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Palm Beach, Florida

December 24, 2019
9:05 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everyone, and I want to wish you an amazing Christmas and a Happy New Year.  You’re tremendous warriors, and we appreciate it so much.  We’re in Florida right now, speaking to you through this technological advance that’s been made — that’s been incredible, what they’ve been able to do over the last number of years.  Incredible.  We’ll be talking to you in a little while, and you’ll be asking me some questions.

We have a lot of the media right here — our friends from the media.  Dear, dear friends from the media.  Sometimes they’re good.

But we’re honored to be joined on this call by five units deployed all across the world, representing the branches of our armed forces.  We have — as you know, we have a new branch that’s joining us; it will be Space Force.  We don’t have them represented quite yet, but that will be very soon.  We’re going to have a sixth branch of the military.  That’s the first time in 70 years a new branch will be coming on.  That’s going to be very exciting.

Because of your brave and selfless service, Americans can celebrate Christmas in safety and in peace.  And we all appreciate what you do so much, and we thank you very much.

To begin our call, I’d like to recognize Captain Roxanna Flores and the U.S. Army’s 103rd Sustainment Command, joining us all the way from Kuwait.  The “Cactus Soldiers,” as they’re called, are supporting a wartime force of over 25,000 service members and civilians undertaking sustainment operations in 12 different countries.  And you do an incredible job.

Across the Middle East, our warfighters win only with the relentless determination and unsurpassed devotion that we have — they have.  It’s incredible the job they do.  And thank you very much.  And we’ll go back to Roxanna in a little while, and we’ll ask a couple of questions and she’ll have some questions for us.

We also have with us sailors abroad the USS Forrest Sherman, a destroyer under the command of Commander Frank Azzarello, joining us from the Gulf of Aden.  You’re stop — clandestine — and this is what you’re doing so well, that you’re able to stop clandestine weapon smuggling — at a record number, by the way –escort tankers, and keep the seas safe for America and our allies in the highest tradition of our great Navy.

And our Navy is doing really well.  We just approved a record budget for our Navy.  Lots of new ships and lots of new everything.  I want to thank you for your constant vigilance.  And we’ll get back to you in a second, too.

I also welcome the great Marines, sailors, and soldiers of Task Force Southwest 19.2, who are stationed in Camp Shorab, in Afghanistan.  Brigadier General David Odom — thank you very much, General.  Your brilliant team is vital to training, advising, and assisting our friends in the Afghan military.  Your intelligence and security operations are second to none.  And we’re making a lot of progress there.  As you know, we’re also reducing troop force, because we don’t need what we had there.  And we reduced troop force, and are in the process of doing that very significantly.  Thank you very much, General.

Back in the United States, we’re joined by the 20th Attack Squadron at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri — a great state.  Greetings to Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Wassmuth and all of the airmen on the air base.  You’re crushed — and you know what happened recently.  You helped us so much and won very, very big.  You crushed ISIS from the air, kept the Taliban running scared, and conducted countless lethal airstrikes against the enemies of freedom.  You are an incredible group, and we are supremely grateful for your service and the job you do.  What happened with ISIS was incredible.  As you know, we took over 100 percent of the caliphate and destroyed them.  That doesn’t mean they don’t come back in smaller sections.  And we handle them as they come back.  But we had 100 percent.

And al-Baghdadi is dead.  The leader of ISIS — the founder of ISIS — is dead.  His replacement is now dead.  And we have our sights on the new replacement.  I don’t know why anybody would want that job, frankly.

Finally, we have with us — we have with us a captain, who is somebody that is so highly respected, Michael Frawley.  Everyone in the Coast Guard Air Station Sitka in Alaska, we want to thank you for your work.  You conduct daring rescues in treacherous mountain slides and towering waves.  Thank you for being our faithful guardians.

And you really have.  You know, the Coast Guard, with the work they’ve done during hurricane season, two years ago, in Texas — in particular, Texas — because they saved 16,000 lives.  Nobody understands what that means — 16,000 .  Even me — I heard that number, and I said, “Can that be possible?  Sixteen thousand.”  They served 16,000 lives — and saved.  And these are people out at sea, these are people on the land, where we had that massive — probably the largest amount of water ever to come onshore from a hurricane.  Went out — it went out; it came back.  It went out; it came back.  Then a third time, it went out; it came back.  And the Coast Guard was there.  You saved 16,000 people.

