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East Room

12:21 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, thank you very much.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Thank you.  Wow.  (Applause.)  Well, thank you very much, everybody.  Wow.  We’ve all been through a lot together, and we probably deserve that hand for all of us, because it’s been a very unfair situation.

I invited some of our very good friends.  And we have limited room, but everybody wanted to come.  We kept it down to a minimum.  And believe it or not, this is a minimum.

But a tremendous thing was done over the last number of months, but really, if you go back to it, over the last number of years.  We had the witch hunt.  It started from the day we came down the elevator, myself and our future First Lady, who’s with us right now.  Thank you, Melania.  (Applause.)

And it never really stopped.  We’ve been going through this now for over three years.  It was evil.  It was corrupt.  It was dirty cops.  It was leakers and liars.  And this should never, ever happen to another President ever.  I don’t know that other Presidents would have been able to take it.  Some people said, no, they wouldn’t have.  But I can tell you, at a minimum, you have to focus on this because it can get away very quickly.  No matter who you have with you, it can get away very quickly.  It was a disgrace.

Had I not fired James Comey — who was a disaster, by the way — it’s possible I wouldn’t even be standing here right now.  We caught him in the act.  Dirty cops.  Bad people.  If this happened to President Obama, a lot of people would have been in jail for a long time already.  Many, many years.

I want to start by thanking some of — and I call them friends, because, you know, you develop friendships and relationships when you’re in battle and war, much more so than, “Gee, let’s have a normal situation.”

With all that we’ve gone through, we’ve done, I think, more than any President and administration, and really, I say, for the most part, Republican congressmen, congresswomen, and Republican senators.  We’ve done more than any administration in the first few years, if you look at all of the things we’ve done.

I watched this morning as they tried to take credit for the stock market from — (laughter) — from — think of that.  Let me tell you, if we didn’t win, the stock market would have crashed.  And the market was going up a lot before the election because it was looking we had a good chance to win, and then it went up tremendously from the time we won the election until the time we took office, which was November 8th to January 20th.  And that’s our credit.  That’s all our credit.  And leading up to that point was our credit because there was hope.

And one of the reasons the stock market has gone up so much in the last few days is people think we’re doing so well.  They liked the State of the Union speech.  (Applause.)  It really is — it’s a true honor to give it.

Making the State of the Union speech, I was with some people that have been around; they’ve been all over the world.  And one of them, a highly sophisticated person, said, “You know, no matter where you go in the world, it doesn’t make any difference — there is nothing like what I witnessed tonight.”  The beauty, the majesty of the Chamber.  The power of the United States, the power of the people in this room.

Really, an amazing — I don’t think there is anything like that anywhere in the world.  You can go to any other country, you can go to any other location, any other place.  It’s the beauty of everything.  It’s what it represents and how it represents our country.

I want to start by introducing some of the people that are here.  I know some are going to be left out.  But they work so hard.  And this is really not a news conference.  It’s not a speech.  It’s not anything.  It’s just we’re sort of — it’s a celebration, because we have something that just worked out.  I mean, it worked out.  We went through hell, unfairly.  Did nothing wrong.  Did nothing wrong.  I’ve done things wrong in my life, I will admit.  (Laughter.)  Not purposely, but I’ve done things wrong.  But this is what the end result is.  (Applause.)

(The President holds up the front cover of The Washington Post newspaper.)

We can take that home, Honey.  Maybe we’ll frame it.  (Laughter.)  It’s the only good headline I’ve ever had in the Washington Post, I’ll tell you.  (Laughter.)  But every paper is the same.  Does anybody have those papers?  Does anybody have them?  Because they’re really like that.  So I appreciate that.

But some of the people here have been incredible warriors.  They’re warriors.  And there’s nothing, from a legal standpoint — this is a political thing.  And every time, I’d say, “This is unfair.  Let’s go to court.”  They’d say, “Sir, you can’t go to court.  This is politics.”  And we were treated unbelievably unfairly.

And you have to understand, we first went through Russia, Russia, Russia.  It was all bullshit.  (Laughter.)  We then went through the Mueller report.  And they should have come back one day later.  They didn’t.  They came back two years later, after lives were ruined, after people went bankrupt, after people lost all their money.

People came to Washington to help other people.  “Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed,” I say.  They came — one or two or three people in particular, but many people.

We had a rough campaign.  It was nasty.  It was one of the nastiest, they say.  They say Andrew Jackson was always the nastiest campaign.  They actually said we topped it.  (Laughter.)  It was a nasty — it was a nasty — both in the primaries and in the — in the election.

But, you see, we thought, after the election, it would stop.  But it didn’t stop; it just started.  And tremendous corruption.  Tremendous corruption.

So we had a campaign.  Little did we know we were running against some very, very bad and evil people with fake dossiers, with all of these horrible, dirty cops that took these dossiers and did bad things.  They knew all about it.  The FISA courts should be ashamed of themselves.

It’s a very tough thing.  And then we ended up winning on Russia, Russia, Russia.  It should have taken the one day, as I said, and it took years.

Then Bob Mueller testified.  That didn’t work out so well for the other side.  (Laughter.)  But they should have said, that first week — because it came out.  Is that right, Jim Jordan?  They knew in the first two days actually.  Devin, is that right?  Two days.  They knew that we were totally innocent.

But they kept it going, Mark.  They kept it going forever because they wanted to inflict political pain on somebody that had just won an election that, to — a lot of people were surprised.  I mean, we had polls that said we were going to win.  We had Los Angeles Times and a few — a few papers, actually, said it was — we were going to win but it was going to be close.

And we did win.  It was one of the greatest wins of all time.  And they said, “Okay, he won.”  And, you know, I wrote this down because that was where a thing called the “insurance policy” — to me, when I saw the insurance policy — and that was done long before the election.  That was done when they thought that Hillary Clinton was going to win.

