At the conclusion of two days of meetings and discussions, President Trump holds a press conference prior to departing the World Economic Forum. Surprisingly President Trump invited Roberto Azevedo, Director General of the World Trade Organization, to give remarks. [Video and Transcript]
[Transcript] – THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Please come on up, Roberto and Larry. Robert, Steve, come on up.
Good afternoon. We’ve had a tremendous two days here. We’ll be heading back right after this conference, and I’ve just concluded some additional meetings. We’ve had a lot of them. I think Davos has treated us really beautifully. It’s been a tremendous success. Everyone is talking about America’s unprecedented economic success. It’s really the talk of the town, so to speak.
Since my election, America has gained over 7 million new jobs. The unemployment rate is now the lowest in over half a century. The average unemployment rate for my administration is the lowest of any U.S. President in recorded history, which is very nice; we have some good ones. We have some bad ones too, by the way.
Unemployment rates among African American, Hispanic American, Asian Americans has reached a record low in the history of our country — the lowest. African American youth unemployment has reached the lowest in the history of our country. So proud of that. African American poverty numbers have plummeted to their lowest rate ever recorded. Doing really well.
Unemployment rate for women has reached the lowest level in almost 70 years. And the veterans unemployment rate dropped to a record low. Unemployment rate for disabled Americans has reached its all-time record low also. These are incredible numbers, Rob.
Workers without a high school diploma have received the — and achieved the lowest unemployment rate ever in recorded history. And that’s so important. Without a high school diploma — we have a lot of great people that don’t have a high school diploma. So we have record-low unemployment.
A record number of young Americans are now employed. We have the highest number of people working in our country that we’ve ever had before. We’ve never had anything even close. We’re almost up to 160 million.
And we’ve lifted 10 million people off of welfare. And you know all about food stamps; we talk about it all the time. But millions and millions of people don’t need food stamps anymore. It’s not that we’ve lifted them off, which we have, but they don’t need them anymore; they have jobs. They’re doing really well.
The U.S. stock markets have soared and they’ve reached the highest point that they’ve ever, ever had. We’ve made at least $19 trillion, in terms of wealth — in terms of wealth creation for our country, beyond the stock markets.
And we are now, by far, the biggest economy in the world. China would have caught us. They were getting very close. It was anticipated that, in 2019 — this is for many years; I’m not telling you any secrets — that, by 2019, China would become the largest economy in the world. And right now we’re much larger. But we have a great new deal with China. A great deal.
And we have, I would say, our best relationship that we’ve ever had with China, on top of everything else.
And we’re starting phase two. Phase one turned out to be much bigger than we anticipated, because we have intellectual property protections. We have — many of the financial deals and aspects of the financial deals that we wanted, we got done, and other things.
In addition to the farmers, we’ve got the total, complete package for the farmers. And we think that’ll — we estimate that will be anywhere between $40- and $50 billion. The number, I think, is going to be closer to $50 billion. The most they’ve ever done is $16 [billion]. So we go from $16 [billion] to anywhere from $40- to $50 billion that they’ll be purchasing.
We’re an economic powerhouse like, actually, we’ve never been. Jobs, factories, companies are pouring back into the United States. That’s one of the reasons I’ve been in Davos, is we have had conversations with other leaders of other countries where we’ve traditionally had tremendous deficits.
I say, “You have to move factories and plants back here.” They took a lot of them. They actually took a lot of them, and now they’re going to move them back. They’re not going to move them back; the companies are coming back because everybody wants to be here. But the countries also understand that we have to balance out our trade, and we’re doing incredibly well in that way.
And one of the people that was very important for me to meet from the World Trade Organization is Roberto Azevêdo. And he is a highly respected man. He happens to be this gentleman right here. I thought I’d have him say a few words.
But the World Trade Organization — as you know, I’ve had a dispute running with them for quite a while, because our country hasn’t been treated fairly. China is viewed as a developing nation. India is viewed as a developing nation. We’re not viewed a developing nation. As far as I’m concerned, we’re a developing nation, too. But they got tremendous advantages by the fact that they were considered “developing” and we weren’t. And they shouldn’t be. But if they are, we are. And we’re talking about a whole new structure for the deal, or we’ll have to do something.
