President Trump discusses Iran being implicated in attacking oil takers in the Gulf of Oman, Nancy Pelosi accusing him of a criminal cover-up, calls to fire Kellyanne Conway, Joe Biden's campaign and more in a wide-ranging phone call with 'Fox & Friends' on the occasion of his 73rd birthday.
Rough transcript courtesy of FOX News:
BRIAN KILMEADE, FOX HOST: It used to be the president's town. He used to work here full time. He had his own building, his own tower.
STEVE DOOCY, FOX HOST: Yes.
KILMEADE: Remember those days? Now he moved.
DOOCY: He did, indeed. He's gone down to the 202 area code and the president of the United States is going to be calling in very shortly.
We've got all sorts of things to talk about. This has been one of the craziest days we've ever done on "FOX & FRIENDS." Not only is it Summer Concert Series Day today with -- we had a great performer for almost an hour and a half, but also it was the anniversary of the Army, 244 years, and it's Flag Day, and it is the president's birthday as well.
AINSLEY EARHARDT, FOX HOST: The president is turning 73 today and he is joining us by phone right now.
Good morning to you, Mr. President.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (via telephone): Good morning.
EARHARDT: Happy birthday. How do you plan to celebrate?
TRUMP: Well, I think I'll just work, if you want to know. And when you say celebrate --
DOOCY: No -- come on you've got to --
EARHARDT: Doesn't surprise us.
DOOCY: You've got to have a cake or something.
TRUMP: I don't have time to celebrate.
DOOCY: What about a cake.
TRUMP: Yes, we'll have a little piece of cake tonight, but in the meantime we're doing a lot of things. We're doing a lot of good things. A lot of things that are turning out to be very good for our country. I enjoy that doing more. That's better than taking it easy. There's always going to be plenty of time to take it easy, I guess.
KILMEADE: And, if you don't mind, I'll -- on the note, "Esquire" magazine did this story and they say, well, that President Trump, the truth is, according to insiders, he likes running for president but he hates the job.
TRUMP: No, I love the job. Well, it's the fake media. You know, they're just so fake. You don't even respond to them anymore.
No, I love it because I don't think anybody's accomplished so much in two and a half years, what we've done.
You know, I watched Natalie Harp --
TRUMP: That young, beautiful woman, who was --
TRUMP: They made some kind of a medical mistake a long time ago and she's lived a tough time. And I watched her. I think she's one of the best guests you've ever had. She was so -- her spirt was so incredible. And it was about Right to Try. And I've got Right to Try approved. They've been trying to get it for 44 years approved and they couldn't and I got it done, where people that have a real problem, people that are terminally ill in many cases that only people really at -- at a certain level, they couldn't go and use any of our great medicines, any of our great genius that we have, and we have the greatest in the world medically, and in other ways too. And I think she was just one of your great guests. I -- I thought it was amazing.
KILMEADE: Well, just to confirm, Mr. President, if anyone missed it, Natalie Harp's got this rare bone cancer and they basically were just getting her ready to die and try to give her opioid to make the pain less and she didn't want to. And you became president. She had the right to try. She tried some experimental drugs and she's living with cancer, back to work, out of pain --
EARHARDT: Out of her wheelchair.
KILMEADE: And -- and she has a shot at -- at a great live.
EARHARDT: She says she's alive because of you, Mr. President.
TRUMP: Well, she's got a great shot. And, you know, many other people are like that where Right to Try has helped them where, you know, they used to go to Asia, they'd go all over the world looking for a cure. Now they can stay home. And we have the best medicines, but they're being -- you know, in a line, where you have to wait. It has to be approved and you wouldn't be able to give it to anybody. Now we're able to do that. And it was a complex process, believe it or not. But for 44 years they tried and they couldn't get it. We got it.
TRUMP: And there's so many people like Natalie, but I thought she was just an incredible person.
DOOCY: All right, let's, Mr. President, talk about something in the news today.
We've seen those images of the oil tankers on fire out in the gulf and Iran says, hey, don't blame us for this. We didn't do it. We think it was an accident. I know Mike Pompeo has blamed Iran.
What sort of evidence do we have that they've done it and what are we going to do about it?
TRUMP: Well, Iran did do it. And you know they did it because you saw the boat. I guess one of the mines didn't explode and it's probably got essentially Iran written all over it. And you saw the boat at night trying to take the mine off and successfully took the mine off the boat.
TRUMP: And that was exposed. And that was their boat. That was them. And they didn't want the evidence left behind. I guess they don't know that we have things that we can detect in the dark that work very well. So we have that. And know you put it on.
So, no, it was them that did it. And, look, President Obama made a deal --
DOOCY: So what are we going to do about it?
TRUMP: President Obama made a deal that was an outrage. The Iran deal, which, frankly, in five or six years of a short period of time they'd be allowed to make nuclear weapons. They cannot have nuclear weapons. They understand they're not going to have nuclear weapons. We -- we have enough problems with nuclear weapons, which is one of the great difficulties, frankly, if you look forward, one of the great difficulties of the world. Not going to happen with them. And we'll see what happens.
KILMEADE: But we had, they think, four tankers, sir --
TRUMP: We are being very tough. Yes, we're being very tough on sanctions.
When I came into office, they were a -- an absolute terror. They were all over the place. They were in Yemen. They were in Syria. We have 14 different sites of conflict. They were in charge of every single -- every single place. And they really are. They're a nation of terror.
And they've changed a lot since I've been president, I can tell you. They were unstoppable and now they are in deep, deep trouble. They -- you can't -- you can't -- they don't have anything.
KILMEADE: But how do you stop this action? How do you stop these outrageous acts with 30 percent of the world's oil comes there?
TRUMP: Well, we're going to see. We're going to see. We're going to see how to stop. I don't think they've talked the same way. When President Obama signed that agreement, they were screaming "death to America," "death to America."
EARHARDT: That's right.
TRUMP: They were having a good time at his expense and he's given them 150 billion and he's given them 1.8 billion in cash, cash, nobody ever heard of a thing like that, and all of that money and they're screaming "death to America." They haven't screamed "death to America" lately.
So we'll see what happens. But we don't take it lightly, that I can tell you.
