Friday morning on the White House lawn, President Trump said a report released Thursday by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz criticizing the FBI's conduct during the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server and the 2016 presidential election. He says the DoJ watchdog "totally exonerates" him of any wrongdoing. At the end, he also addresses North Korea.
"I think that the report yesterday - maybe more importantly than anything - it totally exonerates me. There was no collusion. There was no obstruction. And if you read the report, you’ll see that," the president told reporters outside of the White House.
"What you’ll really see – is you’ll see bias against me and millions and tens of millions of my followers that is really a disgrace," he said.
"And yet if you look at the FBI and you went in and you polled the FBI – the real FBI – those guys love me and I love them," Trump added.
"The IG Report is a total disaster for Comey, his minions and sadly, the FBI. Comey will now officially go down as the worst leader, by far, in the history of the FBI," the president wrote on Twitter Friday morning.
"I did a great service to the people in firing him. Good Instincts. Christopher Wray will bring it proudly back!" he added, referring to FBI Director Christopher Wray.
Rough transcript available:
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
TRUMP: ... by far. There's nobody close. And I think I did the country a tremendous favor by firing him.
TRUMP: No, I think actually, if you -- if you take a look, when he totally exonerated her, her last (ph), because I call it Comey Three -- Comey Three. You had One, Two and then you had Comey 3. He totally exonerated her. And if anything you're saying is correct, what she did is they tried to pretend it didn't happen. I would have gone out there, and I would have had the greatest news conference in history. They tried to pretend the exoneration didn't happen.
Now, the exoneration wasn't correct, because there's no way they could have checked that number of e-mails in just a few days. But if you remember, just before the election, he went out and he exonerated her, and they didn't even talk about it. That was the greatest political mistake.
TRUMP: Now, with all of that being said, I won Wisconsin, I won Michigan, I won states that, you know, a Republican hasn't won in many, many decades, years. She didn't do a good job, and you never gave me credit for doing a great job. But the fact is, I did a great job.
QUESTION: Mr. President, there was a Fox report -- Mr. President, there was a Fox News report this week that -- that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is pushing back, and threatening to investigate the congressional investigators who just want documents. Do you think that that is appropriate?
TRUMP: Well, I hope that's not so. And I know they're getting documents. And I purposely -- look, if you see what I've done with North Korea and with the State Department and Mike Pompeo, it's running so well. It's -- I have this running so well.
I have purposely -- because of this ridiculous witch hunt, I have said I'm going to stay away from the Justice Department until it's completed. So I wanted to stay away.
Now, that doesn't mean I have to, because I don't have to. I can get involved. But I don't want you people to say that I'm interfering, that I'm doing anything.
I think that the report yesterday maybe more importantly than anything it totally exonerates me. There was no collusion. There was no obstruction. And if you read the report, you'll see that.
TRUMP: What you'll really -- excuse me, wait, wait, wait.
What you'll really see is you'll see bias against me and millions and tens of millions of my followers. That is really a disgrace.
TRUMP: And yet -- and yet, if you go -- and yet, if you -- and yet if you look at the FBI, and you went in and you polled the FBI, the real FBI, those guys love me and I love them.
QUESTION: Are you going to suspend Mueller? Are you thinking of suspending Mueller? TRUMP: No, but I think -- I think that whole investigation now is -- is -- look, the problem with the Mueller investigation is everybody's got massive conflicts. You have -- Weisman was at Hillary Clinton's funeral, meaning her party that turned into a funeral, and they were screaming and crying. They were going crazy. How can you have people like this?
So you have -- I call them the 13 angry Democrats. You have tremendous animosity.
Now here's the good news: I did nothing wrong. There was no collusion. There was no obstruction. The I.G. report yesterday went a long way to show that, and I think that the Mueller investigation has been totally discredited.
QUESTION: You've spoken so passionately about the circumstances that led to Otto Warmbier's death.
QUESTION: In the same breath, you're defending, now, Kim Jong-un's human rights record. How can you do that?
