From: Brett Samuels
Date: September 18, 2019 at 11:58:20 PM EDT
Subject: Out of town pool report #23: Trump gaggle
Air Force One was wheels down at JBA at 11:57 p.m. local time.
President Trump stopped by the press cabin along with acting CBP Director Mark Morgan, and they spoke to reporters on the record for a little more than 20 minutes.
You should have received a pool report from Michael Shear of The New York Times regarding a comment about an EPA notice targeting San Francisco.
Full quotes are below, but as always please check against the official transcript. My thanks to Phil Rucker for his assistance transcribing, and to Peter Baker for relaying the San Francisco comment mid-flight.
Trump walked in and remarked on the chocolate cake that the press had been served with dinner, then began speaking about his visit to the border wall in southern California.
"I’m glad you got to see it,” he said.
Was there anything that surprised you about seeing it first hand?
“No. I mean, I’ve seen it. I saw… sections of it when we were devising it. This was, you know, this is a lot of work. We had two concepts. We had that concept and we had points at the top.”
He noted that Democrats are putting up a wall around their convention site.
“They’re building a big wall around their convention.”
What did you sign on the wall?
“Just my name. They just said, ‘sir can you sign?’ and the border patrol said, ‘can you sign your name,’ and I did. I autographed one of the bollards. There are a lot of bollards. That’s a lot of bollards.”
Can you talk about your decision to appoint a different FEMA administrator?
“Well, I’m happy with Kevin. I think Kevin — you’re talking about which one? Oh, FEMA?”
“We're happy with the job they’re doing. We looked at a lot of different things. We think he would have been very good, but we’re also very happy with the man who’s acting, who has been acting. You said FEMA, because I didn’t hear you.
“We’re very happy with what’s been going on at FEMA. They did a fantastic job. Puerto Rico was 100 percent ready, and every place was ready. We’re not involved in the Bahamas. But after the fact, we’ve really been a big help to the Bahamas, as you probably have heard. No, FEMA is running very well.”
There’s a document circulating on Capitol Hill with gun reform proposals to expand background checks. Is that something you would support?
“We’re looking at many different things. That was a news conference that was given and we’re throwing out many different ideas to Republicans and Democrats, see where they all come out. And that was the document you were talking — I haven’t seen that document.
“But we’re throwing a lot of ideas out, but we’re always going to be watching extremely closely the second amendment.”
That was put out by White House leg affairs?
"That was put out by, I think, wasn’t that Bill Barr? We got Bill Barr involved. He’s an expert on guns and gun control. And about a week ago we asked Bill to get involved, and those are ideas that we’re talking to Republicans, Democrats, everybody about. Some they like, some they don’t like. Just a series of concepts.”
It’s been about a month since there were back to back mass shootings that re-sparked this debate, do you think is going to lose momentum?
“It depends on whether or not the goal posts are moved. I think we’ll come to some kind of conclusion. We will come to a conclusion, I believe, with the Democrats. The question is whether or not if we do they’ll say, ‘well, we can’t do it. We’re going to move the goal posts a little bit.’”
“I think there are certain Democrats that really want to do it, and I would like to do it and Republicans would like to. We have to get something that we all agree on. And I’ve been very strong from the day you first met me on the Second Amendment. We’re going to be watching that very closely. So, we have a whole series of ideas and concepts that we’re going to be talking about, and some are liked and some aren’t liked.”
Is Robert O’Brien on the plane with you?
Did you meet with him last night or this morning?
“I met last night. I’ve been talking — he was highly recommended by many people. Many, many people. Many senators recommended him, and some Democrats recommended him.”
So you sat down with him?
“Well, specifically, without going into detail, but I actually sat down with him also before this trip.”
“We had a very successful fundraiser. Raised a lot of money. Lot of people showed up, but we could have had many more show up had we had the room. We went to some very large and beautiful houses, and they had some beautiful fundraisers. And the one thing that everybody was consistent on is we could have quadrupled the attendance if we wanted to. They were big, but we could have had many more, if they had the physical room.