And, by the way, Hillary Clinton and the DNC paid for millions — millions of dollars — the fake dossier.  And now Christopher Steele admits that it’s a fake because he got sued by rich people.  I should have sued him too.  But when you’re President, people don’t like suing.

I want to thank my legal team, by the way — not for that advice, but for other advice.  (Applause.)  Pat, Jay.  Pat.  You guys stand up, please.  (Applause.)  Great job.  (Applause.)

Right at the beginning, they said, “Sir, you have nothing to worry about.  All of the facts are on your side.”  I said, “You don’t understand.  That doesn’t matter.  That doesn’t matter.”  And that was really true.

They made up facts.  A corrupt politician named Adam Schiff made up my statement to the Ukrainian president.  He brought it out of thin air.  Just made it up.  They say he’s a screenwriter — a failed screenwriter.  He tried to go into — unfortunately, he went into politics after that.  (Laughter.)  Remember he said the statement, which is a mob statement: “Don’t call me.  I’ll call you.”  I didn’t say that.

Fortunately, for all of us here today and for our country, we had transcripts.  We had transcribers — professional transcribers.  Then they said, “Oh, well, maybe the transcription is not correct.”  But Lieutenant Colonel Vindman and his twin brother — right? — we had some people that — really amazing.

But we did everything.  We said, “What’s wrong with it?”  “Well, they didn’t add this word or that one.”  It didn’t matter.  I said, “Add it.  They’re probably wrong, but add it.”

So now everyone agrees that they were perfectly accurate.  When you read those transcripts, Tim Scott — I don’t know if Tim is here, but he said, “Sir…”  He was the first one to call me.  “Sir, I read the transcript.  You did nothing wrong.”  And, Mitch, he stayed there, right from the beginning.  He never changed.

And, Mitch McConnell, I want to tell you: You did a fantastic job.  (Applause.)  Somebody said, “You know, Mitch is quiet.”  I said, “He’s not quiet.  He’s not quiet.”  These are the — he doesn’t want people to know him.  And they said, “Is Mitch smart?”  I said, “Well, let’s put it this way: For many, many years, a lot of very smart — bad, in many cases, sometimes good — but people have been trying to take his place.  And to the best of my knowledge, I’ve never even heard the subject come up, because they’ve been wiped out so fast.  (Laughter.)  This guy is great, and I appreciate it, Mitch.  (Applause.)

And he’s also given us 191 now.  (Applause.)  A hundred and ninety-one federal judges.  Two Supreme Court judges, right?  It’s up to 191.  (Applause.)  True.

Great guy.  Great guy.  He’s a tough guy to read.  I’m good at reading people.  A tough guy to read.  I’d call him.  My wife would say, “How did you do with Mitch?”  “Uhh, I don’t know.”  (Laughter.)  That’s what makes him good — when you can read somebody.  Fantastic job.

And he understood, rightfully, that this was crooked politics.  This was crooked politics.  How about all these people, they’re running for office.  They’re saying the worst things about me, like eight senators on the Democrat side.  Most of them got wiped out.  You know, they got their 1 percent or less.  Most of them got less.  They decided to go home.  “Let’s go back to California.”  Let’s go back to wherever they came from.  “Let’s go back to New York.”

How about that one?  Our New York senator, Gillibrand.  “Let’s go back to New York,” after they get nothing.  And then they take an oath that they will be fair, that they will be reason- — and all of the different things.  And they had to sign.  They’re not fair.

But here’s the beauty: So we have four left.  They’re saying the most horrendous things about me.  It’s okay, it’s politics.  And then they’re supposed to vote — on me.  They’re trying to replace me, and then they’re supposed to be voting.  So I think it’s — I mean, I think it’s incredible.

But — so, Mitch, I want to thank you very much.  Incredible.  And you have some of your folks here, and they’re incredible people — and they’ve been, right from the beginning.

And, again, you’re out of session.  Unfortunately, I didn’t — you know, I only told these folks, “Let’s do this today.”  We did a prayer breakfast this morning, and I thought that was really good.  In fact, that was so good it might wipe this out.  But by the end — by the time we finished this, we’ll wipe that one out — those statements.  (Laughter.)

I had — I had Nancy Pelosi sitting four seats away, and I’m saying things that a lot of people wouldn’t have said — (laughter) — but I meant every — (laughter) — I meant every word of it.

But we have some of the folks that are going to be leaving right after this, and they work hard — and they did work hard.  Bill Cassidy, Senator.  Stand up, Bill.  What a guy.  (Applause.)  Great man.  When I need to know about health insurance and preexisting conditions and individual mandates, I call Bill or I call Barrasso.  We get those two guys; they know more than anybody.

A man who just became a senator — he’s a little bit like me; we have a couple of them.  A very successful guy in business, and he said, “What the hell, I’ll run for the Senate” — from Indiana.  And he ran.  And I saw him on television, destroying his opponent in a debate.  I said, “You know, this guy could win.”  And I got behind him.  And, Mike Braun, you have done some great job.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.) Tough.  Tough.  Thank you.

A man who got James Comey to choke, and he was just talking in his regular voice.  He is the roughest man.  He’s actually an unbelievable — and I appreciate the letter you sent me today.  I just got it.  But he’s got this voice that scares people.  (Laughter.)  You know, people from Iowa can be very tough.  We’re doing very well in Iowa.

But I’ll tell you, Chuck Grassley — he’s looking at Comey: “Well, you tell me, what did you say?”  (Laughter.)  Now, he wasn’t being rough.  That was just the way he talked.  (Laughter.)  And that was when Comey — I think that was when Comey announced that he was leaking, lying, and everything else, right?  He choked because he never heard anybody talk like that.  (Laughter.)

You know, you should have gone — I wish you got angry.  You could have gotten the whole ballgame.  He would have said, “I give up.”  (Laughter.)  Chuck Grassley is an incredible guy.  (Applause.)

