President Donald Trump holds a press conference following the divided midterm elections where Democrats took control of the House of Representatives while Republicans managed gain seats in the Senate. The formal press conference was held in the East Room of the White House. Transcript of press conference below Trump's tweets.
Pres. Trump's post-midterm press conference featured several contentious exchanges with reporters.
I will be doing a news conference at The White House - 11:30 A.M. Will be discussing our success in the Midterms!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 7, 2018
President Trump is planning to discuss his "success" in the 2018 midterms at a news conference at 11:30 A.M. He also tweeted:
To any of the pundits or talking heads that do not give us proper credit for this great Midterm Election, just remember two words - FAKE NEWS!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 7, 2018
If the Democrats think they are going to waste Taxpayer Money investigating us at the House level, then we will likewise be forced to consider investigating them for all of the leaks of Classified Information, and much else, at the Senate level. Two can play that game!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 7, 2018
In all fairness, Nancy Pelosi deserves to be chosen Speaker of the House by the Democrats. If they give her a hard time, perhaps we will add some Republican votes. She has earned this great honor!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 7, 2018
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: It was a big day yesterday. Incredible day. And last night the Republican Party defied history to expand our Senate majority while significantly beating expectations in the House in a midterm year.
We did this in spite of a very dramatic fund-raising disadvantage driven by Democrats' wealthy donors and special interests, and very hostile media coverage, to put it mildly. The media coverage set a new record and a new standard.
We also had a staggering number of House retirements, so it's a little tough. These are seats that could have been held pretty easily, and we had newcomers going in, and a lot of them worked very hard. But it's very difficult when you have that many retirements.
We held a large number of campaign rallies with large, large numbers of people going to every one. To the best of my knowledge, we didn't have a vacant or an empty seat. I'm sure you would have reported it if you spotted one. Including 30 rallies in the last 60 days, and we saw the candidates that I supported achieve tremendous success last night. As an example, of the 11 candidates we campaigned with during the last week, nine won last night.
This vigorous campaigning stopped the blue wave that they talked about. I don't know if there ever was such a thing, but could have been. If we didn't do the campaigning, probably, there could have been.
And the history really will see what a good job we did in the final couple of weeks, in terms of getting some tremendous people over the finish line. They really are tremendous people. But many of them were not known, but they will be known.
This election marks the largest Senate gains for a president's party in a first midterm election since at least President Kennedy's in 1962. There have been only four midterm elections since 1934 in which a president's party has gained even a single Senate seat.
As of now, we picked up it looks like three; could be four, perhaps it could be two, but we picked up a lot. And most likely the number will be three. You people probably know that better than I do at this point because you've looked at the more recent numbers.
55 is the largest number of Republican senators in the last 100 years. In the last 80 years, a sitting president's party has only gained a cumulative total of eight Senate seats, averaging one per decade. So if we picked up two, three or four, that's a big percentage of that number. So in the last 80 years, you think of that, only eight seats.
In President Obama's first midterm election, he lost six Senate seats, including in the deep blue state of Massachusetts. Republicans captured at least four Senate seats held by Democrat incumbents. And these are tremendously talented, hard-working people that did this. Indiana, North Dakota, Florida, Missouri.
We also won two open Senate seats, in Tennessee -- I want to congratulate our great champion who did such a great job in Tennessee, Marsha -- and in Utah. And Arizona is looking very good, really very good. She's done a terrific job, that was a tough race and she's done a fantastic job.
In each of these open seats, Democrats recruited very strong candidates with substantial fund-raising and media support. We were getting bombarded with money on the other side.
In the House, Republicans dramatically outperformed historical precedents an overcame a historic number of retirements. The most House Republican retirements in 88 years: 43 House Republicans retired.
Now, I -- I will say this that in many cases they were chairmen of committees and they left because they weren't chairmen, because the Republicans have a rule for six years. And what that does is wonderful in one way and lets people come through the system and become chairmen, and in another way it drives people out, because when they're a chairman they don't want to go and not be a chairman. You're the chairman of a committee and you're a big deal, and all of a sudden you're not doing that anymore, so they leave.
We had a lot of them leave, that's -- I guess you can flip a coin as to which system is better. The Democrats do the other. Some of their folks have been in those committees for a long time as chairmen.
In 2010, President Obama's first midterm, he lost 63 seats. By contrast, as of the most current count, it looks like around 27 House seats or something. And we'll figure that out pretty soon.
