PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, thank you very much. It’s a great honor to have the President of Italy with us. He is a man of great distinction. He’s highly respected in this country. And it’s nice to have you at the White House. Thank you very much, Mr. President.
We’ve had a great relationship with Italy for a long time. I don’t think it’s ever been closer than it is now. We have won a $7.5 billion award from, as you know — I guess it’s been pretty big news. And I know that this is against the European Union and World Trade — good ole World Trade. For a long time, they’ve been taking advantage of the United States. And I know Turkey is going to talk to us about their share of it because they feel they shouldn’t have to pay so much.
And if you look at what’s going on, Italy is complaining about it. Turkey is com- — everybody is complaining about it. Turkey is complaining about a lot of things, and we’re handling Turkey very nicely. But we have many countries complaining about the different awards that we’ve been winning lately from the courts. And the reason we’re winning is we’re properly represented.
We’re winning, in the case of the European Union, $7.5 billion. And Italy has a percentage of that to pay. And, in the — in other cases, we’ve won. And we have a lot of money coming into the United States for the first time ever. Tremendous amounts of money in many different forms, including tariffs.
Our farmers now have been taken care of well. China has already started their purchases. There was some misreporting, which does not — frankly, I’m not at all surprised — but there’s been some misreporting that China will start purchasing when the deal is signed.
The deal is being papered right now. Bob Lighthizer is with us. Mike Pompeo is with us. And they’re going to be joining us for the discussion.
But there have been some reports that China is not buying until the deal is signed. No, China has started buying already from the farmers. It’ll be anywhere from $40 [billion] to $50 billion, which is far more than anybody thought or expected. It’s a great deal for the farmers. I think the farmers will come out — along with many other industries in the United States — will come out as one of the big beneficiaries of the trade deal with China.
But they have already started purchasing; in fact, they started purchasing three weeks ago. You can see the numbers for yourself. It’s great for our country. It’s great for — I think it’s great for China, too. But it’s something that’s already taken effect, even though the deal won’t be signed probably until I meet with President Xi in Chile, where we have a summit. So that’ll be good.
But the World Trade — as you know, we won $7.5 billion, and that is being distributed among various countries in the European Union. Italy is one of those countries. And I know that the President of Italy wants to discuss that, and it’s one of the discussions.
And the other thing, of course, is trade and numerous elements of the military, and terrorism, and security. So, we’ll be discussing everything.
And I’m pleased to report that in Syria, Turkey — the border — we only had 28 soldiers, not 50. We thought it was 50. Somebody reported 50. It was actually down to 28. They were removed a while ago. All American soldiers are away from the site.
Syria and Turkey may fight. Syria is friendly with the Kurds. The Kurds are very well protected; plus, they know how to fight. And, by the way, they’re no angels, but they were with us. They are no angels. But they are fighting. We are largely out of that area. We’re very well set. We have quite a contingent, right nearby, of soldiers and of the finest equipment in the world. I don’t think we’ll have to use it.
So, Syria is either negotiating with or talking to Turkey. We’re also talking to Turkey. We’ve put massive sanctions on Turkey. Sanctions work, frankly, better than fighting. Certainly when you’re down to 28 people, we’re not going to be fighting. We didn’t want to fight anyway. I don’t think there’s any reason to, from the United States’ standpoint.
Now, as to Syria wanting to take back their land, that’s a whole different story. If Syria wants to fight for their land, that’s up to Turkey and Syria, as it has been for hundreds of years, they’ve been fighting. And the Kurds have been fighting for hundreds of years — that whole mess. It’s been going along for a long time.
Syria may have some help with Russia, and that’s fine. It’s a lot of sand. They’ve got a lot of sand over there. So there’s a lot of sand that they can play with.
But we were supposed to be there for 30 days; we stayed for 10 years. And it’s time for us to come home. We’re not a policing agent, and it’s time for us to come home.
But we’re working with Turkey. We’re working with talking to everybody in the area — whatever we can to do keep it stable or stabilize it as much as possible, knowing that it’s possibly never going to be very stable.