EARHARDT: The Strait of Hormuz is a critical shipping lane. And we're watching it carefully. If they try to close that, is the United States obligated to try to keep it open?
TRUMP: Well, they're not going to be closing it. It's not going to be -- if it closes, it's not going to be closed for long. And they know it. And they've been told in very strong terms. And we want to get them back to the table if they want to go back.
TRUMP: I'm ready when they are. But whenever they're ready, it's OK. In the meantime, I'm in no rush. I'm in no rush.
KILMEADE: I'll just give you a quote. They said, Iran's president -- because Abe is over there. He's a good friend of yours, Japan is friends with Iran. The Iranian president says you're not worthy of even a return message that he brought over about possible talks.
What's your -- what's your reaction to that?
TRUMP: Well, I'm glad he likes me so much, but no reason why he should like me.
Look, I came in. They were -- they had all the money. They had everything. They were doing just fantastically, threatening everybody. They were bombing the hell out of countries. They were killing people all over the Middle East. And now, all of a sudden, they're pulling back. They're pulling back from everywhere. They're pulling back out of Syria. They're pulling back out of Yemen. They're pulling back -- if you take a look at what's actually happening.
TRUMP: And I'm not looking to hurt that country, but they can't have a nuclear weapon. It's very simple. And if you look at the Iran nuclear deal, how bad it was, we gave them all that money and in six to seven years, which, for a nation, is no time. That's like one second. In six to seven years, they would be able to legally start making nuclear weapons. We're not going to have it.
DOOCY: Mr. President, let's talk about -- early this week you granted ABC and George Stephanopoulos great access. You spent a couple of days with him. And one of the sound bites that they ran over the last 48 hours is essentially you'd say there -- there is nothing wrong, in your estimation, with accepting dirt from Russia or any foreign country.
You've taken a lot of heat from the Democrats regarding that since then.
TRUMP: Well, I don't…that. I think it was accurately stated and I've had a lot of support in this and --
DOOCY: Well, then clarify it.
TRUMP: Yes. I mean I've had a lot of support.
First of all, I don't think anybody would present me with anything bad because they know how much I love this country. Nobody's going to present me with anything bad.
Number two, if I was -- and, of course, you have to look at it, because if you don't look at it you're not going to know if it's bad. How are you going to know if it's bad? But, of course, you give it to the FBI or report it to the attorney general or somebody like that. But, of course, you do that. You wouldn't -- you couldn't have that happen with our country. And everybody understands that. And I thought it was made clear. In fact, I actually said at the beginning, I think I said I'd do both.
TRUMP: But how are you going to -- if you don't hear what it is --
TRUMP: You're not going to know what it is.
EARHARDT: That's right.
TRUMP: I mean how can you report something that you don't know?
EARHARDT: How do you know it's bad if you don't listen to it?
KILMEADE: So, Mr. President, how --
TRUMP: No, no, they say, oh, he would -- he would accept it. Well, if I don't listen, you're not going to know.
Now, if I thought anything was incorrect or badly stated, I'd report it to attorney general, the FBI. I'd report it to law enforcement, absolutely.
KILMEADE: So -- so -- so if we're --
TRUMP: Now, one thing that's --
KILMEADE: Go ahead.
TRUMP: One thing that's different with the president, I had dinner with the queen. I had -- I met with the prime minister of the U.K. I was with the head of France. I was with the head of all these nations and I constantly am, constantly talking to them. And, you know, that puts us in a different -- we -- we have many, many conversations. And I'm just thinking, gee, if they say, we don't like your opponent, am I supposed to put -- you know, the president of France, am I supposed to report him to the FBI?
You know, I'm in a little bit of a different position than a lot of other people.
KILMEADE: But -- but, Mr. President, I think that's a good point, but what if that person -- if -- if a leader leaned over and just said, listen, I -- x -- this candidate that you're running against, he did some dicey things in x, y, z country and I got some proof of it. What do you do in that scenario? Do you back off? Do you say, I don't need it? Do you say, show it to me?
TRUMP: Like I said, Brian, the president of the United States, no matter who it is, whether it's me or anybody else, is in a much different position because I hear things that, frankly, good, bad or indifferent that other people don't hear, just in normal conversation.
TRUMP: But nobody is going to say bad things to me. They know that I'm a very straight player. They know one thing about me, I love this country more than anything. I love this country. That's why I'm doing this.
TRUMP: And I do -- and, by the way, I do love doing it. And the reason I love doing it, because we're doing a great job. You're doing -- there hasn't been a job like this. You look at China, you look at the way that's working out, you watch what happens.
DOOCY: You've got a lot going on. No -- no doubt about it.
TRUMP: Look at what's happening at the border. Look at what's happening -- look at what's happening at the border of Mexico. A lot of good things are happening. Things that they've been trying to get approved, Brian, for 25 years. I got them done in one day. I put the tariffs on and we got them approved. And Mexico's been terrific. And, you know, it's really slowing down.
But I watched Lindsey Graham, and he's right, we have to get help from Congress. The Democrats in Congress. So I'm not giving up hope. And we need help from Congress.
DOOCY: Right, they're really not.
Going back to the -- the topic about the dirt.
If you did call the FBI with dirt on a political opponent, though, Mr. President, wouldn't the Democrats accuse you of using the FBI to investigate political opponents?
TRUMP: Oh, absolutely.
Look, here's the bottom line. They spied on my campaign and they got caught, OK. They spied on my campaign and they got caught. Whether it's the insurance policy that just in case Hillary Clinton loses we have an insurance policy essentially saying to take him out, this is probably the worst or certainly one of the worst political scandals in the history of our country. And they've hurt --
KILMEADE: Well --
EARHARDT: It's actually a double standard. It's such a double standard because they actually did it. If you trace that dirty dossier, it goes back to the DNC and Hillary Clinton's campaign. But, still, Nancy Pelosi's out there saying, you participated in criminal behavior or what you said was criminal. Listen to this.
DOOCY: And, action.
EARHARDT: And here's Nancy Pelosi.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOUSE SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): We are honoring our oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. Yesterday, the president gave us once again evidence that he does not know right from wrong. It's a very sad thing. A very sad thing that he does not know right from wrong. I believe that he has been involved in a criminal cover-up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
EARHARDT: Mr. President, was there a criminal cover-up?