TRUMP: You know why? Because I don't want to see a nuclear weapon destroy you and your family.
QUESTION: Well -- and by the way, you declared the nuclear threat from North Korea is over.
TRUMP: I don't want to see -- excuse me -- because I don't want to see a nuclear weapon destroy you and your family. I want to have a good relationship with North Korea. I want to have a good relationship with many other countries.
And what I've done, if you remember, if you're fair -- which most of you aren't -- but if you're fair, when I came in, people thought we were probably going to war with North Korea. If we did...
QUESTION: How can you say the threat is over. Is it over?
TRUMP: Quiet, quiet, quiet.
If we did, millions of people would have been killed. I don't mean like a -- people are saying 100,000. Seoul has 28 million people 30 miles off the border. You would have had 30, 40, 50 million people killed. Who knows what would have happened?
I came in; that was what I inherited. I should have never inherited. That should have been solved long before I got there. I did a great job this weekend.
The fake news said, "Oh, you met." It's the only thing they saw that I gave up. One broadcast said, "He gave up so much." You know what I gave up? I met.
I met. We had great chemistry. He gave us a lot. You haven't had a missile test in seven months. You haven't had a firing. You haven't had a nuclear test in eight and a half months. You haven't had missiles flying over Japan. He gave us the remains of our great heroes. I have had so many people begging me -- parents and fathers, mothers, daughters, sons -- wherever I went, "Could you please get the remains of my boy back?" They're giving them back. Nobody thought that was possible.
TRUMP: Wait, wait, wait. Excuse me, wait.
They're doing so much for us, and now we're well on our way to get denuclearization.
And the agreement says there will be total denuclearization. Nobody wants to report that.
So the only thing I did was I met. I got along with him great. He is great. We have a great chemistry together. That's the good thing, not a bad thing.
QUESTION: How can you love your people if you're killing them?
TRUMP: I can't speak to that.
I can only speak to the fact that we signed an incredible agreement. It's great.
And it's going to be great for them too, because now, North Korea can develop, and North Korea can become a great country economically. It can become whatever they want. But there won't be nuclear weapons, and they won't be aimed at you and your family.
QUESTION: Why did you offer to halt the military exercises with South Korea? (inaudible)
TRUMP: That was my offer, just so you understand, military...
TRUMP: OK, do you want to hear?
TRUMP: OK. Military -- I call them "war games." I hated them from the day I came in. I said, "Why aren't we being reimbursed?"
QUESTION: That's North Korea's term, war games.
TRUMP: That's my term.
QUESTION: They use it, too.
TRUMP: Look, they might use it. We pay for it. We pay millions and millions of dollars for planes and all of this. It's my term.
I said I'd like to halt it, because it's bad to be negotiating and doing it. It costs us a lot of money. I saved a lot of money. That's a good thing for us.
OK, go ahead.
QUESTION: What did you mean just now when you said you wished Americans would sit up at attention when you (inaudible)?
TRUMP: I'm kidding. You don't understand sarcasm.
TRUMP: Wait, wait. Who are you with? Who are you with?
TRUMP: You're with CNN? You are the worst.
QUESTION: There are a couple different -- a few different. There are a few different court cases going on...
TRUMP: Wait, wait, wait. We have time. We have time.
QUESTION: So there's some high-profile -- some high-profile court cases going on. You've got a former campaign manager, your former lawyer, they're all dealing with legal troubles. Are you paying close attention...
TRUMP: Well, I feel badly about a lot of it, because I think a lot of it's very unfair. I mean, I look at some of them where they go back 12 years.
Like, Manafort has nothing to do with our campaign. But I feel so -- I'll tell you, I feel a little badly about it. They went back 12 years to get things that he did 12 years ago?
You know, Paul Manafort worked for me for a very short period of time. He worked for Ronald Reagan. He worked for Bob Dole. He worked for John McCain, or his firm did. He worked for many other Republicans. He worked for me -- what? -- for 49 days or something. A very short period of time.