And a man who — you know, he was running against a tough, smart campaign and we learned how good she was, right?  She was a great campaigner.  In fact, by the end of the campaign, she was actually — I thought she was more for me than you were, Josh.  I was worried.  (Laughter.)  I saw her ad; she was saying the greatest things about me.  And you know who I’m talking about.

And I went to a great place — Missouri — and I said, “Who do you have to beat her?”  And they said, “Well, we have four people.”  I said, “Let me see them.  I’m got to interview…” — can you imagine?  I’m interviewing people for the United States Senate.  This is what I do.  Where have I gone?  But I love it.  I love it because we’re getting great people.

The first one I met was Josh Hawley.  After about 10 minutes, I said to the people, “Don’t show me anybody else.  This is the guy.”  He was the attorney general.  Did a phenomenal job in the state.  Highly respected.  And — Claire McCaskill.

So, the theory was you couldn’t beat her.  Great campaigner.  Remember the last campaign, she was going to be taken out.  She was always going to be taken out, then she wins and people say, “How did that happen?”  Didn’t happen with him.

But she got so friendly toward me.  In fact, one of the ads I still have.  I’m putting it in the archives as one of the best ads I’ve ever made.  (Laughter.)  And she tried to convince people that we were best friends.  But Josh ended up winning by five or six points.

You were unbelievable.  You were tough.  And you are something.  And one of the greatest supporters on the impeachment hoax was Josh Hawley.  He was incensed actually; I watched it.  He was incensed at what they were doing and what they were saying.

And those were the ones — you know, I had some that said, “Oh, I wish you didn’t make the call.”  And that’s okay, if they need that.  It’s incorrect.  It’s totally incorrect.  And then you have some that used religion as a crutch.  They never used it before.  An article written today: “Never heard him use it before.”  But today, you know, it’s one of those things.  But, you know, it’s a failed presidential candidate, so things can happen when you fail so badly running for President.

But, Josh Hawley, I want to thank you.  You were right from the beginning.  Man, did I make a good choice.  (Applause.)  Thank you, Josh.  Tremendous future.  A man who is brilliant and who actually was deceived, to an extent, comes from a great state, Utah, where my poll numbers have gone through the roof.  And one of the senators’ poll numbers, and not this one, went down big.  You saw that.  You saw that, Mike?

But Mike Lee is a brilliant guy.  He’s difficult.  (Laughter.)  Whenever I sign bills — you know, we do sign a lot of legislation that’s — it’s big and it’s powerful, but it’s sort of everybody has to approve it.  And I see 99 to 1 — (laughter) — 99 to 1.  I say, “Don’t tell me who’s the one.”  (Laughter.)  “Is it Mike?”  “Yes.”  (Laughter.)  And he always has a good reason for it too, by the way.  But he is — he’s incredible.  And right at the beginning, he knew we were right, Mike, and I appreciate it very much.  You’re just fantastic.  And say hello to the people of Utah and tell them, “I’m sorry about Mitt Romney.  I’m sorry.”  (Laughter and applause.)  Okay?

We can say that Mike Lee is, by far, the most popular senator from the state.  But you’ve done a fantastic job, Mike, in many ways.  In many ways.

A young woman who I didn’t know at all, but she’s been so supportive — and I’ve had great support from other people in that state.  And she’s been so supportive, and she’s been downright nasty and mean about the unfairness to the President.  And Kelly Loeffler, I appreciate very much.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Great.

She saw it very early on, and we have — I don’t know if we have other senators here, but we got a hell of a lot of congressmen.  And I’ll go over them quickly, but they have — they have also been — you know, it helped when we won 197 to nothing.  That’s got to be a first, Kevin.  Right?  Is that, like, a first?

The Republicans have this image.  See, I say Democrats are lousy politicians because they have lousy policy: open borders, sanctuary cities.  They have horrible policy.  Who the hell can win?  Oh, their new policy is: Raise taxes.  They want to raise taxes.  You know, all my life, I wasn’t in politics, but I’d say, if you’re a politician, you want to say, “We’re going to lower taxes.”  They want to raise taxes.

So they have open borders, sanctuary cities.  “Raise everybody’s taxes.  Get rid of everybody’s healthcare.”  A hundred and eighty million  people in the United States.  And they’re really happy.  “And we’re going to give you a healthcare that’s going to cost more money than the country could make in 30 years if it really does well.”  That’s one year.

So I’ve always said they’re lousy politicians, but they do two things: They are vicious and mean.  Vicious.  These people are vicious.  Adam Schiff is a vicious, horrible person.  Nancy Pelosi is a horrible person.  And she wanted to impeach a long time ago.  When she said, “I pray for the President.  I pray for the…” — she doesn’t pray.  She may pray, but she prays for the opposite.  (Laughter.)  But I doubt she prays at all.

And these are vicious people, but they do two things: They stick together, historically.  I’m not talking now.  They stick together like glue.  That’s how they impeached, because they had whatever the number is — 220 people.  So if they don’t lose anybody, they’ll be able to impeach anybody.  You could be George Washington.  You could have just won the war, and they say, “Let’s get him out of office.”  And they stuck together, and they’re vicious as hell.  And they’ll probably come back for more, but maybe not because the Republican Party’s poll numbers, Mitch, have now gone up more than any time, I think, since 2004, 2005, and you know what happened then.

But in normal times — decades, you would call it; that was a little unusual time; it was for a very short period — the Republicans [sic] Party — Party’s poll numbers and Donald Trump’s poll numbers are the highest I’ve ever had them.  So maybe they were.  It’s no way to get your poll numbers up.  It’s not worth it — because from my family’s standpoint, it’s been very unfair for my family.  It’s been very unfair to the country.

