Transcript of President Trump Speech During Gridiron Dinner…

[Transcript] “Well, thank you very much. It’s an honor to be here and, I must tell you, that Melania and I are really thrilled. We really looked forward to this. … I didn’t know what to expect, but it’s really quality people … quality people. So, thank you very much.

Its been really another calm week at the White House. We finally have it running like a fine-tuned machine. Its fine-tuned. Its a beautiful piece of work. … But before I get started, I wanted to apologize for arriving a little bit late. You know, we were late tonight because Jared could not get through security. … Ivanka, you’ve got to do something, … Jared but I will tell you, hes a good guy. He has suffered. He is a great guy he really is.

I know the Gridiron is really an old tradition in Washington, been around a long time, and one that’s important to many of you in the media. So, I was very excited to receive this invitation and come here and ruin your evening in person. … My staff was concerned heading into this dinner that I couldn’t do self-deprecating humor. They were worried about it. They said, Can you do this? And I told them not to worry.

Nobody does self-deprecating humor better than I do. … In fact, Orrin Hatch, Orrin said that Donald Trump is the best at self-deprecating in the history of America, better than Washington and better than Lincoln. … Thank you, Orrin.

They told me my remarks tonight should be something like a late night routine. … Late nightmare they’re the worst, by the way? We’re finally going to get one that’s going to come to our side. They will get very big ratings if they do that. … With all the television talent here, I think … you’d have figured that out. But I have to tell you, in preparation, I did what any good late night comic would do these days. I called Chuck Schumer and I asked him for some talking points. Can you believe this? I also spoke to some of the funniest people around the White House starting with my number two, Mike Pence. … Love you Mike. … Some of you may think that Mike is not a comedian, but he is one of the best straight men you’re ever going to meet. … He is straight! …

I saw him the other day. Were in line shaking hands with men and women. A woman came over to shake his hand and he said, I’m sorry. I cant do that. My wife is not here. I never saw anything like it. He’s … years ahead of his time. … Mike is doing a fantastic job as our vice president. He really is. Hes doing a fantastic job. Could not have asked for better. I really am very proud to call him, The Apprentice.

But lately what bothers me, I have to tell you, hes showing a particularly keen interest in the news these days. He starts out each morning asking everybody, Has he been impeached yet? …. You cant be impeached when there’s no crime! … Mike, put that down! … I thought that was going to get a much better I said to Melania, Do you think I should use that one? I dont know. And then she said, Use it. Its good. … So much for humor. You never know about humor do you. …

Steve Mnuchin … we saw him and his beautiful wife on stage. … When she asked whether or not she could sign the money also, I said, Steve, you’ve got a lot to handle. I said, You cant do that Steve!

America has a proud history of Treasury secretaries who sponsor the arts. Alexander Hamilton gave us so much. Andrew Mellon famously gave us the National Gallery tremendous gift. Steve has given us the blockbuster movie Lego Batman. … See, now that one I didn’t think was funny at all. …

But Attorney General Sessions is here with us tonight. … I offered him a ride over and he recused himself. … But that’s OK. We also have some of the leading lights of the media here including some folks from the failing New York Times. That sucker is failing! … I know we have our differences, but I also know that you have a very special place … in my heart. … The other day they had five stories on the front page of the New York Times and every one of them was totally different and each one of them was bad.

After all, you the New York Times are an icon. I’m a New York icon, you’re a New York icon, and the only difference is, I still own my buildings.

I especially have a place in my heart for Arthur Sulzberger. … Our stories are almost mirror images. I inherited a million dollars from my father, had a great father, gave me a million dollars and I turned it into billions. True story. Arthur inherited billions of dollars and he turned his into millions. Hello Arthur.

And its been a very tough year. Jeff Zuckers here. … CNN, it lost a tremendous amount of credibility this year, but they also lost one of their true stars, the guy who got you the most scoops, inside info … your really very best reporter. There was nobody like him Steve Bannon. That guy leaked more than the Titanic …

As I’m sure you’ve seen, were now riding very high in the polls, which is hard to believe considering I never get good press. But I just hit 50 in the Rasmussen poll.

A lot of people said I wouldn’t be able to do so with … losing my so-called chief strategist. … I just lost my strategist. … Just lost my strategist. Its pretty bad, but somehow, were still doing great even without Omarosa. … By the way, I always knew, someday, you’re going to fire her. Is that the worst? By the way, Omarosa, you’re the worst! …

So many people have been leaving the White House. Its actually been really exciting and invigorating. I like turnover. I like chaos. It really is good.

