Orange County Convention and Expo Center
August 29, 2020
3:59 P.M. CDT
THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you very much, everybody. I very much appreciate you being here. Thank you. And we — we love this state. It’s been a great state for me, and it’s been a great state for everybody in this room, I can tell you, Governor, right? And we’re here to help.
We’re joined today by Governor Greg Abbott, a very special man. And he’s doing a fantastic job for the state of Texas, and he has from day one.
And Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, another friend of mine. And thank you, Dan. And I watched you the other night on a very important show, and you did incredibly well representing the state.
And State Attorney General Ken Paxton, where he’s a very aggressive attorney general, and that’s what we like. And you have got some very big ones, including the mail-in ballots, right? “Unsolicited,” I call them. The “unsolicited” mail-in ballots, where people are sitting home and they just get hit with mail-in ballots all over the place.
STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL PAXTON: That’s a good way to put it.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I hope you’re going to be successful. I think it’s actually a very important case, not only here but for the whole country. So I know you’re — you’re really on top. I think we have about 18 of those cases throughout the country. In Pennsylvania, we have, and North Carolina. We have a lot of them, so we’ll see.
But you’re one of the great leaders. Thank you very much, Ken. I appreciate it.
A man who’s really been there when we need him, and he’s — he’s been incredible for Texas and he’s been my friend: Ted Cruz. Thank you.
SENATOR CRUZ: Mr. President, welcome.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Ted. We spent a lot of time before, and we’re working on getting Texas everything they need. And we’ll bring it back.
SENATOR CRUZ: Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Congressman Brian Babin. Brian, thank you very much. A warrior and a really terrific guy.
And Randy — where’s Randy? Randy, thank you. Randy Weber, congressman. Thank you very much.
And we have a couple of people who have been friends of mine, and I won’t mention too much, but they got a little shot of COVID. And I understand they’re going to be perfect; they’re going to be absolutely fine.
I want to say hello to Becky Ames. Becky, thank you very much. Beaumont — you’re doing good, right? Everything okay?
MAYOR AMES: Yes, sir. We are.
THE PRESIDENT: Were you hit hard?
MAYOR AMES: Not as hard as we could’ve been.
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah, it could’ve been a lot harder.
MAYOR AMES: It could’ve been a lot harder.
THE PRESIDENT: That’s great.
MAYOR AMES: And we’re recovering, and we appreciate you being here, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you very much, Becky. I hear you’re doing a great job.
And again, we were talking before about the path and the path — it could have been much more, because the power was incredible. Louisiana took a very, very hard hit, but even Louisiana, who was over just a little bit further, it would have been a record-setting hit because the power was record setting. It was at 185 and 175; it went to 150 — 150 miles an hour when it hit. But it was even worse than that, and it came quickly. It came very quickly. It came — in fact, I guess you would say, Pete, they were looking at that as a storm, and all of a sudden, the storm became a monster.
ADMINISTRATOR GAYNOR: Yes, sir. Thirty-six hours, a Cat 4.
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah. It went from a storm to 185 and 175 miles an hour. And then, when it hit, it was — and I think they say it was the most — the strongest that they’ve had in Louisiana and Texas in 150 years. But the path was a little bit lucky, so we got a little bit lucky, so that’s great.
I want to also introduce Chad Wolf, who, as you know, we just took the “acting” away from his name. And you’re doing a fantastic job — Homeland Security. And hopefully, Ted, we’ll be pushing that very hard, and we’ll get him through quickly because he’s done a fantastic job.
ACTING SECRETARY WOLF: Thank you, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Chad.
SENATOR CRUZ: He’ll get confirmed.
THE PRESIDENT: He’ll — he’ll do it, all right?
SENATOR CRUZ: Yeah, we’ll get it done, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Good. If he says it, that means it’s a good sign. (Laughter.) That’s a good sign.
And FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor, who’s been doing this with me for a long time, and we haven’t had a loss yet. We haven’t had a loser. I’ll tell you, we do it good and we do it fast, and we get you back up.
And everything, I think, Governor, has been signed and you’re ready to go? Right?
GOVERNOR ABBOTT: Yes. Yes.