But the World Trade Organization has been very unfair to the United States for many, many years. And without it, China wouldn’t be China, and China wouldn’t be where they are right now. I mean, China — that was the vehicle that they used. And I give them great credit. And I also don’t give the people that were in my position great credit, because, frankly, they let that all happen. But the vehicle was the World Trade Organization.
And Roberto and I have a tremendous relationship, and we’re going to do something that I think will be very dramatic. He’ll be coming with a lot of his representatives to Washington sometime — maybe next week or the week after — and we’ll start working on it.
So I’d like to introduce, just for — briefly — Roberto, and say a few words on behalf of the WTO. And then I’m going to introduce Larry Kudlow to say exactly where we are, in terms of our economy. Some of you know, but we’ve had some tremendous numbers just over the very recent past.
So, please, Roberto.
DIRECTOR-GENERAL AZEVÊDO: Well, thank you, Mr. President. And I think it’s fair to say that we have been saying, for quite some time, that if the multilateral system, if the WTO is to deliver and perform its role in today’s global economy, it has to be updated. It has to be changed. It has to be reformed.
This is an agenda that is squarely before members. I don’t think anybody in Geneva misses the point. I think they understand that the — the system has not been functioning properly in many areas. That’s something that we’re trying to address.
I’m very happy that, in the conversation today with President Trump, he agreed that this is something that needs to happen; the WTO has to change. We are committed to effect those changes. And this is something that we’re serious about.
And I am going to be, together with President Trump, as soon as possible, discussing what needs to change, what needs to be effected in the WTO, and we’re committed to doing that.
And, of course, I will be talking to all of the other WTO members, making sure that they all understand that this is serious. This is a path that we all have to be on together if we want to make the WTO relevant and performing to today’s requirements, frankly.
So thank you very much, Mr. President. It’s an honor to be with you and with everybody else. Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Great.
Larry, please. Larry Kudlow.
MR. KUDLOW: Oh, thank you, sir. So I think we’re coming into the new year with a lot of positive momentum in the economy. And, again, I want to repeat the President’s speech yesterday: These are transformational free enterprise policies, lower tax rates across the board, deregulation, energy independence, and breaking down trade barriers for better deals for exporting.
Just recently, we’ve seen all the confidence surveys are strong — consumer confidence, business confidence, small business confidence. The huge stock market rally, which continues, is, I believe, a sign of business and consumer confidence and predicting an even stronger economy in 2020.
Also, lately, housing markets are very strong. We’ve seen some huge numbers in new housing starts, and existing and new home sales. That’s a great omen; it’s the leading indicator. And even with softness in manufacturing last year, we’re seeing now the IHS Markit surveys for PMI manufacturing up four straight months for the U.S. And I think that’s a terrific sign of a comeback.
I think the President’s trade deals have inspired a lot of confidence among large and small businesses, and I think it’s going to add at least a half a point to GDP this year. I think we’re going to be moving into the 3 percent zone. We still have to cope with the slowdown in Boeing. We’ll see how that plays out. But I think USMCA and the China deals are going to add a lot to growth this year and the years ahead.
And the great part about this, to me — I’ve been around for a while — is, when you look inside, look under the hood, in this growth spurt, with 3.5 percent unemployment and virtually no inflation — which itself is a remarkable development — it is the American middle class, it is the American blue-collar middle class — they have the fastest wage growth. And, in fact, the lower-wage folks are getting the fastest wage increases, exceeding significantly from what their managers are making.
And I would add also, as the President has indicated: In this stock market rally, I know it’s commonplace to say it only helps a few rich people. That is just not true. Over half the households in this country own shares through 401(k)s, and IRAs, and brokerage accounts, and so forth. You look at the numbers — and the CEA just published a great slide book on this — the bottom 50 percent has had a 47 percent increase in their net wealth — consumer net wealth — between home prices and share prices, and that is a booster rocket to this economy. It not only gives them confidence, it gives them some serious spending power, and the consumer spending numbers bear it out.
So, ours is an optimistic message, and I think the President really carried the day in his speech yesterday.
Thank you, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Larry. I mean, when you think that, soon — it’ll start pretty soon. It’s already started, to a certain extent. I asked them to do it. China is going to be purchasing more than $250 billion worth of goods from our country. That’s massive. Those are numbers that nobody has ever heard of before. And that number can grow. It can grow. With time, it’s going to grow substantially, I predict.