Then you had Florida.  Then you had Puerto Rico.  I mean, you were very busy.  And I don’t think anybody’s stock has gone up like the Coast Guard.  The Coast Guard has been incredible.  And we really appreciate the job you’ve done.  Saved thousands of lives.

But this Christmas, I hope that every member of our military will feel the overwhelming love and gratitude of our nation for your faithful service.  Starting January 1st, you’ll be getting your largest pay raise in more than a decade.  You don’t have to take it.  If you want, you can turn it back in to the government.  But we got you a good pay raise last year.  We’re going to get you an even better pay raise this year.  And it will be largest in over a decade, and you very much earned it.

And don’t worry, I’m only kidding when I say turn it back, because the press will cover that.  They’ll say, “He wants them to turn the pay rise back.”  No, I got it for you.   Keep it and spend it well.

Once again, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  Now, let’s get onto the discussion with some of our folks.  And maybe we’ll start with Captain Flores of the United States Army.

Captain, please.

CAPTAIN FLORES:  Good morning and happy holidays, Mr. President.  I am Captain Roxanna Flores, and on behalf of the soldiers of the 103rd Sustainment Command Expeditionary, we would like to wish you and your entire family a very Merry Christmas.  Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to speak with us today.  It is a true honor and privilege, sir.

Mr. President, the morale here in Kuwait is high.  And today, I sit here surrounded by a group of outstanding leaders that represent our over 200-soldier formation, consisting of Army Reserve soldiers that are coming together from over 32 different states, all brought together one month before deployment.  And that is thanks to the company leadership of Captain Shelby Peters and First Sergeant Trenton Byler.

Mr. President, also here in the room, we have our highly-dedicated soldiers, like Sergeant Jonathan Ochoa and Specialist Robert Wallace.

And finally, Mr. President, we have Specialist Bret Nyquist, who has been dying for at least a week to ask you a question, if that’s okay with you.

THE PRESIDENT:  Go ahead.  Whatever you want.  (Laughter.)

SPECIALIST NYQUIST:  Good morning, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT:  I hope — I hope it’s not too good, but that’s okay.  (Laughter.)  Whatever you want.  Please.

SPECIALIST NYQUIST:  It’s not too good.  My name is — my name is Specialist Bret Nyquist.  I’m an Intelligence Analyst from Des Moines, Iowa.  A lot of us here at Camp Arifjan have been wondering:  What did you get Mrs. Trump for Christmas this year?

THE PRESIDENT:  Oh, that’s a tough question.  (Laughter.)  Well, I — I really should say, “A very beautiful card.”  You know, I’m working on a lot — (laughter) — I got her a beautiful card, but actually I had a number of them picked and I picked the nicest one.  A lot of love, and we love our family and we love each other.  And we’ve had a great relationship, like you do, hopefully, with your spouses.  But we’ve had a great relationship.

And I think I’ll answer that by saying I’m still working on the Christmas present.  Is that okay?  (Laughter.)  There’s a little time left.

SPECIALIST NYQUIST:  Me too, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT:  Not too much, but there’s a little time left.  (Laughter.)  Thank you very much.

CAPTAIN FLORES:  Right.  Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Nice question.

CAPTAIN FLORES:  Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.

CAPTAIN FLORES:  Yes, we have —

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Go ahead.

CAPTAIN FLORES:   Right.  Thank you.  Thank you, Mr. President.  We also have Sergeant Dylan Contreras, who also has a question he’s been dying to ask of you, sir.

THE PRESIDENT:  Okay.  Please go ahead.

SERGEANT CONTRERAS:  Good morning, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning.

SERGEANT CONTRERAS:  Good morning, Mr. President.  My name is Sergeant Dylan Contreras.  I am from San Antonio, Texas.  I am an Information Technology Specialist.  And my question for you, sir: Is “Home Alone 2” your favorite holiday movie?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I’m in “Home Alone 2.”   And — (laughter) — it’s sort of — a lot of people mention it every year, especially around Christmas.  They say, “I just saw you.”  Especially young kids, they say, “I just saw you on the movie.”  They don’t see me on television as they — as they do in the movie.  But it’s been a good movie.  And I was a little bit younger, to put it mildly.  (Laughter.)  It was — it was an honor to do it.  And it turned out to be a very big hit, obviously.  It’s a big Christmas hit — one of the biggest.  So it’s an honor to be involved in something like that.  You always like to see success.

