Published on Jun 25, 2019
Published on Jun 25, 2019
Earlier today President Trump signed an Executive order establishing a White House council on eliminating regulatory barriers to affordable housing [Details Here]. After explaining the XO President Trump answered questions from the pool:
[Video and Transcript]
[Transcript] – 2:07 P.M. EDT – THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Appreciate you being here. I’d like to take a few moments to describe what we’re doing on numerous fronts, but we’re going to take a major step in our historic regulatory reduction campaign.
Today, we begin a bold new initiative to bring down the cost of housing for American families. So important.
In a few moments, I will sign an executive order launching the White House Council on Eliminating Regulatory Barriers to Affordable Housing.
I’m grateful to be joined by the chair of this new Council, Secretary Ben Carson. We’re also pleased to have with us Senators Tim Scott and Martha McSally. And here with us are Clyde from Congress — Clyde Holland; Greg Ugalde; Bonnie Roberts-Burke; Pastor Darryl Scott; and — you’re not a congressman yet, Pastor, but you could be if you wanted to, I can tell. Would you like to run for Congress? Because you’d win pretty easily, I think.
PASTOR SCOTT: A government job? I don’t know. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: But thank you for being here, Pastor.
PASTOR SCOTT: Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Kareem Lanier. All the people who really care so much about affordable housing — what it means and how important it is for our country.
Overregulation of housing and housing market is a primary cause of the rising housing costs across our country. Nationwide, it’s estimated that the regulations account for more than 25 percent of the cost of a new home. Think of that. So, regulation and unnecessary regulation is 25 percent the cost of a new home.
As a result, the supply of affordable housing cannot keep up with the demand. Today, over 37 million American households have to spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing.
So, what I’d like to do is ask Ben Carson, who’s really devoted a lot of his time and effort on this tremendous overregulation problem — I’d like to have Ben Carson, Secretary, to say a few words. Ben?
SECRETARY CARSON: My pleasure. Well, thank you, Mr. President. And thank you for your continued commitment to the people of America.
Today, I’m privileged to be here for the creation of the White House Council on Eliminating Barriers to Affordable Housing, which I have the great honor to chair.
The Council, which consists of members across eight federal agencies, will lead federal efforts to engage with state, local, and tribal leaders across the country to the remove obstacles that impede the production of more affordable homes, namely the enormous price tag of burdensome government regulations.
The President has given us a mission to break down barriers and to clear the path for the millions of Americans to pursue their American Dream. It’s a mission we proudly and enthusiastically accept.
As the President just said, more than 25 percent of the cost of a new home is the direct result of federal, state, and local regulations. And sometimes, the price tag is much higher than that.
President Trump’s decades of experience as a world-renowned builder and developer gives this administration’s leadership a unique set of insights when confronting the challenges of developing more housing.
Today’s announcement recognizes the need for federal policies to serve Americans of all income levels, including working-class Americans — like teachers, and nurses, and auto-mechanics, construction workers, policemen, firemen — whose struggles are sometimes forgotten.
And I would also like to thank President Trump and the leadership of this administration, many of whom are here today, for once again fulfilling that great promise that the forgotten men and women of America will be forgotten no longer.
I look forward to working alongside my fellow councilmembers in the months ahead as we use these efforts to continue to build the pillars of prosperity that support all the men and women of this country in their quest for that portion of the American Dream that includes a home. The home is the foundation of the community, which is the foundation of the nation. And we can do this if we all work together. Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. That’s very nice.
How about Tim Scott? Where’s Tim?
SENATOR SCOTT: Yes, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Tim, do you want to say a few words, please?
SENATOR SCOTT: Mr. President, thank you for this executive order. There’s no doubt that a regulatory reset that is responsible will help more Americans who are credit-worthy achieve their goal, their aspiration, of having a part, a share, in this nation.
The American Dream so often is seen through the prism of homeownership. This executive order will accelerate the path of responsible homeownership and is proof positive that your conscientious, compassionate, conservative leadership is undeniably focused on the most vulnerable folks of our economic chain.
THE PRESIDENT: Very nice. Did you read that?
SENATOR SCOTT: No, sir.
MS. ROBERTS-BURKE: That was right off the top of his head.
THE PRESIDENT: Good. That was very good. Thank you, Tim.
SENATOR SCOTT: Yes, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Martha?
SENATOR MCSALLY: President Trump, thank you so much for this executive order. In the first 90 days as a senator in Arizona, I visited all 15 counties. We’re a very diverse state and our economy is growing, but a top theme is affordable housing.
And there are many barriers to that, and so this group, coming together to cut across those barriers — federal, state, and local — to provide more opportunities at lower cost so everybody can meet their full potential, is really important for my constituents. And so I’m grateful for this administration.
THE PRESIDENT: Good. Thank you, Martha. Great job.
PASTOR SCOTT: Mr. President, during the 2016 campaign, you stated that you would implement national policy to revitalize the urban communities of this great country and — well, all the communities, urban and rural — and I think is just a part — this dovetails on the Opportunity Zones and the things that are being done in those designated areas. And this makes it — makes the revitalization process that much more obtainable. So we thank you for it.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. And thank you for bringing up the word “Opportunity Zones” — the words — because Tim Scott had so much to do with that. And it’s far beyond our expectation. That’s a little different than what we’re talking about today, but while you bring up that term — it’s a beautiful term. Tim Scott came to see me a little while ago, toward the beginning, but not that long ago —
SENATOR SCOTT: Yes, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: And, Tim, I don’t mind if you say just a couple of things about what’s happened, because the Opportunity Zones have just taken off in this country.
SENATOR SCOTT: Yes, sir. Mr. President, because of your leadership, frankly, we have seen incredible growth in the Opportunity Zones.
Here’s just a couple of examples. I think it’s important for us to remember that, in Opportunity Zones, the average person is living in a place where the poverty rate is at 31 percent. Nationally, our poverty rate is at 12.5 percent. Because of your legislation that you signed, sir, we’ve seen an 8 percent increase in wages within the zones. We’ve seen a 20 percent increase in property values in the zones.
That’s really important for two reasons. Number one, over 50 percent of the folks in the zones own their property. So that means that we’re seeing net worth increase because of the Opportunity Zone legislation. So that’s really important.
Number two, the fact of the matter is, when you put more pressure on those zones, you attract more resources in it.
And from the Treasury’s perspective, we could see upwards of more than $50 billion descending upon these zones, creating opportunities and workforce housing that we’re talking about today. And that is an important part of the equation.
And that is brought to us by your leadership and your willingness to have the conversation about moving people in distressed communities forward. Thank you for saying yes to Opportunity Zone legislation.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you, Tim. You’ve been a great — you’ve been a great help. He’s been a great help. (Applause.)
Would anybody like to say something? And then we’ll sign up. Anybody? Would you like to say something?
MR. HOLLAND: Sure.
THE PRESIDENT: Please.
MR. HOLLAND: Clyde Holland. With respect to the National Multi Housing Council and Up for Growth, two areas we’ve been struggling to produce: apartments and the most affordable housing in America. We can’t thank you enough, Mr. President —
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
MR. HOLLAND: — for this help.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. I appreciate it, Clyde.
MR. LANIER: Mr. President, thank you for this. And I’d like to thank you as well, Dr. Carson, for your leadership as well.
Coming from the inner city, coming from urban America, living within the confines of what it takes on the day-to-day, we don’t care about the costs and the regu- — we need the housing. And so it’s good that we have these barriers removed so that we can actually get access to these things.
When you’re a kid living in urban America, you don’t care who your President is, who your governor is, who your mayor is. You care about the things that are practical to you. And the things that really are practical is where am I going to lay my head at tonight and what am I going to eat when I get there.
And these things help more people in urban America get access to housing that is so needed. And so we thank you tremendously.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. I appreciate it.
MS. ROBERTS-BURKE: And I’d like to say, from the National Association of Realtors, and as a realtor, that I thank you very, very much. The American Dream is homeownership. We have the lowest percentage of homeownership that we’ve had in many, many years. And I think this is going to go a long way to increase that.
And thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much.