And then you have the USMCA — Mexico, Canada — and that’s massive numbers we’re talking about there. And we made a deal with Japan — $40 billion. And we made a deal with South Korea. That’s a tremendous deal, also. That was a horrible deal, and we turned it into a really good deal. So it was really something.
While we were in Davos — most of you know this — we met with the world leaders — various world leaders, including the President of the European Commission, who we’re going to start negotiating a trade deal with, because the European Commission was, frankly, in many ways, tougher than China. I say that respectfully, but that’s the way it is. They’ve taken advantage for a long time.
And so we’re going to have a deal. I suspect we’re going to be able to make a deal. Otherwise, we’ll have to do something else. And they’ll — they’ll — I think they’re going to make a deal. They haven’t wanted to negotiate with past Presidents, but they’re going to negotiate with me. The President of the Swiss Confederation, who’s been very nice and terrific; the President of Kurdistan — we had a tremendous meeting; along with President Salih of Iraq, Prime Minister Khan of Pakistan, and President Ghani of Afghanistan.
In addition, we met with many of the business leaders — both at breakfast today, and lunch yesterday, and dinner yesterday. Many of you were at those meetings, at least for a little while. And tremendous numbers of jobs will be coming into the United States.
A lot of these leaders — these are the biggest business leaders in the world, and this morning was very inspirational. I mean, these companies are really going to expand. And it was a request of mine, but what we did — we’ve been very good to them. They’re all doing very well.
And we have companies from Europe, companies from Asia now coming to the United States. “That’s where the action is,” as one of them said. “That’s where the action is.” So it’s really been — it’s really been great.
And now we’ll be going — we’ll be leaving and going back to Washington. Okay?
Q Mr. President, (inaudible).
THE PRESIDENT: Go ahead.
Q All right. Mr. President, do you want to hear from witnesses in the impeachment trial? Your team has been a little inconsistent on this.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I’ll tell you the way I look at it: It’s a total hoax. It’s a disgrace. They talked about their tremendous case. And it’s all done — their tremendous case. They had no case. It’s all a hoax. It’s a con job. Like Schiff — he’s a corrupt politician.
Now, I’ll leave that to the Senate. The Senate is going to have to answer that. I have great respect for the Senate, as a body and many of the individuals. I have great respect. So I’ll leave that to the Senate.
But this is the greatest witch hunt. This started from the day I came down with the future First Lady. The day we came down the escalator, this started. And I watched the — they’ve been driven crazy. You know what’s driven them crazy? All of these record numbers on unemployment — African American, Asian American. You take a look. Hispanic American is numbers that nobody has even believing. They look at all of this. They’re looking at this tremendous success, the likes of which they’ve never seen before in this country. They’ve never seen anything like this. And it’s driven the Democrats crazy.
As Congressman Green said — Al Green. He’s a beauty. As Congressman Green said, “We got to beat him by impeachment because we can’t beat him in the election.” And I hope that’s true, because, honestly, they can’t beat me in the election. I don’t think they can. I know what they’re — I know what I’ll be running against. One way or the other, it’s one of them. And I think we’re going to do very well.
But I think we’re going to do well because nobody has done, in the first three years — less than three years, because a lot of these numbers were taken from two months ago; they ended two months ago. In less than three years, nobody has done the kind of numbers we’ve done.
So I’m going to head back and I’ll be watching it, but it’s really going to be up to the Senate. We’re going to have them make that determination.
Q Yes, Mr. President. You were the keynote speaker here, but you shared some of the spotlight with a Scandinavian teenager: Greta Thunberg —
THE PRESIDENT: Oh, that’s very nice.
Q — who you had said needs to work on her anger. She had some very harsh words about —
THE PRESIDENT: I didn’t say “anger.” I said “anger management.”
Q “Anger management.” Yes, sir.
She had some very strong words here that the United States and other industrialized countries need to do more. Do you still feel that you’re doing enough? You talk about clean air —
THE PRESIDENT: How old — how old is she?
Q She’s —
Q Seventeen now. Yes.
THE PRESIDENT: Oh. That’s good.
Q But what is your response to her —
THE PRESIDENT: She beat me out on TIME Magazine.
Q But did you hear from other world leaders and business leaders who said that they think that she has a message that you should listen to?
THE PRESIDENT: No, I didn’t, actually. But I would have loved to have seen her speak. I did not.