TRUMP: Well, you know what, I'll -- I'll go with what Mark Levin said, because nobody could say it better, it's a fascist statement, it's a disgraceful statement. I call her "nervous Nancy." She's a nervous wreck. And I'll tell you what, for her to make a statement like that is outrageous.
Her party got caught spying. I mean if you look at what happened, Hillary Clinton, with the money that ultimately went to Russia for the fake dossier, that total fake pile of stuff, that money gets paid -- and, by the way, the amount of money that was paid and was paid by Hillary Clinton and the DNC and it went to Russia, that's the criminal. And when you look at -- when you look at what happened in terms of the campaign, when you look at what happened in terms of the spying, she never mentions that.
Isn't it amazing that constantly every day somebody gets a letter, come into Congress, come into Congress, because, you know, it's like death to a thousand wounds. And I will tell you, it's so unfair what they are doing. And I really think that people are wise to it. But when Nancy Pelosi makes a statement like that, she ought to be ashamed of herself. It's a disgrace.
KILMEADE: And she spent most of her time condemning you in her press conference. What else is new?
TRUMP: Well, probably the big --
TRUMP: The big thing though is they spied on my campaign. That's probably one of the great criminal acts of all time. Now, let's see what happens. Let's see what happens.
KILMEADE: You know, Mr. President, it was kind of interesting, Andy McCabe -- Andy McCabe, who was all over this, was asked that question. They say, hey, didn't you get Christopher Steele to go get his sources in Russia to find out information on that? He -- this is what he said is the difference between the two events. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREW MCCABE, FORMER FBI DEPUTY DIRECTOR: There's no equivalence between those two examples. To say -- to openly invite foreign intelligence officers, representatives from a hostile foreign government to -- to steal information, to acquire opposition research in any way, in any illegal way that they might do that and to present it to you is one thing. To -- for a campaign to hire a law firm, an American law firm, who then turns around and hires an American research company, who then contracts out with a foreign individual, that is not illegal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KILMEADE: It sounds terrible, even the way he tried to minimize it, but what do you think about his moral equivalency?
TRUMP: Brian, Andy McCabe is a disaster. Andy McCabe, with what we have and with what he said and with the lies and the cover-ups and all of the leaking and all of the things and -- and the Strzok and the Page, who report, you know, Strzok and his lover Page, the FBI people that reported to Andy McCabe -- and, by the way, Andy McCabe reported to Comey -- with what they've done and with everything that we have and, of course, I can't go much further because I guess it's being looked at very, very seriously. We'll see.
But the bottom line is, they spied on a campaign of another candidate and another party. And this is one of the most serious things in the history of our country. There's never been anything like this. And they used the intelligence agencies to do it.
TRUMP: So this is big stuff. We'll see how it turns out.
But when Nancy Pelosi makes a statement like that, she should be ashamed.
KILMEADE: All right.
DOOCY: And, Mr. President, that's why over a year ago you tweeted out that -- that the Obama administration had wiretapped you in Trump Tower, right?
TRUMP: Well, now it's turning out that that's minimum. Look at what they've done with Page and with -- with all of these -- these people where, you know, the FISA -- we have to see what's going on with the whole FISA, but I -- I assume all of that's being looked at. I hope it's being looked at. And, you know, you're going to have a very interesting period of time.
But why -- why isn't Congress, you know, oversight, why aren't they looking at the e-mails that were deleted from Hillary Clinton? Nobody can understand 33,000 e-mails request from Congress.
DOOCY: James Comey cleared her.
TRUMP: After they get the request -- because, you know, to me there's been a lot of criminality, in my opinion, but I -- I don't say it with -- I have to say subject checking it.
But when you look at it -- here's something that to me is so simple, Congress requests the e-mails, OK. She deletes all of them. Everything deleted. And she's -- this is after they get the request from the United States Congress. She deletes 33,000.
Now, that's only 33,000. And what about the one with her friends almost mayor of New York, and thank God that didn't happen, OK. Thank God that didn't happen.
KILMEADE: Anthony Weiner. Right.
TRUMP: So you have Anthony Weiner, who is -- got a lot of problems. But they used his laptop and all of the information that went through his laptop, I mean, they put people in jail for doing one slightly little confidential, which is a much lower level of confidential.
EARHARDT: All right.
TRUMP: So it's -- it's -- there's been so much corruption and so -- and nobody ever looks at it.
KILMEADE: Well, they are.
TRUMP: No one has.
KILMEADE: You -- you've got a U.S. attorney. You've got Michael Horowitz with this inspector general --
TRUMP: And now -- now I hope they are.
TRUMP: And, again, I stay uninvolved. I -- maybe I shouldn't. Somebody else would say, oh, he's involved. I say, we have a great attorney general. He's doing a great job. They're putting him under tremendous pressure. They're doing things that they have never done before. They're playing a very rough game. But they never look at Hillary Clinton's e-mail deletions.
TRUMP: It's a really -- it's a disgraceful thing that's going on. But, in the end, it's going to all work out.
I will just leave it at this, it may be the single biggest political crime in the history of our country. They spied on the opposing party's campaign using the intelligence apparatus of the United States.
TRUMP: Never happened, a thing like that before.
DOOCY: And -- and, Mr. President, for that -- you know, for you to make that statement, if that is true, you would think it would be a bigger story on all the channels and in all the papers.
TRUMP: No. Well, the fake news doesn't want it.
Now, at some point, the fake news is going to be forced to do it, you know.
TRUMP: Things happen that are, you know, like the McCabes of the world, they act like these little innocent people. They're not innocent. These are very, very dangerous people.
KILMEADE: Well, McCabe's on a criminal referral. I have no idea what he's doing.
But, meanwhile, you had a big announcement yesterday, not only with the -- with the second -- with the criminal justice reform, but before that you introduced Sarah Sanders.
EARHARDT: Yes, Sarah Sanders made the announcement last night that she was going to be stepping down at the end of the month. Any word on who you're going to put in that position?
TRUMP: No. I have a lot of people that want it. And there are a lot of great people. And it's the -- sometimes you have so many that it makes it more difficult. But we have some great -- but Sarah was fantastic and she is fantastic and she's going to have a tremendous future.
