September 4, 2020: Watch Live as President Donald J. Trump holds a news conference from the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room at The White House.
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
5:45 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, everybody, very much. Thank you. So, as we begin Labor Day Weekend, America’s unprecedented economic recovery continues. You see what’s going on. It’s been pretty amazing. The United States economy added today — announced this morning — 1.4 million jobs last month, bringing the total to over 10.6 million jobs created in just four months. That’s a record, by far.
In August, we added 249,000 retail jobs; 174,000 leisure and hospitality jobs; and 29,000 new manufacturing jobs. The unemployment rate plummeted to 8.4 percent, the second-largest, single-month drop ever recorded, surpassed only by our big decline in June.
Last month, we saw large declines in the unemployment rate for African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Asian Americans — very big declines. We’re witnessing the fastest labor market recovery from any economic crisis in history, by far.
By contrast, the last administration had the slowest, weakest, and worst recovery in American history. That was well documented, as you know.
This year, the United States has seen the smallest economic contraction of any major Western nation, and we are recovering at a much faster rate than any other nation.
Business confidence is higher today in America than in any other G7 or EU country — that covers a lot of territory. So we have the business confidence is higher than many — than any of those countries.
In July, retail sales not only recovered, but reached a new all-time high. So think of that: retail sales. That’s a very basic statistic, and it’s a big statistic. It not only recovered, but reached the highest level ever. Auto sales have surged to an incredible 74 percent since their April low and are nearly back to their pre-virus levels. And that’s been a tremendous thing. Used cars and new cars have been both doing incredibly well.
Mortgage applications were 27 percent higher in August than during the same period last year. Homebuilder sentiment reached the highest level on record, indicating that more high-paying construction jobs are on the way. Homebuilding has been great and lending has been really incredible. U.S. manufacturing activity reached a 19-month high in August.
While my administration has fought every day to restore prosperity, however, Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats in Congress are holding additional China virus relief hostage to — to reasons that nobody understands. I guess I do; I think I understand. It’s called politics.
And speaking of politics, I think North Carolina, I think that Michigan and Pennsylvania and other states, they should open. The governors — the Democrat governors — should open their states. They’ll open them on November 4th. But they should open them now. It’s very unfair to the people to have those shutdowns continuing at the level that they’re continuing.
Democrats are insisting on a massive taxpayer bailout of badly run blue states, stimulus checks for illegal aliens, and the mass release of inmates from jail. They want to release a lot of inmates, some of them for very serious reasons. They want to release them from jail. They want that part — as part of a stimulus package, can you believe it?
It’s time for the Democrats in Congress to start working across the aisle and put the American people first.
Now, we have $300 billion in a — an account that we didn’t use — $300 billion. And we are willing to use that. I would be willing to release it, subject to Congress, and use that as stimulus money, and it would go right to the American people. So we have $300 billion sitting in an account that we didn’t need because things are going so well with the economy.
But it would be a very appropriate thing to release that to the American people, and I am willing to do it; all we need as a signoff. But that doesn’t mean that we’re going to release prisoners. Some prisoners — some very vicious people, actually. We’re not going to put them on the streets like the Democrats want us to, and we’re not going to give stimulus checks to illegal aliens. They came into the country illegally, and now we give them a check? We want to give the checks to the American people.
So, remember, we have $300 million [billion]; it’s there. We don’t need the money. We don’t need anything. Just let that money get released to the American people.
As our economy rebounds, there’s only one thing that could stop the extraordinary economic comeback and wipe out the future of American workers — and that’s what the Democrats want to do with a $4 trillion tax hike — implementing things that will be really bad for our country. And this will just absolutely cripple what we’re doing on regulations and so many other elements of success.
We had the greatest economy in history, prior to the China virus coming in. Now they want to stop regulations. They want to bring up regulations to a level — stop the things that we’re doing, which are at a much smaller level, and bring up regulations at a level that nobody has ever seen before.
They want to do things that will make it impossible for any economy to grow. They want to ban fracking. And as you saw — ban, ban, ban. And all of a sudden, he sees his polls going down, and now he says, “Well, I was only talking about not maybe banning fracking,” but he wants to ban fracking.
And it doesn’t matter what he wants to ban; the people that control him want to ban fracking. And whether it’s Pennsylvania, Texas, Oklahoma, North Dakota — so many other states — you can’t ban fracking. That would be a disaster — Ohio. They want to abolish American energy — I mean, that’s what’s going to happen; adopt disastrous trade deals; and inflict a devastating shutdown.
As you know, he said we want to shut it down: “We would be willing to shut it down.” And you don’t shut down when we’re setting records. And, by the way, we’re rounding the corner. We’re rounding the corner on the virus.