Q Do you still think climate change is hoax?
THE PRESIDENT: No, not at all. I think what is — I think aspects of it are. I think that some people are — they put it at a level that is, you know, unrealistic, to a point you can’t live your lives.
We want to have the cleanest water on Earth. We want to have the cleanest air on Earth. Our numbers, as you saw — we had record numbers come out very recently. Our numbers are very, very good — our environmental numbers. Our water numbers, our — our numbers on air are tremendous.
We have to do something about other continents. We have to do something about other countries. When we’re clean and beautiful and everything is good, but you have another continent where the fumes are rising at levels that you can’t believe — I mean, I think Greta ought to focus on those places.
But we are doing better right now than we’ve ever done, in terms of cleanliness, in terms of numbers. We have a beautiful ocean called the Pacific Ocean, where thousands and thousands of tons of garbage flows toward us, and that’s put there by other countries. So I think Greta has to start working on those other countries.
Q Mr. President —
THE PRESIDENT: By the way, congratulations on your show.
Q Thank you very much.
THE PRESIDENT: They made a very wise decision.
Q Thank you very much. Well, we invite you for an interview whenever you’re available.
THE PRESIDENT: Oh, good.
Q Can I ask you just to be clear, and for future Presidents: Is abuse of power an impeachable offense?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, you’ve got to talk to the lawyers about it. But I will tell you: There’s nothing here. I had a very innocent conversation with a very fine gentleman from the Ukraine, and it was based on that. People don’t even want to talk about the conversation. I got to watch glimpses in between all of these meetings that I just told you about. I got to watch glimpses of what is taking place, wasting time, in Washington.
And I watched — they don’t talk about my conversation. They don’t talk about my transcripts. Remember this: When Schiff made up the phony story, and he repeated it to Congress and the world — and it was a totally phony story — then I released the transcript. There was supposed to be a second whistleblower. What happened to him? There was — wait, wait. Otherwise, I won’t do your show. (Laughter.) Wait. There was supposed to be an informer. What happened to the informer?
All of these people disappeared. And when they saw this transcript, they said, “We got problems.” But they went ahead because they were already there because they — they had a phony, concocted story made up.
So here’s the story: I did nothing wrong. It was a perfect conversation. It was totally appropriate. The best lawyers in the world have looked at it. The Department of Justice has looked at it, given it a sign-off. There was nothing wrong.
They never thought I was going to release the conversation. They probably didn’t think we had transcribers or we had it trans- — transcribed or taped. But they never thought we were going to release it. When we released that conversation, all hell broke out with the Democrats, because they say, “Wait a minute. This is much different than Shifty Schiff told us.”
So we’re doing very well. I got to watch enough. I thought our team did a very good job. But honestly, we have all the material. They don’t have the material.
Q I ask you because your attorneys say it’s not. Alan Dershowitz says the framers of the Constitution did not permit impeachment on grounds like abuse of power or obstruction. They objected open-ended, vague criteria.
So for future Presidents, is abuse of power an impeachable offense?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, it depends. But if you take a look at this, and from what everybody tells me, all I do is — I’m honest. I make great deals. I’ve made great deals for our country. Now we’re working with the WTO. You’re probably surprised by that, but this has been a long-term, abusive situation to the U.S. I make great deals for our country, and they’re honest deals.
And when you read that transcription — and, by the way, it wasn’t one call; it was two calls. Nobody likes to talk about that. There was one call, which was perfect, and then there was a second call — I guess, a couple of months later — which was perfect.
The President of Ukraine said it was perfect. The Foreign Minister of Ukraine said it was perfect. So if we have a transcription, we have the call, and we have the person on the other side of the call saying it was good —
Now, here’s the other thing: They got their money long before schedule. They got all their money. What nobody says — this is very important to me: Why isn’t Germany paying? Why isn’t UK paying? Why isn’t France paying? Why aren’t the European nations paying? Why is it always the sucker — United States? That’s one.
And the other thing I wanted to check very carefully — and it’s very important — is corruption. And we do that, too. This was a perfect call, and I think we’re doing very well.
Q Mr. President, (inaudible). Thank you, Mr. President. For the phase two of the China trade deal, do you expect human rights in Hong Kong to be a part of the discussion?