Think of it.  A phone call.  A very good phone call.  I know bad phone calls.  This is a phone call with many people.  I think Mike Pompeo was probably on the call.  Where is Mike?  Mike Pompeo was on the call.  Many people were on the call.  I know there were many people.  They even have “apprenti,” bringing up an old favorite word of mine.  “The Apprentice.”  They have “apprenti.”  They have people on these calls.  And I know there are many.

When I speak to the head of a nation — and they have many people on.   I mean, also on — do you think they just — in the case of Ukraine, he’s a new president, seems like a very nice person, by the way.  His whole thing was corruption.  He’s going to stop corruption.  We even have a treaty — 2001, 1999.  It’s a treaty — signed treaty — that we will work together to root out corruption in Ukraine.

I probably have a legal obligation, Mr. Attorney, to report corruption.  But they don’t think it’s corrupt when a son that made no money, that got thrown out of the military, that had no money at all, is working for $3 million up front, $83,000 a month.  And that’s only Ukraine.  Then goes to China, picks up $1.5 billion.  Then goes to Romania, I hear, and many other countries.

They think that’s okay?  Because if it is — is Ivanka in the audience?  Is Ivanka here?  Boy, my kids could make a fortune.  (Laughter.)  They could make a fortune.  It’s corrupt.  But it’s not even that; it’s just general corruption.

And the other thing, as mentioned in the call and something that I’ve told Mike Pence, our great Vice President — I would tell him all the time, and I told him when he went on the trip, because he was over there.  He never mentioned anything about this when you had your meeting.  It’s a terrible thing.

But I told Mike.  I said, “Mike, we’re giving them money, and, you know, you’re always torn about that because we have our country to build, we have our cities to build and our roads to fix.  But we’re giving them money.  Tell me, why isn’t Germany paying money?  Why isn’t France?  Why isn’t United Kingdom paying money?  Why aren’t they paying money?  Why are we paying them money?”  Is that a correct statement, Mike?

I say, “Find out what the hell is going on.”  And I told that to all of my people, OMB.  I said — I asked that question: “How much is Germany paying?  Why isn’t Germany paying?”  Why is the United States always the sucker?  Because we’re a bunch of suckers.  But that’s turning around fast.  But it makes it harder when stuff like this happens, because you want to focus, and you want to focus perfectly.

Think what we could have done if the same energy was put into infrastructure, prescription drug prices.  Think of what we could have done.  And I’m now talking both sides.  Think of what we could have done if we had the same genius — because it’s genius.

I will say, it’s genius on the other side — maybe even more so because they took nothing and brought me to a final vote of impeachment.  That’s a very ugly word to me.  It’s a very dark word.  Very ugly.  They took nothing.  They took a phone call that was a totally appropriate call.  I call it a “perfect call” because it was.  And they brought me to the final stages of impeachment.

But now we have that gorgeous word — I never thought a word would sound so good.  It’s called “total acquittal.”  (Applause.)  Total acquittal.

So — so I want to, if I could, real fast, just introduce a few of the people.  I have to start with — I have to start with Kevin.  Man, did you do a job.  Lucky you’re there.  Lucky you’re there because it wouldn’t have worked out.  If you don’t have the right people — I’ll tell you, Kevin McCarthy has done an incredible job.  (Applause.)  Really.  Stand up.

And he loves this job, and he loves this country.  I’ll tell you what: Mitch and Kevin, they love what they do.  Now, Mitch wouldn’t even tell you he liked it.  (Laughter.)  I’d say, “Mitch, do you like it?”  “I don’t know.”  (Laughter.)  He’s the greatest poker player, right?

Kevin will say, “I love it.”  Right?  And I will say that you’re going to be Speaker of the House because of this impeachment hoax.  (Applause.)  I really believe it.  I really believe it.  And I’m going to work hard on it.  I’m going to try and get out to those Trump — those Trump areas that we won by a lot.

And, you know, in ’18, we didn’t win.  We just won two seats in North Carolina — two wonderful seats in North Carolina that were not supposed to be won.  But I went and I made speeches, and we had rallies, and we did a great job and we won. We took two seats.  Nobody writes about that.  If we lost them, it would have been the biggest story of the year.

But we’re going to go, we’re going to do a job, and we’re going to win a lot of seats.  We’re going to win a lot of seats.  People are very angry that Nancy Pelosi and all of these guys — I mean, Nadler — I know him much of my life; he’s fought me in New York for 25 years.  I always beat him.  And I had to beat him another time.  And I’ll probably have to beat him again.  Because if they find that I happen to walk across the street, and maybe go against the light or something, “Let’s impeach him.”  (Laughter.)

So we’ll probably have to do it again because these people have gone stone-cold crazy.  But I’ve beaten them all my life, and I’ll beat them again if I have to.  (Applause.)  But what they’re doing is very unfair.  Very unfair.

So Kevin McCarthy has been great.  So, a few names, right? And there’ll be a few you forget.  If you want, you can raise and I’ll say, “Great.  Love to have you.  Wonderful.”  (Laughter.)  But we’re going to do the best we can.  And I have my Cabinet, but my Cabinet is different — I appoint them.  Okay?  I didn’t see all of them helping so much.  (Laughter.)  You know, they were running their various bureaucracies, right?  (Laughter.)  No, my Cabinet is great, and they’re all here.

But today is the day to celebrate these great warriors, right?  These are great warriors.  They really fought hard for us.  And —

So I’ll start: Kelly Armstrong, North Dakota.  Kelly, thank you.  Great job.  (Applause.)  Great job.

Jim Banks of Indiana.  Jim, thank you.  Great job.  (Applause.)

Andy Biggs.  Where is Andy?  Boy, oh, boy, Andy.  He got — (applause) — there’s a guy.  He’s tough.  I hear we’re doing well in Arizona, huh?  It’s going good, yeah?  I think so.  I think I saw a poll that was very good for me.  I think we have to make sure Martha is going to do — I think Martha is going to do good.  But we have some states that are going to be not easy, but Arizona has been great.

