9:55 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: I just told them, "I've got to come over and see the fake news." Let's go. What do you have, John?
Q Mr. President, what do you think of the testimony of the deposition that has been released so far? And are you concerned about public hearings next week?
THE PRESIDENT: I'm not concerned about anything. The testimony has all been fine. I mean, for the most part, I've never even heard of these people. I have no idea who they are. They're some very fine people; you have some Never-Trumpers. It seems that nobody has any firsthand knowledge. There is no firsthand knowledge. And all that matters is one thing: the transcript. And the transcript is perfect.
Mark Levin, last night, on television -- who is a great constitutional lawyer -- he broke it down. He said, "What Trump said " And he was respectful, he said, "President Trump." "What President Trump said was perfect on the transcript. What he said on that telephone call with the President of Ukraine was perfect." He said, "No other -- nothing else matters. And what he said was perfect." And he analyzed it -- every line, every paragraph. It was not complex; it was perfect. Nothing else matters.
With that being said, every one of those people cancel themselves out. So what they do is they go all over Washington, "Let's find 10 people that hate President Trump the most, and let's put them up there." Now, in some cases, they really turned out to be very much honest and fair. But in no cases have I been hurt. In no cases, that I see, have I been hurt.
Q And what do you expect for the public hearings next week?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, they shouldn't be having public hearings. This is a hoax. This is just like the Russian witch hunt. This is just a continuation. When you look at the lawyer for the whistleblower, I thought it ended when they found out that the lawyer was so compromised. I mean, the lawyer is a bad guy. So, you look at that. I thought that was the end of it. No, this is just a continuation of the hoax. It's a disgraceful thing.
In the meantime, we've got the best markets we've ever had -- stock markets. We have the best unemployment numbers we've ever had. We have the best employment numbers we've ever had. We have almost 160 million people -- we've never been even close to that. So we're doing it -- but unfortunately, you people don't want to talk about that.
Q On China, can you tell me whether a tariff rollback will be part of the phase-one China deal?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, they'd like to have a rollback. I haven't agreed to anything. China would like to get somewhat of a rollback -- not a complete rollback, because they know I won't do it.
But we're getting along very well with China. They want to make a deal. Frankly, they want to make a deal a lot more than I do. I'm very happy right now. We're taking in billions of dollars. I'm very happy. China would like to make a deal much more than I would.
Q Mr. President, will you endorse Jeff Sessions in his Alabama Senate run?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I haven't gotten involved. I saw he said very nice things about me last night, but we'll have to see. I'll have to see.
Q Have you forgiven him for --
THE PRESIDENT: I haven't made --
Q -- recusing himself?
THE PRESIDENT: I haven't made a determination.
Q Have you forgiven him for recusing himself from recusing himself from the Russia investigation?
Q Have you forgiven him for recusing himself from the Russia investigation?
THE PRESIDENT: I don't even think about it.
Q Mr. President, so what do you say to the millions of people who just don't believe you, that you have something and that your transcript shows that you did something wrong? What do you tell them?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I'll tell you what, it's a very simple thing. I had a very good call with the President of Ukraine. I assume that's what you're talking about. The call was perfect.
Now, they're after -- I have a second call, which nobody knew about, and I guess they want that call to be produced also. You've heard that, John.
So I have a second call -- I had a second call with the President, which actually, I believe, came before this one. And now they all want that one. And if they want it, I'll give it to them. I haven't seen it recently, but I'll give it to them.
But I had a call before this one with the President of Ukraine. I understand they'd like it, and I have no problem giving it to them. I have no problem giving it.
Q Mr. President, on the Bidens, did you ask Bill Barr or anyone in your Department of Justice to investigate the Bidens? And if not -- if you didn't ask them -- why would you ask the President of Ukraine to do something you weren't willing to ask your own Justice Department to do?
THE PRESIDENT: We are looking for corruption. We're giving hundreds of millions of dollars, and we're looking for corruption. And all you have to do is take a look at Biden, and you'll see tremendous corruption, because what he did is quid pro quo times 10.
Q Did you ask your DOJ?
THE PRESIDENT: And let me just tell you --
Q Did you ask --
THE PRESIDENT: Be quiet.
Q -- your DOJ?
THE PRESIDENT: Quiet.
Q Did you ask your DOJ?