She's been with me three and a half years, close to four years. And she has been a warrior in a sense.
No, the news has been very, very -- you know, I -- I saw that you had a guest on before who talked about the unfairness of the media.
TRUMP: If -- if I were a Democrat liberal, I think I'd say I was the greatest president in history. You know, it's just one of those -- with all that I've done. Like, as an example, Right to Try, like tax reductions, the biggest ever, biggest in the history of the country, like regulation reduction, like straightening out the VA and getting the veterans choice and accountability.
KILMEADE: Right. Would you --
TRUMP: You know, you couldn't fire anybody in the Veterans Administration if they were -- you know, terrible. For 50 years they've been trying to get it's called accountability. I got it passed. I got VA Choice passed. In other words, the veterans don't have to wait in line for six weeks trying to get a doctor.
KILMEADE: That's --
TRUMP: If they have to wait, they go outside, get a private doctor.
All these things we got done. If I were the liberal Democrat, they'd be saying he's the greatest ever. But that's the way it goes. That's OK with me.
KILMEADE: Still, we heard Stephanie Grisham, who works with the first lady, now is a contender. And what about Anthony Scaramucci. He said he wouldn't turn it down if you went back and tried to give him a 12th day.
TRUMP: Well, I like Anthony, and he's been very nice and all but I think Anthony -- he should stay where he is right now.
KILMEADE: All right, bye.
TRUMP: He's doing a -- he's --
KILMEADE: Stephanie --
TRUMP: And he's doing a good job and let's -- let's keep it that way for a little while.
But -- but Anthony really is a good guy. Stephanie is terrific. We have a lot of --
TRUMP: We have a lot of great people. We have a lot of people to choose from.
DOOCY: Well, one of the people on your staff that we're all curious what's going to happen with is yesterday the Office of the Special Counsel, and this is not the Mueller special counsel --
DOOCY: Recommended that you fire Kellyanne Conway because she has repeatedly violated the Hatch Act, where she has essentially -- the Hatch Act, let me explain for the folks, prohibits government employees from engaging in certain political activities while on the job. They say, the special counsel's office says, she disparaged Democratic presidential candidates during TV interviews and social media. She was a repeat offender. And now they're calling on you to fire her.
So our question to you is, what are you going to do?
TRUMP: Well, I got briefed on it yesterday and it looks to me like they're trying to take away her right of free speech. And that's just not fair. They asked a question. If her -- I think one of them was involved with your show. But you ask them a question, or you ask a person a question and every time you're supposed to say, I can't answer, I can't answer. I mean she's got to have a right of -- of responding to questions. She -- it really sounds to me like a free-speech thing. It doesn't sound fair.
So I'm going to look at it very carefully.
DOOCY: So you're not going to fire her? Mr. President, you're not going to fire her?
TRUMP: No, I'm not going to fire her. I think she's a terrific person. She's a tremendous spokesperson. She's been loyal. She's been -- she's just a great person. I would certainly not think -- based on what I saw yesterday, how could you do that?
They have tried to take away her speech. And I think you're entitled to free speech in this country.
KILMEADE: Right. Yes, they just say, if you're going -- if you're working for the White House, you shouldn't be involved in criticizing other candidates or other politicians, and she has. Will you encourage her not to do that going forward?
TRUMP: Well, but it doesn't work that way because let's say that I think Biden was one of the people that she was accused of criticizing, but he criticized me and we then criticized him --
TRUMP: Or she criticized him. And it's not -- it's -- she's making a point. She's trying to make a point. And how could you do this? Basically you'd have to take a person off. A person wouldn't be able to express themselves. And I just don't see it.
Now, I'm going to get a very strong briefing on it and I'll see, but it seems to me to be very unfair. It's called freedom of speech.
KILMEADE: Right. So --
EARHARDT: Let's talk about immigration.
There's a crisis, obviously, at the border. What deals are on the table? What's the status of the wall?
TRUMP: So the wall is going up. It's going up rapidly. We're going to have over 400 miles of wall built by the end of next year. The wall is very important.
It's hard to breach it. It's high. It's strong. It's powerful. And it's going up at a much lower cost than the wall that was planned prior to me getting there.
It's a much better wall, too. We have -- you have to see what they build. It's a disgrace. And we're actually fixing it and in some cases we have to take down fairly new wall because it was so bad.
But we're going to have over 400 miles of wall built. And that's going to be in the most important areas. And we're going to have all of it built before you know.
TRUMP: But this is despite tremendous --
TRUMP: Obstacles that have been put in front of me by the Democrats.
KILMEADE: So --
TRUMP: You have no idea.
KILMEADE: Mr. President, you --
TRUMP: And we just won the lawsuit on the wall. We won a big lawsuit on the wall. Brought by Nancy Pelosi. This one was brought by Nancy Pelosi. And maybe that's criminal that she's allowing drug dealers and gang members into our country. Maybe that's criminal when you talk about it because what's happening on the border is -- we're getting it straightened out.
It's a tough -- you know how easy it would be to solve it. If we met for 15 minutes with the Democrats --
KILMEADE: Well --
TRUMP: You could solve the asylum problem and the loopholes in 15 minutes, and they know it.
KILMEADE: So -- so Lindsey -- you mentioned you saw Lindsey Graham downstairs. We just talked to him. So he had a conference yesterday. You know his plan.
KILMEADE: You've said you backed his plan to make those changes that you just talked about --
KILMEADE: About the Flores Amendment, stopping kids with minors for only being held for 20 days.
KILMEADE: It's very simple. And it turns out afterwards, on camera and off, Dick Durbin showed indications that he wants to deal.
TRUMP: That's right.
KILMEADE: Would you bring them back because you can't do it without Democrats. If he understands that the Border Patrol is drowning, like they are, and it's not even up for debate whether it's a crisis, would you bring them back and try to get something done?
TRUMP: Of course I would. I want to get something done. They know I want to get something done but they think it's good politics not to do anything. And I think it's bad politics from their side.
KILMEADE: Oh, it's terrible.
TRUMP: I think it's good politics from our side. I think by them not doing it, it's good for us, but I don't want good for us, I want good for the country.
TRUMP: And, frankly --
KILMEADE: But would you -- would you bring them back and do your negotiating? That's one of your -- one of your great strengths?
