12:35 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you very much. This group gets bigger and bigger. This is a big group by any standard. This is like the Academy Awards used to be before they went political. Now nobody cares.
But a great honor to be with you. We’re doing very well. Mexico is doing a great job at the border, really helping us. We want the Democrats to help us as much as Mexico. And we’ll have absolutely no problem at the border. We’ll clean it up very quickly.
But the agreement with Mexico has been great. They’ve been working very hard. We’re doing very well together. A good relationship.
Q Mr. President, in his speech today, Joe Biden will say that your policies represent an existential threat to this nation. What do you say to Joe Biden?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I heard Biden, who’s a loser — I mean, look, Joe never got more than 1 percent, except Obama took him off the trash heap, and now it looks like he’s failing. It looks like his friends from the left are going to overtake him pretty soon.
But I heard he — you know, his whole campaign is to hit Trump. If you look at what the Obama administration did in terms of the military, in terms of security, in terms of other nations, in terms of almost everything, much of it now, fortunately for everybody here, has been overturned.
But, look, when a man has to mention my name 76 times in his speech, that means he’s in trouble. Now, I have to tell you, he’s a different guy. He looks different than he used to. He acts different than he used to. He’s even slower than he used to be. So, I don’t know. But when he mentions my name that many times, I guess they should be complimented.
Q Did you ask staff to lie about your poll numbers?
THE PRESIDENT: Who?
Q Did you ask members of your team to lie about your poll numbers?
THE PRESIDENT: I never do. My poll numbers are great. By the way, we’ve gotten fantastic numbers. I guess Rasmussen just came out with a 50 percent. And the amazing thing is all I do is get hit by this phony witch hunt, although they don’t mention Russia anymore because there was no collusion. So now they want to try and say, “Well, did he obstruct a no-collusion?” So there was no crime. The crime was by the Democrats, folks. They’ve committed, in my opinion, many crimes. And time will tell what happens there. But the crime was by the Democrats.
My poll numbers have been very, very good. We’re starting, really, next week. It’s going to be something, I think, very special. We’re starting in Orlando, Florida.
Q Mr. President, are you elevating Joe Biden by continually attacking him?
THE PRESIDENT: Excuse me?
Q Are you elevating Joe Biden by continually attacking him?
THE PRESIDENT: No, I’d rather run against, I think, Biden than anybody. I think he’s the weakest, mentally. And I like running against people that are weak, mentally. I think Joe is the weakest up here. The other ones have much more energy. I don’t agree with their policies, but I think Joe is a man who is — I call him “One Percent Joe,” because until Obama came along, he didn’t do very well.
But I — look. Look, but I don’t bring him up.
Q He says your tariffs are going to hurt Iowa farmers.
THE PRESIDENT: The best thing that ever happened to the farmers is me. We gave $16 billion to the farmers to make up for the deficit with China. We gave them $16 billion. We don’t give them; they earn it, because they’re patriots. We gave them ethanol at 15, which nobody was ever going to do; which Biden didn’t do in eight years as, you know, Vice President. The farmers are my best friend. Nobody has treated the farmers better than Donald Trump.
Q Mr. President, on Mexico. Do you have an agreement with Mexico to become a safe third country for asylum seekers?
THE PRESIDENT: (Displays a document.) That’s the agreement that everybody says I don’t have.
Q Can you tell us?
THE PRESIDENT: So, no, because I’m going to let Mexico do the announcement at the right time. For Mexico, they want to go through it. But here’s the agreement. It’s a very simple agreement. This is one page. This is one page of a very long and very good agreement for both Mexico and the United States.
Without the tariffs, we would have had nothing. We had nothing two weeks ago. Mexico told us “absolutely.” I don’t know where the Times got the story, but — I think they got it probably from somebody that worked here and said, oh, how well they were doing. Well, for a long time — for many years — people tried to get what we got in a period of a couple of days. And they couldn’t get it. That’s the difference: They couldn’t get it.
So, Mexico, we’re getting along with them great. Marcelo and the President and all of them, we’re getting along great. They’ve started a very strong action. They’re moving, right now, 6,000 soldiers to their southern border. Who ever heard of that? You think we had that two weeks ago?