MR. UGALDE: Greg Ugalde. On behalf of the homebuilders, Mr. President, we are strongly behind this effort. The regulatory framework throughout the country needs to be focused on. It will help us with workforce development as well. And I think that this is tremendous. And we thank you for this.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. I appreciate it.
SECRETARY CARSON: I just want to add one other thing.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, please, Ben.
SECRETARY CARSON: You know, the average net worth of a renter is $5,000. The average net worth of a homeowner is $200,000. That’s a 40-fold difference. And we talked so much about the income gap, the wealth gap in this country. A lot of it has to do with homeownership. And that’s why this is so important. But it has to be done the right way. It wasn’t done the right way, you know, a decade or more ago, and it led to a crisis.
So we have to learn from those situations, do it the right way. And it’s really about recognizing that our people are our most important resource. And we need to develop it, and the best place to develop those resources is a solid home environment.
THE PRESIDENT: That’s great, Ben. Thank you. (Applause.)
MS. ROLLINS: One quick thing, Mr. President: When you combine this with your criminal justice reform efforts; with the lowest unemployment because of your tax cuts and regulatory reform effort; with your fight for school choice so children have a real opportunity for an education; to Ivanka and your workforce– the Pledge to the American worker; all of that combined lifts all boats, but it lifts those at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder the most. And that’s because of your leadership.
So we’re just so grateful to you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
MS. ROLLINS: Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you for bringing up criminal justice reform. We got it passed. Nobody else could have gotten it passed. And we’re very proud of that. A lot of people worked very hard on that. And I see it’s a big part of the debates. And now they’re all saying, “It got passed, and it got passed by a Republican named Trump.” (Laughter.) And the Democrats don’t know quite how to handle that one.
But we did criminal justice reform — very comprehensive, also. And there were a lot of people — and the incredible thing about it was we had conservatives — very, very conservatives — and we had very, very liberal people supporting it. We had everybody. We had a great bipartisan group. And we had some people opposed to it, too. But we had, for the most part, tremendous support.
So thank you very much.
Larry Kudlow, do you want to just give a moment about how well our economy is doing? Because it looks like June could be one of the best months in the history of the stock market for June — for that month.
MR. KUDLOW: I know. It’s most extraordinary. And it’s a terrific sign about the future economy. Really a good sign. We had our correction in the spring; now we’ve gotten it back and then some.
And numbers coming out — production went way up in May. Consumer spending, retail sales, way up in May. We’re going to have a better Q2 than people initially thought. I think we’re on track for 3 percent economic growth or better. And to remind (inaudible): low tax rates, deregulation, opening up energy, trade reform, initiatives like this from Secretary Ben and others. This is what it takes. We’re opening doors for the whole — every nook and cranny of this economy is coming alive, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Right.
MR. KUDLOW: If we stay on track with your policies, it’s going to be great news for America.
THE PRESIDENT: Number one in the world, too. If you look at Europe, they’re having difficulty. If you look at China and various parts of the world — Asia, other places — we’re beating everybody. And we’re going to keep it that way.
So I’m going to sign this. And, Ben, congratulations.
SECRETARY CARSON: Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: You’ve been working on this for a long time. It’s a great thing. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
(The executive order is signed.)
(The President distributes pens to the participants.) Spread these around folks. Spread them around. (Laughter.) I don’t like signing one letter at a time. Doesn’t look too good — the end result.
Q Mr. President, are you personally concerned — Mr. President —
THE PRESIDENT: Wait until you hear this beauty.
Q Are you personally concerned about the conditions at these border facilities, where there are some reports —
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I am. I’m very concerned. And they’re much better than they were under President Obama, by far. And we’re trying to get the Democrats to agree to really give us some humanitarian aid — humanitarian money. And that is a very fair question, and I appreciate that question.
But I’m very concerned. It’s in much better shape than it ever was. A lot of these young children come from places that you don’t even want to know about. The way they’ve lived — the way they’ve been — the way — the poverty that they grew up in.
But, with that, if we can get this bill signed, we’ll be able to do it. We have — you know, the Democrats don’t want to sign anything. And now, I think they’re going to probably sign this. From what I understand it’s — I call it “humanitarian aid.” This isn’t even about border.
At the same time, you see the numbers are way, way down. Mexico has been really helping us a lot. They have very strong immigration laws. They are moving 15,000 people or 16,000 people to our southern border. And they moved 16,000 troops to their southern border, which is pretty incredible.
And a lot of signs are coming out where the cartels and all of the bad folks — the “coyotes,” as they call them, and all of the bad people that are bringing young children and taking advantage horribly — it’s a form of slavery. It’s horrible what they are doing to young children. You understand. You’ve reported on it. A lot of that is stopping now because of what we’re doing and because of what’s happening on the border.
So I just want to thank Mexico. They’ve really done a great job. We appreciate what they’re doing. And hopefully, they can keep it up because it’s very important. They have very, very — Mexico has very, very powerful immigration laws. They can do things. Our laws are so bad.
What we would like to do — and I’ll do it right now officially, is ask the Democrats to give us help on asylum, help on all of the loopholes — the horrible loopholes that signed in over a period of years that don’t allow us to do what we should be able to do. We need the votes of Democrats.
And I think, very importantly, you know, because our economy — you heard Larry Kudlow — because our economy is so strong — it could be the strongest in the history of our country — people want to flow up to the United States. But you just can’t do it that way. You have to do it legally. But they’re — you have these massive numbers of people trying to get into the United States because of the economy, because we’ve done so good.
But that’s one of the problems. We’re doing well. Everybody wants to come in. Ten years ago, five years ago, four years ago, they didn’t want to come in. Today, they want to come in. But we can’t let that happen so we’re doing very, very — (inaudible).
And as far as the wall is concerned, the wall is heavily under construction. The Army Corps of Engineers is doing a great job. We’re doing a lot of wall right now and we expect to have 400 miles built by the end of next year. That’s a lot. And we’re building them in the right places. We’re building — we’re picking areas where we need it the most and it’s having a tremendous effect.
Q Did you ask your Customs and Border Protection head, John Sanders, to resign? Do you know why he is leaving his post?
THE PRESIDENT: No. I know there was going to be a change there. I’ve made changes — very good changes. We have — we’re moving some people around into different locations. The game has changed a lot because of what Mexico is doing. We’re able to do things that we wouldn’t have been able to do before.
The problem with our Border Patrol, who are phenomenal people, but they’re not allowed — because our laws are so bad with catch-and-release and all of the different things including chain migration, the visa lottery — the laws are so bad and the asylum rules and laws are so bad that our Border Patrol people, who are so incredible, aren’t allowed to do their jobs.
So because Mexico is, now, for the first time in 50 years, helping us — and we really appreciate it — we’re able to make certain changes that we wouldn’t have been able to make before.
Steve, did you have a question?
Q You had a back-and-forth with the leader of Iran this morning via tweet. What message did you send to him with your tweets this morning?
THE PRESIDENT: There is no message. You know, I’ll tell you what the message is: When they’re ready, they’ll have to let us know. When they’re ready, they’ll let us know. Very simple.
Q Ready to negotiate, you mean?
THE PRESIDENT: Ready to do whatever. Doesn’t make any difference. Whatever they want to do, I’m ready. Okay?
Q On the Middle East, Jared Kushner is in Bahrain right now —
THE PRESIDENT: Yes.
Q — releasing this economic component of your Middle East Peace Plan without the Israelis or Palestinian officials attending. So what’s your strategy going forward when there’s no buy-in from the parties in (inaudible)?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we want to get support. And we have to get economic support because the Palestinians don’t have money. And we have to help the Palestinians with some money because they don’t have it. And one of the groups that you get are some of those countries in the Middle East that do have money.
So, they’re going to play a role in the peace plan and we’ll see what happens. We had a little bit of setback when the election from — in Israel, as you know, I guess the result is somewhat mixed because now they’re going to do it again. That’s another do-over, unfortunately, and — but we’ll see what happens. I mean, we’ll see what happens with that election, but it’s an early process, but we expect other people to help out.
Because, again, there’s no money. And some people don’t have money. And if they don’t have money, it’s going to be very hard. We want people to be able to live and live well.