TRUMP: You bet I would.
KILMEADE: All right.
TRUMP: Sure I would. I -- I'd negotiate with them gladly. The problem we have is we have an election coming up and they think open borders and crime and drugs and everything else are good. I mean, if you look at it, open borders mean crime. It just means crime. It means anybody can pour into the country.
Now, I have to say, with all of this being said, the deal that I made with Mexico, they put 6,000 soldiers, paid for by them, they paid -- put 6,000 soldiers at their southern border. The stoppage is unbelievable. And I got reports yesterday, it's like day and night.
Now, with all of that being said, we still want to get -- and we -- it's -- it's really incredible what's happened and all because of the tariffs and because of relationships. But, again, for 25 years they've been trying to make a deal with Mexico. They've never been able to do a deal like I did.
TRUMP: And I did it in two days because I was serious about -- we were putting major tariffs on Mexico that following Monday. And we did it. On Sunday it was finished and we have everything.
DOOCY: Mr. President --
TRUMP: Now, with all of that being said, we still need to fix asylum and we have to fix things from our country.
TRUMP: I said the other day, Mexico's doing more for us on the border than the Democrats in Congress.
DOOCY: Well, it would be nice to change the laws to make the jobs easier for our men and women on our southern border.
But, Mr. President, isn't the incentive for Mexico to really crack down -- and you say they're cracking down right now -- is because --
TRUMP: They are cracking down.
DOOCY: The way -- part of the -- the negotiations that took place and were agreed to a week ago were that if it doesn't -- if Mexico cannot stop the flow of migrants toward the United States, then, you know, your -- your plan b is going to kick in, and that would involve a safe third country situation. And Mexico doesn't want that. So they're going to pull out all the stops because they don't want that.
TRUMP: It's exactly right. I mean it's exactly right. That's what's going to happen. And they've -- they've got 45 days. They're doing really well. They're doing, frankly, better than projected. They have 6,000 soldiers. I know "The Times" wrote a phony story. You look at that "New York Times." It's a disgrace to our nation. "The Times" wrote a phony story that I had the deal done two months ago and I could have announced it. I didn't have the deal done. I could have never gotten a deal done. Until I used tariffs, there was no way to get a deal. Mexico's been talking about that deal for 20 years. And longer.
KILMEADE: Right. OK --
TRUMP: But they --
EARHARDT: Mr. President --
TRUMP: They wouldn't do a deal. And it was only recently that I said, look, on Monday we had it and on Monday either we do it or our country is going to collect hundreds of -- billions of dollars, by the way, hundreds of billions of dollars. All of the car companies -- you know, long before I got here, we lost 32 percent of our car industry, our automobile manufacturing business, to Mexico. They're made in Mexico. And tremendous amounts of money are made by Mexico on cars and everything else at the border. And I said, look, we're going to tax all of your product coming into the United States or you're going to help us with this horrible situation.
The reason that people are coming, by the way, is because our country is doing so well, our unemployment numbers are the lowest they've ever been in many categories, ever been historically. If you take the worst number, it's the lowest in 51 years.
TRUMP: So our numbers are so good, our economy is so strong and doing so good that people are pouring up to our country. But you have to come in legally and you have to come in through a merit. That's the way we have it.
EARHARDT: It's -- it's definitely a big issue and it's going to be an issue on the debate stage. The 2020 debate stage is now set. There are 24 candidates that want your job that are going to be running against you -- or one's going to be running against you, but they're trying to get that -- that nomination. And there were 20 that were selected. They were able to participate in the first debate. There are going to be two different debates and they're drawing names to see who's going to participate.
Joe Biden has been out there. He's been in Iowa. He mentioned your name 75 times. It looks like this is a glimpse of what's yes -- yet to come in 2020 if the polls are correct and if he is going to get the nomination.
TRUMP: Look, everybody knows that Joe Biden does not have what it takes. OK, he doesn't have what it takes. Everybody knows that. You watch him --
DOOCY: What does that -- what does that mean?
TRUMP: If you -- it means mental capacity. It means a lot of different things. He doesn't have -- never did have what it takes. Until Obama took -- he ran two or three times. I used to call him 1 percent Joe because he never got more than 1 percent. Then Obama came along and surprisingly he took him off of -- I say the trash heap -- and ran. But everybody knows Joe is -- is -- doesn't have it.
Now I see that Pocahontas is doing better. I would love to run against her, frankly. I see that Bernie Sanders is not doing well at all. I would have, frankly, liked to have run against -- I think it's probably those three. I don't see the other ones -- I really don't see it.
They talk about Kamala. I don't see Kamala. I don't see -- I think it's probably between the three of them.
EARHARDT: Mayor Pete?
TRUMP: Mayor Pete, I don't see at all. I think that's a joke, Mayor Pete.
KILMEADE: Mr. President, they say, like Ronald Reagan at this point, and like Bush 43 at this point, you're trailing in a lot of these battleground states. As you gear up for re-election --
TRUMP: It's incorrect polling. Yes, it's incorrect.
KILMEADE: What do you -- it wouldn't be -- it wouldn't be unprecedented for in -- for a sitting president, running for re-election, to be trailing.
Having said that, what -- if at the very least it's close, what's going to be the difference as you formally announce on the 20th?
TRUMP: Well, the polls I see, we're doing great in Pennsylvania. We're doing really good in North Carolina. Florida, I'm winning by a lot. Ohio, I'm winning by a lot.
I just left Iowa. We're winning that by a lot. And every poll that I see and every poll that we have, I'm winning by -- we're doing well. I think we're going to do very well in Michigan. Traditionally it's Democrat, but I won it last time because I have ten car companies building plants in Michigan and bringing back the automobile business to Michigan.
TRUMP: So I think we're going to do well there. I was up in Wisconsin recently. I think we're going to do very well there.
You know, I think -- I think we're going to do great.
DOOCY: Mr. --
TRUMP: Now, look, we're going to have a competitive race. It's always -- it's always tougher for the Republican because, you know, I don't know, people -- people never cover this, but the Electoral College is very much steered to the Democrats. It's a big advantage for the Democrats. It's very much harder for the Republicans to win. And I think we're going to do very well. I think we're going to have a great election because of what we've done and what we've accomplished.