THE PRESIDENT: You’re ready to go. I will dispense with all of the different numbers; you know what they are. We just sort of did it. We were in Louisiana and we went through, and they have been hit hard. They — we went through a couple of areas. I have never seen anything quite like it. You had trees ripped out from the roots. You had pine trees that were broken in half, not even from — and you just don’t see that kind of power.
So we went through something that was pretty, pretty bad. I don’t think you got anything like that, and that’s good. So we took the emergency declaration. We gave it to the Governor immediately. And Dan called about it also, and I appreciate that call. And between the two of them, that’s a great one-two punch. The Governor told me that himself, so I appreciate it.
And FEMA has delivered 400,000 liters of water and 250,000 meals already. We’ve worked with the private sector to restore power to remaining 200,000 residents, and they think the power is going to be restored almost — in very good order, I believe.
GOVERNOR ABBOTT: Pretty quick.
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah. I believe so.
And all of the other things that we’ve been doing — the infrastructure, all of the elements that we’ve been working on. And we’re working very close with Ted Cruz and with John Cornyn, who I hear is doing very well, by the way. I hear he’s doing — he’s a great senator. He’s doing a fantastic job. And — and we’ve been working with the Governor and with Dan, and I think maybe it’d be good if you would tell us how are we doing and what can we do and how can we help you, Governor.
GOVERNOR ABBOTT: Sure. First, I need to thank you for the way that you have stepped up. People don’t know this, but on midnight, as the storm was crossing the shoreline, you called me. And then — so that was 1:00 a.m. your time, and then we spoke again the morning after it happened.
You have been there for us every step of the way, helping us. Never have I seen such a swift response to our request as we have received from Administrator Gaynor. We cannot thank you enough. I call him, and it’s like he knows in advance I’m going to be calling him. (Laughter.) And so he just says “yes” immediately.
And so, of all the storms I’ve been through — which, as you know, has been a lot — I’ve never received a swifter response from the administration. And so on behalf of everybody in this room and everybody across the state of Texas, we want to say “thank you.”
I want to thank the local officials. Judge Gothia and — whose county we’re in right now — we appreciate you and your leadership. The members of Congress, Becky, and the other mayors in the region, we appreciate everything you do. And of course, Nim Kidd.
If I could share some details — I know you covered the details in Louisiana — just real quick.
I have declared a disaster in 62 counties, and the President has similarly declared a disaster in each of those counties. So on behalf of all of those 62 counties, we all say thank you, Mr. President, for that.
Right now, our areas of focus are on power, water, points of distribution, safe return of evacuees, and damage assessment. On power and water restoration, peak power outages exceeded 350,000 locations across 35 counties. Current outages, as of 9:00 a.m. this morning, are about 120,000 locations in 23 counties, meaning that emergency repair crews have quickly restored more than 250 — I mean, 230 of those power outage incidents.
For drinking water assessments, 111 of 171 drinking water system est- — or assessments have been completed; 84 are operational; 26 systems are under boil water notice.
In addition to things like that, we have 19 points of distribution set up in the impacted region that are providing things like water, ice, MREs, while their power and water systems are — remain inoperable.
There were over 10,000 evacuees that are in shelters throughout the state in approximately 3,300 hotel rooms. Of the shelter residents, the Texas Division of Emergency Management under Nim Kidd is tracking more than 2,200 shelter residents who are from Louisiana. Very important is that more than 10,000 of those evacuees were in what’s called non-congregate settings. What that means is they were in hotel rooms, typically. That is so important because we had to respond to Hurricane Laura while also responding to COVID-19, and the best setting for someone who’s an evacuee from a hurricane is not in a large congregate setting, but in separate settings to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
We succeeded in getting through Hurricane Hanna without this spread of COVID-19, and I believe we will succeed in getting through Hurricane Laura without spreading COVID-19.
A total of 808 residents were returned on 43 buses with more missions scheduled for today, and 160 state buses are ready to assist the ongoing re-population efforts.
Let’s see. That’s about it. We continue to assess damages throughout the region. We are on top of this because of the swift and effective leadership of Chief Nim Kidd. But we are better capable and swifter in responding to this hurricane because of the way you and your administration so swiftly stepped up and helped out the people of Texas.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you very much, Governor. You’re doing a great job in every way. In fact, I notice your COVID — you say “COVID-19.” Many different names. At least 20 different names, right? But you call it “COVID-19.” That’s okay with me, at least for today. (Laughter.) Generally, I call it something else.