Joe Biden’s blanket shutdown would collapse our economy. It would cause countless deaths from suicide, drug, alcohol abuse, heart disease, and more. You know, shutdowns cause a lot of problems — a lot of very serious problems — more so than the virus itself. Biden’s plan is not a solution; it’s a virtual surrender.
And our country is doing so well. We’re starting to do so well. I think we’re going to have a great third quarter. I mean, you’re going to see for yourself because the numbers will be announced sometime prior to the election on November 3rd.
And as you know, Joe spent his entire career sending American jobs to China and other faraway countries. For 47 years, people were pillaging our country — taking our jobs, taking our companies. And that’s never going to change with that mindset and with that group. Biden is not going to be standing up to these foreign countries. He’s not going to be standing up — maybe more importantly — to the people that run the Democrat Party. He doesn’t have the strength to do that.
He refuses even to condemn Antifa — a bad group, a far-left domestic terrorist organization. He doesn’t want to say anything bad about it. His plan to appease to the domestic terrorists is the exact opposite of what I’m doing now. I think you saw that last night.
Yesterday, the U.S. Marshals — we sent them in. U.S. Marshals. We were waiting for local government to take care of it, but they didn’t do that, so the U.S. Marshals went in — law enforcement. They took down the Antifa member who murdered a man in the middle of a street in Portland. The suspect was killed after drawing a weapon, when officers attempted to take him into custody. They wanted to take him in — the U.S. Marshals, incredible people.
So I want to thank them for their strength, their bravery. And I really do wish that the mayor of Portland and the governor of Oregon would get going and stop the crime in that city. It’d be so easy to do.
While we’re focused on creating good-paying jobs, the radical left is focused on unleashing vi- — really violent mobs. And you see that. Whether you’re conservative or liberal; Republican, Democrat, or independent, we must all agree the need for peace and order and safety.
Under my administration, law enforcement is conducting arrests nationwide of rioters, looters, and domestic terrorists. The reason we didn’t put Chicago into our list — where we’re holding back funds from some of these states and cities that are doing such a poor job, such an incompetent job — a job that nobody can even imagine how bad. And we’re holding it back until they get their act together.
And we are having a lot of people in Chicago right now, and you notice that their numbers are going down rapidly. But we have — we’ve deployed a lot of federal law enforcement inside of Chicago, and they’re taking out quite a few people. And they’re being arrested; they’re being put in jail. And that’s why you see those numbers going down. That’s why you see that, with respect to the mayor, we did not hold back funds in Chicago.
But New York is experiencing a tremendous crime wave; in some cases, up over 300 percent. And they have to do something quickly.
We just spoke to Mayor Bowser, and she’s willing to do whatever is necessary. We had a very good talk with her. That’s in D.C.
And the other places, they speak for themselves.
We’re working with the state and local authorities to comb through hours of video tape, identifying arrest suspects; and prosecute lawbreakers. We’ve already got over 300 in jail, and we have tremendous evidence.
And I want to thank the media for helping us out because they’re taking different angles — we have it from every different angle. You can’t probably have any better than what we’ve got. We see it from the sky and the ground, and from the right and from the left. So when they say they didn’t do it, we say, “Well, what’s this?” So we get that from the media, free of charge.
Under Operation LeGend, we’ve surged federal law enforcement to cities plagued by violent crime. The initiative has already resulted in tremendous success. And nationwide, we have over 2,000 arrests. We don’t talk about it too much, but now we might as well. So we’ve arrested over 2,000 criminals. They’re criminals. And in a single month, murder rate in Chicago — as you know, and as I said — it was cut in half, actually.
So, on the China virus front, the nations of Europe have experienced a 38 percent greater excess mortality than the United States — 38 percent more greater excess mortality than the United States. A lot of you don’t want to report that. And if we took New York out of the equation, there’s nobody even close. The job we’ve done is incredible. And we don’t get any credit for it, but we’ve done an incredible job.
Through Operation Warp Speed, we have three vaccines in the final stage of clinical trials. Yesterday, Pfizer announced — I just spoke to the head of Pfizer, great guy. They announced that it expects to have the results of its trial very, very shortly — next month — but very shortly.
We remain on track to deliver a vaccine before the end of the year and maybe even before November 1st. We think we can probably have it sometime during the month of October. And Pfizer is among the leaders, as you know, and it’s a great company. Johnson & Johnson also doing very well. Moderna. We have some really great companies. They’re all doing very well. They’re all in final stages, and I think you’re going to see results that are shockingly good.
Finally, I want to provide you with a brief update of the virus. Cases in the United States have declined 28 percent nationwide over the last month, and hospitalizations and deaths have continued to decline over the past week — very substantially decline.
Thanks to America’s medical genius, the mortality rate has been reduced by 85 percent in April. Mortality rate reduced by 85 percent. Hospital lengths of stay are one third of their average length in April. So the hospitalization is down. The length of stay is way down.