We also had a slew of historic wins in the governors' races -- the governors' races were incredible -- against very well-funded, talented and skilled Democrat candidates, and people that worked very, very hard -- respectfully -- for those candidates, like Oprah Winfrey, who I like. I don't know if she likes me anymore, but that's ok. She used to. But she worked very hard in Georgia. Very, very hard. And if you look at them, there were (ph) four governors' races crucial to 2020 and the presidential race: Florida, Iowa, Ohio and Georgia. The big ones. Florida, Iowa, Ohio and Georgia. Can't get much more important than that. They were incredible. They were actually incredible campaigns, too. Incredible.
As of right now, Republicans will control the majority of governorships across the country, including three great women who worked very hard: governors of Alabama, South Dakota and Iowa. They worked very, very hard. They're very talented.
By expanding our Senate majority, the voters have also clearly rebuked the Senate Democrats for their handling of the Kavanaugh hearings -- that was a factor, I think maybe a very big factor, the way that was handled; I think was -- tremendous energy was given to the Republican Party by the way they treated then-Judge Kavanaugh, now-Justice Kavanaugh -- and expressed their support for confirming more great pro-Constitution judges.
Candidates who embraced our message of low taxes, low regulations, low crime, strong borders and great judges, excelled last night. They excelled.
They -- they really -- I mean, we have a -- a list of -- of people that were fantastic. And I'm just going to point them out. Mike Bost, Rodney Davis, Andy Barr was fantastic, who I went to Kentucky. I -- for the most part, I didn't campaign for the House, but I did actually make a special trip for Andy Barr, because he was in a very tough race in Kentucky, and he won. That was a very tough race. The polls were all showing that he was down, and down substantially, and he won. And that one, I did do. Pete Stauber of Minnesota -- great guy, he's new and ran a fantastic race.
On the other hand, you had some that decided to, "Let's stay away. Let's stay away." They did very poorly. I'm not sure that I should be happy or sad, but I feel just fine about it.
Carlos Curbelo, Mike Coffman -- too bad, Mike -- Mia Love. I saw Mia Love. She called me all the time to help her with a hostage situation, being held hostage in Venezuela. But Mia Love gave me no love.
And she lost. Too bad. Sorry about that, Mia.
And Barbara Comstock was another one. I mean, I think she could have won that race, but she didn't want to have any embrace. For that I don't blame her. But she -- she lost, substantially lost.TRUMP: Peter Roskam didn't want the embrace. Erik Paulsen didn't want the embrace. And in New Jersey, I think he could have done well, but it didn't work out too good, Bob Hugin, I feel badly, because I think that's something that could have been won. That's a race that could have been won. John Faso.
Those are some of the people that, you know, have decided for their own reason not to embrace, whether it's me or what we stand for. But what we stand for meant a lot to most people, and we've had tremendous support, and tremendous support in the Republican Party, among the biggest support in the history of the party. I've actually heard at 93 percent, it's a record, but I won't say that, because who knows? But we've had tremendous support.
America is booming like never before. Doing fantastic. We have Larry Kudlow here, and he said the numbers are as good as he's ever seen numbers at any time for our country. But he's a young man, so he hasn't seen that many numbers.
Where is Larry? You're a young man, right, Larry? And you haven't been doing this too long, but they're as good as you've ever seen.
And we may have, if you have a question for Larry, we'll do that.
But I want to send my warmest appreciation and regards to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. We really worked very well together. We have been working very well together. We actually have a great relationship. People just don't understand that. Which is fine.
And also, to perhaps, looks like, I would think, Speaker Nancy Pelosi. And I give her a lot of credit. She works very hard, and she's worked long and hard. I give her a great deal of credit for what she's done, and what she's accomplished.
Hopefully, we can all work together next year to continue delivering for the American people, including on economic growth, infrastructure, trade, lowering the cost of prescription drugs. These are some of the things that the Democrats do want to work on, and I really believe we'll be able to do that. I think we're going to have a lot -- lot of -- lot of reason to do it.
And -- and I will say, just as a matter of business, I was with some very successful people last night. We were watching the returns. So if the Republicans won, and let's say we held on by two or one or three, it would have been very hard, having that many Republicans, to ever even get support among Republicans. Because there'll always be one or two or three people that, for good reason or for bad reason or for grandstanding -- we have that, too. You've seen that. You've seen that -- plenty of grandstanding. But for certain reasons, that many people, you're always going to have a couple that won't do it. So that puts us in a very bad position.
