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South Lawn

3:38 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  So we’re heading out to Iowa, where we have a big statement to make, as you know, on ethanol and for our farmers.  Likewise, we’re taking care of our refineries and our refiners, and they’ve done a fantastic job.  But we want to get more fuel into the system, and this is a great thing.

But they’re great for our farmers, and it was a promise that I made during the campaign.  And, as you know, I keep my promises.  So that’s the way it is.

So we’re heading out to Iowa.  I assume some of you are coming.

Yes, please.

Q    Mr. President, in terms of who may succeed Nikki Haley at the United Nations, the name “Dina Powell” is out there.  That would be a trade — one strong woman from another.  What are the chances of that happening?

THE PRESIDENT:  It’s certainly a person I would consider.  And she is under consideration.  We have, actually, many names.  And, you know, Nikki has been great.  Nikki is going to be working along with us and helping us with the choice.  Plus, she’s going to help us with 2020.  And Nikki is a great friend of mine.  We’ve become real friends over the last period of time.  But she’s done a fantastic job.  And so she’ll be involved.  And Dina, certainly.  And there are others.  I’ve heard a lot of names.

Q    What about Ivanka?

THE PRESIDENT:  I’ve heard Ivanka.  I’ve heard — how good would Ivanka be?

Q    Would you consider her?

THE PRESIDENT:  The people that know — it’s nothing to do with nepotism.  But I want tell you: The people that know, know that Ivanka would be dynamite.  But, you know, I’d then be accused of nepotism, if you can believe it.  Right?


Q    Is it a serious consideration though?  Would she be a good fit for that job?

THE PRESIDENT:  I think Ivanka would be incredible.  That doesn’t mean I’d — you know, I’d pick her, because you’d be accused of nepotism, even though I’m not sure there’s anybody more competent in the world.  But that’s okay.

But we are looking at numerous people.  And it is interesting, the name you just mentioned.

Q    What’s the real reason for Ambassador Haley’s resignation?  There’s a lot of speculation about the timing, on a day when you should be celebrating the Kavanaugh nomination.

THE PRESIDENT:  We do a lot.  You know, this administration does a lot.  So, you’re right, another administration would — after like the Kavanaugh victory — it’s really a victory for the people; it’s not for me.  It’s a victory — they’ll have a great Justice for hopefully many years.  But a lot of people would celebrate; we go back to business the next day.

And, you know, Nikki and I talked about this a year ago.  And we ought to — she really wanted to be here for about two years.  We finished our big week last week at the U.N.  We had a tremendous success.  It was great.  And we finished 30 days out.

But, you know, Nikki is going to be involved with us for a long time.  And she’s going to help me also make that final pick.  We’re going to make a final pick.  I want to get somebody really good.

I think she’s also brought a new level of prestige to that position.  That position is — in terms of people wanting it — easier now, in a way, than it was before.  Nikki has brought, obviously, great competence, but she’s brought great prestige to that position.

Q    How do you keep your base energized now that you have this Kavanaugh victory?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, that’s a very good question.  “How do you keep your base energized now that you have the big Kavanaugh victory?”  I would say that just by winning.  Got to keep winning.  We’re doing a lot of winning.

We’re very happy with the USMCA, which is the — I don’t want to use the word “NAFTA” because it’s a terrible word, because it was a horrible deal for this country.  But our deal with Mexico and Canada was fantastic.  China wants to make a deal so badly.  We’ll see where it goes.  But I don’t think they’re ready yet, personally.

Q    Do you think the Democrats, on the other hand, will be energized because they saw the defeat of someone that they wanted (inaudible)?

THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah, probably.  I mean, there could be.  But, you know, a lot of those were paid protestors.  You saw that.  They were all unhappy because they haven’t been paid yet.  I’ve been calling it.  They were paid protestors.  That was professional.  That was orchestrated, when you look in the halls of Congress, and you see screaming like that.  And it’s like chimes — one goes; the next goes.  These are paid protestors.

I don’t know that their energy is great.  I can tell you, the energy on the Republican side, I don’t think it’s ever been greater — maybe 2016, where, as you remember, the energy was very good.

My man.

Q    Mr. President —

THE PRESIDENT:  Say hello to your father.

Q    I will.  You’ve already got two Supreme Court Justices through in your first term.  How many more do you think you might get this term?

THE PRESIDENT:  A lot of theories on that.  It could be three.  Under one theory, it could be four.  And then some people could say two could happen.