THE PRESIDENT: Quiet.
Q It's a simple question. Did you ask --
THE PRESIDENT: Quiet.
Q -- your DOJ?
THE PRESIDENT: Are you ready?
Q Yes, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: I never spoke to him about anything. It's up to Bill Barr. Bill Barr can do whatever he wants to do. But I saw the same tape on television. And the tape shows that Joe Biden is a crook. He's 100 percent crooked. And the fake news, which is you and you -- you don't want to do anything about it.
Q We reported it.
THE PRESIDENT: His son walked out with millions of dollars from Ukraine, millions of dollars from China. He doesn't know anything. He walked away with a stash. It's a corrupt deal. It's a corrupt enterprise. And if the press did it right, it's a hell of a story.
Q Have you figured out where you're going to sign the phase-one trade deal yet? Do you have a location yet?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we're looking at different -- assuming we get it. You know, I never like to talk about things until we have them. But it could be Iowa or farm country or someplace like that. It will be in our country, but it could be -- it could be someplace like that, John.
THE PRESIDENT: No, I don't think so. I think we'd go more in the farm belt.
Q Will you campaign against Jeff Sessions?
THE PRESIDENT: No, I won't. I'll see how it all goes. You have some very good candidates. Look, Alabama is a place where my approval numbers are very good. I think I won by 42 points. I love Alabama. I'm going to go watch a very good football game on Saturday, which is tomorrow, with LSU. That's going to be great.
We'll see what happens. He's got -- he's got tough competition. I mean, you have -- the football coach, Tommy, is doing very well. You have some -- you have some good people running in Alabama. Let's see what happens.
Q Do you have a date yet -- do you have date yet, sir, for your meeting with Xi Jinping? Is it definitely going to be this year?
THE PRESIDENT: We'll see what happens. Okay? We'll see what happens. We're getting along very well. They want to make the deal far more than I do. I will tell you, they want to make it far more than I do, but we'll see what happens.
We're taking in, right now -- and you know -- as a reporter of finance, you know what I'm saying. They've devalued their currency and they ate this tariff. We're taking in billions of dollars in tariff money from China. I like our situation very much. They want to make a deal much more than I do, but we could have a deal.
Q Billionaire Leon Cooperman said this week that if you can't change your behavior, you probably shouldn't run again in 2020. What do you say to that, sir?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, no, you've really shaped my behavior. Because from the day I came in here, I've had problems with phony stuff -- like a phony dossier that turned out to be false, like false investigations that I've beaten. So a lot of my behavior was shaped by the fake news and by the other side. That was a lot of my behavior.
The fact is that we've created the greatest economy in the history of our country. With all of that stuff going on behind me, nobody else could have done it. Rush Limbaugh said he doesn't know a man in the world that could have done what Trump did.
I don't know Leon Cooperman, but whoever Leon Cooperman is -- I know of him -- he can have his own view. But in the meantime, I'm making him rich and I'm making a lot of other people rich, including the working man and woman. They've never done so well as they've done right now.
Our jobs are the best they've ever been. Everything about our economy is just about the best it's ever been, including unemployment.
So I think, in light of all of the things going on -- and you know what I mean by that: the fake news, the Comeys of the world, all of the bad things that went on. It's called the "swamp." And you know what happened and you know what I did? A big favor. I caught the swamp. I caught them all. Let's see what happens. Nobody else could have done that but me. I caught all of this corruption that was going on, and nobody else could have done it.
On top of that, we have the best economy -- the greatest economy we've ever had; the best job numbers we've ever had. African American, Asian American, Hispanic -- the best ever. So, I think we've done a great job.
And tell Leon -- who I've seen, but I don't know -- tell him congratulations, because he did very well with Trump.
Q Sir, how is the trade deal with India going on?
THE PRESIDENT: We're dealing with India on a lot of different things. Prime Minister Modi is a very good friend of mine. You saw me at -- in Houston. You saw me at the event -- 55,000 people. It was great. And we have a lot of things happening with India. We have a very good relationship with India.
Q Are you planning to travel to India sometime?
THE PRESIDENT: He wants me to go there. I will be going, at some point, to India.
Q Sir, the people you --
Q Why did you acknowledge that your charity was using money for your personal and political purposes?
