3:48 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you very much for being here. We appreciate it.
I’m thrilled to be with a very important man in Guatemala, the Minister Enrique Degenhart. And we are doing a very important signing. It’s a historic asylum, or safe third, agreement between our two countries. A very important event.
We’ve long been working with Guatemala, and now we can do it the right way. It’s going to be terrific for them and terrific for the United States.
This landmark agreement will put the coyotes and the smugglers out of business. These are bad people. These are very, very bad, sick, deranged people who make a lot of money off other people’s miseries. It’s going to provide safety for legitimate asylum-seekers, and stop asylum fraud and abuses system.
This is also transformative in the step it will take, and the many, many steps it will take for security and safety. For Guatemala, it signifies the incredible bright future for their country. This agreement will usher in a new era of investment and growth for their nation, and sets the stage for cooperation between our countries and expanding access to the H-2A visa, which is your agricultural workers and farm workers.
We’re going to have them coming into our country in a easier fashion than even before. It’s very important for our business, for our farms, for our ranches. And we are going to make that a very, very much easier, less cumbersome program. And further bilateral investment will take place.
But the H-2A is really going to be streamlined. And all of those workers that come in, we want them to continue to come in. As you know, we have a very low rate of unemployment — record-setting. We’re at about 3.5, maybe 3.6. I hear it’s going down — probably will — because the country is doing tremendous business. Had another record stock market.
Today, we’re sending a clear message to human smugglers and traffickers that your day is over. And we’re investing in the future of Guatemala, the safety of migrants and their families. We’ll protect the rights of those with legitimate claims, and we’ll end the widespread abuse of the system and the crippling crisis on our border.
I want to thank Mexico. As you know, Enrique, the Mexican government, the President of Mexico, has now 21,000 troops on our double borders — on their border. By you, they have about 6,000. And then, on our southern border, they have — getting close to 20,000 by itself. It’s going to probably be about 26,000 people total — soldiers. And very good ones. It’s had a tremendous impact. Really an incredible impact.
So, Kevin, if you look at what’s happened over the last short period of time, it’s really been great. Now, if the Democrats would sign something, it would be a lot easier. But we have to do it around the Democrats because they refuse to want to close up the border. They want open borders. That means smugglers, it means hijackers, it means drugs, it means crime. It’s frankly, a disgrace.
But with Guatemala and with Mexico, and with other countries that will be signing safe third agreements very shortly, we’re doing really well.
I want to thank — if I might, Enrique — the President of Guatemala, President Morales. Please give him my regards.
MINISTER DEGENHART: Thank you, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. He’s a terrific guy. We like him very much. And we’ve worked together really, really well.
So if you two gentlemen would sit down, Kevin and Enrique, and you’ll sign. I’ll stand right behind you. This way, I’ll confirm it.
(The safe third country agreement is signed.)
THE PRESIDENT: That’s a very big thing. It’s a very important signature. Never been done before. Thank you very much, Enrique.
MINISTER DEGENHART: Mr. President, thank you very much. Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all very much.
Q What was the breakthrough that led to this?
THE PRESIDENT: Look, we’ve been dealing for many years, I would say, with Guatemala and with other countries. And we are now at a point where we are — we just get along. And they’re doing what we’ve asked them to do. And I think it’s going to be a great thing for Guatemala. They don’t want these problems either. So we were able to get this done, and we got it done fairly quickly. But this is after many, many years.
Mexico also is working along with us very nicely. I mean, tremendously, actually. You’ll see a chart where the numbers are really through the — through the floor, I should say, because they’re going down.
Kevin, maybe you want to speak to the numbers, how well we’re doing in terms of apprehensions.
ACTING SECRETARY MCALEENAN: Absolutely, Mr. President. Since the agreement was signed with Mexico that you energized and drove, we’ve had 28 percent reduction in June, and we’re headed toward another 22 percent reduction in July in crossings. So 43 percent overall thanks to the effort on the government of Mexico’s side and the implementation of our Migrant Protection Protocols border-wide.
THE PRESIDENT: And the fact that they do have, really, a big slowdown coming in from Guatemala at the border, because we have, again, 6,000 Mexican troops at the border of Guatemala. So that helps. But this will really help. This is something that’s going to be rather incredible. So the numbers are going down.