So thank you both very much.  Thank you all very much.  And they were great questions.  They were really — especially about Christmas gifts.  I’m — you’ve made me think.  I’m going to have to start working on that real fast.  (Laughter.)  Thank you all very much.  We appreciate it.  Keep up the good work.


THE PRESIDENT:  Now, I’d like to ask —

CAPTAIN FLORES:  Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT:  — Commander Frank Azzarello, if I might, to ask a couple of questions.  And you’re at the USS Forrest Sherman, Frank.  Tell me what’s going on.

COMMANDER AZZARELLO:  Good morning and Merry Christmas, Mr. President, from the Gulf of Aden.  I’m Commander Frank Azzarello, commanding officer of Forrest Sherman — 9,000 tons of American fighting steel, and from your best service.

Our new nickname is the (inaudible) for all the things we’ve been doing out here.  We’ve — so right now we’ve — I’ve got 320 warfighters.  We’ve sailed over 45,000 nautical miles this year, almost circumvated [sic] the — circumnavigated the world twice.  We’ve been out here for 95 days.  You’ve already talked about our shining moment (inaudible) all the illicit materials.  We’ve also been conducting numerous operations escorting some of our vessels and our allies through the Straits of Hormuz, the Straits of Bab el-Mandeb, and all those fun places.

I’ve got a couple people I’d like to recognize.  Our Chief Boatswain’s mate, Chief Fisher, and Petty Officer Huntsman who spent a lot of time on our small boat during those operations, putting at great personal risk.  And our sailors of the year: Logistics Specialist First Class Cruz, and Electronics Technician — excuse me, Second Class Bower and Retail Specialist Third Class Tran.  All super sailors, superstars on this ship.

I can’t tell you what an honor and privilege it is for — to talk to you.  The morale is boosted right now.  I’ve got about 100 missiles.  I got some gunners that don’t miss.  And we’re looking for a job to solve any of your problems, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT:  Wow.  That’s pretty wild, I’ll tell you.

COMMANDER AZZARELLO:  So the only questions we have for you —

THE PRESIDENT:  (Inaudible.)  Go ahead.

COMMANDER AZZARELLO:  — is, if you’re ever in the Gulf of Aden, we’d like to host you.


COMMANDER AZZARELLO:  — if you ever find yourself out here.  And if not, if you’ve never made it to Norfolk and seen a homecoming, maybe we can see you in the spring when we get home.

THE PRESIDENT:  That’s great.  Well, I’ve been to Norfolk plenty of times, but I’d love to see you out there — and you do.
And I guess the big difference is that you have equipment, the likes of which you’ve never had before, frankly.  You — when I first came in three years ago, we were very depleted with our planes and our ships and our missiles and rockets and everything else that we have.  And now I see those — even the uniforms, we have all brand-new uniforms, which — believe it or not, that’s a tremendous expense.  But we have everything new.

Some are even redesigned, as you know.  In the case of the Army, it was redesigned and beautifully redesigned.  We went back to a look that was the most popular.

But, you feel a lot different, I think, than you did three years ago, Frank?


THE PRESIDENT:  Big difference.

COMMANDER AZZARELLO:  We’re at the tip of the spear out here.

THE PRESIDENT:  Yep.  Yeah, great job.  I appreciate it very much.  Thank you.  Thank you.  And maybe we’ll stop by someday.  We’ll stop on that ship.

COMMANDER AZZARELLO:  Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  I appreciate it.

And now for the Marines.  We have a highly respected gentleman, General David Odom.  And, General, if you have any questions or statements, please make them.

GENERAL ODOM:  Good morning, Mr. President.  This is David Odom here, sir.  We — on behalf of all 500 Task Force Southwest, your Marines and sailors that are serving out here in Helmand Province, sir, we want to wish you and your family a very happy holidays.  We are honored for the opportunity to speak with you and interact with you today.  We know how busy your schedule is, and we’re humbled that you take the time of your schedule to spend time with us on your holiday, sir.