But you’re doing very well in that. You’re coming down very rapidly — Texas — and so is Florida and so is — Arizona has been incredible; it’s down to its lowest numbers. So it’s really — it’s really doing well. So, that’s part of this.
And I like what you’re doing with respect to keeping people separated during this problem with the hurricane. Great job.
GOVERNOR ABBOTT: Sure.
THE PRESIDENT: Really great job. Thank you very much.
GOVERNOR ABBOTT: Sure. Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thanks, Greg.
SENATOR CRUZ: Well, Mr. President, we appreciate your being down in Texas once again. And let me say something that I just told the FEMA administrator a few minutes ago, which is that the consistent report I’ve gotten from the Governor, I’ve gotten from local officials, state officials, is the responsiveness of the administration throughout this hurricane has been extraordinary. In many ways, we had a blessing with this hurricane, and then it could have been much, much worse.
There was significant damage from this hurricane, but compared to what we’ve seen in the past, Texas could have gotten hit much worse. We obviously grieve that our neighbors in Louisiana took the brunt of this storm. And just as Louisiana stepped up and helped Texas, particularly with Hurricane Harvey but other hurricanes as well, we’re now stepping up to help our neighbors in Louisiana who are really suffering.
But one of the things that’s really impressive also is just the level of coordination. You know, Mayor Ames and I were laughing about how we’ve got an inadvertent and unfortunate expertise right now, and that Texas has been through some major, major disasters. And what we see consistently is a degree of interaction between the city officials, the county officials, the state officials, the federal officials, where you don’t get bickering and you don’t get turf jockeying. You just get everyone working together.
And as these disasters have come, you have reached out repeatedly. I still remember talking with you when Hurricane Harvey was in the Gulf, and I was in the Lucchese factory at El Paso.
THE PRESIDENT: That’s right.
SENATOR CRUZ: And you said then, and it was the case then and the case now — you said: Everything Texas needs — the federal government, the resources will be there.
And thank you for that leadership. It’s important, and it’s a testament here to the strength and expertise of the Texans at this table working with the federal government that we minimize the damage as much as possible with a very dangerous storm.
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah. Great job. Thank you very much.
LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR PATRICK: I was in the state senate when Ike hit. And the difference in your response, personally, and the response of the administration and FEMA is, of scale, they were a 1 and you’re a 10.
The fact that you called the governor at one in the morning, your time —
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I knew — I knew he was going to be up, so — (laugher). With him, I don’t have to worry about that.
SENATOR CRUZ: Dan, you need to make it at 11, like Spinal Tap.
LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR PATRICK: Yes, let’s make it 11. I mean, night and day.
We went years where we weren’t paid by the former administration, where our counties and our cities didn’t get paid.
THE PRESIDENT: No, I know. I know. I see the records.
LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR PATRICK: You’ve done a fabulous job.
Secondly, on COVID, to give you the numbers, our highest point in the hospital was 10,883 in July; we’re now under 4,800.
THE PRESIDENT: That’s great.
LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR PATRICK: And on COVID in ICU, we’re down almost 60 percent in many hospitals; 70 percent in some hospitals, in the ICU. So the Governor’s leadership here and all of Texans working together, we’ve really turned that corner.
THE PRESIDENT: That’s great (inaudible).
LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR PATRICK: And then I want to give the judge credit. We were here two days ago, and the Judge said, “Look, we weren’t hit as hard as some other areas, so whatever we have that other people need…” And so many Texans — we respect the Cajun Navy that came for us. We don’t have a name for our volunteers — the Texas brigade, the Texas volunteers, whatever you want to call them. But I’ve seen on all the newscasts, thousands of Texans have gone over to Louisiana, and that’s the spirit of Americans working together.
THE PRESIDENT: That’s great.
LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR PATRICK: So, Judge, thank you for — right away, you said, “Hey, we want to help everyone else.” So thank you, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Good job, Judge.
LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR PATRICK: You’ve been here so many times for us.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Dan. I appreciate it. Ken? Please.
STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL PAXTON: So, Mr. President, I did not grow up in Texas. My dad was an Air Force pilot; we grew up all over the place. But one of the things I love about Texas is we get stuff done, and you fit the culture of Texas because you get stuff done. So, thank you, because you truly have accelerated the pace of getting relief to our state like nobody else. So thank you.
And this governor has been exceptional in dealing with disasters like literally no governor I’ve ever seen. So I want to give you credit as well. So that’s all I wanted to say is: Thank you both.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you very much.
REPRESENTATIVE BABIN: Yes, sir. Thank you for being here, Mr. President. It’s an honor to have you in our district, and I can’t thank you and your administration enough for the rapid response. We’re still actually cleaning up after Imelda and after Harvey and other storms that have hit us. And your administration has been absolutely on the money.
And I’d also like to — he’s not here today, but I want to — I want to brag a little bit on the Orange mayor who is not here.
THE PRESIDENT: That’s right.
REPRESENTATIVE BABIN: His name is Larry spears. He’s done a tremendous job. And he is — I’m a former mayor myself, and I appreciate Mayor Spears and what he does.
But, Mr. President, your — your administration has done — we’re not supposed to get political here, and I realize that, but it has been like night and day from what we’ve seen in the past, and I just wanted want to say thank you —
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Brian.
REPRESENTATIVE BABIN: — for what you’re doing.
THE PRESIDENT: Appreciate it.
REPRESENTATIVE BABIN: Okay.
THE PRESIDENT: And say hello to the mayor. He’ll be fine; I know it. Just tell him to get well.
REPRESENTATIVE BABIN: I will.
I also want to say one quick thing: For Chad Wolf, I met your daddy yesterday. (Laughter.) And I don’t know if you — did you grow up in Orange at all?
ACTING SECRETARY WOLF: I did not. I grew up north of Dallas.
REPRESENTATIVE BABIN: That’s right. He told me that. But anyway —
ACTING SECRETARY WOLF: He’s right back there.
REPRESENTATIVE BABIN: Oh, yeah! There he is. That’s right.
THE PRESIDENT: You checking him out, right? (Laughter.) He’s very good.
SENATOR CRUZ: So should we have asked him if Chad should be confirmed? (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: He knows more.
GOVERNOR ABBOTT: (Inaudible) witness. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: That’s great. He’s doing a great job. Thank you very much. Thank you, Brian.
REPRESENTATIVE BABIN: Yes, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Randy? Please.
REPRESENTATIVE WEBER: Well, thank you, Mr. President. Thank you for being here. Of course, this is Dr. Babin’s district. I’m probably the oldest guy in the room. And that I grew up on the Gulf Coast, never left — I’ve probably been through more hurricanes than anybody here, starting in ‘61 with Hurricane Carla.
I was going into the Texas House in 2008 when Ike hit, and I’ve never — never — seen this kind of responsiveness from the federal government. It is a testament to your leadership, Mr. President. So thank you, thank you, thank you.
And our great state people are here too: our great Governor; Nim Kidd; Lieutenant Governor; Attorney General. I could run down the list. And you have done everything you said you would do for Texas and more, and my district loves you and we appreciate you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Randy, very much. You’re doing a great job.
CHIEF KIDD: Thank you, Mr. President. I want to thank the local officials. And Texas mayors and county judges are the only ones with the authority to mandate an evacuation, and that’s a courageous decision to make. And Mayor Spears, Judge, for the work that you did — that saved lives. The reason we have the low death count that we have is because you took the evacuation orders in this storm and took them seriously. So thank you for doing that.
To my Governor and the state elected leaders here, thanks for giving us the authority and the funding to go do good work. And we try really hard at that. But from our Regional Administrator Tony Robinson to Administrator Gaynor to Secretary Wolf, thank you for the dedicated leadership.
Mr. President, we’ve never had this quick of answers. I’ve been in this seat for 10 years. I think 17 or 18 major disaster declarations and about 300 (inaudible) later, we’ve never had this fast of a response, so thank you for that.
THE PRESIDENT: Okay, thank you very much. A very important state; a great state. And we’re going to take care of the people of Texas. That’s all there is to it.