We — we could really do this in a much easier fashion if we had cooperation from the Democrats. We have absolutely no cooperation. Nobody can understand them. Most of these people, five years ago, they all wanted a wall.
And we’re building a lot of wall right now. A lot of it. We’ve ripped down old wall and we’ve ripped down wall that didn’t even exist which was — it had bad footings, bad foundations. It was — there used to be a wall there; there wasn’t. It was gobbled up by the people that crossed. And we’re building beautiful, new wall. A lot of it. And it’s getting built rapidly.
So a lot of things are happening. But this is a very — this is a very big day.
Q Mr. President, the big focus of the Democrats today was to say that they are going to continue and expand your investigations. They’re looking through the grand jury testimony behind the Mueller report. They want to try to enforce the subpoena against Don McGahn. What do you say?
THE PRESIDENT: I think it’s a disgrace what the Democrats are doing. It’s so sad to see what their — how they’re impeding all of the good things that we’re doing. Like, as an example, today it’s the border. We’re strengthening up our border with a great country. And we have other great countries that are going to be signing on also.
And we’re doing this all because the Democrats won’t give us what we need. So simple: Get rid of the loopholes; work on asylum. It would take a very short period of time. They won’t do it. All they want to do is impede. They want to investigate. They want to go fishing.
And I watch Bob Mueller, and they have nothing. There’s no collusion, there’s no obstruction. They have nothing. It’s a disgrace.
We want to find out what happened with the last Democrat President. Let’s look into Obama the way they’ve looked at me. From day one, they’ve looked into everything that we’ve done. They could look into the book deal that President Obama made. Let’s subpoena all of his records. Let’s subpoena all of the records having to do with Hillary Clinton and all of the nonsense that went on with Clinton and her foundation and everything else. We could do that all day long.
Frankly, the Republicans were gentlemen and women. When we had the majority in the House, they didn’t do subpoenas all day long. They didn’t do what they — what these people have done.
What they’re doing is a disgrace. So destructive to our country. And I think that’s why we’re going to take back the House. That’s why we’re easily going to hold the presidency and we’re going to continue to hold the Senate.
And you know, people don’t say it, but we picked up two seats in the Senate. We went from 51 to 53 in the ’18 election. Nobody says it. They talk about the House. And I didn’t get to campaign very much for the House. I couldn’t because we were campaigning for the Senate. We almost picked up five seats. You know that very well.
So it’s a disgrace that they’re doing it. They’re doing it for political reasons. And most of them, many of them, are admitting that. It’s politics. And frankly, it’s a very sad thing for our country.
Q What’s your thinking now about sanctions on Turkey? You had that meeting with the Republican senators the other night.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we’re looking at the whole Turkey situation. You know, they’ve ordered 125 F-35 fighter jets. Billions and billions of dollars. They’ve paid some of it. The planes are being made. They’re easily sold to other nations because they’re the greatest fighter jet in the world. And we have a backlog of orders.
But it’s a tough situation. They’re getting the S-400 and the — our statutes, and everything else. As you do that, you just can’t order this equipment. And generally speaking, you can’t order equipment, period.
I don’t blame Turkey because there are a lot of circumstances and a lot of — a lot of problems that occurred during the Obama administration. This dates back to the Obama administration, which was a disaster, okay?
Q May I come back to Guatemala, sir?
THE PRESIDENT: Please.
Q Earlier this week, it looked like things were not going in the right direction. You were even threatening tariffs against Guatemala. What turned around in the last couple of days?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think I’d ask maybe Kevin and Enrique to answer. The relationship has been very good.
ACTING SECRETARY MCALEENAN: We stayed at the table. We’ve been working on it throughout. Enrique has demonstrated a tremendous commitment, the Minister of Government for Guatemala, helping lead the region to take responsibility for migration flows, to work together with the United States on how we can take the power away from the criminal organizations that are exploiting these vulnerable migrants. And we just stayed — we stayed with it and got over the line.
MINISTER DEGENHART: And I would say that Guatemala is definitely clear on the responsibility that it has. We are clear that we have to make changes. And the way to do it is working together with our best ally. That’s what we’re showing here today, and we are definitely committed to continue doing and improving what we have.
