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Read: the full transcript of President Trump’s wild press conference

Video and a rush transcript of Trump’s February 16 press conference.

President Trump Holds News Conference In East Room Of White House
President Donald Trump takes questions from reporters during a news conference announcing Alexander Acosta as the new Labor Secretary nominee.
Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

On Thursday afternoon, President Trump held a press conference in the wake of several events that have rocked his young administration, including the resignation of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, the revelation that Russia secretly deployed a missile that is said to be in violation of an arms treaty, and the withdrawal of Trump’s first nominee for labor secretary, Andrew Puzder.

By all accounts, those events were a test for an administration hobbled by delays staffing the government and a stream of leaks from inside it.

All accounts, that is, except for Trump’s. In his hour-plus press conference, the president said his administration has “zero chaos. We are running — this is a fine-tuned machine.”

It wasn’t even one of the 10 most provocative things he said.

Here’s a video of the conference; read a rush transcript of his full remarks below.

President Trump

Thank you very much.

I just wanted to begin by mentioning that the nominee for Secretary of the Department of Labor will be Mr. Alex Acosta. He has a law degree from Harvard Law School — was a great student. Former clerk for Justice Samuel Alito. And he has had a tremendous career. He’s a member and has been a member of the National Labor Relations Board, and has been through Senate confirmation three times. Confirmed, did very, very well. And so Alex— I’ve wished him the best. We just spoke. And I think he’ll be a tremendous Secretary of Labor.

And also, as you probably heard just a little while ago, Mick Mulvaney has just been approved weeks late — I have to say that, weeks, weeks late — Office of Management and Budget. And he will be, I think, a fantastic addition.

Paul Singer just left. As you know, Paul was very much involved with the anti-Trump, or as they say, “never Trump.” And Paul just left and he’s given us his total support. And it’s all about unification. We’re unifying the party and hopefully we’re going to be able to unify the country. It’s very important to me. I’ve been talking about that for a long time. It’s very very important to me. So I want to thank Paul Singer for being here and for coming up to the office. He was a very strong opponent and now he’s a very strong ally, and I appreciate that.

I think I’ll say a few words and then we’ll take some questions. I had this time — we’ve been negotiating a lot of different transactions to save money on contracts that were terrible. Including airplane contracts that were out of control and late and terrible. Just absolutely catastrophic in terms of what was happening. And we’ve done some very good work, we’re very proud of that.

And then right after that you prepare yourselves, we’ll do some questions. Unless you have no questions — that’s always a possibility.

I’m here today to update the American people on the incredible progress that has been made in the last four weeks since my inauguration. We have made incredible progress. I don’t think there’s ever been a president elected who in this short period of time has done what we’ve done.

A new Rasmussen poll in fact — because the people get it, much of the media doesn’t get it. They actually get it but they don’t write it. Let’s put it that way. A new Rasmussen poll just came out a very short time ago and it has our approval rating at 55% and going up.

The stock market as hit record numbers, as you know. And there has been tremendous surge of optimism in the business world, which to me means something much different than what it used to. It used to mean “oh that’s good.” Now it means “that’s good for jobs.” Very different.

Plants and factories are already starting to move back into the United States, and big league — Ford, General Motors, so many of them.

I’m making this presentation directly to the American people, with the media present which is an honor to have you.

This morning because many of our nation's reporters and folks will not tell you the truth and will not treat the wonderful people of our country with the respect that they deserve. I hope going forward, we can be a little bit -- a little bit different and maybe get along a little bit better, if that's possible.

Maybe it is not, and that's okay, too.

Unfortunately, much of the, D.C., along with New York and Los Angeles, in particular, speaks not for the people but for the special interests and for those profiting off a very, very obviously obviously broken system.

The press has become so dishonest that if we don't talk about it, we are doing a tremendous disservice to the American people, tremendous disservice. We have to talk about it, to find out what's going on because the president honestly is out of control, the level of dishonesty is out of control.

I ran for president to represent the citizens of our country.

I am here to change the broken system so it serves their families and their communities well. I am talking and really talking on this very entrenched power structure and what we're doing is we're talking about the power structure, we're talking about Its entrenchment.

As a result the media's going through what they have to go through to often times distort, not all of the times and some of the media's fantastic, I have to say, they're honest and fantastic.

Much of it is not.

The distortion and we'll talk about it and you'll be able to ask me questions about it. But we're not going to let it happen because I'm here again to take my message straight to the people.

As you know our administration Inherited many problems across Government and across the Economy. To be honest, I inherited a mess, it's a mess. At home and abroad a mess. Jobs are pouring out of the country. You see what's going on with all of the companies leaving our country, going to Mexico and other places. Low pay, low wages. Mass instability overseas no matter where you look.

The middle east a disaster. North Korea, we'll take care of it folks. We'll take care of it all. I just want to let you know. Beginning on day one our administration went to work to tackle these challenges.

On foreign affairs we've already begun enormously productive talks with foreign leaders, to move forward toward stability, security and peace in the most troubled regions of the world Which there are many. We've had great conversations with the United Kingdom and meetings, Israel, Mexico, Japan, China, and Canada. Really, really productive conversations. I would say far more productive than you would understand.

We've even developed a new council with Canada to promote women business leaders and entrepreneurs, very important to me, very important to my daughter Ivanka.

I've directed our defense community headed by our great general, now Secretary Mattis. He's over there now working very hard to submit a plan for the defeat of ISIS, a group that celebrates the murder and torture of innocent people in large sections of the world. It used to be a small group now It's in large sections of the world. They've spread like cancer. ISIS has spread like cancer.

Another mess I inherited and we've imposed new sanctions on the nation of Iran who's totally taken advantage of our previous administration and they're the world's top sponsor of terrorism. We're not going to stop until that problem is properly solved and it's not properly solved now. It's one of the worst agreements I've ever seen drawn by anybody.

I've ordered plans to begin for the massive rebuilding of the United States military. Had great support from the Senate. I've had great support from Congress, generally.

We pursued this rebuilding in the hopes that we will never have to use this military, and I will tell you that is my — I would be so happy if we never had to use it, but our country will never have had a military like the military we're about to build and rebuild.