And we are — I think we’re in a very good position in the Middle East. I think we’re very, very strong in the Middle East. Iran is going to hell; their economy is in deep trouble. Their GDP went down 20 percent, which nobody ever even heard of before. Probably 25 percent.
We’ll be talking to Iran also. They want very much to talk. The sanctions with Iran — all of the things that we’ve done, including some tariffs and different things having to do with countries that are dealing with them that we put on — all of the economic sanctions are working very well.
So, Iran will be an interesting case, but we’ll see. They want to talk. We’ll see whether or not they talk. If they talk, good. And if they don’t talk, that’s okay, too. But I think we’re doing a very good job in the sense of, strategically, we have Syria talking about their land. It’s not our land. Turkey has gone on to Syria. And, if Turkey goes into Syria, that’s between Turkey and Syria; it’s not between Turkey and the United States, like a lot of stupid people would like us to — would like you to believe.
And I watched, last night — a couple of people understood. Actually, a couple of the Democrats — I won’t say which ones — but a couple of the more competent Democrats actually understood what I was doing and what the plan is.
But, really, the plan is to get out of endless wars, to bring our soldiers back home, to not be policing agents all over the world. If you look at other countries — Russia, China — they don’t have countries to take care of. We have — we’re close to 90 countries, in one form or another. We’re in 90 countries all over the world, policing and — frankly, many of those countries, they don’t respect what we’re doing, they don’t even like what we’re doing, and they don’t like us.
So, we’re looking all over the world. There’s tremendous amounts of money, manpower, lives that we save by doing it much differently. If people aren’t respecting what we’re going to be doing, that’s too bad.
You read where we’re sending some troops to Saudi Arabia. That’s true. Because we want to help Saudi Arabia. They have been a very good ally. They’ve agreed to pay for the cost of those troops. They’ve agreed to pay fully for the cost of everything we’re doing over there. That’s something you have never heard before, I think, as long as you’ve been standing out there. I think you — the media has never heard that before.
But Saudi Arabia has graciously agreed to pay for the full cost of everything we’re doing for them. We’re sending some tremendous missiles over. We’re sending some great power over to Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is paying for 100 percent of the cost, including the cost of our soldiers. And that negotiation took a very short time — like, maybe, about 35 seconds.
And I would like now to introduce the President of Italy to say a few words. And I’m sure you’re going to have many questions for him.
PRESIDENT MATTARELLA: (As interpreted.) Well, Mr. President, thank you very much for your kind invitation and for a very warm welcome to the White House. Thank you for the very interesting remarks you just made. I’m sure we will be discussing all of these issues during our talks later on in a full spirit of loyalty and cooperation, which is what friends and allies have to do.
Italy and the U.S. share a set of values, a set of cultures. Our bond is fostered by our human relations. And I’m very pleased to be here in this moment in time as we celebrate the Italian-American Heritage Month.
And again, I’m very happy to be here to meet with you, Mr. President. It’s a pleasure to see you again after we met at the G20 Summit in Taormina, Sicily. Our meeting, again, is proof of the friendship between our countries, as also testified by our common belonging to the Atlantic Alliance and, of course, by the human bonds that our countries share and by the long friendship and alliance that we have.
And as you may remember, Mr. President, when we met in the summit in Taormina, the weather was wonderful. It was also beautiful here yesterday, as well. And, of course, the fact that we can meet in different places around the world testifies to how solid our bonds are.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I think the bonds between Italy and the United States have never been more solid. I have so many Italian friends. I can’t tell you how many Italian friends. And we have a lot also in your government. We have a lot of great friends in your government.
I think the WTO award has been testament to a lot of good work by the Trump administration. We never won with the WTO, or essentially never won. Very seldom did we win. And now we’re winning a lot. We’re winning a lot because they know if we’re not treated fairly, we’re leaving. Because we were a piggybank that every other country was robbing. And China became rich because of the WTO. That’s when China really ascended. That’s when China went up. That’s when they made their great rise. They were flat lining, and then, all of a sudden, around the year 2000, 2001, when they got involved with the WTO, it became a whole different story.
And China was taking $500 billion a year out of the United States, plus intellectual property theft and many other things. And it was — I give China a lot of credit. I give the people that ran our country no credit. I give them discredit for what they allowed to happen.
