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South Lawn

10:23 A.M. EST

Q Mr. President, your reaction to Cohen pleading guilty to lying to investigators?

THE PRESIDENT: So Michael Cohen has made many statements to the House, as I understand it, and the Senate. He put out a statement talking about a project, which was essentially, I guess, more or less of an option that we were looking at in Moscow. Everybody knew about it. It was written about in newspapers. It was a well-known project. It was during the early part of ’16 and, I guess, even before that. It lasted a short period of time.

I didn’t do the project. I decided not to do the project. So I didn’t do it. So we’re not talking about doing a project; we’re talking about not doing a project.

Michael Cohen, what he’s doing is — he was convicted, I guess. You’ll have to put it into legal terms. But he was convicted with a fairly long-term sentence on things totally unrelated to the Trump Organization — having to do with mortgages, and having to do with cheating the IRS perhaps. A lot of different things. I don’t know exactly, but he was convicted of various things unrelated to us.

He was given a fairly long jail sentence. And he’s a weak person. And by being weak, unlike other people that you watch — he is a weak person. And what he’s trying to do is get a reduced sentence.

So he’s lying about a project that everybody knew about. I mean, we were very open with it. We were thinking about building a building. I guess we had — in a form, it was an option. I don’t know what you’d call it. We decided — I decided ultimately not to do it. There would have been nothing wrong if I did do it. If I did do it, there would have been nothing wrong. That was my business.

Q Did you tell him to lie?

Q When did you decide not to do the project?

THE PRESIDENT: So he’s lying, very simply, to get a reduced sentence. Okay?

Q When did you decide not to do the project?

THE PRESIDENT: I don’t know when I decided, but somewhere during the period of time. I was never very enthused. Somewhere during the period — because I was running for President. My focus was running for President. But I — when I run for President, that doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to do business. I was doing a lot of different things when I was running.

After I won, obviously I don’t do business, when — from January 20th — but more importantly — which is a following year. But I ran a business. In fact, I often joke about the fact that I was the only person that campaigned and simultaneously ran a business.

But that was — that was a project that we didn’t do, I didn’t do. That was a project that wasn’t done for a lot of reasons. Number one is that I was really — not that I had to do it — but I was focused on running for President. I wanted that to be my primary focus, not running or building a building.

Q But Mr. President, you said you had no deals with Russia. You said you had no deals with Russia.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, this was a deal that didn’t happen. That was no deal. I mean, if you look, this was an option — I guess, I don’t if I want to — I want to be very specific. So — but, to my way of thinking, it was an option that I decided not to do.

Q When did you decide not to do it?

THE PRESIDENT: So we didn’t. So if you look, we really didn’t have —

Q Did you talk to him about it after you were elected?


Q Did you talk to him about it after you were elected?

THE PRESIDENT: So — excuse me. Excuse me. This was an option, in a form, but here’s very simple: We had a position to possibly do a deal to build a building of some kind in Moscow. I decided not to do it. The primary reason — there could have been other reasons. But the primary reason, it was very simple: I was focused on running for President.

There would be nothing wrong if I did do it. I was running my business while I was campaigning. There was a good chance that I wouldn’t have won, in which case I would have gotten back into the business. And why should I lose lots of opportunities?
So here’s the story: Go back and look at the paper that Michael Cohen wrote before he testified in the House and/or Senate. It talked about his position. What he’s trying to do — because he’s a weak person and not a very smart person. What he’s trying to do is end — and it’s very simple. He’s got himself a big prison sentence, and he’s trying to get a much lesser prison sentence by making up a story.

Now, here’s the thing: Even if he was right, it doesn’t matter because I was allowed to do whatever I wanted during the campaign. I was running my business — a lot of different things — during the campaign.

So, very simply, Michael Cohen is lying and he’s trying to get a reduced sentence for things that have nothing to do with me.

Now, let me go a step further: I think you should go back to — I think it was January. It was just reported very well by Catherine Herridge, who’s a terrific reporter on Fox. She talks about a letter that he signed. I don’t even remember it. And it specifically talks about this deal.

This deal was a very public deal. Everybody knows about this deal. I wasn’t trying to hide anything. Okay.