In other words, had we kept -- and this is no -- I'm saying this for a very basic reason. It's common sense. It puts us in a very tough position. We win by one or two or three, and you'll have one or two or three or four or five, even, come over and say, "You know, look, we're not going to go along with this. We want this, this, this," and all of sudden, we -- we can't even -- we wouldn't even be able to get it, in many cases, out of the Republicans' hands before we sent it on to the Senate.
And now, we have a much easier path, because the Democrats will come to us with a plan for infrastructure, a plan for health care, a plan for whatever they are looking at, and we'll negotiate.
And as you know, it's been very hard in the Senate, because we've -- need, essentially, 10 votes from Democrats, and we don't get those votes, because the Democrats do really stick together well. I don't agree with them on a lot of policy, but I agree with them on sticking together. They stick together great.
So now, we go into the Senate, we don't have the 10 votes, and what happens? It doesn't get passed. Even if it gets out of the House, it doesn't get passed.
So under the new concept of what we're doing, I say, "Come on, let me see what you have."
They want to do things. You know, I keep hearing about investigations, fatigue, like from the time -- almost from the time I announced I was going to run, they've been giving us this investigation fatigue. Been a long time, they've got nothing, zero. You know why? Cause there is nothing.
But they can play that game, but we can play it better, because we have a thing called the United States Senate, and a lot of very questionable things were done, between leaks of classified information and many other elements that should not have taken place.
And all you're going to do is end up in back and forth and back and forth, and two years is going to go up and we won't have done a thing.
I really think -- and I really respected what Nancy said last night about bipartisanship and getting together and uniting -- she used the word "uniting" and she used the -- the bipartisanship statement, which is so important because that's what we should be doing.
So we can look at us, they can look at us, then we can look at them and it'll go back and forth. And it'll probably be very good for me politically. I could see it being extremely good politically, because I think I'm better at that game than they are actually.
But we'll find out. I mean, you know, we'll find out. Or we can work together.
You can't do them simultaneously, by the way. Just think, if somebody said "Oh, you can do them," no you can't. Cause if they're doing that, we're not doing the other, just so you understand.
So we won't be doing that.
But now what happens is we send it to the Senate and we'll get 100 percent Democrat support and we'll get some Republican support. And if it's good, I really believe we have Republicans that will help with the approval process and they will really help with the approval process.
So it really could be a beautiful, bipartisan type of situation. If we won by one or two or three or four or five, that wouldn't happen, and the closer it is, the worse it is. This way, they'll come to me, we'll negotiate, maybe we'll make a deal, maybe we won't, that's possible.
But we have a lot of things in common on infrastructure. We want to do something on health care, they want to do something on health care. There are a lot of great things that we can do together and now we'll send it up. And now we'll send it up and we will really get -- we'll get the Democrats and we'll get the Republicans -- or some of the Republicans. And I'll make sure that we send something up that the Republicans can support, and they're going to want to make sure they send something up that the Democrats can support.
So, our great country is booming like never before and we're thriving on every single level, both in terms of economic and military strength, in terms of development, in terms of GDP. We're doing unbelievably.
I will tell you our trade deals are coming along fantastically. The USMCA and South Korea is finished. USMCA has gotten rave reviews. Not going to lose companies anymore to other countries. They're not going to do that because they have a tremendous economic incentive, meaning it's prohibitive for them to do that. So it's not going to be like NAFTA, which is one of the worst deals I've ever seen, although we've made some other pretty bad ones, too.
Now is the time for members of both parties to join together, put partisanship aside, and keep the American economic miracle going strong.
It is a miracle. We're doing so well. And I've said it at a lot of rallies. Some of you have probably heard it so much you don't want to hear it again. But when people come to my office -- presidents, prime ministers -- they all congratulate me almost the first thing on what we've done economically, because it is really amazing. And our steel industry is back, our aluminum industry is starting to do really well. These are industries that were dead. Our miners are working again.
We must all work together to protect our military -- we have to do that -- to support our law enforcement, secure our borders, and advance really great policy, including environmental policy. We want crystal clean water, we want beautiful perfect air. Air and water has to be perfect.