MAYOR AMES: Thank you, Mr. President. I echo everything that’s been said here. It’s been unbelievable. I was elected mayor in 2007, and four months later, we had Umberto, and then shortly after, Ike, and going through Harvey and Imelda. We have had 26 federal declarations since 1953, and 19 of them have been since I was elected mayor in ‘07.
So I’ve gotten to know all of the people at this table very, very well. And the local officials work very close together and with the state. And Governor Abbott and our Senate and our Congress have been just unbelievable, and I just thank you for coming. It means a lot to us, and it means a lot to the people who live here —
THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you very much.
MAYOR AMES: — to see that our President will take the time to come and say hello to us.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much.
MAYOR AMES: So we appreciate it.
THE PRESIDENT: You’re doing a great job. Thank you, Becky, very much.
MAYOR AMES: Thank you so much.
THE PRESIDENT: Judge, I want to thank you very much. I hear just the job you do is incredible. And I can see the passion you have for it. It’s really great. We appreciate it.
JUDGE GOTHIA: Well, thank you. You know, it’s fantastic. I cannot tell you how much we appreciate you coming. And the governor has been here multiple times. And everybody involved — you know, we have a great concern for our community. We have a great concern for Texas. We have a great concern for Louisiana, and we’re going to do what we can to help them.
But a couple people for sure that — and I hate singling people out — but, for sure, Chief Kidd, thank you in the response that you and the Governor’s office has had and answering the phone calls, because there’s been many all the way through COVID down to this.
I’m kind of like Mayor Becky Ames: I’ve been in office four years; this is the sixth — disaster number six for me. So it’s — you know, we’re getting good at something we really don’t want to be good at, but we’re going to be good at it, and we’re going to get it taken care of.
But when we come to, one of the biggest things we’re looking at now, other than the storm itself, was what was caused by that, and that was some of our — getting our energy back up and getting our power back up. And we have someone in the building today who is the president and CEO of Entergy Texas, and their team, Sallie Rainer. And she — their team is in here in force and getting this power and stuff restored as quickly as possible so that our citizens that are on their way home can have power as quickly as possible to get back to repairing their homes.
And so there’s so many people that do so much for Texas. You know, one of the big projects we have — and I want to recognize General Beck with the Army Corps of Engineers. We’ve been working for a project. I know the Governor and Senator Cruz — Senator Cornyn is not here — but everybody is involved with it, which is the Coastal Spine Levee project. Twenty-six miles a day, which will be —
THE PRESIDENT: How is that going?
JUDGE GOTHIA: Well, it’s made huge progress in the last three weeks. The state and the General Land Office has helped fund Orange County share of that portion of it, and because of that, we’re able to move forward with the Corps. And when you’re working at the next legislative session, to continue that and to deal with that, that is huge for us.
THE PRESIDENT: Do you think it’ll work? Because I love the Army Corps.
JUDGE GOTHIA: It’s absolutely going to work.
THE PRESIDENT: They happen to be building our wall, just so you know. (Laughter.) They’re doing a very good job. Ten miles a day. We’re up to 300 miles. It’s going good.
How is that working?
GENERAL BECK: Sir, are you asking the wall?
THE PRESIDENT: No, the wall I know. The wall is good. (Laughter.) The levee.
GENERAL BECK: Sir, that’s another one (inaudible).
THE PRESIDENT: Call it the levee.
GENERAL BECK: Sir, so, within Orange, we’re excited. As the Judge said, we have the ability now with the — we’re moving forward with design. It’ll end with about 25 miles of wall, different types of wall. It’ll also end up with about seven pump stations in about 30 days.
THE PRESIDENT: So that’ll stop the water from pouring in?
GENERAL BECK: Sir, we’re confident that it will. And also, not only in Orange, but with two neighboring communities in Port Arthur and Freeport, it’s going to create a system — those two communities have walls. We’re going to continue to develop and improve those walls. And, collectively, those three projects are going to improve the protection on over 100,000 residences in this community, critical infrastructure, and also critical energy sector infrastructure.
Sir, they’re —
THE PRESIDENT: What is your timing on that?
GENERAL BECK: Sir, we’re starting to design right now with Orange. Right now we’re looking at all three of those projects being completed between ‘25 and — 2025 and 2027. So we’re moving forward.