And we’re stopping illegal aliens from coming in.  We’re putting up walls.  New Mexico, too, a state that’s never been in play for Republicans, is totally in play.  Right?  Nevada is really looking good.  We’re doing well.  We’re doing well.  We’re going to have a great — there’s more spirit.  I will say this: There’s more spirit now for the Republican Party, by far, than the Democrats.

You know, Mike Pence just got back from a place — a beautiful place that Chuck Grassley knows well: Iowa.  And he was talking about these fiasco — the Democrats, they can’t count some simple votes, and yet they want to take over your healthcare system.  Think of that.  (Laughter.)  No, think of it.

But we also had an election out there, and we got 98 percent of the vote.  We have two people running, you know, and I guess they consider them non-people, but they are running.  I mean, one was a governor.  One was a congressman.  They’re running.  We got 98 percent of the vote.

And everybody from the media was saying, “Who are those crowds over there?”  You know, they expect it to be one of these competitive — where everybody is running because they want to win, they want to win.  And it was Trump.  Right, Mark Meadows?  It was Trump.  This was a Trump crowd.

And a lot of — actually, a lot of my guys went there.  They went to Iowa.  And a lot of friends went there, and we had tremendous — they say the spirit — the spirit for the Republican Party right now is stronger, I think, than it’s ever been in the history of our country.  I think it’s stronger than it’s ever been.  (Applause.)

And that includes Honest Abe Lincoln.  You know, a lot of people forget Abe Lincoln.  I wish he were here.  I’d give him one hell of an introduction.  Right?  (Laughter.)  But he was — he was a Republican.  Abe Lincoln.  Honest Abe.

Bradley Byrne, Alabama.  What a great place.  (Applause.)  Thank you, Bradley.

A man who has been an unbelievable friend of mine and spokesman, and somebody that — that I really like.  And I know, Kelly, you’re going to end up liking him a lot.  Something is going to happen that’s going to be very good.  I don’t know.  I haven’t figured it out yet.  But Doug Collins — where is he?  Where is Doug?  (Applause.)  You have been so great.  Thank you very much, Doug.  Thank you very much.  Thank you.  Really amazing job.

A young man who is — born with a great gene, because I know his father and how great a politician he was.  But he’s from Florida.  Sometimes controversial, but actually, he’s not controversial.  He’s solid as a rock and he’s a friend of mine.  Matt Gaetz.  Matt?  (Applause.)  Thank you, Matt.  Thank you.  Great job.

All right, this guy.  So he’s the NCAA — meaning, a couple of years ago, when he was in college — wrestling champion.  NCAA.  That’s the big deal.  That means, in all of college, you’re the champ, you’re the best.  His record was ridiculous.  Nobody would — nobody could beat him.  And I see it.  You know, every time, I see it.  When I first got to know him — Jim Jordan — when I first got to know Jim, I said, “Huh, he never wears a jacket.  What the hell is going on?”  (Laughter.)  He’s obviously very proud of his body.  (Laughter and applause.)

And they say where he works out — you know, where the congressmen, senators, they work out — they say, when Jim works out — even though he’s not as young as he was, but he works out — the machine starts burning.  You know, it’s just a different form of a workout than us.  Right, Sonny?  And — there he is.  Look at that guy.

But one day I’m looking, and he looks tough.  And I’m looking, and I’m looking at those ears.  And I say, “Those ears have something going on there.”  I said, “Did you ever wrestle?”  “Yeah, I did.”  But he doesn’t talk.  But I checked.  This guy was a world — this guy was a champion, top, top wrestler.  And when I had the top — I had all of the teams.

And, by the way, your Super Bowl champions are coming, I think next week or soon.  Very soon.  And every one of them want to be here.  (Applause.)  And the coach loves us.  The coach is great.  Andy Reid.  And every one of them want to be here.  We have — people love it.

But we had all of the NCAA championship teams here.  They had the golf, the basketball.  They had every team here.  And one of the teams was wrestling.  The wrestling team.  Was that Penn State?  And Penn State won the title.  They have a great team.

And I walked up with Jim, and it’s like I didn’t exist.  (Laughter.)  Those wrestlers, they grabbed him.  They love Jim Jordan, and we love you too because you are some warrior.  (Applause.)  True.  True.

A woman who became a star — we have a couple of women that became stars.  You two.  And I always liked the name of her — you know, I liked the name, “Lesko.”  I liked it.  That’s how I picked it.  I liked the name.  I saw that face.  I saw that everything.  They gave me cards.  She had like seven opponents, right?

And you have no idea how much the public appreciates how smart, how sharp you are.  This I can’t tell.  I can’t tell.  They just said, “You know, she’s really good.  She’s really talented.”  And I said, “Let’s go.”  We worked with her.  She won her race.  Tough race.  It’s no longer tough.  Because what she does out there is incredible.  Arizona loves her.

But you were so incredible, representing — I don’t say “me” — representing our country and getting it out of this impeachment hoax.  What you did was incredible.

So, Debbie, please stand up.  Debbie Lesko.  (Applause.)

A man who I — I became very friendly with — I don’t know why.  Do you ever have where — I’ll ask the media: If certain people call, you take their calls.  Other people call — if they don’t have information, they won’t take anybody’s call.  But other people call, and you don’t.

This is a guy — he just — he’s just a very special guy.  His wife I actually like better than him, to be honest.  (Laughter.)  Because he doesn’t know that I know that he didn’t actually support me right from the beginning, but she did.  (Laughter.)

And on my worst day — right? — on my worst day, my worst — I won’t tell you why it was my worst, but it was not one of those good days — she got on a bus, got many other buses and women all over North Carolina, and they toured North Carolina.  Well, Mark was back sort of semi-supporting another candidate, which he ended up leaving very quickly.  I don’t think you had a choice, because of your wife, but thank her.