Q Taking it back to the CBP — so does that mean you did not ask Sanders to resign?
THE PRESIDENT: I didn’t speak to him. I don’t think I’ve ever spoken to him, actually. No, we have some very good people running it. And you know, I don’t know anything about it. I hear he’s a very good man. I hear he’s a good person. I don’t know him. I don’t think I ever spoke to him.
Q And can you tell us about your decision to choose Stephanie Grisham as your new Press Secretary?
THE PRESIDENT: So Stephanie has been with me from the beginning, as most of you know. And then, over the last couple of years, she’s worked for the First Lady. Done a fantastic job. The First Lady loves her. I think she’s been, you know, just incredible. She’s very talented.
And I asked so many people, “Who do you like?” A lot of people wanted the job. You know, a lot of people wanted to do it. And I’d ask people, “Who do you like?” And so many people said, “Stephanie.” And she’s here. She knows everybody. She actually gets along with the media very well, as you know. A lot of the folks in the media like her very much. And I think she’s going to be fantastic. I think she’s going to do a great job.
So I offered her the job this morning and she accepted. And the First Lady is very happy for her. It’s a big job. It’s a very big job, but we think Stephanie is going to do a fantastic job. And Hogan is going to be with her. Hogan was one of the people that recommended her. Here’s Hogan. He recommended her very strongly. I said, “Hogan, who do you think?” He said, “Stephanie Grisham.” So —
Q Do you have an exit strategy for Iran if war does break out? How do you —
THE PRESIDENT: Say it.
Q Do you have an exit strategy for Iran if war does break out?
THE PRESIDENT: You’re not going to need an exit strategy. I don’t need exit strategies.
Q Mr. President, could you tell us about your letter to Chairman Kim?
THE PRESIDENT: Just a nice letter back and forth. He wrote me a beautiful on my birthday. It was my birthday, as you know, last week. He wrote me a beautiful letter. I thought it was very nice. And just two friendly letters. We get along very well.
Q No mention of another meeting?
THE PRESIDENT: Maybe there was. But we — you know, at some point, we’ll do that. Getting along very well. He’s not doing nuclear testing. When I took over, as you know — when I became President, they were testing — previous to that, they were testing so much and they were doing ballistic tests and nuclear tests. And we didn’t have all our prisoners back. We had a whole lot of things that were going wrong.
Now we have our hostages back, our prisoners back. They came back. We’ve had, as you know, the remains of the heroes — our great heroes from many years ago. That’s coming back, and coming back as they find them. And as they find the sites and graves, they’re sending them back.
The relationship is a far different relationship than it was during the Obama years, where — you were going to end up with a war. You were going to end up with a war in North Korea, that I can tell you. I’ll tell that to Tim Scott. Maybe you haven’t heard that, Tim. You understand.
You were going to end up — I tell you what, you were going to end up in a war in North Korea, and — if it kept going the way it was going, if you had that group continuing onward.
As far as Iran is concerned, the deal was a horrible deal. It was no good. It was no good. It ended in a very short period of time. We’re dealing about countries. It ended in a very short period of time. They would have had a clear path to a nuclear weapon. We’re not going to allow that to happen. You can’t do it.
And I’m all for Iran. I have so many people — Iranian friends. I come from New York. I have tremendous numbers of Iranian friends. They’re great people. They’re from Iran. They’re wonderful people. It’s too bad this is happening. They’re living badly right now. Their country is not doing well, economically, at all. That can be changed very quickly, very easily. But they have to get rid of the hostility from the leadership. And the leadership — I hope they stay. I hope they do a great job. But they should talk to us decently.
We’re all for them. We want it to be done properly. But the deal that was done by President Obama — $150 billion for nothing. He used the money for terror. They gave the money out to terrorists.
If you remember, John Kerry — they asked him that question: “Do you know the money is going to be used for terror?” He said, “Yes.” Essentially, he said at least some of it is going to be used — I mean, he knew about it. He actually said that some of the money may be used for terror. What kind of a deal is that?
Then they gave him $1.8 billion in cash — cash. Planeloads of cash. What kind of a deal is that?
And the biggest problem is they had bad testing. You weren’t able to see many of the sites. You saw that, Tim.
SENATOR SCOTT: Yes, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: You couldn’t go into the most important sites to test, to see. They were probably making this stuff for a long time. But with $150 billion going to them, they were doing very well. And $1.8 billion in cash. And you had no real right of testing. You couldn’t test properly.
And most importantly, the agreement ends in a very short period of time. So they had a path to nuclear weapons. We cannot allow Iran to have a path to nuclear weapons.
And, by the way, we have tremendous support, tremendous support. And people were very happy with what I did the other day by not doing something, okay? But we had tremendous and we have tremendous support. Nobody wants to see Iran have nuclear weapons.
Thank you very much everybody. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much.
Q Do you think they understood the message you were sending them last week? You decided not to strike —
THE PRESIDENT: I hope they understood the message. I decided not to strike. They shot down unmanned — as you know, an unmanned drone.
Q But do you think they take your threats seriously now, Mr. President?
THE PRESIDENT: I think everybody does. I think you do, too. Goodbye. (Laughter.)
Earlier today in the East Room of the White House U.S. President Donald Trump presented the nation’s highest honor for bravery to Staff Sergeant David Bellavia, U.S. Army [Video and Transcript Below]
[Transcript] – 3:36 P.M. EDT – THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Please. Thank you, Chaplain, very much. It’s really beautiful.
Today, it’s my privilege to award the highest military honor to an American soldier who demonstrated exceptional courage to protect his men and defend our nation. Will you please join me in welcoming Staff Sergeant David Bellavia? David, thank you. (Applause.)
David is the first living recipient to earn the Congressional Medal of Honor for his bravery in the Iraq War. (Applause.)
We are honored to have with us distinguished leaders of our military. I want to recognize Acting Deputy Secretary of Defense David Norquist. David, thank you very much. And congratulations. Acting Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy. Come here, Ryan. Let me just say hello to you. (Laughter.) Congratulations. Just happened yesterday, so I have to congratulate. Congratulations. Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Paul Selva. Thank you, Paul. Army Chief of Staff General Mark Milley. Hi, Mark. And Sergeant Major of the Army Daniel Dailey. Thank you, Daniel, very much.
Thanks as well to members of Congress who join us: Representative Liz Cheney. Thanks, Liz. Chris Collins. Thanks, Chris. Dan Crenshaw. Tom Reed. Thank you. Thank you, Tom. I see you over there, Tom.
REPRESENTATIVE REED: (Inaudible.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much.
Joining David for this special ceremony is his wife Deanna and three children, Evan, Ayden, and Vivienne, along with his mother Marilyn, and his brothers Daniel and Rand. I want to thank you all for being here. A very special day for you and for all of us. For the nation, actually. Thank you. (Applause.)
David’s father William passed away in 2017. And though he’s no longer with us, we know that today he must be one of those proud dads. He’s looking down upon us from Heaven, and he’s very proud of his son and his son’s family. I have to say that. Thank you, David.
Finally, we are gratified to be joined by eight previous Medal of Honor recipients. And, I have to tell you, I’ve got to know just about all of them. You are forever with us. You inspire us. You are truly brave, great people. Thank you very much for being here. (Applause.) Brave people. Thank you.
David grew up in Western New York. He was the youngest of four children. As a boy, he would listen to stories from his grandfather, a World War Two veteran, and hero in his own right, who earned a Bronze Star in the Normandy campaign. I just came back from Normandy. That was something.
As David remembers, his grandfather’s stories were always “vivid with a source of pride.” And they were delivered very beautifully. There was a nobility and purpose in the infantry. And David saw that a very young age. “I wanted to be what my grandfather was,” David would often say. “I wanted to be part of this noble adventure.” Is that right? That’s a pretty good quote, would you say? Better say “yes,” otherwise I have a problem. (Laughter.)
In 1999, David followed the example of his grandfather, and joined the United States Army Infantry. Several months after the September 11th attack on our nation, David deployed, saying goodbye to his wife and his son, Evan. He served in Germany, Kosovo, and then in Iraq.