Your warriors out here, sir, have been out here about seven months.  We’ve been working in a great team with Resolute Support, with our NATO and Coalition partners, as well as U.S. 4A, with all of our joint teammates — Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines — from across the United States, working together out here.  And we’ve been working with a great partner in the 215th Afghan National Defense Corps and their police counterparts here in Helmand and Nimruz Province, sir.

So we’ve been here about seven months.  Been trying to move the football every day, staying on mission and task, sir.  And we’re honored to serve out here.

Sir, our real question for you, today, is:  How are you going to spend your holiday here in the coming — today, tomorrow, and hopefully into the weekend, sir?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I’m at a place called “Mar-a-Lago.”  We call it the “Southern White House” because I really, pretty much work — that’s what I like to do is work.  And we’ve made a lot of progress.

We’ve done some things, over the last few days, that were incredible, having to with trade.  As you know, we’re now getting along very well with China and trade.  In fact, they just took tariffs off more than 800 products, where they were charging us tariffs.  And now those tariffs are gone.  But we’ve made a very big deal with China, recently.  We made a very big deal with Mexico, Canada, North Korea, Japan — a $40 billion deal with Japan.  And we have plenty of others coming.  It’s going to have a tremendous boost on our country over the coming years — even over the coming year — but over the coming years, especially when they’re fully kicked in.  It’s tremendous amounts of money.
And, by the way, for all of you, I have to say: Our country has never done better, economically.  It’s nice that you’ll fight regardless and you’ll guard us and take care of us regardless, but our country has never done better, economically.  We just set a stock market record yesterday; that would be the 135th in less than three years of my presidency.  So we’ve never had an economy anyway close to this.

Our unemployment numbers are the best we’ve ever had.  They’re — African American, Asian American, Hispanic American — the numbers are incredible.  The lowest number of — in terms of unemployment — that we’ve ever had.  Lowest numbers.

With women, they’re down to a 71-year low.  We’ll soon have a historic number there, too, we think.  If it keeps going, we’ll have a historic number — meaning in the history of our country, as opposed to 71 years.  Seventy-one years is not bad.

But I will tell you, we’ve never done better.  So I think it’s good.  401(k)s and jobs in the country.  We have the most people working right now in the United States than we’ve ever had in the history of our country — close to 160 million people.

So, for all of you, I just want to tell you:  Thank you very much.  And you make it possible for us to do what we have to do.  But our country is doing well.  We’re the envy of the world right now.  Everybody that sees me — every foreign leader that sees me, they come up and they say, “What are you doing?  Congratulations.  We’ve never seen anything like it.”  And they want to do it, too, but it doesn’t work out so well for them.

We are — we are doing something that’s never been done before and our numbers reflect it.  So you make it possible.  Thank you all very much.  Thank you.

GENERAL ODOM:  Thank you, Mr. President.  And, sir, we want to make sure you’re aware, sir — I know you are, but we want you to hear it from us: The mail has been flowing in — the tremendous, tremendous support from the American people to their service members forward deployed.  We’ve had just boxes upon boxes of care packages, stockings for all the service members.  So Operation Santa is in effect out here because of the great support of the American people to their service members, sir.  We just wanted to share that with you.

I know you — we know you were out here at Thanksgiving and had a great meal up in Bagram.  We’ve going to have a fantastic meal here tomorrow at all our positions.  While we’re away from our loved ones, we’re honored to be here together representing our nation in support of a mission and working with a great partner.  And we will celebrate together here.

And we thank you again, sir.  And happy holidays to you and your family.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, thank you.  General, great job.  Thank you very much.  Say hello to all those great Marines.  And we appreciate it.  And Merry Christmas.  Fantastic job.  Beautiful.  Thank you very much.

So now we’ll go to Whiteman Air Force Base, and we’ll speak with — let’s see, who’s — who would like to speak at Whiteman?  Is that Whiteman right there?  That’s Whiteman.  Go ahead.  Please.

LIEUTENANT COLONEL WASSMUTH:  Good morning, Mr. President.  This is Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Wassmuth, the commander of the 20th Attack.

THE PRESIDENT:  Nice to see you.

LIEUTENANT COLONEL WASSMUTH:  And on behalf of all the 20th Attack Hellhounds and Team Whiteman, we want to wish you, your family a very Merry Christmas.  We greatly appreciate you taking time your of your schedule to talk to us.  It means an incredible amount that you would do that, and single out the 20th to speak to.  So thank you very much.