We have the greatest people on Earth in our military, but they don't have the right equipment and their equipment is old. I used it, I talked about it at every stop. Depleted. It won't be depleted for long and I think one of the reasons I'm standing here instead of other people is that, frankly, I talked about we have to have a strong military.

We have to have strong law enforcement also.

So we do not go aboard in the search of war, we really are searching for peace, but it's peace through strength.

At home, we have begun the monumental task of returning the government back to the people on a scale not seen in many, many years. In each of these actions I'm keeping my promises to the American people. These are campaign promises.

Some people are so surprised that we're having strong borders. Well, that's what I've been talking about for a year and a half, strong borders. They're so surprised. That's what I've been talking about to the press and to everybody else.

One promise after another after years of politicians lying to you to get elected. They lied to the American people in order to get elected. Some of the things i'm doing probably aren't popular but they're necessary for security and other reasons and then coming to Washington and pursuing their own interests, which is more important to many politicians.

I'm here following through on what I pledge to do. That's all I’m doing. I put it out before the American people, got 306 Electoral College votes. I wasn't supposed to get 222. They said there's no way to get 222, 230's impossible. 270 which you need that was laughable.

We got 306, because people came out and voted like they've never seen before, so that's the way It goes. I guess it was the biggest Electoral College win since Ronald Reagan.

In other words, the media's trying to attack our administration because they know we are following through on pledges that we made and they're not happy about it, for whatever reason, but a lot of people are happy about it. In fact, I'll be many Melbourne, Florida, on Saturday and I just heard that the crowds are massive that want to be there.

I turn on the TV, open the newspapers and I see stories of chaos. Chaos. Yet it is the exact opposite. This administration is running like a fine tuned machine, despite the fact that I can't get my cabinet approved and they're outstanding people, like Senator Dan Coates who's one of the most respected men of the Senate. He can't get approved. How do you not approve him? He's been a colleague, highly respected, brilliant guy, everybody knows it. We're waiting for approval.

So we have a wonderful group of people that's working very hard that's being very much misrepresented about and we can't let that happen, so if the Democrats who have — all you have to do is look at where they are right now, the only thing they can do is delay because they've screwed things up royally, believe me.

Let me list you some of the things that we've done in just a short period of time. I just got here. I got here with no cabinet. Again, each of these actions is a promise I made to the American people, so we'll go over just some of them and we have a lot happening next week and in the weeks coming.

We've withdrawn from the job killing disaster known as Trans-Pacific Partnership.

We're going to make trade deals But we're going to have one-on-one deals — bilateral, one-on one-deals.

We've directed the elimination of regulations that undermine manufacturing and called for expedite indicted approval for permits needed for America and America infrastructure and that means plants, bridges, roads,factories. They go in for a permit, it's many, many years and then at the end of the process they spend tens of millions of dollars on nonsense and at the end of the process they get rejected. Now they may be rejected with me, but it's going to be a quick rejection. Not going to take years, but mostly it's going to be an acceptance.

We want plants built and factories built and we want the jobs. We don't want the jobs going to other countries.

We've imposed a hiring freeze on non-essential federal workers.We've imposed a temporary moratorium on new federal regulations.

We've issued a game changing new Rule that says for each one new regulation, two old regulations must be eliminated. Makes sense. Nobody's ever seen regulations like we have. You go to other countries and you look at industries and they say, let me see your regulations and they're a fraction, just a tiny fraction of what we have.

And I want regulations because I want safety, I want environmental — all environmental situations to be taken properly care of. It's very important to me, but you don't need four or five or six regulations to take care of the same thing.

We've stood up for the men and Women in law enforcement, directing federal agencies to ensure they are protected from crimes of violence. We've directed the creation of a task force for reducing violent crime in America including the horrendous situation — take a look at Chicago and others — taking place right now in our inner cities. Horrible.

We've ordered the Department of Homeland Security and Justice to coordinate on a plan to destroy criminal cartels coming into the United States with drugs. We're becoming a drug-infested nation. Drugs are becoming cheaper than candy bars and we're not going to let it happen any longer.

We've undertaken the most border security measures in a generation to keep our nation and our tax dollars safe and are now in the process of beginning to build a promised wall on the southern border.

I met with General, now Secretary, Kelly yesterday and we're starting that process and the wall is going to be a great wall and it's going to be a wall negotiated by me, the price is going to come down just like it has on everything else i've negotiated for the government. And we're going to have a wall that works. We're not going to have a wall like we have now which is either nonexistent or a joke.

We've ordered a crackdown on sanctuary cities that refuse to comply with federal law and that harbor criminal aliens and we've ordered an end to the policy of catch and release on the border. No more release. No matter who you are. Release.

We've begun a nationwide effort to remove criminal aliens, gang members and others who pose a threat to public safety.

We are saving american lives every single day.

The court system has not made it easy for us.

And we’re even creating a new office in Homeland Security dedicated to the forgotten american victims of illegal immigrant violence of which there are many.

We've taken decisive action to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of our country, though parts of our necessary and constitutional actions were blocked by judges in my opinion, incorrect, an unsafe ruling.

Our administration is working Night and day to keep you safe, including reporters safe, and is vigorously defending this lawful order.

I got elected on defense of our country. I will not back down and I keep my campaign promises and our citizens will be very happy when they see the result they already are. I can tell you that.

Extreme vetting will be put in place and it already is in place in many places. We had to go quicker than we thought because of the bad decision we received from a Circuit that has been overturned at a record number. I've heard 80%. I find that hard to believe. That's just a number I heard that they're overturned 80% of the time.

I think that circuit is — that circuit is in chaos and that circuit is frankly in turmoil, but we are appealing that and we are going further.

We're issuing a new Executive Action next week that will comprehensively protect our country. So we'll be going along the one path and hopefully winning that at the same time, we will be issuing a new and very comprehensive order to protect our people and that will be done sometime next week toward the beginning, or middle at the latest.

We've also taken steps to begin construction of the Keystone Pipeline and Dakota Access Pipelines, thousands and thousands of jobs, and put new buy american measures in place to require american steel for american pipeline. In other words, you build a pipeline in this country and we use the powers of government to make that pipeline happen, we want them to use american steel, and they're willing to do that but nobody ever asked before I came along.

Even this order was drawn and they didn't say that and I'm reading the order, why aren't we using american steel, and they said that's a good idea, we put It in.