THE PRESIDENT: We are discussing that already. Yes. We would like to see if we can do something. But again, we’re doing a trade deal, and it’s — it’s a very big deal. Phase one is done. Phase two is being discussed.
We are discussing aspects of your question. Yes.
Q Mr. President, thank you. Just to clarify on (inaudible) question. We know that Senate will set the rules for witnesses, but what do you want? At one point, you demanded a witness (inaudible) —
THE PRESIDENT: I can live either way. I can live —
Q But what do you want?
THE PRESIDENT: I’ll tell you what I think: It’s such a hoax. I think it’s so bad for our country. When we have the head of the World Trade Organization here, and he has to listen to this nonsense about a call that was perfect, that nobody talks about. I never see them talking about the transcription. I never see them talking about the call, because there’s nothing to say.
You read it — somebody should just sit there and read it. And everybody’s going to say, “You mean that’s an impeachable event?” If that were impeachable, Lyndon Johnson would have had to leave office in his first day. Kennedy would have had to leave office his first day. It’s a hoax. And you understand it’s a hoax better than anybody. It’s a hoax. And that’s the way it is.
Yeah, go ahead.
Q Mr. President, a question on Iran: Initially, you said repeatedly to Americans that after Iran retaliated for the Soleimani strike, no Americans were injured. We now know at least 11 U.S. service men were airlifted from Iraq. Can you explain the discrepancy?
THE PRESIDENT: No, I heard that they had headaches, and a couple of other things. But I would say, and I can report it is not very serious. Not very serious.
Q So you don’t consider a potential traumatic brain injury serious?
THE PRESIDENT: They told me about it numerous days later. You’d have to ask Department of Defense. No, I don’t consider them very serious injuries, relative to other injuries that I’ve seen.
I’ve seen what Iran has done with their roadside bombs to our troops. I’ve seen people with no legs and with no arms. I’ve seen people that were horribly, horribly injured in that area, that war — in fact, many cases put — those bombs put there by Soleimani, who is no longer with us. I consider them to be really bad injuries.
No, I do not consider that to be bad injuries. No.
Q Mr. President, can I ask you about the EU trade deal: Do you have any timeline for that? And if you don’t hit that timeline, if there is one, are you automatically going to go to auto tariffs or is there another —
THE PRESIDENT: I have a timeline.
Q — is there another avenue, other than auto tariffs?
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah. Great question, actually. I don’t have a timeline, but maybe I do, in my own mind. They have to move relatively quickly, but they have to treat us fairly.
The European Union was formed pretty much for this reason, I suspect — you know, if you really think about it. Why was it formed? They formed their airplane company, which does very nicely, and now is doing better than ever because Boeing has not had a good time of it. They have — they have — they better start recovering fast. I hope they do. They have some good people in there now. They have great people in the company, but they have some good people leading it now. So, hopefully, that will be taken care of.
But, I — no, I have a date in my mind, and it’s a fairly quick date. And if we’re unable to make a deal, then we’ll do even better. We’ll do even better.
Q Are auto tariffs (inaudible)?
THE PRESIDENT: But they haven’t treated us right. Look, the United States has been losing $150 billon, and more, for many years — $150 billion. More. I mean, really, more than that — with the European Union. They have trade barriers where you can’t trade. They have tariffs all over the place. They make it impossible.
They are, frankly, more difficult to do business with than China. We have a great relationship with China now. We had some testy moments — very testy. Beyond testy. Worse than a lot of people would understand. But we got it done, and I think phase two will go nicely also.
But with the European Union — and, frankly, I’ll be honest, I wanted to wait until I finished China before I went to work on, respectfully, Europe.
But Europe — you know, it’s so beautiful. I guess a lot of us come, indirectly, from Europe. Isn’t that nice? But they are actually more difficult to do business with than China. All you have to do is ask Boris. But I think Boris is going to be okay, too. I think he’s going to come out great. I think he has — he had a lot of guts. He’s done a terrific job. I think he’s in a good position, which they would have never been able to do before Boris.
I have a date. I have a very specific date in my mind.
Q Before or after the election? (Inaudible.)
THE PRESIDENT: Before. I think — I think we’ll have a deal before.
Q With the EU?
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah, I think so. I mean, they have to do that. I mean, I don’t want to — look, I’m not saying it from strength or from weakness; I’m just saying they have to do it.