DOOCY: And you have detailed some of those accomplishments during our 32 minutes with you.
Mr. President, Barack Obama said he's not going to endorse Joe Biden at this point. If Mike Pence runs for president in 2024, does he have your automatic endorsement?
TRUMP: Well, it's far to -- look, I love Mike. We're running again. But, you know, you're talking about a long time. So you can't put me in that position.
But I --I certainly would give it very strong consideration.
TRUMP: He's a very, very outstanding person.
KILMEADE: Right. Just to back --
TRUMP: And we're going to be announcing on Tuesday, we have a tremendous -- we're announcing in Orlando on Tuesday and we have over 100,000 people trying to get seats.
One of the problems I think Biden has, he can't get crowds. I mean he -- nobody goes.
TRUMP: He can't get 100 people.
EARHARDT: Well, he's flip-flopping. He flip-flopped on --
TRUMP: We have 100,000 -- we have 106,000 people applying for 22,000 seats in Orlando, Florida. So, I don't know. I -- you know, you can't -- if you can't --
EARHARDT: So what -- what did you make of him flip-flopping? He flip-flopped on the Hyde Amendment. He flip-flopped on China.
TRUMP: Well, he -- he flip-flopped.
EARHARDT: And then you heard what he said about Amazon.
TRUMP: Right. Yes, no, he flip-flops, there's no question about that. And --
TRUMP: He's got -- whether it's the Hyde Amendment, so many different things, he's flip-flopping. And I'm not sure that that's a good thing for him to be doing. Maybe he knows.
Look, the Democrats have become a radical left party and he probably figures he can't win, but I'm not sure he's even thinking about it. I think he has other people doing his thinking --
TRUMP: Because he's having a hard time thinking lately.
KILMEADE: So, Mr. -- Mr. President, right now you have so many open positions. You have 125 formally nominated people for positions and waiting for confirmation. You have 131 positions with no nominee at all, so that's on you guys to put somebody forward. And, overall, we're still wondering about the acting director of secretary -- the acting secretary of -- secretary of a -- of Shanahan. We don't know if he's going to get the job or -- or McAleenan.
Do you like those two and what about these other positions?
TRUMP: OK, let me just tell you about the positions. First of all, you don't need all these positions. It's government. You have so many positions. Many you don't need.
But, more importantly, Schumer and the Democrats are holding people up for a year and a half and two years. We have ambassadors that are phenomenal people, phenomenal, absolutely and you can't get them through because of the system, because Schumer won't approve people. So it's taking us long -- we have 200 people waiting in line to be approved and you can't get them. And we have focused, Mitch McConnell, myself and the Republicans have focused on judges because judges are a primary focus. We're running government great. We don't need all the people they want to give us.
TRUMP: We have seats that I say don't even put them in. You don't need them. As I say, save the money for the taxpayer. But we do have people that have been waiting for -- ambassadors in particular waiting for a period of over two years because Schumer won't do it.
Now, what we have focused on, frankly, is judges. We just have the 107th federal judge, two Supreme Court judges, and I'm going to have 145 federal judges, it's going to soon be setting records because when I took over, for some reason, President -- and it hasn't been covered -- but President Obama --
KILMEADE: Have to move…
TRUMP: I don't know why, but he gave me 138 judges empty when I took over. It's never happened before. No president's ever taken over with --
TRUMP: He didn't get the job done. Obama didn't get the job done.
KILMEADE: Well, and what we just -- just -- just to follow up on Secretary Shanahan, is he going to get the nomination, Secretary Shanahan? And are you going to put McAleenan --
TRUMP: He got the nomination. Well, no, no, he's gotten -- look, he's -- he's been recommended. Now he has to be approved by Congress. So we're going to see. We're going to see.
Pat Shanahan has been recommended for the job. McAleenan, he is doing a very nice job. We're going to see. I've got to get used to him because it's a very important thing to me, the border. We need strong people at the border. And if people aren't strong, they're not going to do a good job.
KILMEADE: So not yet.
TRUMP: It's very simple.
KILMEADE: Not yet on McAleenan?
TRUMP: Well, no, I haven't -- I haven't put in the final recommendation. He's acting. I put him as acting. And he's working very hard. And we have some great people, as you know, we have some fantastic people that just went in, Mark Morgan and --
TRUMP: And we're going to have, I will tell you, Tom Homan, who's a great man, who's been on your show many times. We have a lot of people
KILMEADE: What is he doing? What is Tom Homan doing?
TRUMP: Ah, we have Ken Cuccinelli. Ken Cuccinelli just took over. He's fantastic. He's tough as you get and smart and he's doing much of the legal work and --
TRUMP: So we're -- we're -- we're putting in some great, strong but fair and good people.
KILMEADE: But you're bringing Tom Homan back?
TRUMP: Tom Homan's coming back. Yes, Tom Homan's coming back.
EARHARDT: What will his role be?
TRUMP: I would say that would be announced next week except I'd rather announce it now. So Tom Homan's coming back and he's very much --
KILMEADE: To do what?
TRUMP: He's going to be very much involved in the border, that's what he wants to be involved with. And, again, a big difference in the border between now and this time last week. Mexico has been doing a -- a terrific job.
Hey, 6,000 soldiers.
TRUMP: And if it doesn't work out, then we go back to very strong measures. And I don't want to have to do that.
DOOCY: And you go to -- you go to plan b.
DOOCY: We'll have to go to plan b as well because Tom Homan is currently a Fox News contributor.
KILMEADE: Yes, we had him on the show tomorrow.
TRUMP: Oh, well, I'm sorry. He'll have to re -- he'll have to get back .
KILMEADE: So what's the -- what's the job going to be again? What's the job going to be?
TRUMP: Well, he'll be a border czar. He'll be very much involved in the border. He'll be reporting directly to me. He'll be probably working out of the White House but spending a lot of time at the border. And he's a good man. He's a good man. Done a good job.
DOOCY: Mr. -- somebody who did a good job for you for a number -- for a period of time was Admiral Ronny Johnson -- Jackson, rather. He was your former doctor.
DOOCY: You nominated him for promotion to a two star admiral in January and then you --
DOOCY: Because the last Congress did not act. And it looks like he's being held up in Congress as well. What's going to happen to him?
