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President Trump Holds Press Conference In India. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired February 25, 2020 - 07:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[07:00:00]

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: But I think what we'll do is take some questions and we'll go to a nice state dinner and then we go home.

Yes, John, go ahead.

REPORTER: Mr. President, you just addressed coronavirus, so I will put that aside for the moment. You tweeted about Justice Sotomayor yesterday saying that she and Justice Ginsburg should recuse themselves from future cases dealing with the administration.

What is the basis your opinion on that?

TRUMP: Well, it's very obvious. I mean, I always thought that, frankly, that Justice Ginsburg should do it because she went wild during the campaign when I was running. I don't know who she was for. Perhaps she was for Hillary Clinton. I can believe it. But she said some things that were obviously very inappropriate. She later sort of apologized, I wouldn't say it was an apology, but she sort of apologized.

And then Justice Sotomayor said what she said yesterday. You know very well what she said yesterday. It was a big story. And I just don't know how they cannot recuse themselves for anything having to do with Trump or Trump-related. The right thing to do is that.

Now, as a Supreme Court justice, it's a different standard but at the same time I think it's a higher standard in a certain sense so they will have to decide what to do. But her statement was so inappropriate when you are a justice of the Supreme Court. And it's almost what she's trying to do is take the people that do feel a different way and get them to vote the way that she would like them to vote. I just thought it was so inappropriate, such a terrible statement for a Supreme Court justice to do.

REPORTER: What was inappropriate about the statement? I'm not an attorney so I can't really know about it.

TRUMP: Well, you know what the statement was, John.

REPORTER: She seemed to criticize the White House for running at the Supreme Court at the drop of a hat. TRUMP: No, I don't think that was it. But I think what she did say is she's trying to shame -- the way I look at it, she's trying to shame people with perhaps a different view into voting her way, and that's so inappropriate.

So let's see what happens. We have things, whether or not they recuse themselves, both. I mean, look, Justice Ginsburg, during my campaign, I protested at the time, she apologized in a very minor form. And what Justice Sotomayor said yesterday was really highly inappropriate and everybody agrees to that, virtually everybody. I've seen papers on it. People cannot believe that she said it.

Yes, go ahead.

REPORTER: thank you, Mr. President. The Intelligence Community believes that Russia is trying to meddle in the 2020 election. Do you agree with their assessment? And what is your message to Vladimir Putin about potentially interfering regardless of the candidate they support?

TRUMP: Well, you know, what I'm reading, and, again, I'm over here for the last number of days, but they went to see Bernie and they told Bernie about something having to do with they want Bernie to win. They did not tell me. Intelligence never told me and we have a couple of people here that would know very well. They never told me anything about that and it was sort of a strange thing that they went to Bernie. And now I find out, if I believe what I read in some of your documents and some of your papers that it's a highly -- it was highly exaggerated.

And, frankly, I think it's disgraceful and I think it was leaked from the Intelligence Committee, House version, and I think that they leaked it. I think probably Schiff leaked it, but people within, and Schiff leaked it, in my opinion. And he shouldn't be leaking things like that. That's a terrible thing to do. But, basically, they would like to see Bernie as probably winning and looks like he's winning and he's got a head of steam and they maybe don't want him for obvious reasons. So they don't want him. So they put out a thing that Russia is backing him.

This is what they do. I've gone through it for a long time. I get it. I get the game better than anybody, and that's the way it is, terrible thing to say. And they didn't say it about me. I will say this, somebody leaked it in intelligence, but nobody ever told me that. We have Ambassador O'Brien in the audience some place, and he can tell you that this was never discussed with us.

So I think it's terrible. They ought to stop the leaking from Intelligence Committee. And if they don't stop it, I can't imagine that people are not going to go after them and find out what's happening.

REPORTER: But do you believe --

TRUMP: Go ahead, ma'am.

REPORTER: Mr. President, this is (INAUDIBLE) from Indian T.V. News, Agency News. And we're trying to get --

TRANSLATOR: My T.V. agency --

REPORTER: So the way the deal is being worked out, what would be India's role and Pakistan's role in the region?