In order to keep making progress against the virus, we ask all Americans to remain vigilant, especially over Labors Da- — Labor Day. You know, you have the Labor Day Weekend coming upon us immediately — I guess we can say — pretty immediately. And we need everybody to be careful, to apply common sense, and do all of the things that we’ve told you to do as quickly — as much as you can — social distancing, wearing a mask whenever the distancing is not possible, and staying like — staying with a group that you know.
Let’s just try and get through this one weekend, and I think we have a chance of doing that. Just social distance, wash your hands — all of the hygiene things that we speak about. And we’re really rounding the turn.
And the vaccines are coming. The therapeutics have already come, but they continue to come. The convalescent plasma has had a tremendous impact already; you see what’s happening there. And remdesivir has been incredible.
So we have a lot of things happening. We have a lot of therapeutics coming out. I think — from the standpoint of common sense, I guess, therapeutics, to me — right now, you go into a hospital, you give somebody a shot or — or a transfusion. It might be a transfusion; probably more than 50 percent are actually transfusions. And they’ll leave the hospital shortly thereafter. I mean, to me, that’s more important, in a certain sense, than the vaccine. But the vaccines will be great over the long term; the therapeutics over the short term.
And also knowing you have the therapeutics, I think, is great from the standpoint of mind — from the standpoint of the mind. That’s great.
So I want to thank everybody for being here. I’m going to ask Larry Kudlow to give a couple of examples of how strong our economy is recovering, how strongly it’s recovering. And it’s setting records at every level, and we’re doing better than every other country. And we’re very proud of all of the people for doing such an incredible job. This is a “V.” It’s a “super V.”
Again, we have $300 billion ready to go. All Congress has to do is say, “Use it.” If they say, “Use it” — I’d like to use it without their permission, but I guess I’m not allowed to do that. I did ask that question. So Congress has to just say, “Use it.” All they have to do is say, “Use it”; $300 billion gets immediately put into our system, and will really help the American people. There’s nothing else to do — just a very quick statement.
So I’m going to ask Larry to come up. I want to thank another man for being here today. There’s a man that’s a incredible leader: Lou Holtz. I’ve known him for a long time. He’s been a friend of mine. And I think I’ve received letters from every football coach, almost, in the nation. And that’s a little exaggeration, but some — some of the greats. Nick Saban wrote a letter. Coach O — and Coach O is central casting. I said, “We’re going to have to put him in a movie” — right? — “as a football coach.” He’d really be good playing a football coach like you. And Urban Meyer wrote a beautiful letter. And so many of the other great, legendary coaches.
Not only coaches though — people in sports and people in life and even great political people, recommending Lou for the Presidential Medal of Freedom. And we’ve analyzed it very closely. We’ve looked at all of those recommendations. We’ve looked at Lou’s life and his career and what he’s done for charity. And the football is obvious — he was a great coach — but what he’s done, beyond even coaching.
So Lou will be getting the Presidential Medal of Freedom. And a date is being picked; it won’t be in the too-distant future. Lou was married to a great woman. Right, Lou? A great woman. And she just passed away a few months ago. This is an incredible woman. She was stronger — I knew her; I knew her well — she was stronger than Lou. I think she was stronger than you, Lou, I hate to tell you. You’re strong, too. But she was special, right?
So I just want to congratulate Coach Lou Holtz on — soon to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom. And we look forward to that, Lou. Thank you very much. And you can stay around and listen to Larry for a couple of seconds or —
MR. HOLTZ: I — I listen to Larry —
THE PRESIDENT: — or go to your friend.
MR. HOLTZ: — every chance I can.
THE PRESIDENT: You probably know half of the people in the room. I’ll bet they treat you better than they treat me. They treat him good. I wish you’d treat me that way.
Larry, come on up.
MR. KUDLOW: Thank you, sir. Thanks, sir. I appreciate it. Again, Coach, many congrats. Many, many congrats.
Just to underscore the President’s assessment of the economy: very strong jobs report today, 8.4 percent unemployment rate, 1.4 million payrolls increase. But I want to add: 3.8 million — 3.8 million increase in the important household survey, which aims at small businesses particularly, and from which the unemployment is calculated. In the past four months, we’ve generated a 10.6 million increase in payrolls and a 14 million increase in households. So we’ve restored basically half of the jobs that were lost in the pandemic contraction.
Today’s report also included the lower-wage industries and minority groups across the board. The diffusion index was a whopping 69 percent. So these gains are very, very broad based. There’s still too many people out. There’s still too much hardships, still too many unemployed. And we are working on that, and we are moving in the right direction. And that’s why today’s numbers are encouraging and optimistic.
Now, other areas that the President mentioned, just to underscore — we are in a housing boom. There can be no disagreement about that: sales, mortgage applications, prices, home starts of 23 percent annually in July. We’re in a car boom — automobile boom. We’ve gone from 8.7 million in sales to 15.2 million in sales in the recent four months. That’s a big jump. As the President mentioned, a leading indicator of that is used car sales and prices.
