Donald Trump issued a statement unequivocally standing with Saudi Arabia, declaring “America First!,” and stressing that Saudi Arabia “agreed” to spend a record $450 billion in the US, while throwing darts at Iran to defend Saudi Arabia’s actions in Yemen that have contributed to the most severe humanitarian crisis on the planet, and all but dismissing any accountability for the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.
“Representatives of Saudi Arabia say that Jamal Khashoggi was an ‘enemy of the state’ and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, but my decision is in no way based on that – this is an unacceptable and horrible crime. King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman vigorously deny any knowledge of the planning or execution of the murder of Mr. Khashoggi. Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!” Trump declared.
“The United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region.”
The country of Iran, as an example, is responsible for a bloody proxy war against Saudi Arabia in Yemen, trying to destabilize Iraq’s fragile attempt at democracy, supporting the terror group Hezbollah in Lebanon, propping up dictator Bashar Assad in Syria (who has killed millions of his own citizens), and much more. Likewise, the Iranians have killed many Americans and other innocent people throughout the Middle East. Iran states openly, and with great force, “Death to America!” and “Death to Israel!” Iran is considered “the world’s leading sponsor of terror.”
On the other hand, Saudi Arabia would gladly withdraw from Yemen if the Iranians would agree to leave. They would immediately provide desperately needed humanitarian assistance. Additionally, Saudi Arabia has agreed to spend billions of dollars in leading the fight against Radical Islamic Terrorism.
After my heavily negotiated trip to Saudi Arabia last year, the Kingdom agreed to spend and invest $450 billion in the United States.This is a record amount of money. It will create hundreds of thousands of jobs, tremendous economic development, and much additional wealth for the United States. Of the $450 billion, $110 billion will be spent on the purchase of military equipment from Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and many other great U.S. defense contractors. If we foolishly cancel these contracts, Russia and China would be the enormous beneficiaries – and very happy to acquire all of this newfound business. It would be a wonderful gift to them directly from the United States!
The crime against Jamal Khashoggi was a terrible one, and one that our country does not condone. Indeed, we have taken strong action against those already known to have participated in the murder. After great independent research, we now know many details of this horrible crime. We have already sanctioned 17 Saudis known to have been involved in the murder of Mr. Khashoggi, and the disposal of his body.
Representatives of Saudi Arabia say that Jamal Khashoggi was an “enemy of the state” and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, but my decision is in no way based on that – this is an unacceptable and horrible crime. King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman vigorously deny any knowledge of the planning or execution of the murder of Mr. Khashoggi. Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!
That being said, we may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi. In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They have been a great ally in our very important fight against Iran. The United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region. It is our paramount goal to fully eliminate the threat of terrorism throughout the world!
I understand there are members of Congress who, for political or other reasons, would like to go in a different direction – and they are free to do so. I will consider whatever ideas are presented to me, but only if they are consistent with the absolute security and safety of America. After the United States, Saudi Arabia is the largest oil producing nation in the world. They have worked closely with us and have been very responsive to my requests to keeping oil prices at reasonable levels – so important for the world. As President of the United States I intend to ensure that, in a very dangerous world, America is pursuing its national interests and vigorously contesting countries that wish to do us harm. Very simply it is called America First!
Thousands gathered at Times Square in Manhattan precisely at 5 pm on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, a day after Donald Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and only two days after the Blue Wave swept over the House and into state houses across the country, and appointing Matthew Whitaker the Acting Attorney General, a sycophant who has been outspoken against the Muller “lynch mob” and the liberal “Russian hoax.”
Within minutes, the numbers gathered at Duffy Square in Times Square in Manhattan grew to the thousands; soon people were packed together, waving hand-drawn signs and chanting “Trump is not Above the Law,” and “Protect Mueller.” After about an hour, they marched down Broadway about two miles to Union Square through streets and crossroads that clogged with rush hour traffic, past stores and offices still busy with people – a contrast to typical protests which go through vacant caverns on a weekend morning. They were greeted with supporters all along the route.
New York City was one of about 1000 such rallies across the nation, a response to Donald Trump’s latest in-your-face lawless outrage: firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions in order to replace him with a sycophant, Matthew Whitaker, whose only “qualification” to be the Acting Attorney General is that he, like now Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, expressed willingness to shield Trump, his family and associates from investigation.
The NYC Planning Team later reported that best estimates put the numbers at 6,000, part of a nationwide turnout of over 100,000 people who came out with less than 24 hours notice.
Whitaker had been auditioning for the job in appearances on TV – the recruitment ground for any number of Trump appointees, including his Director of Communications, the ex-Fox News executive Bill Shine – expressing disdain for Mueller’s team as a “lynch mob”, and declaring in interviews in 2017 that the Russia investigation was a liberal hoax, and while there may have been interference by Russia into the election, there was no collusion with the Trump campaign. No one bothered to ask how Whitaker, who said he wanted to come to Trump’s attention in order to get a job with the Administration in Washington, would have any direct knowledge of the “evidence” to support his claims.
Whitaker was critical of the investigation in an August 2017 CNN op-ed, saying that Mueller investigating Trump’s finances would be crossing a red line, even though the question of whether the Trump empire is built on money laundering for Russian oligarchs loyal to Vladimir Putin is key to whether there was in fact a conspiracy, or collusion, between Russia and the Trump campaign, and whether Trump’s foreign policy decisions are impacted by whether other governments have sway over him (a partial list: Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Russia, China, India, Turkey, Panama. Yet Whitaker is now the highest law-enforcement officer in the country.
Whitaker also defended Donald Trump Jr.’s June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower with Russian officials promising opposition research against Hillary Clinton, stating, “You would always take that meeting,” demonstrating not only his bias (and conflict of interest) but his ignorance of law (it’s illegal to take anything of value from a foreign power; the “dirt” on Hillary Clinton was illegally obtained, which would render the Trump campaign a co-conspirator). But defending illegality is not new: he served on a board of a company that, like Trump University, existed to bilk its customers, and which used Whitaker’s position as a federal prosecutor to bully those who would have sued. And yet, he is now the highest law-enforcement officer in the country. (But dishonesty, along with blind loyalty to Dear Leader, seem to be the prerequisites for a Trump appointment.)
Whitaker, as a 2014 candidate for US Senate from Iowa, had promised he would vote for federal judicial nominees who have “a Biblical view of justice.” He also expressed disdain for the notion of the Judiciary as a co-equal branch of government, and blasted the original decision, Marbury v Madison from 1803 which established the Supreme Court as the arbiter of constitutionality. (I’ll bet he thinks differently now that Trump has put two Federalist Society judges on the court for a long-term conservative majority.)
Trump had to jump over the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is in charge of the Mueller investigation, in order to pluck Whitaker, who was a chief-of-staff to Sessions for a matter of months. Despite basically carrying out Trump’s racist, anti-immigrant, anti-civil rights agenda, Sessions was pilloried by Trump for having recused himself from the Russia probe, since Sessions was part of the Trump campaign and lied to Congress during his confirmation hearing about having had contact with Russians. The likelihood is that Trump deliberately planted Whitaker in the post precisely for this maneuver.
On the other hand, many legal scholars have said Whitaker is not legally allowed to be the Acting chief-law-enforcement officer for the nation since he has never gone through a confirmation process. Again, Trump is likely thinking he can get anyone through the Republican-controlled Senate.
Some 19 different organizations, including Moveon.org, Need to Impeach and Democracy for America,, sent out the “Emergency. Break the Glass” notice, triggered when Trump moved to fire Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, to rally people in New York City and around the country.
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY 12) was among those who addressed the protesters in Union Square. Also, among the organizers, a Brooklyn College student, a mother from Connecticut with an autistic child; and Therese Okoumou, who scaled the Statue of Liberty last July 4 to protest Trump’s family separation policy.
Here are more photo highlights from the New York City rally and march to protect Mueller:
The Women’s March the day after Trump’s Inauguration in January 2017, in Washington and across America, was the largest day of protest in American history; subsequent protests throughout his tenure – for climate action, gun reform, immigrants – have also been massive.
The Women’s Movement has been rekindled with the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation to the Supreme Court.
Trump has signaled he has had enough of protest. He prefers what Putin and Kim Jong-un have: a way of suppressing all opposition, be it a free press or protest.
It filters down from Trump (or from Fox to Trump) to the Republican talking heads eerily mimicking the same phrases and charge: the protesters were paid by George Soros (versus the astroturf Tea Partyers literally paid by Koch Brothers). We can’t have “mob rule.” We must uphold the “Rule of Law” – a laughably ironic statement coming from this mobster-in-chief, whose kinship with Kavanaugh – credibly accused of sexual assault, and now vulnerable, as Trump is, to blackmail – is cemented by Kavanaugh’s promise to shield Trump from investigation or indictment, and his pronounced threat against the “conspiracy” of liberals, Democrats and Clinton supporters. “What goes around, comes around,” the pretender “umpire calling strikes and balls,” menaced.
It is yet another example of Trump (and Republicans) accusing opponents of the criminality they themselves commit – “Rigged election.” “Politicized FBI.” “Pay to Play” (Lock her up!). Voter Fraud (a red-herring to justify Voter Suppression). And the most laughable: accusing Democrats of “unprecedented” obstruction, as if being a Democrat means you are a persona non grata in Trump’s America.
Trump has used this technique to intimidate Democrats from questioning the 2016 Election, accused Democrats of obstructing his agenda and appointments (while also boasting he has gotten a record number of judges appointed), and basically ignoring the majority of Americans in this supposed democracy on everything from gun reform to environmental protection to health care.
He has used his words to raise suspicion and discredit the Mueller investigation, about the FBI and CIA intelligence, about the New York Times and Washington Post’s investigations into campaign finance activity and now the tax evasion (and fraud) that enabled him and his family to cheat the American people out of $500 million. Now he expects this technique to either shut down protest or discredit whatever investigations and reports emerge.
Trump has been playing the “victim” card that he attacks women for: Oh pity the poor, aggrieved white men who need to fear being held to account for wrong-doing. Can’t have that.
He has attacked Senate Democrats who were doing their due diligence in investigating Kavanaugh’s fitness (unfitness) for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court attacking them as “evil,” and accusing them of “con” (that’s really rich).
“Honestly, it’s a very dangerous period in our country,” Trump said at the New York City press conference, just ahead of the Kavanaugh vote. “And it’s being perpetrated by some very evil people. Some of them are Democrats, I must say. Because some of them know that this is just a game that they’re playing. It’s a con game. It’s at the highest level. We’re talking about the United States Supreme Court.”
He is desperate to use Kavanaugh to turn out his voters because he fears a Blue Wave will result in investigations, actual oversight and maybe even impeachment if Democrats get a majority in Congress. So he manufactures a message of aggrievement, of discrediting victims of sexual violence, which is a form of subjugation
More menacingly, he is signaling that he will summon the forces of the state to suppress opposition.
I watched as dozens of protesters on the Capitol steps arrested (300 on Thursday, 124 on Saturday) while Kavanaugh was ultimately confirmed with the smallest number of votes ever, a mere 50. Nearly 300 had been arrested on Thursday, after the sham FBI report was “released” using a level of secrecy that Trump did not see fit to use to protect the Russian investigation’s sources, methods and lives. You would think the arrests contradicted the Constitution’s protection of the right to assemble and petition our government.
How does exercising the Constitutional right to assemble and petition our government warrant arrest? But in Trump’s America, can’t have that.
Kavanaugh becomes one of four sitting Supreme Court Justices named by presidents (George W. Bush and Trump) who lost the popular vote; meanwhile, those 50 Senators who confirmed Kavanaugh represent about 40% of Americans but now, those Justices have the majority to control the lives of millions of people for generations to come.
So a minority is exerting its tyranny over the majority – taking over each and every one of its institutions, the White House, the Congress and now the Supreme Court (and all the other lesser courts).
So people are taking to the streets. And Trump can’t have that.
This faux “Law and Order” Putin-wannabe is signaling with his use of terms like “mob rule” and screams that protest somehow violates the “Rule of Law” (as opposed to his own evasion of accountability for sexual assault, tax evasion, campaign finance violations, conspiracy with a foreign adversary to steal the election) that he will call out enforcement to shut down protest. In his mind, even not applauding his State of the Union is tantamount to treason.
He will use all the tools and powers at his command, including whatever is possible to suppress the vote, under the guise of preventing voter fraud, or just impeding access to the polls.
Techniques the Republicans have used effectively include locating polling places so they are less accessible to certain voters, purging voter lists, challenging voter IDs if the name isn’t exact (an excellent technique to prevent women from voting); limiting hours, having employers refuse to give time off (or pay) to go vote, having too few voting machines, forcing people to stand on line for hours, then shutting the doors when time’s up, and even having thugs stand outside. Wouldn’t put it past them to set up road blocks.
This actually has happened where those entrusted with enforcing the law does the bidding of those wielding political power.
At the New-York Historical Society, there is a chilling exhibit, “Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow,” a punch-to-the-gut examination of how the Emancipation Proclamation, Civil War, and most significantly, Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, led to an institutionalized system of terror and subjugation of African Americans. This included the complicity of the Supreme Court which issued decisions dating back to Dred Scott, that perpetuated subjugation.
The 1857 Dred Scott case ruled that though Scott was in territory that did not have slavery, Scott had no right to sue because he was not a US citizen, and no black person, free or slave, could be a US citizen. (This was overturned with the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection clause that covered any person in the US, which is why undocumented immigrants also have rights under the Constitution). :“All persons born or naturalized in the United States…are citizens of the United States…No State shall…deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”)
Nonetheless, the Supreme Court for a century was complicit in systemic subjugation of blacks, minorities, immigrants and women.
Despite the 15th Amendment guarantee of voting rights (“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color or previous condition of servitude”) states which had allowed non-propertied white men to vote in 1828 (where is the Constitutional amendment for that?), now passed laws restricting voting only to white men, which the Supreme Court did not overturn.
After Congress, in 1875, passed a civil rights act banning discrimination in public places, the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional in 1883.
In 1882, the federal government passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, restricting Chinese immigration and prohibiting the courts from naturalizing Chinese as citizens. (No doubt, Kavanaugh will raise this as “precedent” for backing a Muslim Travel Ban.)
In 1884, The Supreme Court ruled that the 14th and 15th amendments do not grant citizenship to Native Americans. (Today, new Voter ID laws could limit access to polls by Native Americans in North Dakota and Trump’s Justice Department is no longer prosecuting voting rights abuses.)
In 1890, as Mississippi and other southern states formalized disenfranchisement of African Americans, the Supreme Court upheld them because voting restrictions did not specifically mention “race.”
In 1896, the Supreme Court ruled in Plessy v Ferguson that it’s A-OK for segregated facilities to be “separate, but equal.”
Meanwhile, the Ku Klux Klan was rising, terrorizing Blacks, especially those who sought to run for political office. Blacks were lynched for nothing more than being accused of looking at a white woman (making Trump’s faux victimization of white men credibly accused of sexual assault even more absurd). More than 4,000 African Americans were publically lynched from 1877 to the 1950s, in a great many cases, aided and abetted by local police.
Interestingly, anti-lynching efforts were led by women’s organizations, and an anti-lynching bill was put forward in 1937, though none got passed the filibusters of the southern Dixiecrats.
Just as today, the Ku Klux Klan and White Supremacists used the guise of righteous “glory be to God” to subjugate, terrorize and retain power.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell went nuclear in overturning the filibuster, even as the United States’ gap in populations of large and small states mushroomed from the time of the Founders’ compromise that gave each state, large and small, two senators each. Wyoming with a population of 579,000 has equal voting power to California with 40 million. A similar imbalance in the Electoral College shows the fraud of “one-person, one vote” (a Wyoming voter has 4 times the weight of a Californian), and the lie to the Republicans’ false flag of “voter fraud” to justify its voter suppression. The majority no longer rules, not in the White House, not in the House, where gerrymandering entrenches the minority Republican party, not in the Senate and not in the Supreme Court.
As for that ridiculous assertion by Senator Susan Collins of Maine that a PAC accumulating money to use against her reelection in 2020 was akin to bribery? What a joke, since the pro-Kavanaugh right-wing groups, led by the Judicial Crisis Center, spent $7 million on its campaign to get Kavanaugh confirmed. The imbalance in campaign spending, thanks to the Scalia Supreme Court’s Citizen United decision, has given special interests ownership of politicians and policy. Glad to hear Collins is upset about that, but I doubt she will do anything about it.
This Kavanaugh battle has illustrated a number of things: Might makes right. Power begets power. Women who have been assaulted or harassed will get no justice. There’s no such thing as “No man is above the law” which means that there is no actual “Rule of Law.”
Women’s rights activists. Gun Rights Activists. Climate Activists. Workers Rights activists, Immigrant Rights activists cannot be cowed. Yes, it is crucial to turn out and vote in these midterms – and it will take a Blue Wave of more than 60% just to get to 51% majority in Congress. But if the Republicans are able to keep control with all the levers and advantages of using power to keep power (gerrymandering, voter suppression, campaign spending, propaganda and outright election hacking), then those peaceful protests protected under the Constitution may in fact turn into an angry mob of unleashed frustration and victimization.
To really get a sense of who Donald Trump is as president, listen to his responses to a wide-ranging press conference, held on the day he chaired a Security Council meeting at the United Nations and the day after he delivered his address to the General Assembly, rejecting multilateralism in favor of America First sovereignty.