Is Robert O’Brien now the official national security adviser? Is he sworn-in?
“We’ll do whatever the process is. I told him about it today. As you know, we had a pretty full day. Pretty full three days, actually.”
Is he on the job?
“I said ‘start as soon as you can. Start now.’ I said if you can start now — I would imagine there’s a concept of swearing in. he doesn’t have to be approved, as you know [by the Senate].”
Will he be in any meetings tomorrow on Iran or anything?
“If he can. We’re going to look at the exact approval process. Now you have to understand, he’s already at a high level. And he’s already past Senate confirmation, etc., etc., and he’s highly thought of. And many senators really like him a lot.”
Did you announce emissions revocation while in California on purpose?
“No. it was really a coincidence to be honest. It was a coincidence. We’ve been talking about —not talking about, we’ve been perfecting it for a long period of time.”
"And it might end up in the courts, probably will. But to be able to produce a car — I wish you were there today because I gave a long talk on it — we’ll be able to produce an automobile for substantially less money which is substantially safer, which will also be extremely good to the environment.”
“In addition, you’ll have a lot of cars come off the market that are 10, 12, 15 years old that are very bad for the environment, and that chug a lot of fuel because those people driving those cars don’t want to switch to one of the cars that they’re producing right now. Number one, they’re too expensive. Number two, they’re not nearly as safe. They’re lighter. Much thinner, much more flimsy. And we’re able to produce a sturdier car… and we’re able to do something that will cost substantially less money for the consumer.”
Ben Carson’s following you to San Francisco and Los Angeles, is he here on a fact-finding mission and is he going to put together a report?
“We’ll start with those two cities. We’re looking at San Francisco and we’re looking at Los Angeles, and we’re looking at all of the things that are happening. You know, there’s tremendous pollution being put into the ocean because they’re going through what’s called the storm sewer that’s for rainwater. And we have tremendous things that we don’t have to discuss pouring into the ocean. You know there are needles, there are other things.”
“It’s a terrible situation – that’s in Los Angeles and in San Francisco. And we’re going to be giving San Francisco, they’re in total violation, we’re going to be giving them a notice very soon.”
What kind of notice?
“You’re going to see over the next, I would say, less than a week. EPA is going to be putting out a notice. They’re in serious violation.”
“And this is environmental… and they have to clean it up. We can’t have our cities going to hell. These are great cities. And we can’t lose our great cities like this.”
What do you think an investigation into President Obama’s Netflix deal would find?
“Well it was a very substantial deal… Cecil B. DeMille — if he ever came back from the dead, one of the greats of all-time — he would have loved to have made that deal.”
“Plus [Obama’s] book was the highest book ever sold, and there were many other things that he did. So, I think somebody should — if they’re going to be looking at me over nonsense, they should certainly be looking at that also.
Would your memoir command as much of an advance?
“I don’t know… I’ve written many best-sellers. That I can tell you.”
Q: Did you see the remarks that President Carter made saying that there should be an age limit for seeking the presidency?
Trump: “I think it has to be limited by the public. I met with a man the other day who was 85 years old, the sharpest guy you’ll ever meet. I’ve dealt with people that were 92, 93, 94, and they were totally sharp. I don’t, who knows. I can’t speak for Biden. I can’t speak. I know nothing about it. But he’s given some very strange answers, that I can tell you.”
Q: This was Jimmy Carter, President Jimmy Carter.
Trump: “I know. Jimmy Carter said it. But he was referring to Biden and he said that it was because Biden’s having a hard time, there’s no question about it. But I’m not speaking for Biden. Jimmy Carter made the statement as I understand it referring to Biden. But I’m just telling you, I met with somebody three days ago, 85 years old and sharp as there is in existence. You know, I’m sure you people have also. But not everybody’s going to be that way.”
Q: Did you see reports that Guantanamo had cost $13 million a year for each detainee? Is that a good idea?