The manufacturing indexes are very strong. This recovery includes manufacturing. The ISM is running in the high 50s, the new order index is at 68, production index is 63. We had a manufacturing report for durables — core durables — over the past three months — orders up 35 percent, shipments up 35 percent. So these are very strong numbers. New business applications from 25,000 to 66,000. It’s 160 percent gain through August. And as the President referred, consumer spending is booming. We’re up 84 percent annually over the past three months.
My view, of course, we are in a “V”-shaped recovery. It is a self-sustaining recovery. High-demand, increased production and manufacturing, along with a decline in inventories will give us a tremendous momentum going into the second half of the year. I still reckon that the third quarter will be at least 20 percent growth. The Atlanta Fed’s GDPNow index is close to 30 percent. I think 20 percent is a good number. I think the whole second half and next year, provided that economic policies remain pro-growth —
And I just want to mention one thing: On the policy front, I simply don’t understand the other side wanting a $4 trillion tax increase after a deep pandemic contraction.
And on this point, I believe, a vast majority of economists — I don’t care if you’re a Keynesian demand-sider or supply-sider — you just don’t raise taxes by this amount or by any amount, really. But $4 trillion? Really picking the pockets of taxpayers who are returning to work now and need all the resources they can get — you just don’t do it. The profession should be — have a complete consensus on that. And so I’m quite surprised and I think that is a potential obstacle, and people are beginning to speak about that.
But all I can say is, factually, the numbers are coming in very positively. There’s a lot of optimism going on, more work to be done, but we’re rolling in the right direction, sir.
Thank you. Appreciate it.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Larry, very much.
Q Thank you, President Trump. If I could first ask a clarifying question about the 300 billion —
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah.
Q You’ve ruled out doing that unilaterally. You’re going to wait for Congress to repurpose it for stimulus checks.
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah. What about it?
Q No, is that correct: You’re waiting for Congress?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I am. You know, there’s a theory that I can do it without the approval, but I’d rather get the approval so that we have it. But there’s a theory I could take the $300 billion. It’s money that we have — money that we built up and money that we haven’t spent, and I would love to give it to the American people as a very powerful stimulus. So, yeah.
I think there is a theory that I could do it without having to go back, but I think it would be appropriate to go back, and I would ask Congress to approve it. It’s a very simple approval. It’s — literally, it’s a one-sentence approval, and the Democrats should do that. The Republicans will do that. They would be glad to do that. So, we’ll see whether or not they do it. Okay?
Please, in the back.
Q Yes, Mr. President, our editor-in-chief, John Solomon, had an exclusive interview with the head of the Delaware Fraternal Order of Police chapter. He said that they were going to endorse you instead of their native son, Joe Biden.
THE PRESIDENT: Right.
Q I’d like your response. As well as — the national organization, the Fraternal Order of Police, is endorsing you as well.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I’m honored that Delaware — because I don’t see Biden anywhere but Delaware. He’s — and I like Delaware, too. But to have the law enforcement in Delaware give their endorsement to me is really a great honor. It’s really — it just shows you how — how pathetic the Democrats are when it comes to crime, when it comes to law and order.
So, would you please extend my very great thanks? That’s a great honor to get it from Delaware law enforcement. We’ve gotten it from almost all law enforcement, but that’s — that’s a — because every time I see Biden speak, it says, “Delaware, Delaware, Delaware.” He never leaves. I’m all over the country; I’m all over the place.
Yeah, please. Go ahead. Did you have? Yeah, go ahead, Jeff.
Q Thanks, Mr. President. Germany has said that Alexei Navalny, the Russian opposition leader, was poisoned. What do you think should be done to Russia about that? And what is your message to Russia about that? And how should the international community and the United States respond?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think we have to look at it very seriously if that’s the case, and I think we will. There’s nobody been tougher on Russia than I have. We get along. I get along with almost all countries.
I get along with North Korea. Remember? We were supposed to be going to war with North Korea. If Hillary got elected, you’d be at war right now with North Korea. That would be a very messy war, a very bad war. Many millions of people would be killed. In the meantime, we’ve gotten along with them. We didn’t get to war. Everyone said that if I was elected, I’d be at war in one week; it’s been just the opposite.
We’re doing very well in Afghanistan, bringing the troops down — very low level — and other things are happening very interestingly. We have a great peace deal going on in the Middle East, actually, with UAE and Israel. And that’s been received like, probably, very few things that many people have done. It’s been very well-received. And we’ll be having other countries announcing soon; they’re joining that, and you’re going to have a lot of countries in that. A lot of countries are saying, “Hey, why didn’t you bring us in right from the beginning?” They would have loved to have been there, but they want to — they want to be in.