In his press conference, he addressed everything from the Brett Kavanaugh nomination to the Supreme Court and the Senate Judiciary Committee’s handling of sexual assault charges, to North Korea, Iran, trade agreements. He accused China of meddling in the 2018 election (by imposing retaliatory tariffs targeting farmers and Red States). He continued to boast about historic gains in the economy while attacking Democrats, Obama, and sniping at Hillary Clinton. (“If others got in, it would have been just the opposite because they were going to put restrictions on. They were going to put regulations on. They were going to choke the economy as it was already choking, but it would have been worse. And they were going to raise your taxes. That’s what they want to do now if they ever got control, which I don’t think they’ll have control for a long time.”)
He attacked Justin Trudeau of Canada while praising Kim Jong Un of North Korea, and anyone else who registered adoration.
He dismissed any suggestion that members in the General Assembly laughed at his boast of accomplishing more in his time in office than any US president in history.
“So the fake news said, ‘People laughed at President Trump.’ They didn’t laugh at me. People had a good time with me. We were doing it together. We had a good time. They respect what I’ve done. The United States is respected again. The United States was not respected. Everybody was taking advantage of us. From jobs, and taking our companies, and not paying the price — to so many other things, even military protection.”
And he managed to get a hit at “fake news” and the “failing” New York Times.
Here, then, is a minimally edited transcript of the press conference. — Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features
BY PRESIDENT TRUMP
Lotte New York Palace New York, New York
September 26, 2018
4:57 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much everybody. We’ve had a great three days at the United Nations in New York. And this is quite a gathering. Wow. It’s a lot of people. A lot of media. (Laughter.)
We’ve covered a great deal of territory. Just left, as you know, Prime Minister Abe of Japan. We’re starting trade talks with Japan. They were not willing, for years, to talk trade, and now they’re willing to talk trade. And I’m sure we’ll make a very good deal.
Just concluded, as you know — two days ago, signed a deal with South Korea — a trade deal. A tremendous deal with South Korea. It means a lot of business for our farmers. We’re opening up for farmers. We’re opening up for a lot of different groups.
We’re going to be able to sell much more than double the number of automobiles that we were allowed under a deal that was totally defective that was there before. And so we’re very happy with that. That deal is actually concluded.
We’re very well along the way with Mexico. The relationship is very good. And with Canada, we’ll see what happens. They’re charging us 300-percent tariffs on dairy products. We can’t have that. We can’t have that.
With China, as you know, we put out an announcement today. They would like to see me lose an election because they’ve never been challenged like this. But I want to open up China to our farmers and to our industrialists and our companies. And China is not open, but we’re open to them. They charge us 25, 35, 55 percent for things, and we charge them nothing in terms of coming into the country.
Cars, they’re at 25 percent. And we’re at 2 percent and 2.5 percent, and don’t even collect it. But we collect it now.
So we’re doing very well in our situation with China on trade. I have a great relationship with the President of China, President Xi. But it’s got to be a two-way street. It — for 25 years and longer, it was not. And trillions and trillions of dollars was taken out of the United States for the benefit of China. We just can’t have that. We have to make it fair.
So we’re at $250 billion now, at 25 percent interest. And a lot of money is coming into our coffers. And it’s had no impact on our — absolutely, by the way, no impact on our economy, which I said it wouldn’t.
In fact, steel is like the hottest industry there is. If you look at what happened with steel, we’re charging a 25 percent tariff for the dumpers. They dump massive amounts of steel. They want to put the steel companies out of business. And after they’re out of business, they’ll come in and charge five times more than you ever thought possible. And we need steel and we need aluminum. And those industries are doing well.
But steel is incredible. U.S. Steel is opening up a minimum of eight plants. Nucor is opening up plants. And these are big plants — $750 million and a billion dollar plants, in some cases.
So what’s happening with the steel industry is very exciting to me. It’s being rebuilt overnight. If you look at the miners in coal, if you look at energy, LNG — Japan just gave us some numbers that are incredible. They’re doubling the amount that they are going to be buying for Japan. They’re taking the LNG and they’re doubling it up.
I said, “You have to do me a favor. We don’t want these big deficits. You’re going to have to buy more.” They’re buying massive amounts of equipment and military equipment, and other countries are doing the same thing. Because we have trade imbalances with almost everybody. It’s a rare exception that we don’t.
So we are doing great as a country. Unfortunately, they just raised interest rates a little bit because we are doing so well. I’m not happy about that, because I know it’s going to be a question. I am not happy about that. I’d rather pay down debt or do other things, create more jobs. So I’m worried about the fact that they seem to like raising interest rates. We can do other things with the money. And — but they raised them. And they’re raising them because we’re doing so well. You know, we’re doing much better than I had projected in terms of — when I was campaigning, I said we were going to do this and we’re doing much better than anybody ever thought possible.
And, I will say, if others got in, it would have been just the opposite because they were going to put restrictions on. They were going to put regulations on. They were going to choke the economy as it was already choking, but it would have been worse. And they were going to raise your taxes. That’s what they want to do now if they ever got control, which I don’t think they’ll have control for a long time.
Q In 1991, when Joe Biden passed along to the Bush 41 White House the allegations that Anita Hill had raised against Clarence Thomas, the Bush White House asked the FBI to look into it as part of Judge Thomas’s background investigation — not a criminal investigation, but the background investigation. When these allegations were raised, why didn’t this White House do the same thing? And with all of the allegations that are coming out now about Judge Kavanaugh, was there an opportunity missed here to have investigators look into this and get some sort of clarity one way or the other?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, the FBI told us they’ve investigated Judge Kavanaugh six times, five times, many times over the years. They know him very well. But here, there was nothing to investigate from at least one standpoint. They didn’t know the location. They didn’t know the time. They didn’t know the year. They didn’t know anything. And it’s like, where do you go?
Also, it’s not for the FBI. If you look at what Joe Biden said, he said, “They don’t do this.” And he said it very clearly.
So I think when you really look at it all, it’s not going to change any of the Democrats’ minds. They’re obstructionists. They’re actually con artists because they know how quality this man is and they’ve destroyed a man’s reputation and they want to destroy it even more.
And I think people are going to see that in the midterms. What they’ve done to this family, what they’ve done to these children — these beautiful children of his — and what they’ve done to his wife. And they know it’s a big, fat con job.
And they go into a room and, I guarantee you, they laugh like hell at what they’ve pulled off on you and on the public. They laugh like hell. So, it wouldn’t have mattered if the FBI came back with the cleanest score. And you understand that very well, John. If they would have come back with the most perfect — “We found everything, and he’s perfectly innocent of everything.” It wouldn’t have made a difference. You wouldn’t have gotten one vote.
Now we will get votes from the Democrats if we win. You’ll have three, four, or five Democrats giving us votes, because they’re in states that I won by 30 and 40 points and they’re going to give us votes.
Q Mr. President, there are now three women accusing Judge Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct. Are you saying that all three of those women are liars? Is there anything that can be said at this point tomorrow that could cause you to withdraw the nomination? Anything at all that —
THE PRESIDENT: I won’t get into that game. I’ll only tell you this: This is one of the highest quality people that I’ve ever met, and everybody that knows him says the same thing. And these are all false — to me, these are false accusations in certain cases. And certain cases, even the media agrees with that.
I can only say that, what they’ve done to this man is incredible. You know, it’s very interesting — I pick a lot of judges. I have 145 judges I will be picking by the end of a fairly short period of time because President Obama wasn’t big on picking judges. When I got there, I said, “How is this possible?” I have 145 — including court of appeals — judges. And they just didn’t do it. You know why? They got tired. They got complacent. Something happened. I have 145 judges.
Everybody wants to be a federal judge. Not just a Supreme Court judge, I’m talking about court of appeals; I’m talking about district court. I don’t think they’re going to want to so much. I’ll be calling people, and we’ll have people calling people that do this. And people are going to be scared because we could say it about you, “Thirty-five years ago, you met some…” — and you might know — you might not know what’s going on.
What is going on? Why did they wait so long? Why did Senator Feinstein wait until the hearings were over and make this case? Why didn’t she bring it right at the beginning? When you ask about, as an example, the FBI — why didn’t they bring this right at the beginning, during the hearing? You would have had all the time in the world for the FBI. It would have been fine.
Now the FBI, as you know, did investigate this time, as they have five or six other times. And they did a very thorough investigation. But this is a big con job. And I would love to be in the room with the Democrats, close the door — you guys are all away, outside, waiting. And Schumer and his buddies are all in there laughing how they fooled you all. Let’s just stop them. A big fat con.
Q But, Mr. President, if I could follow up. You have daughters. Can you understand why a victim of sexual assault would not report it at the time? Don’t you understand —
THE PRESIDENT: People are going to have to make a decision. Thirty-six years, there’s no charge. All of a sudden, the hearings are over and the rumors start coming out.
And then you have this other con artist, Avenatti, come out with another beauty today. I only say that you have to look at the facts. The senators are very capable people. They’re very good people. I know many of them. They’re friends of mine. These are very talented, very good people. And they’re going to vote. They’re going to believe what they believe.I can — when I look at what’s happened to the reputation of a great gentleman — a great intellect; a brilliant man; somebody that has a chance to be one of our great Supreme Court Justices in history, intellectually — I think it’s a shame.
Q Mr. President, yesterday at the speech at the U.N., you spoke about how Venezuela’s problem was because of Cuba and the Castros — how they went in there and they brought socialism and communism to Venezuela, and now to Nicaragua as well. Mr. President, are you going to be more proactive now against Cuba as well?
THE PRESIDENT: I’ve been very proactive against Cuba. I don’t like what’s happening in Cuba. As you know, President Obama gave them a pass and I didn’t like it. Neither do Cuban people based in Miami and based in our country that came from Cuba and suffered in Cuba.
I don’t like what he did. I’ve ended much of it — most of it. I don’t like what’s happening in Cuba, and I certainly don’t like what’s happening in Venezuela.
Q You said also that you had a call-to-action to ask the leaders around the world to also end socialism. Would you like to be recognized as —
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I wouldn’t say that socialism has been working really well around the world, okay. You can take a look at Venezuela as your number one — your number one — I guess, the one that is most obvious. But you take a look around the world, socialism is not exactly riding high.
Standing By His Men
Q Why is it, Mr. President, that you always seem to side with the accused and not the accuser? You have three women here who are all making allegations, who are all asking that their stories be heard. And, you know, if you look at the case of Roy Moore, if you look at the case of one of your staffers, you seem to, time and again, side with the accused and not the accuser. Is that because of the many allegations that you’ve had made against you over the years?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, I wasn’t happy with Roy Moore. Let’s get that straight. But Roy Moore was a Republican candidate —
Q But you stood by him.
THE PRESIDENT: — and I would have rather had a Republican candidate win. I was very happy with Luther Strange, who was a terrific man from Alabama, but Luther Strange had a lot of things going against him.
As far as women, whether it’s a man or a woman, these are — you know, it can happen the other way. Allegations can go the other way also. You understand that. And whether it was a man or a woman, 30 years ago, 36 years ago — in fact, they don’t even know how many years ago because nobody knows what the time is. That’s a long time.
And I could pick, as an example — hopefully I won’t have to do it as a replacement because hopefully this is going to go very well on Thursday. It’s going to go very well on Monday, or Saturday, or Sunday, or whenever they vote. But I could pick a woman and she could have charges made from many years ago also.
Q First of all, do you think these women — all three of them are liars? Yes or no?
THE PRESIDENT: I can’t tell you. I have to watch tomorrow. I have to read. I just heard about one a little while ago. I can tell you her lawyer is a low life, okay? So I can’t tell you whether or not they’re liars until I hear them.
I don’t know what happened today because I’ve been very busy with Japan, with South Korea, with China, and about seven other countries, as you know — and I chaired the Security Council.
So I don’t know about today’s person that came forward. I do know about the lawyer. And you don’t get much worse — bad reputation, too. Take a look at his past.
So, as far as the other women are concerned, I’m going to see what happens tomorrow. I’m going to be watching — you know, believe it or not. I’m going to see what’s said. It’s possible that they will be convincing.
Now, with all of that being said, Judge Brett Kavanaugh has been, for many years, one of the most respected people in Washington. He’s been on — I guess you’d call it the second highest court. And every single person knows him; a lot of people know him well. And those people don’t believe what’s going on. I can always be convinced. I have to hear it.
Q It sounds like what you’re saying is, there is a situation, there is a scenario under which you would withdraw Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination. Is that correct? And have you talked about that with him?
THE PRESIDENT: If I thought he was — if I thought he was guilty of something like this, yeah sure.
THE PRESIDENT: I want to watch. I want to see. I hope I can watch. I’m meeting with a lot of countries tomorrow, but I will certainly, in some form, be able to watch. And I’ll also rely on some very fair and talented Republican senators who — look, if we brought George Washington here and we said, “We have George Washington,” the Democrats would vote against him, just so you understand.
And he may have had a bad past, who knows, you know. (Laughter.) He may have had some, I think, accusations made. Didn’t he have a couple of things in his past? George Washington would be voted against 100 percent by Schumer and the con artists. I mean 100 percent. One hundred percent.
So it really doesn’t matter from their standpoint. That’s why when John asked about the FBI — if the FBI did the most thorough investigation in the history of the FBI, and they found him to be 100-percent perfect, he would lose every single vote.
Now, if the Republicans win tomorrow, I think you’re going to get some votes from the Democrats. You know why? Because — we all know why — because it’s called politics. Then you’ll probably get some votes.
Q Has there ever been an instance when you’ve given the benefit of the doubt to a woman?
THE PRESIDENT: I’ve known them. Hallie, I’ve know them for a long time and — a lot of these people. A lot of people. And some I’ve been disappointed with. I have been disappointed with some. Others, like — you know, there are charges that are pretty weak.
But I’ve known people for a long time. I never saw them do anything wrong. I never saw them do anything wrong. And there are some that probably — I agree. I can tell you there are some that I — I’ve been watching for a long time. And in a couple of cases, they weren’t Republicans. In a lot of cases, they were not; they were exactly the opposite.
But I’ve been watching them for a long time. And I knew for a long time these were not good people. And they were never brought up.
I Was Accused…Fake News
Q How have your personal experiences being accused by more than a dozen women of sexual misconduct —
THE PRESIDENT: I’ve been accused. I’ve been accused. False accusations.
Q — right, how have those —
THE PRESIDENT: Excuse me. I’ve been accused. And I was accused by — I believe, it was — four women. You can check with Sean Hannity. You can check with Fox, because they covered it very strongly — who got paid.
Q And how has (inaudible) —
THE PRESIDENT: Excuse me. Excuse me. I was accused by four or five women who got paid a lot of money to make up stories about me. We caught them, and the mainstream media refused to put it on television. They refused to even write about it.
There were four women, and maybe more — I think the number is four or five. But one had a mortgage paid off her house, $52,000. Another one had other things happen. And the one that reported it, I believe, was offered $750,000 to say bad things about me — and she is the one that reported it. This woman is incredible. She reported it, instead of taking the money.
So I’ve had numerous accusations about me.
THE PRESIDENT: I mean, they made false statements about me, knowing they were false. I never met them. I never met these people. And, what did they do? What did they do?
They took money in order to say bad things. I’ve had stories written in the New York Times — front page — about four women. The whole top center front page of the New York Times. I think it was four big pictures.
I said, “Wow. That’s a big thing. What’s that?” These were women that were quoted saying bad things about me. Not the worst things about me, but bad things. And I said, “Gee, that’s too bad.” I knew them a long time ago — 15 years ago, 20 years ago. I said, “That’s too bad. I’m surprised at them.”
And then all of a sudden I see them on television — nothing to do with me. The next day or a day later, they were incensed. They said, “Donald Trump is a nice guy. We never said this. The New York Times did false reporting. They’re fake news.” And you know what? The New York Times would not report that their story was fake.
These women said great things. Not only did they not say the bad stuff, they said great things about me. Front page. And those women — they’re incredible women — they went on television — and they didn’t want to, and I didn’t ask them. And they said, “The New York Times made it up. They gave false quotes.” And they went on a lot of shows. They were really incensed and they couldn’t believe it.
That’s why people know that a lot of the news is fake. And a lot of the people sitting here are fake. But 20 percent of them are wonderful. Okay?
Q If I could just actually ask my question, Mr. Trump. I — you didn’t let me ask my question.
THE PRESIDENT: You’ve been asking a question for 10 minutes, all right?
Q No, you interrupted my question.
THE PRESIDENT: Please sit down. Please.
Q I’m asking you —
THE PRESIDENT: Go ahead. Go ahead.
Q — how did those impact your opinions on the allegations against Judge Kavanaugh?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, it does impact my opinion. You know why? Because I’ve had a lot of false charges made against me. I’m a very famous person, unfortunately. I’ve been a famous person for a long time. But I’ve had a lot of false charges made against me — really false charges.
I know friends that have had false charges. People want fame. They want money. They want whatever. So when I see it, I view it differently than somebody sitting home watching television, where they say, “Oh, Judge Kavanaugh…” this or that.
It’s happened to me many times. I’ve had many false charges; I had a woman sitting in an airplane and I attacked her while people were coming onto the plane. And I have a number-one bestseller out? I mean it was total phony story. There are many of them.
So when you say, does it affect me in terms of my thinking with respect to Judge Kavanaugh? Absolutely. Because I’ve had it many times.
And if the news would have reported these four people — I couldn’t believe it. When I heard that they caught these four people, I said, “Wow. That’s a big story.” And it was — for Fox. Okay.
Accuses China of Meddling in 2018 Elections
Q Earlier today and just now, you made a significant allegation against the Chinese government. You suggested that the Chinese had meddled in or are meddling in the 2018 midterm elections.
THE PRESIDENT: That’s what I hear.
Q What evidence do you have of that, sir? Is there a national intelligence estimate, for example, that you’re prepared to put forward?