They wanted to make a deal. This — our nation, our country wanted to make a deal under President Obama. The EU refused to talk to him. And then they said, “No, no, we like it the way it is.” Of course they like it the way it is; they’re making $150 billion-plus, right?
And, as you know, President Bush was desperate to make a deal. They wouldn’t even talk to him.
Me, they’re talking to, and we’ll have a deal. If we don’t have a deal, we’ll do even better.
Q Mr. President —
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, ma’am. Go ahead.
Q Is it true that you’re considering extending the travel ban? And, if so —
THE PRESIDENT: Yes.
Q — to which countries?
THE PRESIDENT: So we have a travel ban. It’s a very powerful ban. And a lot of — I heard a reporter recently say, “He lost the ban in court.” They didn’t say that we won it in the Supreme Court. I’d say that’s a little deceptive, John, wouldn’t you? He said, “He lost the travel ban.” I didn’t lose the travel ban. The travel ban was lost in the lower courts and won in the Supreme Court, two years ago.
No, we are — we’re adding a couple of countries to it. We have to be safe. Our country has to be safe. You see what’s going on in the world. Our country has to be safe.
So we have a very strong travel ban, and we’ll be adding a few countries to it.
Q Could you give us a hint about the region or the countries?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, no, you’re going to — it’s going to be announced very shortly. Okay?
John. Yeah, John.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. In regards to the proceedings going on in the Senate, would you like to see this over quickly? Would you like to see a thorough examination of the facts? What did you make of the dustup between the White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and Jerrold Nadler last night? And are you absolutely against John Bolton testifying?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, you’re asking a lot of questions.
Q Three. That’s not a lot.
THE PRESIDENT: First of all, Jerrold Nadler — I’ve known him a long time. He’s a sleazebag; everybody knows that.
Pat Cipollone is a high-quality human being. I was very impressed with Pat. He had great emotion yesterday. Pat is a brilliant guy, but I’ve never seen that emotion. And that’s real emotion. That’s because he knows this is a hoax. And I was very proud of the job he did.
I’ve known — I’ve known Jerry Nadler for a long time. He’s opposed many of my jobs. I got them all built — very successfully built in New York. But — so we have yet another fight. Isn’t it — isn’t it amazing? Isn’t it surprising? Isn’t it amazing?
But if you look at, you know, other aspects or other parts of your question, I think that the — I would rather go the long way. I would rather interview Bolton. I would rather interview a lot of people.
The problem with John is that it’s a national security problem. You know, you can’t have somebody who’s at national security — and, if you think about it, John, he knows some of my thoughts. He knows what I think about leaders. What happens if he reveals what I think about a certain leader, and it’s not very positive, and then I have to deal on behalf of the country? It’s going to be very hard. It’s going to make the job very hard.
He knows other things. And I don’t know if we left on the best of terms. I would say probably not, you know. And so, you don’t like people testifying when they didn’t leave on good terms — and that was due to me, not due to him. And so, we’ll see what happens.
But when you have a national security — where you could call it “presidential prerogative.” You could just call it — the way I look at it, I call it “national security” — for national security reasons. “Executive privilege,” they say. So that would — John would certainly fit into that. When you’re a national security advisor — like this gentleman is doing a fantastic job, Robert — I just think it’s very hard.
And I’ve always gotten along — I’ve actually gotten along with John Bolton. He didn’t get along with other people — a lot of other people. But when he knows my thoughts on certain people in other governments — and we’re talking about massive trade deals, and war and peace, and all these different things that we talk about — that’s really a very important national security problem, I think.
Having somebody — other people — Mick Mulvaney is probably around here someplace. I’d love to have Mick go, but I think that he’s really expressed himself very well when he did a Chris Wallace interview. That was a very, very powerful interview. That was a long, tough — Chris is a tough interviewer. A very talented guy. And, you know, I think it’s not much he can add. He’s been — he’s been great.
I would like to have — I’ll tell you what I don’t like though — I’d love to have Mike Pompeo testify. But again, that’s a national security problem. But I’d love to have Mike Pompeo — but it’s a national security problem.
I’d love to have Rick Perry. Rick Perry has asked me, “I’d love to testify. Please, let me testify.” Because he knows this is all a hoax. He understands it better than most. And Rick Perry would love to testify. But we’re dealing with national security.
