Before leaving France – and the G7 conference – behind, President Donald Trump took questions from the White House press corps. It was a typical Trump performance – chaotic, confrontational and very, very loose with facts.
I went through the transcript of Trump’s answers. They’re below.
1. “Walmart just announced numbers that were, I mean, mind-boggling numbers. It’s a great poll right there, and it’s the ultimate poll, how the retailer is doing and how are certain – certain companies doing.”
The “mind-boggling” numbers Trump is referring to are stronger-than-expected earnings for Walmart. Those earning numbers are, uh, not a poll of any sort. And away we go!
2. “It was a little different kind of a statement. I thought it was a beautiful statement.”
Trump is talking here about a statement Monday by the Chinese vice premier that he would like to resolve the trade war with the US under “calm” circumstances. (The Chinese government appears to be deeply divided about whether to make a deal or not.) Also, Trump uses the words “beautiful” to describe a whole heck of a lot of things – including sleeping gas and coal and chocolate cake.
3. “I’ve spent and I think I will, in a combination of loss and opportunity, probably it’ll cost me anywhere from $3 to $5 billion to be President.”
What evidence did Trump provide to back up this wild claim? Oh, none. Thanks for asking!
4. “I did a lot of great jobs and great deals that I don’t do anymore.”
5. “Doral happens to be within Miami. It’s a city. It’s a wonderful place. It’s a very, very successful area of Florida. It’s, very importantly, only five minutes from the airport; the airport is right next door.”
Donald Trump owns Doral. Donald Trump is President. Donald Trump is selling Doral as the best location for the next G7 meeting in 2020. Donald Trump knows that if Doral hosts the G7, it will look mighty nice on Doral’s marketing materials in the future. Totally normal stuff!
6. “With Doral, we have a series of magnificent buildings; we call them bungalows.”
Bungalows, eh? And how did you come up with this exotic term?
7. “They each hold from 50 to 70 very luxurious rooms with magnificent views. We have incredible conference rooms, incredible restaurants.”
Donald Trump owns Doral. Donald Trump is President. Oh wait, I already said that.
8. “And they’ve done a beautiful job. They’ve really done a beautiful job.”
The “they” here is the Trump Organization. Which is named after Donald Trump. Who is the President. Whose sons run the company.
9. “The ballrooms are among the biggest in Florida and the best. It’s brand new.”
Is there some sort of ballroom rating scale I’m unaware of? Either way, Doral’s ballrooms are the best. Many people are saying it.
10. “In my opinion, I’m not going to make any money. I don’t want to make money. I don’t care about making money. If I wanted to make money, I wouldn’t worry about $3 billion to $5 billion.”
OK, so, hosting the massive G7 conference at a hotel Trump owns won’t make him any money? What about the massive delegations staying in these new-fangled bungalows? Or the residual publicity for the largest and best ballrooms in Florida?
11. “Because that’s what – I mean, at some point, I’m going to detail that and will show.”
What Trump appears to be saying here is that he has a plan to “detail” and “show” how he being President is costing him between $3 and $5 billion. Which, honestly, I’d love to see! I will hold my breath until this report is revealed!
12. “Having it at that particular place, because of the way it’s set up, each country can have their own villa, or their own bungalow.”
These “bungalows” – am I spelling that right???? – seem like truly wondrous inventions.
13. “I think Iran wants to get this situation straightened out. Now, is that based on fact or based on gut? That’s based on gut.”
An amazing window into how Trump thinks and acts. First, he says Iran is going to want to “get this situation straightened out” before adding he doesn’t actually know that, he just sort of senses it. Also, on Tuesday, Iran’s president said there would be no talks between the two countries unless – and until – US economic sanctions are lifted.
14. “So I don’t do things for political reasons.”
Ah ha ha ha ha…wait, is he serious?
15. “A lot of people say having Russia – which is a power – having them inside the room is better than having them outside the room.”
To be clear: The one prominent person advocating for Russia to be readmitted to the G7 – from which they were removed after they annexed Crimea in 2014 – is Donald John Trump. “A lot of people say” is just made up.
16. “By the way, there were numerous people during the G7 that felt that way. And we didn’t take a vote or anything, but we did discuss it.”
“We didn’t take a vote on it or anything” = I may be totally making this up but you have zero way of proving it either way.
17. “President (Barack) Obama was not happy that this happened because it was embarrassing to him. Right? It was very embarrassing to him. And he wanted Russia to be out of the – what was called the ‘G8.’ “
By Trump’s re-telling of history, the reason Russia was removed from the G8 is not because they annexed sovereign land of the Ukraine. No, it was actually because, in so doing, they embarrassed President Obama, who then pushed them out of the G8. Which, well, OK.
18. “He was outsmarted by (Russian President Vladimir) Putin. He was outsmarted. President Putin outsmarted President Obama.”
