8:10 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning, everybody. We just had news that Turkey released a prisoner that we were trying to get, and they released him a little while ago into home custody and will be released from home custody to the United States pretty soon. And I just want to thank President Erdoğan. We dealt with that, and he was — it was great.
They released this prisoner, hostage — whatever you want to call him. He’s at home custody, in Turkey. He’ll be released fairly soon, so that’s good news. I guess, probably, you know about that.
Other than that, I think things are going very well. The economy is doing fantastically well, beyond any expectation. Unemployment numbers are just about the best in the history of our country. Employment numbers are the best. We have close to 160 million people working today, which is more than we’ve ever had before.
I’m going out to Colorado today to give the commencement address for the Air Force, which is actually very exciting for me. It’s an amazing place. These are great people. So I look forward to doing that.
Q What did you make of Mueller’s statement yesterday?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think it was the same as the report. There wasn’t much change. It was, to me, the same as the report. And there’s no obstruction. You see what we’re saying. There’s no obstruction, there’s no collusion, there’s no nothing. It’s nothing but a witch hunt. This is a witch hunt by the media and the Democrats. They’re partners.
And it keeps going. I thought it was finished when the report was released, but it goes on. And, to me, it was the same, frankly, as the report. And he said, basically, it was the same as the report.
Q Do you still think Robert Mueller behaved honorably?
THE PRESIDENT: I think he’s totally conflicted. Because, as you know, he wanted to be the FBI Director, and I said no. As you know, I had a business dispute with him. After he left the FBI, we had a business dispute. Not a nice one. He wasn’t happy with what I did, and I don’t blame him. But I had to do it because that was the right thing to do. But I had a business dispute.
And he loves Comey. You look at the relationship with those two. So whether it’s love or deep like, but he was conflicted.
Look, Robert Mueller should’ve never been chosen because he wanted the FBI job and he didn’t get it. And the next day, he was picked as Special Counsel. So you tell somebody, “I’m sorry, you can’t have the job.” And then, after you say that, he’s going to make a ruling on you? It doesn’t work that way. Plus, we had a business dispute. Plus, his relationship with Comey was extraordinary.
Now, one other thing I’ll say: Why didn’t he investigate Strzok, and Page, and McCabe, and Comey and all the lies, and Brennan and the lies, and Clapper and the lies to Congress, and all of the things that happened to start this investigation? Why didn’t Comey come clean? Why didn’t Comey come clean and say the things that he knows are fact? Why didn’t Mueller investigate Comey, his best friend or his very good friend? And there are so many other things.
Here’s a question. This is a study of Russia. Why didn’t they invest the insurance policy? In other words, should Hillary Clinton lose, we’ve got an insurance policy. Guess what? What we’re in right now is the insurance policy.
Q Do you think he behaved dishonorably?
THE PRESIDENT: I think he is a total conflicted person. I think Mueller is a true Never Trumper. He’s somebody that dislikes Donald Trump. He’s somebody that didn’t get a job that he requested that he wanted very badly, and then he was appointed. And despite that — and despite $40 million, 18 Trump haters, including people that worked for Hillary Clinton and some of the worst human beings on Earth — they got nothing. It’s pretty amazing.
Q Do you believe that Russia helped you get elected?
THE PRESIDENT: No, Russia did not help me get elected.
Q That’s what it said (inaudible).
THE PRESIDENT: You know who got me elected? You know who got me elected? I got me elected. Russia didn’t help me at all. Russia, if anything, I think, helped the other side. What you ought to ask is this: Do you think the media helped Hillary Clinton get elected? She didn’t make it, but you take a look at collusion between Hillary Clinton and the media. You take a look at collusion between Hillary Clinton and Russia. She had more to do, in the campaign, with Russia than I did. I had nothing to do.
And, by the way, that’s one other thing. If you look, this was all about Russia, Russia, Russia. They don’t talk about Russia anymore because it turned out to be a hoax. It was all a hoax. And then they say, “Gee, he fought back. Isn’t that terrible? He fought back.” Of course, I fight back. Because it was a false accusation — a totally false accusation. And it’s a disgrace. And it’s a very — it’s a very sad period for this country.
And I think, in the end, I will consider what’s happening now to be one of my greatest achievements: exposing this corruption.
Q Do you think they’re going to impeach you?
THE PRESIDENT: I don’t see how they can. Because they’re possibly allowed, although I can’t imagine the courts allowing it. I’ve never gone into it. I never thought that would even be possible to be using that word. To me, it’s a dirty word — the word “impeach.” It’s a dirty, filthy, disgusting word. And it had nothing to do with me.