Two weeks ago, I’ll tell you what we had: We had nothing. And the reason we had nothing is because Mexico felt they didn’t have to give us anything. I don’t blame them. But this is actually, ultimately, going to be good for Mexico, too. And it’s good for the relationship of Mexico with us.
So here’s your thing. You know, they all say, “Oh, he doesn’t…” I just give you my word inside here. And I would love to do it. But you will freeze-action it. You will stop it. You will analyze it. Every single letter you’ll see. But in here is the agreement.
Q Mr. President, Speaker Pelosi said today that every time you attack her, her stock goes up. Are you helping her politically?
THE PRESIDENT: Now, look, Nancy is a mess. The Democratic Party is a mess. They’re doing everything they can to win the election in 2020.
They are guilty of many crimes. Many, many crimes — what they’ve done. They’re guilty of many, many crimes. And hopefully, in a short period of time, that’ll be seen. They should never have done what they’ve done. And all they do is waste time on these investigations where there’s no obstruction, no collusion, no nothing.
And in the meantime, they can’t get a border deal done. They can’t do anything. We need — in addition to the great deal with Mexico, we need them to work on illegal immigration, on lower drug prices, on infrastructure. And they’re not doing anything. They are — they’ve come to a halt.
Q On that specific question, if I could: Did Mexico agree —
THE PRESIDENT: Say it?
Q Did Mexico agree in the negotiations last week to become a safe third country for asylum seekers?
THE PRESIDENT: I don’t want to say, but you can just figure it out yourself. And the reason is Mexico wants to handle. That would have to go through their legislative body.
Q But I heard that they agreed to that on Friday.
THE PRESIDENT: A lot of people heard they agreed to it. A lot of people are saying that. Good luck. Okay? I’m not going to say one way or the other. But I will tell you, right here is the story. You know, I don’t like it when newspapers write fake news, or when reporters, like you, do fake news. I don’t like that. So right here is the agreement. It’s very simple. It’s right here. And in here is everything you want to talk about. Done. It’s done. It’s done. It’s all done.
Q On Joe Biden, he’s reportedly going to change his rhetoric about China to say, “We need to get tough. They are our competition.”
THE PRESIDENT: Joe Biden thought that China was not a competitor of ours. Joe Biden is a dummy. Joe Biden thought China was not a competitor. China made $500 billion, over a short period of time, against Obama, Biden — and for many, many years, in all fairness to them.
China is a major competitor and right now China wants to make a deal very badly. It’s me, right now, that’s holding up the deal. And we’re going to either do a great deal with China or we’re not doing a deal at all.
Right now, China is paying us billions and billions of dollars. They never gave us 10 cents. And China ate our country alive during Obama and Biden. They ate us alive. And then, Biden has some kind of relationship financially, or his son, with China? Tell me about that? Because China ate the United States alive economically, and it’s a shame.
Q Was it appropriate for you to attack Pelosi in Normandy? Was it appropriate for you to attack Pelosi in Normandy?
THE PRESIDENT: No, no, Pelosi attacked me. She was here. She made a horrible statement that I’m sure she wished she didn’t make. She made a horrible statement while I was with the Queen of England, while I was with — while I was with the President of France. And you’re not supposed to do that. Okay? But the ones that committed the crimes are the Democrats and others.
Q Mr. President, do immigrants from Venezuela deserve asylum in the U.S.? And why haven’t you given them temporary protected status?
THE PRESIDENT: We’re looking at that and we’re very much involved with the Venezuela crisis. It’s a horrible thing, a horrible situation. It’s been brewing for many years. It really started, in the worst form, during the Biden-Obama administration. But it’s been brewing for a long time.
Q Can you give them temporary protected status?
THE PRESIDENT: So we’re looking at that very strongly. We’re looking at that.
Q Mr. President, on Xi — your tweet about Xi and the threat of tariffs if he doesn’t meet with you, where are you on that?
THE PRESIDENT: My relationship with President Xi of China is a very good one. One of the people I really like. I get along with him right. He’s representing China. I’m representing the United States of America. We’re doing very well. We’re taking in billions and billions of dollars. Companies are leaving China right now and they’re coming here because they don’t want to pay the tariffs. And they’re going to other countries.