THE PRESIDENT: We have evidence. We have evidence. It’ll come out. Yeah, I can’t tell you now, but it came — it didn’t come out of nowhere, that I can tell you.
Now, if you — they’ve actually admitted that they’re going after farmers. I mean, I think most of you can cover that.
I like that you’re shaking your head, “yes.” I’m going to ask you the next question because of that. Okay? It’s probably going to be the killer of all questions. (Laughter.) But let me just explain —
Q But why make the charges now —
THE PRESIDENT: No, no, no. Let me —
Q — if you’re not prepared to come forward with the evidence, sir?
THE PRESIDENT: China, now, put on $250 billion, and they’re paying 25 percent on that. They’re paying billions and billions. This has never happened to China. And I like China. And I like President Xi a lot. I think he’s a friend of mine. He may not be a friend of mine anymore, but he — I think he probably respects —
From what I hear — if you look at Mr. Pillsbury, the leading authority on China — he was on a good show — I won’t mention the name of the show — recently. And he was saying that China has total respect for Donald Trump and for Donald Trump’s very, very large brain. He said, “Donald. Donald Trump. They don’t know what to do.” It never happened.
Well, one thing they are trying to do is they are trying to convince people to go against Donald Trump. Because a normal, regular, political person that has no concept of what the hell he’s doing would let China continue to take $500 billion a year out of our country and rebuild their country.
I mean, they were building 29 massive bridges like the George Washington Bridge. They’re building things that we don’t build anymore. But we’re starting to build them again.
And our economy now is hotter than it’s ever been. I don’t know you if you saw the confidence levels this morning that just came out. Fantastic.
And in all fairness to the Fed raising rates, they’re raising rates because we’ve never done like we’re doing now. And one of the things that is nice about the rates — the people that were hurt the worst by these zero interest rates and, you know —
When President Obama had an economy that was — it was the worst comeback since the Great Depression and all that — you’ve all heard that. But remember, he was playing with zero-interest money. He was playing with funny money. That’s easy. I’m playing with fairly expensive money.
So when he does that, the people that benefit are people that actually — in their whole life, they would save 10, 15, 20 percent of their salary and put it in the bank. Those people got killed because they put their money in the bank. They were going to live off the interest, and there was no interest.
Now, those people are starting to get interest. And those are the people, frankly, that deserve to — you know, they did a great job. The people that did it right, the people that did the best job got hurt the most.
So in one sense I like it, but basically I’m a low-interest-rate person. I hate to tell you.
Fire Rod Rosenstein?
Q Are you planning to fire Rod Rosenstein?
THE PRESIDENT: I’m talking to him. We’ve had a good talk. He said he never said it. He said he doesn’t believe it. He said he has a lot of respect for me, and he was very nice and we’ll see. And he’s a member of the Trump administration, in that sense; it’s the Justice Department.
I would certainly prefer not doing that. There was no collusion. There was no obstruction — I mean, unless you call obstruction the fact that I fight back. I do fight back. I really fight back. I mean, if you call that obstruction, that’s fine.
But there’s no obstruction. There’s no collusion. I’m going to meet with him tomorrow. I may call Rod tonight or tomorrow and ask for a little bit of a delay to the meeting, because I don’t want to do anything that gets in the way of this very important Supreme Court pick. So I don’t want it competing and hurting the decision — one way or the other decision. Again, I want to hear what she has to say.
But I want to do — so I may delay that. I’m going to see. I don’t want to do anything that’s going to conflict with that. But my preference would be to keep him, and to let him finish up.
You know, I call it a “witch hunt.” And it is a witch hunt. If you look at the FBI statements with Strzok and his lover Lisa Page. If you look at all of the things that have gone on in the FBI. If you look at McCabe taking $700,000 from a Hillary Clinton-PAC essentially run by Terry McAuliffe, who’s her best friend in the world, and he gives them hundreds of thousands of dollars. And he’s in charge of her campaign, and his wife is getting all of this money to run — she lost — to run. I mean, what’s going on?
If you look at the horrible statements, like “Way to go, Page. Great story you put into a newspaper.” Essentially, now we’ll go and investigate that group. It’s terrible. We have caught people doing things that are terrible.
I would much prefer keeping Rod Rosenstein. Much prefer. Many people say I have the right to absolutely fire him. He said he did not say it. He said he does not believe that. And nobody in this room believes it.
By the way, I deal with the people in this room. I was with Mike Pompeo before, and we were dealing, at a very high level, with Japan. And I was saying things that nobody in the room even understood. And I said them a long time ago, and I was right. He said, “That’s not the 25th Amendment that I’m looking at.” I think I can say that from Mike.
Q So you don’t think anyone in your administration has ever discussed using the 25th Amendment against you?
THE PRESIDENT: I don’t think so. Well, yeah — enemies, sure. You use anything you can.
Q Was it in your administration or your Cabinet?
THE PRESIDENT: Hey, you use anything they can. They’re not in love with me. They’re not going to beat me in the election; they know that. They’re not going to beat me. The people that I’m looking at are total lightweights. I dream of running against those people.
Q But within your administration?
THE PRESIDENT: Maybe they’ll come up with somebody that’s not — they’re not going to beat me. I’m against what they want to do. I’m in favor of law enforcement. I’m in favor of safety and security, and low taxes. I want low taxes.
I want borders. We’re getting another $1.6 billion in borders. I want borders. We’ve spent $3.2 [billion] and we’re getting another $1.6 [billion]. And then eventually, we’re getting the whole thing and we’ll complete the wall.
They don’t want that. They don’t want that. They don’t want the things that I have.
Now, I must say, I know many of the Democrats. They’ll say things and then wink at me. And again, it’s the same old story. They’ll say things; they don’t mean it. Its politics. The reason they don’t want me is because they want to run the show. They want it. It’s power. It’s whatever you want to call it. But what they’ve done here is a disgrace. A total disgrace.
And what they do — I know, it’s sort of interesting — in one case, they say, “He’s a fascist. He’s taking over the government. He’s the most powerful President ever. He’s a horrible human being. He wants to take over the entire government, and he’s going to do it. We can’t stop him.” That didn’t work.
The next week, he said, “Uh, he’s incompetent.” I said, “Well, wait a minute.” In one case, I’m taking over the world. And in the other case, “He’s incompetent.” They tried that for a week. That didn’t work.
Look, these are very dishonest people. These are con artists. And the press knows it, but the press doesn’t write it.
No Timeline for North Korea
Q You’re getting letters from Chairman Kim. Why do you need a second summit with the North Korean leader so soon? And what do you —
THE PRESIDENT: Because he’d like it.
Q What would it be for?
THE PRESIDENT: So I’ve received two letters from Chairman Kim. At some point, I’ll, you know, give these letters — they’re incredible letters. They’re letters that are magnificent in the sense of his feeling for wanting to get this done. I really believe he wants to get it done. I may be wrong.
I heard somebody on a certain network last night — I won’t mention which one — say, “Why has President Trump given so much to North Korea?” I said, “Wait a minute.” I asked Sarah Huckabee, “Please call this person.” I gave nothing — other than I met. What did I give them?
I didn’t do what Obama did: Give them $1.8 billion in cash to get back four hostages. I got back our hostages; I never paid them anything. I haven’t paid them 10 cents.
But he wants to make a deal and I’d like to make a deal. We actually have a very good relationship together — a lot different than the last time I was at the United Nations. That was a little bit rough.
Don’t forget, that time, they said, “Oh, Trump is saying these horrible things. He’s going to get us into a war.” You were going to have a war. If I wasn’t elected, you’d be in war. And President Obama essentially said the same thing. He was ready to go to war.
You would have had a war, and you would have lost millions, not thousands. You would have lost millions of people. Seoul has 30 million people — 40 miles and 30 miles from this very dangerous border. If I wasn’t elected, you would have had a war.
President Obama thought you had to go to war. You know how close he was to pressing the trigger for war? Millions of people. With me, nobody is talking about that. Nobody is talking about that.
We have a very good relationship. He likes me. I like him. We get along. He wrote me two of the most beautiful letters. When I showed one of the letters — just one — to Prime Minister Abe, he said, “This is actually a groundbreaking letter. This is an incredible — this is a historic letter.” And it is a historic letter. It’s a beautiful — it’s a beautiful piece of art. And I think we’re going to make a deal.
Will we make a deal, Steve? I don’t really know. But I think we’re going to.
In the meantime — and I’ve said it a thousand — I don’t want to bore you: no rockets, no missiles, no nuclear tests — you know, for over a year, where you haven’t seen.
Before I got here, everybody in this room thought you were going to war. And then what happened — it was funny — they said, “He was terrible. He was so rough with Chairman Kim — Kim Jong Un. He was so rough. It’s terrible. He’s going to cause…”
Well, I had a great meeting with President Putin. And on that one, they said, “He was too soft with President Putin.” I had a great meeting with the President. It lasted for two hours. We discussed everything: Ukraine, Syria, Israel and Israel’s protection. We had a great meeting. They wanted me to end up in a boxing match.
And you know what? If I was killer-tough with President Putin, they would have said, “He was too tough.” You can’t win with these people, but you just keep going. In the meantime, we’re doing well.
Q How long do you think it should take North Korea to denuclearize?
THE PRESIDENT: I don’t know. I don’t want to get into —
Q We’ve seen estimates of one year, two year —
THE PRESIDENT: Steve, I don’t want to get into the time game. You know why? I told Mike Pompeo, I said, “Mike, don’t get into the time game.” We stopped them. They’re taking down plants. They’re taking down a lot of different testing areas. They’re going to take down some more. You’ll be hearing about that very soon. I don’t want to go ahead of myself, but you’ll be hearing about it soon. They have no interest right now in testing nuclear.
You know, we had a case just about when I was coming into office — you all remember it — where there was a massive — they thought it was an earthquake. A mountain moved over an inch and a half. We’re talking about mountains. You know, North Korea is very mountainous. Beautiful land. Beautiful. This mountain actually shifted. It shifted. And somebody thought it was an earthquake. And then they found out, no, this was nuclear testing. Shifted a mountain. Now I’m talking about serious stuff. Serious size.
When I came in, and certainly before I came in — and even at the beginning of mine because when I was having rhetorical contests — you know, contests, really, I guess you could call it — with Chairman Kim, which we both smile at now and we laugh at. But everybody thought that was a horrible thing.
We’ve had — many Presidents were unable to do anything, anything at all with North Korea. We now have a good relationship. We have a good relationship. And most importantly, all of the things that you’ve been hearing about –the horror stories — in my opinion, they’re gone.
Now, could they start up again? Yes. I’m a deal guy. Could they start? Yeah. Could be that we don’t work it out.
I think — I have it right here — I think that what we’ve done behind the scenes, which nobody really knows about — and I don’t blame you for not knowing about, you know, personal letters, private letters. But saying they want to get it done. We know much more than the media for a change. Much more. But if you saw what’s going on behind the scenes, I think you’d very impressed.
We were a country going to war. I really believe that President Obama would admit that he said it’s by far his biggest problem. When I sat with him, prior to going to office — going into office, he said to me that’s by far the biggest problem. And he said to me that he was very close to going into war.
And millions of people — not — you know, I — they say, “Oh, thousands of people…” No, no, no, not thousands. Millions of people would have been killed. And that could have left — you’re right next to China. You’re right — that could have been a world war very easily.
Right now, we’re in a great position. I don’t want to play the time game. I told Mike Pompeo, “Don’t let them do that to you.” I haven’t given anything.
And all of a sudden — we got back, it was a few weeks ago. I think we were back like two and a half months from the summit, which was a great success. And people are screaming, “What’s taking so long?” I said, “Oh, I get it.” You got to understand the media. I’ve been dealing with the media all my life. Too much. Too much.
They’re screaming and I saw that. And our guys were — and not Mike — but our guys were being, “Oh well, we’re working as fast…” I said, “I got all the time in the world. I don’t have to rush it.” There’s no — you know, secession of sanctions. We got the sanctions on. I didn’t take any sanctions off.
I did see a reporter last night — a guy I like, personally, a lot. And he asked a question to President Moon of South Korea. He said, “Why did the President give so much?” I didn’t give anything. I gave nothing. What have I given, other than some time? Yes, I flew to Singapore. We had a meeting.
Now, giving would be if I took the sanctions off. I didn’t want to do — if you asked General Mattis, for a year and a half, I said, “Why don’t we stop these ridiculous,” in my opinion, “the military games?” I call them the “military games.” If I told you how much those games cost — and, frankly, I told South Korea, “You should be paying for these games.” We pay for them.
They say, “Well, we fly the planes in from a short distance away.” I said, “Where is that?” “Guam.” “Oh, huh. How long a trip is that?” “Seven hours.” “Oh, great.” We’re flying these massive bombers and everything. I’ve wanted to stop this for a long time. I consider that an asset.
But we’ve done — we’re saving, by the way — just for the taxpayer, we’re saving a fortune. And if we need them, we can start them up immediately. If I think we need them, I’ll start them before the generals will start them.
The fact is, this reporter said that. I said, “What have we done? I haven’t given anything.” And we’re really onto the cusp. I think we’re really going to do something that’s going to be very important.
But we’re not playing the time game. If it takes two years, three years, or five months, it doesn’t matter. There’s no nuclear testing and there’s no testing of rockets.
Democrats’ Con Job
Q Are you at all concerned at the message that has been sending — being sent to the women who are watching this when you use language like “con job” in relation to allegations of sexual assault?
THE PRESIDENT: Oh, I’ve used much worse language in my life than “con job.” That’s like probably the nicest phrase I’ve ever used. I mean, con job — it is. It’s a con job. You know, confidence — it’s a confidence job. But they short — it’s a con job by the Democrats. They know it.
Q What about the message that’s being sent to women who are watching?
THE PRESIDENT: They did the same thing with the Russia investigation. They tried to convince people that I had something to do with Russia. There was no collusion.
Think of it. I’m in Wisconsin. I’m in Michigan. I say, “Gee, we’re not doing well.” I won both those states. “We’re not doing well. Uh, let me call the Russians to help.” Does anybody really believe that? It’s a con job.
And I watch these guys — Little Adam Schiff, and all of the guys. He takes a call from a Russian who turned out to be a faker. You know, he was a comedian or something. “This is so-and-so calling for…” — he took the call. Why is the taking a call from a Russian?
Senator Warner took a call from a Russian. He was a comedian or something, but he said, “We have pictures of President Trump.” “Oh, where can I get them?” If we ever did that, it would be like a big deal.
Yeah, it’s a con job. And it’s not a bad term. It’s not a bad term at all.
THE PRESIDENT: I’ll tell you one thing I can say: I’ve had a lot of people talking about this to me, with respect to what’s happening, because it’s a horrible precedent.
I’m going to have to get other judges and other Supreme Court judges, possibly. I could have a lot of the Supreme Court judges, more than two. And when I called up Brett Kavanaugh — spoke to him and his family — and told them that I chose them, they were so happy and so honored. It was as though — I mean, the biggest thing that’s ever happened. And I understand that — U.S. Supreme Court.
I don’t want to be in a position where people say, “No, thanks. No, thanks. I don’t want to.” You know, “I spoke to somebody 38 years ago, and it may not be good.” We have a country to run. We want the best talent in the world.
But I’ll tell you this: The people that have complained to me about it the most — about what’s happening — are women. Women are very angry.
You know, I got 52 percent with women. Everyone said, “This couldn’t happen — 52 percent.” Women are so angry. And I, frankly, think that — I think they like what the Republicans are doing, but I think they would have liked to have seen it go a lot faster. But give them their day in court. Let her have her day in court. Let somebody else have a day in court.
But the ones that I find — I mean, I have men that don’t like it, but I have women that are incensed at what’s going on. I’ve always said women are smarter than men. I’ve said that a lot and I mean it. But women are incensed at what’s going on.
I Like Kurds A Lot
Q Rudaw Media Network from Kurdistan region, north of Iraq. I’m a Kurd. Sir —
THE PRESIDENT: Good. Good. Great people. Are you a Kurd?
They’re great people. They’re great fighters. I like them a lot. Let’s go. I like this question so far.
Q Mr. President, you always say you support your allies. Kurds right now, after the defeat of ISIS, are under a lot of pressure in Syria and in Iraq by many adversaries.
THE PRESIDENT: It’s true.
Q What will you do to elevate their position to support them in order — after they help the United States to defeat ISIS? Thank you very much.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we are helping them a lot and we’ve been very friendly with them. And, as you know, we’ve fought side-by-side. And we have defeated ISIS, essentially, a very short while ago, in the Middle East. And we did it with a lot of help from the Kurds. And they are — they’re great fighters.
You know, some people are great fighters and some people aren’t. The Kurds are great fighters. And they’re great, great people. And we’re going to be working — we’re discussing that situation exactly right now.
Q What will you do to support them, sir, (inaudible) Syria?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I’m just telling you, we’re going to be discussing that situation. We have already started discussing that situation. But we have tremendous support from the Kurds in defeating ISIS. Okay?
Q And about Syria: Sir, in your speech you did not mention —
THE PRESIDENT: Uh, yes. Go. Uh oh.
Prospects for NAFTA
Q Did you reject a one-on-one meeting with the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau?
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah, I did.
THE PRESIDENT: Because his tariffs are too high, and he doesn’t seem to want to move, and I’ve told him, “Forget about it.” And frankly, we’re thinking about just taxing cars coming in from Canada. That’s the motherlode. That’s the big one. We’re very unhappy with the negotiations and the negotiating style of Canada.
