Return to Transcripts main page


President Trump Holds Teleconference with Military Members. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired November 22, 2018 - 10:00   ET


[10:00:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we're in a good position to continue that for the rest of the year or foreseeable future.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That's great. That's great. I'm hearing very good things. And they treat you good over there, I imagine. Right? Do they treat you good?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, outstanding. Our partners throughout, including here at the al-Jaber Air Base, with the Air Force, they treat us like gold. We want for nothing, and today, we had -- I think everyone can agree, a fantastic Thanksgiving dinner here at Airborne to base.

TRUMP: That's great. That's great. They should. We're good friends. And they've been a good ally. We treat them well and they treat us well. And a lot of good things are happening over there. People are surprised to see how fast things are turning around. But you have one of the great bases. You have something that's incredible and special. And we'll get to see you -- we're going to get to see you very soon.

And I will say -- and say hello to everybody else, but I will say I want you to have a great Thanksgiving. You are -- what's the time difference? What is your time lag over there? How many hours between let's say East Coast?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now, sir, it's 18:00 in the evening.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So that's a pretty big time difference.

TRUMP: Yes. Yes. That's a pretty big time difference. You've celebrated. Well, listen, you just take care of yourself, and say hello to the colonel and everybody. And you're special people. Very, very special people and we're very proud of you. And give my regards to Kuwait and everybody. But a lot of progress being made. Your country is really doing well. It's really doing well. Like it hasn't done before. So that's good.

It's always good to be fighting for something that is working. And unlike a lot of countries, this one works well and it's working better than ever. So we'll see you when you're back or maybe we'll see you some other place. OK?


TRUMP: Well, thank you very much. Thank you. Take care of yourself.

From the U.S. Navy, we have the commanding officer, Captain Pat Hanford. And Pat, are you on the phone?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir, I'm with you. And from the over 4800 sailors and airmen aboard USS Ronald Reagan, the nation's only permanently forward deployed aircraft carrier, we're currently in Victoria Harbor, Hong Kong, about 13 hours ahead of you. Still Thanksgiving here. And from all of the sailors onboard Reagan, serving for America, in the Indo-Pacific, we wish you a Happy Thanksgiving.

TRUMP: Well, that's great. I appreciate it very much. And say hello to everybody, and Happy Thanksgiving to you. So the condition of the ship is A-1?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Alpha 1, sir. Absolutely.

TRUMP: OK. Good. Very important. So you know, we have another big one, the Gerald Ford, is going to be joining you pretty soon. How does this compare in size and scope with the Gerald Ford? You know all about that. That's the new one, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir. Size and scope, a good friend of mine just left command of that. But size and scope are about the same. Certainly some improvements there to the plants and a few of the radars and even the catapults and gear are slightly different as well.

TRUMP: So --


TRUMP: Yes, Pat, tell me about the catapult system. So on the Gerald Ford they don't use steam, which is the first one that I have ever heard of that doesn't use steam. And I know they have some difficulties which I'm not happy about. And they spent a lot of money. And I was just curious, the steam system is tried and true for many, many years, as long as we've had aircraft carriers.

How do you find steam versus what they're doing on the Gerald Ford which is old and digital, if you can believe it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir. All of our super carriers have been using steam for decades. And we find it pretty reliable. However, the electromagnetic catapults they're running there offer some great benefits to obviously like any new piece, you have to work through the bugs, but they offer some benefits not only to stress and strain on the aircraft, to extend sort of its life and other pieces.

I have no doubt we'll work through that just as we worked through all of our other advances and continue to bring it to the enemy when called to do so.

TRUMP: So when you do the new carriers as we do and as we're thinking about doing, will you go with steam or would you go with electromagnetic? Because steam is very reliable. And the electromagnetic, I mean, unfortunately, you have to be Albert Einstein to really work it properly. What would you do?