To drain the swamp of corruption in Washington, C.C., I've started by imposing a five year lobbying ban on White House officials and a lifetime ban on lobbying for a foreign government.

We've begun preparing to repeal and replace Obamacare. Obamacare is a disaster, folks. It's a disaster. You can say, oh, Obamacare. They fill up our rallies with people that you wonder how they get there, but they're not the Republican people that our representatives are representing.

So we've begun preparing to repeal and replace Obamacare and are deep in the midst of negotiations on a very historic tax reform to bring our jobs back. Bring our jobs back to this country, big league. It's already happening, but big league.

I've also worked to install a Cabinet over the delays and obstruction of Senate Democrats. You've seen what they've done over the last long number of years. That will be one of the great Cabinets ever assembled in american history.

You look at Rex Tillerson, he's out there negotiating right now. General Mattis, I mentioned before, General kelly. We have great, great people with us now.

Among their responsibilities will be ending the bleeding of jobs from our country and negotiating fair trade deals for our citizens. Now, look, fair trade. Not free, fair. If a country is taking advantage of us, we're not going to let that happen any more. Every country takes advantage of us, almost. I may be able to find a couple that don't, but for the most part, that would be a very tough job for me to do.

Jobs have already started to surge since my election. Ford announced it will abandon its plans to build a new factory in Mexico and will instead invest $700 million in Michigan creating many, many jobs.

Chrysler announced it will invest $1 billion. They were with me a week ago.

General Motors likewise committed to invest millions of dollars in its american manufacturing operation. Keeping many jobs here that we're going to leave and if I didn't get elected, believe me, they would've left and these jobs and these things that i'm announcing would never have come here.

Intel just announced that will move ahead with a new plant in Arizona that probably was never going to move ahead with and that will result in at least 10,000 american jobs.

Walmart announced it will create 10,000 jobs in the United States just this year because of our various plans and initiatives. There will be many more, many more. These are few that we're naming.

Other countries have been taken advantage of us for decades and decades and decades, folks and we're not going to let that happen any more. Not going to let it happen.

And one more thing, I have kept my promise to the American people by nominating a justice of the United States Supreme Court, Judge Neil Gorsuch who is from my list of 20 and who will be a true defender of our laws and our Constitution. Highly respected, should get the votes from the Democrats. You may not see that, but he'll get there one way or the other. But he should get there the old fashioned way and he should get those votes.

This last month has represented an unprecedented degree of action on behalf of the great citizens of our country. Again, I say it there's never been a presidency that's done so much in such a short period of time and we haven't even started the big work yet that starts early next week.

Some very big things are going to be announced next week. So we're just getting started. We will be giving a speech, as I said, in Melbourne, Florida, at I hope to see you there. And with that, I just say, God bless America, and let's take some questions.

Mara, go ahead.

Reporter Question

[ inaudible ]

President Trump

I asked for his resignation. He respectfully gave it. He is a man who — there was a certain amount of information given to Vice President Pence who's with us today and I was not happy with the way that Information was given.

He didn't have to do that because what he did wasn't wrong, what he did in terms of the information. He saw what was wrong was the way that other people, including yourselves in this room, were given that information because that was classified information.

It was given illegally that's the real problem.

You can talk all you want about Russia, which is all fake news fabricated to try and make up for the loss of the Democrats and plus press plays right into It.

I saw a couple of the people that were supposedly involved with all of this, they know nothing anything about it. They never received a phone call from Russia. It's all fake news. It's all fake news.

The nice thing is I see it starting to turn where people are now looking at the illegal and I think it's very important. The illegal given-out classified information. And let me just tell you, it was given out like so much.

I'll give you an example.

I called, as you know, Mexico. It was a very confidential classified call but I called Mexico and in calling mexico, I figured, I spoke to the President of Mexico. Had a good call. All of a sudden it's out there for the world to see. It's supposed to be secret. It's supposed to be either confidential or classified. Same thing with Australia.

All of a sudden people are finding out exactly what took place. The same thing happened with respect to General Flynn. Everybody saw this and I'm saying, the first thing I thought of when I heard about, How does the press get this information that's classified? How do they do it?

You know why because it's an illegal process and the press should be ashamed of themselves but more importantly the people who gave out the information should be ashamed of themselves, really ashamed.

Go ahead.

Reporter Question

[ inaudible ]

President Trump

When I looked at the Information, I said I don't think he did anything wrong. If anything he did something right. He was coming into the office, he looked at the information. He said, huh, that's fine, that's what they're supposed to do. He didn't just call Russia and spoke to both ways -- I think there were 30 some odd countries. He's doing his job. He was just doing his job.

The thing is he didn't tell our vice president properly and then he said he didn't remember, so either way it wasn't very satisfactory to me and I have somebody that I think will be outstanding for the position and that also helps, I think, in the making of my decision. But he didn't tell the vice president of the United States the facts and then he didn't remember and that just wasn't acceptable to me.


Reporter Question

During your campaign, did anyone from your team communicate with members of the Russian government or Russian intelligence and if so what were the nature of those conversations?

President Trump

The New York Times wrote a big front page story yesterday and it was very much discredited as you know. It was a joke. I noticed they were on television today saying they never even focus Russia. It was such a minor part. I hadn't spoken to them. I think the one person I don't think I've ever spoken to.

He says he was a very low member of a committee. It's possible that I walked into a room and he was sitting there but I don't think I ever met him. I didn't [sic] I didn't talk to him ever. And he thought it was a joke.

The other person said he never talked to Russia, looked at his phone calls and the other person people knew that he represented various countries but I don't think he represented Russia, but knew that he represented various countries. That's what he does. People know that.

That's Mr. Manfort, who's, by the way, by the way, respected man. He's a respected man. But I think he represented the Ukraine or Ukraine’s government or somebody but everybody -- people knew that. Everybody knew that.

So these -- and he said that he has absolutely nothing to do and never has with Russia and he said that very forcefully. I saw his statement. Most of the papers don't print it because that's not good for their stories.

So the three people that they talked about all totally deny it and speaking for myself, I own nothing in Russia. I have no loans in Russia. I don't have any deals in Russia.

President Putin called me up very nicely to congratulations me on the win of the election. He then called me up extremely nicely to congratulations me on the inauguration, which was terrific but so did many other leaders, almost all other leaders from almost all other countries. So that's the extent.