And Mark Meadows, he’s an extraordinary guy.  I mean, the only problem is, I guess, he’s announcing — he’d only win by 40 points, but he’s announcing that he’ll be not running this time.  Do you have somebody good to run?  Somebody going to win your district by at least 20 points, please?  Okay?  But he’s a tremendously talented man, not just as a politician.  As a human being, he’s incredible.

And during these horrible times — I mean, the way he worked and Jim and all of you guys — the way they worked so — it was like their life was at stake.  So many.

Ron DeSantis is another one.  He worked so hard.  Then he called me.  He said, “Sir, I’d like to run for governor.”  I said, “Governor?  I don’t want you to run.  I like you staying.”  “No, I want to run for governor.”  And I said, “Well, if you have to.”  “I’d like your support.”  I said, “How can I support you?  You’re at three.”  He was at three.  He had no money.  Somebody was at 38 and they had $22 million cash, right?  I said, “Look, if it’s important, I’ll do it,” because they — he’s been another great warrior.  And he’s — by the way, he ran.  I endorsed him.  His numbers went through the roof.

The man who we beat, who was expected to win easily, called me after the race.  He said, “You endorsed him, and it was like a nuclear bomb went off.  There was nothing I could do.”  He never even spent his money.  He saved it.

But Ron DeSantis is another one, and now he’s the governor of Florida.  And, by the way, he’s a great governor.  He’s a very popular governor.  His numbers are in the 70s.  And he’s done a great job.

But, Mark, I want to thank you very much.  Fantastic job. Thank you very much.  Mark Meadows.  (Applause.)

And Mike Johnson of Louisiana.  Where’s Mike?  Central casting.  What a job.  You can represent me anytime.  (Applause.)  You can represent me anytime.  Thank you.  What a job you’ve done.  Thank you, Mike.

And a man nobody has ever heard of, except the other side.  He’s the other side’s worst nightmare.  This guy goes down into dungeons and basements; he’ll find a document, no matter what.  He’s the most legitimate human being.  He’s the hardest worker.  He’s unbelievable.   He took tremendous abuse.  I mean, abuse.

The — the media and, you know, the other side, and the bad ones, the leakers, the liars, the dirty cops — they wanted to destroy him.  They tried.  They got close, but he wouldn’t let it happen.  And, honestly, in a certain way, he was the first one.  Wouldn’t you say, Jim and Mark and everybody?  This was the first guy.  He came out of nowhere.  He’s saying, “These people are corrupt.”  He’s still saying it.  And he was unbelievable. Devin Nunes.  He was unbelievable.  Unbelievable.  (Applause.)  That’s so true, Devin.

He’d come in and say — I didn’t even know hi;, I just heard there were like — there was this congressman who kept going into a basement — into files.  (Laughter.)  He knew something was wrong.  You felt it, right?  And now we know a lot more than we knew then, right?  You never thought it was as bad as it is.  And hopefully we’re going to take care of things, because we can never, ever allow this to happen again.  (Applause.)

Scott Perry of Pennsylvania.  Scott, thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you, Scott.  Really great.  And you’re doing very well over there, by the way.  Just saw your numbers.
A man who is a — I mean, central casting.  If I’m going to pick Perry Mason, I’m going to do a remake of Perry Mason — other than Bill Barr, I’d pick this guy.  But I have to say, I’ll pick Barr.  I pick Barr first, right?  (Laughter.)  John Ratcliffe, right?  But I have to tell you, if we’re doing a remake of Perry Mason, the man I get — there’s nobody in Hollywood like this — John Ratcliffe, right?  (Applause.)  Stand up, John.

So — such a great lawyer.  Incredible guy.  Incredible talent.  But just a great lawyer and we appreciate it.  He gets on that screen, and everyone says, “I agree.”  The other side folds up so fast.  We’ll probably be using a lot of you in the next year.  But you have been fantastic, John.  We appreciate it.  Thank you very much.

A man who’s braver than me and braver than all of us in this room.  He got — he got whacked.  He got whacked.  My Steve, right?  I went to the hospital with our great First Lady that night.  Right, honey?  And we saw a man that was not going to make it.  He was not going to make it.  He was — the doctor — and I told him his wife — I said, “She loves you.”  “Why do you say that?”  Because she was devastated.

A lot of wives wouldn’t give a damn.  (Laughter.)  A lot of — a lot of wives — a lot of wives would have said, “Oh, yeah.”  I said, “How’s he doing?”  “Oh…”  She couldn’t even talk.  She was inconsolable.  Most wives would say, “Not good.  Listen, I’m going home now.”  (Laughter.)  But the doctor came in — the wife is like — she was a total mess.  She was really devastated.  And he really —  it looked like he had a 20, 25 percent chance.  I think you set a record for blood loss.

And, Steve Scalise, I — actually, honestly, I think you’re better looking now.  You’re more handsome now.  (Laughter.)  You — you weren’t that good looking.  You look good now.  (Laughter.)  He looks better now.  Can you believe it?  I don’t know what the hell that is.  (Applause.)  It’s true.  Better now.  (Applause.)  What a guy.

And he was practicing — he was practicing for the baseball game against, I guess, the Democrats, right?  And this whack-job started shooting.  Hurt Roger — I don’t know if Roger is here.  But hurt a number of people — hit them.  But really hit Steve.  He — Steve was at second base.  He was the second baseman.  And he went down and it was terrible.  I mean, I saw the whole thing and it was terrible.

Fortunately, you had two brave policemen with you.  Because of your high position in Congress, you had two policemen and they were amazing — the man and a woman.  And they came and they didn’t have rifles.  They were against a, supposedly, pretty good sharpshooter with rifles — good equipment.  And all they had was a gun.  And they started coming in from the outfield, shooting.  And they’re so far away that a handgun is not preferred.  This guy has the rifle and he’s hitting people.  And he was going to move up and there was no out.  I mean, if he would have been able to move up, there was no way to get out.  The entrance was a single entranceway on the other side, where he was.