So, we’re doing a lot of things. I think that I was the one that alerted the United States and the world: Nord Stream 2. I said, “Why is Germany spending billions and billions of dollars to Russia to get their energy from Russia, and then we’re supposed to protect Germany from Russia? What’s that all about?” And the sanctions and everything else.
At the same time, with Russia, we’re right now negotiating a nuclear nonproliferation treaty, which is very important. It’s a very important thing. To me, it’s the most important thing. Some people say “global warming;” I don’t. I say this is far more important. And we are the biggest; they are the second biggest, nuclear-wise. China is third. They’re actually a distant third, but they’re building pretty rapidly. And at some point, we’ll include China into those talks, but we’re doing very well with Russia on nuclear nonproliferation.
So I don’t know exactly what happened. I think it’s — it’s tragic. It’s terrible. It shouldn’t happen. We haven’t had any proof yet, but I will take a look.
Q Do you doubt it?
THE PRESIDENT: It is interesting that everybody is always mentioning Russia. And I don’t mind you mentioning Russia, but I think probably China, at this point, is a nation that you should be talking about much more so than Russia because the things that China is doing are far worse, if you take a look at what’s happening with the world.
Look at what happened with the China virus. Look at what they did by not keeping that within the confines of China. They should have kept it in the confines of China. Look what they’ve done to 188 countries all over the world. But you never ask about China; you’re always asking about Russia.
So I would be very angry if that’s the case, and we’ll take a look at the — at the numbers and the documents, because we’re going to be sent a lot of documents over the next few days.
Q Mr. President —
THE PRESIDENT: Not — please, in the back.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. During the conventions, Kimber- — thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
Q During the conventions, Kimberly and Don Jr. had the outreach — the Indian American community — with a video called “Four More Years” for you, which has gone viral among the Indian Americans in the battleground states.
So my question is: Would Kimberly, Don Jr., and Ivanka Trump, who are very popular among Indian Americans — would be campaigning on your behalf around the Indian Americans with your views on the India and U.S. relationship?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I — I didn’t understand everything you said. I know India, and I understood — those young people that you mentioned. They’re very good, young people. And I know their relationship to India is very good, and so is mine.
And Prime Minister Modi is a friend of mine, and he’s doing a very good job. Nothing easy — nothing easy, but he’s doing a very good job.
We’re talking — I mean, while we’re at it, we’re talking about China and India. They’re pretty — going at a pretty good on the border, as you know. It’s been very nasty. It’s been a very nasty situation, and we stand ready to help, with respect to China and India. If we can do anything, we would love to get involved and help, and we are talking to both countries about that.
But I appreciate your nice sentiments. They think a lot of India, and so do I. And I think a lot of your prime minister. Thank you.
Q My question — sir, my question was about Indian Americans. Do you think they are voting for you or are you — are they supporting you (inaudible)?
THE PRESIDENT: I do. We had a — an event in Houston, as you know, and it was a fantastic event. I was invited by Prime Minister Modi. And this was a massive — this was at the — where they play football — the Houston football team. And it was — it was — it was incredible. It was actually incredible. And the Prime Minister could not have been more generous.
We have great support from India. We have great support from Prime Minister Modi. And I would think that the people — Indian people — would be voting for Trump. I also, as you know, went to India, just prior to the pandemic setting in, because India has been hit very hard. Left, really, about a week before that.
And we had an incredible time. What — what we saw — the people are so incredible. It’s really an incredible place, an incredible country, and it’s definitely big. It’s definitely big.
But you’ve got a great leader, and he’s — he’s a great — great person.
Q Thank you, sir. Do you think China is bullying India?
THE PRESIDENT: I hope not. I hope not, but they’re certainly going at it. They’re going at it much more strongly than a lot of people even understand.
Yeah, please, go ahead.
Q Thank you, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Go ahead, please.
Q Thank you, sir. Just to follow up on Alexei Navalny: You just said you — you haven’t had any proof yet. Do you have any reasons to doubt the results from Germany?
THE PRESIDENT: No, I don’t. I mean, I don’t. I — I hear Germany has made a — was it definitive, or almost definitive? But we have not seen it ourselves, no. But we have not seen it ourselves.
But I would certainly be okay with that. They want to do something. They want to take action. Shouldn’t happen. Shouldn’t happen.
But again, we are working very closely with a lot of countries on a lot of different things. We’ve taken stronger action against Russia than any other country in the world, as you know. I’ll tell you, President Putin would tell you that right now.
Q Do you intend to (inaudible) with him?
THE PRESIDENT: But the fact that I — the fact that I get along with Russia and that I get along, frankly, with everybody — right now, I’m — I’m not getting along with China, but that’s my choice. I don’t like what happened with respect to the pandemic, with respect to the China virus. I don’t like it at all. What they’ve done to this world and this country and Europe and everyplace else is terrible.