Now the question everyone keeps asking is, Who’s going to be the next to leave? Steve Miller or Melania? … That is terrible honey, but you love me, right? … I wont tell you what she said. … She said, Behave. … Is that terrible?

By the way, she has been an incredible first lady. … Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, and all of them. There’s so many women in that audience. The women with signs, We love our first lady. True, all of them, hundreds and hundreds of them during speeches, We love high heels. We love everything. … These signs, they have pictures of shoes. … Remember when she was badly treated about wearing high heels when actually she had the sneakers in her bag? But they love our first lady.

I can tell you, despite what you’ve reported, we’ve had a lot of success this year. We really have tremendous. Our tax plan has been a tremendous victory. … That is really turning out to be popular. Melania is even getting some major benefits from it. She can finally claim me as an adult dependent. …

And the White House is actually a warm, loving, and wonderful place. Ive heard its cold. Its not cold. Its warm. Its loving, you meet great people, wonderful people like yourselves. And I just don’t understand why everyone on the internet and in the media keeps screaming, Hashtag Free Melania. Free Melania. … Like a number one hashtag. Free Melania. Shes actually having a great time.

Yes, are you? Oh, good, she’s having a great time. You’re doing a good job. You know, you cant do a great job unless you enjoy it. Its true. You people know that as great reporters. You love what you do, and if you didn’t love what you do, you wouldn’t do it well. …

Before we go any further, I want to just discuss the big financial story of the week. Ever since we announced our new tariffs, which actually is very popular with people because they’re tired of getting ripped off, many dying American industries have come to the White House asking for protection. They want help. They need protection. Unfortunately, I’m sorry, I fear it may be too late for the print media. That was pretty good though wasn’t it? … That’s another bomb that I thought was going to be great.

It might be hard for you to believe, but I do enjoy gatherings like these. They give me a chance to socialize with members of the opposition party. … Also great to see some Democrats here. … The opposition party, Ive seen a few of them applauding tonight including Sen. Joe Manchin, who’s here.

And don’t worry, Joe. … Hes a good man. There aren’t any cameras this time Joe. And I wont tell Chuck and Nancy what you’re doing. Because boy was he applauding me the other night. Right? At the State of the Union he was up there applauding. I don’t know who the hell he was catering to.

I thought my State of the Union address was actually extraordinary. One of the best ever given. in fact Luis Gutierrez was so overcome with emotion at how good this particular speech was that he had to leave the chamber. He left and wept.

I probably could have found a way to get the Democrats to stand and clap. … They didn’t. They were like frozen. I said black unemployment is at the lowest point in history. No emotion. They sat other than Manchin. He stood up. Thank you, Joe. He’s still paying the price for that. I said Hispanic unemployment is at the lowest level in history, record. There was no emotion. But I decided I wasn’t going to change anything. I wasn’t going to get them to stand. I didn’t know how. … I was not going to include a salute to Fidel Castro. They would have stood up. They would have cheered. …

And I know Mayor Mitch Landrieu feels right at home in Washington coming from Louisiana. I love Louisiana. … Not too bad right? Not bad Mitch! … Its a beautiful swamp. I like that swamp. … That’s a much more legitimate swamp. But I have to say Mitch, that while you’re here in Washington, only one request. … They already hit him on the statues. I was going to say, Don’t touch our statues. But they’ve already hit you three times on the statues. … But Mitch you did a good job tonight and honestly I love the way you finished. … I really did. I thought it was very appropriate. … Thank you.

And I never knew Tom Cotton was such a great comedian. We were laughing, the whole place. That was good tom. A rising star. How old are you now Tom? Hes 40. Wow, I better watch my back. You know … hes a friend of mine, but in politics, you just dont have these guys. … You were great tonight. I appreciate it. Thank you Tom Cotton. And he is a rising star in our nation, not our party, in our nation. Hes got a great future; smart and a great guy.

I was hoping we’d also see Adam Schiff wonderful guy. Leaking Adam! Hell be in the middle of a meeting what is he? In some committee, congressional committee, Mike what is it? Intelligence? Judiciary? What the hell committee? That’s the only thing, he doesn’t know what committee hes on because hes on the phone so much. He doesn’t have any time. Hey, lets call these guys. Is that legal? Are you allowed to go to .. and just every half hour I got to go break the news. Adam Schiff He was going to come tonight and then he heard that this was not a televised event so he stayed home. He stayed home.