Q Your court said that this was not possible to do. How did you get around that?
MR. DEGENHART: No, they didn’t say that.
Q Well, I thought that — it looked like the courts were saying that you could not sign an asylum agreement with the United States.
MINISTER DEGENHART: So what the court said, which is a provisional injunction, was basically define the process that had to be followed. As Secretary McAleenan mentioned a little while ago, define how to do that procedure and we are going to implement it.
Q Can you explain how this will work? If someone leaves Guatemala and —
THE PRESIDENT: Yes.
Q — walks through Mexico into the U.S., what happens? Are they turned around and (inaudible)?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes. A lot of good things happen. Go ahead, Kevin.
ACTING SECRETARY MCALEENAN: So this is a return to the appropriate approach under international law to protecting asylum seekers at the earliest possible point in their journey.
If you have a Honduran family or an El Salvadorian national, instead of having them pay a smuggler, come all the way to our border to seek asylum — when they arrive in Guatemala, they’re in a country that has a fair proceeding for assessing asylum claims, and that’s where they should make that claim; not returns at understanding under international law.
Q Make a claim to stay in Guatemala or claim to the U.S.?
ACTING SECRETARY MCALEENAN: They can make a protection claim, if they would like, in Guatemala. So if they arrive in the U.S. not having availed themselves of that opportunity, they’ll be returned to Guatemala.
Q And that’s a claim to stay in Guatemala at that point?
ACTING SECRETARY MCALEENAN: It’s a claim for protection under international law for asylum.
THE PRESIDENT: Which we’ve never had before and which is something that’s so good — good for everybody, but it’s so good.
Q Are tariffs off the table now, sir?
Q Are you going to sign a border agreement soon? And who with?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we have a great agreement with Mexico, but we’re going to probably do some additional work on it because we can’t get anything from the Democrats. Dealing with Mexico is really — what Mexico is doing for us at the border is far greater than what the Democrats have done.
You know, the amazing thing about the Democrats: It was all fine, everything was great, four or five years ago, before I was President. And now they think we’re going to win, so they’re doing everything they can — with the impeachment nonsense, where you had no obstruction, you had no collusion.
You know, obstruction is sort of interesting. They’ve interviewed 500 people. They’ve interviewed lawyers. They’re interviewed everybody that they wanted to interview; people that have — I could have kept back by using presidential privilege. I could’ve kept back everybody. They didn’t have to interview anybody.
I gave them a total — and they say “obstruction.” These people are clowns. The Democrats are clowns. They’re being laughed at all over the world. And I watched this morning — I watched Nancy Pelosi trying to get through that, with the performance that Robert Mueller put on, where — I don’t think he ever read the agreement or the document. And the document said, “No collusion.” They don’t even talk about that. So there was no crime. They said, “Well, there was no crime but he obstructed.” How do you obstruct if there’s no crime? But, actually, it was worse than that because it was a phony crime that they put on. The crime was what they put on.
But I watched Mueller — for two and a half years, we’ve watched this. And that’s the best they have, and it’s a disgrace. And the world is laughing at them. And unfortunately, it’s so bad for our country. It’s bad in our relationships with other countries, including Russia. There’s no reason we shouldn’t get along with Russia. There’s no reason we shouldn’t get along with other countries.
And one of the things that’s nice about Guatemala is we’ve never had a better relationship. Right now, they’ve agreed to do something that’s very good for the United States. And we’re going to work with them also. We’re going to be — it’s going to be a partnership. And it’s happening with Mexico too. We never had any kind of cooperation with Mexico ever, until this President, frankly, and my presidency, where you have maybe 21,000 — could be 26,000 — soldiers.
And it’s still good for Mexico because they’re killing — they’re getting rid of the cartels, which everybody knows they’ve been running big portions of Mexico — and the coyotes and all of these terrible people. Mexico has done a great job for their people. The President has done a great job for his people. And President Morales has done a great job by doing this, because now he has a friend in the United States instead of an enemy of the United States.
Q Mr. President, are you going to slap tariffs on French wine?
