President Trump Meets American Freed From Venezuela, Comments On North Korea Talks


The president was joined at the White House Saturday by Josh Holt, an American freed from a Venezuelan prison, along with his family and members of Congress from his home state of Utah:

TRUMP: Thank you very much, everybody.

This is a great honor. Tonight is very special.

We have, as you know, Josh Holt and his wife, Thamy. And they came back from a very tough ordeal in a Venezuelan prison -- almost two years, Josh, and you know, amazing that you were able to take it. Your daughter, Marion is here and your parents, Jason and Laurie -- now, you went through a lot, and you were in there fighting all the way.

And I want to thank Bob Corker -- great job you did over there, great job. And I want to thank Mike Lee and Mia, you have been -- every time I see Mia, she would talk about you, Judge, and say, "What about Judge?" And I say, "What about something else? Can we talk about something else?" She was always doing it, and Orrin Hatch is a legend as you know. he is a legend in the Senate and this country, and Orrin, you were great.

So, Bob, Mike, Mia, Orrin, I want to thank you very much.


TRUMP: So, we have had 17 prisoners released during the Trump administration. Most people don't know that. You remember Aya? We called the President of Egypt and he released her. She was there for a long time, three years. The previous administration was unable to get her out -- a fantastic young woman and she was released.

As you know, in North Korea we just had a great success. We had three wonderful people -- Americans -- that released just recently and they are now home safely with their families. You were a tough one. I have to tell you, that was a tough situation, but we have had 17 released.

And we are very proud of that record, very proud, and we have others coming. We are in the midst of some very big negotiation to the get others out. In most of cases, they are Americans. but we can try to help other countries, too, where there is injustice, so we've been working very hard on it.

But, I just want to welcome you to the Oval Office, welcome you to the White House. It's really very special to have you both. You have gone through a lot. You've gone through a lot, more than most people could endure. I want to thank your parents for being such loving parents. You are very, very special. You were fighting all the way. There was not a day that -- there wasn't an hour or minute that you weren't thinking about this man, and calling everybody and letting us know.

And we are all as a group very happy. The State Department has been fantastic. Where are my guys from the State Department? Where are they?


TRUMP: We have John Sullivan, you guys were really fantastic. Look at all those people that work at the State Department. You are probably surprised to see that, but maybe, I'd like to ask the parents, your great parents if you have something to say, before -- I would like to get to the senators and I'd like to get to you, Mia and ask you also.

But could I start with the parents?

LAURIE HOLT, MOTHER OF JOSHUA HOLT: I just want to say thank you to you personally for everything that you have done, as well as the State Department, but all of you. I just can't even tell you.

I have grown to love Senator Hatch and Mia so much, not everybody gets to talk to Senator Hatch and Mia Love, and when everything happened last week, Mia was the one that answered her phone and was the one that got things rolling with Senator Hatch to save Josh, and it was...

TRUMP: I have never seen Mia cry before.

LAURIE HOLT: It was a horrifying week and she got me through it. Senator Hatch, I just -- Senator Hatch's office, I cannot tell you how much I love all of your staff. So thank you, thank you, and I also want to say thank you to President Maduro for releasing Josh and letting him come home.

TRUMP: That's very nice. Pop?

JASON HOLT, FATHER OF JOSHUA HOLT: She pretty much said everything that's why I let the pretty face take care of this kind of stuff, so...

TRUMP: Very smart. You're smart. Josh, would you like to say something?

JOSHUA HOLT, RELEASED AMERICAN PRISONER FROM VENEZUELA: I am just overwhelmed with gratitude for you guys for everything that you have done, for the support of my wife through those two years. They were a very, very, very difficult two years. Not really the great vacation that I was looking for, but we are still together, starting off our marriage rough, but now we're going to be together, and I am just so grateful for what you guys have done and for thinking about me and caring about me, just a normal person.

So, it really touches me and I thank you.

TRUMP: You have been very brave actually. You have been incredibly brave. We saw what was happening inside of that prison. So you really have been very, very brave. Bob Corker. would you like to say something? Great job.

SEN. BOB CORKER, R-TENNESSEE: Thank you. We are just glad to have you home. A lot of people had worked for a long time to make this happen, and I want to thank everyone at the State Department, and in particular, I want to thank Caleb McNary (ph) who knows this area more than probably anybody in the United States who is here with me today, but...

TRUMP: Where's Caleb?

CORKER: Caleb...


TRUMP: Come on over here. Great job (inaudible)...

CORKER: It's quite an experience that we could almost write a book about just the last 48 hours, but we are glad we're out. We were actually, Mr. President, taking off on the runway, nothing in Venezuela happens quite in the same way that it happens here and we were going down the runway and they turned the engines off and we turned around.

So, we still weren't sure we were leaving until...

TRUMP: What happened? Why did they do that?