[10:05:01] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir. You sort of have to be Albert Einstein to run the nuclear power plants that we have here as well. But we're doing that very well. The -- I would go, sir, Mr. President, I would go electromagnetic.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We do pay a heavy cost for transiting the steam around the ship.

TRUMP: Good, OK. I like to hear that. I'm actually happy about that answer because at least, you know, they're doing what they're doing. But that's actually a very good answer.

So, Pat, how are you seeing things over there? What's going on?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir. We have been flying, sailing, and operating everywhere international law allows, just as we have for decades out here. In full support of our free and open Indo-Pacific push in company with our Japanese and other allies. We worked with the Japanese here in King's Sword. The Australians, the Canadians, so a lot of allies out here. And we are certainly their best friend, our allies and our adversaries' worst fear. And that's exactly what we want to do is bring peace through strength to this region.

TRUMP: Right. Right. You have a six-month deployment approximately?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, we're a little shorter than that, but Reagan is your only permanently forward deployed gear spends about half of the time each year out and about half back in getting maintenance work on it. Each of the sailors and airmen aboard spend three to five years out here with us at a time before going back to a stateside assignment. But we're all honored to be serving the nation.

TRUMP: Pat, why is it that the Reagan is the only that's permanently deployed of all the aircraft carriers? Why is that? Was it set up for that or is it just happens to be?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir. We have worked a single aircraft carrier out in Japan for decades now. Reagan took that role back in 2013. I'm sorry, that's not quite right. About 2016. But it switches out. So different carriers out here for different periods of time. It was George Washington before us and then a few of the conventional carriers, you know, going way back to midway, Kitty Hawk and Independence.

TRUMP: Right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So we've rising that for a while. But -- and it's just an infrastructure piece that takes quite a bit of infrastructure to make that work. But we get a lot of presence out of it for the region. TRUMP: And do you feel safe in the region? Do you see any hostility?

Do you see any aggression? Because, you know, you're hearing a little bit about aggression from a couple of the players. What are you feeling?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir. We have safe and independent operations out here throughout the theater. We do feel safe. There have been -- there have been a couple of close calls but in most cases the vast majority, they are professional navies. And we have no doubt that we can bring -- we bring the U.S. interests to the theater. And expect that to continue into the future.

TRUMP: That's great, Pat. Well, I want to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving, and say hello to everybody in the Navy. And just in closing, I want to wish everybody a really, really Happy Thanksgiving. And we'll see you when you're back, and maybe I'll see you over there. But it's a great honor to talk to you. I know everything about what everyone is doing, and you're doing an incredible job. You're keeping us safe. And we all miss you back here, but we'll be seeing you soon.

And on behalf of the whole country, I want to just thank you for what you're doing. Very, very special people. Men and women that are just incredible people. You're highly respected. And I tell you what, our country has such respect. I don't think you hear it enough, but our country has such respect for you and the job you do. So Happy Thanksgiving. And we will see you soon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Happy Thanksgiving, Mr. President.

TRUMP: Thank you. Thank you all. Good-bye.

Great people. They're great people. OK.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Looking forward to going to Afghanistan or going to the Middle East?

TRUMP: We're going to do some interesting things. At the appropriate time, we'll be doing some very interesting things. Excuse me?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you have a sense of when that might be yet?

TRUMP: I do, but I can't tell you. You're the last people I can tell. How is everything in Florida doing? OK? Weather is good. OK. It's Florida. Welcome to the southern White House.


TRUMP: I don't want to talk about it. You have to ask them.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: How about the border, Mr. President?

TRUMP: The border is coming along very well. It's become very strong. We're getting some terrible decisions from the Ninth Circuit, as usual.

[10:10:07] I don't know if we've ever had a victory in the Ninth Circuit. We have to appeal it, appeal it. I guess a vast number of their decisions get overturned. Generally speaking. And it's a shame. It's a shame. It's a disgrace, frankly. And essentially, they're legislating. They're saying what to do. Some judge sitting in some location very far away is telling our incredible military and law enforcement what to do. And it's not right.

