Russia in where they have always been.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- you have the executive authority to (INAUDIBLE).
TRUMP: I read the same report as you. I'm not looking to do indexing, I've studied indexing for a long time. I think it will be perceived by doing as somewhat elitist. I don't want to do that, I want taxes for the middle-class, the workers, the people that work so hard. That's what I'm looking. I think indexing is really probably better for the upper-income groups. I'm not looking to do that. But if I wanted to do it, I believe I could but I need a letter from the attorney general.
[12:45:07] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, is taking America into a recession, is it worth it? And do Americans need to back that up?
TRUMP: The fake news of which many of you are members is trying to convince the public to have a recession. Let's have a recession. The United States is doing phenomenally well. But one thing I have to do is economically take on China because China has been ripping us off for many years. President Clinton, President Bush, and President Obama and others should have done this long before me. My life would be much easier, although I enjoy doing it, but my life would be much easier if I said, let China continue to rip off the United States, all right? It'd be much easier but I can't do that.
We are winning against China. They've lost two and a half million jobs in a very short period of time. They want to make a deal. It's got to be a deal that's good for the United States. Where they want to make a deal, probably we will make a deal. But if I didn't do that, and I'm not doing this, somebody said it's Trump's trade war. This isn't my trade war. This is a trade war that should have taken place a long time ago by a lot of other presidents. Over the last five or six years, China has made $500 billion, $500 billion, ripped it out of the United States. And not only that, if you take a look, intellectual property theft, add that to it and add a lot of other things to it.
So somebody -- excuse me, somebody had to do it. I am the chosen one, somebody had to do it so I'm taking on China, I'm taking on China on trade, and you know what, we're winning. Because with a piggy bank, we're the one that all these countries including the European Union want to rob and takes advantage of. European Union, $200 billion, China, more than $500 billion. Sorry.
I was put here by people to do a great job and that's what I'm doing and nobody has done a job like I've done. Now, would China rather wait for a little more than a year and try and get sleepy Joe Biden to negotiate with instead of President Trump? Maybe, but I don't think so. You know why? They're losing too many jobs too fast. They had the worst year in 27 years but I think it was actually 52 or 54 years. The worst year they've had in half a century and that's because of me and I'm not proud of that.
But you know what, they want to negotiate. And sleepy Joe doesn't have a clue, sleepy Joe said oh China is wonderful. Well, China is wonderful for China but I'm wonderful for the USA.
TRUMP: Well, we'll meet at some time but the prime minister used a terrible word when describing something that we've been talking about for years with our country. President Truman said what about Greenland and he talked about it very openly and it was a big deal at the time. And I brought it up again and it was discussed many other times. And I thought it was not a nice statement the way she blew me off because she's blowing off the United States and we've done a lot for Denmark, we've done a lot.
I know Denmark well. I have many friends from Denmark, I have many people from Denmark that lived in the United States. And we treat countries with respect. She shouldn't treat the United States that way by saying what an absurd -- she said absurdly. That's not the right word to use. Absurd.
TRUMP: Well, if you remember, President Obama had separation. President Obama built the cells. He built the cages that you people always talk about and attribute them to me. President Obama in 2014 built those cages. And you were very embarrassed when the New York Times as usual, and others, put a picture of a cage and they said how bad Trump was, only to find out that it was President Obama that built those cages. So President Obama had separation. I'm the one that brought them together. This new rule will do even more to bring them together but it was President Obama that had the separation.
TRUMP: Well, we're being very strong on the border. You see the numbers are way, way down.
[12:50:00] I want to thank Mexico for that. The United States could make your question, could make that problem go away very easily if the Democrats would meet and we could fix the loopholes and asylum which is what you're talking about to one extent. But let me just tell you, very much I have the children on my mind. It bothers me very greatly, people make this horrible 2,000-mile journey. One of the things that will happen when they realize the borders are closing, the wall is being built -- we're building tremendous numbers of miles of wall right now in different locations. It all comes together like a beautiful puzzle.
But one of the things that's happening when they see you can't get into the United States, or when they see if they do get into United States, they will be brought back to their country. It won't matter if they get in or not because we're doing that. They won't come and many people will be saved. And many women's lives will not be destroyed and ruined.
TRUMP: I'm not looking at a tax cut now. We don't need it, we have a strong economy. Certainly a payroll tax cut, President Obama did that in order to artificially jack up the economy. President Obama had zero interest rates. I don't have zero interest, I have real interest rates and despite that, I have a strong economy. President Obama did two payroll tax cuts and despite that, I have a much stronger economy. And if you look at my numbers from November 9th, you look at it, November 9th to present, the stock market is up over 50 percent.
TRUMP: This guy is the most biased reporter. NBC. You know, I made a lot of money for NBC with the "Apprentice" and I used to like them but they are the most biased. Peter is such a biased -- he should be able to ask a question, same question in a better way. You are so obviously biased and that's why the public has no confidence in the media.
Go ahead, (INAUDIBLE). Go ahead
TRUMP: Joe Biden doesn't have it. Let me just tell you about Joe Biden. Joe Biden doesn't have it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said that the mass shooting happened (INAUDIBLE) when it happened (INAUDIBLE). So was that fair game?
TRUMP: Joe Biden doesn't have it. Go ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is that fair game, sir?