But I do get along with — with President Putin. But I’ve been tougher on Russia than anybody else, by far.
If you look at the Obama administration, they were weak. Look at the land they gave up. Look at what happened with respect to — look at what happened with respect to Ukraine. Such a big part of Ukraine given up during the Obama administration. And I don’t think they would have done that with me. I don’t think they would have done that with me at all.
We gave tank busters, and they gave pillows; do you ever hear that expression? They sent pillows, and we sent tank busters to Ukraine.
So — but with that being said, if we can do a nuclear nonproliferation agreement, that would be a great thing. No, but I would not be at all happy if that were the case. And it looks like it might very well be the case. I mean, based on what Germany —
Q (Inaudible) raise the issue with President Putin?
THE PRESIDENT: — based on what Germany is saying, that seems to be the case.
Q Mr. President, I just want to ask you about something you said a while back; it’s been talked about many, many, times. Back in 2015, you said that you didn’t think John McCain was a hero, that you prefer people who don’t get captured.
In — in light of all that’s happened since then and all you’ve learned, do you regret saying that? Is that something you wish you had not said?
THE PRESIDENT: I — look, I — I say what I say. And I never got along with John McCain. I disagreed with John McCain. You know that better than anybody, frankly. I wasn’t a fan. I disagreed with many of his views. I disagreed with his views on these ridiculous, endless wars. I disagreed with the way he handled the vets, the VA. The VA is running much better now — and we did with the MISSION Act, and the Accountability, and all the things we’ve done for the VA. He — he was not able to do that.
But I disagreed with John McCain on a lot of things. That doesn’t mean I don’t respect him. I respected him, but I really disagreed with him on a lot of things. And I think I was right; I think time has proven me right, to a large extent.
Q But on this notion of referring to people who are captured, the —
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah, please. Go ahead.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. Earlier in the statement that you read before questions, you — you spoke about how you believe that we’re, as you put it, “rounding the corner” on the coronavirus pandemic.
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah. I do believe that. Yeah.
Q And you said that yesterday as well. And I think everybody would love to see the pandemic come to an end; there’s no doubt about that.
But I wanted to ask you about a forecast that has come out from the IHME at the University of Washington. And they’re forecasting, by January the 1st of next year, that we’ll have 410,000 American deaths from coronavirus, which is 225,000 from where we are right now. So can you explain how you see us “rounding the corner,” —
THE PRESIDENT: Sure.
Q — based upon that projection?
THE PRESIDENT: If I didn’t close up our country; if I didn’t stop, China — highly infected — from coming in; if I didn’t stop Europe from coming in far sooner than anybody else, including Dr. Fauci and others, wanted to — and Dr. Fauci was very nice; he said, “President Trump made a great decision — we would have far more than that.
But maybe even more importantly, if I didn’t close up, we would have — instead of the number that you mentioned or whatever it may be — it were — about 180 — we would have perhaps one and a half or two million deaths right now if I went a different direction, which some people wanted me to do. And I decided not to do it. We’d have 2 million deaths.
Now, a lot of countries don’t report their deaths. Obviously, China is not reporting because they had far more than we did. China had far more deaths than we did, in my opinion. It’s just my opinion. But they don’t report their deaths or they don’t report them accurately. And I could — I don’t want to embarrass other countries, but I can tell you, there are other countries where the death toll is far higher than the United States, but they don’t report to us. We report it to a level that nobody reports it.
We also do testing in cases — I — I watch your broadcasts and your — I read your information — your media outlet’s — very, very carefully. And I look at the word “cases.” And the reason, you know, it’s — I say it 100 times; nobody wants to pick it up. But we do testing at a level that nobody ever dreamed possible. We have the best test, and we have, by far, the most tests.
Actually, India, as per your question before — India is number two, and they’ve done a good job. But they’re about 40 million tests behind us, and they’re a country of 1.5 billion people.
Now, because of all these tests, we have far more cases. If we cut our cases in half, if we — if we cut our testing in half, we’d probably have about half the number of cases. If we cut it down to levels — there are some countries that don’t test. They test when somebody walks into a hospital; that’s the test you get. They walk into a hospital, they’re sick — that’s your test.
We have tested more and — and better. And you just see where we now have millions of tests coming in from a certain company that’s done a fantastic job, and it’s going to be anywhere from 5 minutes to 15 minutes on the spot — very accurate test.
But if we had much less testing, no testing, we would have — you wouldn’t be reporting cases. But you saw the s- — I don’t want to go over the statistics. You all wrote it down. But you see how we’re doing compared to the rest of the world, and you see —
And if you took out New York, which has been a tragic situation with the amount of people that died in New York —
Q But that’s part of the U.S.
THE PRESIDENT: — and in the nursing home.