But the WTO — that’s the World Trade Organization — has been very unfair to the United States. They know I feel that way, and I think since they know I feel that way, all of a sudden, we’re starting to win very big awards.
The $7.5 billion that we won is going to be discussed. The percentage — a percentage of that is to be paid by Italy. And Italy thinks that we’re charging them too much, and we will certainly take that under consideration. And we will discuss that today.
We’re also discussing some very big trade deals. Actually, Italy is a very major trade partner with us. We do a lot of trade together. And they make incredible product. We buy and they buy. And we have a very good relationship — sometimes stymied by the European Union, which is, frankly, very tough to deal with and very tough negotiators, very unfair negotiators. They know I feel that way. And we’ll see what happens, ultimately, with the European Union. But they have been very unfair to the United States. Italy, on the other hand, they’ve been a great partner.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: He didn’t say that at all. He’s meeting. And he’s meeting today with some of our representatives. Mike Pence is leaving today, as you know. We needed to take an extra day for security reasons. But Mike is leaving. Mike Pompeo will be meeting also, who is here right now with us. And he is going to be joining the meeting. We have a lot of great people over there. We’ll see.
In the meantime, our soldiers are not in harm’s way — as they shouldn’t be — as two countries fight over land that has nothing to do with us.
And the Kurds are much safer right now, but the Kurds know how to fight. And, as I said, they’re not angels. They’re not angels, if you take a look. You have to go back and take a look. But they fought with us. We paid a lot of money for them to fight with us, and that’s okay. They did well when they fought with us; they didn’t do so well when they didn’t fight with us.
When I refused to allow the Americans, a year and a half ago, to fight with the Kurds against Iraq, I said, “Wait a minute, this country, stupidly, just spent a fortune on fighting for, with, around Iraq.” Nobody knows how they spent it. But they spent — actually, we’re in the Middle East now for $8 trillion, if you can believe that stupidity. But, in Iraq, we’re in for probably $5.5 trillion. So they’re telling me, “Wait a minute, we just spent $5.5 trillion fighting in Iraq and with Iraq. And now we’re supposed to spend money to fight with the Kurds against Iraq.” I said, “No, thank you.”
So what happens is, when I said we’re not going to fight with the Kurds, the Kurds left. They didn’t want to fight against Iraq, which right now isn’t the greatest fighting force in the world. That happened twice. The Kurds, actually, are pulling back substantially from Turkey. And Syria is pulling in. Syria probably will have a partner of Russia — whoever they may have. I wish them all a lot of luck. You know, Russia was involved in Afghanistan. Used to be called the Soviet Union. Now it’s called Russia for a reason, because they lost so much money in Afghanistan, that they had to downsize. A very big downsizing.
So, if Russia wants to get involved with the — with Syria, that’s really up to them. They have a problem with Turkey, they have a problem at a border. It’s not our border. We shouldn’t be losing lives over it.
But again, we only had 28 soldiers. It was 26, 28. I got all different numbers. It ends up being 28 — between the 26, 28. Two people, and they’re fully accounted for.
So, that’s the story. It’s very simple. And we’re watching and we’re negotiating, and we’re trying to get Turkey to do the right thing, because we’d like to stop wars regardless. Whether Americans are in or whether they’re not in, we want to see wars stopped. That’s a very important thing. On a humanitarian basis, we want to see that happen.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: So I view the situation on the Turkish border with Syria to be, for the United States, strategically brilliant. Our soldiers are out of there. Our soldiers are totally safe. They’ve got to work it out. Maybe they can do it without fighting. Syria is protecting the Kurds. That’s good.
We are — and, by the way, every player hates ISIS. Everybody we’re talking about. Syria more than us. Russia more than us. They’ve done a big number on Russia. And we’re over there fighting ISIS, but they’re over there fighting ISIS, too. They can handle it, and they should handle it. We can fight our own battles on our own territories.
But you have a lot of countries over there that hate ISIS as much as we do; in some cases, probably more. So they can take care of ISIS. We have them captured. The United States captured them. Some were released just for effect — to make us look a little bit like, “Oh, gee, we’ve got to get right back in there.” But you have a lot of countries over there that have power and that hate ISIS very much, as much as we do.