THE PRESIDENT: My charity was great. I gave a lot of money away. I was sued because, in New York, it's a hornet's nest, and they sue you for anything. And yet, on a really bad thing -- if you look at that Clinton charity -- they left her alone. That's one of the reasons people leave New York.
I gave away $19 million. I took no expense. I took no rent. I took no fees. I took no nothing. A hundred percent of that money was given away, and I had to actually go through a process, for years, with New York. Because you know why? New York is a corrupt state. It's a corrupt state. It's a shame.
I gave $19 million away. And what happened is, instead of saying, "thank you, great," they hit me with a lawsuit. And it was started by a man who had to get out because he beat up women. That's the kind of a place it is.
Q Have you made a decision on vaping?
THE PRESIDENT: We're going to be coming out with a very important position on vaping. We have to take care of our kids, most importantly. So we're going to have an age limit of 21 or so.
But we'll be coming out with something next week, very important, on vaping. We have a lot of people to look at -- including jobs, frankly, because, you know, it's become a pretty big industry. But we're going to take care of it.
Now, there's also -- you know, when you mention vaping, you're talking about e-cigarettes, you're talking about a lot of different things. But we're coming out with a big paper next week.
Q Does that mean that you may dial back on this idea of banning flavors, and instead raise the age?
THE PRESIDENT: We're talking about the age. We're talking about flavors. We're also talking about keeping people working. And, you know, there are some pretty good aspects. But we're coming out and we're very close to a final report, John, and we'll be giving it next week.
Q Because the industry does support raising the age, but they don't like the banning of the flavors.
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah, we're going to be raising the age. We will be doing that.
Q And can I just come back to -- did the first transcript of the call with Zelensky from April 21st -- it's my understanding that the White House Counsel isn't particularly keen to release that. Will you overrule him?
THE PRESIDENT: The -- well, they don't want to give all this information on a scam. It's a witch hunt. I'm okay with releasing; it doesn't bother me. I know what I said. It was fine.
But, no, they do want to have the second call, which is really the first call -- the one before this. I had a call. I'm sure it was fine. I mean, you know, I have to -- I make a lot of calls. But I have no problem releasing it. I'm very transparent.
Q So why not just release it?
THE PRESIDENT: Nobody is more transparent than I am. And if I wasn't, and if I didn't release it, it would've been a problem. Because the fake whistleblower said something about the call -- many things that were wrong.
When the whistleblower came forward, he talked about this horrible call. It turned out to be a perfect call, as I say. Mark Levin said this was a perfect call. So, they lied. They lied. The whole thing is a scam. This is scam by the Democrats to try and win an election.
Now they want --
Q Mr. President --
THE PRESIDENT: Now they want my first call. I have no problem giving it to them, other than I don't like giving calls to the media when I'm dealing with foreign nations. But I will give it if they want it.
Q One more point: Gordon Sondland said that at -- Gordon Sondland said, at the beginning of September, he presumed there was a quid pro quo. Then there was a telephone call to you on September the 9th. Had he ever talked to you prior to that telephone call about what you wanted in Ukraine?
THE PRESIDENT: Let me just tell you, I hardly know the gentleman. But this is the man who said there was no quid pro quo, and he still says that --
Q He said that he presumed there was.
THE PRESIDENT: -- and he says that I said that. And he hasn't changed that testimony.
So this is a man that said, as far as the President is concerned, there was no quid pro quo. Everybody that has testified -- even the ones that are Trump haters -- they've all been fine. They don't have anything.
But now they want the first call with the President of Ukraine. If they want it, I'll probably give it to them. But they really want it badly. If they want it, I will probably give it to them.
I don't like doing it because it sets a bad precedent, John. Because every time President Xi calls or somebody calls from China, if I speak to Kim Jong Un -- are they worried about me giving the call? But in this case, because the press has been duped into a hoax -- and, in some cases, they've really started the hoax -- I will give the letter if they want it.
Q Mr. President --
THE PRESIDENT: But I do say this about that call: I think that's a very revealing call.
Q Mr. President, you've been invited to Russia for the May Day parade. The Russians are eagerly awai- -- are you going?
THE PRESIDENT: That's right. I was invited. I am thinking about it. It's right in the middle of our campaign season. But I am thinking -- I would certainly think about it. President Putin invited me to the --
Q May Day parade.