I feel badly for some people, because they've gone back 12 years to find things about somebody. And I don't think it's right. TRUMP: I don't think it's right that they burst into a lawyer's office on a weekend and early in the morning. I'd never heard of that before.
I mean, could you imagine if they burst into Barack Obama's lawyer's office? It would not be acceptable. It would not be acceptable. I mean, that's really a terrible thing.
Now, I feel badly for a lot of those people. I feel badly for General Flynn. He's lost his house. He's lost his life. And some people say he lied and some people say he didn't lie. I mean, really, it turned out maybe he didn't lie. But...
QUESTION: ... and if -- and if (ph) we're talking about...
TRUMP: How can you do that -- how can you do that? Because who's lied more than Comey? I mean, Comey lied a tremendous amount.
QUESTION: ... you feel badly. Is there any consideration at any point of a pardon for any of the people?
TRUMP: I don't want to talk about that. No, I don't want to talk about that.
TRUMP: But, look, I do want to see people treated fairly. That's what it's all about.
QUESTION: Mr. president...
TRUMP: I mentioned -- I mentioned the other day -- you saw what I did with the woman -- she's in jail for 23 years on charges where other people are out after three months. I thought it was very unfair. It was brought -- and she had another 20 years left. OK? She was 63 years old.
QUESTION: What about people who don't have a celebrity for them -- talking for them? What about all those folks who don't have Kim Kardashian speaking for them (ph)?
TRUMP: Well, I'm looking at them, too, if you don't mind.
QUESTION: Can I bring -- can I bring you back to the news? Mr. President...
QUESTION: Are you afraid that Michael Cohen might flip?
TRUMP: Look, I did nothing wrong. You have to understand. This stuff would have come out a long time ago. I did nothing wrong.
QUESTION: If you don't do anything wrong...
TRUMP: It's really nice.
QUESTION: Is he still your friend?
TRUMP: I always liked Michael. I haven't spoken to Michael in a long time.
QUESTION: Is he still your lawyer?
TRUMP: No, he's not my lawyer, but -- anymore.
QUESTION: Your personal lawyer, and not anymore?
TRUMP: But I always liked Michael, and he's a good person.
QUESTION: Are you -- are you (inaudible) he will cooperate?
TRUMP: And I think he's been -- excuse me, do you -- do you mind if I talk?
QUESTION: I just want to know if you're worried...
TRUMP: You're asking me a question. I'm trying to answer you.
QUESTION: Just want to know if you're worried if he's going to cooperate with federal...
TRUMP: No, I'm not...
TRUMP: ... I did nothing wrong, nothing wrong, OK?
QUESTION: Got it.
QUESTION: Did you -- did you dictate that statement about Don Jr.? Did you dictate the statement about Donald Trump Jr.?
TRUMP: Let's not talk about it. You know what that is? It's irrelevant. It's a statement to The New York Times -- the phony, failing, New York Times. Just -- wait a minute, wait a minute.
QUESTION: Just clear it up. Clear it up.
TRUMP: That's not a statement to a high tribunal of judges (inaudible). That's a statement to the phony New York Times.
TRUMP: In fact -- in fact, frankly, he shouldn't even speak to the New York Times, because they only write phony stories anyway, although, yesterday, they wrote a nice story about what a good (ph)...
QUESTION: Mr. President, sir, on North Korea -- Mr. President, on...
QUESTION: ... clear it up. Did you dictate it?
QUESTION: ... thank you, sir. On the I.G. report, you've said twice now that it exonerated you and it proved there's no collusion.
TRUMP: If you read the I.G. report, I've been totally exonerated. As far as I'm concerned...
QUESTION: The I.G. report -- it had nothing to do with collusion. It had nothing to do with that.
TRUMP: ... take a look at it -- take -- no. Take a look at the investigation. Take a look at how it started. Take a look at the horrible statements that Peter Strzok, the chief investigator, said, and take a look what he did with Hillary Clinton. Take a look...