In November of 2004, after nearly a year of intense enemy combat in Iraq, David led his squad into battle to liberate the city of Fallujah and anti-Iraqi forces. That was a tough place. This operation was the bloodiest battle of the Iraq War.
For three days straight, David and his men kicked down doors, searched houses, and destroyed enemy weapons, never knowing where they would find a terrorist lurking next. And there were plenty of them.
The third day of battle was November 10th, David’s 29th birthday. That night, his squad was tasked with clearing 12 houses occupied by insurgents. A very dangerous operation. They entered house after house, and secured nine of the buildings.
Then came the 10th. That was a tough one. It was a three-story building surrounded by a nine-foot wall. As they entered the house and moved into the living room, two men were behind concrete barricades. They opened fire on David and everybody.
In the dark of night, shards of glass, brick, and plaster flew into the air, wounding multiple soldiers. The rounds of fire ripped holes into the wall separating the Americans from the terrorists. The wall was ripped to shreds. David knew they had to get out. David thought that they had had it. He leapt into the torrent of bullets, and fired back at the enemy without even thinking. The insurgents — he just took cover. David took over.
He provided suppressive fire while his men evacuated, rescuing his entire squad at the risk of his own life. Only when his men were all out did David exit the building. But the fighting was far from over. Militants on the roof fired down at them with round after deadly round. A Bradley Fighting Vehicle came to the scene to suppress the enemy and drove them further into the building.
Knowing that he would face almost certain death, David decided to go back inside the house and make sure that not a single terrorist escaped alive, or escaped in any way. He quickly encountered an insurgent who was about to fire a rocket-propelled grenade at his squad. David once again jumped into danger and killed him before he had a chance to launch that grenade.
Next, two more insurgents came out of hiding and fired at David. He returned fire, killing them both. Then, a third assailant burst out of a wardrobe — wearing a wardrobe — and opened fire. David shot and wounded the man, but he escaped up the stairs. Racing after him, David engaged in hand-to-hand combat and killed him too.
Bleeding and badly wounded, David had single-handedly defeated the forces who had attacked. Just then, yet another combatant jumped down from the third-story roof and attacked. David shot him, and the assailant fell off the balcony.
Alone, in the dark, David killed four insurgents and seriously wounded the fifth, saving his soldiers and facing down the enemies of civilization.
Here with us today are 32 American service members who fought with David in Iraq, including 12 who were with David on that very, very horrible and dangerous November night. Please stand. Please. (Applause.)
Did he do a good job?
THE PRESIDENT: If not, you know, it’s not too late. (Laughter.)
Thank you very much for being here. We appreciate it very much.
Also with us are five families of David’s brothers-in-arms who made the supreme sacrifice. To the Gold Star families of Sean Sims, Steven Faulkenberg, Scott Lawson, JC Matteson, and Michael Carlson: Our entire nation expresses our love, loyalty, and everlasting gratitude. Please, stand. Please. (Applause.) Thank you very much for being here. Appreciate it. Thank you.
David often tells young people, “Americans don’t want to fight, but if someone picks a fight with us, we will always win. Because we don’t fight for awards or recognition. We fight for love of our country, our homeland, our family, and our unit — and that’s stronger than anything the enemy has.” So, thank you. And thank you to his family very much. Great family, David. Thank you.
David exemplifies the same warrior ethos that gave his grandfather and all the heroes of Normandy the strength to defeat evil exactly 75 years ago. I hear that his grandfather Joseph is now 99 years old and that today he’s watching this ceremony at his home in Jamestown, New York. A lot of people are watching, David.
America is blessed with the heroes and great people like Staff Sergeant Bellavia whose intrepid spirit and unwavering resolve defeats our enemies, protects our freedoms, and defends our great American flag.
David, today we honor your extraordinary courage, we salute your selfless service, and we thank you for carrying on the legacy of American valor that has always made our blessed nation the strongest and mightiest anywhere in the world. And we’re doing better today than we’ve ever done. Our country is stronger now, and we’re doing better economically than ever before. We’re setting records, and you fought for something that’s really good, and we appreciate it, David. We really appreciate it. Thank you.
And now I’m very pleased to ask the military aide to come forward while I present the Congressional Medal of Honor to Staff Sergeant David Bellavia. Please.
MILITARY AIDE: The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, March 3rd, 1863, has awarded in the name of Congress the Medal of Honor to Staff Sergeant David G. Bellavia, United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.
Staff Sergeant David G. Bellavia distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty on November 10, 2004, while serving as squad leader in support of Operation Phantom Fury in Fallujah, Iraq.
While clearing a house, a squad from Staff Sergeant Bellavia’s platoon became trapped within a room by intense enemy fire coming from a fortified position under the stairs leading to the second floor. Recognizing the immediate severity of the situation, and with disregard for his own safety, Staff Sergeant Bellavia retrieved an automatic weapon and entered the doorway of the house to engage the insurgents.
With enemy rounds impacting around him, Staff Sergeant Bellavia fired at the enemy position at a cyclic rate, providing covering fire that allowed the squad to break contact and exit the house.
A Bradley Fighting Vehicle was brought forward to suppress the enemy; however, due to high walls surrounding the house, it could not fire directly at the enemy position. Staff Sergeant Bellavia then re-entered the house and again came under intense enemy fire. He observed an enemy insurgent preparing to launch a rocket-propelled grenade at his platoon. Recognizing the grave danger the grenade posed to his fellow soldiers, Staff Sergeant Bellavia assaulted the enemy position, killing one insurgent and wounding another who ran to a different part of the house.
Staff Sergeant Bellavia, realizing he had an un-cleared, darkened room to his back, moved to clear it. As he entered, an insurgent came down the stairs firing at him. Simultaneously, the previously wounded insurgent reemerged and engaged Staff Sergeant Bellavia. Staff Sergeant Bellavia, entering further into the darkened room, returned fire and eliminated both insurgents. Staff Sergeant Bellavia then received enemy fire from another insurgent emerging from a closet in the darkened room.
Exchanging gunfire, Staff Sergeant Bellavia pursued the enemy up the stairs and eliminated him. Now on the second floor, Staff Sergeant Bellavia moved to a door that opened onto the roof. At this point, a fifth insurgent leapt from the third floor roof onto the second floor roof. Staff Sergeant Bellavia engaged the insurgent through a window, wounding him in the back and legs, and caused him to fall off the roof.
Acting on instinct to save the members of his platoon from an imminent threat, Staff Sergeant Bellavia ultimately cleared an entire enemy-filled house, destroyed four insurgents, and badly wounded a fifth. Staff Sergeant Bellavia’s bravery, complete disregard for his own safety, and unselfish and courageous actions are in keeping with the finest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Army.
(The Medal of Honor is presented.) (Applause.)
Sometimes we just read and think; sometimes we just read and laugh. This is the latter.
China continually looks at President Trump and the U.S. trade position through the wrong prism. Those around Chairman Xi genuinely seem to be incapable of understanding a U.S. President who independently represents long-term U.S. larger interests, and simultaneously leverages the U.S. market as a customer in a one-sided transaction.
The disconnect in Beijing analysis of the dynamic is really quite something.
After last weeks strategic magnanimous panda maneuver, Beijing was shocked, shocked, that President Trump continued to maintain “wrong thinking” toward the upcoming discussion with Chairman Xi.
It appears China fully expected some reciprocal trade bargaining based on their implied promise to release North Korean Chairman Kim Jong-un from manipulation; but Trump didn’t flinch. Instead, of acquiescence to magnanimous panda, President Trump sends Chairman Kim a letter filled with “excellent content“. Beijing was snubbed.
So yesterday as a follow-up Beijing indicates a willingness to revisit the prior agreement by putting the face of Vice-Premier Liu He back into their negotiation position:
(Reuters) […] Chinese Vice Premier Liu He held a phone conversation with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, China’s Ministry of Commerce said in a statement posted to its website on Tuesday morning. (more)
Liu He was the chief negotiator for Chairman Xi, and was stripped of the official title as spokesperson for the Xi regime after Beijing reneged on the deal. The message was clear: during the three months of negotiations Liu He had agreed to too much structural change on China’s side of the trade confrontation. The deal was scrapped by Beijing, and Liu He was stripped of his special envoy status as a person speaking for Chairman Xi.