And it's been going on like that for a long time. And we are doing really well considering the laws are a disaster. And if we had the right laws, it would be a lot less expensive and we'd do it a lot easier, but we don't have the right laws and we have people interpreting the laws and they always give us a bad interpretation. So hopefully we have shown some light on the Ninth Circuit.

I know that Chief Justice Roberts, John Roberts, has been speaking a little bit about it. And I think we've -- and I have a lot of respect for him. I like him and I respect him, but I think we have to use some common sense. It's Ninth Circuit, everybody knows it, it's totally out of control. And what they're doing, what they're saying, the opinions are very unfair to law enforcement. They're very unfair to our military.

And they're very unfair, most importantly, to the people of our country. Because I'm keeping them safe. And you see how we have fortified things. An all of that -- all of that vast amount of fighting that you see going on at the border, it's all taking place in Mexico, and Mexico cannot believe how tough these people are. The mayor of Tijuana and so many others have said, boy, these are tough people. They start fighting right away. They're tough people.

You have many criminals in that caravan. And the big caravan hasn't arrived yet. And we're very well fortified. We have fencing and walls like very few people have. We have been able to do it rather quickly. Concertina wire, and so many things they didn't have. And they're not coming through. We're not letting criminals into our country. Got to come in legally, you have to come in through a process.

And we want people to come in because I have many, many companies moving back into the United States. They're opening up car plants. They're opening up factories all over the country. The United States is booming. We have the lowest unemployment we have essentially have ever had. So we have a lot of good things happening. We need workers. But they have to come in legally.

We want them to come in. People who want to work and want to do a great job for our country, they come in through a merit system. They have to come in. Right now, under the Democrats, they don't have a merit system. They want open borders and people can just flow in. You have tremendously dangerous people in those caravans. And we do not want them coming into the United States. And we're not going to let them. We're throwing out MS-13 and so many others. We're throwing them out of our country by the thousands that got in here over the years.

And we're throwing them out by the thousands and we're bringing back towns, we're making towns safe, and we're doing an excellent job, but we're getting hurt by the Ninth Circuit very, very badly. Everybody files in the Ninth Circuit. I haven't seen anybody file any place else. They automatically go to the Ninth Circuit. They can go any place in the country, and I think we have to stop that somehow.

The judges are going to have to get together or Congress is going to have to get together and stop it. Because they're taking advantage of our country by filing consistently and always just about that I see in the Ninth Circuit. Even our legislation that we did have passed, it failed in the Ninth Circuit. It failed in the Ninth Circuit appeal. It then won in the Supreme Court. And it's just a shame because it's really hurting people.

It's hurting our law enforcement tremendously, and now that the military is on the border, it's really hurting our military. And frankly, when they hear these decisions, these are professionals. The military, the law enforcement, first responders, they can't believe the decisions are being made by these judges. This is what they do. They do. Law enforcement. Law and order.

And they get these decisions down, they say who makes these decisions? They're not into, you know, lawyer things. They say who makes these decisions? Who are the people that are giving these decisions that are going to make it unsafe for us, meaning law enforcement and military? And making it unsafe for the United States. So despite that, we have a very powerful border, and a lot of good things are happening.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. President, are you concerned that by not (INAUDIBLE) Saudi Arabia could send a message to other world leaders that they make them do as they please that America (INAUDIBLE)?

TRUMP: No, not at all. Saudi Arabia has been a longtime strategic partner. They're investing hundreds of billions of dollars in our country. I mean hundreds of billions. They're keeping the oil prices low. I see that yesterday one of the papers, I was blamed for causing traffic jams because I have the oil prices so low.

I have the oil prices low because I'm jawboning them and others all the time to keep them low. Nobody ever did that. No president ever did that. And gasoline is now at a very low number. But I actually got even beat up for that where they said the president has the gasoline so low that he's causing traffic jams. Can you believe this one? I said that's one nobody ever thought of. So anyway -- no, but I'll always -- let's have some traffic jams.