So everyone went into the dugout — ran into the dugout, but Steve was really hit badly in the stomach, and — with a bullet that rips you apart.  It was supposed to do that.  It rips — it rips you apart.

And these two people came charging forward.  Boom.  Boom.  Boom.  And one of them — you know who — one of them — him? — got the shooter.  Hit him.  And then got him.  Killed him from the long distance.  It was amazing.  If you didn’t have those two people — you can imagine, right?  You could imagine what would happen.

So Melania and I went to the hospital that night.  And he was in such bad shape, and he’s been working ever since, so hard.  But six months ago, they had a baseball game at the Nationals Park.  And I’m watching and it’s — it’s on television.  And it’s just, you know, a game.  People — you want to win it, right?  And Steve’s at second base.  The poor guy can’t even walk.

Do you remember Bobby Richardson for the New York Yankees?  He was known for range, Louie.  Range.  He had the greatest range.  If a ball is hit to shortstop — Bobby Richardson is the second player, the second baseman — Bobby Richardson would field the ball.  If it’s hit to first base, he’ll throw it to the first baseman.  He had unbelievable range.  This was not Steve Scalise.  (Laughter.)  Steve had no range.  (Laughter.)  One foot and he has to fall down, right?  Because, you know, he was trying to get better.  I don’t know who the hell put you on the field.  (Laughter.)

And this is a true story.  So the game starts and the first pitch — Steve is standing at second base and the guy is really in bad shape.  And I said, “This is terrible.”  A shot — groundball shot is hit to second and Steve.  I say — I didn’t have time to think too much, but I said, “This is not good.  That ball is going toward him.”

And this guy stopped that ball, caught the call.  He’s now laying down.  He throws the ball to first base.  He gets him out.  I said, “It’s the most incredible thing.”  I’ve never seen — athletically — (applause) — I’ve never seen anything like it, right?

And he gets him out and they then took him out of the game, which was a very wise thing because you could never do that again in a million years.  (Laughter.)  But you weren’t going to let that ball go through.  I don’t care if it was hit by the greatest of all time, right?  That ball was not going through you, because you are a warrior.  Steve is — he is fantastic.  You are fantastic.  You and Liz and Kevin.

What a great — what a group.  I mean, what a group.  I got lucky.  I got lucky because you need the right people.  If I had the wrong people there, he — maybe a different story.  Maybe we’d be celebrating something else.  But I really want to thank you, Steve Scalise.

And, Elise, you — I just read this story; she’s the most incredible — what’s going on with you, Elise.  So I even said — you know, I was up campaigning for her, helping her.  But I thought, “She looks good.  She looks like good talent.”  But did I not realize, when she opens that mouth, you were killing them, Elise.  (Laughter.)  You were killing them.  (Applause.)

Elise — and there’s a big story in the New York Post — I love the New York Post because they treat me well.  There aren’t too many of you that do.  But today, you’re treating me well.  I even had a great headline — New York Times, Washington Post.  I had all of these great headlines.  Maybe we should just end it right there.  (Laughter.)

But you had the greatest story, yesterday in the Post, that people from all over the country are contributing to her campaign.  They were so enthralled with the way you handled yourself, what you said, the way you said it.  And I’ll always be your friend.  I think it was — it’s really an amazing story.  What a great future you have.  What a great future.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  The First Lady agrees, by the way.  The First Lady agrees.

And Michael Turner, you can represent me anytime.  Where’s Michael?  Where is he?  (Applause.)  Or you can represent me.  How good were you?  There’s another — there’s another Perry Mason type, I think.  Right?  What do you think, John?  But, Michael, you were fantastic and we appreciate it.

Brad Wenstrup.  Where’s Brad?  Brad.  (Applause.)  Great, great job.  This is a big day for lawyers.  You notice only the lawyers stayed?  All the lawyers stayed behind.

Lee Zeldin.  How good are you?  How good are you?  (Applause.)  Man.

And, Louie, your name is not down.  They didn’t give me your name.  Do you know — if I didn’t announce Louie — (laughter) — whoever the hell made this list, I got to get rid of because I — if I wouldn’t have announced Louie, it might have been the end of the presidency.  (Laughter.)  Louie, you have been so great.  So tough and so smart.  I got it just — (laughs) — I got it.  But Louie has been amazing.  He’s a tough guy.  He’s a smart guy.  He’s streetwise like crazy.  We love Texas, and we’re with you all the way, Louie.  We’re with you all the way.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

So that’s the story.  We have a great group of warriors, and there are others left, and, I guess, probably, I’m sure I didn’t mention a few, and I apologize if that’s the case.  How’s CPAC doing?  Good?  Huh?  My man, stand up please, will you?  He’s the one who said, “You should run.”  (Applause.)  Right?

Matt said — it’s like five years ago, six years ago.  And I made a speech, and then they do some kind of a straw poll: “Who made the best speech?”  And he said, “I made the best speech.”  With all this professional — I hate to say this:  With all these professional politicians, they voted, by far, the best speech was Trump.  He calls me, he says, “You should run for politics.”  I say, “What do I know about politics?”

But you know what?  We learned quickly, and our country has never done better than it’s doing right now.  (Applause.)  So it’s been good.  (Applause.)  But thank you, Matt.  Great.  Say hello.

So that’s the story.  We’ve been treated very unfairly.  Fortunately, we have great men and women that came to our defense.  If we didn’t, this would have been a horrific incident for our country.  When you have Lisa and Peter, the lovers, the FBI lovers: “I want to believe the path you threw out for” Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.  That’s the office.  “There’s no way he gets elected” — meaning me.  “There’s no way he gets elected.”