THE PRESIDENT: That's a very big -- it's a very big deal -- celebrating the end of the war, et cetera, et cetera. It's a very big deal. So I appreciate the invitation.
It is right in the middle of political season, so I'll see if I can do it. But I would love to go if I could.
Q Bill Barr and the DOJ are not denying that you asked him to have a press conference to say that --
THE PRESIDENT: Well, they're not saying anything. Let me tell you: I never asked --
THE PRESIDENT: Listen. I never asked him for a press conference. It's fake news by the Washington Post, which is a fake newspaper. It's fake. It's made up.
And if I ask Bill Barr to have a press conference, I think he'd do it. But I never asked him to have a press conference. Why should I? You know why I wouldn't do it? Because the phone call was perfect. Just read the transcript of the phone call. Nobody has to have a press conference.
I think if I asked him, and we -- by the way, we confirmed. I never asked him. I think if I did ask him -- I haven't said this yet, and I don't think I will; I'm sure I won't. But if I asked him to have a press conference, I think he would.
With that being said, it's fake news. They wrote a fake story. We've told them that before they wrote the story. But today, when you tell the press something, it's meaningless because they write whatever -- it's all fiction. And I'll tell you, they don't have sources. You know what they do? They make it up. Not everybody -- not John, not everybody. But they make it up.
THE PRESIDENT: (Inaudible.)
Q Are you going to release the Pence -- are you going to release the Pence transcript?
THE PRESIDENT: What?
Q You say, "Read the transcript." Are you going to release the Pence transcript as well, sir?
THE PRESIDENT: What they want is they want my first phone call. I had another phone call, and it's a very important phone call. And it came to my attention last night that they want the first phone call.
Now, the problem I have in releasing the first phone call -- because that was actually the second phone call. And it's --
Q The one we saw is the second phone call?
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah. And it's a perfect call. But they found out there's another phone call. And that's the first phone call. And they want it released and we're considering that.
Q How about the Pence phone calls?
THE PRESIDENT: Which one?
Q The Mike Pence phone calls.
THE PRESIDENT: That I don't know. I don't know about any calls. I mean, I would -- I have no problem. It's up to Mike, but I have no problem.
Q Mr. President, you keep calling this a "coup" rather than an -- you're calling this a "coup" rather than an impeachment. So if it's a coup --
THE PRESIDENT: Well, you know what it is, really? It's a crooked deal. This is like the fake dossier. This is like everything else.
These are crooked people. They lost an election and they lost it big. It was really a landslide, from the Electoral College standpoint. And they lost it big and they still haven't recovered. And they're going to lose again. And what they're trying to do is weaken me, but it's actually made me stronger.
And interestingly, if you look at the polls that just came out, my polls are up, the fundraising is through the roof. It's never been this high. We just set fundrai- -- because people are angry about it. And it's made Republicans and people that vote for me -- not just Republicans -- really angry. They've really become angry, because it's a hoax.
And I'll tell you, the whistleblower -- I call him the "fake whistleblower." He gave a fake report of my phone call. And when I did it -- all of a sudden, when I released that call, all of a sudden, everybody disappeared. The whistleblower disappeared.
What ever happened to the second whistleblower? Why isn't the first whistleblower going to testify anymore? You know why? Because everything he wrote in that report, almost, was a lie. Because he made a phony phone call. My phone call was perfect. He made it sound bad. That's why I had to release.
Now they -- so the whistleblower is a disgrace to our country. A disgrace. And the whistleblower, because of that, should be revealed. And his lawyer -- who said the worst things possible, two years ago -- he should be sued, and maybe for treason. Maybe for treason. But he should be sued. His lawyer is a disgrace. A disgrace.
And then ask him this: Where is the second whistleblower? Right? Where is the witness that gave the whistleblower the information? They all disappeared because Adam Schiff is a corrupt politician. He's corrupt. He made up a speech and he put my voice in it. He made up a speech. It had nothing to do with what I said. Adam Schiff is a corrupt politician that's not giving us due process, not giving us lawyers. And despite all that, we're kicking their ass.
Q Mr. President, why do Bill Taylor and Alexander Vindman still work for you?
THE PRESIDENT: Every one of those people testified absolutely fine for me. They've gone out, and they've gone out of their way to find the people that hate Donald Trump -- President Trump -- the most. They put them up there; everybody has been absolutely fine.