We want low oil prices. And Saudi Arabia has really done a good job in that respect. They pumped out a lot more oil than was going to be pumped out when I called them about four weeks ago. And if you look at oil four weeks ago, it was at $82, $83, and was going up to $100 a barrel. That would have doubled your prices and even tripled your prices at the car for gasoline. And instead, you have very low gas prices all over the country.

That's because of what I did, and Saudi Arabia helped us. But very importantly, they're investing billions of dollars. They're buying their equipment from us, and remember this, they don't have to buy it from us. They can buy it from Russia and they can buy it from China. They make very good equipment. They don't make as good of equipment as we make. Nobody does. Nobody even close. But they make very good equipment. So they can spend that money in Russia and China and other places. And that is not acceptable.


TRUMP: They didn't conclude. No, no. Josh, they didn't conclude. I'm sorry. They -- wait, wait.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You're saying they did not?

TRUMP: No, they didn't conclude. They did not come to a conclusion. They have feelings certain ways but they didn't -- I have the report. And you can ask Mike. They have not concluded. Nobody has concluded. I don't know if anyone is going to be able to conclude that the crown prince did it. But I will say this. I don't know. I don't know. But whether he did or whether he didn't, he denies it vehemently. His father denies it, the king, vehemently.

The CIA doesn't say they did it. They do point out certain things. And in pointing out those things, you can conclude that maybe he did or maybe he didn't. But this -- that was another part of the false reporting. Because a lot of you said yesterday that they said he did it. Well, they didn't say that. They said he might have done it. That's a big difference. But they're vehemently denying it. And we have hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Do people really want me to give up hundreds of thousands of jobs? And frankly, if we went by this standard, we wouldn't be able to have anybody as an ally because look at what happens all over the world? But then you could also take a look at Iran. Take a look at Syria, where, you know, millions of people have been just slaughtered horribly, horribly.

You take a look at what's going on in Iran. And the vicious -- the vicious situation taking place there and the number of people that are being killed and slaughtered. You take a look all over the world, we're not going to be able to deal -- let's not deal with anybody. The fact is that Saudi Arabia's tremendously helpful in the Middle East. If we didn't have Saudi Arabia, we wouldn't have a big base. We wouldn't have any reason probably -- I mean, if you look at Israel, Israel would be in big trouble without Saudi Arabia.

So what does that mean? Israel is going to leave? You want Israel to leave? We have a very strong ally in Saudi Arabia. We have an ally that said they did not commit at the top level, the crown prince, the king, they did not commit this atrocity. And it's an atrocity, a terrible thing. I dislike it more than you do. But the fact is they have been a very strong ally. They create tremendous wealth.

They create really tremendous number of jobs in their purchases, and very importantly, they keep the oil price down. If you want to see a global depression, all you have to do is lift the oil price $50 a barrel, which could happen very quickly once we lose that relationship. So I hate the crime. I hate what's done. I hate the cover-up. And I will tell you this. The crown prince hates it more than I do. And they have vehemently denied it.

The CIA points it both ways. And as I said, maybe he did, maybe he didn't. I will say very strongly that it's a very important ally. And if we go by a certain standard, we won't be able to have allies with almost any country. OK.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Who should be held accountable?

TRUMP: Maybe the world should be held accountable because the world is a vicious place.

[10:20:03] The world is a very, very vicious place. You look at what's happening in China and you look at what's happening in so many different countries. I could name many countries. You look at what's happening with terrorism all over the world. That's the other thing with Saudi Arabia. They really are -- they're putting up tremendous amounts of money to actually fight terrorism.

Now they were a part of terrorism. And nobody is going to try and justify that. They were a big part of it. But they are spending a lot of money, and they're opening up, and they're doing a lot of things that are very good. They're really opening up that country for a lot of good. You know, until this happened, there were a lot of people saying a lot of good things about the crown prince. So he strongly denies it, he vehemently denies it.