TRUMP: Well, I think India would like to see it happen. I spoke with Prime Minister Modi and I think they would very much like to see it happen. And we're pretty close, we will see what's going on. We have got two days now under our belt without violence or, I guess, a minimum of violence and we will see what happens.

[07:05:03]

But people want to see it.

It is very interesting. Everybody is happy about it, even people that are normally against me like 99.9 percent of the time because we've been there for 19 years and everybody would like to see it happen. I was actually surprised. I thought the Schumers of the world would say whatever the opposite is because that's all he can do, Crying Chuck. But people are really -- they're really happy to see that we're trying very hard. You know, we will bring it down to 8,600, and from there, we'll make a decision as to what the final outcome would be.

But there has been tremendous praise for the fact that we're doing something. You know, other administrations have tried to do something, in particular the previous administration for a long time, they were never able to get anything done. And we're really serving not as a military force, as we are a police force, and we're not a police force. They have to police their own country. We are not a police force. It's like law enforcement. And that's the way it is.

So we'd like to after 19 -- I can tell you, after 19 years, we'd like to bring our young people back home, bring them -- that's where they want to be, and we will always have intelligence there, we will have other things there, but we'd like to bring them -- for the most part, we'd like to bring them back home. We want to watch the area. The area is a hot bed of problems. And when we bring them home, we'll let them know that if something happens, we will hit them so hard.

And we could win that easily if I wanted to kill millions of people. I don't want to kill millions of people, innocent people. We could win that very easily. We don't have to act as a police force, we can act as a military force to win, not a military force to just take care of things in that very, very difficult part of the world. It's a very difficult part, very dangerous part of the world.

So let's see what happens. So far, so good. So far. But I'm very impressed with the kind of kudos we're getting.

Yes, Chris (ph)?

REPORTER: Mr. President, namaste. I'm (INAUDIBLE). If you remember, I interviewed during your last campaign in New Jersey. I asked you this question earlier at that time about the Trump doctrine on fighting out Islamic fundamentalism, which you spoke out and discussed with Prime Minister Modi. And you spoke about a Modi/Trump doctrine. So what is your roadmap to fight out Islamic radical terrorism?

TRUMP: Well, I don't think anybody has done more than I have, if you look, because I came in. And if you check your maps and look at Iraq and Syria, it was all over. In fact, they had painted a certain color, I won't tell you what color because it doesn't matter. Somebody will say it was a Republican color so I don't want to get people confused, but it happened to be red and it was basically trying to show what -- where ISIS was in those areas, and it was out of control.

And I gave the orders and we have 100 percent of the caliphate. We have tens of thousands of people in prisons now. They're being guarded by the Kurds and others. Europe should take a lot of them back. So far, they haven't agreed to do that. They should do that because we did them a big favor, we captured them. But I did that.

We killed Al Baghdadi a few months ago and Soleimani is gone, he's no longer putting roadside bombs all over the place. Somebody else may be, but he was the father, the king of the roadside bomb. All those young people that you see with missing legs and missing arms, I've seen every combination, the legs are gone. You go over to Walter Reed. I have to say the doctors at Walter Reed, they're incredible what they're able to do, incredible.

But that's what his thing was. He thought that was a beautiful weapon, roadside bombs. It's a coward's bomb, and all of these young people that have been so badly hurt. And we did a big favor.

In addition to that, as you know, Hamsa Bin Laden is now gone. He was looking to do damage and he's gone. And Al Qaeda last week, you saw what happened there. So nobody has done more than what I've done.

But at the same time, Russia should do it, Iran should do it, Iraq should do it, Syria should do it. We are in a different part of the world. We're doing it. Everybody says, you are the only one ones that can do it. Well, at some point, these other countries -- I mean, Iran should do it. Iran hates ISIS and they should do it.

And we've done a great job. We've taken our soldiers essentially out of Syria except for little hot spots that we figured we will do and develop, but we've taken the oil and the soldiers we have there are the ones guarding the oil.

[07:10:04]

We have the oil. So that's all we have there.