Trump: “We have a big situation where we’ve depleted ISIS caliphate. We have thousands of ISIS fighters and we want those fighters to be taken – you’re talking about, I think it’s a big – we have thousands of ISIS fighters that we’ve taken into – we’ve defeated 100 percent of the caliphate. We’re holding in various forms of prison we’re holding thousands of people. Many come from Germany, many come from France – most of them come from various European countries and we want them to take them back. I’ve given them a deadline. I said take them back. They’d like to have us put [them] up in Guantanamo Bay and leave them in Guantanamo Bay for the next 50 years and cost us a fortune. I said nope, you’ve gotta take them back. They come from Germany, take em back. We did you a big favor. They come from France, take em back, Emmanuel, take em back. They’re going to have to do that and if they don’t do that we may very well release them on the borders. We have no choice. We’re not go
ing to be taking people from other countries and having them paying the cost of them in prison for 40 years.”
Q: 40 people there, $13 million each a year now. Is that the right way to handle it?
Trump: “No, it’s not, and we’re looking into that. That’s been a long term. President Obama said they would be totally completed and emptied out by the time they left office. Very much like judges. You know I ended up with 138 slots. You had a situation where that wasn’t cleaned up. He was going to have everybody removed and Guantanamo Bay closed up by the time he left office and he didn’t do that. He didn’t do that either. So we’re stuck with it.”
Trump: “This was President Obama. You know that. He did say that. He said Guantanamo Bay will be totally closed. I don’t know. I just know he was very strong on the fact that Guantanamo Bay. So we’re taking what he left and that’s where we are right now. We’re going to make some decisions on it. But with respect to the ISIS fighters – by the way, I hope you’re having a good time down here [to Morgan]. Do you have any more questions on the wall? I hope you like the wall, by the way. Do you like the wall? Let me ask you one question [to Rucker]. I know you’re not supposed to [answer] as a reporter. That is a serious wall. Do you agree with that? That’s serious.”
Rucker: “There was a lot of steel, yes.”
Trump: “And concrete. It’s got steel and concrete. And very hard concrete. Very strong concrete. Very, 5,000 pound concrete is a very substantial concrete.”
Q: Are you looking at potentially closing Guantanamo?
Trump: “We’re looking at a lot of things. Look, President Obama said that Guantanamo Bay would be closed and he never got it done.”
Q: What would you like to do?
Trump: “It’s just like President Obama knew about the Russians and he never got that done either with respect to the 2016 election. So there are a lot of things he didn’t get done, but that’s okay. Go ahead.”
Q: What would you like to do?
Trump: “We’re looking at a lot of things. I know about that. I think it’s crazy. It costs a fortune to operate it and I think it’s crazy. But the big decision we have now is we have thousands of people. They came from other countries. We want those countries to take them back. We did them a big favor by stopping them. If they came from France, we want France to take them and to try them and to do whatever they have to do with them, but that’s a very expensive situation.”
Q: Going to Houston, Prime Minister Modi, any announcement to make?
Trump: “Could be. I have a very good relationship with Prime Minister Modi. By the way, great relationship with Pakistan and with India. But he’s got a big crowd coming and I guess the crowd just got a lot bigger because they just announced – he asked, would I go, and I will go. Then we’re stopping in Ohio on the way back and then I guess we do the United Nations the following week.”
Q: What will you say in your UN speech?
Trump: “We’ll say the United States is the greatest country in the world, it’s never been stronger and it’s never been better and they certainly have one of the great presidents in our history. We love you guys. Have a good time. Don’t eat that chocolate cake, okay? They didn’t give me cake like that, Phil. I’ll grab that sucker right off your plate.”
Q: When you go to the UN do you think back to the comments you made as a private citizen about the green marble?