We don’t like their representative very much. They’ve taken advantage — I love Canada, by the way. I have so many friends. I have everybody, and so many friends. But that has nothing to do with this; I’m representing the United States.
Mexico was totally — I mean, they were great. By the way, the new President has been great. The deal is done. Now, it has to go through Congress and, you know, a lot things have to happen. But we’ve done — Bob Lighthizer, who’s here someplace. Where’s Bob? Bob. Bob Lighthizer has done a great job of negotiating, as they have. But the deal is done. It’s up to Congress.
THE PRESIDENT: But Canada has treated us very badly. They’ve treated our farmers in Wisconsin, and New York state, and a lot of other states very badly.
Dairy products — 300 percent. Three hundred percent. How do you sell a dairy product at 300 percent? The answer is: You don’t. What it is, is a barrier. It’s — basically, they’re saying, “We don’t have any barriers. By the way, it’s 300 percent.” So you don’t send it in, because you can’t compete.
So Canada has a long way to go. I must be honest with you, we’re not getting along at all with their negotiators. We think their negotiators have taken advantage of our country for a long time. We had people that didn’t know what they were doing. And that’s why we had — over the last five or six years, if you average it out, we had $800 billion a year in trade losses. It’s ridiculous. It’s not going to happen.
Q What does that mean for NAFTA? Will you be pulling out of NAFTA?
THE PRESIDENT: I don’t like NAFTA. I never liked it. It’s been very bad for the United States. It’s been great for Canada. It’s been great for Mexico. Very bad for us.
THE PRESIDENT: I’m not going to use the name “NAFTA.” I refuse to use it. I’ve seen thousands of plants and factories close. I’ve seen millions of jobs lost to auto companies that moved. I mean, Mexico has 25 percent of our auto business now because of NAFTA.
Under our deal, it’s not going to happen anymore. I hate to tell you, it’s not. We’re going to keep companies. And I told the Mexicans, I said, “We have to keep companies.” But they’re getting a lot, also. They’re getting other things. They’re getting a lot of good things. Mexico made a very good deal.
But with Canada, it’s very tough. What we’re doing is if we made a deal with Canada — which is, you know, a good chance still. But I’m not making anything near what they want to do. We’re going to be fair.
Q But you’re — are you going to notify Congress of pulling out of NAFTA?
THE PRESIDENT: What we’re probably going to do is call it the “USMC.” Like the United States Marine Corps, which I love. General Kelly likes it even more. Where’s General Kelly? He likes that. “USMC” — which would be U.S., Mexico, Canada. But it’ll probably or possibly be just “USM.” It’ll be United States and Mexico.
Q Yes or no, are you going to —
THE PRESIDENT: Canada will come along. Now, if Canada doesn’t make a deal with us, we’re going to make a much better deal. We’re going to tax the cars that come in. We will put billions and billions of dollars into our Treasury. And frankly, we’ll be very happy because it’s actually more money than you can make, under any circumstance, with making a deal. Okay?
Kurds, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Turkey
Q What will be the U.S.A. relations with the Kurds —
THE PRESIDENT: Oh, I thought I just answered that.
Q — post-ISIS. Post-ISIS.
THE PRESIDENT: Okay. We’re trying to get along very well. We do get along great with the Kurds. We’re trying to help them a lot. Don’t forget, that’s their territory.
THE PRESIDENT: We have to help them. I want to help them.
Go ahead, what’s next?
Q Then, what —
THE PRESIDENT: They fought with us. They fought with us. They died with us. They died. We lost — tens of thousands of Kurds died fighting ISIS. They died for us and with us. And for themselves. They died for themselves. But they’re great people. And we have not forget — we don’t forget — I don’t forget. What happens someday later — but I can tell you that I don’t forget. These are great people.
Q About Iran, Mr. President. About Iran, one question: What is your clear plan to stop Iranian influence in Iraq, in Syria, and especially in Iraqi Kurdistan?
THE PRESIDENT: I think there’s been no greater change — other than maybe China, because China — unfortunately, their markets have dropped — would you say, 30 percent in the last four months, right? I think I watched you recently when you said that. I said, “I think she’s wrong. I think it’s actually 32. But that’s okay.” But a lot.
There’s been no — other than maybe that, but even that. Because China is a very special place. And Iran is a very special place. But I think there’s been no country that’s changed so much as Iran.
In the last six months, since I took off the horrible, horrible Iran nuclear deal, as they called it — one of the dumbest deals ever made. As an example, why didn’t they take care of Yemen in the deal? Why didn’t they take care of Syria in the deal? You know what Kerry said — the reason? “It was too complicated.”
We’re giving $150 billion, we paid $1.8 billion in cash — cash. This whole room would be filled up with hundred-dollar bills. And you’d need probably five rooms like this. But you have $1.8 billion in cash. Why didn’t we take care of Yemen? Why didn’t we take care of Syria and other? And he said, “Because it was too complicated.” Well, you just gave all your cards. You gave them $150 billion. And now Yemen’s a mess, but it’s getting better.
And Syria’s a mess. And I was responsible — and I hope it stays that way — when I put out on social media, a few weeks ago, about Idlib Province. I said, “Don’t do it.” And I’ll tell you, it happened — where I was at a meeting with a lot of supporters, and a woman stood up and she said, “There’s a province in Syria with 3 million people. Right now, the Iranians, the Russians, and the Syrians are surrounding their province. And they’re going to kill my sister. And they’re going to kill millions of people in order to get rid of 25,000 or 35,000 terrorists or enemies of theirs.” But I think we can call them terrorists.
And I said, “That’s not going to happen.” I didn’t hear of Idlib Province. And I came back to New York, and I picked up the failing New York Times — I hate to admit it was the New York Times, but it was the failing New York Times. And I opened it up — not on the front page, but there was a very big story. I said, “Wow, that’s the same story that the woman told me that I found hard to believe.” Because why would — how would anyone do that with 3 million people? And it said that they were being surrounded, and they were going in and starting — literally, the next day, they were going to drop bombs all over the place and perhaps kill millions of people in order to get 35,000 terrorists.
And I put out on social media and elsewhere — I gave Mike Pompeo, John Bolton, everybody these orders: “Don’t let it happen.” I said, “Don’t let it happen.” That doesn’t mean they can’t be selective. They can’t be — you know, go in and they’ve got to do what they’ve got to do with terrorists. I assume they’re terrorists. But don’t kill millions of people.
And it stopped. You saw that. Nobody’s going to give me credit, but that’s okay. That’s okay. Because the people the people know.
I have had more Syrians thank me for that. This was about four weeks ago, I put that out. I said, “They’re surrounding a city of 3 million people. They’re going to start bombing the city. Don’t let it happen.” And I meant it, too. I meant it. And millions of people have been saved.
And I gave, today, great credit to Iran. I don’t know if you heard that. I gave great credit to Iran, to Russia, and to Syria for not doing it.
Now I hope it’s going to be surgical — meaning go in and do — it’s lengthy and everything else. And they possibly have to do it. But I think millions of people would have been killed. And that would have been a shame.
And hopefully — and I have to tell you, Turkey has been a big help. Turkey has been great. Turkey has helped us very much with that whole situation.
Q Touching back on Iran: Of course, this week, you put out a call to action to other countries to rally with America, to put pressure on Iran. Rouhani is still calling for the U.S. to come back into the old deal. But after meeting with world leaders this week, did you make any progress towards a potential new deal?
THE PRESIDENT: Doesn’t matter what world leaders think on Iran. Iran’s going to come back to me and they’re going to make a good deal, I think. Maybe not. Deals — you never know.
But they’re suffering greatly. They’re having riots in every city, far greater than they were during the green period with President Obama. Far greater. When President Obama stuck up for government, not the people. You probably would have had a much different Iran had he not done that. But I’m sticking up for the people. I am with the people of Iran.
But here’s the thing: They have rampant inflation. Their money is worthless. Everything is going wrong. They have riots in the street. You can’t buy bread. You can’t do anything. It’s a disaster. At some point, I think they’re going to want to come back, and they’re going to say, “Hey, can we do something?”
And I’m very simple; I just don’t want them to have nuclear weapons. That’s all. Is that too much to ask? I don’t want them to have nuclear weapons.
I want them to have a great economy. I want them to sell so much oil so that the oil prices — I’m not happy with OPEC. I told them, “I’m not happy with OPEC.” We take care of all these people, we defend them. They wouldn’t be there for two weeks if it wasn’t for me, and the United States, and a much stronger armed forces than it was. Because our armed forces was depleted. We had old equipment.
Now, we have — hey, you know better than anybody — $700 billion and $716 billion. We have the most incredible new jets and everything. We need it. Not that I want to spend it, although it is jobs. It’s all made in the United States.
But Iran has to come back, and they have to talk. And I’m not doing this from strength or weakness. I’m just saying, at some point, I think they’re going to have to come back.
If you look at what’s going on, companies are leaving left and right. Mercedes Benz just left. They’re all leaving. They don’t want to be in Iran. Because they have a choice: Do they want to be with Iran, or do they want to be with us?
And we have, by — we picked up $10 trillion since my election. We were being caught by China. Now it’s going the other way. People can’t believe it. People have never seen this situation with China. Everything’s always been — for 20 years, “Oh, China is so great. China is so great.” You don’t hear that so much anymore. I love China; I think they’re great. But you don’t hear that so much anymore. You know who’s great now? We’re great now.
Okay, how about just a couple more. Now, I could be doing — I could be doing this all day long. I could be doing this all day long. Should we continue for a little while? It doesn’t matter to me. A couple of more. I don’t care.
New York Times, come on. New York Times. The failing New York Times. Stand up. Go ahead.
Q You’re talking about me, but (inaudible).
THE PRESIDENT: No, I’m talking about the Times is failing. You are far from failing. Go ahead.
Q Okay, but you’re not — you were pointing to me, so you meant me. But I —
THE PRESIDENT: The Times are very interesting, though. The Times, I think they’re going to endorse me. (Laughter.) I think that ABC — I think — well, Fox — I like Fox. I really do.
Q Just to be sure —
THE PRESIDENT: But I think ABC, CBS, NBC, the Times, the — they’re all going to endorse me, because if they don’t, they’re going out of business. Can you imagine if you didn’t have me?
Laughter in General Assembly? Fake News
Q Yesterday, you were talking about your administration’s accomplishments at the United Nations, and a lot of the leaders laughed. Why do you think they were laughing?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, that’s fake news.
Q And what was that experience like for you?
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah. It was fake news. And it was covered that way. Okay. So, I said that, since my election, our economy has become the hottest in the world. Tax reductions, regulations, confidence levels are the highest in 18 years — really, soon to be historic. Unemployment is the lowest in the history of our country. You look at Black unemployment. You look at Asian unemployment. You look at women — 65 years. The unemployment numbers are among the best we’ve ever had ever. The numbers of new companies pouring into our country, which nobody thought was possible.
And I said this. And I was in front of a large group of highly professional people, most of whom are from either other countries or the United Nations — people that aren’t big into clapping, applauding, smiling. And I heard a little rustle, as I said our country is now stronger than ever before. It’s true. I mean, it is true. And I heard a little rustle. And I said, “It’s true.” And I heard smiles. And I said, “Oh, I didn’t know there there’d be that kind…” They weren’t laughing at me. They were laughing with me. We had fun. That was not laughing at me.
So the fake news said, “People laughed at President Trump.” They didn’t laugh at me. People had a good time with me. We were doing it together. We had a good time. They respect what I’ve done.
The United States is respected again. The United States was not respected. Everybody was taking advantage of us. From jobs, and taking our companies, and not paying the price — to so many other things, even military protection.
I told a number of countries over the last few days, I said, “Listen, you’re a very rich country. We protect you. Without our protection, you would have real problems. You would have real problems.”
THE PRESIDENT: I said, “You should reimburse us for this protection. Why are we protecting you?” And do you want to know what they said after about two minutes of talking? They agreed with me. And you can ask this group of very talented people — they agreed with me.
But they said — one of them said, “But Mr. President, nobody ever asked us for that. They never asked us for that.” Nobody has ever said, “You should pay.” These are really wealthy countries.
I mean, I’ll be honest, I just asked Japan. I said, “We’re defending you. You’re a very wealthy country. You’re sending us millions of cars. You’re making a fortune. We have a tremendous trade deficit with you. And we’re defending you, and we’re subsidizing your military with a massive amount of money.”
I said it to South Korea. We have 32,000 soldiers in South Korea. They’re a very wealthy — these are great countries. These are very wealthy countries. I said, “Why aren’t you reimbursing us for our costs?”
And you know what? They look at me, and they can’t even answer it, because there’s no answer. If they’re a poor country and they needed protection, and people were going to die, I’m all for protecting them; I don’t want 10 cents. But when wealthy countries that have massive trade surpluses with us — massive — and then on top of that, we’re paying for their military? Or we’re paying for a lot of their military? That doesn’t work.
Kinship with Kavanaugh?
Q Mr. President, you said you feel a kinship — you said you feel a kinship with Brett Kavanaugh and you — Mr. President, really quickly, you said you felt a kinship with Brett Kavanaugh. You said that you also — your false allegations that you feel like were made against you make you feel like you don’t want to believe these women. What message do you think that –
THE PRESIDENT: No, I didn’t say that. Why do you say that?
Q So, please explain —
THE PRESIDENT: Fake news.
Q Please explain —
THE PRESIDENT: Why — did I say that?
Q Well, can you please explain then what you’re talking about in your own false allegations?
THE PRESIDENT: I said, exactly, “I look forward to watching her.” I do want to hear what she says. And maybe she’ll say — I could be convinced of anything. Maybe, if she’ll say something — but in the meantime, I have to tell you, he’s one of the highest quality human beings.
He’s a tremendous man. He’s a tremendous genius. He’s a great intellect. He was, I believe, number one at Yale. Is that a correct statement? Number one in his class at Yale.
Q So you don’t feel a kinship with him?
THE PRESIDENT: He was a great student in law. He was — you know, I’ve heard his name. I didn’t know him. Didn’t know him. Until this whole thing, I didn’t know him. But I heard his name for 10 years.
And you know how I heard his name? Everybody was saying he should be on the Supreme Court. I said, “Who is he?” “His name is Brett Kavanaugh. And he should be — he’s the most brilliant person. He’s the most brilliant lawyer.” They were talking about him on the Supreme Court 10 years ago. With all of that, I want to hear what she has to say. Okay?
Q But you said that you don’t feel — but you said that you feel like there have been numerous false allegations against you, and that because of that–
THE PRESIDENT: Oh, I’ve had many false —
Q — you feel that you understand what he might be going through.
THE PRESIDENT: I’ve had many false statements against me. And if the press would have reported it, I would have been very happy. I think John Roberts would tell you that — you covered the story where the women were paid to say bad things about me. Sean Hannity covered it.
I will tell you, when I saw that on Sean Hannity, I actually called him. Believe it or not, I don’t speak to him very much, but I respect him. I called him. I said, “This is the biggest story. This is a big, big story.” He agreed with me. The next day, I picked up the papers. There wasn’t one word about it. The next day, I watched ABC news. John, I watched NBC. I watched CBS. I didn’t watch CNN, but, next time, I’m going to. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: I watched everything. There wasn’t one story other than Fox. And it’s a big story. It’s a shame. Okay. Enough. Thank you, though.
Israel & Two-State Solution: US Embassy in Jerusalem a Bargain
Q Today, you met with Bibi Netanyahu, from Israel. And you brought up, actually, that you support a two-state solution for the Palestinian-Israeli crisis there.
THE PRESIDENT: I do.
Q Can you give us any more preview of what this great deal, the peace deal (inaudible) —
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I’d love to be able to make a deal with the Israelis and the Palestinians. You know, my whole life, I was told that’s the toughest deal. And I disagree. I think healthcare is probably tougher, okay? You want to know the truth. But it is tough. But we’re going to take care of that, too. And that’s going to get taken care of. We’ve already taken care of a lot of it.
But the whole — my life, I’ve always heard the deal between, as you know, Israel and the Palestinians, that’s like the toughest deal. Every possible thing is tough about that. I think we’re going to make a deal. I think we’re going to make a deal.
So, at one of our many meetings today, I was with Bibi Netanyahu, a man who I have a lot of respect for. A man who has been extremely nice to me — very happy that I did the whole thing with Jerusalem and the embassy, which, by the way, we’re going to open in four months for less than $500,000. And the budget was over $1 billion, right?
Q Yes. That’s correct.
THE PRESIDENT: So we saved, let’s say, a billion dollars. That’s not so bad. And it’s open. And it’s beautiful, by the way. Jerusalem stone, one of my favorite stones.
I will tell you, the question — somebody said today, “Well, this is the first news conference in a long time.” I said, “What do you mean? I did like, five today.” Every time I sit, I take a lot of questions from people that are screaming like maniacs in the back of the room — meaning, reporters.
And one of the reporters — I won’t say that it was John Roberts that said that, I refuse. But one of the — it was, but that’s okay. Don’t feel guilty, John. But of the reporters that was screaming asked about the one-state, two-state. And I said, “I think the two-state will happen. I think it’s, in one way, more difficult because it’s a real estate deal — because you need metes and bounds, and you need lots of carve-outs and lots of everything. It’s actually a little tougher deal. But in another way, it works better because you have people governing themselves.
So, they asked be about that. I said, “Well, I think the two-state will happen. I think we’re going to go down the two-state road.” And I’m glad I got it out. And Jared, who is so involved — he loves Israel. He loves Israel. But he’s also going to be very fair with the Palestinians. He understands it takes two people to be happy — two groups of people to be happy. Everybody has got to be happy. And that’s why it’s so tough, because there’s been so much hatred and anger for so many years. That’s what, probably, the number-one ingredient of toughness is. But they asked me — I said I think it’s going to be a two-state.