And what makes them impressive — and the Judge is a great partner in this — is we’re doing this with the local community. We’re doing this with the state. This is a partnership we talked about in allowing us to develop something that not only will withstand, as you said, the storms, but also allow the communities to take care of these projects, and the residents behind them, in the future.
THE PRESIDENT: What do you think the cost will be of the entire project?
GENERAL BECK: Right now, with the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, we got $4 billion to move these three projects forward. So we have that funding in hand and are moving forward.
Also, as part of that act, we received additional funds to study the remainder of the Gulf Coast. So we’re working hard. We’ve got a study that we’re going to publish an interim report on in the near future, within the next month. And it looks at Houston, it looks at Galveston, it looks at Bolivar Peninsula.
THE PRESIDENT: Is that part of the original approval — Houston?
GENERAL BECK: Sir, that is part of the — when we got the Bipartisan Budget Act, that was — that study was part of that.
THE PRESIDENT: Good. Okay, good.
SENATOR CRUZ: So, Mr. President, what Congress —
THE PRESIDENT: You know, the Governor, Ted, called me. He said, “Would you do me a favor? Just one more favor. That’s all I want. It’s very small.” I said, “How much, Governor?” (Laughter.) He said, “It’s not much. Ten billion dollars.” I said, “Ten billion dollars?” But he said that would really do something with respect to this tremendous flooding every time you have a hurricane.
And so your phase one — really, phase one is what we’re talking about, but you could do something, and that’ll also take care of the Houston area.
GOVERNOR ABBOTT: Right.
SENATOR CRUZ: So Congress has already directed $3.8 billion, and that was with strong bipartisan support —
THE PRESIDENT: Good. Yeah.
SENATOR CRUZ: — and your support. And so that’s constructing — beginning construction of the Coastal Spine, but we’re also studying the continued expansion to complete it. And obviously a lot of — a lot of families and homes and a lot of businesses and energy infrastructure is all along the Gulf Coast.
THE PRESIDENT: And it will work, right?
GENERAL BECK: Yes, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: We’re not going to build it and we’re going to say, “Oops, it sprung a leak,” and that’s the end of that. It’s a big — it’s a big project, but it will work, right?
GENERAL BECK: Yes, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Okay. If you guys do it, it’s going to work.
From law enforcement down on the other side, and you’ve done a fantastic job, do you have anything to say?
SHERIFF MOONEY: Yes, sir. I would like to, Mr. President. I appreciate you being here. My community appreciates it. Thank you for what you do for our country.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
SHERIFF MOONEY: We really appreciate that. I also want to thank Judge John Gothia and somebody we didn’t mention, Joel Ardoin; he’s our emergency management coordinator. They’ve done an outstanding job, and we appreciate the work they’ve done.
I also want to thank everyone in this room that has helped us here in the community. Thank you very much.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much.
SHERIFF MOONEY: Thank you, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Greg, do you want to finish it off?
GOVERNOR ABBOTT: One thing that Texans have shown, whether it be Harvey, whether it be all these other storms you’ve heard — they have been through it, and it shows the resilience and perseverance that Texans have. But we are made even stronger by the swift and profound and effective support that we get from our leaders in Washington, D.C. You are the “Builder President.” You are helping to build that Coastal Spine that will protect Texas, but you are right now helping Texas rebuild in the aftermath of this hurricane. And we say thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: It’s my honor. Thank you very much.
Do you have any questions for the Governor or the Senator or anybody? Anybody have any questions?
Q For the Governor: Governor, what is the status in Galveston Bay with the refineries and the hundreds of chemical plants? If you could share just an update on the economic and environmental impact.
GOVERNOR ABBOTT: Sure. Just real — real quick: So the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality continues to monitor those, both with regard to air quality and water quality. They have mobile units engaged to make sure they’re going to be able to adequately go to all the impacted areas and do the monitoring and make sure that if there is any type of environmental situation, it will be swiftly contained.
THE PRESIDENT: Okay. Anybody else?
Q Mr. President. I have a question. This is obviously an important trip to visit these communities. Do you plan to visit Kenosha, Wisconsin, as well — another community that’s obviously in pain?