And now we have -- and if you look, we are down to a small force in Iraq, and we're down to a small force very shortly. But right now, even we have a small force in Afghanistan. And so we are moving out and moving around. But the only soldiers we have in terms of Syria, the predominant number of soldiers are the ones protecting the oil.

REPORTER: What about terror groups in Pakistan? That's a big concern in this region. And there are a lot of terror groups who pose dangers to the United States and democracies like India as well.

TRUMP: Yes, no, I agree, but you also have other countries that can do this. The United States is 8,000 miles away and they are all saying, could you do it? Yes, we could do it. We've been doing it for a long time. But I've been doing it much better than anyone else has done it. I mean, what we've done in the last couple of years has been incredible. We have 100 percent of the caliphate.

Remember, we had 99 percent, I'd say, good, we're leaving and I was hit with people couldn't believe it. They said, do 100. So we did 100. I did 100 with some great generals that knew exactly what they were doing. They were unbelievable. We took 100 percent of the caliphate. And we have thousands of prisoners right now locked up and these are ISIS fighters and killed thousands, not that I want to do that. I don't want to do that, but that's what we had to do.

And when I came in, ISIS was all over the place. It was totally out of control. Please.

REPORTER: Thank you.

REPORTER: While you've been here in the country in the capital northeast part of Delhi, there have been violent clashes, police have been killed, some demonstrators, nine deaths so far we hear and about 100 plus injured. What did Prime Minister Modi say to you about this amended citizenship law and how concerned are you about this kind of religious violence?

TRUMP: So we did talk about religious freedom, and I will say that the prime minister was incredible on what he told me. He wants people to have religious freedom very strongly. And he said that in India, they have worked very hard to have great and open religious freedom. And if you look back and look at what's going on relative to other places especially, but they have really worked hard on religious freedom.

I asked that question in front of a very large group of people today and he talked about it. We talked about it for a long time. And I really believe that's what he wants. As far as the individual attack, I heard about it but I didn't discuss that with him. That's up to India.

Yes, go ahead, please.

REPORTER: Hi, sir, I'm (INAUDIBLE) The Daily Mail.com. I was wondering do you think justice was served in the Harvey Weinstein case?

TRUMP: So I was never a fan of Harvey Weinstein, as you know. In fact, he said he was going to work hard to defeat me in the election. How did that work out, by the way, I'm trying to figure that out? He was a person I didn't like. I don't know too much about the case because you know I've been traveling and being at meetings almost every hour of the day, every minute of the day, I haven't been able to really see too much of it. But I was just not a fan of his. I knew him a little bit, not very well. I knew him because he was in New York, not a person that I liked.

I will say, the people that liked him were the Democrats. Michelle Obama loved him, loved him. Hillary Clinton loved him. And he gave tremendous money to the Democrats. And I guess my question is will the Democrats be asking for that money back, because he gave a lot of money to the Democrats and, you know, it's too bad but that's the way it worked out.

Yes, Peter?

REPORTER: I just want to follow up on that very quickly, if I can, Mr. President, and then I have a question that I wanted to ask you. But just on the Harvey Weinstein situation, this is being viewed as a milestone for the Me Too movement. What message can you as president deliver to women in America who are still afraid to come forward and share their stories of sexual harassment and assault?

TRUMP: Well, again, I don't know the actual results. I haven't seen too much because I've been in India, as you know.

REPORTER: Beside from the --

TRUMP: I think that from the standpoint of women, I think it was a great thing. It was a great victory and sends a very strong message, very, very strong message, Peter.

Yes?

REPORTER: Can I follow up with my question? I just want to follow up on this quickly. On coronavirus specifically, Mr. President, 2014 when the Ebola situation was very concerning to so many Americans. You tweeted, Ebola patient will be brought to the U.S. in a few days. Now I know for sure our leaders are incompetent. In all caps, you wrote, keep them out of here. More than 20 Americans have now been brought back to the United States with coronavirus by your own measure. Does that mean that your government has been incompetent? Are you pleased with their response?

TRUMP: There is a big difference, in case you don't know, between Ebola and coronavirus, big, big difference.