Chief (inaudible) and I brought three of our youngest crew members.  As you know, we’re flying combat operations every day of the year.  Our planes are over Afghanistan.  We have a First Lieutenant Willaford, Sergeant Cook, and Airman Burley — the youngest is 19 years old —


LIEUTENANT COLONEL WASSMUTH:  — that are supporting close air support missions around the clock in Afghanistan for you every day.

So thank you for taking the time.  It’s an incredible honor.  And Merry Christmas, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, thank you very much, Lieutenant Colonel.

And I have to just ask you one question: So we spent a lot of money on brand-new airplanes, as you know.  We were — three years ago, you didn’t have brand-new airplanes.  You were not doing well.  And now you have all brand new.  Are you seeing the big difference?  They’re already arriving.  Are you seeing the big difference?

LIEUTENANT COLONEL WASSMUTH:  Sir, your Air Force is thriving and we — the MQ-9 community and the rest of the aircraft — are extremely lethal.  Yes, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT:  Very good.  You know, a little while ago, they were going to the graveyards in the desert and they were taking parts for old planes.  You don’t have those planes.  So you have brand-new, beautiful stock.

You have — are you flying the F-35s?

LIEUTENANT COLONEL WASSMUTH:  No, sir.  We’re flying the MQ-9 Reapers.  The —

THE PRESIDENT:  Right.  That’s good.  All good, right?


THE PRESIDENT:  Do you fly others — other than the Reaper, do you fly others too?

LIEUTENANT COLONEL WASSMUTH:  No, sir.  Not our unit, specifically.  The team here at Whiteman, though, flies the B-2.

THE PRESIDENT:  Right.  Sure.


THE PRESIDENT:  That’s a big one.  Good.


THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much, Lieutenant colonel.  And thank you everybody.  Who is the 19 year old?  Tell me.  Who is the 19?  Raise your — oh, 19.


THE PRESIDENT:  To be 19, not so bad.  Good.  Have a good time.  Thank you.  Great job.

AIRMAN BURLEY:  Yes, sir.  Merry Christmas, sir.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  You too.  Merry Christmas to everybody.

And we’ll go now to the Coast Guard Air Station in Sitka, in Alaska.  And Captain Michael Frawley, if you could say a few words.  And Merry Christmas to everybody.  And I said it all, about the Coast Guard: The job they’ve done has been incredible over the last three years.  Thank you.  Go ahead, Michael.

CAPTAIN FRAWLEY:  Good morning, Mr. President.  Merry Christmas from Southeast Alaska.  I appreciate you saving the best for last.


CAPTAIN FRAWLEY:  It’s at — it’s 5:00 a.m. here, sir.  And I just want to tell you, we’ve got only about 180 active duty Coasties on the island.  And there’s about 25 percent of us here — showed up.  Really appreciate you taking the time, as everyone else said earlier.  We know how busy you are.

Everybody — I just want to point out a couple of people.  We’ve got Aids To Navigation Team Sitka, if you guys could raise your hands, please.  Yeah, they showed up.  We’ve also got members of the Coast Guard Cutter Kukui, the 225-foot Buoy Tender that handles the Aids To Navigation throughout Southeast Alaska.  Guys, is anybody from Kukui here?  Feel free to raise your hands.  There you go.  And then, finally, we’ve got the Air Station Sitka.  It’s the best aviation unit in the world.  We’re protecting Southeast Alaska — from Dixon Entrance, all the way up to Yakutat — and waiting for the next bad thing to happen.

So we appreciate you being here, sir.  Merry Christmas.  Happy New Year.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, you do a great job, Michael.  Thank you very much.  And thank everybody in the Coast Guard.  It’s a big group in Alaska and you need a big group.  It’s a big place.  We just — a lot of things have happened in Alaska.

One of the — one of the big ones is ANWR.  You know about that.  The biggest — possibly the biggest drilling site in the world.  We got that approved.  They’ve been trying to get it approved for 50 years.  I got it approved.  And that’s going to have a tremendous impact.

Plus, you’re doing a lot of logging and lumber work up there.  It’s — we opened it up for you.