Russia is fake news. This is fake news put out by the media. The real news is the fact that people probably from the Obama administration because they're there, because we have our new people going in place right now as you know. Mike Pompeo is now taking control of the CIA. James Comey at FBI, Dan Coates is waiting to be approved. He is a senator and a highly respected one and still waiting to be approved.

Our new people are going in and just while you're at it because you mentioned this, the Wall Street Journal did a story today that was almost as disgraceful as the failing New York Times story yesterday and it talked about so director of national intelligence just put out acting, a statement, any suggestion that the United States intelligence community, this was just given to us, is withholding information and not providing the best possible intelligence to the President and his national security team, is not true.

So they took this front page story out of the Wall Street Journal and they just wrote the story that it's not true. I'll tell you something, I'll be honest, because I sort of enjoy this back and forth and I guess I have all my life but i've never seen more dishonest media than the political media, but I will say that I never get phone calls from the media.

How do they write a story like that in the Wall Street Journal without asking me or how do they write a story in The New York Times put it on front page. That was like that story they wrote about the women and me, front page, big massive story and it was nasty and then they called and said, we never said that. We like Mr. Trump. They called up my office. We like Mr. Trump. We never said that. And it was totally -- they totally misrepresented those very wonderful women.

I have to tell you. I said give a retraction. They never gave us a retraction and frankly I went on to other things.


Reporter Question

Mr. President, you said today that you have the biggest electoral margin since Ronald Reagan, 306 electoral votes. President Obama got [ inaudible ] So why should Americans trust -- why should Americans trust you when you the information they receive -- you're providing the information.

President Trump

Actually I've seen that information around but -- [ inaudible ]

Reporter Question

Can you tell us in determining that General Flynn did any wrongdoing in your mind? What evidence would you weigh [ inaudible ]

President Trump

First of all, about that, we now have Dan Coates hopefully soon, Mike Pompeo and James Comey and they're in position to straighten that out without using anybody else.

The gentleman you mentioned is a very talented man and he's offered his services and, you know, it's something we may take advantage of but I don't think we'll need that at all because of the fact that I think that we're going to be able to straighten it out very easily on its own.

As far as the General's concerned, when I first heard about it, I said, huh, that doesn't sound wrong. My counsel came, White House counsel, and he told me and I asked him and he can speak very well for himself. He said he doesn't think anything is wrong.

Really didn't think — it's what happened after that but he didn't think anything was done wrong. I didn't either because I waited a period of time and I started to think about it, to me he was doing the job.

The information was provided by who — I don't know, Sally Yates — and I was a little surprised because I said, doesn't sound like he did anything wrong there, but he did something wrong with respect to the Vice President and I thought that was not acceptable.

As far as — as far as the actual making the call, in fact, I've watched various programs and I've read various articles where he was just doing his job. That was very normal.

First everybody got excited because they thought he did something wrong. After they thought about it, it turned out he was just doing his job. So and I do — by the way, with all of that being said, I do think he's a fineman man.


Reporter Question

[ inaudible ]

President Trump

i've gone through all of the folks in charge of the various agencies and where I’ve actually called the Justice Department to look into the leaks. Those are criminal leaks. They're put out by people either in agencies, I think you'll see It stopping because now we have our people in.

Again we don't have our people in because we can't get them approved by the Senate. We just had Jeff Sessions approved.

We are looking into that very seriously. It's a criminal act.

When I was called out on Mexico, I was shocked because all this equipment, all this incredible phone equipment — when I was called out on Mexico, I was honestly, I was really, really surprised. But I said, it doesn't make sense.

That won't happen. But it wasn't that important a call. He could show it to the world and I could show it to the world.

Same thing with Australia. I said, that's terrible that it was leaked but it wasn't that important.

But then I said, what happens when i'm dealing with the problem of North Korea? What happens when I'm dealing with the problems in the Middle East?

Are you folks going to be reporting all of that very, very confidential information, very important? I mean at the highest level. You going to be reporting about that too?

So I don't want classified information getting out to the public. And in away that was almost a test, so i'm dealing with Mexico, I'm dealing with Argentina.

We were dealing on this case with Mike Flynn. All this information gets put into the The Washington Post, and gets put in the The New York Times and i'm saying, what's going to happen when i'm dealing on the Middle East? What's going to happen when i'm dealing with really, really important subjects like North Korea?

We got to stop it. That's why it takes criminal penalty.

Yes, John.

Reporter Question

I just want to get you to clarify avery important point can you state definitively that nobody on your campaign had any contacts with the Russian concerning the campaign. And on the leaks, is it fake news or are these real news?

President Trump

The leaks are real. You're the one that wrote about them and reported them. The leaks are real. You know what they said, you saw it.

The news is fake because so much of the news is fake.

The one thing that I felt was very important to do — I hope we can correct it because there's nobody I have more respect for, or maybe a little bit, than reporters, than good reporters.

It's very important to me and especially in this position, it's very important. I don't mind bad stories. I can handle a bad story better than anybody. As long as it's true. Over a course of time I'll make mistakes and you'll write badly and I'm okay with that.

I'm not okay when it is fake. I watch CNN it's so much anger and hatred. I watch others. You're not the only ones. I think it should be straight. I think — I think it would be frankly more interesting. I know how good everybody's ratings are right now but I think — I think it would actually be better.

People — you have a lower approval rate than Congress, I think that's right. I don't know Peter, is that one right? I think they have — I heard lower than Congress, but honestly, the public would appreciate it, I’d appreciate it.

Again I don't mind bad stories when it's true. But we have an administration where the Democrats are making it very difficult.

I think we're setting a record or close to a record in the time of approval of a cabinet. The numbers are crazy. Some of them are approved immediately and I'm going forever and I still have a lot of people that we're waiting for.

That's all they're doing is delaying. And you look at Schumer and the mess he's got over there and they've got nothing going. I think they'd be better served by approving and making sure that they're happy and everybody's good and sometimes — I know President Obama lost three or four and you lose them on the way and that's okay. That's fine.

But I think they would be much better served, John, if they just went through the process quickly. This is pure delay tactics, and they say it and everybody understands it.

Go ahead.

Reporter Question

The first part of my question — can you definitively say —

President Trump

I had nothing to do with it. I had nothing to do with Russia. I have no deals there.