And my policy is very simple. America first. Keep America great again. And that's what I'm doing. And we're doing better than anybody thought even possible. Yes, ma'am.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Sir, you have been talking to the troops. I'm wondering if --

TRUMP: To who?



UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: I'm wondering if you can tell us at what point do you want to withdraw troops from Afghanistan?

TRUMP: Well, we're always looking to do the right thing. And we'll be seeing over a period of time, but we're looking. I just spoke to Afghanistan, as you know. We're always looking to do whatever is right. We're in very strong negotiations in Afghanistan right now, which a lot of people don't know about. This may be the first. But we are in very, very strong negotiations in Afghanistan. We'll see what happens. If something happens, that would be a great thing. I would be very happy about that.

I would think the people of Afghanistan, also, and they are good fighters and they fought for a long time. They fought for a lot longer than we fought. They have been fighting for many, many, many decades. But I think they're tired of fighting. And we'll see what happens. We are talking about peace. We'll see if that happens. UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Negotiations with?

TRUMP: We have negotiations going on. I don't know that they're going to be successful. Maybe they're not. Probably they're not. Who knows? They might be. They might not be. You know my attitude on all of that stuff. Whether it's North Korea or anybody else. Maybe they are going to be successful. Maybe they're not going to be, but we have negotiations going on right now in Afghanistan. OK.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What is your response to people who say the phone call wasn't enough for the troops today?

TRUMP: Well, nobody has done more for the military than I have. I took the budget from very little to $700 billion, $716 billion. And I'm now going over to the Coast Guard where I did last year and I will probably a lot. But we're going over to the Coast Guard. And just I really believe nobody -- in fact, a number of generals were on television over the weekend, and just unrelated, but they all mentioned the fact that nobody has done as a president for the military in a long time what I have done because I have taken spending where you had a depleted military and it wasn't being fixed and it was a mess, and it frankly put us in danger.

And I was able to get Congress to give us $700 billion and now $716 billion for our military. And I have also done more for the vets than anybody has ever done. I got Choice approved. They have been trying to get Choice for 40 years, more than 40 years. They couldn't get it. Where a vet can go directly to a doctor now. Instead of waiting on line for two months and two weeks and three weeks. And amounts of time that are unthinkable to anybody. Including yourselves.

So I think I have done more than anybody else, certainly in many, many years, and probably in many decades.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. President, are there any updates on the troops that are being sent to the border in regards to the caravan?

TRUMP: No, no troops. We're going to have a strong border. Our southern border is going to be very strong. You heard me speaking to some of the folks just now in different parts of the world, and they're so proud of the job they're doing. And you have to have borders. If you don't have borders, you don't have a country. I mean, the Democrats want open borders and they want these people coming in. Many of those people are criminals. OK. And have been so adjudged.

We know who they are. They have records. They have some very substantial criminal records. Some very bad criminal records. They're in the caravan. You saw what happened in Tijuana where a number of the people said these are tough people. They start fighting. They're starting fist fights.

They have fist fights all over the street. They're starting fistfights. They said these are not like normal innocent people. These are people, you talk to them, and they start a fistfight. I don't want that in this country. OK. UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. President, what about the idea that the

military may use lethal force against the migrants?

TRUMP: If they have to, they're going to use lethal force. I've given the OK. They have to, I hope they don't have to, but you know, you're dealing with a minimum of 500 serious criminals. So I'm not going to let the military be taken advantage of. I have no choice.

[10:25:02] Do I want that to happen? Absolutely not, but you're dealing with rough people. You ask the people in Tijuana, Mexico, they opened up with wide arms, just come in, come in. Let me help you. Let us take care of you. And within two days, now they're going crazy to get them out. They want them out. Because things are happening. Bad things are happening in Tijuana. And again, it's not in this country because we've closed it up.

Actually, two days ago, we closed the border. We actually just closed it. We say nobody is coming in because it was out of control. But you take a look at Tijuana, Mexico. And you see what's happening there? It's really a bad situation.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What do you mean you closed the border and nobody is coming in? What do you mean by that?