And they have -- you know, I don't even know most of these people. Many of these people, I've never even heard of. So what Crooked Schiff is doing -- he's a corrupt politician. What this corrupt politician does is he looks all over, tries to find people that don't like Trump, and he puts them up.
We are winning so big. My polls are the highest they've ever been. I'm leading in all of the states -- every swing state. The fundraising numbers just came in; they're the highest, I think, in history. I don't think anybody's ever had -- and I'll tell you what, we are winning so big because we're going along.
These are corrupt politicians, and that includes Nancy Pelosi. She's a corrupt politician. She should go back to her district, which is horrible. It's filthy. It's drug-infested. Their stuff is being flown out to the ocean. It's being wiped out to the ocean through their drainage system. You got to see what happening in San Francisco. Nancy Pelosi ought to focus on her district.
But these are corrupt politicians.
Q What's your message to black voters? What's your message to black voters? You're going to Atlanta. What is your message to black voters?
THE PRESIDENT: We're going to Atlanta. We have a, as you call it, black vote. But this is really -- we're doing very well with African American. I think a big factor is the fact that they're having the best economic year they've ever had in the history of our country.
And we're going there. We've been invited. And it's going to be -- I think it's going to be fantastic.
Q What's your reaction to Bloomberg entering the race?
Q Are you worried about Bloomberg? Can you beat Michael Bloomberg? He's a real billionaire.
THE PRESIDENT: I've known Michael Bloomberg for a long time. If you go back early on, he had -- he said a lot of great things about Trump. But I know Michael. He became just a nothing. He was really a nothing. He's not going to do well, but I think he's going to hurt Biden, actually. But he doesn't have the magic to do well.
Little Michael will fail. He'll spend a lot of money. He's got some really big issues, he's got some personal problems, and he's got a lot of other problems.
But I know Michael Bloomberg fairly well -- not too well, fairly well -- well enough. He will not do very well. And if he did, I'd be happy. There is nobody I'd rather run against than Little Michael, that I can tell you.
Q The Democrats say that by keeping White House officials from going up to give deposition, that's evidence that the White House is obstructing and could lead to an article of impeachment on obstruction.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, they're making it up. First of all, this whole thing is a phony deal. It's a phony setup. When you look at the lawyer that got it started -- the whistleblower lawyer, he got it started. It's a phony deal. These Democrats are corrupt. Nancy Pelosi is a corrupt politician.
Shifty Schiff is a double corrupt politician. He took my words on the phone call -- and they were so good. He totally changed them. He went before Congress. He made his speech before Congress. And in the speech, John, he said things that were horrible. It bore no relationship to the call. And then, later on, he was embarrassed.
Let me tell you something: Schiff is a corrupt politician, and our people know it. And they know it too, by the way.
Just so you know, we have the highest poll numbers. We have the most energy. I was with Mitch McConnell and a whole group of people last night, and I was with -- actually, I was with leaders of faith and evangelical leaders. They said they have never -- all of them -- they have never had the energy that we've had and we have now in the Republican Party and beyond the Republican Party -- people that were Democrats and they're for Trump. And we've never had the poll numbers (inaudible).
Q But can -- can you explain -- can you explain, just so that people understand, why you are not allowing people like Mick Mulvaney and others to comply with subpoenas?
THE PRESIDENT: Because I don't want to give credibility to a corrupt witch hunt. I'd love to have Mick go up, frankly. I think he'd do great. I'd love to have him go up. I'd love to have almost every person go up, when they know me.
What I don't like is when they put all these people that I never met before -- when they put the head of the Never Trumpers on the stand. And even those people were okay. They were fine. Those are the people. People I never even heard of. The people that I know, I would love to have them go up.
Now, the rest is up to the lawyers. I have to do what the lawyers say, to a certain extent. Not always, but, you know, to a certain extent.
THE PRESIDENT: Was it about privilege?
THE PRESIDENT: But -- but I will tell you, I like to have the people go up. Except one thing: It validates a corrupt investigation. Adam Schiff -- he's a corrupt politician. He's as corrupt as you'll ever see -- when he makes up my words, and reads fake words to Congress, and he acts so innocent. He's a corrupt politician.
Okay. Thank you.
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