Now, when WikiLeaks which I had nothing to do with comes out and happens to give, they're not giving classified information. They're giving stuff what was said in an office about Hillary Cheating on the debates, which, by the way, nobody mentions. Nobody mentions that Hillary received the questions to the debates. Can you imagine, seriously, can you imagine if I received the questions? It would be the electric chair, okay? He should be put in the electric. You would even call for the reconstitution of the death penalty.

Reporter Question

Did you direct Mike Flynn to discuss sanctions with the Russian ambassador prior to your inauguration?

President Trump

No, I didn't. No, I didn't.

Reporter Question

Would you have fired him if his information hadn't leaked out?

President Trump

No, I fired him because of what he said to Mike Pence. He was doing his job and his counterparts so it certainly would have been okay with me if he did it. I would've directed him to do it If I thought he wasn't doing it. I didn't direct him, but I would've directed him because that's his job.

And it came out that way and in all fairness, I watched Dr. Charles Krauthammer the other night saying he was doing his job and I agreed with him and since then I've watched many other people say that. I didn't direct him, but I would've directed him if he didn't do it. Okay?


Reporter Question

Just for the record we don't hate you.

President Trump

Okay. Ask Jeff Zucker how he got his job.

Reporter Question

If I may have follow-up on the questions, I don't know which microphone to hold here.

President Trump

Your ratings aren't as good as some of the people.

Reporter Question

They're pretty good right now, Mr. President.

President Trump

Go ahead.

Reporter Question

If I may ask, sir, you said earlier that WikiLeaks was revealing information about the Hillary Clinton campaign during the election cycle. You welcomed that at one campaign rally, you said you loved WikiLeaks.

At another campaign press Conference you called on the Russians to find the missing 30,000 e-mails. I'm wondering sir.

President Trump

She was actually missing 33 and that got extended.

Reporter Question

Maybe my numbers are off.

President Trump

I did say 30 but it was higher.

Reporter Question

If I may ask you, sir, it sounds as though you do not have much credibility when it comes to leaking if that is something that you encouraged during the campaign.

President Trump

Let me — do you mind?

Reporter Question

Yes, sir.

President Trump

In one case you're talking about highly classified Information.

In the other case you're talking about John Podesta saying bad things about the boss. If john Podesta said that about me, he said terrible things about her, I would've fired him so fast his head would have spun.

If you look at the RNC, we had a very strong — at my suggestion and I give Reince great credit for this, at my suggestion, because I know something about this world, I said, I want a very strong defensive mechanism. I don't want to be hacked and we did that and you have seen that they tried to hack us and they failed.

The DNC did not do that. And if they did it, they could not have been hacked.

But they were hacked and terrible things came in.

And the only thing that I do think is unfair, some of the things — when I heard some of those things, I picked up the papers the next morning, this is going to be front page. It wasn't even in the papers.

Again, if I had that happen to me, it would be the biggest story in the history of publishing or the head of newspapers. I would have been the headliner in every newspaper. Think of it.

They gave her the questions to a debate and she should've reported herself. Why didn't Hillary Clinton announce that, “I'm sorry, but I have been given the questions to a debate or a town hall and I feel that it's inappropriate and I want to turn in CNN for not doing a good job?”

Reporter Question

If I may follow-up on that, just something that Jonathan Karl was asking you about, the leaks are real but the news is fake. I guess I don't understand. It seems that there's a disconnect there, if the information coming from the leaks is real then how can the stories be fake.

President Trump

The reporting is fake. The public — they read newspapers, they see television they watch. They don't know if it's true or false, because they're not involved.

I'm involved. I've been involved with this stuff all my life. But i'm involved, so I know when you're telling the truth or when you're not.

I just see many, many untruthful things. I see tone. The tone is such hatred. I'm really not a bad person, by the way. The tone is such — I do get good ratings you have to admit that. The tone is such hatred.

I watched this morning a couple of the networks and I have to say, Fox and Friends in the morning, they're very honorable people because they hit me also when I do something wrong, but they have the most honest morning show. That's all I can say.

But the tone, Jim, if you look the hatred. I mean sometimes somebody gets -- you look at your show that goes on 10:00 in the evening. You just take a look at that show. That is a constant hit. The panel is almost always exclusive anti-Trump. The panel is almost anti-Trump and the hatred and venom coming from his mouth, the hatred coming from other people on your network.

Now, I will say this, I watch it, I see it. I'm amazed by it. And I just think you'd be a lot better off. I honestly do. The public gets it, you know. When I go to rallies, they start screaming at CNN. I think you would do much better by being different, but you just take a look. Take a look at some of your shows in the morning and evening.

If a guest comes out and says something positive about me, it's brutal.

Now they'll take this news conference, I'm actually having a very good time but they'll take this news conference -- remember I used to give you a news conference every time I made a speech which was like every day.

That's how I won. I won with news conference and probably speeches. I certainly didn't win by people listening to you people, that's for sure.

I'm having a good time. Tomorrow they will say, Donald Trump rants and raves at the press. I'm not ranting and raving. I'm having a good time doing it but tomorrow the headlines are going to be, Donald Trump rants and raves.

Go ahead.

Reporter Question

One more follow-up.

President Trump

Peter should I let them have a little bit more.

Sit down. Sit down.

Reporter Question

Just because of the attack of fake news and attacking our network, I just want to ask you --

President Trump

I'm changing it from fake news though, very fake news.

Go ahead.

Reporter Question

Real news, Mr. President.

President Trump

And you're not related to our new --

Reporter Question

I am not related, no, sir. I do like the sound of secretary Acosta.

President Trump

I looked at that name, is there any relationship there. Go back and check the family tree.

Reporter Question

Aren't you concerned, sir, that you are undermining the people's faith in the first amendment, freedom of the press, the press in this country when you call stories you don't like fake news. Why not just say that’s story I don't like?

When you call it fake news you're undermining confidence in our news media. Isn't that important?

President Trump

You're right about that -- I know when I should get good and when I should get bad. And sometimes I say wow that's going to be a great story. And I get killed.

I know what's good and bad. And when they change it and make it really bad, something that should be positive. Something sometimes something that should be positive they make it negative.

Because I'm there. I know what was said, I know who is saying it. I'm there.