THE PRESIDENT: I might. I might. So, France put on a tax on our companies. You know that. And — wrong. Wrong thing to do. They should not have done it. So I may do that. I may — I’ve always liked American wines better than French wines, even though I don’t drink wine. (Laughter.) I just like the way they look, okay? But American wines are great. American wines are great. And they didn’t do the right thing, when they start taxing our companies. We tax our companies; they don’t tax our companies.
So France did that. I told him — I said, “Don’t do it, because if you do it, I’m going to tax your wine” — tariff, or tax — call it whatever you want. So, yeah, we’re working on that right now.
Q You were critical of Macron’s decision to do this. How is that relationship between you and Macron?
THE PRESIDENT: Good. I just spoke to him.
Q You used to be very close.
THE PRESIDENT: No, I just spoke to him. I have a good relationship with President Macron. But they shouldn’t have done this. They’re used to taking advantage of the United States, but not with me as President.
Look, I look at deals that were done with other Presidents and this country, and it’s a disgrace that our country has allowed this to happen — where China, for years and years and years was making from $300 billion to $507 billion a year, okay? Now we’re taking in billions of dollars from China, and it’s all turning around.
Whether a deal is made — you know, they’re going next week; they have more meetings. Meeting after meeting. I don’t think, personally, China would sign a deal if I had a 2 percent chance of losing the election. I think China would probably say, “Let’s wait. Let’s wait. Maybe Trump will lose and we can deal with another dope or another stiff,” like the people that allowed these deals to happen, this horrible thing to happen to our country. Because what’s happened to our country — the money that China has taken out of the United States has rebuilt China. And I don’t blame China. I blame the United States for allowing that to happen.
So if I’m President Xi, or if I’m, frankly, Iran — and Iran wants to make a deal; I can tell you that right now. But if I’m Iran, I’ll probably say, “Man, if I can hold out, I’m going to wait for Sleepy Joe Biden instead of Trump, because Sleepy Joe, we can make any deal we want with him. He doesn’t know what’s happening.”
So, what else?
Q Back to the tariffs on French wine. When?
THE PRESIDENT: We’ll be announcing it sometime fairly soon. We’ll see what happens. But they put a tax on. We said, “Don’t do it. We tax our companies. You don’t tax our companies.” And we’ll be announcing something. It might be on wine; it might be on something else. But we’ll be — it’s called “reciprocal.” It’s a reciprocal tax. And we’ll be announcing that fairly soon, John.
It makes sense, John. Do you agree with that? You’re a man — you’re a man that enjoys wine. You just won’t enjoy French wine anymore.
Go ahead, Steve.
Q I would agree that American wines are very, very good.
THE PRESIDENT: They are great.
Q I think Mnuchin and Lighthizer are going to Shanghai next week for those trade talks. Are —
THE PRESIDENT: They will be going.
Q You don’t sound optimistic that they’re going to come out with a deal.
THE PRESIDENT: No, I’m never — look, look, look: I think that China will probably say, “Let’s wait. It’s 14, 15 months until the election. Let’s see if one these people that give the United States away, let’s see if one of them could possibly get elected.” And I’ll tell you what: When I win, like almost immediately, they’re all going to sign deals, and they’re going to be phenomenal deals for the country.
But — so I don’t know that they’re going to — I don’t know if they’re going to make a deal. Maybe they will; maybe they don’t. I don’t care, because we’re taking in tens of billions of dollars’ worth of tariffs. And the farmers are happy because I gave them $16 billion out of the tariffs and had tremendous — you know, much more than that left over, as you know. Tremendous amount of money left over, like by three times. And we haven’t even taxed China yet, compared to what I could do. So we have tens of billions of dollars rolling in from China. We never had 10 cents coming in.
And again, I don’t blame President Xi. I blame our past leaders for allowing it to happen for so many years with the World Trade Organization. China was totally flat-lined. And when the World Trade Organization came about and China joined the World Trade, they became a rocket ship, because, you know, it’s a very unfair situation that took place at the World Trade Organization, as are many of them.
So they’re going to go and we’ll talk. We’ll see. I don’t personally care that much because we’re getting billions and billions. Remember this: The people aren’t paying for it. Everyone says people pay for it. China has devalued the currency, and they’re putting money in — they’re pumping money into their society, into their country, like you wouldn’t believe. You call it “quantitative easing.” With us, we have a Fed that does quantitative tightening and they raise interest rates.