But I think that China — I can tell you China would like to make a deal very badly. They’re getting hurt very badly by the tariffs because companies can’t pay the tariffs, so they’re leaving China.
And the other thing you have to remember about China is that China will subsidize companies so our taxpayer is not paying for very much of it. A report came out; they’re paying for very little of it.
But what it’s doing is creating a fair playing field, which we’ve never had with China since the WTO — the World Trade Organization.
Q And will you meet at the G20? Will you meet with Xi at the G20?
THE PRESIDENT: We expect to meet with President Xi very shortly. We think we’ll meet him at the G20. We’re talking. We have a very good relationship.
Look, we had a deal with China and then they went back on the deal. They said, “We don’t want to have four major points, five major points.” So we changed it. But we had a deal with China. And unless they go back to that deal, I have no interest.
Right now, we’re taking in billions and billions of dollars. I’ve created something — what we’ve done in the last two and a half years, we’ve picked up $14 trillion in net worth of the United States. And China has gone down probably by $20 trillion. There’s a tremendous gap. When I came in, that gap was getting very close.
Q Why are you so certain, Mr. President, that you will win Iowa in 2020?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I love Iowa. I’ve gotten along great. I won Iowa by a lot the last time. Usually a Republican would not win it by that much. But I won Iowa, as you know, by a lot. I have a great relationship with the farmers. I have a great relationship with everybody. I mean, Iowa, I think, is going to be something that we win very easily.
I think we’re going to win. I saw a fake poll — a suppression poll in Pennsylvania. I even saw one in Texas. They’re suppression. They’re fake polls, just like the fake media, of which there are many here. They’re fake polls.
We’re going to win Texas by a lot. We’re going to win Iowa by a lot. We’re going to win, I would say, every — Pennsylvania, I think we’re going to do very well. We have steel companies opening up that for 40 years they didn’t open up steel companies. Now they’re opening up. No, I think we’re doing very well.
Q (Inaudible) about your meeting with Kim Jong Un while you’re in South Korea? Are there discussions underway?
THE PRESIDENT: So, I see that. And I just received a beautiful letter from Kim Jong Un, and I think the relationship is very well. But I appreciated the letter. I saw the information about the CIA, with respect to his brother, or half-brother. And I would tell him that would not happen under my auspices, that’s for sure. I wouldn’t let that happen under my auspices.
But I just received a beautiful letter from Kim Jong Un. I can’t show you the letter, obviously, but it was a very personal, very warm, very nice letter. I appreciate it.
And I’ll say it again: I think that North Korea has tremendous potential, and he’ll be there. I think that North Korea, under his leadership — but North Korea, because of what it represents — the people are great, the land is great, the location is incredible between Russia, China, and South Korea — I think North Korea has tremendous potential. And the one that feels that more than anybody is Kim Jong Un. He gets it. He totally gets it.
THE PRESIDENT: I don’t know. I have not heard about that, but we’ll see.
THE PRESIDENT: I would, but I want to get it further advanced.
In the meantime, no nuclear testing. No major missile testing. Nothing like when I first got here. When I first got here, it was a bad mess.
We have a very good relationship together. Now I can confirm it because of the letter I got yesterday. And I think — you know, I think that something will happen that’s going to be very positive. But in the meantime, we have our hostages back. The remains keep coming back. We have a relationship.
Q Do you think he had his half-brother killed? Do you think he had his half-brother killed?
Q Are you saying that the CIA (inaudible) was wrong?
THE PRESIDENT: Say it?
Q Was the CIA wrong? Did he have his half-brother killed?
THE PRESIDENT: I don’t know anything about that. I know this: That the relationship is such that that wouldn’t happen under my auspices. But I don’t know about that. Nobody knows.
Q McAleenan (inaudible) — earlier he said that the border wouldn’t —
Q So, Mr. President, you said —
THE PRESIDENT: Quiet. Quiet. Quiet.
Q — that the border wouldn’t be as bad today if they passed the 2013 immigration bill. But that included the Gang of Eight amnesty.
THE PRESIDENT: Up a little higher.
Q That included — McAleenan said that the border wouldn’t be as bad if Congress had passed the 2013 immigration bill. But that included the Gang of Eight amnesty.
