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Roosevelt Room

12:41 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all for coming. We had a couple of great meetings this morning — the airline industry, we’re going to get that one going. They’ve got a lot of problems but it’s going to be good. We just had talks with Qatar and a couple of countries — Afghanistan. I would say that that’s a tough situation but we’ll do something about it. We’ll be having some — we’ll be giving you some pretty — information — pretty good information soon. We’re going to have some good, big conversations with other world leaders over the next few hours. A lot of things happening, a lot of positive things.

I want to start by thanking Senator Manchin for having the courage to vote for somebody that’s really very outstanding, really outstanding — as good as they’ve seen in a long time. Nominating the justice to the Supreme Court, a justice, has always been considered one of the very important things that a President can do.

I guess I’m looking very much at defense and we’re negotiating a lot of contracts with airlines and a lot of other people, but when you get right down to it, the F-35 Fighter is very important and all of the things we’re doing are very important. But I’ve always considered, and I guess a lot of people have, the Supreme Court nominees to be right up there — right up there. We’ll take defense, number one, I think, Senator, we have to go with defense of our country, number one. And right after that, I suspect it’s going to be Supreme Court justices.

And Judge Gorsuch is an exceptionally qualified nominee — probably there’s rarely been anybody that’s been more qualified. He has impeccable academic and legal credentials. He went to Columbia — very, very great student. He went to Harvard, top of his class. He went to Oxford, great student, great intellect. He has an outstanding record for 10 years on the bench. One of the great writers they say — legal writers — I’ve read some of the things that he’s written and, believe me, he is a great, great writer. He’ll respect and very much respect the Constitution, as written, and he will apply the law as written.

He’s a mainstream judge, very much mainstream, and I urge you all to confirm him. He’s been doing very well. A lot of people are liking him very much on the other side. And I think that, because of politics, perhaps they’re not going to vote for him. I think that’s a shame because that’s not being honest.

I’ve had a couple of people tell me from the other side — because, believe it or not, I have a lot of friends on the other side too — and they think he’s outstanding. And then they go on to tell me that perhaps they won’t be able to do that. But that’s one of the reasons that our country is in stagnation in so many different forms and so many different ways. I think it’s very dishonest and I think it’s very unfortunate.

But we’ll see what happens. I think he’s doing very well. And I know that some people are going to come on board and hopefully we can do this in a very quick and civil manner.

The Cabinet slowly is happening. Jeff Sessions just got — you’re very happy about that — because Jeff is outstanding. And we just swore in Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, and I think he’s going to be outstanding.

So I just want to thank you all for being here. We’re going to have a good lunch and we’re going to talk about our Supreme Court nominee, somebody who will do a fantastic job for many years to come. Thank you very much.

Q Mr. President, any comment on Judge Gorsuch’s comments about you, sir?

THE PRESIDENT: You misrepresented his comments.

Q I just wanted to ask you what your thoughts were, sir.

THE PRESIDENT: His comments were misrepresented. And what you should do is ask Senator Blumenthal about his Vietnam record that didn’t exist after years of saying it did. So ask Senator Blumenthal about his Vietnam record. He misrepresented that just like he misrepresented Judge Gorsuch.

Thank you all very much.

12:45 P.M. EST