11:51 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I want to start by saying that, Rick, you've been very special. You're my friend. You've been an incredible representative of this country and this administration. What you've done on energy is unsurpassed. I don't know if anybody has done it better. And you have a fabulous man, at your recommendation, following you up.
SECRETARY PERRY: Indeed.
THE PRESIDENT: And he is going to be very, very outstanding. I have no doubt about it. I know him also. But he was your choice. And what you've done, really, would be hard to duplicate.
So you were a great governor of Texas and you were a great Secretary of Energy. And I'm not sure what you were better at, but I can tell you, as far as energy is concerned, we couldn't have asked for anything better. And I want to thank you for your work. We're going to be friends for a long time.
SECRETARY PERRY: Yes, indeed. Thank you, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: So, I want to just thank you for the outstanding job.
SECRETARY PERRY: Well, thank you, Mr. President. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Thank you also for the prayer.
Also, I want to wish Chad -- you're going to be in a very non-controversial position. (Laughter.) And I have no doubt you're going to do incredibly well. Our numbers on the border have gone down at record levels. People haven't seen anything. I want to thank Mexico for that, to a large extent.
We have loopholes that are all over the place. They could be changed in, as I say, 15 minutes if the Democrats did something, but they don't want to do anything. They're either bad people or incompetent people -- one or the other -- because it can only be one of those two.
We have three or four loopholes that would make it so easy, but they don't want to do anything about it. But we'll get it done. We probably have to wait until 2020 to get it done, so we can control things.
But I just want to thank you very much. It was great meeting your family the other day. And have fun as Acting, and let's see how things work out.
But the numbers that are being produced at the border now, the decline is record-setting. It's incredible what's happened. So -- and there are a lot of reasons for it. Mexico has helped. Mexico, as of today, has 27,000 soldiers on our southern border guarding. And they also have soldiers on their -- on what they call their southern border. And we call it a different name, but they call it their southern border.
But we have a tremendous amount of help. I think they have about five or six thousand soldiers there. Plus, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, we have agreements signed with them that nobody thought it would even be possible to get. And now, when people come from those countries, we bring them right back. And they've been very receptive. They've been great. All three countries have been very good.
So there have been tremendous changes made on our border, and I just want to wish you -- you've been there for a long time, and you've seen it in good times and bad times. But right now, it's been really very strong.
Despite our good economy, we have the greatest economy we've ever had. And a lot of people want to come up and take advantage of the economy. And we want them to come up and we want them to be a part of this country, but they have to do it through a legal process. They have to do it legally and they have to do it through merit too. We want people with skill that can come in and help our companies and make us even greater.
But we're having the greatest economic year we've ever had and, I guess you could say, the greatest employment year, because at this moment, we're close to 160 million people. That's more people than have ever worked in the history of our country. And African American employment, Asian American employment, and unemployment, by the way -- both -- because it's -- they are slightly different terms, if you think about it.
But I can talk to our great Secretary of -- our new Secretary and very talented Secretary of Labor.
But unemployment and -- and employment for African American, for Asian American, for Hispanic American is the best in the history of our country. For women, best in 71 years. I mean, we're doing numbers that we've never done before.
I saw this morning on -- it was just announced that Nasdaq, for just this year, is up 27 percent. And, to me, I don't view it as 27 percent; I view it as jobs. It's just jobs. Very simple.
The overall stock market is through the roof from the time of the election. It probably -- I guess it's now going to be -- it's to be bordering really on 70 percent from the time of the election. That's something that nobody would have thought possible.
And they announced another number this morning. That was a number that was very warm to my heart. Since the election, we've created $11 trillion in worth. Now, China has gone down by double that number, and we've gone up by $11 trillion. So when -- whoever it was that was going to be President, they said, "Within two years, China would overtake the United States as the world's largest economy." We're so far ahead of them right now, it's not even close. And if you have smart people in this position, they'll never catch us. They'll never catch us.
So we've accumulated -- we've picked up 11 trillion -- not billion, not million -- trillion dollars in wealth, in worth, since the time of the election.
And as you probably know, I think the number I saw was $24 trillion down -- I think it's higher than that -- for China and for a lot of other countries. If you look at Europe -- and that's despite the fact that Europe is not doing well; despite the fact that China is doing poorly. They're having the worst year in 57 years. And other things are happening.
The other thing: We're taking in tremendous -- billions and billions of dollars in tariffs. We're giving some of those to the targeted farmers because China targeted our farmers. So we're giving some of those tariffs, like -- Sonny, I guess we gave $16 billion for last year, $12 billion for the year before, because that's the amount of money that China took from our farmers in targeting them. And they got it back, and I think the farmers are very, very happy. Now China is buying again.
We just signed a tremendous trade deal with Japan; it's $40 billion. It's a tremendous -- $40 billion a year. That's a tremendous trade deal. And a lot of that goes to the farmers and manufacturers and tech companies.
We just signed a deal recently with South Korea, and that's been a beauty too.
So we have a lot of good things happening. We have to get USMCA signed. Nancy Pelosi can't get it off her desk. Just can't do it. The Democrats want to have it. The unions want it. The farmers want it. The manufacturers want it. I think the woman is grossly incompetent.