CORKER: There was an instrument issue that occurred, but we finally -- we got out of there and obviously, Josh had a huge smile on his face. And when we landed, he did.

TRUMP: Probably the only time that anybody who was ever happy that there was a bad instrument on an airplane, that was a better alternative, I think...

CORKER: There were people that we worked with down there that I do hope at the right time, you will have a chance to thank. There are people who really want to try to affect the relationship in a good way and you know, they were very helpful to us in getting him out of there.

I know you talked to one of them last night on the phone when I was having dinner with them, and I appreciate you doing this.

TRUMP: That's great, Bob. That's really great, and you know, we have Pastor Brunson, a wonderful Christian pastor. He's right now in turkey, he's been there a long time. They say he's a spy, but he's not a spy. And we are going to all work and we have been working for his release, he's having a hard time. There is a trial going on, but the trial is not so much of a trial.

We are talking to the folks in Turkey about doing something about it, but Pastor Brunson, I hope you can hear us. We will be helping you at some point. We have been working on hit for a while. He has been there a long time, and he is a totally innocent man.

Mike Lee, would you like to say something.

SEN. MIKE LEE, R-UTAH: Sure. I want to thank all of those who have been involved in this. Senator Corker, Senator Hatch, Representative Love, to Caleb, to the State Department and everyone who has been involved.

Josh, I want to wish you a warm welcome home. We've missed you. We've prayed for you.

And Marion and Tammy, welcome to our country which is now your country. [Speaking Spanish].

TRUMP: Good, good. Well, understood that beautifully. That's very good. Good job. Good job. Orrin Hatch, Senator, spectacular man, please.

SEN. ORRIN HATCH, R-UTAH: Mr. President, I can't tell you how much I appreciate you. As you know, I was the one guy who really supported you 100%, and I do now, I think you are doing a terrific job, and this shows why we support you.

You actually -- this was -- and I have some say, these folks did a great job. I was really thrilled with the way Bob handled himself; Caleb and others, did such a good job. We have good people working with us, and the folks in this delegation all very sincerely wanted to get Josh out of there.

And the parents are just as good a people as I ever met in my life, and you better really live a good life, that's all I can say, but this wouldn't have happened without you. We just want you to know that when you look back over your tenure in the Presidency, this is just one of the many great things you are doing, but it's really a great thing, and to know that we can rely on you and count on you and talk to you and meet with you, these are all very important things.

We love you, boy, and we just want to support you everywhere we can.

TRUMP: I appreciate it. You have all been very supportive, but I really appreciate that. That's very nice. I thank you very much. Thank you. Mia?

REP. MIA LOVE, R-UTAH: I had been thinking about what I was going to say today. It's been an emotional day, but so many Utah families send their families out, send their sons and daughters out for maybe a year and a half to two years, and they want to know that if something happens to their children, that they have got someone or the United States will have their back.

And I don't think there is a person in the United States right now that doesn't realize that you have their back, and so I wanted to personally thank you for keeping a promise that you made to me. Every time would go and see you, I would bring up Joshua's name and you would say, "I am going to do everything I can." And obviously, I believed it.

I also wanted to say to Josh that your mom never let us forget about you. That is what is -- she is one of the strongest women I know. And we have started a friendship that has been -- that started through maybe some heartache and some pain, but we are going to be friends forever because of the bond that we have had.

And so, you know, I just wanted to say sincerely that we are with you, Utah has been praying for you, and so happy that you are coming home, and Utah wants to thank you, Mr. President, for making this happen. We wouldn't have been able to do this without you.

Everybody here, Senator Hatch, Mike Lee, Bob Corker, I mean, the State Department -- we all worked together to make this happen, and you don't know us, but we know you very well, Joshua and we welcome you home.

TRUMP: Thank you very much, Mia, and it is true though. Every time I would see Mia, I said, "Look, don't mention the name Joshua Holt, we are working, we are doing it." But she didn't forget. She was out there pitching as was Bob, as was Mike, as was Orrin.

I mean, we really had a great team, that's a strong nucleus right there, but we had a great team. Great job. I just want to mention, we are doing very well in terms of the summit with North Korea.

It looks like it's going along very well. As you know, there are meetings going on as we speak in a certain location which I won't name. But I like the location. It's not so far away from here. I think there is a lot of goodwill. I think people want to see if we can get the meeting and get something done. If we got that done, and if we can be successful in the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, it would be a great thing for North Korea, it would be a great thing for South Korea. It will be great for Japan and great for the world, great for the United States. Great for china.

A lot of people are working on it. It's moving along nicely, so we are look at June 12th in Singapore. That hasn't changed. It's moving along pretty well. So, we'll see what happens. Thank you all very much. We appreciate it. Congratulations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, everybody.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, everyone.

TRUMP: They have gotten very well. Those talks have gone very, very well.


TRUMP: Thank you very much, everyone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you so much, we are leaving now.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. We are leaving.

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