At the same time, we don't want to put ourselves at a disadvantage to other countries who are very competitive with us and who don't abide by the rules at all. We don't want to hurt our jobs, we don't want to hurt our factories, we don't want companies leaving. We want to be totally competitive and we are. And right now we have just about the cleanest air, the cleanest water we've ever had and it's always good to be that way; we insist on it. So environmental is very important to me.
And with that, I'll take a few questions if you'd like.
Whoa! I didn't know what happened. All right, go ahead, John. That was a lot of hands shooting up so quickly.
QUESTION: There's a lot to talk about.
TRUMP: There's a lot to talk about.
QUESTION: Mr. President, you talked at length just now about bipartisanship. The presumed speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, talked about it last night. I'm sure that's encouraging for the American people.
But do you really believe, given what the relationship has been like between this White House and the Democratic Party, that that will happen? Will...
TRUMP: I think there's a good chance. I think there's a very good chance it will happen.
QUESTION: If I can just finish here, will you have to compromise on certain issues to the point where it could hurt you in 2020?
And do you expect that when the Democrats take over the chairmanship of all these important committees, you're going to get hit with a blizzard of subpoenas on everything from the Russian investigation...
QUESTION: ... to your cell phone use, to your tax return?
Then you're going to -- if that happens, then we're going to do the same thing, and government comes to a halt.
And I would blame them, because they now are going to be coming up with policy. They're the majority in the House. I expect that they will come up with some fantastic ideas that I can support, on the environment, on so many different things, including prescription drug prices, which we've made a big dent in already, including some of the things that we're working on for the vets. We've gotten Choice approved. We've gotten a lot of things approved, but they some other elements that we want.
There are many things we can get along on without a lot of trouble, that we agree very much with them and they agree with us.
I would like to see bipartisanship. I'd like to see unity. And I think we have a very good chance -- and maybe not on everything, but I think we have a very good chance of -- of seeing that.
QUESTION: One question on the lame-duck, sir, and one on your Cabinet.
You toyed with the idea during the campaign of a shutdown before the midterms in order to secure border wall funding. Are you prepared to go with a shutdown strategy during the lame-duck, since this might be your last, best chance...
TRUMP: Not necessarily.
QUESTION: ... to secure that?
TRUMP: Look, I speak to Democrats all the time. They agree that a wall is necessary. A wall is necessary. And as you know, we're building the wall. We've started. But we should build it at one time, not in chunks.
QUESTION: But you want much more money and you want it much sooner?
TRUMP: No, we need the money to build wall -- the whole wall, not pieces of it all over. And we are doing it.
Now we have the military, now we have other elements of a wall that are pretty nasty, to be honest with you. But it's -- nevertheless, it's pretty hard to get through it.
But no, I'd like to see the wall.
Many of the people that we'll be dealing with, you know, in 2006, they approved the wall, essentially. It was a very strong border fence, but it was the same thing. And they all approved it. They all agreed. I have statements from every one of them. We have them saying, "We need the wall." I mean, they sound like me.
TRUMP: But we do need it, because we have people coming -- and I'm not just talking about the caravans. We have people coming through our border that you physically can't put that many people -- it's 2,000-mile stretch. You can't put that many people along that stretch to guard it. And even if you did, tremendous fighting would ensue.
So we need the wall. Many Democrats know we need the wall. And we're just going to have to see what happens. I mean, I will be fighting for it.
They have done everything in their power to make sure -- I got the military $700 billion and $716 billion; the wall is a tiny, tiny fraction of the cost of that. But their whole agenda has been to try not giving me anything for the wall.
I really believe politically they're hurting themselves. I actually think politically that's a good thing for me. But I want to get the wall up because we need it (inaudible)...
QUESTION: So no shutdown scenario for the...
TRUMP: I don't know. I can't tell you that.
QUESTION: ... for the mid -- for the lame-duck?
TRUMP: No, I -- I can't commit to that. But it's possible.
QUESTION: And can you give us clarity, sir, on your thinking currently, now after the midterms, about your attorney general and your deputy attorney general? Do they have long-term job security, or...
TRUMP: I'd rather answer that at a little bit different time.
We're looking at a lot of different things, including Cabinet. I'm very happy with most of my Cabinet. We're looking at different people for different positions. You know, it's very common after the midterms. I didn't want to do anything before the midterms.