THE PRESIDENT: Probably so. We’ve had tremendous success, as you know. We were finally able to get the go-ahead from the local authorities to send in the National Guard. We sent in the National Guard, and within a few minutes of the Guard, everybody cleared out, and it became safe. We have — that was three days ago. We’ve had absolutely no problem.
We sent in 1,000 National Guard, and that’s not even a big force. We could clean out — as an example, Portland: We could fix Portland in, I would say, 45 minutes. And the people in Portland should protest because the mayor doesn’t know what he’s doing. He has no clue. He doesn’t even have a clue. And this has been going on for years in Portland, and it’s now been going on 94 days.
And if he would call or if they would ask, or if the governor would ask, we would have — we would have the National Guard in there in a very short period of time, and that would be cleaned out in a matter of literally minutes, and you’d have a safe Portland. It’s ridiculous that they go on like this.
So, with Kenosha, it’s been in very, very good shape from the moment they set foot in that area. The sheriff has been great. The police commissioner, the police chief has been great. We’ve been working with all of them. But the governor let us do what we had to do, and we cleaned it out, and we’ll see what happens. We have to keep it going. But it’s — we won’t have any problem.
Q Can I follow up, sir, with one thing on that? I think yesterday you did comment on the killing of Jacob Blake. You said you didn’t like how it looked.
THE PRESIDENT: I didn’t like it, no.
Q I wondered if you could comment about the other shooting that took place in that community.
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah, I see it.
Q You mentioned the National Guard going in — law enforcement — but this was a young man, 17-year-old, who’s facing murder charges for having shot two people.
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah.
Q There are some folks who’ve said conservatives are holding up this young man as — you know, having done so within his rights, so sort of self-protect. And I’m wondering if you’ve read much about this case, if you have concerns about ordinary residents with guns in situations like this and what dangers that might present.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, you know, that’s under investigation right now, and they’ll be reporting back to me over the next 24 hours, 48 hours maybe, max. And we’ll have a comment about it.
But that is — right now, we’re being — we’re looking at it very, very carefully. What we are doing with — it’s a great state, Wisconsin. Great state. And they should not have to put up with what they went through. And so the National Guard has done a fantastic job.
Any other questions?
Q Mr. President, why is the DNI no longer going to be updating the House and the Senate on election security issues in person?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I could have Mark answer that question. Mark? Please.
MR. MEADOWS: Yeah, I’d be glad to answer it. And I talked to Director Ratcliffe, and as you know, he’s been giving briefings. So he’s going to ultimately give full briefings in terms of not oral briefings, but full intel briefings.
But it really comes down to one simple thing: The last time they gave briefings, a few members went out and talked to the press and disclosed information that they shouldn’t have disclosed. And so he’s going to make sure that there’s the proper tools for their oversight and make sure that they contain it in a way that it does not jeopardize sources and methods for the intel that we gather.
THE PRESIDENT: Director Ratcliffe brought information into the committee, and the information leaked. Whether it was Shifty Schiff or somebody else, they leak the information before it gets in. And what’s even worse: They leak the wrong information.
And he got tired of it. So he wants to do it in a different form, because you have leakers on the committee — obviously, leakers that are doing bad things. Probably not even legal to leak. But we’ll look into that separately. But they were leaking the information as brought in.
How would you — you don’t have that in Texas. Ken, you wouldn’t allow that in Texas.
STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL PAXTON: No way.
THE PRESIDENT: I guarantee Ken will not be allowing the leakers to be doing that.
So we were — he wanted to make sure that it doesn’t leak.
Q Mr. President, one question about Laura. So in June of this year, NOAA issued a report indicating that climate change is at least in part responsible for increasing sea temperatures, which then, in turn, lead to storms like Laura and Harvey. In an area where petrochemicals and the energy industry are so critical, how do you balance that with, at the same time, attacking climate change so that storms like this don’t continue to ravage the Gulf Coast?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I tell you, you’ve had tremendous storms in Texas for many decades and for many centuries, and that’s the way it is. We handle them as they come. All I can do is handle them as they come, and that’s what we do, and nobody has ever done a better job of it.
And we love the people of Texas. And, Governor, it’s an honor to be with you. Thank you very much. Ted, thank you very much. Great job. Thank you, Dan. Please.
Thank you very much, everybody.
4:30 P.M. CDT