[07:15:02]

It's like day and night. And I felt that we should bring them back. They're Americans. We should bring them back.

With Ebola, it's very explosive, it's very terrible, we're making tremendous strides on Ebola with the things that we're doing as you know.

REPORTER: Isn't some of the money that you're requesting -- I'm sorry, please.

TRUMP: Let me answer the question. But there's a tremendous -- there is a vast difference (INAUDIBLE) around 14 -- was it 14 or 12. And at that time nobody had ever even heard of Ebola or had conceived of something when you basically -- people would disintegrate. And we're still working on Ebola.

REPORTER: To be clear --

TRUMP: We're doing a vaccine. We're doing a lot of things having to do with Ebola. We are not forgetting about Ebola. That's a horrible thing. But we have that now very much under control other than certain parts of the Congo, where they're having war and we can't get in. So we're still working on that.

But as far as what we're doing with the new virus, I think that we're doing a great job. I felt that -- and the decision was made in Japan, let these Americans come back and we will see -- but they were immediately put into quarantine. There is no problem whatsoever with quarantine.

As you know, I approved $2.5 billion for just that purpose and also for working and getting a vaccine.

REPORTER: For clarity, those with Ebola, when they were brought here were quarantined and all of the Americans also survived, right?

TRUMP: But the level of death with Ebola, at the time it was a virtual 100 percent.

REPORTER: But none of the Americans who came here?

TRUMP: There is a very good chance you are not going to die. It's very much the opposite. You are talking about 1 or 2 percent, but in the other case it was a virtual 100 percent. Now, they have studied it, they know very much. In fact, we are very close to a vaccine.

Yes, please, go ahead. Go ahead, Peter.

REPORTER: Hi, I'm (INAUDIBLE) from T.V. 5 Network. So how do you define, differentiate and deal with the love (ph) of your foreign deals in India and Indians' love (ph), for H-1B visa in America? So how do you differentiate this?

TRUMP: We're talking about the H-1Bs and we are -- the relationship we have, this is not from me, this is from almost everybody. They say the history of India, which has a long history and a brilliant history in so many different ways, there has never been a reception given to somebody like was given and I would like to say for the United States of America, but nobody else that came here got the kind of reception we got.

There was 125,000, I think, seats they had yesterday. They were full. You had thousands of people outside. Prime Minister Modi was telling me thousands of people outside, that's not uncommon for me, to be honest with you. But when I look at 125,000 seats and that was an incredible scene yesterday.

In addition, all of those people lined up from the airport to the event, it was an incredible thing. Nobody has ever seen anything like it. The ambassador just told me that he has been in India for a long time. He's never seen -- in fact, both ambassadors, our ambassador and the ambassador from India said, in 40 years, he's never seen anything like it, what took place yesterday and earlier than that. But yesterday, they've never seen anything like it.

So it was a great compliment. It was a great compliment to our country. I'm the leader of the country but it was a great compliment to our country. Prime Minister Modi said that they have never ever had any event like that. In fact, they said, usually, when somebody comes in, they have to look for people to fill up the areas, they said, that we had. It was something very special.

Look, it's a massive country in terms of its population and people just wanted to see -- they wanted to pay respect to the United States, and so I appreciate. I was a recipient in a sense, but I was just -- I was just really representing the country.

Yes, Peter, go ahead.

REPORTER: Sorry. Thank you, Mr. President. I appreciate it.

TRUMP: Go ahead.

REPORTER: Mr. President, your newly installed personnel director has begun talking with the agencies about finding people in the government who are not loyal to you and perhaps moving them on. How large a list do you imagine this will be? Is this a big problem in your mind? Can you describe for us the scale of the problem as you see it?

TRUMP: Yes. I don't think it's a big problem. I don't think it's very many people. I think we had a whistleblower who was a fake, because if you look at the whistleblowers, for example, if you look at his report and then compare that to the transcripts, it bore no relationship. So that was a very sad situation and a lot of time, a lot of time wasted. Although as you will admit, in fact, you wrote very nicely, I appreciate it, the poll numbers have gone up very much.