TRUMP: Well, Ronny is not -- I did, I nominated him for VA. And it was sort of very sad, actually. Great reputation. He was President Obama and President Bush's doctor. He was my doctor. An excellent guy. An admiral and a doctor. And I said to him, how would you like to run the VA? And he said, sir -- he didn't want the job. He said, sir, I'll do whatever you'd like to do.
So I threw his name out. Didn't really put him out. I threw it -- and the Democrats just absolutely went after him and were so unfair what they did to him. I said, welcome to the world of politics. Welcome to the world of living in Washington.
And they went after him so viciously. Now, ultimately, we put a man there who has done a fantastic job, been approved. He's been great. We, you know, again, we've got VA Choice, we've got VA Accountability approved. And it was quite a while ago with Ronny.
No, but Ronny's doing very well right now, Ronny Jackson is doing very well. But he's not -- he's not going to the VA.
DOOCY: No, I think -- no. I -- you re-nominated him to become a two-star admiral in January and Congress has not picked that up. So let's see what happens.
TRUMP: Well, we're going to take a look. It was very sad what happened. His son just graduated from Annapolis at -- with very high in his class. He's an outstanding person. I feel very guilty having thrown his name into a ring. If I threw you guys -- if I asked one of you to -- you know, maybe Ainsley would do it. I think maybe I'd be better off with -- Ainsley, she'd go by sail -- she'd go by swimmingly, OK --
TRUMP: But, I would --
EARHARDT: I was --
TRUMP: I think we'll take -- hey, Steve, let's take Brian and ask him to serve in any capacity, and watch what happens to Brian. Brian, you wouldn't be happy for a little while.
KILMEADE: Oh, believe me, I'm not -- I don't love Googling my name now. It will probably get a lot worse.
EARHARDT: Hey, Mr. President, we got a chance to sit down with Alice Johnson when you --
EARHARDT: When you released her from prison, her life sentence, or a non-violent crime. Kim Kardashian was very involved in that.
EARHARDT: Jared Kushner was involved in that. I know Ivanka now is involved in prison reform.
EARHARDT: Tell us – tell us what – because it’s a bipartisan issue. It’s something that democrats and republicans are praising you for. Yesterday, Kim Kardashian was back at the White House. What were the talks with her and what does criminal justice reform look like going forward?
TRUMP: Well, the whole criminal justice reform’s been amazing because it’s been very, very conservative and very, very liberal. Everybody got together. It was unbelievable bipartisan. Nobody could get it done. They all said it was impossible. People like Senator Grassley and Senator Mike Lee, you know, very conservative people and very liberal people, everybody wanted to see that they could get something done and yet nobody got it done, for again, many, many years they didn’t get it done. This – they had a crime bill put in by President Clinton which turned out to be a disaster for – especially for certain communities, and they were very angry about it. Very, very angry. She had a lot of problems last time with it when she ran, frankly.
And it’s been incredible what we’ve been able to do, and you’re right. Kim has been wonderful, and Alice Johnson. So she was in for 22 years, a lovely woman. She spent 22 years in jail and she had another 20 years left, and nothing’s minor and there’s nobody tougher than me. I want strong sentences especially for drug dealers and all of this, but she was caught up in something that was today they – it would be – unfortunately it would be a slap on the wrist. She knows she did wrong, but she was in for 22 years and she had another 20 to serve, and it was so unfair.
We let her out and a really beautiful scene. And I saw you cover it, Ainsley. It was so beautiful the piece you did.
EARHARDT: She’s a wonderful person. She did bible studies.
TRUMP: She came out of prison –
EARHARDT: You know what she told me, Mr. President, that about one-third of the people she knew in prison were in there for long sentences and they shouldn’t be because she learned –
TRUMP: I know. I know.
EARHARDT: – their character, she learned who they were.
TRUMP: I know. There are many Alice Johnsons right now in prison and we’re seeking them out. We’re seeking them out.
EARHARDT: Well, thank you for doing that for her.
TRUMP: When she came out of prison and her family grabbed her – her family grabbed her and they –
EARHARDT: I know.
TRUMP: – started hugging and kissing and crying and everything else, I mean, that was a beautiful moment. That was really an unfair situation. So criminal justice reform, the Trump administration got approved. It’s like right to try and the VA choice. All these things we’re getting approved. Now, nobody writes about them, OK, because they don’t want to write about them. Somebody said, “oh, this is going to be great.” You know, The Times barely covered it and yet if I were a liberal democrat and I did criminal justice reform, it would be the biggest story in the history of The New York Times, OK?
KILMEADE: Yes, but – yes, but the bottom line is you made and impact and made a difference. And lastly, your next big hurdle – and there’ll probably be a bunch in between – is the G20 where you’re going to sit down.
KILMEADE: The world will be watching we hope with President Xi who just –
KILMEADE: – called Vladimir Putin his best friend as they formed this new alliance. You say you get along with him. You know a lot’s on the line. He has not committed to show up yet. Where does that stand? What if he doesn’t?
TRUMP: It doesn’t matter. If he shows up, good. If he doesn’t, in the meantime we’re taking in billions of dollars a month, Brian, from China. And by the way, they subsidize their industry, so our people are not paying. You know, there’s this big thing about tariffs. Oh, our people pay. It’s a lot of nonsense. You what happens really? They – companies move back. For instance, if I put tariffs on Mexico, 20, 25 percent, started it with 5. We never even got there because we made a deal.
TRUMP: But if I put tariffs on, as an example, Mexico, you know what would happen? 25 percent. All the car companies would move back to the United States because they don’t want to pay the 25 percent, OK? Our people aren’t going to pay for anything because in a short period of time all of that 32 percent that I told you about – we lost 32 percent of our car industry stupidly over the last 20 years because of NAFTA, which is a terrible deal. Which by the USMCA, the new deal with Mexico and Canada, I hope that Nancy Pelosi approves it because it’s a phenomenal deal for our country – hundreds of billions of dollars and jobs and everything else, so I hope they get it approved. I hope that doesn’t get caught up into politics. Everybody wants it –
DOOCY: But not that there are any –
KILMEADE: But how would there- how would there be another round of talks? The world waits to see if you guys either are going to break up or you’re going to do a deal?