So we always watch the environment — very important — but we also open up the business.  And Alaska and the Alaskan people have been very thankful.  So we appreciate it.  Great job, Michael.  We appreciate it.


THE PRESIDENT:  And just in closing out, I want to wish everybody a really incredible New Year, a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah.

Again, we have a special country.  Our country is doing better now than it’s ever done before.  Our economy is the best it’s ever been.

I believe that, as all of this new equipment starts pouring in — and it already has started for the most part.  In the case of the Air Force, a lot of it is there.  The Navy, a lot of it is there.

We’re building a couple of submarines, by the way, that will be the most lethal weapons anywhere in the world.  I have to tell you that.  It’s what they do.  And how they do it is rather incredible.  But they’re the most powerful weapons in the world.  And unfortunately, the lethal — and hopefully we never have to use them, from that standpoint.  We hope never to have to use them.  But we’re going to have them very soon.  We already have some, but these are beyond anything that anybody has ever seen before — the submarines.

So I want to thank everybody.  I want you to have a great Christmas.  I want you to have an incredible New Year.  I think we’re poised for tremendous success in the United States.  And enjoy all that new equipment that we’re getting you.  It’s all made in the USA.  Very important.  It’s made in the USA — every bit of it.

So thank you all very much.  Merry Christmas.  Thank you.  Thank you very much.  Thank you.

Q    Sir, can we ask you about North Korea?  Kim Jong Un is threatening a Christmas surprise for the world.

THE PRESIDENT:  Oh, that’s okay.  We’ll find out what the surprise is, and we’ll deal with it very successfully.  And let’s see what happens.  Everybody has got surprises for me, but let’s see what happens.  I handle them as they come along.

So you saw that?  These are great people.  Our military is now replenished.  We were totally depleted when I came into office.  And it’s great stuff.  It’s great stuff what’s happened.  And you see these incredible people.  We have the best in the world.  So it’s totally replenished.  New equipment is coming in on a daily basis.  It’s being made — all made in the USA.  And our economy is the strongest it’s ever been.

Q    What options are you considering, Mr. President, if it does end up being a long-range missile test?

THE PRESIDENT:  We’ll see what happens.  (Inaudible.)  We’ll — let’s see.  Maybe it’s a nice present.  Maybe it’s a present where he sends me a beautiful vase, as opposed to a missile test, right?  I may get a vase.  I may get a nice present from him.  You don’t know.  You never know.

Q    Are you going to pardon Roger Stone, Mr. President?


Q    Are you going to pardon Roger Stone, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT:  I don’t understand the question.

Q    Roger Stone.  Are you going to pardon him, sir?  He’s been convicted of felonies.

THE PRESIDENT:  Am I going to pardon him?

Q    Yes.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I hadn’t thought of it.  I think it’s very tough what they did to Roger Stone, compared to what they do to other people on their side.  I think it’s very tough.  I think it’s a very tough situation that they did something like that.

You know, Roger Stone was not involved in my campaign in any way — other than the very, very beginning, before I — I think, I — long before I announced — a little bit.  I’ve known Roger over the years.  He’s a nice guy.  A lot of people like him.

And he got very — he got hit very hard, as did General Flynn and as did a lot of other people.  They got hit very, very hard.  And now they’re finding out it was all a big hoax.  They’re finding out it was a horrible thing.  It was — we were spied on — my campaign was spied on.

And again, Roger Stone was not a part of it — the campaign.  He was somebody I’ve known over the years, but not a part of the campaign.  Very, very, very early on — long before I — I think long before I even announced, he was involved in a minor way.  But he’s a good person, and what they did to him is very unfair, in my opinion.  And what they did to General Flynn is very unfair, in my opinion.  And what they did to so many others is very unfair.

And now we found out they’re a bunch of dirty cops.  And paid for by the DNC, paid for by Hillary Clinton, in many cases — and in much.  They did a phony dossier.  They used the dossier for FISA.  And now, as you know, the FISA court — and your top judge is very much involved — and hopefully, they’re going to do something about it.  But these were dirty people.  These were bad people.  These were evil people.

And I hope that someday I’m going to consider it my greatest — or one of my greatest achievements — getting rid of them.  Because we have no place in our country for people like that.

Q    Sir, what did President Putin say to you that convinced you that the Ukraine interfered in the 2016 Election?