But Adam is constantly on television pushing the idea that somehow I would undermine democracy. Undermine? I love democracy. But he thinks I’m going to undermine democracy. So, I have to tell him I have great respect for the various branches of government, the executive, the legislative, the judicial very important and last, Fox News. I have a lot of respect for Fox News. Thank God for Fox News.

I often think that the Democrats would be better off if they learned a thing or two from us. They could learn from us. For instance, you might have noticed that some of the best lines from my campaign followed a certain pattern. Drain the swamp! Remember that? When I saw that I hated it. Somebody brought that one down for me, I said, This is so hokey. Drain the swamp. This massive crowd, 25,000 people, and I said, .. Drain the Swamp! And they went crazy. I said, Whoa. Then, I said It in the next speech, Drain the swamp! And now, I love it. Drain the swamp!

But we had, Drain The Swamp, we had, Lock Her Up, we had, Build The Wall. Build the wall! Nancy Pelosi has been trying to come up with a line that’s equal. And her line that she announced last week is, Mow The Grass! It doesn’t work. ..

Mow the frickin’ grass. … That’s going to stop MS-13. … Mow that frickin’ grass! … Man, shes crazy, but shes a fine woman. She is. I actually like Nancy Pelosi. Can you believe that? Her and Maxine Waters. How about that one? Maxine Waters, He must be impeached! That’s all she knows how to say, He must be impeached! Impeached! …

But hes done nothing wrong. Doesn’t matter, they say. What has he done wrong? I don’t know! You got to be impeached! And then I say … I get in trouble for this, She has to immediately, take an IQ test. And people go crazy. They went crazy/ But Maxine and Nancy and these people, there’s a lot of hatred. There’s so much hatred we have to stop Mike. We have to stop the hatred.

And its true … Nancy’s worth tens of millions of dollars and shes a populist. You know, she really considers herself that. And I really try to tell her that you cant be a true populist unless you’re worth at least ten billion dollars … people like you better.

I don’t know how the hell they like me, but boy I love those people. I love them. I really do. … I understand that, in recognition of our massive tax cuts, Nancy suggested that – Oh, Im not going to say this – the dessert should be crumb cake. Give me a break. You know, the word crumb is not working out well for Nancy.

On the way in tonight, someone asked me what I think about the Dreamers. I love the Dreamers. I do love the Dreamers. … Ill be honest. … I really believe the Republicans want to solve this problem DACA more than the Democrats and certainly faster. So, were all working together and I hope that somethings going to happen. I really do. I hope that somethings going to happen. …

Were talking about the Dreamers and, quite honestly, Democrats can fantasize all they want about winning in 2020. Those are the Dreamers. … I’m a Dreamer also. …

There’s talk about Joe Biden, Sleepy Joe, getting into the race. You know what he said, I want to take him behind the barn. … Just trust me, I would kick his ass. … Boy, would he be easy. Oh, would he be easy. … But Joe give me a break. The guy who keeps making outrageous statements thinks he has a shot at being president? Guy makes outrageous statements. … Hes going to be president? He doesn’t have a shot.

And Oprah. Oh … here’s my next one. Oprah, I don’t think shes ever been hit verbally yet. Right? Shes led a charmed life. Shes done a great job. … She used to love me . I was on one of her last shows, The Trump Family. Were going to have to replay that for her. Were going to have to. … She says shell run only if she gets the go ahead from the Almighty. All right Oprah, go ahead and run. …

And then we have Elizabeth Warren. … I watched her making a speech for Hillary. I said, I think shes losing all of the male vote for Hillary Clinton. It was brutal. It was mean and angry. Elizabeth Warren, who had a rough day last week trying to prove her heritage, She had a rough day. And she had a good suggestion though about easing world tensions. The world is quite tense. Some of this stuff should have happened over the last twenty years, but it didn’t. … But she said that Rex Tillerson and I should sit down with the leaders of Iran and North Korea and smoke a peace pipe. … I didn’t like that Pocahontas.

