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Cabinet Room

11:57 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Today we mourn the horrifying terrorist attack in New York City, just blocks away from the site of the World Trade Center. A man drove a truck into a pedestrian bike path and murdered eight people, and injured very, very seriously at least 11 more.

All of America is praying and grieving for the families who lost their precious loved ones. Horrible act. Our hearts break for them and we pledge to renew our resolve in their memory.

My administration is coordinating closely between federal and local officials to investigate the attack and to further investigate this animal who did the attacking. And updates will be provided as available.

I am today starting the process of terminating the diversary lottery program. I’m going to ask Congress to immediately initiate work to get rid of this program. Diversary and diversity lottery. Diversity lottery. Sounds nice. It’s not nice. It’s not good. It hasn’t been good. We’ve been against it. So we want to immediately work with Congress on the Diversity Lottery Program, on terminating it, getting rid of it.

We want a merit-based program where people come into our country based on merit. And we want to get rid of chain migration. This man that came in — or whatever you want to call him — brought in, with him, other people. And he was a point — he was the point of contact — the primary point of contact for — and this is preliminarily — 23 people that came in, or potentially came in with him. And that’s not acceptable. So we want to get rid of chain migration, and we’ve wanted to do that for a long time. And I’ve been wanting to do it for a long time. And we’ll be asking Congress to start working on it immediately.

There are bills already about ending chain migration and we have a lot of good bills in there. We’re being stopped by Democrats because they’re obstructionists. And, honestly, they don’t want to do what’s right for our country. We need strength. We need resolve. We have to stop it. So we’re going to get rid of this lottery program as soon as possible. He came in through the Diversity Program, as you know, and we’re going to stop that.

We’re going to as quickly as possible get rid of chain migration and go to a merit-based system. Terrorists are constantly seeking to strike our nation, and it will require the unflinching devotion to our law enforcement, homeland security, and intelligence professionals to keep America safe. We will take all necessary steps to protect our people and our communities, and to protect our nation as a whole.

We have to get much tougher. We have to get much smarter. And we have to get much less politically correct. We’re so politically correct that we’re afraid to do anything. And that’s not only our country, that’s other countries too that are having very similar problems. And we have to get tough, we have to get smart, we have to do what’s right to protect our citizens. We will never waver in the defense of our beloved country — ever. And we’ll never, ever forget the beautiful lives that have been taken from us.

That was a horrible event, and we have to stop it, and we have to stop it cold. We also have to come up with punishment that’s far quicker and far greater than the punishment these animals are getting right now. They’ll go through court for years. And at the end, they’ll be — who knows what happens.

We need quick justice and we need strong justice — much quicker and much stronger than we have right now. Because what we have right now is a joke and it’s a laughingstock. And no wonder so much of this stuff takes place. And I think I can speak for plenty of other countries, too, that are in the same situation.

So with that being said, we will be starting our Cabinet meeting today. It will be a discussion that will focus on vital issues of tax cuts and tax reform. It will be the largest tax cuts in the history of our country, by far. The House is doing very well. They’ve taken an extra few hours, which will go in tomorrow — into tomorrow. And they’ll be announcing, and I’ll probably be standing with them — we leave, as you know for Asia; we’re leaving on Friday morning. So I’ll be standing with them. Sometime tomorrow, we’ll be announcing massive tax cuts and reform. Not just tax cuts — it’s tax cuts, which to me is the most important — but it will be tax cuts and reform.

We’ve now had two straight quarters of 3 percent or more economic growth, GDP. But our economy and our country cannot take off the way it really should, so it’s really, really competitive with the rest of the world unless we get the kind of tax cuts for our companies and our middle class, our workers — unless we get the jobs we need. It can’t really take off until we get the tax cuts and reform passed.

This week, the House Ways and Means Committee will unveil a historic tax plan that will create new jobs, higher wages — which hasn’t happen in many years and now it’s starting to happen, I’m happy to tell you. Many, many years — people making less money today than they made 20 years today. You’ve heard it many times before. But it will lead to tremendous prosperity for American families, communities, and also for our job-producing businesses.