[07:20:04]

But that's not appropriate to have -- to benefit by something like that. Then there was supposed to be a second whistleblower. As soon as I released the transcripts, the second whistleblower was gone. What happened to the second whistleblower? I will ask you, where is he? Remember, the second was he or she. The second whistleblower was going to happen, it was just a matter of moments. And then I released the real call, the transcripts, which are now 100 percent accurate even according to Lieutenant Colonel Vindman.

So, again, we want to have people that are good for the country, are loyal to our country, because that was a disgraceful situation.

REPORTER: Mr. President, I am (INAUDIBLE). I am from (INAUDIBLE). It's a parliamentary channel of India, (INAUDIBLE). You know, India's concern isn't the neighborhood (ph). And even Prime Minister Modi tell that we are very good friends. What is your strategy about terrorism that is coming out from Pakistan to India, because we have been suffering from this type of terrorism for the last 20 years or so? What is your strategy? What are you going to do? TRUMP: We talked a lot about Pakistan. I have a very good relationship with Prime Minister Khan, very good. And we talked about it today at length, actually, and Prime Minister Modi. And, no question, it's a problem, but it's a problem they're working on. India is a brave nation too. There is no pullback from India. And we just hope, and I said I will help, I will do whatever I have to do if I can do that, because my relationship with both gentlemen is so good, but there has been difficulty in Pakistan and we're seeing what we can do about it. Anything I can do to mediate, anything I can do to help, I will do.

They're working on Kashmir. Kashmir has been a thorn in a lot of people's sides for a long time. And there are two sides to every story. But they've been working on it very hard. We discussed it at great length, terrorism, and I think we have some very good ideas. He is very strongly against terrorism.

I'll tell you, Prime Minister Modi is a very -- he is a very religious man, as you know, he is a very calm man, but he's actually a very, very strong person, very tough, actually. I've seen him in action. And he's got that foremost in his mind, terrorism. He'll take care of it.

Please. Go ahead. You right there. That's fine, right there.

REPORTER: Mr. President, thank you. (INAUDIBLE) for far too long and returned from finish line. And we would like to take you to your today's meetings. Before coming to India, you said trade deal will be later but, of course, sometime soon. In the morning, you spoke about energy security and energy deal and you are already the fifth supplier to our country. You said other sources also. We would like you to elaborate on that. When you're talking energy security and energy deal, what are we looking at? And is nuclear happening?

TRUMP: So we talked about many things, many, many things. We talked about Iran, we talked about Iraq, we talked about -- we were together for two days, I'm going to be with Prime Minister Modi tonight for a state dinner at 7:00. It starts at 7:00, I believe. And we talked about exactly all of the things that you're talking about. We also talked about tariffs, because, as you know, India is probably the highest tariff nation in the world, meaning charging tariffs to outsiders. And I said we have to stop that. We have to stop it, at least as it pertains to the United States. And I think we're understanding each other.

With China, we worked a deal and we worked it because of the tariffs. And I was able to leave the tariffs on. That will take care of phase two. We still have 25 percent and $250 billion. But in the meantime, we are working with China very much on the virus. We feel that's something -- and I had to tell, I spoke to President Xi the other day. He is so committed to solving that problem. He is working very hard. He is very capable. The country is very capable and it snuck up on him, but I think he's going to do well.

Now, you see it's going to South Korea, it's going to Italy and it's going to other places. But I spoke to all of them, they are all working very, very hard on it. The United States, because of an early decision I made, I made a decision, I believe it was the first time it's ever been done, we closed the country to certain areas, as you know. And I was criticized for that decision. Now, they're saying it was a good decision. I think it was a good decision because we have very few people.

[07:25:01]

And you can add to it, a few people we took in, because they are Americans. I mean, what are we going to do? And they were almost in between countries where people weren't going to take them and they were Americans. But they are fully quarantined. They call it fully quarantined. So we did the right thing.