So I think we’re in a very strategically good position. I know the fake news doesn’t make it look that way, but we have — we’ve removed all of our, as we said, 50 soldiers, but much less than 50 soldiers. They’re now in a very — very safe location, heading into an even safer location.
And we will help negotiate. We have tremendously powerful sanctions. Our country has become economically much more powerful than, frankly, it ever was. We’ve picked up trillions and trillions of dollars in worth. The market was up big yesterday. It’s going to be up big today, it looks like. The trade deal with China, just having to do with what we’ve done with the financial services, with banks, with the farmers, has been incredible — far greater than anyone ever thought.
I agree, it hasn’t been papered yet, but it’s being papered. But, in the meantime, as you know and as we’ve said many times, China has already started buying. They want to buy. They want to make a deal. They really have to make a deal. Their economy has been hurt very badly by what we’ve done and by the tariffs that we’ve charged.
And we’ve taken in tremendous amounts of tariffs. A small portion of them we’ve given to the farmer, which — the farmers — which has more than made up for what they’ve lost.
And because of the newfound economic power of the United States, because of the fact that we’ve made so many trillions — many, many trillions of dollars in worth of the United States — I call it the “newfound economic power” — if my opponent would’ve won, China would right now be the most powerful nation, economically, in the world. And, right now, they’re not even close. And if we’re smart, they never will get close. But it depends on who sits in this chair.
But the United States has tremendous economic power. Far more power than playing around with having a few soldiers shooting each other at the border. I mean, you have a few soldiers back and forth, killing each other at the border. The power we have with sanctions and tariffs is far greater than what we’re talking about.
With that being said, our military has been completely rebuilt. Much of the equipment has already been delivered. We spent two and a half trillion dollars rebuilding it over the last three years. And our military power is at the highest level, and our economic power is at the highest level. But I’d always rather use economic power before I use military power, because people aren’t getting killed with economic power. Okay?
Q Mr. President, you’re scheduled to see House Speaker Nancy Pelosi today. How do you expect that meeting to go?
PRESIDENT MATTARELLA: (As interpreted.) Before the members of the press introduce topics that have already been discussed this morning, President Trump was talking about the possible implementation of tariffs on European products following the whole Airbus affair. Of course, that’s a topic that we will certainly be discussing this morning, and I do hope that we can come up with a cooperative-based approach and a frank discussion, so we can avoid retaliation between the two parties.
Italy and I — myself, personally — have always felt that it’s better to talk things through to find a common solution, to find some sort of understanding for one another’s stances. Because the alternative to that would be tariffs followed by retaliation, followed by further tariffs. And we also have to understand that we are waiting for a solution of the Boeing affair, as well.
So, of course, within the spirit of the Atlantic Alliance, within the spirit of the friendship we’ve always had, I do feel it would be best to discuss these things and understand one another.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, in theory, there can’t be retaliation because this was an award that we got because of the fact that the European Union took advantage of past Presidents, and this was an award that we got for the unfair treatment given to the United States by the European Union. So there should be no retaliation.
This was getting us even because $7.5 billion worth of things happened — bad things happened, unfair things happened — to the United States by the European Union. So this was just getting us back to even. And nobody else but me would’ve gotten that $7.5 billion back for the taxpayers of the United States.
Q Mr. President, I’m sure you saw reports that John Bolton said that Rudy Giuliani was like a “hand grenade” the way he was acting. And are you concerned that Bolton could be called to testify in your impeachment inquiry?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Look, John Bolton — I got along well with him. Some people didn’t; some people didn’t like John Bolton. I actually got along with him pretty well. It just didn’t work out. I don’t know that he got along with Rudy Giuliani.
Rudy Giuliani was seeking out corruption, and what happens mostly in the 2016 election, because there was tremendous corruption in the 2016 election. I think even you would admit that. The election was — it was disgraceful what happened, and what happened to me, and what happened to the Republicans. And that continues with Nancy Pelosi and with Schiff. Adam Schiff got caught making up statements that he said I said, that I didn’t say — which is fraud. I mean, it’s purely fraudulent. So it continues.