At the center of our plan are tax cuts for the working Americans. We will reduce tax rates, increase the amount of income that is taxed at zero, and increase the child tax credit, which is very important to families.

We’ll make the tax cuts simple and fair so that the vast majority of Americans can file their taxes on a single sheet of paper. We will be simplifying — it will be called simplification — our tax code.

We will restore America’s competitive edge by lowering taxes on America’s businesses for the first time in more than 30 years, and it will be a historic cut. Right now, other countries are so far below us. And then when you wonder, you see all these companies leaving, one after the other — they leave — that’s not going to be happening. And I must tell you, I’ve stopped it even before this. But we’re going to be stopping it in full. People are coming back.

We’ll be announcing very shortly, possibly right after I get back, a major company that’s moving back into the United States. It’s going to be a major name. People are going to be very surprised. Especially the country from which they’re leaving will be surprised.

Under our plan, we’ll go from being one of the highest-taxed nations in the world to one of the lowest, meaning more jobs, more factories, more plants, more opportunities, right here in America, where we want them.

We will reduce taxes for businesses of all sizes. I must add that we’re also negotiating right now — I have my full team here — tremendously different trade deals. Our trade deals are horrible. They were made by people that, honestly, it’s sad. It’s very sad for our country. Every trade deal we have is disastrous. We’re renegotiating our trade deals.

And if we have support from Congress, we’ll make trade deals that are horror shows into very good and respectable trade deals, and trade deals that are good for both countries and, in fact, many countries. But very important is that we renegotiate our trade deals.

With Mexico, as an example, we have a trade deficit of $71 billion — that’s NAFTA. We have trade deficits with China that are through the roof. They’re so big and so bad that it’s embarrassing saying what the number is. But you know what the number is. And I don’t want to embarrass anybody four days before I land in China, but it’s horrible.

And you look all over the world, no matter where we do trade, we have bad trade deals. We’re renegotiating those deals, as I said I would during the campaign. And that’s going to be a big factor in our growth.

Finally, our plan will bring back trillions of dollars from offshore — trillions. We have, in my estimation, $4 trillion that will come pouring back into our country that will be put to work and will be spent by our companies that could never get the money back for many years.

And interestingly, it’s something that Republicans and Democrats have agreed on for years — bring the money back. What’s not to agree? Bring the money back. And they couldn’t get it done because there was a lack of leadership; they couldn’t get it done. They all agreed it should be done; they couldn’t get it done. So we will be bringing that money back. We’re rebuilding America.

I’ll be announcing tomorrow the new head of the Federal Reserve. That will take place sometime tomorrow afternoon. You’ll be notified as to the time. I think you’ll be extremely impressed by this person.

As part of our push to renew our prosperity, I’ll also be making a very historic trip on Friday, as I said. Our visit will take us to Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam, the Philippines. You remember the Philippines — the last trip made by a President that turned out to be not so good. Never quite got to land. And we will host leaders with world leaders across the Indo-Pacific region.

I look forward to it. We’re going to meet a lot of presidents and leaders of countries that have been friends and have become very good friends of mine. And we have great trade relationships, other than the fact that we are right now being taken advantage of, but I think they’ll start changing them pretty quickly.

Key administration officials, including Secretary Mnuchin and Gary Cohn will be staying back from the trip to Asia to remain vigilant in making sure the tax cuts pass. So if I have any problems, I will be blaming Mnuchin and Cohn. (Laughter.) Believe me, you’ll be hearing from it. (Laughter.) But I think they’re going to do very well. We are doing very well.

In the Houses, I must tell you, they’ve been working really hard, and they’re coming up with a great plan. And the Senate is coming up with a great plan. And they’re going to be put together and something is going to come out of that that will be, I think, really, really something very special.