And you know what I did today? By saying that, I put it out there. And if you ask most of the people in Israel, they agree with that. But nobody wanted to say it. It’s a big thing to put it out. It’s a very big thing to put it out.
Now, the bottom line: If the Israelis and the Palestinians want one state, that’s okay with me. If they want two states, that’s okay with me. I’m happy if they’re happy. I’m a facilitator. I want to see if I can get a deal done so that people don’t get killed anymore.
When we had — in Saudi Arabia, we had one of the great conferences in history. Many of you were there; probably all of you were there. It was one of the most beautiful two days. That, and China — two of the most incredible events I’ve ever seen. I’ve never seen anything like it.
And we had, I believe, 58 Muslim countries — the leaders. The kings, the emirs, the absolute leaders from every — there was nobody in second place. They were the leaders of the whole thing.
And unbeknownst to anybody else, people would come up to me, individually — it wasn’t a setup. They’d come up to me and say, “Sir, you can’t have peace in the Middle East without peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.” I said, “Why? What difference? Why does that matter so much?” They said, “It just is impossible to make peace in the Middle East unless you have between the Israelis…”
So, I heard that from one — the King of Saudi Arabia, who is a great guy — King Salman. And then, somebody else came up. And he wasn’t told, “Oh, go up and say it.” I know where they’re coming from. And I must have had 12 leaders say it. And they just said it.
And I started to realize that peace between Israel and the Palestinians, for the Middle East, is a very important thing. And we’re trying very hard to get it. I think, probably, two-state is more likely. But you know what? If they do a single, if they do a double, I’m okay with it if they’re both happy. If they’re both happy, I’m okay with either. I think the two-state is more likely.
Okay, how about one — go ahead.
Q New York Times? New York Times?
THE PRESIDENT: Oh, okay.
Q Thank you, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: I would have gotten bad story in the New York Times. But I will anyways, so I guess it doesn’t matter.
Q We’re — we’re kind of, uh —
THE PRESIDENT: Okay, we’ll do you after that.
Q We’re kind of, uh —
THE PRESIDENT: And then we’ll call it quits.
Q We’re kind of thriving, not failing these days.
THE PRESIDENT: You’re doing very well.
THE PRESIDENT: Say, “Thank you, Mr. Trump.” (Laughter.)
Q (Laughs). I think I’ll stop short of that. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: I wonder how you do — you know, all my life, I’ve had very few stories — but I’ve had some on the front page of the New York Times. Now, I think I think I average about three or four a day, right?
THE PRESIDENT: And, of the three or four, they’re all negative. No matter what I do, they’re negative. But you know what? That’s okay. I still love the paper.
Go ahead. (Laughter.)
China Trade War
Q I wanted to come back to China, because I think what you announced today was really important.
THE PRESIDENT: I agree.
Q You talk about this friendship you have with Xi Jinping, and yet, essentially, what you did today is accused his government —
THE PRESIDENT: That’s right.
Q — of interfering in our internal affairs —
THE PRESIDENT: That’s right.
Q — subverting our Democratic process, and doing it to hurt you, the Republican Party —
THE PRESIDENT: Doing it to help them.
Q — and your backers.
THE PRESIDENT: You know what? Yeah. Doing it to help them.
Q So how can a guy who does that be your friend?
THE PRESIDENT: I think that we are able to — and maybe he’s not anymore. I’ll be honest with you, I think we had a very good friendship. I think we had a very good relationship; we understand each other. They are doing studies on Donald Trump. They’re trying to figure it all out because this has never happened to them before. It’s never happened.
Think of it, you’ve never seen — you’ve covered very well — you’ve never seen this happen. They’re having big problems. I don’t want them to have problems, but they got to make a fair deal. Just like Canada has got to make a fair deal.
I believe that he and I have a very good chemistry together. And I can tell you that about many leaders. I can also tell you a few where I don’t feel I’ll ever have a chemistry with them. I don’t want to have a chemistry with them. And for those people, I’ll have Pompeo, Nikki, Bolton, Jared. I can go — our general; I’ll have our general. Or if they can’t do it, I’ll have Sarah Huckabee do it. Right?
But for the most part, I have very good — very good with Prime Minister Abe. Very good with President Moon.
By the way, what President Moon said last night — I know you won’t report it — but Bret Baier interviewed him last night and he asked him about me. I can’t say — because you would say I’m too braggadocios — but what he said about me last night was an unbelievable thing. “Couldn’t have happened without President Trump, and it never would happen without President Trump. And nobody else could do it.” You know, I mean, you’ll take a look.
But I will tell you, China is very special. Very special. They’re incredible people. It’s an incredible country. What they’ve done is unbelievable.
Q How would —
THE PRESIDENT: And it all started with the WTO. It was a defective deal. And it all started — without the WTO, China is not China as we know it today.
And then it started also by — our people that are standing right in this position, that are in the Oval Office — another way of saying it — allowed them to get away with murder. Allowed a lot of countries to get away with murder.
I think we still probably have a very good relationship. But you know what? In honor of you, I will, tomorrow, make a call to him. Say, “Hey, how you doing?” Okay?
Q Can I — can I just ask —
THE PRESIDENT: “You don’t mind paying billions of dollars a month in tariffs.”
Q I just had two small follow-ups. One is, how would you compare the level of interference you see today from the Chinese to what Russia did in 2016?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think it’s different. If you look at the Des Moines Register, I mean, they have ads that are made to look like editorials. Saying about, “Oh, you got to stop Trump. You got to stop him. You got to vote against him.” My farmers are so incredible. These are patriots.
You know, on a network that doesn’t like me very much — which is most of them — but a network that didn’t — doesn’t really treat me very good, they interviewed farmers. And they got hurt because, you know, all of a sudden China stops buying.
By the way, they’ve started buying again. I don’t know if you’ve noticed. And soybeans are going up, and things are going up. And we’ve had very little hurt from what I’ve done. In fact, the markets have gone up. And the farmers are going to do great.
But, ultimately — but they had farmers, and these guys are amazing; I love them. And they voted for me and they love me. And they said, “We don’t care if we get hurt. He’s doing the right thing.” And, you know, a lot of people — it’s a complex game. A lot of people don’t know exactly what it is. They don’t know how to define “tariff.” They don’t know it is really different than a tax, although it’s getting close.
But they know that for the first time in many, many years, they have a President that’s fighting for them; that’s not letting their jobs be taken to other countries; that’s not allowing the kind of abuse that we — I mean, when you look at what happened, as an example, with NAFTA. And for years — because it was never changed — NAFTA was defective deal the day it was signed.
You know why? Because they had a VAT tax of 17 percent and nobody from this country knew that. And by the time they found out, which was about a week later, nobody went and changed it. So you went many years and they never changed it. There was a VAT tax that Mexico got. So we were 17 or 16 points behind, before we even started. NAFTA was a horrible thing.
So the farmers and — by the way, the steel workers — you know, I stopped the dumping. The dumping was horrible. And now if they want to dump, that’s okay, but they’ve got to pay the United States of America 25 percent on everything they dump. That’s okay. But as I told you before, steel is doing phenomenally well.
But the farmers say, “This man is fighting for us. No President has ever fought for us before.” And you really have to study what’s happened over the 15 years with the farm. The farmers have been decimated over a 15-year period. They’ve been decimated. The farmers are going to come out great. These are great people. They’re great, great patriots.
What Message Kavanaugh Hearings Sending Young Men?
Q You were asked earlier in the news conference by my friend from Sky News about the message that you are sending to the women of the country. What about the message that you may be sending to young men? You’re a father. What does this moment that we’re in — the cultural moment —
THE PRESIDENT: It’s a very big cultural moment.
Q Right. So what messages do you for young men of America?
THE PRESIDENT: It’s a very big — it’s also — you’re right. I think it’s a great question.
This is a very big moment for our country because you have a man who is very outstanding, but he’s got very strong charges against him — probably charges that nobody is going to be able be — to prove.
So I could have you chosen for a position. I could have you, or you, or you — anybody. And somebody could say things. And it’s happened to me many times, where false statements are made. And honestly, nobody knows who to believe.
I could pick another Supreme Court judge — Justice. I could pick another one. Another one. Another one. This could go on forever. Somebody could come and say, “Thirty years ago, twenty-five years ago, ten years ago, five years ago, he did a horrible thing to me. He did this. He did that. He did that.”
And honestly, it’s a very dangerous period in our country. And it’s being perpetrated by some very evil people. Some of them are Democrats, I must say. Because some of them know that this is just a game that they’re playing. It’s a con game. It’s at the highest level. We’re talking about the United States Supreme Court.
This can go on forever. I can pick five other people. At a certain point, the people are going to say, “No, thank you.” This is the most coveted job, probably, in the world.
And you know what? I would honestly say — because I interviewed great people for this job. He’s great, but I interviewed other great people for this job. I could conceivably imagine going to one of them and saying, “It’s too bad what happened to this wonderful man, but I’m going to choose you, number two. I want you to go.” And I could conceivably be turned down by somebody that desperately wanted this job two months ago.
THE PRESIDENT: So this is — this is — and this is beyond Supreme Court.
THE PRESIDENT: There’s nothing beyond Supreme Court; this is beyond Supreme Court. This has everything to do with our country.
When you are guilty until proven innocent, it’s just not supposed to be that way. Always I heard, “You’re innocent until proven guilty.” I’ve heard this for so long, and it’s such a beautiful phrase. In this case, you’re guilty until proven innocent. I think that is a very, very dangerous standard for our country.
With that being said, I look forward to what she has to say. I also look very forward to what Judge Kavanaugh has to say. I think it’s going to be a very, very important day in the history of our country.
(New York, NY, Sept. 25, 2018) Speaking in modulated tones and clinging to the words in the teleprompter, Donald Trump gave a big F-U to the UN, in his second address to the United Nations General Assembly, rejecting multilateralism in favor of sovereignty.
But just a few sentences into the speech, his statement, “In less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country.” drew snickers. He continued, “America’s –so true,” as the snickers grew into laughter. “Didn’t expect that reaction, but that’s okay,” he said with a nervous grin, to laughter and applause.
His speech recycled favorite throw-out lines that have worked well on his campaign-style rallies to friendly crowds, reviewing what he claimed for himself as successes. And after reviewing – gloating – over the economic boom in the US (he claimed to have added $10 trillion in wealth, the stock market at record highs, lowest unemployment, added 4 million jobs, tax cuts, “record funding” of $700 billion for the military), he suggested that America’s bounty somehow benefited others.
But whereas others – notably French President Macron and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres – spoke of the need to address horrific inequality, gender discrimination, climate disasters that disproportionately affect certain segments of the world’s population, to invest in “sustainable” development – Trump’s message to the world: “I’ve got mine. Screw you.”
“America will always choose independence and cooperation over global governance, control, and domination,” he said, in rejecting the Human Rights Council, the International Criminal Court, the Global Compact on Migration, the Paris Climate Accord, and the Iran Nuclear Agreement, while calling for the nations to sanction Iran. “We reject the ideology of globalism, and we embrace the doctrine of patriotism.
Later, French President Emmanuel Macron offered a contrary message, embracing multilateralism, and standing up for new coalitions to fight inequality and climate change.
Here is a highlighted transcript of Trump’s remarks (notably, too, Trump arrived late):
–Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features
10:38 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Madam President, Mr. Secretary-General, world leaders, ambassadors, and distinguished delegates:
One year ago, I stood before you for the first time in this grand hall. I addressed the threats facing our world, and I presented a vision to achieve a brighter future for all of humanity.
Today, I stand before the United Nations General Assembly to share the extraordinary progress we’ve made.
In less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country.
America’s — so true. (Laughter.) Didn’t expect that reaction, but that’s okay. (Laughter and applause.)
America’s economy is booming like never before. Since my election, we’ve added $10 trillion in wealth. The stock market is at an all-time high in history, and jobless claims are at a 50-year low. African American, Hispanic American, and Asian American unemployment have all achieved their lowest levels ever recorded. We’ve added more than 4 million new jobs, including half a million manufacturing jobs.
We have passed the biggest tax cuts and reforms in American history. We’ve started the construction of a major border wall, and we have greatly strengthened border security.
We have secured record funding for our military — $700 billion this year, and $716 billion next year. Our military will soon be more powerful than it has ever been before.
In other words, the United States is stronger, safer, and a richer country than it was when I assumed office less than two years ago.
We are standing up for America and for the American people. And we are also standing up for the world.
This is great news for our citizens and for peace-loving people everywhere. We believe that when nations respect the rights of their neighbors, and defend the interests of their people, they can better work together to secure the blessings of safety, prosperity, and peace….
Each of us here today is the emissary of a distinct culture, a rich history, and a people bound together by ties of memory, tradition, and the values that make our homelands like nowhere else on Earth.
That is why America will always choose independence and cooperation over global governance, control, and domination.
I honor the right of every nation in this room to pursue its own customs, beliefs, and traditions. The United States will not tell you how to live or work or worship. We only ask that you honor our sovereignty in return.
From Warsaw to Brussels, to Tokyo to Singapore, it has been my highest honor to represent the United States abroad. I have forged close relationships and friendships and strong partnerships with the leaders of many nations in this room, and our approach has already yielded incredible change.
With support from many countries here today, we have engaged with North Korea to replace the specter of conflict with a bold and new push for peace.
In June, I traveled to Singapore to meet face to face with North Korea’s leader, Chairman Kim Jong Un. We had highly productive conversations and meetings, and we agreed that it was in both countries’ interest to pursue the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Since that meeting, we have already seen a number of encouraging measures that few could have imagined only a short time ago.
The missiles and rockets are no longer flying in every direction. Nuclear testing has stopped. Some military facilities are already being dismantled. Our hostages have been released. And as promised, the remains of our fallen heroes are being returned home to lay at rest in American soil.
I would like to thank Chairman Kim for his courage and for the steps he has taken, though much work remains to be done. The sanctions will stay in place until denuclearization occurs.
I also want to thank the many member states who helped us reach this moment — a moment that is actually far greater than people would understand; far greater — but for also their support and the critical support that we will all need going forward.
A special thanks to President Moon of South Korea, Prime Minister Abe of Japan, and President Xi of China.
In the Middle East, our new approach is also yielding great strides and very historic change.
Following my trip to Saudi Arabia last year, the Gulf countries opened a new center to target terrorist financing. They are enforcing new sanctions, working with us to identify and track terrorist networks, and taking more responsibility for fighting terrorism and extremism in their own region.
The UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar have pledged billions of dollars to aid the people of Syria and Yemen. And they are pursuing multiple avenues to ending Yemen’s horrible, horrific civil war.
Ultimately, it is up to the nations of the region to decide what kind of future they want for themselves and their children.
For that reason, the United States is working with the Gulf Cooperation Council, Jordan, and Egypt to establish a regional strategic alliance so that Middle Eastern nations can advance prosperity, stability, and security across their home region.
Thanks to the United States military and our partnership with many of your nations, I am pleased to report that the bloodthirsty killers known as ISIS have been driven out from the territory they once held in Iraq and Syria. We will continue to work with friends and allies to deny radical Islamic terrorists any funding, territory or support, or any means of infiltrating our borders.
The ongoing tragedy in Syria is heartbreaking. Our shared goals must be the de-escalation of military conflict, along with a political solution that honors the will of the Syrian people. In this vein, we urge the United Nations-led peace process be reinvigorated. But, rest assured, the United States will respond if chemical weapons are deployed by the Assad regime.
I commend the people of Jordan and other neighboring countries for hosting refugees from this very brutal civil war.
As we see in Jordan, the most compassionate policy is to place refugees as close to their homes as possible to ease their eventual return to be part of the rebuilding process. This approach also stretches finite resources to help far more people, increasing the impact of every dollar spent.
Every solution to the humanitarian crisis in Syria must also include a strategy to address the brutal regime that has fueled and financed it: the corrupt dictatorship in Iran.
Iran’s leaders sow chaos, death, and destruction. They do not respect their neighbors or borders, or the sovereign rights of nations. Instead, Iran’s leaders plunder the nation’s resources to enrich themselves and to spread mayhem across the Middle East and far beyond.
The Iranian people are rightly outraged that their leaders have embezzled billions of dollars from Iran’s treasury, seized valuable portions of the economy, and looted the people’s religious endowments, all to line their own pockets and send their proxies to wage war. Not good.
Iran’s neighbors have paid a heavy toll for the region’s [regime’s] agenda of aggression and expansion. That is why so many countries in the Middle East strongly supported my decision to withdraw the United States from the horrible 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal and re-impose nuclear sanctions.
The Iran deal was a windfall for Iran’s leaders. In the years since the deal was reached, Iran’s military budget grew nearly 40 percent. The dictatorship used the funds to build nuclear-capable missiles, increase internal repression, finance terrorism, and fund havoc and slaughter in Syria and Yemen.
The United States has launched a campaign of economic pressure to deny the regime the funds it needs to advance its bloody agenda. Last month, we began re-imposing hard-hitting nuclear sanctions that had been lifted under the Iran deal. Additional sanctions will resume November 5th, and more will follow. And we’re working with countries that import Iranian crude oil to cut their purchases substantially.
We cannot allow the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism to possess the planet’s most dangerous weapons. We cannot allow a regime that chants “Death to America,” and that threatens Israel with annihilation, to possess the means to deliver a nuclear warhead to any city on Earth. Just can’t do it.
We ask all nations to isolate Iran’s regime as long as its aggression continues. And we ask all nations to support Iran’s people as they struggle to reclaim their religious and righteous destiny.