By putting Liu back into the discussion this week, Beijing was signaling a willingness -likely a ruse, but a willingness nonetheless- to revisit the terms that existed prior to the breakdown.
The G20 is rapidly approaching… Beijing needs to identify POTUS Trump’s position. Things in Beijing are urgent as preparations (mostly optics) for how Chairman Xi will engage with President Trump are needed.
So into this dynamic of China evaluating where they can expect to find their position, we’ve got two signals from a series of public messages: (1) magnanimous panda will give up DPRK nukes, in exchange for better terms; and when that didn’t get the desired result, (2) China signals they are willing to revisit the prior terms.
However, today Team Donald Trump responds to the messages: NO DEAL !
Trump is mirroring the historic approach deployed by China. Beijing is facing a new dynamic where the U.S. President will not accept any retreat from his current position. This zero-sum outlook is exactly the same approach all Chinese negotiators use…. only this time it’s Trump using their strategy against them. It’s President Trump who will not retreat from gained position. This has to be seriously perplexing for Beijing.
Now, to be fair, unlike China President Trump is not constitutionally predisposed to never give ground… he’s a negotiator of reasonable compromise. However, President Trump has modified his approach based on his knowledge of his adversary.
In essence, Donald Trump is mirroring the ideology and negotiating position of the person on the other side of the table….. only now, based on two-years of groundwork in preparation for his position, President Trump is carrying all the strength and leverage.
China is on its heels. Trump has set up a dynamic where a pre-planned group of regional allies can easily compensate for any manufacturing deficit caused by Trump’s adversarial position toward China. The corporate exodus visible within this plan has already begun.
The G20 is being held in Osaka, Japan. Essentially President Trump’s home turf as expressed by his relationship with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the recent high-honor of the first state visit to celebrate new Japanese Emperor Naruhito.
The geography for the G20 is perfect for this moment. The dynamic of regional allies are all aligned with Trump as planned from the November 2017 ‘golden ticket‘ tour of Asia. Additionally, President Trump carries all of the economic leverage he was quietly assembling as Beijing underestimated and misinterpreted the Trump bravado.
At no time in history has a U.S. President ever had all of the consequential dynamics aligned in his favor. This did not happen accidentally.
That’s why U.S. officials are saying they are not coming to the meeting with any concessions, and for the first time in modern history Beijing will have to make the compromise, or suffer a very visible set of consequences.
Stephanie Grisham has served as spokeswoman for First Lady Melania Trump since March 2017. She’s sharp as a tack, fierce as a wolverine and intensely loyal to the first family. [Twitter Here]
Today First lady Melania Trump announces Stephanie Grisham will replace Sarah Huckabee Sanders as White House press secretary.
Ms. Grisham will also serve as White House communications director, a position that has been vacant since Bill Shine stepped down in March to advise President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign. “I can think of no better person to serve the Administration & our country,” Melania Trump tweeted Tuesday.
Earlier today President Trump announced a new executive order, constructed to facilitate a regulation change, that will require healthcare providers to inform patients of the cost of their procedures in advance of treatment. [Lots of Background Here]
The President makes the announcement [Video and Transcript Below]
Transcript] – 3:17 P.M. EDT – THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you. Wow. (Applause.) Wow. That’s very nice. Thank you very much everybody. Wow. We must be doing something right lately. (Laughter.) That’s very nice. I appreciate it very much. And welcome to the White House. Great place. No place like it, actually.[
We’re here to announce new groundbreaking actions that we’re taking to dramatically increase quality, affordability, and fairness to our healthcare system. This landmark initiative continues our campaign to put American patients first. This is a truly big action. People have no idea how big it is. Some people say bigger than healthcare itself. This is something that’s going to be very important.
For too long, it’s been virtually impossible for Americans to know the real price and quality of healthcare services and the services they receive. As a result, patients face significant obstacles shopping for the best care at the best price, driving up healthcare costs for everyone.
With today’s historic action, we are fundamentally changing the nature of the healthcare marketplace. This is bigger than anything we’ve done in this particular realm. And probably, Alex, it’s not even close, from what they’re telling me.
We will empower patients with the information they need to search for the lowest costs and the highest-quality care. In other words, they’ll be able to seek out their doctor, seek out the doctor they want, and they’ll be given vast amounts of information about those doctors.
We’re grateful to be joined by Secretary Alex Azar and Administrator Seema Verma. Thank you very much. Alex? Where’s Seema? Hi, Seema. (Applause.)
And I also want to recognize and thank a great senator, Chuck Grassley. Chuck, thank you very much. (Applause.) And, by the way, congratulations on ethanol. E15, right? He fought so hard. Oh, he’s tough. When he goes after you, he’s brutal. (Laughter.) But he gets what he wants and then he likes you, right? Anyway, congratulations to the farmers, frankly, Chuck. Right? Great job. Appreciate it. And that’s all year-round.
And Mike Braun. Mike, thank you. Thank you, Mike. Great job you’re doing.
Representatives Greg Walden — we worked so hard together on Right to Try, Greg. Right? Right to Try. People are loving it. Michael Burgess, Doug Collins, Devin — Devin Nunes. Thank you all. Incredible people.
Lieutenant Governors Geoff Duncan and Dan Forest. Thank you, fellas. Thank you. Thank you. You didn’t get a very good seat. I can’t believe it. (Laughter.) That’s not like you.
And all of our great state legislators. We have a lot of them with us today, and a lot of great medical people and doctors.
For decades, powerful insurance companies, lobbyists, and special interests have denied the public access to the real cost of the healthcare services they provide. It’s that simple. This lack of price transparency has enriched industry giants greatly, costing Americans hundreds of billions of dollars a year.
Patients have been billed nearly $800 for saline; more than $6,000 for a drug test, at the simplest methods used, and $6,000 — I’ve seen them; and over $17,000 for stitches to just stitch up a minor wound. Often, prices differ drastically between providers and hospitals for the exact same services. And there’s no consistency. There’s no predictability. And there’s, frankly, no rhyme or reason to what’s been happening for so many years.
As a result, Americans, such as Erika Jay, who is here today, find themselves in deeply unfair situations. Erika, please, if you would come up and just explain what happened to you. Thank you very much. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
MS. JAY: Thank you. Over the last three and a half years, while fighting a stage-three cancer, we visited many healthcare facilities. We saw price variations that just caught us off-guard and really surprised us — took us by surprise — from one facility to the next. And it caused us financial hardship.
An example of this is when I had two identical bone biopsy procedures only 11 days apart at facilities that were only 17 miles apart from each other. We learned, when we received the bills for the second procedure, that it cost us more than 330 percent than the first time we had it done. Different facility, identical procedure: drastically different pricing.
This is one of many stories our family has. If price transparency had been required, we would have been empowered to find the best pricing for my care, saving thousands of dollars over the last three years.
Mr. President —
THE PRESIDENT: Yes. I’m right here. (Laughter.)
MS. JAY: Thank you for this executive order.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
MS. JAY: And thank you for empowering and helping families like mine all over the nation.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. That’s very nice. (Applause.) Thank you. Thanks very much, Erika.
We believe the American people have a right to know the price of services before they go to visit the doctor. Therefore, in just a few moments, I will be signing a breakthrough executive order. It will create unprecedented transparency about healthcare prices and provide this information to the American people for the first time ever — first time it’s ever been done. People knew it should have been done years ago, but they never got it done. I wonder why.
With this order, hospitals will be required to publish prices that reflect what people actually pay for services in a way that’s clear, straightforward, and accessible to all. And you’ll be able to price it among many different potential providers, and you’ll get great pricing. Prices will come down by numbers that you won’t even believe. You won’t even believe it. More price transparency will mean more competition, and the cost of healthcare will go way, way down.
Vanderbilt economist — highly respected — Dr. Larry Van Horn is here with us. Larry was introduced to me by a gentleman who is a great gentleman, great economist: Art Laffer. And Art Laffer just got — as you know, Larry — just got the Presidential Medal of Freedom a couple of days ago. And Art was telling me that he’s the head of a hospital, where he comes from. He’s on the board. And they did this. He said it is beyond anything he’s seen, from an economic standpoint and even a health standpoint.