This is Peter, to Lisa.  He’s probably trying to impress her, for obvious reasons.  (Laughter.)  “There’s no way he gets elected.  But I’m afraid we can’t take the risk.”  Now, think of this.  In other words, if I get elected, they can’t — “they”; two low-lifes — they can’t take the risk.  They can’t take the risk.  Think of it.

And that’s where it came up, the greatest word of all: “insurance policy.”  So he says, “But I’m afraid we can’t take the risk.  She may lose.”  It’s like an insurance policy.  In the unlikely event you die before you’re 40 — in other words, if I won, they were going to do exactly what they did to us.  They were going to try and overthrow the government of the United States — a duly elected president.

And if I didn’t fire James Comey, we would have never found this stuff.  Because when I fired that sleazebag, all hell broke out.  They were ratting on each other.  They were running for the hills.  Let’s see what happens.  Let’s see what happens.  It’s in the hands of some very talented people.  We’re going to have to see what happens.

But I can tell you, in my opinion, these are the crookedest, most dishonest, dirtiest people I’ve ever seen.  They said — this is Strzok: “God, Hillary should win 100 million to one.”  This is about me.  This is an agent from the FBI.  Look how they let her off.  Thirty-three thousand emails deleted.  Nothing happens to her.  Nothing happens.  It’s unbelievable.

But think of that — “God, Hillary should win” — when these guys are investigating Hillary.  Then they go to work for Mueller — the two of them — and when Muller found out that everybody knew that they were 100 percent this way, he let them go.  But they deleted all of their emails and text messages.

So when we got the phone, they were all deleted.  Could you imagine the treasure trove?  They illegally deleted.  So they left.  They left Bob Mueller.  He had the look, but he didn’t have a lot of other things.  Always had the look.  Mr. G-Man.

And I love the FBI and the FBI loves me — 99 percent.  It was the top scum.  And the FBI people don’t like the top scum.

So think of that: 100 million to one.  And he’s investigating me.  And then, “God, Trump is a loathsome human being, isn’t he?”  These are the people looking at me.  I’m really not a bad person.  And Page said, “Yes, he’s awful.”  How would you like to have that?  This is just — this is the good stuff.  There’s stuff a hundred times worse than that.  These are all dirty people.

And now, I just heard that they’re suing the United States of America because they were interfered with.  We’re not going to let it happen.  Just not going to let it happen.  We cannot let this happen to our country.  We can’t.  (Applause.)

So, I’m going to leave now.  And I don’t know if any of you have anything to say.  You could say it.  But this is sort of a day of celebration, because we went through hell.

And I’m sure that Pelosi and Cryin’ Chuck — I’ve known this guy all the — the only time I ever saw him cry was when it was appropriate.  Known him for a long time.  Cryin’ Chuck.  But I’m sure they’ll try and cook up other things.  They’ll go through the state of New York.  They’ll go through other places.  They’ll do whatever they can.  Because instead of wanting to heal our country and fix our country, all they want to do — in my opinion, it’s almost like they want to destroy our country.  We can’t let it happen.

Jim Jordan, did you want to say something?  Go ahead.  Huh?  Mark?

REPRESENTATIVE MEADOWS:  No, I just — I wanted to just say that this reflection today, it is a small reflection of the kind of support you have all across the country.  We’ve got your back.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

This was a highly partisan situation.  Pelosi said — I copied it down exactly.  Before the impeachment — she wanted to impeach from day one, by the way.  Don’t let it fool you.  You know, she said, “No, the impeachment is a very serious thing.”  I said, “She wants to impeach.  Watch.”

Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there’s something so compelling and so overwhelming and bipartisan — bipartisan.  It was 197 to nothing.  And other than one failed presidential candidate — and I call that “half a vote” because he actually voted for us on the other one.  But we had one failed presidential candidate.  That’s the only half a vote we lost.  So, we had almost 53 to nothing.  We had 197 to nothing.  And the only one that voted against was a guy that can’t stand the fact that he ran one of the worst campaigns in the history of the presidency.

But she said, “There’s something so compelling — it has to be so compelling and so overwhelming and bipartisan.  I don’t think we should go down that path, because it divides the country” — she was right about that — “and it’s just not worth it.”  That was Nancy Pelosi a year ago.  Right?

And I think it’s a shame.  I think it’s a shame.  But as I said, if we can put this genius to work on roads and highways and bridges and all of the things we can do — prescription drugs.  You know, we had — Secretary Azar is here and I want to thank him for this, but we had — first time in 51 years, where drug prices actually came down last year.  First time in 51 years.  But what we can do, working with both parties in Congress, is — would be unbelievable.  It would be unbelievable — all we can do.

And I know Chuck Grassley is working very hard on it and Mitch is working very hard on it.  But what we can do is — is incredible.  What we can do, just generally.  We’ve done so much without it.  We’ve rebuilt our military.  We’ve cut regulations at a level that nobody thought possible.  We’ll always protect our Second Amendment; we all know that.

But I just want to tell you that it’s an honor to be with you all.  I want to apologize to my family for having them have to go through a phony, rotten deal by some very evil and sick people.  And Ivanka is here, and my — my sons and my whole family, and that includes Barron.  (Applause.)  That includes Barron, who is up there as a young boy.

Stand up, honey.  (Applause.)  Ivanka, thank you, honey.  Come.  Come.  (Applause.)  (The President hugs Ivanka Trump.)

Come here, baby.  (Applause.)  (The President hugs the First Lady.)

So I just want to thank my family for sticking through it. This was not part of the deal.  I was going to run for President, and if I won, I was going do a great job.  I didn’t know that I was going to run, and then when I got in, I was going to have to run again and again and again.  Every week, I had to run again.  That wasn’t the deal, but they stuck with me.

And I’m so glad I did it because we are making progress and doing things for our great people that everybody said couldn’t be done.  Our country is thriving.  Our country is just respected again.  And it’s an honor to be with the people in this room.

Thank you very much, everybody.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Thank you very much.  Thank you.  (Applause.)


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