So, Rudy was a great prosecutor. He was the best mayor in the history of the city of New York, as far as I can see. I think he’s pretty much acknowledged — what he did for crime and everything else. And when he saw what was going on with our election of 2016 — the election I won, but the election that was absolutely corrupted by things that took place in government. Now, we’ll see what happens. The IG report is going to come out soon, and we’ll see what happens.
I think people — I know nothing about it, in terms of the report. I’m waiting for the report like everybody else. But I predict you will see things that you don’t even believe, the level of corruption — whether it’s Comey; whether it’s Strzok and his lover, Page; whether it’s so many other people — McCabe; whether it’s President Obama himself. Let’s see whether or not it’s President Obama. Let’s see whether or not they put that in.
So, Rudy saw that. And I can tell you, Rudy Giuliani — because was very, very incensed at the horrible things that he saw, as are many people, okay? And many Republicans. And the Republicans have been treated very unfairly by the Democrats. I’ll say this: Paul Ryan would never issue a subpoena. I don’t say right or wrong. He wouldn’t do it. He had too much respect for our country. Nancy Pelosi hands them out like cookies. Everybody — I don’t even know these people. And for the most part, people like that are test- — I don’t even know who they are. I never even heard of some of them, most of them.
But I have all these people testifying. And then they leak out. They don’t say the goods parts; they only say the bad parts. We’re not allowed to representation. We’re not allowed to lawyers. We’re not allowed to have anything. The Democrats are treating the Republicans very, very badly. Fortunately, we have a lot of good, strong, smart Republicans. But they never dealt, Jon, with the Democrats the way the Democrats deal. And the Republicans won’t forget it because what they’re doing, what the Democrats are doing to this nation is a disgrace.
What they have done — the disrespect that they’ve shown to the presidency — and it’ll happen to them. Because if the Republicans have the House, which I think they will — because of impeachment, I think — because of this nonsense impeachment. It’s based on a perfect phone conversation — an absolutely perfect phone conversation with the President of Ukraine.
A friend of mine, who’s a top lawyer, read it. He said, “This is perfect. You didn’t say…” Did you know this was going to happen? I actually thought it was going to happen. There were many people listening to that conversation, because when I speak to a leader — like, if I speak to the President of Italy, if I speak to anybody — I know that there are many intelligence people on the line. I know that, I mean, with my understanding and knowledge. I don’t know exactly who, but I assume there are many people.
Fortunately, they had transcribers, stenographers — people that do this for a living — on the line because we have an exact copy of the report, of the call.
So the call was put out immediately when I started hearing about the whistleblower. Well, the whistleblower’s report was totally wrong. The whistleblower didn’t know what he was talking about, or was given false information, or it was even worse than that. Now, all of a sudden, Schiff doesn’t want to talk to the whistleblower. Now, all of a sudden, quid pro quo doesn’t matter because now they see, in the call, there was no quid pro quo.
So, with Rudy, Rudy was seeking out corruption. And I think there’s nothing wrong seeking out corruption.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: That, you have to ask — excuse me, no. You have to ask Rudy those questions. Don’t ask me. But Rudy was one of many people that was incensed at the corruption that took place during that election. Pure corruption.
For instance, I still ask the FBI: Where is the server? How come the FBI never got the server from the DNC? Where is the server? I want to see the server. Let’s see what’s on the server. So, the server, they say, is held by a company whose primary ownership individual is from Ukraine. I’d like to see the server. I think it’s very important for this country to see the server. Nobody wants to see it. The media never wants to see it. But I’ll tell you, Republicans want to see it.
So, Republicans aren’t treated well. And here’s the problem: I think we’re going to take the House, based on what’s happening with the impeachment stuff. And the Republicans can do the same thing in reverse if they ever have — and I hope it’s going to be a long time, because nobody has done a better job with the economy, with our military, with — I’ve rebuilt the military. Our economy is the best it’s ever been. We have numbers that just came out where, not including taxes, the median household income for the average American has increased $5,000 in a very short time since I’ve been President. Nobody has ever heard of numbers like that.