We’re dealing with one other thing: Our country has been tied up with this hoax from the day I came down the escalator. We’ve been fighting it. I’ve been fighting it from the day I’ve been elected. I would say probably long before — it could be long before I came down the escalator that — some people have said that, which is hard to believe.
Q I —
THE PRESIDENT: Wait. Wait, John.
It’s hard to believe. We’ve been fighting this. I would rather have — personally, I’d rather go the long route. It’s horrible for our country. Our country has to get back to business.
We have people that are corrupt, like Adam Schiff, who misquotes — I don’t mean “misquotes” — makes up a statement. He had no idea that I was going to release the transcript. He never thought I’d do that. And for that, I thank the President of Ukraine, because we got their approval. He had no idea I was going to do that.
But these are corrupt people, some of them. And some of them are just playing the political game. But if you look at the poll numbers, my poll numbers are the highest they’ve ever been. If you look at the funding numbers, if you look at what — the money raised by the Republican Party has just set a record. Nobody has ever done this before. It’s because of the impeachment hoax.
Q Sorry. Sorry. I’ve got three quick ones, too, Mr. President, if you don’t mind.
THE PRESIDENT: Three?
Q Three, yes. Well, my husband asked three; I ask three.
THE PRESIDENT: That means six.
Q No, that means —
THE PRESIDENT: Six for the family. (Laughter.)
Q — that — thank you very much. Thanks for appreciating the family.
THE PRESIDENT: Go ahead. No, go ahead.
Q Do you plan to show up in any way, shape, or form at your trial?
Number two, you called Kenneth Starr “a disaster” in the past. Do you still feel that way about him now?
And three, Lev Parnas has come forward and said that you knew everything that he was doing in Ukraine.
THE PRESIDENT: No, he’s a conman. Okay, you ready? Let me answer that one first.
Q Okay, so would you say that’s not true?
THE PRESIDENT: I don’t know him —
Q Okay, you don’t know him.
THE PRESIDENT: — other than he’s sort of like a groupie. He shows up at fundraisers. Okay? So I don’t know anything about him.
I watched Rudy. Rudy is a terrific person — great crime fighter; the best mayor in the history of New York City, by far; solved the crime problem in New York. And I think it’s very unfair the way the media has treated Rudy Giuliani.
I will say this: Parnas I don’t know — other than he probably contributed to the campaign, along with tens of thousands of other people. And I take — or, I mean, I was — this weekend I was taking pictures with hundreds of people. And they — they’re — they contribute to the Republican Party. And I stand there, and I take pictures. And every once in a while, I’ll look at somebody — I say, “Gee, I wonder when that picture is going to be in the New York Times or the Washington Post or on Fox.” You know, so it’s one of those things.
Q So, you mentioned Rudy. You still have great things —
THE PRESIDENT: I think Rudy is a high-quality person.
Q So why is he not on your legal team? Why is he not — I mean, Sekulow and Cipollone —
THE PRESIDENT: Because I don’t want there to be a conflict. I’d love to have Rudy on my team. But, you know, he could be a witness at some point, if this whole sham continues. I would love to have Rudy on the team. He — Rudy is on my team, just so you understand. But I’d love to have him up there. But it could be that he’d have a conflict. It could be.
But Rudy Giuliani is somebody that I think the press has been very unfair to. Greatest mayor in the history of New York — think of it. And one of the greatest crime fighters of the last 100 years. And he hates to see what’s happening because he knows corruption, really, better than anybody.
Okay, go ahead.
Q And Kenneth Starr. How do you feel about him now?
THE PRESIDENT: So Ken Starr is a terrific man. I did make that statement, because, frankly, I didn’t think that Bill Clinton should have been impeached. And I thought it was terrible. I didn’t know Ken Starr, but I didn’t think that Bill Clinton should be impeached — should have been impeached. And I was pretty vocal about that.
I didn’t know Ken, but what I did know is he was very smart. He was very tough. He was very talented. But in a certain way, I was sticking up for Clinton — for Bill Clinton. And, you know, I felt — I sort of still feel that way. I mean, what he did was nothing good. There was a lot of lying going on. There were a lot of things — a lot of bad things.
Now, with me, there’s no lying. There’s no nothing. They have nothing. They don’t even have a crime. They say, “This is the only one that’s ever been impeached, and he didn’t commit a crime.” I didn’t commit a crime. And then you get into high crimes and misdemeanors. But I didn’t commit a crime.