Q You can’t just take out a major state in the U.S. It’s still a part of the United States, New York is.
THE PRESIDENT: No, I’m just saying —
Q If you take it out of the equation —
THE PRESIDENT: If you took — sure. I’m just saying: New York has been, in particular, run — whether it’s badly, incompetently; whether it’s unfortunate — and I appreciated Governor Cuomo saying that I’ve done a phenomenal job, and he said very good things. He said bad things too, you know, later on, when he had no real other choice. But if you took out New York from those numbers, you can multiply our tremendous success by a lot.
But look, the bottom line is that the job we’ve done on COVID-19 or the China virus, the China plague — call it whatever you want; got a lot of different names — but it’s been incredible. And we’ve also helped a lot of other countries, especially with ventilators, because we are now — you know, we built ventilators at a level that nobody ever thought possible. So —
Q So you don’t see that forecast being a factor — the one that I cited you?
THE PRESIDENT: No, look. Look. Yeah, but you didn’t hear me. If we didn’t do what I said, we would be at 2 million deaths right now.
Q But they’re taking that into account. It’s just going forward.
THE PRESIDENT: No, they’re not taking that into account. I had a choice to make; if we made the wrong choice, the number that you have, which is less than other countries — but the other countries don’t report tests. They don’t report them to the extent, and they’re not accurate. You know that, and so do I. Because we have — you take a look at some of the things happening in certain other very large countries. First of all, we’re a very large country. But you take a look at things happening with respect to the reporting of deaths in other countries, and I say, “Give me a break.”
So it’s been amazing. But we made some moves at the beginning: China, big; Europe, big. But the biggest of all was closing it down, understanding the disease. And we did, and now we know it’s the elderly. It’s especially elderly if they have heart, diabetes — if they have problems. And we’re watching it, and we’re watching it very closely. And, by the way, we’re doing super testing with respect to that. Super testing.
But if we did it a different way, instead of the number that you said — but basically, the number that we’re at now is approximately 180,000 — we’d be at 2 million people right now. Could be higher than that.
Q Have you spoken to —
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah, please. Go ahead.
Q — President Putin about the Russia — the Russia vaccine, Mr. President? The Russia vaccine?
Q Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: I don’t know anything about the Russia vaccine. I’m not sure. We have our vaccine, and our vaccine is — I think, it’s going to be the standard. It’s going to be great. And these companies are incredible. They’ve come up with the great vaccines over the years, and that’s the vaccine that probably most of the people in this room are going to want to take. All right?
Q Thanks, Mr. President. A quick clarification, and then my question. The $300 billion, is that from the Main Street Lending Program or is that from a different part? Where — where are you pulling it?
THE PRESIDENT: It’s sitting in an account; has not been spent, but we’re willing to spend it.
Q But you’re not sure which account.
THE PRESIDENT: No, we’re willing to spend it. I’d like to get approval from Congress. There’s a theory that I don’t have to do that, but I’d rather be up front, and I’d like to get approval from Congress. Let it go directly to the people. It would be a great stimulus. It’s actually more stimulus than we’re asking for, in terms of pure stimulus. This would be pure stimulus.
I wouldn’t have to let prisoners go — some very evil prisoners go. Like, think of it: The Democrats, in order to get what they want and in order to give us what we — they’re talking about allowing prisoners to be released; prisoners that we don’t want to be released. So in order that we get money to the American people, they want to say “release prisoners” and other things like that that are very bad. And we just can’t do that. We don’t want to do that.
Q And then, just to follow on Jon’s question: I know you spoke you earlier about the Atlantic story, and you referenced the number of administration officials who have come out to support your —
THE PRESIDENT: Well, no, we have 11 people. I was just told — I was just told we have 11 people. There is nobody that feels more strongly about our soldiers, our wounded warriors, our soldiers that died in war, than I do. It’s a hoax, just like the fake dossier was a hoax, just like the “Russia, Russia, Russia” was a hoax. It was a total hoax. No collusion. Just like so many other things. It’s a hoax.
And you’ll hear more of these things, totally unrelated, as we get closer and closer to election. The magazine is a failing magazine, and nobody called me — nobody called me from the magazine and said, “Do you have a comment about it?” No, they just write whatever they want to write because they figure you can’t get sued. You can’t get sued, but it’s very — it’s a very hard — bringing lawsuits.
But we have many witnesses, and it’s a total — it’s a total — it’s just a continuation of the witch hunt, so that it can hopefully effect the election.
But the American people are too smart. So whether it’s the fake dossier that turned out to be a total fraud or so many other things — so many other things have turned out. I’ve been under investigation from before I even get elected. These people have gone after me more than any president in the United States in history — in the history of the United States. And it’s a shame. It’s a shame.
And despite that, we’ve done more in the first three and a half years than any administration. There’s been no administration that’s done more. When you add it all up, there’s been no — despite all of the horrible political games that have been played.