Q The Russians are still supporting Hamas and Hezbollah —

THE PRESIDENT: I cannot understand you.

Q The Russians are still supporting groups like Hamas and Hezbollah in Syria and Palestine. So when you see Putin, what are you going to tell him about these activities?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, we’re going to talk about it, but we have a lot of — we have a lot of things to talk about.


Q Mr. President, you’re going into a summit shortly. What is your sense about a trade deal with China? What do you expect to say to Mr. Xi?

THE PRESIDENT: I think we’re very close to doing something with China, but I don’t know that I want to do it because what we have right now is billions and billions of dollars coming into the United States in the form of tariffs or taxes. So I really don’t know.

But I will tell you that I think China wants to make a deal. I’m open to making a deal. But, frankly, I like the deal we have right now.

Q Mr. President, are you going to meet with Putin? And if so, what are you going to tell him?

THE PRESIDENT: I probably will be meeting with President Putin. We haven’t terminated that meeting. I was thinking about it, but we haven’t. They’d like to have it.

Q But what are you going to tell him?

THE PRESIDENT: I think it’s a very good time to have the meeting. I’m getting a full report on the plane as to what happened with respect to that, and that will determine what I’m going to be doing.

Okay? Thank you.

Q You have said you were getting a full report on Tuesday. Did you get that report? And what did it say?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I have a couple of reports. We’re getting a finalized report. Are you talking about on the Russian situation —

Q Yes.

THE PRESIDENT: — with the ship —

Q Yes.

THE PRESIDENT: — and the Ukraine? Yeah, we’re getting a finalized report. I’m going to have it on the plane sometime today.

Q Why aren’t you meeting with the Crown Prince? Why aren’t you meeting with the Crown Prince? Do you not think —

THE PRESIDENT: It just wasn’t set up.

Q — it’s important to hear his denial of killing Khashoggi or having knowledge of it in person?

THE PRESIDENT: It only wasn’t set up. I mean, I would — I would have met with him but we didn’t set that one up.

Q Why?

THE PRESIDENT: I’m meeting with President Xi, which is a very important meeting having to do with trade. And, as you know, I’m making about three or four meetings. We just didn’t have time.

Q Mr. President, are you going to be raising the case of the two Americans being held in China with President Xi?

THE PRESIDENT: I’m going to bring it up. Yes.

Q Mr. President, it seems like you’re leaning toward pardon —

THE PRESIDENT: I don’t hear you. You have to talk. You got — see that? You have a helicopter.

Q It seems like you’re leaning toward pardoning Paul Manafort. Is that true?

THE PRESIDENT: No, the question was asked yesterday about pardons, with respect to Paul Manafort, who — it’s very sad what’s happened to Paul, the way he’s bring treated. I’ve never seen anybody treated so poorly.

But the question was asked to me by the New York Post. And I said, “No, I have not offered any pardons.” And I think they asked — or whatever — “Would you?” I said, “I’m not taking anything off the table.” That was done as a question from the New York Post.

Go ahead.

Q If Cohen is such a bum, why did you hire him, have him on your payroll for 12 years, and have him do so much of your dirty work like paying off (inaudible)?

THE PRESIDENT: Because, a long time ago, he did me a favor. A long time ago, he did me a favor.

Q Mr. President, is Michael Cohen a threat to your presidency?

THE PRESIDENT: No, not at all. Not at all. I’m not worried at all about him. You just take a look at his written document. Go back, take a look at what he wrote in, I think, January. He has a written statement. And I — that’s the fact.


Q Mr. President, there is a campaign in France — there is a campaign in city of Strasbourg who wants to push people to vote for the European elections, saying France — we don’t want the European Union to be like Trump’s America. What do you want to tell them? What do you want —

THE PRESIDENT: I don’t know what — you know, you can’t — with the helicopter.

Q Are we closer to a shutdown?


Q Are we closer to a shutdown, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT: A possible shutdown — if we don’t get the wall money. A very possible —

Q (Inaudible) negotiations?

THE PRESIDENT: We’re in negotiation. If we don’t get border security, possible shutdown.

See you all.


10:33 A.M. EST