So it's very important to me -- look, I want to see an honest press. I started off today by saying that it's so important to the public to get an honest press. The public doesn't believe you people any more. Now maybe I had something to do with that, I don't know. But they don't believe you.

If you were straight and really told it like it is as Howard Cocel used to say. If you were straight, I would be your biggest fan in the world, including bad stories about me. But if you go as an example, you're cnn, it's story after story after story is bad.

I won. I won.

And the other thing chaos. There's zero chaos. We are running -- this is a fine tuned machine and Reince happens to be doing a good job, but half of his job is putting out lies by the press.

I said to him yesterday, this whole Russia scam that you guys are building so you don't talk about the real subject which is illegal leaks, I watched him yesterday working so hard to try and get that story proper and I'm saying, here's my chief of staff, a really good guy, did a phenomenal job at RNC, he won the election, we won the presidency, we got some senators, we got -- all over the country you take a look.

I said to myself and to somebody else, you take a look at Reince. He's working so hard just putting out fires that are fake fires. They're fake. They're not true.

And isn't that a shame, because he'd rather be working on health care. He’d rather be working on tax reform, Jim. I mean that.

I would be your biggest fan in the world if you treated me right.

I sort of understand there's a certain bias maybe by Jeff or somebody for whatever reason. But and I understand that but you've got to be at least a little bit fair and that's why the public sees it.

They see it's not fair. You take a look at some of your shows and you see the bias and the hatred and the public is smart. They understand it.

Okay. Go ahead.

Reporter Question

[ inaudible ]

President Trump

That's why the Rasmussen poll has me through the roof.

I guess one of the reasons I'm here today is to tell you the whole Russian thing that's a ruse. It would be great if we could get along with Russia, just so you understand that.

Now tomorrow you'll see Donald Trump wants to get along with Russia, this is terrible. It's not terrible. It's good.

We had Hillary Clinton try and do a reset. We had Hillary Clinton give Russia 20% of the uranium in our country. You know what uranium is, it's this thing called nuclear weapons and other things like things are done with uranium including some bad things. Nobody talks about that.

I didn't do anything for Russia. I've done nothing for Russia. Hillary Clinton gave them 20 percent of our uranium.

Hillary Clinton did a reset — remember with the stupid plastic button that made us all look like a bunch of jerks here.

He looked at her like, what the hell is she doing with that cheap plastic button? Hillary Clinton, that was a reset, remember it said reset?

Now if I do that, I'm a bad guy. If with can get along with Russia that's a positive thing. We have a very talented man Rex Tillerson, who's going to be meeting with them and I told him, the greatest thing I can do us shoot that ship that's 30 miles off shore right out of the water.

Everyone in this country will say, it's so great. That's not great. I would love to be able to get Along with Russia. Now, you've had a lot of Presidents that haven't taken that back. Look where we are now. So, if I can. Now, I love to negotiate things. I do it really well. And all that stuff.

But it’s possible I won’t be able to get along with Putin. Maybe it is. But I want to just tell you. The false reporting by the media — by you people — the false, horrible, fake reporting makes it much harder to make a deal with Russia. And probably Putin said, “you know” — he’s sitting behind his desk and he says — “you know, I see what’s going on in the United States, I follow it closely, it’s going to be impossible for President Trump to ever get along with Russia because of all the pressure he’s got with this fake story, okay.” And that’s a shame, because if we could get along with Russia — and by the way, China and Japan. Everyone. If we could get along it would be a positive thing, not a negative thing.

Reporter Question


President Trump

Tax reform is going to happen fairly quickly. We’re doing Obamacare. We’re in final stages. We should be submitting the initial plan in March, early March I would say. And we have to as you know statutorily and for reasons of budget, we have to go first — it’s not like, frankly, the tax would be easier in my opinion. But for statutory reasons and for budgetary reasons we have to submit the health care sooner. So we’ll be submitting health care sometime in early March, mid-March. And after that we’re going to come up with — we’re doing very well on tax reform.

Reporter Question

Mr. President, you mentioned Russia. Let’s talk about some serious issues that have come up in the last week that you have had to deal with as President of the United States. You mentioned the vessel, the spy vessel of the coast of the United States.

President Trump

Not good.

Reporter Question

There was a ballistic missile test that many interpreted as a violation of an agreement—

President Trump

Not good. Not good.

Reporter Question

And a Russian plane buzzed a U.S. destroyer.

President Trump

Excuse me. Excuse me. When did it happen? It happened when— if you were Putin right now, you would say “hey, we’re back to the old games with the United States. There’s no way Trump can ever do a deal with us.” Because the — you have to understand, if I was just brutal on Russia right now, just brutal, people would say — you would say — “oh, isn’t that wonderful.” But then you would say — I know you well enough — then you would say “oh, we was too tough. He shouldn’t have done that.

All of those things that you mentioned are very recent. Because probably Putin assumes that he’s not going to be able to make a deal with me because it’s politically not popular to make a deal. So Hillary Clinton tries a reset, it failed. They all tried. But I’m different that those people.

Reporter Question

How are you interpreting those moves, and what do you intend to do about them? Have you given Rex Tillerson any advice on—

President Trump

I have, I have. I’m so beautifully represented. I’m so honored that the Senate approved him. He’s going to be fantastic.

Yes, I think that —

Reporter Question

Is Putin testing you, do you believe, sir?

President Trump

No, I don’t think so. I think Putin probably assumes that he can’t make a deal with me anymore because politically it would be unpopular for a politician to make a deal — I can’t believe I’m saying I’m a politician but I guess that’s what I am now. Because, look, it’d be much easier for me to be tough on Russia, but then we’re not going to make a deal

Now, I don’t know that we’re going to make a deal. I don’t know. We might, we might not. But it would be much easier for me to be — the tougher I am on Russia the better — but you know what? I want to do the right thing for the American people. And to be honest, I want to do the right thing for the world. If Russia and the United States actually got together and got along. And don’t forget, we’re a very powerful nuclear country and so are they. There’s no upside. We’re a very powerful nuclear country and so are they. I’ve been briefed, and I can tell you, one thing about a briefing that I’m allowed to say because anybody that ever read the most basic book can say it, nuclear holocaust would be like no other. They’re a very powerful nuclear country and so are we.