Trump: “I offered to rebuild it as a real estate developer. I was a very good real estate developer. I offered to rebuild it at a tiny fraction of what they were going to build it for and I said it will end up being much more than that. They didn’t even know what New York Steam was versus boiler. They knew nothing. It was a big deal. I made an offer and I think it was the ambassador to Sweden, one of the ambassadors because I built the building across the street. And that building, fully built, brand new, a tremendous building, Trump, you know the building, right across the street, and that building cost much less than the renovation of the United Nations. So the ambassador to Sweden said I’d like to call this man. I wasn’t the president. I was the president of the Trump Organization. He said I’d like to call him and he did. He spoke to me and he said is it true that you built that building for, I think he said, $360 million and I said yes. They said how can you do that for 360 and they
want to spend $2 billion on renovating the smaller building, the United Nations. I said because I know how the game is played. It could be much less. I said I can do the whole thing for $500 million. They said what would the difference be? I said the only difference would be it would be much better. I’d use marble instead of terrazzo, which is much more expensive. I wouldn’t move people out. I’d do it by floors. You know you take three floors at a time, you move it around. They moved everybody out, they moved everybody back. And you don’t even notice any difference. I don’t even notice and they spent a fortune. I went and made a presentation to the general. It was a big deal. I said I’ll save you billions of dollars because when it comes in your people don’t know what they’re doing. I spoke to the people, they didn’t know anything about building, although they did know about other things, which are not good. You don’t want to know about that. But they knew nothing about building, and it c
ame out costing billions of dollars and I offered to do it for $500 million and it would’ve been a much better job. And they wouldn’t have had to empty the building. We could’ve done it with people in place. It would’ve been a great job and I’ve done jobs like that, like the Grand Hyatt in New York, I did that. That was the old Commodore. I’ve done a lot of renovations.”
Q: Speaking of money, one of our photographer colleagues saw some $20 bills coming out of your back pocket yesterday as you boarded Air Force One. What was that about?
Trump: “Where were they coming from?”
Q: In the back pocket of your pants. Your jacket was up in the wind.
Trump: “Oh, I see, the jacket. They have good cameras.”
Q: Do you carry cash in your back pocket?
Trump: “I do! I do!”
Trump takes a large wad of cash out of the right back pocket of his pants and holds it up.
Q: When do you use that cash?
Trump: “I haven’t used it in a long time.”
Q: Not even a wallet.
Trump: “I don’t carry a wallet because I haven’t had to use a credit card in a long time. I do like leaving tips to the hotel. I like to carry a little something. I like to give tips to the hotel. I’m telling you, maybe a president’s not supposed to do it, but I like to leave a tip for the hotel, etcetera, etcetera. Oh, that’s funny. So the jacket was blowing up?”
Q: Tom [Brenner] here got the picture.
Trump: “Boy, that’s a good picture. Hey, I’d like a piece of that picture. Anyway, have a good time, fellas. Don’t eat that cake, okay? Have a good time. We had a good trip. A really good trip. I hope you see the wall is what it is. It’s a great structure and it’ll really do the trick. One thing, I think you wanted to say about the Catch and Release program [to Morgan].”
Morgan: “Yes, sir. So hopefully within the next couple of weeks, because of the network of initiatives and policies by this administration that’s really been supported by several different entities within DHS – USCIS, ICE, as well as CBP – we’re confident that in a couple of weeks we’re going to be able to end Catch and Release at the southwest border.”
Trump: “There will be no more Catch and Release. Nobody coming into the country… And that’s without the Democrats. It would’ve been easier, we could’ve done it the other way, but because it won’t be done through legislation and what we’re doing from Mexico, we won’t have catch within two weeks, we’ll be free of Catch and Release, releasing people.”
Morgan: “Not only because of what we’ve done, I think everybody understands the new IFR that’s going to be coming out now because the Supreme Court decision we’re going to be able to utilize that across the southwest border, as well as MPP, the migrant protection protocol, so those are two significant things that are able to drive us in catch and release. The government of Mexico, we’ve talked about it for a little while, unprecedented support. 25,000 troops. What they are doing is absolutely – I know we use this word a lot, but it’s true – it’s unprecedented. Mexico has never stepped up, and has really seen this issue as a true regional crisis like they have now.”
Q: Just to be clear, is this all on the record now? Everything’s on the record, right?
Trump: “Yes. Treat me fairly.”
White House reporter | The Hill
C: (630) -xxx-xxxx
White House reporter | The Hill
C: (630) -xxx-xxxx