This year, we also took another significant step forward in the Middle East. In recognition of every sovereign state to determine its own capital, I moved the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
The United States is committed to a future of peace and stability in the region, including peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. That aim is advanced, not harmed, by acknowledging the obvious facts.
America’s policy of principled realism means we will not be held hostage to old dogmas, discredited ideologies, and so-called experts who have been proven wrong over the years, time and time again. This is true not only in matters of peace, but in matters of prosperity.
We believe that trade must be fair and reciprocal. The United States will not be taken advantage of any longer.
For decades, the United States opened its economy — the largest, by far, on Earth — with few conditions. We allowed foreign goods from all over the world to flow freely across our borders.
Yet, other countries did not grant us fair and reciprocal access to their markets in return. Even worse, some countries abused their openness to dump their products, subsidize their goods, target our industries, and manipulate their currencies to gain unfair advantage over our country. As a result, our trade deficit ballooned to nearly $800 billion a year.
For this reason, we are systematically renegotiating broken and bad trade deals.
Last month, we announced a groundbreaking U.S.-Mexico trade agreement. And just yesterday, I stood with President Moon to announce the successful completion of the brand new U.S.-Korea trade deal. And this is just the beginning.
Many nations in this hall will agree that the world trading system is in dire need of change. For example, countries were admitted to the World Trade Organization that violate every single principle on which the organization is based. While the United States and many other nations play by the rules, these countries use government-run industrial planning and state-owned enterprises to rig the system in their favor. They engage in relentless product dumping, forced technology transfer, and the theft of intellectual property.
The United States lost over 3 million manufacturing jobs, nearly a quarter of all steel jobs, and 60,000 factories after China joined the WTO. And we have racked up $13 trillion in trade deficits over the last two decades.
But those days are over. We will no longer tolerate such abuse. We will not allow our workers to be victimized, our companies to be cheated, and our wealth to be plundered and transferred. America will never apologize for protecting its citizens.
The United States has just announced tariffs on another $200 billion in Chinese-made goods for a total, so far, of $250 billion. I have great respect and affection for my friend, President Xi, but I have made clear our trade imbalance is just not acceptable. China’s market distortions and the way they deal cannot be tolerated.
As my administration has demonstrated, America will always act in our national interest.
Reject Globalism, Embrace Doctrine of Patriotism
I spoke before this body last year and warned that the U.N. Human Rights Council had become a grave embarrassment to this institution, shielding egregious human rights abusers while bashing America and its many friends.
Our Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, laid out a clear agenda for reform, but despite reported and repeated warnings, no action at all was taken. So the United States took the only responsible course: We withdrew from the Human Rights Council, and we will not return until real reform is enacted.
For similar reasons, the United States will provide no support in recognition to the International Criminal Court.As far as America is concerned, the ICC has no jurisdiction, no legitimacy, and no authority. The ICC claims near-universal jurisdiction over the citizens of every country, violating all principles of justice, fairness, and due process. We will never surrender America’s sovereignty to an unelected, unaccountable, global bureaucracy.
America is governed by Americans. We reject the ideology of globalism, and we embrace the doctrine of patriotism.
Around the world, responsible nations must defend against threats to sovereignty not just from global governance, but also from other, new forms of coercion and domination.
In America, we believe strongly in energy security for ourselves and for our allies. We have become the largest energy producer anywhere on the face of the Earth. The United States stands ready to export our abundant, affordable supply of oil, clean coal, and natural gas.
OPEC and OPEC nations, are, as usual, ripping off the rest of the world, and I don’t like it. Nobody should like it. We defend many of these nations for nothing, and then they take advantage of us by giving us high oil prices. Not good.
We want them to stop raising prices, we want them to start lowering prices, and they must contribute substantially to military protection from now on. We are not going to put up with it — these horrible prices — much longer.
Reliance on a single foreign supplier can leave a nation vulnerable to extortion and intimidation. That is why we congratulate European states, such as Poland, for leading the construction of a Baltic pipeline so that nations are not dependent on Russia to meet their energy needs. Germany will become totally dependent on Russian energy if it does not immediately change course.
Here in the Western Hemisphere, we are committed to maintaining our independence from the encroachment of expansionist foreign powers.
It has been the formal policy of our country since President Monroe that we reject the interference of foreign nations in this hemisphere and in our own affairs. The United States has recently strengthened our laws to better screen foreign investments in our country for national security threats, and we welcome cooperation with countries in this region and around the world that wish to do the same. You need to do it for your own protection.
No to Global Compact on Migration
The United States is also working with partners in Latin America to confront threats to sovereignty from uncontrolled migration.Tolerance for human struggling and human smuggling and trafficking is not humane. It’s a horrible thing that’s going on, at levels that nobody has ever seen before. It’s very, very cruel.
Illegal immigration funds criminal networks, ruthless gangs, and the flow of deadly drugs. Illegal immigration exploits vulnerable populations, hurts hardworking citizens, and has produced a vicious cycle of crime, violence, and poverty. Only by upholding national borders, destroying criminal gangs, can we break this cycle and establish a real foundation for prosperity.
We recognize the right of every nation in this room to set its own immigration policy in accordance with its national interests, just as we ask other countries to respect our own right to do the same — which we are doing. That is one reason the United States will not participate in the new Global Compact on Migration. Migration should not be governed by an international body unaccountable to our own citizens.
Ultimately, the only long-term solution to the migration crisis is to help people build more hopeful futures in their home countries. Make their countries great again.
Venezuela: A Lesson in Evils of Socialism
Currently, we are witnessing a human tragedy, as an example, in Venezuela. More than 2 million people have fled the anguish inflicted by the socialist Maduro regime and its Cuban sponsors.
Not long ago, Venezuela was one of the richest countries on Earth. Today, socialism has bankrupted the oil-rich nation and driven its people into abject poverty.
Virtually everywhere socialism or communism has been tried, it has produced suffering, corruption, and decay. Socialism’s thirst for power leads to expansion, incursion, and oppression. All nations of the world should resist socialism and the misery that it brings to everyone.
In that spirit, we ask the nations gathered here to join us in calling for the restoration of democracy in Venezuela. Today, we are announcing additional sanctions against the repressive regime, targeting Maduro’s inner circle and close advisors.
We are grateful for all the work the United Nations does around the world to help people build better lives for themselves and their families.
US Foreign Aid Only to Those Who Like Us
The United States is the world’s largest giver in the world, by far, of foreign aid. But few give anything to us. That is why we are taking a hard look at U.S. foreign assistance. That will be headed up by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. We will examine what is working, what is not working, and whether the countries who receive our dollars and our protection also have our interests at heart.
Moving forward, we are only going to give foreign aid to those who respect us and, frankly, are our friends. And we expect other countries to pay their fair share for the cost of their defense.
Pay Up for Peacekeeping
The United States is committed to making the United Nations more effective and accountable. I have said many times that the United Nations has unlimited potential. As part of our reform effort, I have told our negotiators that the United States will not pay more than 25 percent of the U.N. peacekeeping budget. This will encourage other countries to step up, get involved, and also share in this very large burden.
And we are working to shift more of our funding from assessed contributions to voluntary so that we can target American resources to the programs with the best record of success.
Only when each of us does our part and contributes our share can we realize the U.N.’s highest aspirations. We must pursue peace without fear, hope without despair, and security without apology.
Looking around this hall where so much history has transpired, we think of the many before us who have come here to address the challenges of their nations and of their times. And our thoughts turn to the same question that ran through all their speeches and resolutions, through every word and every hope. It is the question of what kind of world will we leave for our children and what kind of nations they will inherit.
The dreams that fill this hall today are as diverse as the people who have stood at this podium, and as varied as the countries represented right here in this body are. It really is something. It really is great, great history.
There is India, a free society over a billion people, successfully lifting countless millions out of poverty and into the middle class.
There is Saudi Arabia, where King Salman and the Crown Prince are pursuing bold new reforms.
There is Israel, proudly celebrating its 70th anniversary as a thriving democracy in the Holy Land.
In Poland, a great people are standing up for their independence, their security, and their sovereignty.
Many countries are pursuing their own unique visions, building their own hopeful futures, and chasing their own wonderful dreams of destiny, of legacy, and of a home.
The whole world is richer, humanity is better, because of this beautiful constellation of nations, each very special, each very unique, and each shining brightly in its part of the world.
In each one, we see awesome promise of a people bound together by a shared past and working toward a common future.
As for Americans, we know what kind of future we want for ourselves. We know what kind of a nation America must always be.
In America, we believe in the majesty of freedom and the dignity of the individual. We believe in self-government and the rule of law. And we prize the culture that sustains our liberty -– a culture built on strong families, deep faith, and fierce independence. We celebrate our heroes, we treasure our traditions, and above all, we love our country.
Inside everyone in this great chamber today, and everyone listening all around the globe, there is the heart of a patriot that feels the same powerful love for your nation, the same intense loyalty to your homeland.
The passion that burns in the hearts of patriots and the souls of nations has inspired reform and revolution, sacrifice and selflessness, scientific breakthroughs, and magnificent works of art.
Our task is not to erase it, but to embrace it. To build with it. To draw on its ancient wisdom. And to find within it the will to make our nations greater, our regions safer, and the world better.
To unleash this incredible potential in our people, we must defend the foundations that make it all possible. Sovereign and independent nations are the only vehicle where freedom has ever survived, democracy has ever endured, or peace has ever prospered. And so we must protect our sovereignty and our cherished independence above all.
When we do, we will find new avenues for cooperation unfolding before us. We will find new passion for peacemaking rising within us. We will find new purpose, new resolve, and new spirit flourishing all around us, and making this a more beautiful world in which to live.
So together, let us choose a future of patriotism, prosperity, and pride. Let us choose peace and freedom over domination and defeat. And let us come here to this place to stand for our people and their nations, forever strong, forever sovereign, forever just, and forever thankful for the grace and the goodness and the glory of God.
Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the nations of the world.
To hear Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, preview US priorities for the 73rd UN General Assembly High-Level Week which gets underway Monday September 24, the United Nations is merely a stage and the rest of the world’s ministers mere players for American interests, otherwise the US doesn’t want to take part, asserting its “sovereignty.” While the UN Secretary-General António Guterres has made strengthening “multilateralism” a key objective this year (which includes addressing climate change, refugees, nuclear nonproliferation, and financing and mobilizing private investment for sustainable developing economies “without which, sustainable goals are not feasible”), in the US definition, “multilateralism” is getting other countries to do America’s bidding – whether sanctioning North Korea or Iran – but nothing that “mandates” the United States to do what it doesn’t want to do.
“We’ve said from very beginning almost two years ago when we came in that we were going to try and see what we make out of the United Nations,” Haley said at a press “stakeout” on Thursday, September 20. Issues like the Global Migration Compact, the Paris Climate Accord, “all these things that we felt were mandating things on the US, those aren’t things we want to be involved in…We really value sovereignty. We think every country should. That’s the conversation we want.
“We’re not saying that multilateralism can’t work but sovereignty is above all of that.”
Add to that list the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, adopted at the United Nations on July 7, 2017, with 122 states voting in favor (but with none of the nine nuclear powers, including the United States, as signatories) and opened for signature by the Secretary-General of the United Nations exactly a year ago. The nuclear weapons prohibition would become international law once 50 nations ratify the treaty. (Commemoration and promotion of the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons will take place on Wednesday, September 26, the same day as Trump chairs the Security Council meeting.)
The focus next week, when some 84 heads of state will be in New York, she said, “will be very much on the United States, what our role is in the world, the relationships we want to continue to build and what we can do about that. I think the goal we all have in this administration: how to make the American people proud and what actions we can show that make us proud.” (Sounds like a campaign rally for the midterms, more than taking advantage of face-to-face meetings with the heads of state to address issues of war and peace, life and death.)
“The US presidency has been one that has been full of substance, full of issues,” she said. “We are very proud of what we have done. We raised alarm bells on Venezuela, Nicaragua, how the international community must pay more attention. We held the first-ever discussion in front of the Security Council on corruption and how corruption relates to conflict. [We focused on] accountability – a good next step forward on what we’re trying to do on peacekeeping.
“We held multiple meetings on applying pressure on the crisis we hope doesn’t happen in Idlib and the humanitarian situation that can happen. And we are meeting to intensify the need for enforcement of sanctions on North Korea – reminding Security Council members we are all responsible making sure those are enforced properly.”
Last year, Trump’s big initiative in the United Nations General Assembly was about “reform” – as in getting other nations to pay what he considers their fair share, as he did at NATO. This year, the US big initiative is “a global call to action on the global drug problem. We already have 124 countries signed up and the number is growing. It shows that the world drug problem affects so many countries. The focus is on reducing use of illicit drugs, on cutting supply off, expanding treatment, and more than that, international cooperation… I look forward to more signatories.” Apparently, the US is okay with “multilaternalism” when it comes to curbing the drug problem.
There was no mention of the United States withdrawing from the Human Rights Council (ostensibly over perceived bias over Israel but likely also in protest over a report that pointed to 40% of Americans living in poverty, and perhaps to avoid condemnation over its inhumane, even criminal treatment of separating children as young as infants from their parents at the southern border), or its defiance of the International Criminal Court (to which the US has never joined). Instead of mobilizing private investment for sustainable development, the United States is focused on scoring foreign policy successes through tightening screws with sanctions and slashing foreign aid.
Haley said that Donald Trump’s speech to the General Assembly on Tuesday, will focus on “the foreign policy successes the US has had over the past year – protecting US sovereignty – and continue to build relationships with those that share those values.”
The America First policy – really a way of reducing issues to dollars and cents – extends to foreign aid: Haley said the United States’ “generosity” will be confined to those who do what the US wants.
“We will lay down a marker that while the US is generous, we are generous to those who share our values, who want to work with us, and not those who want to stop the US or say ‘death to America’.”
That has already been made clear in the US action to shut down aid to Palestinians– nearly $200 million – prompting members of the Security Council to raise alarms over a looming humanitarian crisis there. The action coincided with the administration shutting the Palestine Liberation Office in Washington DC.
With the US chairing the Security Council this year, Trump will chair the Security Council meeting on Wednesday. “That will be the most watched Security council meeting ever,” Haley quipped.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will take over the chair to lead a Security Council meeting on North Korea.
“The importance is the fact that every single foreign minister will be attending this Security Council meeting. It is a conversation we think needs to be had, chance for us to look at what we’ve achieved, in progress in North Korea – progress – chance to look at commitment to peace, but also to have conversation that if we don’t enforce sanctions, all this can go away.”
The US will also be focusing international attention on Iran – both from the point of nonproliferation, and as a destabilizing force in the Middle East – as Haley did during a Security Council meeting that was 99% devoted to bashing Israel over settlements and “disproportionate” reaction to Palestinian protests and rocket attacks on Israel, and its plans to demolish a Bedouin village. She, instead, devoted her comments to Iran, and not on salvaging the nuclear agreement, but in trying to amass international support for renewed sanctions.
“Iran continues to be a problem – every dangerous spot, Iran seems to have their fingerprints in it. … their proxies, what they doing to destabilize the Middle East.” But she was vague in terms of whether Trump would agree to meet with Iran President Hassan Rouhani, who reportedly requested a meeting.
“Certainly if Rouhani requested a meeting, that would be for the president to decide.”
She said that Trump has scheduled bilats with South Korea, Egypt, France, Israel, Japan, and the United Kingdom but “others could come up.” She held out the possibility he might agree to meet with Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“If Erdogan requests a meeting… next week not set in stone. Certainly a head of state could request a meeting and the president would have prerogative” to accept.
The plight of the Myanmar Rohingya is also of concern, she said. “That is a hot topic now. We have to figure out how we going to bring Rohingyans back to Burma in a way it’s safe. I have expressed my view that I don’t think the government has done enough, I don’t think the military has accepted responsibility, Myanmar leader] Aung San Suu Kyi basically acknowledged the fact the reporters were right to be detained and imprisoned, is a real problem. What they’re saying, we’re not understanding and what we’re saying they are not hearing..and at some point the international community ahs to speak with one voice. It’s not okay with them just being in Bangladesh.”
Among the administration officials who will be coming to the United Nations and participating in meetings: Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary Pompeo, Health & Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, US Trade Representative Robert Emmet Lighthizer, USAID Administrator Mark Green, and special adviser Ivanka Trump.
“This is week we all wait for, where we can really put American interests in the spotlight, make it a really prominent thing –with all the administration coming in, they will come in and do their thing. All try to get some good peace and security.”
Interestingly, there was no mention of taking up the issue of one nation’s (Russia) interference in the elections of another (United States), which is a direct attack on sovereignty.
Haley’s remarks, which preceded a Security council meeting devoted to the Middle East, were followed by representatives of France, Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom (EU member countries with a seat on the Council); Belgium and Germany (incoming Council members in 2019) and Italy (a Council member until last year) who issued a joint statement urging Israeli authorities to reconsider its decision to demolish Khan al-Ahmar, a Palestinian village in the West Bank, which, they said not only created a humanitarian crisis but exacerbated the conflict and further eroded the possibility of a two-state solution.
They were followed by Arab State representatives, including the representative from Palestine, who expressed gratitude to the Europeans, but said that the proposed resolution censuring Israel would likely be blocked by the United States.
In contrast to Haley’s declaration of “sovereignty”, Secretary-General António Guterres, in his press conference earlier that day, said, “I will use my meetings and other opportunities next week to press for renewed commitment to a rules-based global order and to the United Nations. The United Nations is the world’s indispensable forum for international cooperation. The presence of 84 Heads of State and 44 Heads of Government is eloquent proof of the confidence of the international community in the United Nations.”