So, people want to find out: Why was it so corrupt during that election? And I want to find out more than anybody else.
Q One of the things that has been exposed by this Turkey situation is that as many as 50 nuclear weapons are at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey. How confident are you of those weapons’ safety?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: We’re confident, and we have a great — a great air base there, a very powerful air base. That air base alone can take any place. It’s a large, powerful air base.
And, you know, Turkey — just so people remember — Turkey is a NATO member. We’re supposed to get along with our NATO members, and Turkey is a NATO member. Do people want us to start shooting at a NATO member? That would be a first. And that’s all involved having to do with NATO.
Q Mr. President, you’re going to be seeing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi today. How do you anticipate that conversation?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, I’d say this: I think that she’s done this country a tremendous disservice. She’s created a phony witch hunt — another one. The first one failed. They’re all failing. This one is just absolutely crazy. All you have to do is read the transcript of the call. Read the transcript. This is a open and shut, simple case. They’re desperate because they know they’re going to lose the election. They’re desperate to do something because they know they’re going to lose the election.
This administration has created the strongest economy in the history of our country. We have the greatest stock market. We had — over 100 times, we broke the record for stock market. People’s — if you look at people’s stocks, their 401(k)s; if you look at anything you want to look at, they’re far better off now than they probably ever have been in this country. Record stock markets. And don’t forget, stock market is not just rich people; it’s all people. Because all people own in the stock markets. The New York Stock Exchange, all of them — they’re at record highs. Nobody has ever done what we’ve done.
So, they’re playing games. They figure they can’t win the election, so maybe we can find some ground. “We’ll get somebody that Trump never met, and maybe they’ll say something bad about Trump. And if they do really bad, maybe it can stick a little bit.” I don’t think it’s going to work. They’ve treated the Republican Party with great disrespect.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: My meeting with the family was really — it was beautiful, in a certain way. They did not want to meet with the person in question. But we had a very good meeting. They’re very nice people. And we met with the full group. It was four people, actually, as you — you know how it’s all broken up. And the meeting took place right here at about 6 o’clock last night, and it was very sad, to be honest. She lost, and they lost, their son. I believe it was going down the wrong way, because that happens in Europe. You go to Europe and the roads are opposite. And it’s very tough.
If you’re from the United States, you do make that decision to make a right turn where you’re supposed to make a left turn. The roads are opposite. And she said that’s what happened. That happens to a lot of people, by the way. But she said that’s what happened. She was in the room right out there. We met right here, in these — this area. And I offered to bring the person in question in, and they weren’t ready for it. But I did offer.
I spoke with Boris. He asked me if I’d do that, and I did it. Unfortunately, they wanted to meet with her, and unfortunately when we had everybody together, they decided not to meet. Perhaps they had lawyers involved by that time. I don’t know exactly. I know the people were lovely. They were very nice. And they were, you know, desperately sad.
Q And, sir, did you suggest that the family had indicated at one point that they were interested in meeting with her?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I thought they were. Based on what I saw, they wanted to meet. But now they say they only want to meet if they’re in the UK. And that’ll be up to them. But I did meet the family, and I expressed condolences on behalf of our country.
Q Mr. President, because you’re winning so much with the WTO, because you’re growing the biggest economy —
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Wait, there’s a great question I’m being asked. This is maybe the greatest question I’ve been asked in a long time. Please put those mics over here. Go ahead.
Q Because you’re winning with the WTO, because you’re growing the biggest economy the world, are you willing to give Italy a break on tariffs?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: We are looking at Italy very strongly. And, as you know, the seven and a half is to be divided the way we say. We’ve divided it up. Italy has got a problem with the way we’ve divided it up because they said they had much less to do with it, and Germany had more to do with it, and France had more to do with it, as an example. So we are going to look at that very strongly. Ambassador Lighthizer is here. We’re going to look at it very strongly.
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Q Are you going to open up the meeting with Pelosi? Are you going to open up the meeting with Pelosi and bring us in?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Yeah, I’ll bring you in, right? I’ll bring you in. They’re doing a bad thing. I’ll talk to you. I’ll talk to you.
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