If you were out there, if you were an American and you refused to have any help from your country -- these were wonderful people. It wasn't their fault. But we are down to -- we are really down to probably ten. Most of the people are outside of danger right now, but we have had a very strict -- we have had a very strict line on the people that we take in the areas from which we take and I did it very early. It's never done before and I did it early. So I think it was a good decision as it turned out.

Yes, please.

REPORTER: I just wanted to follow-up on my colleague's question about Russian interference. Can you pledge to the American people that you will not accept any foreign assistance in the upcoming election?

And on this idea of a purge in your administration, there was recently the departure of your acting DNI, Joseph Maguire. You replaced him with your ambassador to Germany, Rick Grenell. Some of your critics have pointed out that Ambassador Grenell has no intelligence experience. How can you justify to the American people having an acting DNI with no intelligence experience?

TRUMP: Okay. First of all, I want no help from any country. And I haven't been given help from any country. And if you see what CNN, your wonderful network, said, I guess they apologized in a way for -- didn't they apologize for the fact that they said certain things that weren't true? Tell me, what was their apology yesterday? What did they say?

REPORTER: Mr. President, I think our record on delivering the truth is a lot better yours sometimes, if you don't mind me say.

TRUMP: Let me tell you about your record. Your record is so bad, you ought to be ashamed of yourself.

REPORTER: I'm not ashamed of anything and our organization is not ashamed.

TRUMP: You have the worst record in the history of broadcasting.

As far as Maguire is concerned, he is a terrific guy, but March 11th, his time ended anyway. So his time came up. So we would have had to -- by statute, we would have had to change anyway. So the -- REPORTER: Will your new DNI have experience in the intelligence field?

TRUMP: Yes. In fact, we are talking to five different people right now. I think all people that you know, all people that you respect and I will make a decision probably over the next week to two weeks, we have some very good people. But Joe Maguire is a very excellent guy, he is a very good man and his time was March 11th, I believe it was March 11th, where he would have had to leave.

REPORTER: Was he forced out because he wasn't sufficiently loyal to you?

TRUMP: No, not at all, not at all. He was pushed out because, frankly -- he wasn't pushed out, he would have had to get out. On March 11th, he would have had to leave. But we're going to be making a decision on DNI very shortly.

REPORTER: Thank you, sir.

TRUMP: Yes, please. Go ahead, please. Yes.

REPORTER: Mr. President --

TRUMP: Well, that's not nice. Yes, let her do it. I know, but you ripped the mic out of her hand. You can't do that. Boy, that wasn't very nice.

REPORTER: President Trump, I hope you're having a good visit here in India. I'm (INAUDIBLE) from E.T. Now. We have heard from Prime Minister Modi as well as you on a long impending trade deal. It's still not happened. Even today we heard both you and him talking about how in future there is going to be one. Have you been able to figure out the kind of differences that were there, especially on data localization? That has been one of the sticky (ph) points.

TRUMP: Yes, we know the problems. I know the problems. Previous administrations had no clue. They didn't know the problems. I know the problems. We're being charged large amounts of tariffs and you can't do that. You can't do that. And so they understand that that's where I am. And if they want to deal with us, and they will, they're going to, just like China, everybody said you will never make a deal with China, I made a deal with China, they took my deal. They're going to buy $250 billion worth of product and that's only a piece of the deal. It's a large piece. It's probably 40 percent to 50 percent, but it's an incredible deal.

In addition to that, we're taking in billions and billions of dollars worth of tariffs that we can now use for phase two because they want to get rid of the 25 percent. So we have the 25 percent. They want to get rid of it.

Well, with India, India is, I think, the highest, again, I said it before, but the highest tariff when you deal with India. Harley- Davidson has to pay tremendous tariffs when they send motorcycles in here. When India sends motorcycles into the U.S. there's virtually no tariff. For the most part there is absolutely no tariff. So I just said that's unfair and we're working it out. We're working it out.

Go ahead.

REPORTER: Good evening, president --

TRUMP: I think we will win that one easily.

[07:30:00]

We are working on that. Yes, we are working on that.

REPORTER: Good morning --

TRUMP: It's not a fair situation when one company is paying 100 percent in the case.

END