Asked whether the Secretary General considers Trump “a threat to multilateralism,” he replied, “First, I don’t like to personalize things. I think we are facing a situation in which, in different areas and for different reasons, the trust of people in their political establishments, the trust of states among each other, the trust of many people in international organizations has been eroded and that multilateralism has been in the fire. And so, this is a concern, and that is the reason I said today and I will say it again in the General Assembly, that it’s essential to preserve multilateralism.”
The question that wasn’t asked of Ambassador Haley or Secretary General António Guterres was this: if the US were not (temporarily at least) the largest economy in the world and the UN’s biggest donor (temporarily at least), would the various UN councils and committees prosecute or seek sanctions for: unleashing climate catastrophes by reversing course of spewing heat-trapping gas emissions at five times the proportion of population (the US has 5% of the world’s population but accounts for 25% of carbon emissions)? For unleashing economy-crippling tariffs on countries in defiance of existing treaties in the absence of a true “national security” issue, while bestowing $12 billion in subsidies to farmers, in violation of World Trade Organization rules? For violating the Global Compact on Migration by shutting down virtually all access to refugees and asylum seekers? For violating human rights of asylum seekers fleeing violence in Central America by taking away children as young as infants and incarcerating parents and children for an indeterminate time without hearing, and deporting parents leaving children orphans in custody in the US?
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo issued the following statement in honor of Donald Trump’s visit to New York State:
“Mr. President, welcome back to New York, the progressive capital of the nation.
“Despite being a native New Yorker, since you took office, you have attacked our healthcare, passed a tax law that punished New York in order to fund corporate tax cuts, ripped immigrant New Yorkers from their families, launched an assault on our environment, and undermined the basic values on which this state and this nation were built.
“You say you want to make this country great again, but you have clearly forgotten what made this country great in the first place. Perhaps you can use this trip to New York to help you remember what truly makes this state and this nation great.
“While in Utica, I urge you to meet with the immigrants and refugees who are breathing new life into the city, which has a higher proportion of immigrants than any other city in upstate New York.
“I urge you to visit Seneca Falls, where women first fought for equal rights—a legacy New York is fighting to uphold against your administration’s ongoing attacks on women.
“I urge you to visit Westchester, where jobs are on the rise and the economy is booming despite your partisan and punitive tax policies that are directly responsible for home sales dropping 18 percent.
“I urge you to visit the new Buffalo, where an economic renaissance is transforming the city without resorting to harmful tariffs or trying to revive the industries of yesterday.
“I urge you to visit the beautiful Long Island beaches and thriving marine economy that are threatened by your administration’s reckless proposal to drill off our shores. In New York, we are advancing the strongest environmental program in the nation, and we say no way, no how to your continued assault on our planet.
“I urge you to meet with Mr. Pablo Villavicencio, a father, husband and aspiring American citizen who was torn away from his family and locked away for 53 days because of your anti-immigrant agenda. I was proud to fight for his freedom and will always stand with our immigrant communities against your un-American policies.
“I urge you to visit the new Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, a symbol of New York’s proud building spirit, constructed by the men and women of organized labor, that today is setting the example for your administration that pledged but failed to follow through on your own rebuilding efforts.
“And I urge you to visit the Leadership and Public Service High School in New York City, where I joined students there who, along with others across our state and nation, are calling for action on gun safety. While your administration remains beholden to the NRA and ignores the young people crying out for change, New York is proud to be taking on the NRA and moving to strengthen our nation-leading gun safety laws to keep our communities safe.
“Mr. President, I urge you to visit the Statue of Liberty in our harbor to remember the American promise made to your grandfather when he first came to this country as an immigrant—the promise of equality, hope and opportunity for all.
“Perhaps then you will remember what made this country great.”
A dialogue between Malcolm Nance, a renowned counter terrorism and intelligence consultant for the US government’s Special Operations, Homeland Security and Intelligence Operations, and 4-star Admiral James Stavridis who was the 16th Supreme Allied Commander at NATO, senior military assistant to the Secretary of the Navy and Secretary of Defense, moderated by Errol Louis, a political anchor at NY1 News, took place at Temple Emanuel of Great Neck, Long Island on March 18, 2018. It proved to be a seminar on foreign policy, with some tough words for the need to defend democracy against a tide of anti-democratic, authoritarian forces both domestic and foreign. “We have to solve this –at the ballot box.”
Here are highlights from the provocative discussion:
Errol Louis: Moderator: Both of you were at the Pentagon on 9/11; Nance was even an eyewitness. With the rise of terrorism, how safe are we?
Malcolm Nance: Since 9/11, we went for a short while in the correct direction in counterterrorism, bringing the world together to confront global threat. Unfortunately the invasion of Iraq in 2003 broke the mechanisms in Mideast that were functioning – poorly, but indigenous – strongman dictators. Once we invaded, we unleashed demons we could not foresee. The ebb and flow of regional solutions all went out the window.
Before, the hardest problem was people trying to solve Palestinian problem. That’s nothing compared to radical Islam. You can negotiate with Palestinians, even Hamas, groups in Iran.
We have a bigger problem: just keeping the democratic norms in the world, not just US. Democracy as an ideology is now under attack, every day.
Admiral James Stavridis: I agree. Go back 100 years – 1918. The world is coming out of World War I, Spanish influenza pandemic sweeping, 40% of world’s population were infected, 20% of those will die. US walking away from Europe, isolating ourselves, rejects the League of Nations, erects enormous tariff barriers – cracked the global economy. You can drop a line from that to the rise of fascism and World War II. That is a dark global picture.
We have mechanisms to deal with many of the challenges but agree [with Nance] that the whole ideology of democracy is wrapped up in great power politics, the rise of two authoritarian figures- Putin [just “re-elected” to a fourth term]. President Xi Jinping isn’t even putting on faux election, he declared himself the new emperor. These authoritarian systems are a challenge to democracies in ways we haven’t dealt with in 100 years.
We have two other concerns: a new pandemic – don’t spend much time thinking – but every 100-200 years of human history, a pandemic rises, despite fact of enormous advances in medicine. We are due for one – ability to manipulate genome can allow dark dark work. [Consider how Trump has cut funding to the CDC, and would likely not step in to stop a new outbreak of Ebola or Zika outside the US.]
Our vulnerability is in cyber. We are utterly dependent on massive cyber systems. We are at great risk – that’s where the two strains – cyber vulnerability and way authoritarian regimes will come after us – those streams are crossing – we have work to do, tools,
So, how safe are we? We have challenges, but I am cautiously optimistic. The question is whether our democracy will put in the right people.
Louis:Pointing to [Trump’s] new direction in foreign policy [and the fact that the State Department is considering removing ‘human rights’ from its mission statement], why is it to our advantage to fight for democracy and human rights and why is this not a form of international charity?
Nance: NATO, after World War II [was devised] to stop wars by creating a grand alliance – to spread that ideology around the world., not just American democracy, but allow others to develop their own form of republic, democratic governorship, whether a constitutional monarchy or a republic like France. That is under attack. Democracy is in retreat. ‘Democracy’ has been removed from mission statement of the State Department.
When we were struck on 9/11, it hurt me deeply – I spent my life in worst parts of world getting back. Now, that threat is from within – people in our country do not believe in democracy; autocracy, as being pushed by [Putin] former director of KGB, is better alternative to liberal democracy and European parliamentary democracy-Iit’s all under attack.
It is not a charity – America doesn’t do this as charity. We invented globalism – in WWII –we literally dropped it out of airplanes; people wanted our products at the end of war. Now people believe our system of economy is fundamentally wrong, NATO should be disbanded, the European Union should go away and every country in Europe should be its own autocracy with Moscow as polar center. There are people in US government who believe that.
Stavridis: Why does democracy work? It’s not simply the value system. There’s a pragmatic element. With democracy, people [who are disaffected, aggrieved] get to change government peacefully – a safety value. That’s why we worry about authoritarianism –eventually [discontentment] will blow, and when that happens [authoritarian regimes] will go in search of monsters abroad, look for scapegoats, combat operations. We ought to be very concerned about authoritarianism.
What do we do about it? What’s our move? A couple of different things can do – continue to rely on a system of alliances – that’s why we should worry about tariff barriers, and walking away from NATO, that take global structures apart. We need to rely on those. We need to get vastly better at strategic communications, explaining our ideas. War of ideas? It’s a marketplace of ideas. We have to compete – democracy, liberty, freedom of speech, education, assembly, racial and gender equality – we execute them imperfectly but they are the right ideas. We have to communicate that in ways that get beyond ‘We have the right answer.’ Lay it out pragmatically: why it works. Because there are forces pushing against it.
Louis: Trump’s statements about NATO alarmed people, [yet] US deployed troops to Poland as part of NATO task force exercises. Is his rhetoric worse than reality?
Stavridis: Candidate Trump said NATO was obsolete and he would consider pulling out altogether. Fortunately, on this subject, he [appears to have] listened to General Mattis, the Defense Secretary; General McMaster, National Security Adviser [so far], Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (oops). But on NATO, I am cautiously optimist he has gotten the message that NATO really works.
Nance: NATO is 28 nations, 52% of world’s GDP, 3 million troops under arms, 24,000 combat aircraft, 800 warships, 50 early warning aircraft – it is the richest, most powerful alliance in human history. US spends $600 billion/year on defense, the Europeans $300 billion. To put that into perspective, Russians spend $80 billion, Chinese $150 billion. We outspend in part because of our European allies – they should spend 2%, and are on track to do so in next 3-5 years. The alliance remains fundamental to US – it is pragmatic value for US to be in alliance.
Where did this idea come into Trump’s head that NATO wasn’t a good value, that US was connected to countries not paying their fair share? In November 2013, Trump went to Russia for the Miss Universe pageant and while he was there, he was brought to a private 2 hour meeting arranged by Aras Agalarov, [a billionaire Russian real estate mogul with ties to Putin] who funded the pageant, in a restaurant owned by Galaroff. [Trump] came out of that meeting spouting the Kremlin party line – anti-NATO, anti-globalization, anti European Union, anti treaties and alliances, believing that Russia is the premiere superpower. The only thing we don’t know is whether he believed it or whether some inducement got him to believe – he said it during campaign. Now he seems to have some change of view. NATO [which Admiral Stavridis once commanded] unilaterally evoked Article 5 after [the US was attacked on] 9/11 – for 10 years they gave their blood and treasure to defense of this nation. This is the single greatest force for good since world War II. Russia wants to do away with NATO – they call us Atlanticist, globalist – their philosopher Aleksandr Gelyevich Dugin [who holds fascist views] convinced Steve Bannon, almost the Goebels of the anti-democratic movement, goes around the world, trains, help foster other countries to believe the Atlantic alliance is the problem in the eastern and western hemisphere.
Stavridis: Why NATO matters: 1) The values we share. We will never see another pool of partners who have these values. It is no coincidence because [the Founding Fathers] got them from Europe, from the Enlightenment. 2) The geographic position of Europe matters – why we need those Cold War bases in Europe – those are forward operating stations in the global war on terror 3) It’s the economy and trade between US and the NATO countries.
Also, when I commanded 150,000 NATO troops in Afghanistan, the nation that lost the most on a per capita basis was Estonia. Number 2 was the Netherlands. The US was number 3. They were with us in that fight because we had been attacked on 9/11. This is an alliance that stands and delivers for us. (applause)
Louis: What does [Trump’s] firing of [Secretary of State Rex] Tillerson mean in the broader sense. Is it deliberate, a competence question, a larger crisis, an administration not executing?
Stavridis: When Secretary Tillerson got the job, I thought it was a good choice –a global businessman, contacts all over the world, quiet, laconic, very serious Texan, tough minded. I thought it an interesting choice, it might turn out well. But Tillerson simply was not a very effective Secretary of State. He couldn’t gain real connectivity in the White House – in a state of constant chaos. How can you be Secretary of State for a president who one minute, says, ‘We will solve Korea with fire and fury like never seen – a preemptive declaration of war –and three months later, be ready to go and cut ‘the deal of the century’ – a defensible policy choices but not for same person. So to be Secretary of State trying to articulating that –the work of Sisyphus, boulder rolling down. As a result, morale in the State Department cratered, applications for foreign service are down 50% in the last 2 years. You don’t get that back –you lose a generation if you can’t fill those slots, let alone, not filling crucial ambassadorships [including South Korea]. This is as bleak a moment for American diplomacy. A chaotic inexperienced White House that sadly doesn’t seem to be getting better in 14 months (feels like 14 yrs).
Nance: It appears diplomacy has shifted over to war fighters. Trump thinks diplomacy is not speaking, thinks diplomacy is a big stick, and if everyone sees us as a big stick nation, there will be no communications. The acting Secretary of State is technically Ivanka Trump –Trump is using Ivanka and Jared as an alternate State Department because Trump doesn’t know what the state department is, what diplomacy is. His way of negotiating is threatening –he sees no value in the institution or maintaining. [He is defunding the State Department, institutes]. But the institutes (nongovernmental) are there to help foster democracy and republicanism within countries. They brought about change in countries that would otherwise become a dictatorship – gone. A generation [of diplomats] is gone. Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams –our first 3 ambassadors – must be spinning in their graves.
Louis:Will the opening of US embassy in Jerusalem bring about a cataclysm?
Nance: It could happen. What’s happening in Mideast – so much change, dynamics. You can even see in how the Israeli-Palestinian problem is pushed off – rise of Iran, Syria, Turks invading northern Syria and setting up against the entirety of Kurds (who we fund), Yemen. Palestine-Israel conflict is the ‘good ol days.’. When the deed is done, and US embassy is moved, Saudis may give head tilt to that. I don’t know if there will be another intifada – the strings were cut after the Iraq invasion.
Stavridis: These kinds of conflicts – religious with a geopolitical overlay – are very dug in, and go on and on. The really bad news is that in middle is our greatest friend and ally in the region, Israel.
What should we do? Four things: stand with Israel – (applause)- the reasons are pragmatic, values, all the same things that make us want to be in NATO, should energize our alliance with Israel – 2) Need to work closely with Sunnis (Saudi Arabia, Gulf States, Egypt, Jordan). The Saudis are giving head nod on the peace plan, drawing closer to Israel, willing to exchange information, intelligence, missile defense, early warning. Why? because both are concerned about Iran (which is Shi’a). We ought to understand the Iranian self-view: we think of them as mid-size power, they think of themselves as inheritors of the Persian Empire which 2000 years ago, dominated the region. That’s what they want to reconstruct. Working with Israel, alliances, better in cyber, insuring missile defense strong, stand with Israel.
Louis:How to address the humanitarian disaster in Syria, knowing Russia is smack in the middle?
Nance: We had the opportunity to crack this nut in 2012 after Assad’s chemical attack. I advocated then to destroy the Syrian air force utterly – that’s the strategic advantage Syria has over the allies. Then you have put Israel in powerful position; limits Iranian involvement (because they won’t have a runway to land), and gives opportunity to show Arab States here is a chance to use ground forces to do humanitarian intervention. Arab League, Egyptians, Jordanians, Saudis have enough forces to be in Damascus in 72 hours out of northern Jordan. But so long as Russia backed and Syria can resist, won’t do it.
Stavridis: We last saw a problem like Syria in the Balkans, 20 years ago: Yugoslavia blew up – forced migrations, 100,000s killed – like Mideast – Catholic Croatians, Orthodox Serbians and Muslim Bosnians – a religious war with geopolitical overtones that was ultimately solved by partition. Yugoslavia was broken apart and created sub-states. That was imperfect but at the end of the day, that is what will happen in Syria – it is broken now, and won’t go back- that’s 3-5 years away.
Why is Iran in Syria? Iran wants a land bridge so it can move missiles and fighters from Tehran to Lebanon because that endangers Israel. That’s why we need to move to international solution that somewhat marginalizes Iranian influence – can do with leverage over Russia – the White House needs to get tough on Russia.
Louis:China. The notion they now have a president for life there, with no mechanism to change leadership – if there are internal problems, if there is a falling out within society or economy or ideology in a bad place, what happens?
Stavridis: The good news is that China will continue to grow at 5%. If they do, the population will stay relatively quiescent. But China’s road gets rough in out years- demographics – an aging population, the imbalance between men and women created by the One-Child policy which led to killing baby girls. We’ve never seen a society as ill balanced. Plus, China’s environment is disaster, requiring billions if not trillions to remediate. The housing market is overheated (reminiscent of 2008 in US). With no democracy, there is no way to relieve the pressure. Xi will have smooth run for awhile, but it gets rough in 5-10 years. That’s when we should worry about Chinese foreign policy that is nationalistic, seeks to find a scapegoat outside, and look for conflict in South China Sea. (See the movie, “The Last Emperor,” about Puyi and read Robert Kaplan’s, Asia’s Cauldron”.)
Louis:What is Putin’s end game?
Nance: Putin has imperial goals – Atlantic Alliance between Washington and European states has since WWII brought economic, cultural influences Russia cannot stand – They believe it has marginalized Russia’s limited economic power. All the good that has come from NATO, the EU single market, the US flow of traffic across Atlantic does no benefit to Moscow. Putin realizes that 75% of Russians live in the European part (75% of land in Asia). He believes Russia should be the pole in which Europe should do trade – EurAsianism. He is ruling more like Czar Nicolas I – religious orthodoxy, nationalism, autocracy (while France was creating fraternity, liberty, equality). Russia is buying every conservative, neoNazi group in Europe – owned, lock stock and barrel by Moscow.
Last march, for the second time in American history, France saved democracy – had Marine Le Pen won, France would have withdrawn from NATO,broken up the European Union and aligned France with Moscow, bringing along everyone to Moscow.