So, you know, it could anywhere be from, I would say, one or two, to four additional.  So we’ll see.

You know what?  I hope everyone remains healthy.  I’m very happy the way it is right now.  And we put a great man, and I think going to be a great Justice on the court.  But, you know, it’s a guessing game.  You don’t know.

What is an honor is that there have been Presidents — many Presidents that never had a choice.  And here I am, not even two years, and we have two.  And they’re confirmed and (inaudible).

Q    You’re meeting with Kanye West on — you’re meeting with Kanye West on Thursday, Mr. President.  When will you talk —

THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah, I believe Kanye West is coming to the White House.  He’s been a terrific guy.  You know, he loves what we’re doing for African American jobs, for so many different things.  Median income, as you see, at an all-time high.  Poverty level at the best rate — meaning the lowest rate so far.

And Kanye is a smart guy.  And he sees that.  And also coming with him — he said, “Do you mind if I bring Jim Brown?”  Big Jim Brown.  Boy, would he be making a lot of money today, right?  He was un — I call him “Unstoppable Jim Brown.”  And he’s been a friend of mine.  He’s been really with us.  Because he gets it.  He really gets it.  He sees that African American — and, by the way, Hispanic and Asian — have never done better in this country.  And he likes it.

Q    Were you concerned about the way that China treated Secretary Pompeo when he was there on this most recent visit?

THE PRESIDENT:  No.  They’re just trying to get me a message.  But those messages don’t work.  They don’t work.  But no, I think they treated him with great respect, actually.  You know, they had meetings besides just the news conference.  And I think they treated him with great respect.

He had a great meeting with North Korea.  And China, it’s — it wasn’t so much — I guess he was giving them a message, and they were giving him a message to come back to me.

Q    Do you have any updates about the Saudi journalist? Have you heard anything recently?

THE PRESIDENT:  I don’t know anything.  No, I don’t have any updates.  No.  It’s a sad situation.

Q    Have you read the U.N. report this week warning about climate change, requiring drastic action —

THE PRESIDENT:  It was given to me.  It was given to me.  And I want to look at who drew it.  You know, which group drew it.  Because I can give you reports that are fabulous, and I can give you reports that aren’t so good.  But I will be looking at it.  Absolutely.

Q    What do you think about Hope Hick’s new job at Fox?

THE PRESIDENT:  I think it’s fantastic.  Hope?

Q    Yeah.

THE PRESIDENT:  She’s the greatest.  I love it.  I think Hope is — I’m so proud of her.  And I’m very happy.  I’m very happy for you, right?  Was that announced officially now?

Q    Yes.

THE PRESIDENT:  I’m very happy for Fox because they have a winner.  Hope is a winner.  And she has been from the beginning.

You know, she was like literally right from first day.  That was a small group.  And — no, I’m very proud of Hope.  And Fox has themselves somebody who’s really great.

Q    On ethanol — the petroleum industry opposes this idea of moving to 15 percent ethanol year-round.  They say it’s going to hurt their industry.  What do you say to them?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I want more industry.  I want more energy.  I want more, because I don’t like $74.  It’s up to $74.  And if I have to do more, whether it’s through ethanol or through another means, that’s what I want.  I want low prices.  So I’m okay with it.

You know, it’s an amazing substance.  You look at the Indy cars — they run 100 percent on ethanol.  And you look at other certain forms of very modern energy, it’s ethanol-based, and that meant a lot to me.  But what it really means is we’re helping our farmers and we’re also going to be helping our refiners, and you know that too — because they’re both very important.  But the farmers have been so terrific, and they produce great product.  So I think it’s going to be great.

And it has no impact — 12 months.  That was a misnomer.  There is no negative impact.  In fact, there are those that say, you do this and the air is cleaner.  I agree with that.  But they say, you go 12 months instead of 8 — you go 12 months, and the air is actually cleaner.

Q    Just yesterday, CREW filed an ethics complaint against Nikki Haley, saying that she misused —


Q    CREW — Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics.  They fired an ethics complaint, saying that Nikki Haley misused private planes.  Did that factor in at all into the timing of the announcement?

THE PRESIDENT:  No, I know nothing about it.  I know nothing about it.  I know Nikki.  This is one of the most honest human beings you’ll ever see.  So I just — I haven’t heard about it.

Q    Would you like to see Nikki Haley be the next U.S. Senator from South Carolina, sir?