And we're having a problem, because Mexico and Canada are calling, saying, "What's going on?" And it's sitting on her desk. She doesn't need Democrats, because the Democrats are going to vote for it. All she has to do is put it up for a vote. She's said, for months now, "Oh, well, no." She likes it, she wants it, she likes it, she wants it.
The woman is grossly incompetent. All she wants to do is focus on impeachment, which is just a little pipe dream she's got. And she can keep playing that game.
And I've been told -- and who knows if this is so, but I think it's so; I have pretty good authority on it -- that's she's using USMCA, because she doesn't have the impeach -- impeachment votes. So she's using USMCA to get the impeachment vote. And it doesn't matter, because right now you have a kangaroo court headed by little Shifty Schiff, where we don't have lawyers, we don't have witnesses, we don't have anything.
And yet, I just got to watch -- and the Republicans are absolutely killing it. They are doing so well. Because it's a scam. It's a big scam. They're doing something that the Founders never thought possible and the Founders didn't want.
And they're using this impeachment hoax for their own political gain to try and damage the Republican Party and damage the President, but it's had the opposite effect. Because you've seen the polls and we're now the highest -- I'm the highest I've ever I've ever been in the polls. You don't hear that on television because the news and the Democrats are one and the same. But that's the story.
One other thing, I thought I'd bring it up while we're here: I went for a physical on Saturday. My wife said, "Oh, darling, that's wonderful." Because I had some extra time. Because it looks like January could be a busy month, if she is able to get the vote, which she should be able to. The woman is highly overrated. The woman is highly incompetent. And if she's able to get the votes -- or maybe she'll get it by using USMCA.
But I went for a physical. And I came back, my wife said, "Darling, are you okay?" "What's wrong?" "Oh, they're reporting you may have had a heart attack." I said, "Why did I have a heart attack?" "Because you went to Walter Reed Medical Center." That's where we go when we get the physicals.
I said, "I was only there for a very short period of time." I went -- did a very routine -- just a piece of it; the rest of it takes place in January -- did a very routine physical. Visited the family -- visited a couple of groups, but visited the family of a young soldier who was very badly injured, who was in the operating room. I toured the hospital for a little while. I was out of there very quickly.
I got back home. And I get greeted with the news that, "We understand you had a heart attack." I was called by our people in public relations. "Sir, are you okay?" I said, "Okay from what?" "The word is you had a heart attack. CNN said you may have had a heart attack. You had massive chest pains. You went to the hospital."
These people are sick. They're sick. And the press really, in this country, is dangerous. We don't have freedom of the press in this country; we have the opposite. We have a very corrupt media. And I hope they can get their act straightened out because it's very, very bad and very, very dangerous for our country.
Thank you very much. Go ahead. Please. Thank you. Thank you. Please, go.
Q Mr. President, do believe Lieutenant Colonel Vindman is credible, sir?
THE PRESIDENT: I don't know him. I don't know, as he says, "Lieutenant Colonel." I understand somebody had the misfortune of calling him "Mister," and he corrected them.
I never saw the man. I understand now he wears his uniform when goes in. No, I don't know Vindman at all.
What I do know is that even he said that the transcript was correct. And if anybody reads the transcripts -- I had two calls with the President of Ukraine, who, by the way, said there was no pressure whatsoever, there was no anything. They don't -- they probably think -- they can't -- they probably can't even understand what's going on with this country.
But Vindman -- I watched him for a little while this morning and I think he -- I'm going to let people make their own determination. But I don't know Vindman. I never heard of him. I don't know any of these people, other than I have seen one or two a couple of times; they're ambassadors.
But these are names that are -- like Taylor; like Kent, with the nice bowtie. Wonderful bowtie. Maybe I'll get one for myself someday. I don't know who Kent is. I don't know who Taylor is. All of these people are talking about -- they heard a conversation of a conversation of another conversation that was had by the President.
What's going on is a disgrace and it's an embarrassment to our nation. And, in the meantime, we can't get USMCA approved because Nancy Pelosi is grossly incompetent. She is incompetent. And you're about to find that out.
Thank you all very much. Thank you.
Q The China deal. It's been a month since the agreement in principle --
THE PRESIDENT: Say it?
Q It's been a month since you had an agreement in principle. I was wondering if you can explain what the holdup is.
THE PRESIDENT: Look, China is going to have to make a deal that I like. If they don't, that's it. Okay? I'm very happy with China right now. They're paying us billions and billions. We'll be over a hundred billion dollars in the not-too-distant future. China -- they never gave us 10 cents.
And I've told you: I gave a lot of money to the farmers. I'm helping people that need help because China is paying us tremendous -- and they're paying for it. Those tariffs are not paid by us. Those tariffs are paid because they're devaluing their currency and pouring cash into their economy. Their supply chains are being killed. And I said it: They had their worst year in 57 years.
Now, with that being said, I have a good relationship with China. We'll see what happens, but I'm very happy right now. If we don't make a deal with China, I'll just raise the tariffs even higher. Thank you very much.
12:04 P.M. EST