Stavridis: Putin’s end game: H will be the dominant force in Russia until the day he dies, and Russians accept it. This is Russian custom, history, culture. Read literature- Dostevsky, Pushkin – how Russians look at powerful male leaders. Sometimes they get a Peter the Great, the next time Ivan the Terrible; sometimes get Stalin, but then get a Gorbachev – they are willing to roll the dice. But the dice have landed on Putin, he will not give up power. We have to deal with this operative. I met Putin a couple of times. Bush Jr. met Putin and was completely taken –he said, ‘I looked into his eyes and saw his soul. We can work with Putin.’ McCain, a true war hero, met with Putin and said, ‘I saw 3 letters: K-G-B.’ I think McCain got that one right – and that’s what we will deal with.”
Is climate change a national security issue?
Stavridis: Climate change is a significant national security threat. Because of global warming, ice is melting in the Arctic, opening up shipping lanes and hydrocarbons, creating a great power competition – on one side is Russia, on the other side US, Canada, Iceland, Norway – they are all NATO; 2) Rising sea levels gradually affect our ports, our ability to operate in major naval bases and ports 3) Global warming will impact our ability to operate globally because of cost – we will have to mediate against environmental concerns, which will put downward pressure on defense budgets 4) What should worry us most is that as oceans heat up, photosynthesis is diminished affecting oxygen in the atmosphere. Vice President Gore called the Amazon the lungs of the earth; Nope, 70% of oxygen comes from photosynthesis in oceans, and we are abusing them. These are major national security concerns.
What if in the next few months Trump abrogates the Iran Nuclear Treaty?
Stavridis: I expect Trump to abrogate the Iran Nuclear Treaty. 1) That will have chilling effect on negotiations with North Korea – they are unlikely to enter into grand bargain having just witnessed the abrogation of the Iran treaty. 2) Iranians will almost immediately restart their nuclear program – they are probably in primed position to do so. 3) The treaty is not perfect but ending it will put Israel at greater risk because of re-energization of the Iranian nuclear program 4) Allies will be furious, it will put enormous strains on the NATO alliance, and probably not lead to European allies walking away, so US will become even more of an outlier. I wasn’t a fan initially – it isn’t a good/bad deal, it is a done deal, the best we could have at this point.
Nance: I spoke with a senior briefer at CIA who briefed Obama on the details that convinced Obama to sign the Iran Nuclear Treaty: The way the agency assessed, Iran was 6-12 months away from developing an atomic bomb, but with the treaty, Iran gave up all components, 90% of its enriched nuclear material and was pushed back 15 years We do not want a war with Iran. Why would we put ourselves in a position to give Iran the ability to have a nuclear weapon? There is no limit to the mischief that would create. And if [unleashed], Iran would go straight to North Korea with $ millions to buy a nuclear weapon.
How to solve the humanitarian disaster that is Syria?
Stavridis: A combination of defense, diplomacy, development – hard and soft power. [This was shown to work in Colombia, after a 60-year insurgency that destroyed the fabric of the country; and the Balkans.] You don’t have to choose hard or soft power. So often, the long game is combination of all those tools – development, diplomacy and defense when need it – to get balance right, requires leadership. We are very good at launching missiles. We need to get better at launching ideas. We can do both. (Applause)
Nance: That’s smart power. We are a global force for good but have to be global force for diplomacy.
Considering the hollowing out of our diplomatic forces to the benefit of Putin, [possible collusion] in cyberwarfare, why is there reluctance to use the word ‘treason’ in regard to Trump?
Nance: There is a legal definition – Article 3 – to ‘treason.’ You literally have to be at declared war with an enemy and give aid and comfort to enemy. That is rarely invoked – we have sent people to prison for espionage, divulging secrets but the last time anyone was tried for treason was the Rosenbergs. I don’t think that word applies legally – from what we’ve seen. Where the president violated his oath of office, you can use ‘treason’ rhetorically if you feel betrayed, or ‘treachery’. I don’t think will be able to use ‘treason’ in legal sense . this investigation started as national counter intel – a spy hunt – still a hunt for citizens in direct communications with foreign intel officers.
What check is there on this president who many think is a madman, is the military prepared to step in and save democracy?
Stavridis: ‘I solemnly swear to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic – no expiration. The military isn’t going to step in and solve this. We have to solve this –at the ballot box. In 1840, Alexis de Toqueville wrote about this strange new phenomenon of democracy. He was largely laudatory, but the punch line: ‘the tragedy of democracy is that in the end you elect the government you deserve.’ We need to own this problem. No one will solve it for us. We need to get out in November, and again two years later, and we can solve this problem.
Nance: We have entered the greatest period of political activism – I believe it will even eclipse the Vietnam era – 1968. But since World War II, we have gotten fat and lazy and enjoy fruits of democracy.
We have guardrails – you have 246 days to solve part of this problem – but to do that you have to bring yourself and everyone who has not voted in last election.
The military is not designed for coup d’etat. We would really be a third world banana republic. But we can stop stupid – unlawful orders.
Emperor Xi. China building pipelines through Africa into the Stans, helping China, become #1 in world, developing 5G. How will that affect us?
Stavridis: China historically has not had global ambition, but 16 months ago, President Xi gave a “coming out speech” at Davos for China in the 21st century: One belt, one road philosophy – using economic power to further the interests of China. China just built its first overseas military base, at the Horn of Africa. China is on the move. When historians 300 years from how write about the 21st century, how that story comes out will be US and China and the rise of India. We need to be mindful of China, align with India, hold close our global allies, help develop this hemisphere to the south of US. That ought to be our strategy. And China should be top of the list to watch.
Nance: If this administration would understand strategy: China is brilliant. Go to sub-Saharan Africa –that used to be the land of the Land Rover, then Toyota, now you see Chinese Long March and Running Deer pick ups – they are $2000-$5000 but are everywhere. China is colonizing the sub-Sahara economically– buying whole sub-sections of countries to ship food to China. If China develops 5G cell telephone networks before the US gets it into Manhattan, China can export worldwide and own global communications. China is building wind plants, is now the world’s largest producer of solar panels (an industry we used to own). Without a strategy, where you think about where we are, where we will go and put together government resources to get there, we are dead in water. And that requires diplomats.
To what do you attribute Iran’s vitriolic hatred for Israel?
Nance: Iranians love America –they are held down by an authoritarian regime using Islamic fundamentalism which the bottom 20% believe, not the people who used to run the country or could be, not the youth who all want what all in the Mideast want – a 2018 Toyota Corolla – they want trade, to be involved with world. Hatred for Israel is a schtick. They don’t really care – they care about religion, family and to be left alone to do what they want. If they see a threat to Al Aksa mosque, they will respond. Palestinians smartest arabs in mide, most educated – everywhere but Palestine – if I were them, would work out public-private partnership to rebuild Palestine as moderate state, so don’t get Islamic cultism of ISIS. If that happens, will be zombie scene, walk into guns. Hopefully Saudi Arabia will focus away from ‘Death to Israel.’
What is impact of Erdogan of Turkey turning his back on western values toward Islamic fundamentalism?
Stavridis: President Erdogan, an authoritarian, is consolidating power rapidly, the most accelerated of all the authoritarian leaders in having taken his nation from functioning secular democracy to one man rule in 5 years. Extraordinary. The bad news is that Turkey is vital to Europe, to US. We need a stable western-looking Turkey – now drifting out of our orbit. We should pay attention, show respect, send high level missions, but behind closed doors, convince Erdogan the trajectory he is on will isolate his nation,. He will never have cozy relationship with Russia or Iran – that won’t work for Turkey. Turkey understands that at a fundamental level. We need to work with Europeans to exert pull on Turkey also. Turkey is more than a bridge (between Asia and Europe), it is a center of power – its population will exceed Russia’s. Turkey is on the move. We need to keep them in our orbit.
The intel community wanted the $120 million appropriated by Congress to fend off cyberattacks on our electoral system. Homeland security issued an alert that Russians already in our computers that run powerplants, and now could turn off electricity. What do we do about that?
Stavridis: We need to reveal more about what we know, to underpin the argument for retaliation –so we can be more aggressive in how we retaliate. We need better private-public cooperation. Government can’t solve this by itself – all our electric grids are intertwined. We have got to get government agencies working together on cyber – agriculture, interior – nobody is focused on cybersecurity.
Considering the rise of authoritarians, what happens If in the next 3 months, Trump fires Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein, and a new one fires Mueller. Will Trump be impeached?
Nance: Trump won’t be impeached before November. But we have guardrails. John Dean said that the day after Nixon fired Watergate investigators, the rest were still at work, he just fired the leadership. If Trump fires [Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein] (and [Special Counsel Robert] Muller), he would have sealed his doom about obstruction of justice and the investigation will continue
Stavridis: I believe Congress, including enough Republicans, would respond – not impeach, but there would be a [Constitutional] crisis and the guardrails would kick in.
In the present nuclear environment, is the doctrine of mutually assured destruction still relevant?
New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo issued an open letter to President Trump.
Dear Mr. President,
The old adage is right: “go with your first instinct.” Your White House meeting with bipartisan federal legislators right after the Florida massacre appeared and was unscripted and productive. You essentially had one question that summed up what every American was feeling: “why?” Why sell guns to young people who can’t yet buy a beer? Why sell assault weapons that are designed to kill so many people so quickly? Why not take guns from the mentally ill before they hurt someone or themselves? Why not make sure every gun purchaser goes through a background check?
There was no answer from the electeds assembled, because there is no answer – except the one you suggested – they are afraid of the NRA.
Major political change comes when a window of opportunity opens and a leader seizes the moment. There are brief moments in history where attention, passion and drive combine to unite the American people and overwhelm the forces preserving the status quo and create change.
The American gun crisis has long been a plague and scourge on our country. You can do something about it and the American people would support it. This is the moment. The Republicans will follow your lead. Yes, they fear the NRA, but they fear the enraged citizen majority more.
In New York, after the Sandy Hook massacre, the nation had a similar moment. It was a moment of grief and pain and anger. Sandy Hook touched the hearts and minds of every day Americans. It was anyone’s child – it was everyone’s child. In the immediate aftermath of Sandy Hook we passed the New York Safe Act – common sense gun safety. It has made a dramatic difference, it didn’t negatively affect any legal gun owners, and I believe it has saved lives.
Mentally ill and dangerous people shouldn’t have guns so we need universal background checks. When a person shows signs of mental distress or violence, there should be a provision for police to investigate and determine the facts – a “red flag bill.” Domestic violence offenders should not have guns. Assault weapons are too dangerous in the wrong hands and not worth the risk. In 1938 we outlawed machine guns in this Country precisely for the same reason: they were too dangerous if obtained by the wrong person. Does anyone miss not owning machine guns?
For those of us who serve in government, if we are lucky, we may have a few moments that present a real opportunity to make a lasting difference. There are brief openings where transformational progress is possible and you have that opportunity now. The moments are rare and fleeting. They are leadership moments: don’t squander it.
The political advisers are wrong. NRA members will be nervous about any government change and intervention but they will ultimately realize a functioning system vindicates legitimate gun owners rather than demonizing all. If you lose this moment, I am sad to say there will probably be another shooting and the Country will be in the same place, and it will once again pose the question that you posed – “why?” “Why didn’t we do anything about this after Florida?” You have the responsibility to stop that from happening.
Judging by the Women’s Marches – 280 of them around the country that drew 2 million activists on behalf of women’s reproductive freedom, health care, workers rights, DACA, climate, gun control – the Democrats were headed for a rout in 2018.
Now, pundits are questioning whether the government shutdown – and then the capitulation by Democrats – will jeopardize the Democrats’ chances of taking back the Senate and even the House.
And sure enough, the Republicans have proved yet again they are so much better at message manipulation – the signature talent of every autocracy.
It is a curious thing because the 2013 government shutdown, forced by Republicans who held Obamacare hostage and the many instances of Republicans coming to the brink of endangering the full faith and credit of the United States by threatening the debt ceiling, nonetheless won victories in the 2014 midterms, even taking over the Senate.
But it is different for Republicans who want to tear down government, and Democrats, who actually believe that government can be and should be a force for good.
But what did the Republicans actually win besides the message game? A few days reprieve? When instead the government shutdown over a failure to follow through on the deal to reauthorize DACA so clearly demonstrated the dysfunction, dishonesty, bad faith and sheer cruelty of Republican domination?
And is it wise for Trump to crow that Schumer “caved,” for Pence to go to the Middle East and lambast the Democrats as enemies of our soldiers, for the OMB Director Mike Mulvaney to mimic the phrase being hyped by Russian bots, #SchumerShutdown, and the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee to show glee that Schumer is “feeling the heat from the left, with #SchumerSellout trending on social media and Democrats who supported reopening the government are being branded as traitors”?
And how cynical is it for Trump to issue a reelection campaign ad blaming Democrats in advance if anyone is murdered by an illegal immigrant, yet taking no responsibility at all for 33,000 gun deaths a year (a woman is shot and killed by a current or former partner every 16 hours. 10 kids and teens are killed each month in unintentional shootings) and the ease with which terrorists can buy guns because of Republicans’ refusal to adopt reasonable gun control measures?
After all, this is yet another temporary spending measure, which Democrats and some Republicans have decried as no way to run a $4 trillion government since the military, municipalities and agencies can’t do long-range planning or contracts, and we will be right back here on Feb. 8. Fool me once….
Schumer and the Democrats really had no choice but to withhold the votes needed for cloture (the filibuster) which triggered the shutdown, and no choice in coming to this temporary arrangement to reopen government.
Let’s be reminded though: it’s not Democrats who caused the shutdown – five Republicans voted against the CR while five Democrats voted with the Republicans (by modern standards, that’s called “bipartisan”).
Indeed, Trump was rooting for a government shutdown. “The country needs a good shutdown” he said months ago, and referred to this shutdown as “a nice present” –because he believed Democrats would be blamed and weakened and (cherry on the cake) hoped it would get Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to trigger the “nuclear option” and end the 60-vote threshold for cloture (the filibuster) so that Republicans could rule without any Democratic input whatsoever.
But for the entire first year of the Trump nightmare when Republicans were in full control of all the levers of government, they chose to rule as if a monarchy, shutting out Democrats entirely, and manipulating votes so that they only needed 50 instead of 60 – on several occasions, needing the Vice President’s vote to get to 51 to pass legislation opposed by large majorities of Americans. The only mechanism for Democrats to have any say whatsoever, and get CHIP and DACA reauthorized was to withhold their votes on the short-term spending bill.
For decades, now (when Democrats are in the White House), “populists” have been decrying the dysfunction in Washington, looking to demagogic characters from outside Washington (they are only “outside” until they are “inside”) to break the logjam and get things done. That’s what many Trump voters said they liked about Trump. They fell for his con: he isn’t disruptive, he’s destructively dysfunctional.
But look to the source of the dysfunction: it goes back to Newt Gingrich and the “Contract for America” ( “Contract on America” is more apt) – 1994 was the first time the Republicans used a shutdown as extortion. And it goes back to the Hastert Rule, named for the pedophile who was the longest-serving Speaker of the House, that bars the Republicans from passing any legislation that is not supported by the majority of Republicans, rather than the majority of the House or the American people, a tough thing to do with the Tea Party fringe and now the Trumpers.
It is because of the Hastert Rule that we do not have affordable health care, sensible gun violence prevention, immigration reform, campaign finance reform, environmental protection – all supported by huge majorities of Americans – and a tax code and federal budget that help uplift people rather than steer this country to unsustainable income inequality that is so dangerous for a democracy.
Add to that the end of earmarks – championed by none other than Senator John McCain who felt they were the source of corruption in Congress – and you have no bargaining chips whatsoever to forge a compromise. (Trump wants to bring back earmarks, so he can turn a $1 trillion infrastructure plan into a political slush fund.)
But Democrats – or rather the extreme left wing championed by Bernie Sanders – seem determined to shoot themselves in the foot, and instead of cheering Schumer for getting 12 Republican Senators to pledge to take up legislation to protect DACA recipients before Feb. 8, they blasted him for capitulating.
Really, what was Schumer supposed to do? Republicans were weaponizing the government shutdown, rather than being embarrassed that Trump, The Greatest Dealmaker in the History of the World, was shown to be an emperor with no clothes (he fidgeted while the capital burned) with no actual grasp of policy or long-term impacts so that he could be swayed and steered by the most virulent, anti-immigrant advisers (Steven Miller and John Kelly), and the Republicans being shown as being incapable of governing on behalf of the people instead of just their donors (the 1%).
Now it is likely that no matter how the Senate is reminded they are supposed to be an institution based on compromise and rational deliberation – and that Congress should realize it doesn’t have to wait for Trump at all, but pass reasonable legislation on its own – my prediction is that Speaker Paul Ryan in the House will kill any DACA legislation or any immigration legislation as he did in 2013, tabling Comprehensive Immigration Reform that passed the Senate by a significant majority.
Or that Steve King, Tom Cotton, Steve Miller and John Kelly will come up with something so draconian – legalizing the Gestapo-like roundup and deportations of 11 million undocumented immigrants, throwing out green card holders, shutting borders to refugees and severely curtailing legal immigration for anyone but white people with money to invest in Trump properties – that Democrats won’t be able to vote for it. Ha ha, the irony.
But my money is on the Women’s Movement – no longer a march, but ongoing activism that will result in a major voter registration drive, record number of women running for elected office (390 for House, 49 for Senate, as many as 16,000 for state and local offices), and to get out the vote in the 2018 midterms. #PowertothePolls.