So we have a normalized rate. President Obama had no rates and he had no tightening. And we still have a much better economy than in his wildest dreams.
So — and there is something okay about that, but we — look, the Fed acted too soon. I turned out to be right. They acted too soon and too violently. We’ve had nine increases, I believe — you’ll check that — but I believe it’s nine increases. A couple of under — a couple under her and a lot under Powell. I’m not a fan.
Okay, what else?
Q The U.S. dollar, sir. The U.S. dollar. It is too high? Too low? (Inaudible.)
THE PRESIDENT: Oh, the dollar is very strong. The country is very strong. The dollar is a — it’s a beautiful thing in one way, but it makes it harder to compete. And despite that — but we have a very powerful dollar. So that’s the good news.
Despite that, we’re doing really well. The country is doing well. It’s really become, more than ever before, the currency of choice. You know, you have the euro that tried to cut in. Well, the euro is now not doing so well. Europe is not doing so well. China is not doing very well. You look at other countries — we’re the hottest economic country in the world. There’s nobody close. Even Guatemala wants to do business with us now. So, we’re happy. Right?
MINISTER DEGENHART: Yes, sir. Thank you, sir.
Q On the dollar valuation, why did you not consider a proposal that was floated on Tuesday here in the Oval Office to devalue it?
THE PRESIDENT: I could do that in two seconds if I wanted.
Q But why did you not want to entertain it then?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I wouldn’t say I’m not going to do something, but I’m — you know, look, having a strong dollar — there’s a reason that it sounds so good. And having a strong dollar is having a strong dollar.
We have an amazing country. We have a very strong country. That’s why our country has a strong currency. Other countries have a currency that’s down the tubes. It’s a currency that’s weak. China’s currency is very low. You look at other countries — look at the euro; the euro is so low. I mean, Germany is paying almost no interest. We’re paying 2.1 percent. We’re paying a lot of interest. That’s because we have a strong currency.
It’s a very complicated formula for some people. It’s not complicated for me. The Federal Reserve raised the rates too fast and too soon, and they shouldn’t have done quantitative tightening, which they did. If they didn’t do that, we would be at 4.5 percent instead of 2.1. Everybody is so thrilled with 2.1. We could have had it much more, except for the Federal Reserve. And we could have been five- to ten thousand points higher in the Dow.
Now, I don’t want to sound too upset about it because we just broke the all-time record in the history of our country on the Dow. But we could have been higher, right? Could have been a contender. Could have been higher, as Marlon would say. Marlon Brando. The great Marlon Brando.
Q Are you okay with North Korea firing off these short-range missiles?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, you said it: They’re short-range missiles. And my relationship is very good with Chairman Kim. And we’ll see what happens. But they are short-range missiles, and many people have those missiles.
Q You don’t sound too spun up about it.
THE PRESIDENT: Nope. Not at all.
Q They’re describing those short-range as a warning, and “short-range” is short-range for the United States but not short-range for our allies, right? South Korea, Japan.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, he didn’t say — he didn’t say a warning to the United States, I can tell you that. He didn’t say a warning to the United States. But they have their disputes. The two of them have their disputes. They’ve had them for a long time. But he didn’t say that. But they are short-range missiles and very standard missiles.
Q Mr. President, have you spoken with Boris Johnson yet?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes. Very good question.
Q And what did you have to say?
THE PRESIDENT: That’s the best question you’ve ever asked.
Q I asked it the other day, and you said, “no.”
THE PRESIDENT: Well, you know why your timing is good? Because I spoke to him about — how long have you been here? Sixteen minutes. I spoke to him 17 minutes ago. I hung up the phone as you were coming in.
And he’s a good guy. He’s a friend of mine. I think we’re going to have a great relationship. And Boris is going to be a great Prime Minister. I predict he will be a great Prime Minister. He has what it takes. They needed him for a long time. UK needed him for a long time. And —
Q Would you — would you invite him here?