TRUMP: If we find that it's uncontrollable, Josh, if we find that it's -- it gets to a level where we are going to lose control or where people are going to start getting hurt, we will close entry into the country for a period of time until we can get it under control.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The entire border --

TRUMP: The whole border. I mean the whole border. And Mexico will not be able to sell their cars into the United States where they make so many cars at great benefit to them. Not a great benefit to us, by the way. But at least now we have a good new trade deal with Mexico and with Canada. But we will close the border. And that means that Mexico is not going to be able to sell their cars into the United States until it's open. But we're going to either have a border or we're not.

And when they lose control of the border on the Mexico side, we just close the border. And we have a very powerful border. We built a very strong border in a very short period of time and the military has been fantastic, the job they have done. And by the way, Border Patrol and ICE, all of the law enforcement we have involved, and we have local law enforcement, too. They have done an incredible job. And they have wanted this for years.

You know, I'm the first president that's done this to this extent, but they've wanted this for years. And some of the presidents, I guess they didn't care or they wanted open borders. I don't think they wanted open borders because most of them, if you go back to 2006, they all approved essentially a wall. A very powerful fence, which is pretty much the same thing. But in 2006, if you look, Obama, you look at Hillary Clinton, you look at Schumer, all of the people that are standing up protesting, they think it's good for them politically. See, I think it's very bad for them politically. I think the fact

that they're weak on the border is very, very bad for them politically. But you know, I have only been a politician for three years so maybe they know better than me.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The wall in September?

TRUMP: Could happen, yes, over border security. The wall is just a part of border security. A very important part. Probably the most important part. But could there be a shutdown? There certainly could. And it will be about border security of which the wall is a part.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You think Secretary Nielsen is doing a good enough job?

TRUMP: She's in there trying. I'll tell you. It's a tough job. Yesterday she gets a ruling that things that we were doing -- a judge that knows nothing about it decided to take law enforcement into his own hands and he gives a ridiculous ruling. So we'll appeal it. But it makes the job harder. We're still doing the job perfectly. But it makes the job harder. And it makes the job more dangerous because a judge made a ruling that was shocking. OK.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Going back to the idea of shutting down the border. What would it take for you to reach that step?

TRUMP: I have already shut it down. I've already shut it down for short periods.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Talking about that one --

TRUMP: No, no -- yes. I've already shut down parts of the border because it was out of control. With the rioting on the other side. In Mexico. And I just said shut it down.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What does that look like exactly?

TRUMP: What?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What does that look like if you shut down the border?

TRUMP: You see it. I mean, it took place two days ago.


TRUMP: Yes. ICE, they called me up, and I signed an order.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Can we get a copy of that?

TRUMP: You don't need it, though. It's not that big a deal. But maybe to some people it is. What we want to do is we want to have a strong border. We want to have people come into our country. I want to have a lot of people come in. We need them, but they have to come in through merit and they have to come in legally. They have to come in legally.

You know, we have a lot of people, millions of people that have been waiting in line for years to become citizens of our country. Great people. They went through a whole process. And then these people come in and they think they're just going to walk in and -- it's a very unfair thing to all of the people that have been waiting on line, in some cases for many years.

They have done it right. But they don't think they have done it right because they say, well, how can we do it right and we go through this very complicated legal process, and they have lawyers and everything else and then you have people rushing through the border and they're supposed to stay.

It's not happening with me. We have been very tough on the border. I mean, the problem we have is that I have created and helped create a country that is doing better than it's ever done economically, so a lot of people are coming up here because their countries are not doing well. And perhaps for reason. But whatever that reason is, their countries are not doing well. OK. A couple more. Anybody else?


TRUMP: Yes, ma'am.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: How prepared are you for this meeting with President Xi? How are you preparing for it and how confident are you --

TRUMP: I'm very prepared. I've been preparing for it all my life.