And I said, “Let’s talk about it.” And we discussed it, and it’s something known very well, but a lot of people don’t do it because there won’t be some rich people that will be too happy about this. But the people will be happy about it.
So, Larry, could you — (applause) — so, Larry, if you would — one thing, before Larry gets up: One of the other big beneficiaries are really good doctors. The good doctors. And they should be the beneficiaries — not the bad doctors, but the good doctors. And I think all of the doctors in the audience know exactly what I’m talking about. So thank you for being here, because I guarantee you’re all probably very good doctors.
So, Larry, if you would, please come up and share a little of your wisdom and what this is all about. Thank you. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
DR. VAN HORN: Thank you, Mr. President, for taking this action that will put healthcare information in the hands of the American consumer. This truly will be transformational.
For years, I’ve studied the impact of hidden prices and what that’s had — the impact that’s had on markets — healthcare markets — as well as American consumers.
My analysis suggests that when cash prices are transparent, upfront, in the market, on average, they’re 39 percent cheaper than the amounts that third-party payers pay for like services.
Even when insurance covers the cost, there is, on average, a 300 percent price variation within a market across — for the exact same services. Your healthcare transparency initiative will empower consumers and use free market forces to drive healthcare markets towards lower prices, better outcomes, greater access, and greater value.
But this is bigger than healthcare. Lower prices for healthcare leaves more money in Americans’ wallets and in their paychecks for the purchase of all other goods and services that are important parts of their lives. This will be good for America and good for Americans. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Larry.
Today’s action is not just about lower prices. It’s also about helping Americans find excellent care. Currently, patients do not have adequate tools to find the doctors who would deliver better health outcomes at an affordable cost.
And when they used to talk about Obamacare, “You can keep your doctor,” that turned out to be a lie. Twenty-eight different times it turned out to be a lie. Here, you can keep your doctor, but you can also maybe find somebody other than your doctor at your choice, and that would be based on talent and it would also be based on price.
Because of this, you’ll be able to search out for the right doctor. And it really is, in a true sense, the opposite of Obamacare. You get much better pricing, and you’ll get the doctor that you want and maybe you’ll get better than the doctor that you originally thought about. It’s pretty incredible.
Low-quality care often means unnecessary services. For example, a bad doctor may routinely perform an expensive spinal surgery for back pain without first trying physical therapy.
That’s why my order directs agencies to help inform the public about the quality of doctors and hospitals by leveraging all of this data. By making much better use of this new information, we will save money and save lives, and your care will be much better. It’s incredible.
We’re also joined by Dr. Elaina George, a longtime advocate for patients. Elaina, please come up and tell them a little bit about what transparency means. Thank you. (Applause.)
DR. GEORGE: I love being a doctor. However, one of the most challenging things has been the inability to be an effective advocate for my patients. I’ve had patients deny themselves care because they don’t know how much a service will cost, or, worse, be stuck with a costly bill that they didn’t expect.
I have felt powerless at times because of my inability to help them, especially if I have to send them to a hospital and we can’t find out the price of the service.
Price transparency is a solution to this problem. When patients become healthcare consumers, it will drive prices down, quality up, and most importantly, help doctors serve their patients better.
Thank you, President Trump, for this executive order. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Elaina. Thank you very much. Great job. Thank you, Elaina.
As we fight to increase transparency and lower costs for patients, more than 120 Democrats in Congress support Bernie Sanders’s socialist takeover of American healthcare. It’s very dangerous. The Democrat plan would terminate the private health insurance of over 180 million Americans who are really happy with what they have.
Under my administration, we will never let that happen. We believe in giving patients — (applause) — we believe in giving patients choice and freedom in healthcare, ensuring access to the doctors they want, the treatments they need, and the highest standard of medical care anywhere in the world. And this will make it much better than it’s ever been.
This is a truly historic day. I don’t know that it will be covered that way by the fake news. (Laughter.) But this is truly a historic day. This is a very big thing that’s happening right now. And it’s pretty much going to blow everything away, Alex, as we discussed. People never thought they’d see us do this.
We’re making new affordable health options available to millions of American workers through the association health plans, short-term plans, and health reimbursement arrangements.
We’re working with Congress to stop surprise medical billing. And when you hear “surprise” — (applause) — right? And when we hear “surprise medical bill” we’re not talking about a positive surprise. (Laughter.) We’re talking about, you know, not surprise, “Oh, gee. How happy I am.” You’re talking about, like, a disaster.
Because no American should be blindsided by bills for medical service they never agreed to in advance. Because people get sick. They don’t really think in terms of, “Let’s sit down and negotiate for 20 minutes.” You want to get better. And then you get hit, and you get hit really hard. And that stops.
We’re expanding access to tax-free health savings accounts. To give critically ill patients access to lifesaving cures, we passed Right to Try. We were helped so much by these gentlemen in the front row. What a job you all did, and I really appreciate it. And you, too, Senator. I’ll tell you, that was really great. We think in terms of the House — because I know how hard you fought for it, Greg and Doug. You guys were amazing. But — and Devin, I know you worked on this one very, very hard with everything else you do, but I appreciate it. And very few people would’ve done that.
You know, Right to Try is interesting because it’s been — they’ve been trying to get it for 45 years. And they couldn’t do it. And it sounds simple, but it’s not, because everybody had a reason for not wanting it. The insurance companies didn’t want it because of liabilities. The country didn’t want it because they didn’t want to be sued.
But now you have terminally ill patients that used to — if they were rich enough, they’d go Asia. They’d go to Europe. They’d go all over the world looking for a cure. And we have the greatest doctors in the world right here; the greatest lab technicians and labs and medical services. We have everything. But it takes a period of time to get a certain potential cure approved. Sometimes 15 years. And, by the way, we brought that down to probably an average of six.
But you need time because you don’t want to hurt anybody. But these are patients that are terminally ill and they didn’t want to give them a potential cure because they didn’t want to hurt them, but they’re terminally ill. So we agreed that people would sign a waiver. Nobody is going to be held liable. The drug companies, which didn’t want it because they didn’t want it on their record, we made it a much less part of their record. And we set up different standards where it would be in other parts, which was great for them.
And everybody is happy, and many lives have been saved. And I’ll tell you, we had one the other day that was on — so incredible. A young — incredible young woman where they made a medical mistake and it was over for her. They were explaining last rites. And then, all of a sudden, she did this and she’s now healthy. They think she’s going to be actually fine. You might have seen it. It’s been — it was actually an incredible thing.
So I’m really happy. I talk about it a lot. Right to Try — something that sounds so simple, and yet for 45 years they’ve been trying to get it approved. And they got it.
And just so you feel good, Greg and Doug and everybody — tremendous success. Have you been seeing what’s going on? So many people that were definitely not going to make it are now living, and, in many cases, they’re going to be just fine. So it’s something very — you can all be very proud of that.
So for the first time in a long time, we’re doing things that nobody has ever done before, from the standpoint of what we’re here for.
We eliminated the Obamacare individual mandate penalty, which was the most unpopular thing in Obamacare, by far. And I had a decision to make: Do we do a good job with Obamacare — the remnant of Obamacare? Or do we do a bad job? If I do a bad job, well, there you can blame Obama and the Democrats. If we do a good job, they’ll get a little bit more credit. But it’s still very faulty. It doesn’t work, and it’s too expensive. And I told our great Secretary Alex Azar, “Don’t do a good job, do a great job. Do what you have to do. Work with the states. Do whatever you have to do to make it as good as possible.” Once we got rid of the individual mandate, it made it better.
But Obamacare doesn’t work, but it works at least adequately now. And we had that choice to make. And, politically, it’s probably not a good thing that I did, but it’s the right thing to do for a lot of people. So I want to thank you and I want to thank Seema for doing a fantastic job. I appreciate it. (Applause.)
And we spend a lot of time defending Medicare and Social Security, and we’re always going to protect patients with preexisting conditions. People don’t understand that — that we are fighting very, very hard to get it taken care of for preexisting conditions. And if we weren’t, that wouldn’t happen.