TRUMP: Well, I think the New York Times now has totally lost credibility. They've given up on the Russian collusion delusion and now what they're doing is they're trying the racist deal. And that's not going to work because I am the least racist person ever to serve in office, OK? I am the least racist person. But the New York Times, they're trying everything they can. It is a totally dishonest newspaper, it's a paper that really has lost tremendous credibility.
And let me tell you, in six years or maybe 10 or maybe 14, right, in six years, when I'm not here, the New York Times goes out of business very quickly. And you know who else goes out like NBC News. NBC News has less credibility in my opinion with guys like you than CNN. I think CNN has more credibility than NBC News.
TRUMP: Did you hear what I said? I said you have more credibility than this guy. Go ahead. And that's not saying much because I don't think you -- I don't -- you know what -- you know why, because I don't think you have very much credibility but I will tell you this, NBC I think has less credibility than CNN. That's not saying much but that's the way that I feel.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're focused on mental health issues --
TRUMP: Yes. Mental health is very important.
TRUMP: There are many, many things in play. People are talking about videos, people are talking about lots of different things but we do have a way of bringing what we already have because we have many, many -- as you know, we have many, many people that are unable to buy guns right now. Many people are unable to buy guns. We have background checks but there are loopholes in the background checks. And that's what I spoke to the NRA about yesterday.
They want to get rid of the loopholes as well as I do. At the same time, I don't want to take away people's Second Amendment rights. I don't want to take away the constitution having to do with gun ownership. And, you know, we can't let that slope go so easily that we're talking about background checks that all of a sudden we're talking about let's take everybody's gun away. People need weapons unfortunately for protection.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That word slope, that is an NRA talking point --
TRUMP: No, it's a Trump talking point. You approve one thing then another thing, then another thing, then all of a sudden you're on that slope and all of a sudden nobody has any legal protection. We have a Second Amendment -- let me just tell you this. [12:55:08] We have a Second Amendment and our Second Amendment will remain strong.
TRUMP: Go ahead.
TRUMP: Jeff, go ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you concerned about (INAUDIBLE) emergence of ISIS in Afghanistan? And does that affecting your decision-making at all?
TRUMP: Well, you know, at a certain point, Russia, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, they're going to have to fight their battles too, OK? We wiped out the caliphate a hundred percent. I did it in record time. But at a certain point all of these other countries where ISIS is around -- they've been decimated, by the way, badly decimated but all of these countries they're going to have to fight them. Because do we want to stay there another 19 years? I don't think so.
So at a certain point other countries and that include Russia and it includes Iran and Turkey and Iraq and Afghanistan and Pakistan and India -- look, India is right there, they're not fighting it, we're fighting it. Pakistan is right next door, they're fighting it very little. Very, very little. It's not fair. The United States was 7,000 miles away, we have decimated ISIS.
You haven't been hearing much about ISIS and we took caliphate 100 percent. When I took it at 98, I said, all right, maybe we go home now. Let these other countries handle it. Everyone went crazy. They said do a hundred percent. They said it was going to take a year, it took me a month and they're gone, the caliphate is gone.
And by the way, we're holding thousands of ISIS fighters right now and Europe has to take them. And if Europe doesn't take them, I'll have no choice but to release them into the countries from which they came which is Germany and France and other places because we beat them, we captured them, we've got thousands of them. And now, as usual, our allies say oh no we don't want them even though they came from France and Germany and other places. So we're going to tell them and we've already told them to take these prisoners that we've captured because the United States is not going to put them in Guantanamo for the next 50 years and pay for it.
TRUMP: It's moving along, my deadline, they know.
TRUMP: I did. I went to the hospitals. I will tell you this, I went to the hospitals. It was totally falsely reported, there were beautiful, beautiful, very sad, you know, horrible moments but there were beautiful moments in the sense that these people, the families and also the people that were so badly injured that I was with, they love our country. And frankly, you want to know the truth? They love their president and nobody wrote that. Nobody wrote that because you didn't write the truth.
New York Times doesn't like to write the truth. But they love -- they totally love our country and they do love our president. So when I went to Dayton and when I went to El Paso and I went into those hospitals, the love for me, and me maybe as a representative of the country, but for me -- and my love for them was unparalleled. These are incredible people. But if you read the papers, it was like nobody would meet with me. Not only did they meet with me, they were pouring out of the rooms. The doctors were coming out of the operating rooms, there were hundreds and hundreds of people all over the floor, you couldn't even walk on it.
So, you know, there's a lot to happen. The people in Dayton -- let me just explain. People in Dayton, people of El Paso, these are incredible people and those victims and the survivors and the families, I love those people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said you aren't looking through indexing, yesterday you suggested you were, (INAUDIBLE)?
TRUMP: I've looked at indexing for a long time, it's not something I love. I think it's probably better for the high-income people and I'm not looking to do that. I want to do for the workers. I'm looking to do for middle-income people. I think indexing -- now, I would have to get a letter from the attorney general or from the Justice Department which I think I might be able to get otherwise, I have to go through Congress but I'm not looking to doing indexing and I haven't been serious looking at it. But certainly, it is an option if I wanted to.
We have such a strong economy, if the Fed did what they're supposed to do, they dropped interest rates by a hundred basis points, they may be --