QUESTION: Should he be fired?
TRUMP: Take a look at...
QUESTION: But it has nothing to do with collusion. Why are you lying about it...
TRUMP: Yeah, I would -- I would -- I'll tell you what. You're asking me about Peter Strzok being fired.
QUESTION: Should he be fired?
TRUMP: I am amazed that Peter Strzok is still at the FBI, and so is everybody else that read that report. And I'm not even talking about the report. I'm talking about long before the report. Peter Strzok should have been fired a long time ago, and others should have been fired.
QUESTION: They (ph) put James Comey...
QUESTION: ... why is he being fired?
TRUMP: I'm looking at Scott, and Scott's done a fantastic job at EPA. But...
QUESTION: You don't see any problems with his ethical...
TRUMP: You know, we'll -- we'll make -- I'm not -- I'm not happy about certain things, I'll be honest.
QUESTION: ... fire him. You're not (ph) firing?
TRUMP: Excuse me, excuse me. I'm not happy about certain things, but he's done a fantastic job running the EPA, which is very overriding. But I am not happy about certain things.
QUESTION: Do you think he's using his position for private gain?
TRUMP: I hope not.
QUESTION: Mr. President, do you agree with children being taken away...
TRUMP: No, I hate it. I hate the children being taken away. The Democrats have to change their law. That's their law.
QUESTION: ... your policy.
TRUMP: Quiet, quiet. That's the Democrats' law. We can change it tonight. We can change it right now.
QUESTION: You're the president.
TRUMP: I will leave here -- no, no.
TRUMP: You need their votes. You need their votes.
TRUMP: The Democrats -- all they have to do...
QUESTION: Mr. President, you control both chambers of Congress. The Republicans do.
TRUMP: No, the -- excuse me, by one vote? We don't need it. You need 60 votes. We have a one-vote...
QUESTION: And the White House.
TRUMP: ... excuse me. We need a one-vote -- we have a one-vote edge. We need 60. So we need 10 votes. We can't get them from the Democrats.
TRUMP: Now -- wait, wait. We can't do it through an executive order.
TRUMP: Can we -- can we do one question at -- wait. One question at...
QUESTION: Mr. President, why did Jeff Sessions announce a zero-tolerance...
TRUMP: The children -- the children can be taken care of quickly, beautifully and immediately. The Democrats forced that law upon our nation. I hate it. I hate to see separation of parents and children.
The Democrats can come to us, as they actually are -- in all fairness, we are talking to them -- and they can change the whole border security. We need a wall. We need border security.
We've got to get rid of catch and release. You catch a criminal, you take his name, you release him and he never shows up again. TRUMP: He goes into our society, and then we end up getting him in a different way, oftentimes after he's killed somebody.
We've got to change our laws.
The Democrats have control, because we don't have the votes. The Republicans need -- we need more Republicans, frankly, and that's why I think we're going to do so well in the midterms -- that, and because...
That, and because we have the strongest economy in the history of our nation. We have the best jobs numbers in the last 44 years, top of Drudge. The best job numbers in 44 years.
QUESTION: Why did Jeff Sessions announce a zero tolerance policy at the border on May 7th? Is that not a Republican -- is that not a Republican policy?
TRUMP: He's just following the law. No, he's following laws -- he's following a law that was...
QUESTION: But that was a direct order to...
TRUMP: Can I answer your question, please?
TRUMP: OK? You're just asking me the same question over and over.
He's following laws, very simply, that were given to us and forced upon us by the Democrats.
QUESTION: But there's no law that says families have to be separated at the border. (inaudible)
TRUMP: The Democrats gave us the laws.
Now, I want the laws to be beautiful, humane, but strong. I don't want bad people coming in. I don't want drugs coming in.
And we can solve that problem in one meeting. Tell the Democrats, your friends, to call me.
QUESTION: Mr. President, at the end of the "Fox & Friends" interview, you said that you were going to spend Father's Day weekend doing work, and you said that you were going to have a call with North Korea. Who are you going to talk to in North Korea?