But the Republicans are very much behind that. Totally behind that. And if we do anything and if you see anything a little unusual, it doesn’t make it because we’re putting in very, very strong — taking care of patients with preexisting conditions.
And I would say, Alex, that that is, really, a very strong foundation of what we’re doing and what we’re all about. So it’s very important.
Together, we’re taking power away from bureaucrats. We’re taking it away from insurance companies and away from special interests. We’re giving that power back to patients, and we’re giving Americans the right to know. So we have the right to try, and now we have the right to know, and the right to negotiate, and the right to pick your own doctor, and the right to get great prices. And other than that, you know, what can I tell you? (Laughter.) You can’t do better than that.
But we’re taking one more giant step toward a healthcare system and a healthcare system that’s really fantastic, and it’s going to be good, and it’s going to work for the people.
So I just want to thank everybody for being here. I’m going to go and sign the executive order. And if this is half as big as some people are saying it will be, it will be one of the biggest things ever done in this world, in this industry, in this profession.
And I want to especially thank all of the doctors for being here. We have a lot of doctors in this room, and they’re very proud of what they do, and they want to have our system work. And this is something that I think is going to get it to really work efficiently and well.
Thank you very much for being here. I’m going to sign the executive order. Thank you. (Applause.)
(The executive order is signed.) (Applause.)
Transcript END – 3:40 P.M. EDT
Following an executive order signed by President Trump, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin holds a press conference to deliver the details [Video and Transcript]:
[Transcript] SECRETARY MNUCHIN: So I think, as you know, I just left the Oval Office, where President Trump signed a new executive order authorizing even more expanded sanctions against Iran. So now — along with our existing sanctions authority, we have additional sanctions to go after the Supreme Leader’s Office and lock up literally billions of dollars more of assets. Along with that action today, we are also announcing specific actions targeting those responsible for recent activities.
I think, as you know, previously, we have sanctioned Soleimani for his behavior. Along with that, today I am going to announce three of his other senior leaders: Tangsiri, who is responsible for the Iranian regime’s forces threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz; Hajizadeh, who is the Commander of the Air Force and responsible for downing the U.S. unmanned aircraft in international air space; as well as Pakpour, who is responsible for IRGC’s ground forces.
Along with those, we are also designating five Naval District’s leaders: Gholamshahi, Zirahi, Yadollah Badin, Mansur Ravankar, and Ozma’i. These sanctions are all very important for recent activities.
The President has also designated — instructed me that we will be designating Zarif later this week.
So, with that, I am happy to take a few questions.
Q Mr. Secretary, the President indicated last week that he believed that the shoot-down of the drone may have been a mistake that was made by local commanders on the ground. Taken together what you’ve announced today, it would seem to indicate that maybe this wasn’t a mistake, that it was an intentional act that was known all the way up the chain of command.
SECRETARY MNUCHIN: No, I wouldn’t read anything into that. Again, many of these — the executive order that the President signed was in the works previously. These actions are people who have either made threats, or specific things. And, again, I don’t think you should interpret this anywhere otherwise, other than we are designating people who we believe were responsible for the chain of command, whether they knew it or not.
Q Secretary Mnuchin, thank you so much for doing this briefing. What is your response to your critics who say these sanctions are more symbolic than substantive, and they won’t bring Iran to the negotiating table because Iran has said they’re not coming back to the negotiating table after the President ripped up the nuclear deal?
SECRETARY MNUCHIN: Well, I think the President was very clear. If they want to come back to the negotiating table, he’s ready. If not, they won’t. For the people who say these are just symbolic, that’s not the case at all. We’ve literally locked up tens and tens of billions of dollars. These sanctions will come along with additional entities where people are hiding money. So, no, these sanctions are highly effective.
Q Mr. Secretary, we’ve seen the attack on the oil tankers. We’ve seen the attack on the drone. What makes you think that these sanctions have been effective? What signs are there that they have been —
SECRETARY MNUCHIN: Oh, there’s no question these sanctions have been very effective in cutting off funds going to the IRGC and other people. And I can only presume — I’m not going to presume why they’re doing things, but these are highly, highly effective on locking up the Iranian economy. And as the President said, we look forward to a time in releasing sanctions if they’re willing to negotiate.
Q Thank you. When you talk about sanctions on the Supreme Leader, that is as high as you can go inside of Iran. Can you give us the thinking as to why the administration wanted to bring it up to that level?
SECRETARY MNUCHIN: I think the President had been clear: maximum pressure on the sanctions. So that is — that is our strategy. And it’s not just him; it’s the Leader’s office, which encompasses a whole range of activities.
Q Mr. Secretary, thank you. Have you done the intelligence research to figure out what assets any of these individuals that you just named actually have in the United States or in the global financial system? That is, do any of these people have money or assets outside of Iran?
SECRETARY MNUCHIN: So the answer is: Whenever we do sanctions, we do do intelligence. I can’t comment on any of the specific intelligence. But again, I would say we follow the money and it’s highly effective.
Q Do any of these people have assets outside of Iran?
Q Mr. Secretary, thank you. Is a military option or military reprisal still on the table?
SECRETARY MNUCHIN: I obviously can’t comment on that. I’m going to leave that to the President.
Q Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Have you consulted with America’s allies, regarding these sanctions? And is there buy-in from America’s allies? Will they also be imposing sanctions similar to what the U.S. —
SECRETARY MNUCHIN: No, I have not consulted on these specific sanctions. The answer is: In general, I’ve had many, many conversations with all our allies. I was in Japan 10 days ago, meeting with the finance ministers and discussed our sanctions program. I’ll be going to the G20 with the President. Again, this will continue to be a topic of discussion.
Q Yeah, Mr. Secretary, if that’s to me —
SECRETARY MNUCHIN: I’ll give it to you. It wasn’t, but then we’ll go to you.
Q All right, thank you. You said this was in response to events of — and the recent events. Is that about the shooting down of the drone or the attack on the six tankers or both?
SECRETARY MNUCHIN: Again, what I said is: Some of these were in the works. Some of these are an addition. All of the above.
Yes. Go ahead.
Q I mean, you know, this is — the President came close to military action. Now you’re coming back with sanctions. What was the direct response to the shoot-down of the drone?
SECRETARY MNUCHIN: Again, I said “some of them.” I’m not going to identify which ones are which. I’ve said that some of this was in the works, some of this is a result of recent activities.
Q Mr. Secretary, how do these sanctions deal — how do these sanctions relate to President Trump’s “deal of the century” — what’s happening coming up in Bahrain?
SECRETARY MNUCHIN: I look forward — I’m leaving for Bahrain in about an hour. So I look forward to our discussion in Bahrain. We’ll be rolling out the economic plan, which will be great opportunities for the people of Palestine. We have a terrific group there of finance ministers, business leaders all around the world. I think we have about 350 people going. So I look forward to it.
Q Mr. Secretary, thank you, sir. Yeah, just following up on an earlier question. You talked about the sanctions are effective, in terms of inflicting pain on the economy. Is there evidence yet — or will there be evidence, do you think — that this is having an effect on Iran’s behavior?
SECRETARY MNUCHIN: Well, let me first comment that our issue is not with the people of Iran. So I just want to be very clear: We are not looking at creating issues for the people of Iran.
Having said that, we are — have sanctions against bad behavior. And there’s no question that locking this money up worked last time. And there’s no question locking the money up works now.
Thank you very much.
END Transcript – 1:21 P.M. EDT
Earlier today President Donald Trump issued an executive order outlining new sanctions on Iranian interests and entities that will be determined by the U.S. Treasury Dept. The sanctions target the Supreme Leader of Iran and the Office of the Supreme Leader of Iran.