THE PRESIDENT:  What did he say to me?

Q    Yes.

THE PRESIDENT:  About what?

Q    What did President Putin say to you when you met?

THE PRESIDENT:  You’re putting words in somebody’s mouth.  Who are you referring to?  Me?  I never said anything about it.  I never said a thing about it.

All right, any other questions?

Q    Mr. President, are you concerned Pelosi will hold up the articles of impeachment indefinitely?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, all I know is my poll numbers are the highest they’ve ever been.  Our fundraising in the Republican Party is the highest it’s ever been.

She hates the Republican Party.  She hates all of the people that voted for me and the Republican Party.  And she’s desperate to do — look, she got thrown out of Speaker once before.  She lost like 63 seats — 61 or 63 — a tremendous, a record-setting number of seats.  I think it’s going to happen again.  She’s doing a tremendous disservice to the country.  She’s not doing a good job.  And some people think that she’s — she doesn’t know what she’s doing.  A lot of people think that.  A lot of people have said it.

They had no evidence at all.  They had no crime.  We had 196 or so Republicans voting — 100 percent.  We didn’t lose one Republican vote in the House.  We had three Democrats come over to our side, and two in another instance — two in an additional instance.  And we’re in a very good position.

Ultimately, that decision is going to be made by Mitch McConnell.  And he will make it.  He has the right to do whatever he wants.  He’s the head of the Senate.

People remember:  They treated us very unfairly.  They didn’t give us due process.  They didn’t give us a lawyer.  They didn’t give us anything.  Now they come to the Senate and they want everything.

If you look back just two weeks — just look back at what they did.  But over a long period of time, look at what they did.  We weren’t entitled to witnesses.  We weren’t entitled to lawyers.  We sat in a basement.  They would leak everything.  They would leak it.  We weren’t entitled to do anything.  They would leak selectively, with a sick, corrupt politician named Schiff.  He’s a corrupt politician.

No, they treated us worse than anybody has been treated, from a legal standpoint, in the history of the United States.  That’s never happened before, where you can’t have a lawyer, you can’t have a witness, you can’t have time.

You didn’t have — even recently, when they had the constitutional lawyers, they got three lawyers; we got one.  Fortunately, our one lawyer was better than their three.  And we also had a much better case.  We had — we have a perfect case.  I say it again:  We have a perfect case.  They had no case.

But they had three lawyers; we were allowed one.  They had three.  Think of that.  They had three lawyers — constitutional lawyers — and each one spoke for an extended period of time.  We had one lawyer.  What do you think of that?

So now they get to the Senate.  And now we have the majority, and it’s up to Mitch McConnell.  And we have the majority, and now they want McConnell to do wonderful things for them.  I mean, he’s going to do what he wants to do.  Very smart guy, very good guy, and a very fair guy.

But they treated us very unfairly and now they want fair — fairness in the Senate.  They ought to look back at the last year to see how they’ve hurt this country.

Fortunately, we have a President that was able to plow through all of the stuff that went on and goes on.

And also, tremendous amounts of information are being written about, even by the fake news, concerning FISA, concerning dirty cops — the people that started this whole thing.  What they’ve done to this country is incredible.  And hopefully, it’s going to be taken care of.  The Attorney General is working and everybody is working.

But if you just go — because I like to stay out of it, and I do stay out of it — if you just go by what you see in the papers, it’s incredible what’s going on.  We had dirty cops.  We had people spying on my campaign.  They did terrible things, the likes of which have never been done in the history of our country.  It’s very sad.

All right, have good time everybody.  Merry Christmas.  Merry Christmas, everybody.

Q    Mr. President, are you going to hold a signing ceremony with Xi?

THE PRESIDENT:  I will be, probably, doing that.  Yeah.  At the right time, we’ll be doing a smaller ceremony.  Ultimately, we will be having one.  The China deal — we will be having a signing ceremony.  Yes.

Q    Will you sign it — you and Xi Jinping?

THE PRESIDENT:  We will probably, yes.  We will sign it.  When we will get together —

Q    Do you know where that will be?

THE PRESIDENT:  — we will do — but we’ll have a quicker signing, because we want to get it done.  The deal is done.  It’s just being translated right now, okay?

Thank you.


9:37 A.M. EST