TRUMP: Well, I'm going to speak to people in North Korea, and I'm going to speak to my people who are over in North Korea. A lot of things are happening, and I will tell you this: We now have a very good relationship with North Korea.
When I came into this job, it looked like war, not because of me, but because -- if you remember the sit-down with Barack Obama -- I think you will admit this -- he said the biggest problem that the United States has, and by far the most dangerous problem that he said to me that we've ever had, because of nuclear, is North Korea. Now, that was shortly before I entered office.
I have solved that problem. Now we're getting it memorialized and all, but that problem is largely solved, and part of the reason is we signed, number one, a very good document.
TRUMP: But you know what? More importantly than the document -- more importantly than the document, I have a good relationship with Kim Jong-un. That's a very important thing.
TRUMP: I can now -- wait.
I can now call him. I can now say, "Well, we have a problem." I told him, I gave him a very direct number. He can now call me if he has any difficulty. I can call him. We have communication. It's a very good thing.
People are shocked that this is the kind of -- you know, they thought Trump was going to get in. He was going to start throwing bombs all over the place. It's actually the opposite.
TRUMP: But we're building a military so strong -- $716 billion next year, $700 billion this year. We're building a military so strong, nobody's going to mess with us.
But you know what? I never want to have to use it.
QUESTION: What's the verification process going to look like?
TRUMP: We're going to have a very strong verification process.
Now, if you read the agreement, which much -- most of you didn't, point after point after point he gave, including getting back our -- the remains of our great heroes, OK -- of our great, great heroes, which made -- some people are crying in the streets, they're so happy. Nobody thought we were going to get that. Point after point.
All they said about me is, "You met. He met. It's terrible. He met." Of course, I met. Meeting is a good thing, not a bad thing.
By the way, it was good for the United States. It was good for them.
I spoke with China. They are very happy. I actually -- they were much happier.
Now, they may not be as happy today because of what I'm doing with trade. You've probably heard that. I assume it's been announced by now. But we're putting tariffs on $50 billion worth of technology and other things because we have to, because we've been treated very unfairly.
But China has been terrific. President Xi has been terrific. President Moon -- everybody. We're all working together because of me.
QUESTION: How long will you give Kim Jong-un to follow through on denuclearization before you put...
TRUMP: Well, we're working it as fast as possible.
QUESTION: ... before you put -- before you put those sanctions back on?
TRUMP: We're working it as fast as possible.
TRUMP: We're working that -- we're working denuclearization as fast as possible.
QUESTION: Are you planning to meet with Putin this summer?
TRUMP: It's possible that we'll meet, yeah.
I -- I thought -- you know, this all started because somebody, one of you, asked, "Should Putin be in the G-7?" I said, "No, he should be in the G-8."
A few years ago, Putin was in what was called the G-8. I think it's better to have Russia in, than -- than to have Russia out, because just like North Korea, just like somebody else, it's much better if we get along with them, than if we don't. So it's possible.
TRUMP: Just so you understand -- no, no, President Obama lost Crimea, just so you understand. This was long before I got there. Just -- I want to make it so the fake news prints it properly: President Obama lost Crimea.
QUESTION: So it's his fault?
TRUMP: Wait, wait. Yeah, it's his fault, yeah, yeah.
TRUMP: It's his fault. Yeah. It's his fault. TRUMP: The president -- just so you under -- because -- because Putin didn't respect President Obama. President Obama lost Crimea because President Putin didn't respect President Obama, didn't respect our country, and didn't respect Ukraine.
QUESTION: Were you...
TRUMP: But President Obama, not Trump -- when it's my fault, I'll tell you. But President Obama gave away -- now President Obama by not going across the red line in the sand that he drew -- I went across it with the 59 missile hits. But President Obama when he didn't go across the red line, what he gave away nobody even knows.
TRUMP: One more time, President Obama gave away Crimea. That should have never happened.