TRUMP: Well, we’re going to see. Eventually they’re going to make a deal because they’re going to have to. Look, they’re paying hundreds of billions of dollars. I have 25 percent on $250 billion, and they subsidize it, Brian.
KILMEADE: No, I hear you.
TRUMP: They’re manipulating their currency in order to pay for it. They’re manipulating their currency lower. Eventually that’s going to hurt them very badly. And they’re also giving money to these companies, but what’s happening is hundreds and even thousands of companies are now moving out of China so they don’t have to pay the tariffs.
No, eventually – you know, we had a deal with China and then they tried to negotiate the deal at the end, and I said, “sorry, we’re going to put tariffs on you. We’re not going to do it.” We had a – we had a great deal with China, and at the very end they came to us and they said, “no, we want to take off three points.” And I said, “you’re not going to take off.” And they were big points. I said, “we’re not going to take off anything.”
I believe they have to make the deal, but we’re going to see. You know, we’ve gone up in value $14 trillion or $15 trillion. They’ve gone probably $20 trillion. When I took over, they were going to, you know, really catch us on the economy. They were going to catch us very soon. Now they are so far behind you wouldn’t believe it. So we’ve gone up a lot. The stock market’s up almost 50 percent since the election, and this is putting on tariffs, this is with a Fed that’s been –
TRUMP: – the interest rate’s too high, you know, and frankly it’s – he made a mistake and he –
DOOCY: Well Mr. President –
TRUMP: – and the interest rates are too high, so we’re doing well. We’re doing well.
KILMEADE: I know it’s your birthday and you got a country to run, but lastly on North Korea, do you know if they’ve killed the negotiation team that failed to do a deal with you? Have they killed them because that’s congressman –
TRUMP: Well, I know they didn’t kill the top person because I saw a picture of him in the paper. I don’t know whether or not they did. They said he was unhappy with the result of the meeting, but that’s because I’m going to draw – you know, I’m – I want to have a deal. I could have made a deal there very easily, but I want to make a deal that means something. You know, I could have walked out with a deal with North Korea, and I have a very good relationship. And just remember this, though, Brian. I’m in no rush. They’re not testing nuclear. They’re not testing anything. They sent some short-range –
TRUMP: – missiles out that everybody else does, too. They’re not testing –
KILMEADE: They’re breaking the sanctions, though. They’re braking the sanctions and doing those oil transfers at sea. You’ve already taken one vote –
TRUMP: Brian, everybody tries to – I know, but everybody tries to break sanctions, but the sanctions are hurting them badly. We never took the sanctions off. We have a good relationship. We’ll see what happens, Brian, but when I took over, there were nuclear tests, there were missiles going up, they were being sent – remember Guam and remember Japan, right over the middle of Japan and off – you don’t see that now. You don’t see it now. We’re in a much different position and we do have a relationship, so that’s important. I’m in no rush. We’ll take it nice and easy. You know, the papers couldn’t believe when we had the first meeting. They couldn’t believe when we had the second. You know, we’d never had meetings. We’re going to end up in war. If I wasn’t president, you would right now be in a major war with North Korea, I can tell you that. You would right now be in a major war and I don’t see that happening. It could happen, but I don’t see it happening.
DOOCY: Hey, Mr. President. I saw a clip earlier this morning. Are you sure you want to do a new paint job no Air Force One? It’s been so iconic for so long.
TRUMP: I know, but you know what? It’s been a long time and it fits the plane better. You know, it’s a very different plane even though it’s a 747, and I like the concept of red, white, and blue and the classic, and I think it’s going to look much better actually. You know, the baby blue doesn’t fit with us. And people get used to something, but – and it was Jackie O., and that’s good, but we have our own Jackie O. today. It’s called. Melania – Melania. We’ll call it Melania T. OK. Thank you.
KILMEADE: And she’s doing – and she is doing a great job and does not get a enough credit.
TRUMP: And by the way, people love her. People love her.
EARHARDT: Yes. Perfect –
TRUMP: She gets no credit from the media, but she gets credit from the people. When I go and speak in front of these big crowds – we have tremendous crowds – and so many people are holding up banners, you know, we love our first lady. A lot of them say for whatever they say, we love stilettos and, you know, the high heels. The Times News said she walked in high heels to a... No, she likes to look elegant in the White House –
TRUMP: – but she had the sneakers – she’s carrying sneakers for when we get off. But you know, the people really do the job the first lady’s done.
EARHARDT: No question she has –
KILMEADE: And were you amazed how you connected with the queen?
TRUMP: I had such a great relationship and we were laughing and having fun. Her people told me she hasn’t had so much fun in 25 years. Now, then I got criticized for it because they said we were having too much fun. It doesn’t matter, but we have a great relationship and I had a great relationship with Charles, and honestly I have a very good relationship with a lot of the foreign leaders. I think – I think what we’re doing – you know, we were taken advantage of by many, many countries. If you look at the NATO countries, $100 billion now they’ve agreed to pay. We’re paying nothing. $100 billion meaning of the interest. They’re going to pay $100 billion more toward NATO, toward protection. We were paying for NATO. Now, I said, “folks, we’re protecting you. You’ve got to step up. You’ve got to pay,” and they’ve agreed to pay. And if you take a look at the last 15 years, it was terrible what was happening. Nobody was – some of them were totally delinquent as we used to say. They were totally delinquent.
Hey, look, we've done a good job. I think we've done a very good job. Foreign relations wise. But we do have some situations. We have Iran. North Korea continues. But I'm telling you, if I weren't president, you would be in a major war right now with North Korea.
EARHARDT: Well, we appreciate you going over to Normandy. The D-Day celebration was just beautiful to honor our troops.
TRUMP: Thank you.
EARHARDT: Today is Flag Day. It's the birthday for the Army. It is your birthday today. And you are painting Air Force One red, white and blue.
Thank you so much for joining us, Mr. President. Happy birthday.
TRUMP: Thank you very much. Thank you.
KILMEADE: Appreciate it. Thanks so much.
DOOCY: All right, we thought that interview might go 10 minutes. It went 50 minutes and 20 seconds. So --
DOOCY: We appreciate the president taking time out to explain all of that stuff to all of you.