THE PRESIDENT: So, Congress has to get their act together. They have to pass immigration laws. They have to get rid of — I mean, as far as I’m concerned, the most important thing is to get rid of the loopholes, because you have loopholes and asylum problems that they could do in 15 minutes if they wanted to.
The Democrats in Congress are causing this country tremendous drug problems, tremendous security problems, and they have to get together and they have to work out asylum and the loopholes.
It would take, literally, 15 minutes. It’s so simple.
Q That 2013 bill included amnesty. Does the administration support amnesty now, since McAleenan said that?
THE PRESIDENT: What we’re going to do is we’re going to sit down at some point with the Democrats; we’re going to work it all out. It is a quick negotiation. And they know I’m right. They just don’t want to do it politically. They want to have open borders. And open borders means crime. And really, it means crime; it means drugs.
So we get 90 percent of our drugs coming in through the southern border, which I think everyone pretty much agrees too. Hundreds of billions of dollars — we can close it up so easy.
Now, we took a big step with Mexico over the last three days. This is an even bigger step. But we took a big step with Mexico. The Democrats have to sit down with us and we have to work something out very easily on asylum and on loopholes.
Q Any plan, any thought, about another meeting with Kim Jong Un?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, it could happen, but I want to bring it further down the line.
Look, in the meantime, he’s kept his word. There’s no nuclear testing, there’s no large, you know, long-range missiles going up. The only thing he sent up were very short-term, short-range. That was just a test of short range. It’s a whole different deal.
But he’s kept his word to me; that’s very important. And again, the letter he sent was a beautiful letter. It was a very warm letter. That’s a very nice thing. And I don’t say that out of naiveté. I say that was a very nice letter.
Q The agreement in your pocket, when does that go into effect? Does it happen even if Mexico brings down the numbers?
THE PRESIDENT: This will go into effect, and it’s my option. It’s not Mexico’s. But it will go into effect when Mexico tells me it’s okay to release it.
Q What if they bring the numbers down in the next 90 days?
THE PRESIDENT: If they bring the numbers way down, we won’t have to use it. Okay? If they bring the numbers way down, we won’t have to. But this my option. It goes into effect when I want it to. But I have a lot of respect for the President of Mexico, I have a lot of respect for the people we dealt with, so I don’t want to do that. And they have to go back to Congress to get that approved.
But it goes down — listen, it goes down — it goes into effect at my option. But I wouldn’t do that. I want to deal with them, okay?
Q Why haven’t you nominated a DHS and Defense Secretary?
THE PRESIDENT: Say it?
Q Why haven’t you nominated a DHS and Defense Secretary?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I have — Defense Secretary.
Q When is that going to happen, though?
THE PRESIDENT: I have. It’s done. I put it out.
Q When is DHS — it’s done?
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah. It’s done from the standpoint of the nomination.
Q Are you saying —
Q Why haven’t you nominated DHS?
THE PRESIDENT: Wait, wait, wait. Pat Shanahan was nominated two weeks ago.
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah, no, I put it out.
Q When are you sending it? When are you sending it?
THE PRESIDENT: I put it out officially. No, now he has to go through the process.
Q Okay, what about DHS?
THE PRESIDENT: He’s now going through. That, we’ll make a determination. I think Kevin is doing a very good job right now. But we’ll make a determination in the not-too-distant — we have Acting. We’ll make a determination. But I think Kevin is doing a very good job.
Q Have you spoken to the leadership in Iran? Are you hopeful about peaceful dialogue with Iran?
THE PRESIDENT: I hope that everything works out with Iran. Iran is a country that now, because of all of the sanctions and other things, is a much different country than when I came here.
When I came here, they were all over the place causing terror, causing problems. They’re not doing that right now. And I think they respect the United States right now much more than they ever have.
So Iran has got a lot of problems, and I’d like to help them with those problems. We’ll see what happens. But they have tremendous inflation. Their money is worthless. You can’t buy a loaf of bread. It’s a lot of problems in Iran. And it’s a lot different than it was two and a half years ago. And big things were sanctioned, but I think the biggest thing was when I — and the most important was when I terminated the Iran nuclear deal, which was an incompetent deal.
Thank you all. I’ll see you in Iowa.
END 12:54 P.M. EDT