If we have a good relationship with Russia, believe me that’s a good thing. Not a bad thing.

Reporter Question

So when you say they’re “not good,” do you mean —

President Trump

Who did I say is not good?

Reporter Question

I read off the three things that have recently happened


Reporter Question

But do they damage the relationship —

President Trump

They all happened recently, and I understand what they’re doing. Because they’re doing the same thing. Now, again, maybe I’m not going to be able to do a deal but at least I will have tried. And if I don’t, does anybody really think that Hillary Clinton would be tougher on Russia than Donald Trump? Does anybody in this room really believe that? Okay.

But I’ll tell you one thing. She tried to make a deal. She had the reset. She gave all that valuable uranium away, she did other things. They say I’m close to Russia. Hillary Clinton gave away 20% of the uranium in the United States. She’s close to Russia.

You know what I gave to Russia? You know what I gave? Nothing.

Reporter Question

Can we conclude there will be no response to these particular provocations?

President Trump

I’m not going to tell you anything about what response I do. I don’t talk about military response. I don’t say “I’m going into Mosul in four months. We are going to attack Mosul in four months.” Then three months later: “We are going to attack Mosul in one month. Next week, we are going to attack Mosul.” Meanwhile Mosul’s very, very difficult. You know why? Because I don’t talk about military, and I don’t talk about certain other things. You’re going to be surprised to hear that.

And by the way, my whole campaign I’d say that. So I don’t have to tell you. I don’t want to be one of these guys that says “Here’s what we’re going to do.” I don’t have to do that. I don’t have to tell you what I’m going to do in North Korea. I don’t have to tell you what I’m going to do in North Korea. And I don’t have to tell you what I’m going to do in Iran. You know why? Because they shouldn’t know. And eventually, you guys are going to get tired of asking that question. So when you ask “What am I going to do with that ship? The Russian ship,” as an example, I’m not going to tell you.

But hopefully I won’t have to do anything. But I’m not going to tell you.

Reporter Question

Can I just ask you — thank you very much Mr. President.

President Trump

Where are you from?

Reporter Question


President Trump

There’s another beauty.

Reporter Question

It’s a good line. Impartial, free and fair.

President Trump

Yeah, sure. Just like CNN right?

Reporter Question

Mr. President, on the travel ban — we could banter back and forth — on the travel ban, would you accept that that was a good example of the good running of government?

President Trump

Yeah, I do, I do. Let me tell you about the travel ban.

Reporter Question

Were there any mistakes in that.

President Trump

Wait. Wait. Wait. I know who you are, just wait.

Let me tell you about the travel ban. We had a very smooth rollout of the travel ban, but we had a bad court. We had a bad decision. We had a court that’s been overturned again, I may be wrong, but I think it’s 80% of the time. A lot. We had a bad decision. We’re going to keep going with that decision. We’re going to put in a new executive order next week. But we had a bad decision. That’s the only thing that was wrong with the travel ban.

You had Delta, with a massive problem with their computer system at the airports. You had some people that were brought out by very nice busses and they were put out at various locations. Despite that, the only problem that we had was we had a bad court. We had a court that gave us what I consider to be with great respect a very bad decision. Very bad for the safety and security of our country. The rollout was perfect.

Now, what I wanted to do was do the exact same executive order. But I said one thing, and I said this to my people: “Give them a one month period of time.” But General Kelly, now Secretary Kelly, said, “If you do that, now all these people will come in in a month. The bad ones.” You do agree there are bad people out there right? That not everybody is like you. You have some bad people out there. So Kelly said, “you can’t do that.” And he was right. I never thought of it. I said “how about one week?” He said, “no good. You have to do it immediately, because if you do it immediately they don’t have time to come in.” Now nobody ever reports that. So that’s why we did it quickly

Now if I would have done it with a month everything would have been perfect. The problem is we would have wasted a lot of time, and maybe a lot of lives because a lot of bad people would have come into our country. Now in the meantime, we’re vetting very, very strongly. Very, very strongly. But we need help, and we need help by getting that executive order passed.

Reporter Question

I was hoping that we could get a yes or no answer on one of these questions involving Russia. Can you say whether or not you are aware that anyone who advised your campaign had contact with Russia during the course of the election.

President Trump

Well I told you, General Flynn obviously was dealing. But he was dealing — as he should have been.

Reporter Question

During the election?

President Trump

No, nobody that I know of.

Reporter Question

So you’re not aware of any contacts during the election?

President Trump

Look, how many times do I have to answer this question? Russia is a ruse. I know you have to get up and ask a question — so important. Russia is a ruse. I have nothing to do with Russia. Haven’t made a phone call to Russia in years. Don’t speak to people from Russia. Not that I wouldn’t — I just have nobody to speak to.

I spoke to Putin twice. He called me on the election, I told you this, and he called me on the inauguration, a few days ago. We had a very good talk. Especially the second one, lasted for a pretty long period of time. I’m sure you probably get it because it was classified. So I’m sure everybody in this room perhaps has it. But we had a very, very good talk.

I have nothing to do with Russia. To the best of my knowledge, no person that I deal with does. Now Manafort has totally denied it, he denied it. Now, people knew that he was a consultant over in that part of the world for a while. But not for Russia. I think he represented Ukraine, or people representing Ukraine, or people having to do with whoever. But everybody knew that.

Reporter Question

But in his capacity as your campaign manager, was he in touch with Russian officials during the election?

President Trump

You know what? He said no. I can only tell you what — now, he was replaced long before the election. You know that. Right? He was replaced long before the election, when all of this stuff started coming out. But Paul Manafort, he’s a good a man also by the way, Paul Manafort was replaced long before the election took place. He was only there for a short period of time.

How much longer should we stay here folks? Five more minutes, is that okay?

Wait, let’s see, I want to find a friendly reporter. Are you a friendly reporter? Watch how friendly he is. Go ahead.

Reporter Question

So, first of all, my name is Jake Turx. I haven't seen anybody in my community accuse either yourself or anyone on your staff of being anti-Semitic. We have an understand that you have Jewish grandchildren — you are their zayde. However, what we are concerned about and what we haven't being heard addressed is how the government is planning to take care of it. There are reports that 48 bomb threats have been made against Jewish centers across the country in the last couple of weeks. There are people committing anti-Semitic acts or threatening to—

President Trump

He said he was going to ask a easy question — okay sit down I understand the rest of your question. Folks, number one, I am the least anti-semitic person that you have seen in your entire life. Number two, racism. The least racist.