So I don’t think so, because there was no crime. You know, it’s “high crimes and…” not “with” or “or.” It’s “high crimes and misdemeanors.” There was no high crime and there was no misdemeanor. So how do you impeach based on that?
And it came out that there was nothing to do with Russia. The whole thing is a scam. It’s one of — it’s a giant presidential harassment. And, honestly, I hope it goes down as one of my greatest achievements because I’ve exposed corruption — I’ve exposed corruption like nobody knew existed.
Q China says it’s going to restrict (inaudible) and rare earth elements if your trade strategy (inaudible).
THE PRESIDENT: I think we’re doing very well with China.
Come here, I want to shake your hand. Come here. You’ve treated me fairly. Thank you. Thank you.
Q Mr. President —
THE PRESIDENT: Wait. Wait. I want to answer a real reporter’s question. We’re going to answer a real reporter’s question, okay?
China would love to make a deal with us. We had a deal, and they broke the deal. I think, if they had to do again, they wouldn’t have done what they did. We’re taking in billions of dollars in tariffs. China is subsidizing products. So the United States taxpayer is paying for very little of it. And if you look at inflation and if you look at pricing, it’s gone up very little.
The tariffs are having a devastating effect on China. People are fleeing the country with their companies. These companies are leaving for Vietnam, other parts of Asia, and they’re even coming to the United States because then there’s no tariff.
I think we’re doing very well with China. We’ll see what happens. But I can tell you China very much wants to make a deal because the companies are leaving China to avoid the tariff. China is becoming a very weakened nation, just as Iran has become a very weakened nation. And Iran wants to make a deal also.
Q Will you see Boris Johnson or Nigel Farage in the UK?
THE PRESIDENT: Say it?
Q Will you see Boris or Mr. Farage?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I may. Nigel Farage is a friend of mine. Boris is a friend of mine. They’re two very good guys. Very interesting people. Nigel has had a big victory; he’s picked up 32 percent of the vote, starting from nothing. And I think they’re big powers over there. I think they’ve done a good job.
Q Would you support either of them?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I like them. I mean, they’re friends of mine, but I haven’t thought about supporting them. Maybe it’s not my business to support people. But I have a lot of respect for both of those men.
Q On the USS McCain, do you think it’s fair to the sailors of the John McCain that they were banned from hearing you speak simply because they (inaudible)?
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah, I don’t know what happened. I wasn’t involved. I would not have done that. I was very angry with John McCain because he killed healthcare. I was not a big fan of John McCain in any way, shape, or form. I think John McCain had a lot to getting President Bush — a lot to do with it — to go into the Middle East, which was a catastrophe.
To me, John McCain — I wasn’t a fan. But I would never do a thing like that. Now, somebody did it because they thought I didn’t like him, okay? And they were well meaning, I will say. I didn’t know anything about it. I would never have done that.
Q Do you owe the sailors of the McCain an apology?
THE PRESIDENT: No, not at all. I heard sailors all went on. We had a tremendous group of sailors from various ships. It was a beautiful day. But the McCain thing, I knew nothing about.
Q What are you doing to (inaudible) foreign adversaries from interfering in 2020?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think I’ve been much tougher on elections than President Obama. President Obama was told, in 2016, just before the election in September, that Russia may try and interfere with the election. He did nothing. And the reason he did nothing is he thought Hillary was going to win.
We are doing a lot, and we’re trying to do paper ballots, as a back-up system, as much as possible. Because going to good, old-fashioned paper, in this modern age, is the best way to do it.
Q (Inaudible) talks with President Putin? What does the U.S. gain from that?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think we want to have a relationship with Russia and China and everybody. And I’ve said that for a long time. Getting along with Russia, getting along with China is a good thing if we can do it on fair terms or our terms.
Q (Inaudible) with Venezuela?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, Venezuela — we’re just on watch. We’ll see what happens. I’d love to see them work out their problems. I understand there are a lot of talks going on. But I’m all for the people of Venezuela. You know that probably better than anyone.
Steve, go ahead.
Q In Israel, Netanyahu has been failing to form a coalition. Are you worried about that?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, it’s too bad what happened in Israel. It looked like a total win for Netanyahu, who’s a great guy. He’s a great guy. And now they’re back in the debate stage and they’re back in the election stage. That is too bad, because they don’t need this. I mean, they’ve got enough turmoil over there. It’s a tough place. I feel very badly about that.
It looks like they’re talking, but more likely they’ll have to go back into election mode. That’s too bad.
Q The Mueller report said Russia was trying to help you and hurt Hillary Clinton. Was Mueller wrong about that?