Q    Would you like to see Nikki Haley be the next U.S. Senator from South Carolina?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, that all depends on who she’s going to be running against.  I mean, I could tell you, you have some few really good ones right there, right now.  So I don’t see her doing that, no.

Q    Does Lindsey Graham have a place in your administration after the midterms?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, Lindsey is a terrific guy.  I think he wants to stay right where he is.  Certainly, I would.  But I think he’s really happy.  I’ll tell you what: Lindsey really stepped up over the last two or three weeks.  I thought it was fantastic.  So, Lindsey is a popular guy, and Tim is a popular guy.  I think those are two people — and Nikki doesn’t have that in mind at all.

Q    Is Senator Graham popular enough to be your next Attorney General, sir?

THE PRESIDENT:  He is somebody that never asked me that question.  I think he’s very happy where he is.  He’s having a good time.  And he really stepped it up.  He’s doing great.

Q    Mr. President, do you believe Nikki Haley when she says she doesn’t want to run for President in 2020?

THE PRESIDENT:  Oh, yeah, a hundred percent.

Q    You guys used to clash with one another.

THE PRESIDENT:  That’s right.  But we’ve — I didn’t know her.  I mean, she supported somebody over me in the primary.  It turned out very well for me.  She respected it.  And after that, we got along, as you would say, very well.  She helped me in the election — you know, once I won the primaries.  And we’ve really been friends and we’ve been compatriots.  We’ve been — we’ve done a great job together.

You know, the United Nations is at, I think, really a new level of respect.  And we work together.  We had a tremendous week last week.

So, no, Nikki wants to work with us and also to keep it going.  She wants to work — I guess she said today, a few times, she wants to work on the 2020 Election with us.

Q    Mr. President, what about your comments yesterday that some of these forces against Brett Kavanaugh were, quote, “evil”?

THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah, I think they were.  I think they were.  Yeah.

Q    Who do you (inaudible) — when you say “evil” you mean evil?

THE PRESIDENT:   Yeah, I’m not going to say who I mean.  I’m just telling you, you had forces saying things that were evil.  They were bad people.  And he is a very, very fine man.  And what was said about him should never have been said.

Q    (Inaudible) fellow Americans?

THE PRESIDENT:  I know many.  I know fellow Americans that are evil.  I know — are you saying we shouldn’t say that a fellow American is “evil”?  I’ve known some fellow Americans that are pretty evil.

Q    (Inaudible.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I like to see low interest rates.  The Fed is doing what they think is necessary, but I don’t like what they’re doing.  Because we have inflation really checked, and we have a lot of good things happening.

So, I will say this: We’re normalizing money, and that’s good, but I think we don’t have to go as fast.  I want to be able to pay off debt.  Also, and very importantly, I think that the numbers that we’re producing are record setting.  I don’t want to slow it down even a little bit, especially when you don’t have the problem of inflation.  And you don’t see that inflation going back.  Now, at some point it will, and you go up.  I just don’t think it’s necessary to go as fast.

Q    Have you talked to Jay Powell about that?  Have you told him what you think?

THE PRESIDENT:  I have not spoken to him about that.

Q    Have you met with him this year?

THE PRESIDENT:  No, I like to stay uninvolved with them.  I have not spoken.

How are you?

Q    Mr. President, again — hi, good, how are you?  Have you considered Jared Kushner, your son-in-law, for U.N. Ambassador?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, he’s very talented, but no, I haven’t.

Q    Okay.  And the second question —

THE PRESIDENT:  Only because I know you people.  What would you do if I said that, right?  What would they do?

Q    But Ivanka is in the running?

THE PRESIDENT:  Jared or — how do you feel about Ivanka?

Q    Great.

THE PRESIDENT:  I think CNN would support her.

Q    What about the difference between Kushner and Ivanka?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, look, they’re two very competent people.

Q    And on Rosenstein, he (inaudible) Congress.  Is he a —

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I guess he’s going before Congress.  We had a very good talk yesterday.  And he’s going before Congress.  We’ll see how it all works out.

In the meantime, as you know, Senator Richard Burr came out just recently and said there was no collusion.  He saw no collusion.  This is after what?  A year and a half.  And Devin Nunes, as you know, a very — smart people.  He came out.  There’s no collusion.  There is no collusion.  So that’s all I care about.

Q    Mr. President, with the nomination of Kavanaugh now behind us, how do you recommend we address the divide in the American political climate?

THE PRESIDENT:  We’ll start getting together.  We’ll start getting together.

Thank you, everybody.  Thank you.


3:53 P.M. EDT