We did relatively well — quiet, quiet, quiet — see he lied about what was going to be a very straight simple question. I hate the charge. I find it repulsive, I hate even the question because people that know me and you heard the prime minister, you heard Netanyahu yesterday, did you hear him Bibi, he said I've known Donald Trump for a long time and said forget it so you should take that instead of getting up and asking a very insulting question like that. Just shows you about the press but that's the way the press is.

Reporter Question

From the PBS Newshour. [phrases missing on new immigration ban] On the DACA program for immigration, do you plan to continue the program or end it?

President Trump

[phrases missing]

[We’re] doing what the law says exactly to do — and you know the law is rough. I'm not talking about new laws I'm talking the existing law is very, very rough, it's very, very rough. The new order is going to be very much tailored to what I consider a very bad decision, but we can tailor it to get in some ways more. But tailoring it now to the decision. We have some of the best lawyers in the country working on it the and the new executive order is being tailored from the decision we got down from the court, okay? [ Inaudible question ]

Reporter Question

Can you talk a little bit and what First Lady Melania Trump does for the country, by opening the White House visitor's office what does that mean to you?

President Trump

Now that's what I call a nice question.

Who are you with?

Reporter Question

[ inaudible ]

President Trump

Thank you very much. We had dinner with Senator Rubio who by the way his wife is very lovely and we had a very good discussion on Cuba, and they were very good to me, and I think Melania is going to be outstanding opening up the visitors tours of the White House. She feels very strongly about women’s issues — she's a very, very strong advocate. I think she's a great representative for this country and a funny thing happens because she gets so unfairly — the things they say, I've known her a very long time, she was a very successful person, very successful model, she did very well. She would go home at night and didn't even want to go out with people. She was a very private person, always the highest quality, and the things they say, I've known her a long time, and things that were said were so unfair, but i’ll just tell you this, she's going to be a fantastic First Lady, and representative of the people and working with her will be Ivanka, who is a fabulous person and fabulous woman. They're not doing this for money or pay, they're doing it because they feel it personally, and after baron finishes school because it's hard to take a child out of school with a few months left, she and Baron will be moving over to the white house. Thank you, that's a very nice question.

President Trump

Go ahead. This is going to be a bad question, but that's okay.

Reporter Question

Mr. President, I need to find out from you — you said something as it relates to inner cities one of your platforms.

President Trump

Fixing the inner cities.

Reporter Question

What will be that fix and your urban agenda as well as your HBCU executive order that's coming out this afternoon? See that wasn't bad.

President Trump

That was very professional.

Reporter Question

I'm very professional.

President Trump

I will let the order speak for itself, but we'll talk to you about that after the announcement, as far as the inner cities, I think it's what got me much higher the African-American vote, we did much higher, I was honored by that and including the hispanic vote, which might I add the women vote which was much higher than people thought I was going to get.

So we are going to be working very hard, having to do with education, having to do with crime, we're going to try and fix as quickly as possible. It take as long time — 100 years or more for some of these places to evolve and many of them very badly but working very hard on health and health care, very, very hard on education and also we're going to be working in a stringent way on crime, you go to some of these inner city places and it's so sad — we have people and I have sort of witnessed it in fact two occasions actually witnessed it. They lock themselves into apartments petrified to even leave in the middle of the day. They're living in hell.

We can't let that happen. It's a great question and it's a very difficult situation because it's been many, many years, it's been festering for many, many years, but we have places in this country that we have to fix. We have to help African-American people that for the most part are stuck there, hispanic American people that are in the inner cities and are living in hell. You look at the numbers in Chicago. There are two Chicagos as you know, there's one that's incredible, luxurious and safe, there's another Chicago that's worse than almost any of the places in the Middle East that we talk about and that you talk about every night on the newscasts so we're going to do a lot of work on the inner cities, I have a lot of great people lined up --

Reporter Question

When you say the inner cities are you go you think to include the CBC in conversations with urban agenda, inner city?

President Trump

Include who?

Reporter Question

The Congressional Black Caucus.

President Trump

Well I tell you what — do you want to set up the meeting? Are they friends of yours? Set up a meeting. Set up the meeting I would love to meet with the Congressional Black Caucus. I think it's great. I actually thought I had a meeting with Congressman Cummings and he was all excited then he said oh, I can't move, it might be bad for me politically I can't have that meeting, you know, we called him and called him, all set, I spoke to him.

Reporter Question

I hear he wanted that meeting with you as well.

President Trump

He wanted it but we called called called, they can't make a meeting with him. Every day I walk in and I would like the meeting but he was probably told by Schumer or somebody like that some other lightweight he was probably told don't meet with Trump, it's bad politics and that's part of the problem in this country. One more. Go ahead.

One question, two — this room can't handle two. Give me the better of your two.

Reporter Question

It's not about your personality or your beliefs, we're talking about a rise in anti-Semitism around the country some of it by supporters in your name —

President Trump

Can I be honest with you, this has to do with racism and horrible things put up, some of it written by our opponents, we do know that, do you understand that? You don't think anybody would do anything like that. Some of the signs are not put up by people that love Donald Trump they're put up by the other side and you think it's playing it straight, no, some of the signs and anger is caused by the other side. They'll do signs and drawings that are inappropriate. It won't be my people. It will be the people on the other side to anger people like you. Okay. Go ahead.

Reporter Question

What are you going do about it —

President Trump

Oh, stand up.

Reporter Question

What are you going to do about the tensions —

President Trump

I'm working on it. I'm working on it — look, hey, just so you understand, we had a totally divided country for eight years. In all fairness to President Obama long before President Obama we have had a very divided — I didn't come along and divide this country, this country was seriously divided before I got here.

One of the questions asked was about the inner cities, that's part of is, but we're going to work on education, stop try and stop crime, we have great law enforcement, we're not going to try and stop, we're going to stop crime. It's very important to me but this isn't Donald Trump that divided a nation. We went eight years with President Obama and many years before president Obama, we lived in a divided nation, and I am going to try, I will do everything within my power to fix that. I want to thank everybody very much. It's a great honor to be with you.

Thank you very much.

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