So, no, I have great respect for Ken. But I didn’t think, frankly, that Bill Clinton should have been impeached.
Q So what do you think? Will you show up at your trial any day, in any way, shape, or form?
THE PRESIDENT: I’d love to go. Wouldn’t that be great? Wouldn’t that be beautiful?
Q So why don’t you go?
THE PRESIDENT: I don’t know. I’d sort of love — sit right in the front row and stare at their corrupt faces. I’d love to do it.
Q So why not commit to going?
THE PRESIDENT: I don’t know. Don’t — don’t keep talking, because I may — you may convince me to do it.
Q Do you think Cipollone and Sekulow would want you there?
THE PRESIDENT: I think they might have a problem. I think they might. And, by the way, I think — I think they’ve all — I think they’ve done a really good job. And I think the other side has so lied. I watched the lies from Adam Schiff. He’ll stand, he’ll look at a microphone, and he’ll talk like he so aggrieved. These two guys — these are major sleazebags. They’re very dishonest people. Very, very dishonest people.
When somebody will make up a statement that I made, when — you remember the statement. Eight times. “Quid pro quo.” Eight times. Think of it. How can you say — eight times? That would mean I was asking somebody eight different times for the same thing? What kind of a conversation would that be? If you asked once, that’d be fine. If you has twice, that would have been — how can you ask eight times? They would say you’re a Looney Tune, right?
And then he said — I think he finished by saying, “Don’t call me. I’ll call you.” That I said that. He made that statement: “Don’t call me. I’ll call you.” And he didn’t say he made it up.
Now, ultimately, he had to, in a sense, apologize. He can hardly apologize. But he had to apologize because, fortunately, we had a tape. We had the transcripts. I am so happy that I had the transcripts, because it showed he’s a liar, and he’s a fraud. And they continue to just go on and on.
But this has happened to me with the Russian hoax. This has happened to me — I called it the “witch hunt.” Greatest witch hunt in American history. And the Mueller report, which exonerated, totally — there was no collusion after all that. Two years, there was no collusion.
And then what happened? Jill Stein from the Green Party gets called a “Russian agent” by Crooked Hillary. And then Tulsi Gabbard — I don’t know either of them, but I know they’re not Russian agents — gets called a “Russian agent.”
This is what these people do; they demean. And the press plays in because the press, largely, is their partner. And, you know, one thing — if we could straighten out the press in our country, we would have a place that would be so incredible. The pre- — the press is so dishonest, so corrupt. I read it all the time — the stories. I don’t mind bad stories when — I deserve bad story sometimes.
But when I do something great or good, let it be written about good. Same thing with other people. The corruption in the media — as I call it, the “fake news media” — is unbelievable. And, hopefully, everybody is going to sort of learn a lesson.
People got Pulitzer Prizes for their coverage of me. And it turned out they were totally wrong. Other people — Sean Hannity, Rushbo — a lot of great people, a lot of great writers. They got it right. They didn’t get Pulitzer Prizes, but they got it right.
The Russian hoax was a terrible thing. The dossier was a phony deal paid for by Hillary Clinton and the DNC, and used in the FISA courts, totally illegally. No, it’s a terrible thing that happened.
This was a takedown attempt at a sitting President of the United States, and we caught them. So let’s see what happens.
Q Mr. President, but would you consider delaying the State of the Union if the impeachment trial has not ended by February 4th?
THE PRESIDENT: I don’t see it. No, I don’t see it. No, I’m — you know, a very excellent writer, Bob Woodward — I guess he’s doing another book on Trump, but, this time, I’ll actually give him an interview. He said, “You’re enjoying this, aren’t you?” I said, “No, I’m not enjoying it.” He said, “No, you act like you’re winning and you won. You’re actually enjoying it.” I said, “I’m not enjoying it. I’m doing it because it’s very important, what I’m doing.”
I consider what I’ve done here, with this whole witch hunt, from day one — with the insurance policy; with the horrible statements made between Strzok and Page; and McCabe; and Comey, who lied to Congress and did so many other bad things. He lied and he leaked.
When I finish, I think that this is going to go down as one of the greatest things I’ve done for our country. These are bad, corrupt people. These are bad people, and very bad for our country.
Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you. Thank you very much.