The Russian president outsmarted Obama by seizing Crimea? How? Why? So many questions … and, oh, not for nothing but Trump is calling a past president dumb and praising an authoritarian ruler while representing America on foreign soil.
19. “I do nothing for politics. I know a lot of you aren’t going to – you’re going to smile at that. I do nothing for politics.”
20. “Now, it’s a very big area, a very important area. Russia has its submarine – that’s where they do their submarine work, and that’s where they dock large and powerful submarines.”
Crimea: Where Russia does its “submarine work.”
21. “But not as powerful as ours and not as large as ours. But they have their submarines.”
Russia, yeah, they have some submarines. I mean, they’re not US submarines but they have them.
22. “It could have been stopped. It could have been stopped with the right – whatever. It could have been stopped. But President Obama was unable to stop it, and it’s too bad.”
If only Obama had been smart enough to deploy the “whatever” in Crimea! How did he not think of that?
23. “You have a G8, now it’s a G7, and you invite the person that was thrown out, really by President Obama and really because he got outsmarted. President Obama, pure and simple”
Say it with me: Russia was removed from the G8 because it annexed another country’s land using military force. (I know it’s a mouthful. But it’s also true!)
24. “We’ve had many calls, not just one. This isn’t one. And these are high-level calls.”
Trump is talking about conversations his administration had had with China about the possibility of ending the trade war. There have been many calls. High level. The best calls. Believe me.
25. “Just so you understand: China wants to make a deal. Now, whether or not we make a deal – it’s got to be a great deal for us.”
Not entirely accurate. There are elements within the Chinese government asking for a “calm” negotiation. There are others uninterested in coming to the table.
26. “You know – and I told this to President Xi (Jinping), who I really respect. I really do. I have great respect and I like him too.”
“My only question is, who is our bigger enemy, Jay Powell or Chairman Xi?” – Donald Trump, four days ago.
27. “I have a lot of feeling for President Xi. He’s very outstanding in so many ways.”
“My only question is, who is our bigger enemy, Jay Powell or Chairman Xi?” – Donald Trump, four days ago
28. “I don’t want to do business. Forget about tariffs for a second. We’re taking in tremendous amounts of money. Forget that. I don’t want to do business.”
In which the President of the United States casually floats the idea of the United States ending all business relationships with China. Totally normal!
29. “Now, when I raise and he raises, I raise and he raises, we can never catch up.”
“If you’ve been in the game 30 minutes and you don’t know who the patsy is, you’re the patsy.” – Warren Buffett
30. “It’s the way I negotiate. It’s done very well for me over the years, and it’s doing even better for the country.”
Trump is suggesting here that there is a method to what looks like total chaos – and contradiction – from the outside. That it’s all part of his negotiating style – perhaps designed to keep his opponents off balance? As for how well it’s worked for him, that’s somewhat debatable; he is a billionaire, yes, but his companies have gone bankrupt six times.
31.”It should have been done by Bush. It should have been done by Clinton. Double Bush.”
“Double Bush.” – The President of the United States. (The “it” is equalizing our trade relationship with China.)
32. “I love the UK. I own great property in the UK. I love the UK. I have no idea how my property is doing because I don’t care. But I own Turnberry, and I own in Aberdeen, and I own in Ireland, as you know – Doonbeg – and great stuff.”
Look, I own a lot of property in the UK that I don’t care about. I care so little that I am now going to name all the properties I own in the UK.
33. “France is a great nation. It’s being run. A lot of things are happening.”
Say what you will about France but you can’t argue that “it’s being run.” Also, “things are happening.” A lot of things.
34. “I guess you would start off by saying, ‘England.’ Right? You know, I ask Boris (Johnson), ‘Where’s England? What’s happening with England?’ They don’t use it too much anymore.”
I, for one, would definitely start off a conversation about Brexit and the European Union by asking why people don’t use the word “England” any more. Absolutely. This makes perfect sense.
35. “I haven’t said that, but I think that having President Putin in what was the G8 – he was a member of the G8, and I heard he was a good member of the G8.”
Trump here denies he would invite Putin to the G7 meeting next year in America. Let me quote from earlier in this very press conference: “Would I invite him? I would certainly invite him.” I mean …
36. “People feel very much like me. Many people.”
37. “I’m not going to lose that wealth. I’m not going lose it on dreams, on windmills – which, frankly, aren’t working too well. I’m not going to lose it.”
The question Trump was answering here? “What do you think the world should be doing about climate change? And do you still harbor that skepticism?”
38. “And I’m an environmentalist. A lot of people don’t understand that. I have done more environmental impact statements, probably, than anybody that’s – I guess I can say definitely, because I have done many, many, many of them.”
Many environmental impact statements. And, the best. Historically good.
39. “We can’t let that wealth be taken away. Clean air, clean water.”
Trump 2020: Don’t take our wealth! Also, clean air and water! This feels like a good place to end.