Again, we’re doing Senate, we’re doing the House, it’s put together, and then we have our beautiful new tax cuts and reform. And I think it will be very special.

I’m also counting on our great Vice President, Mike Pence, and the rest of my Cabinet to continue to push forward the tax cuts and the reform while I’m away. And they’re going to be all over the country. They’ll be all over the country working on it. But specifically, they’ll be working on the members of the House, members of the Senate.

We think we’ll actually get some Democrats to join us in the Senate because, frankly, I actually think they’ll lose their elections in those communities and those states because the people of those states and the people of all states need tax cuts. Again, we’re the highest-taxed nation, just about, in the world. We need tax cuts.

So with that, we will start our Cabinet meeting. We have a wonderful group of people. We have a great Cabinet. They’re doing an incredible job. I don’t think, actually, they’ve been given the credit that they deserve. But that doesn’t matter quite yet. We’ll let you know when it’s time to tell you about it. (Laughter.)

But we have done — at the border, we’ve done a fantastic job. We’ve done great with the military. ISIS is being decimated. They’re being decimated. But they’ve quickly moved to other places in the world, like Africa and others, and we’re there to meet them. This has never happened. We have done more to annihilate ISIS than eight years of the previous administration. So we are doing a real job. We’re actually making tremendous strides in Afghanistan also. And I think you see what’s happening. You see what’s happening.

So we’ve done a largely — really, a job that’s been very, very well respected by many.

One of the things that has happened that nobody is paying attention to, but you’re going to see it this week, are judges — federal judges. Not only Justice Gorsuch, who’s doing fantastically on the Supreme Court, but we have many judges that are being approved at the district level — federal district judges and court of appeals judges. We’ll have — at this moment we’ll be up to, fairly soon, the approval of 145 federal judges, district; and court of appeals, about 17 at this moment.

So we will have — a big percentage of the court will be changed by this administration over a very short period of time. I don’t believe, other than perhaps when they started the whole process — I don’t believe anybody has come close. So we’ll have 145 — and that number will be increasing with time — 145 district court judges, and we’ll have 17 court of appeals judges.

And I must tell you, the Wall Street Journal gave us great reviews on that, really fantastic reviews. But I think it’s a very important element that should be pointed out because a lot of people don’t know it.

So again, tomorrow is a big announcement, and we’ll have another announcement having to do with the tax cuts. That will be out tomorrow pretty early.

And I appreciate it, and I will see many of you on the trip to Asia. Thank you very much.

Q Mr. President, do you want the assailant from New York sent to Gitmo?

THE PRESIDENT: I would certainly consider that, yes.

Q Are you considering that now, sir?

THE PRESIDENT: I would certainly consider that. Send him to Gitmo — I would certainly consider that, yes.

Q And how did the diversity program fit into his plot, do you believe, sir?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, they say he came in through that program, so we’ll see. We’re looking at it. But they say he came in. I don’t want — I want — look, it’s very simple. What we are demanding is merit-based immigration. We want people that are going to help our country. We want people that are going to keep our country safe.

We don’t want lotteries where the wrong people are in the lotteries. And guess what? Who are the suckers that get those people? And we want a merit-based system, and we do not want chain migration where somebody like him ultimately will be allowed to bring in many, many members of his family. And we don’t want that.

Thank you all very much.

Q Mr. President, do you believe any members of his family represent a threat? Do you believe any members of his family represent a threat to the country, sir?

THE PRESIDENT: They could.

Q They could?

THE PRESIDENT: They could. They certainly could.

Q Do you have intelligence to that effect, sir?

THE PRESIDENT: He did. He did. They certainly could represent a threat.

Thank you. Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you.

Q Mr. President, have you decided not to reappoint Janet Yellen?

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. I think Janet Yellen is excellent. I think she’s excellent.

Q Is she your choice?

THE PRESIDENT: I didn’t say that. I think she’s excellent. Go ahead. Thank you very much.


12:17 P.M. EDT