THE PRESIDENT: — let’s see what happens. Yeah, he’ll – he and I will spend a lot of — we just spent a lot of time when I was with the Queen in one of the great, most beautiful couple of days that I’ve ever experienced. She’s a tremendous woman. Incredible woman. We get along very well.
So, Boris and I just spoke. I congratulated him. And he’s all set to go. He’s going to be — I think he’ll do a great job.
We’re working already on a trade agreement. And I think it will be a very substantial trade agreement. You know, we can do with the UK — we can do three to four times. We were actually impeded by their relationship with the European Union. We were very much impeded on trade. And I think we can do three to four, five times what we’re doing.
We don’t do the kind of trade we could do with what some people say is Great Britain, and some people remember a word you don’t hear too much is the word, “England,” which is a piece of it.
But with the UK, we could do much, much more trade. And we expect to do that, okay?
Q Apple. You just warned Apple about tariff. So —
THE PRESIDENT: Apple?
Q Yeah, Apple. And they’re saying they don’t have skilled labor in the U.S.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I want Apple to build their plants in the United States. I don’t want them to build them in China. So when I heard they were going to build in China, I said, “No, it’s okay. You can build in China, but when you send your product into the United States, we’re going to tariff you.” But we’ll work it out.
A man I have a lot of liking for and respect is Tim Cook. And we’ll work it out. I think they’re going to announce that they’re going to build a plant in Texas. And if they do that, I’m starting to get very happy. Okay?
Q Mr. President, do you expect to get some more agreements, like the one signed today, with Honduras and El Salvador? And are you working on doing that?
THE PRESIDENT: I do. I do. I do indeed.
Q Will you get them soon?
THE PRESIDENT: Pretty soon. I mean, we get quick agreements.
So I just want to end up by saying that Guatemala has been really a pleasure to deal with, and we’re going to have a great relationship for many years to come.
And I’d like you, please, extend my warmest regards to the people of Guatemala.
MINISTER DEGENHART: Thank you, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you, everybody.
Q When are you planning your working vacation in Bedminster?
THE PRESIDENT: What?
Q Are you planning a working vacation in Bedminster this year?
THE PRESIDENT: By the way, Bedminster is not a vacation. I don’t go to —
Q That’s why I said, “working.”
THE PRESIDENT: — Manhattan because when I go to Manhattan, I — you know, I stay at Trump Tower and I have to close up the whole city of Manhattan. So I go to Bedminster, which is a beautiful place, but it’s never a vacation. It’s working, mostly.
Q Are you planning a trip to Bedminster over an extended period of time in August?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I hope not because I like working. I’d rather be right here. You know, but probably over a short period of time.
A lot of times you go and they do a lot of work in the White House. For instance, the Obama administration worked out a brand-new air conditioning system for the West Wing and it was so good before they did the system. Now that they did the system, it’s freezing or hot in here.
Q Can I rephrase my question?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes.
Q Will you be spending an extended period of time working in Bedminster during the month of August?
THE PRESIDENT: Not extended, but for a short period of time. You know, meaning like less than a week.
But again, I don’t — I do that, just officially — just to put that on record — I do that because when I go into Trump Tower, they close up 10 blocks around the building. And it’s Manhattan, New York City. It’s a big — I don’t want to inconvenience people. I don’t get any credit for that, but that’s okay.
Whereas Bedminster, everybody — you know, it works out very easily. It’s a much easier — it’s a much easier thing. It’s a great place. But I would love to go to Manhattan. I just don’t like seeing the city closed up.
I’ve had to suffer — living in Manhattan, I’ve had to suffer gravely as Presidents would come in and come out. And the entire city would be shut down. So I guess I understand it better than most, right? Thank you.
Q You got the G7 summit coming up after that.
THE PRESIDENT: We have the G7 coming up. Yes. We look forward to it. It will be in France.
Q Any other stops planned?
THE PRESIDENT: I don’t know. This was a stop which — this is a stop that we didn’t have planned, right here in the Oval Office — (laughter) — with Guatemala.
And again, thank you very much, Enrique. Thank you everybody.
Q Would you put tariffs on wine before the G7, or would you wait to negotiate with Macron?
THE PRESIDENT: Maybe before.
Q Maybe before?
THE PRESIDENT: Maybe before.
4:17 P.M. EDT