I won’t rule out direct talks with Kim Jong Un. I just won’t. As far as the risk of dealing with a madman is concerned, that’s his problem, not mine. … He must be a fine man. Do you think he’s a fine man? … Although, we did save the Olympics. President Moon gave us a lot of credit, said, ‘It was, it was President Trump that made the Olympics successful because there were a lot of people that wanted to go into that stadium with the potential of a problem a big problem and he gave us all a lot of credit. He said, ‘Without President Trump and his strong attitude they would have never called up and said, ‘Hey, we’d love to be in the Olympics together.’

And that’s true. … Whether people want to hear it or not, they had a very successful Olympics. That was heading for disaster. They weren’t selling tickets. … It was heading for disaster and now we’re talking. And they, by the way, called up a couple of days ago and said, ‘We would like to talk.’ And I said, ‘So would we, but you have to de-nuke, you have to de-nuke.’

So, let’s see what happens. Let’s see what happens. You know when the media said and when I said, ‘My button is bigger than yours and mine works.’ Everyone gave me a hard time, what a terrible thing. They didn’t say what he said. He said, ‘I have a button on my desk and I am prepared to use it.’ Nobody ever said that. So, my statement was in response, but maybe positive things are happening. I hope that’s true and I say that in all seriousness. I hope that’s true But we will be meeting and we’ll see if anything positive happens. It’s been a long time. . It’s a problem that should have been fixed a long time ago very far down the road. …

I know there’s been a lot of talk about Twitter and social media this year. But it really can be an important form of modern day communication. If I didn’t have Twitter how would Gen. Kelly and Gen, McMaster know what it is that they’re supposed to say that day. They wouldn’t know. They’d have no idea.

There’s been a lot of criticism of John Kelly in the press, which i think is very very unfair. Hes doing an amazing job. He even told me he would let Ivanka visit the Oval Office when she gets home from representing us in the Olympics and she did so. Ivanka did you enjoy your visit? I hope so. That was very nice and by the way Ivanka did an incredible job representing our country at the Olympics. She did.

Many people have asked me how my time as a reality TV star prepared me for the presidency, the truth is there’s very little overlap between the two. Very little. In one job, I had to manage a cutthroat cast of characters desperate for TV time, totally unprepared for their … jobs, and each week afraid of having their asses fired. In the other job, I was the host of a smash television hit. Televisions so easy compared to this. …

I know we all came here tonight to have fun and tell jokes, but I also think we need to discuss the issues. Issues are very important. … For example, weve got a new plan to tackle global warming, one of my favorite subjects. Were going to reduce the carbon footprint when we travel by shrinking the press pool so that we only have room for Sean Hannity, Lou Dobbs, and Judge Judy. …

I better wrap it up. I have to be up early tomorrow morning six o’clock to be listening to Fox and Friends. … But I do want to say this is one of the best times I can ever remember having with the media. This might be the most fun Ive had since watching your faces on election night. … I apologize. Years, years, years taken off your life. Oh, John King, with that beautiful red map. His hand was shaking toward the end. … I love the way he uses that map. Hes good at it. … And then it was Michigan. Remember they wouldn’t call Pennsylvania? There was one percent of the … vote to go in Pennsylvania.

It was like 11 o’clock. One percent of the vote to go, they wouldn’t call it. And if I lost even one of the votes, I won by a lot. They wouldn’t call it. So instead, they called Wisconsin. And then, John King, remember, The Winner of the great state of Michigan. Hes going Michigan. Hes like, Hey Trump won Michigan, this can’t be happening. And that hand was up. …

Look, whether you like me or not, you have to say that was good. That was exciting. … Lot of tears were in this room. You’re not supposed to cry. Mike are they supposed to be crying? If somebody wins or somebody … they’re supposed to be a little impartial. Lets be a little bit more impartial. …

But you know, Ill tell you what, I do have a lot of respect for a lot of the people in this room. Even people that have been very strong opponents, I’ve developed a lot of respect. Fairness is important to me, but you know, you’ve got your point of view. And a lot of you cover things very squarely and there are few professions that i respect more. And I’d like to thank the Gridiron Club and Foundation foundation does an incredible job for this wonderful evening. I want to thank all of the amazing speakers and, really, performers. Some very good performers … they really are. …

I want to thank the press for all you do to support and sustain our democracy. I mean that. I mean that. Some incredible people in the press … brilliant, powerful, smart, and fair people in the press. And I want to thank you.

My greatest wish is that we can all work together to make America safe, and just, and free for all Americans. We have a great country and we all, together, will make it even better. Thank you all very much. This is a great honor thank you.

[Transcript Link]

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