THE PRESIDENT: I believe that Russia would rather have Hillary Clinton as President of the United States than Donald Trump. The reason is: Nobody has been tougher on Russia than me. Whether it’s our energy policy, which was not hers; whether it’s the pipelines, as you know, in Europe, going all over the place that I’ve been bitterly complaining about; whether it’s Ukraine; whether it’s a whole host of things — there has nobody ever been more tough or difficult for Russia than Donald Trump.
Now, I have to tell you this: I put sanctions on Russia at a level that nobody has seen before. Nobody even wants to write about it.
With all of that, I want to get along with Russia, and I want to get along with China, and I want to get along with Europe. I want to get along with everybody, if it’s possible. I even want to get along with Iran, and Iran wants to talk. And if they want to talk, I’m available. Thank you.
Q (Inaudible) what you hope to do?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we’re going to be staying at Doonbeg, in Ireland because it’s convenient and it’s a great place. But it’s convenient. We’ll be meeting with a lot of the Irish officials, and it’ll be an overnight stay. And I look forward to that.
Q What will you be discussing with the Taoiseach?
THE PRESIDENT: A lot of the things that you (inaudible).
Q Mr. President, do you think the White House should apologize for (inaudible) John McCain?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I can’t because I didn’t know anything about it. I don’t know who did it. We’ll probably be able to find out who did it. They thought they were doing me a favor because they know I am not a fan of John McCain. John McCain killed healthcare for the Republican Party and he killed healthcare for the nation. I disagree with John McCain on the way he handled the vets, because I said you got get to Choice. He was never able to get Choice. I got Choice. I disagreed with John McCain on the Middle East. He helped force Bush to make a very bad decision and go into the Middle East.
So, I wasn’t a fan of John McCain and I never will be. But certainly, I couldn’t care less whether or not there’s a boat named after his father.
Q Robert Mueller did not say “no obstruction.” He said he did not feel he could charge with you a crime because (inaudible).
THE PRESIDENT: There were no charges. None. If you look at — if you look at Bill Clinton, that very nice gentleman who’s been so much on my side, as you know, his special prosecutor — it was guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty. So many guiltys. With me, there was no guilty. Number one, there was no crime. And number two, I fought back. And I’ll tell you —
Q (Inaudible) said he couldn’t say “no crime.”
THE PRESIDENT: Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait. Well, here was no collusion. There was no collusion. Read volume one. There was no collusion.
Q (Inaudible.) He said he could not say there was no crime. He could not clear you.
THE PRESIDENT: That means you’re innocent. That means you’re innocent.
Q He said he couldn’t say you were innocent.
THE PRESIDENT: Excuse me — then he should’ve said “you’re guilty.”
Q But he said he couldn’t do that because that would be unfair. (Inaudible.)
THE PRESIDENT: That’s wrong. That’s wrong. No. Because he said it — he said it differently the first time. So he said, essentially, “You’re innocent.” I’m innocent of all charges. And, you know, the thing that nobody brings up: There was no crime. They’re saying “he’s obstructing something” and there was no crime. And nobody brings it up.
Also, someday, you ought to read a thing called Article 2. Read Article 2, which gives the President powers that you wouldn’t believe. But I don’t even have to rely on Article 2. There was no crime. There was no obstruction. There was no collusion. There was no nothing. And this is from a group of people that hate me. If they only found anything, they would’ve had it. And he knows that better than anybody.
Q He did not say that you were innocent. He said he did not —
THE PRESIDENT: There was no crime, there was no charge because he had no information.
Q Do you agree with Louisiana’s ban on abortion at six weeks? Is that a good law?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we’re going to have a statement about it. And I’m also going to have, probably today, a major statement on the border. This is a big league statement. But we are going to do something very dramatic on the border, because people are coming into our country — the Democrats will not give us laws. They will not change laws. They will not meet. They will not do anything. They want to have open borders. They want to have crime. They want to have drugs pouring into our country. They want to have human trafficking. I’m going to be making a statement probably tomorrow but maybe today.
Q Are you closing the border?
THE PRESIDENT: No, I’m not closing the border. I’m doing something else.
We’re going to be having a major statement on the border sometime later today or tomorrow.
Q What’s the (inaudible) of it?
THE PRESIDENT: It will be a statement having to do with the border and having to do with people illegally coming over the border. And it will be my biggest statement, so far, on the border. We have brought something to the light of the people. They see now it’s a national emergency, and most people agree. The Democrats agree too, but they won’t give us the legislation you need to fix it.
Right now, when you catch somebody, you have to release them. They won’t give us the legislation. Whether it’s chain migration or whether it’s lottery, they won’t give us any. And the asylum procedures are ridiculous. No place in the world has what we have in terms of ridiculous immigration laws.
So I will be making a major statement — I would say my biggest statement — on the border, probably today or tomorrow.
8:27 A.M. EDT