But there’s nobody that’s been — that’s been able to do what I’ve done, and that includes the great MISSION Act, because what Obama passed was a joke. It was a joke. And we took it to a level that nobody thought possible, and that includes Accountability.
So it’s a disgrace that somebody is allowed to write things like that. It could have been — you know, a lot of times, the sources aren’t sources; they don’t exist. And sometimes the sources are just people that are disgruntled, former so-called employees.
Q Well, my question is sort of about that. I mean, the notable voice that’s been missing from the denials is your former Chief of Staff, John Kelly, who was obviously intimately involved in this. What — how are we supposed to read —
THE PRESIDENT: Well, look, here’s the thing: —
Q — the fact that John Kelly hasn’t — hasn’t denied this?
THE PRESIDENT: I know John Kelly; he was with me. Didn’t do a good job, had no temperament, and ultimately, he was petered out. He got — he was exhausted. This man was totally exhausted. He wasn’t even able to function in the last number of months. He was not able to function. He was sort of a tough guy. By the time he got eaten up in this world — it’s a different world than he was used to — he was unable to function. And I told him, “John, you’re going to have to go. Please give me your letter of resignation.” And we did that. And now he goes out and bad — bad mouths.
Now, there are people that are jealous. There are people that are upset that they’re not here anymore. There are people that — we’ve done an incredible job. The virus came in, and now we’re doing an incredible job again. And we’re going to build it up bigger than it was before the virus came in.
But I don’t know that it was him. I haven’t seen that. I mean, I see “Anonymous,” but it could have been a guy like a John Kelly because he was —
Q Did you make that comment at his son’s grave?
THE PRESIDENT: Just so you understand, he was a very — if you look at some of his news conferences, what happened to him: He got eaten alive. He was unable to handle the pressure of this job. This job was a tough job. Mark Meadows is doing a great job, but Kelly was unable to do that.
And as far as that day, I mean, we have so much proof as to going to the — I went to Paris and the environs, and I was all set to go. They had a rainstorm the likes of which you’ve rarely seen. The fog was so great; it was — it was as dense as I’ve ever seen. And I almost knew that you couldn’t use the helicopter. And because they had to drive through, I guess, certain parts of Paris, the Secret Service, who — by the way, we have people here that were on the trip. They’re writing a report. Unable to even think about it. And I said, “Nope, I want to go. I insist on going.” It would have taken us forever.
The Paris police said, “Please, you can’t do this.” They’d have to shut down various parts of Paris, and it just was not a possible situation. The helicopter would have been very quick. They had the helicopter all set, but the helicopter could never fly in that kind of weather. So — and that turned out — and that’s all documented, by the way. We have all of the information from — and probably will release that information.
But I think it’s a shame when a second-rate magazine — I don’t read it; I know very little about this magazine. But when a second-rate magazine can write things like that about somebody that’s done so much for the military, can write things like that and get away with it, where you actually ask questions on it, it’s a disgrace, and you ought to be ashamed of yourself.
And let me just tell you, I watched the interview with Sleepy Joe Biden, and he didn’t ask questions. You didn’t ask questions like that. Read the questions you asked. They were, like, meant for a child. Those questions were meant for a child. Smiles on faces of reporters — not like you and you. There were smiles on the reporters. “What do you think?” Take a look at those questions that they ask him. They were not meant for a grown-up; they were meant for a child.
Q Can I ask about law and order?
THE PRESIDENT: So I just want to just tell you — I just want to tell you it’s a disgrace, because if you look at what I’ve done for the United States military, I love those people. I’ve gotten them pay raises when they didn’t get anything near what I’ve been able to do. And I’ve rebuilt — $2.5 trillion. I’ve rebuilt the United States military. Now we’re including Space Force. Nobody has done more for them.
And then, when I have to have a report read like that from a third-rate magazine that’s not going to be in business much longer, I look at that and I think it’s a disgrace. And then when I watch Biden getting asked questions that are really meant for a child to answer — anybody could answer — and I look at the level of question that you people ask, I mean, honestly, it’s disgraceful.
So I want to thank you all very much.
Q Law and order?
THE PRESIDENT: We appreciate it. And we’re doing very well. We’re very, very proud of what’s happened with respect to the economy. And I think that before the election, you’re going to see a third quarter announced. The third quarter will be at a level that our country has never seen before. Next year, we’re going to have a year that was better than last year. And I feel very certain it’ll be better than last year. It’ll be the greatest year we’ve had.
And the whole reason this is working out this way is because we set a foundation for this country like we’ve never had before. So next year is going to be a fantastic year.
But remember this: The third quarter is going to be announced sometime prior to the election — by a few days, actually — and I think it’s going to be record-setting-type numbers on GDP and other things.
Thank you all very much. Thank you.
6:14 P.M. EDT