But I will tell you that for the most part, I'm extremely happy with my Cabinet. I think Mike Pompeo has fit in so beautifully. He's done an incredible job as...
QUESTION: How about your interior secretary?
TRUMP: We're looking at that. And I want -- I do want to study whatever is being said.
QUESTION: Is he in jeopardy?
TRUMP: I think he's doing -- I think he's doing an excellent job. But we will take a look at that in a very strong (ph) -- and we'll probably have an idea about that in about a week.
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President.
TRUMP: OK? Thank you.
TRUMP: Go ahead, Joe (ph).
He gave me a fair interview the other day, so I might as well ask him a question.
QUESTION: All right. Thank you, Mr. President.
And -- and picking up there, you told me the other day that you are an open book. So...
TRUMP: I think I am an open book.
QUESTION: ... so point-blank, Democrats go after your tax returns, will you try to block that or will you allow them to have them?
TRUMP: Well, look, as I've told you, they're under audit. They have been for a long time. They're extremely complex. People wouldn't understand them.
They're done by -- among the biggest and best law firms in the country. Same thing with the accounting firms, the accountants are a very, very large, powerful firm from the standpoint of respect. They're highly respected, big firm. A -- a great law firm, or (ph) you would -- you know it very well. They do these things. They put them in.
But people don't understand tax returns. Now, I did do a filing of over a hundred pages, I believe, which is in the offices. And when people went and saw that filing and they saw the magnitude of it, they were very disappointed.
And they saw the -- you know, the detail. You get far more from that. And I guess we filed that, now, three times. But you get far more from that than you could ever get from a tax return.
But when you're under audit -- and I'm on a very continuous audit because there are so many companies -- and it is a very big company, far bigger than you would even understand. But it's a -- it's a great company.
But it's big, and it's complex and it's probably feet-high. It's a very complex instrument. And I think that people wouldn't understand it.
But if I were finished with the audit, I would have an open mind to it. I would say that. But I don't want to do it during the audit.
And -- and really no lawyer -- even from the other side they say, often, not always -- but when you're under audit, you don't have -- you don't subject it to that. You get it done, and then you release it.
So when that happens, if that happens, I would certainly have an open mind to it.
QUESTION: So that means if the audit is still on, you will not turn over the tax returns, or you'll fight to block it?
TRUMP: When it's under audit, no. No, nobody would. Nobody turns over a return when it's under audit. OK?
QUESTION: Thank you.
TRUMP: Thank you.
Yes, go ahead, please.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) One, I was tempted to ask you why you like Oprah so much, but I -- I think I'll go on to the question that...
TRUMP: Why do I like Oprah? What kind of a question is that?
QUESTION: I'm just asking, just curious. But the real question...
TRUMP: He's a -- he's a comedian here.
QUESTION: ... the real question is...
TRUMP: I do like Oprah, by the way. I do. She was a person I knew well. Came to my place in Palm Beach often. And I have a lot of respect for her. Unfortunately, she didn't do the trick.
QUESTION: The -- the real question is, you just sat up here and said that -- from this podium that it's -- is your -- are you offering a "my way or highway" scenario to the Democrats? You're saying...
QUESTION: ... that if -- if...
TRUMP: Negotiation. Not at all.
QUESTION: ... if they start investigating you, that you can play that game...
TRUMP: Oh, yes.
QUESTION: ... and investigate them.
TRUMP: Better than them.
QUESTION: Can you -- can you compartmentalize that...
TRUMP: And I think I know more -- and I think I know more than they know.
QUESTION: Can you compartmentalize that and still continue to work with them for the benefit of the rest of the country...
QUESTION: ... or are you -- or are all bets off?
TRUMP: No. If they do that, then it's just -- all it is, is a warlike posture.
QUESTION: And so then, the -- wait a minute. Then the follow-up -- I'm sorry, Jim (ph).
TRUMP: You heard -- you heard my answer.
QUESTION: Well, since it's Jim (ph), I'll let it go.
QUESTION: OK. Thank you, Mr. President.
I -- I wanted to challenge you on -- on one of the statements that you made in the tail end of the campaign in -- in the midterms that...
TRUMP: Here -- here we go.
QUESTION: Well, I -- if you don't mind, Mr. President...
TRUMP: Let's go. Let's go. Come on.
QUESTION: ... that this caravan was an invasion. As you know, Mr. President...
TRUMP: I -- I consider it to be an invasion.