“We call on the regime to abandon its nuclear ambitions, change its destructive behavior, respect the rights of its people, and return in good faith to the negotiating table.” – President Donald J. Trump
Full Executive Order Below:
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.) (IEEPA), the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.), section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (8 U.S.C. 1182(f)), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code,
I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, in order to take additional steps with respect to the national emergency declared in Executive Order 12957 of March 15, 1995, in light of the actions of the Government of Iran and Iranian-backed proxies, particularly those taken to destabilize the Middle East, promote international terrorism, and advance Iran’s ballistic missile program, and Iran’s irresponsible and provocative actions in and over international waters, including the targeting of United States military assets and civilian vessels, hereby order:
Section 1. (a) All property and interests in property that are in the United States, that hereafter come within the United States, or that are or hereafter come within the possession or control of any United States person of the following persons are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in:
(i) the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Iranian Supreme Leader’s Office (SLO); or
(ii) any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State:
(A) to be a person appointed by the Supreme Leader of Iran or the SLO to a position as a state official of Iran, or as the head of any entity located in Iran or any entity located outside of Iran that is owned or controlled by one or more entities in Iran;
(B) to be a person appointed to a position as a state official of Iran, or as the head of any entity located in Iran or any entity located outside of Iran that is owned or controlled by one or more entities in Iran, by any person appointed by the Supreme Leader of Iran or the SLO;
(C) to have materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this section;
(D) to be owned or controlled by, or to have acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this section; or
(E) to be a member of the board of directors or a senior executive officer of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this section.
(b) The prohibitions in subsection (a) of this section apply except to the extent provided by statutes, or in regulations, orders, directives, or licenses that may be issued pursuant to this order, and notwithstanding any contract entered into or any license or permit granted before the date of this order.
Sec. 2. (a) The Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, is hereby authorized to impose on a foreign financial institution the sanctions described in subsection (b) of this section upon determining that the foreign financial institution has knowingly conducted or facilitated any significant financial transaction for or on behalf of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to section 1 of this order.
(b) With respect to any foreign financial institution determined by the Secretary of the Treasury in accordance with this section to meet the criteria set forth in subsection (a) of this section, the Secretary of the Treasury may prohibit the opening, and prohibit or impose strict conditions on the maintaining, in the United States of a correspondent account or a payable-through account by such foreign financial institution.
(c) The prohibitions in subsection (b) of this section apply except to the extent provided by statutes, or in regulations, orders, directives, or licenses that may be issued pursuant to this order, and notwithstanding any contract entered into or any license or permit granted before the date of this order.
Sec. 3. I hereby determine that the making of donations of the types of articles specified in section 203(b)(2) of IEEPA (50 U.S.C. 1701(b)(2)) by, to, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to section 1 of this order would seriously impair the President’s ability to deal with the national emergency declared in Executive Order 12957, and I hereby prohibit such donations as provided by section 1 of this order.
Sec. 4. The prohibitions in section 1 of this order include:
(a) the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order; and
(b) the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person.
Sec. 5. The unrestricted immigrant and nonimmigrant entry into the United States of aliens determined to meet one or more of the criteria in subsection 1(a) of this order would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, and the entry of such persons into the United States, as immigrants or nonimmigrants, is hereby suspended. Such persons shall be treated as persons covered by section 1 of Proclamation 8693 of July 24, 2011 (Suspension of Entry of Aliens Subject to United Nations Security Council Travel Bans and International Emergency Economic Powers Act Sanctions).
Sec. 6. The Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, is hereby authorized to take such actions, including adopting rules and regulations, to employ all powers granted to the President by IEEPA as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this order, other than the purposes described in section 5 of this order. The Secretary of the Treasury may, consistent with applicable law, redelegate any of these functions within the Department of the Treasury. All departments and agencies of the United States shall take all appropriate measures within their authority to implement this order.
Sec. 7. (a) Any transaction that evades or avoids, has the purpose of evading or avoiding, causes a violation of, or attempts to violate any of the prohibitions set forth in this order is prohibited.
(b) Any conspiracy formed to violate any of the prohibitions set forth in this order is prohibited.
Sec. 8. For the purposes of this order:
(a) the term “person” means an individual or entity;
(b) the term “entity” means a partnership, association, trust, joint venture, corporation, group, subgroup, or other organization;
(c) the term “foreign financial institution” means any foreign entity that is engaged in the business of accepting deposits, making, granting, transferring, holding, or brokering loans or credits, or purchasing or selling foreign exchange, securities, commodity futures or options, or procuring purchasers and sellers thereof, as principal or agent. The term includes, but is not limited to, depository institutions, banks, savings banks, money service businesses, trust companies, securities brokers and dealers, commodity futures and options brokers and dealers, forward contract and foreign exchange merchants, securities and commodities exchanges, clearing corporations, investment companies, employee benefit plans, dealers in precious metals, stones, or jewels, and holding companies, affiliates, or subsidiaries of any of the foregoing. The term does not include the international financial institutions identified in 22 U.S.C. 262r(c)(2), the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the North American Development Bank, or any other international financial institution so notified by the Secretary of the Treasury;
(d) the term “knowingly,” with respect to conduct, a circumstance, or a result, means that a person has actual knowledge, or should have known, of the conduct, the circumstance, or the result; and
(e) the term “United States person” means any United States citizen, permanent resident alien, entity organized under the laws of the United States or any jurisdiction within the United States (including foreign branches), or any person in the United States.
Sec. 9. For those persons whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order who might have a constitutional presence in the United States, I find that because of the ability to transfer funds or other assets instantaneously, prior notice to such persons of measures to be taken pursuant to this order would render those measures ineffectual. I therefore determine that for these measures to be effective in addressing the national emergency declared in Executive Order 12957, there need be no prior notice of a listing or determination made pursuant to section 1 of this order.
Sec. 10. (a) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
(i) the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or
(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.
(b) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
(c) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
Sec. 11. The measures taken pursuant to this order are in response to actions of the Government of Iran occurring after the conclusion of the 1981 Algiers Accords, and are intended solely as a response to those later actions.
Oh dear, China is unhappy. According to the Global Times President Trump is not “showing enough good faith” to demonstrate he “wishes to ease the trade tensions” with magnanimous panda. Sincerity is not being observed.
The G20 is coming up next week. Magnanimous panda has exhibited great gesture with North Korea. Expectations of reciprocal acquiescence abound, and yet President Trump is maintaining wrong thinking toward trade conflicts with China.
Beijing is not pleased; not pleased at all:
Global Times – Ahead of President Xi Jinping’s trip to attend the G20 summit, which takes place from Thursday to Saturday, the US is not showing enough good faith to demonstrate that it wishes to ease the trade tensions, Chinese observers said.
G20 members should unite to oppose protectionism and unilateralism at the summit, and be realistic about the prospects that the two largest global economies will reach a deal in the near future, they said.
Xi will attend the 14th G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan from June 27 to 29, at the invitation of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said in Beijing on Sunday.
At the request of the US, Xi had a phone conversation with US President Donald Trump on June 18, and the two sides agreed to meet during the G20, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
Li Haidong, a professor at the China Foreign Affairs University’s Institute of International Relations, told the Global Times on Sunday that “a meeting between the two leaders could ease the tension to some extent, but the international community should not be too optimistic, since the complicated disputes between the two sides can’t be solved by only one meeting.”
The US put five more Chinese tech entities on a trade blacklist on Friday, Bloomberg reported on Friday.
Observers said the move shows the US is not showing enough good faith ahead of the G20, and it may even add to the difficulty of easing the tension. (read more)
Unless President Trump adopts a conciliatory tone, the glory of great panda will be diminished… Currently President Trump is not displaying the approach required to facilitate global panda unity.
The pre-G20 signals tomorrow and Tuesday should be quite fun.
Shifty appears with for an interview with Furrowed Brow to push the impeachment narrative etc. Within the interview Shifty talks about lengthy coordination and careful planning with Robert Mueller for a scripted July appearance.
[Prompted to 05:38 just hit play]
Shifty, Pelosi and Nadler have to be very careful with Mueller to avoid exposing the coordinated enterprise behind the two-year Rosenstein, Weissmann and Mueller scheme. It will be interesting to see how they plan it out. [If Ever]
Likely they will only bring Mueller under VERY carefully control; and they’d probably prefer a panel approach where scripted Mueller confidants can bookend him during any questioning. It’s highly unlikely Schiff would attempt to use Robert Mueller as a stand alone witness in a public hearing.
The truth at any cost lowers all other costs
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