President Trump defended his decision to not strike Iran, calling himself a man with common sense, in a media availability Saturday morning. Trump called Iranians "high quality people" and he is not interested in killing any "unless it's absolutely necessary." The president touted crippling sanctions on the country and said he hopes to make Iran a wealthy nation again and be their "best friend" if they give up their nuclear weapons program. Trump called the plan "Make Iran Great Again."
"What are the next steps with Iran? Is a possible strike off the table?" a reporter asked.
"Well, we'll see what is it with Iran," Trump answered. "Everybody was saying I'm a warmonger and now they say I am a dove. I think I'm neither if you want to know the truth. I'm a man with common sense and that is what we need in this country is common sense. But I didn't like the idea of them knowingly shooting down an unmanned drone then we kill 150 people. I didn't like that."
"Just so you know, I come from New York City. In New York City, we have a lot of Iranians and they are great people," Trump said. "I have friends who are Iranians, many friends. Living in New York City, you meet many Iranians. They're very smart, they're very ambitious and they have tremendous -- they're high quality people. But I have many friends that are Iranian. I don't want to kill 150 Iranians. I understand it. I don't want to kill 150 of anything or anybody unless it's absolutely necessary. And most people very much agree with what I'm doing."
"If the leadership of Iran behaves badly then it's going to be a very, very bad day for them but hopefully they're smart and hopefully they really care for their people and not themselves," Trump added.
"If Iran wants to become a wealthy nation again, a prosperous nation -- we will call it 'let's Make Iran Great Again,' does that make sense? It's okay with me. But they're never going to do it if they think in five or six years they're going to have a nuclear weapon. I know too much about nuclear -- a lot about nuclear. And let me just tell you, they're not going to have a nuclear weapon... They're not going to have a nuclear weapon and when they agree to that they are going to have a wealthy country. They are going to be so happy. And I am going to be their best friend. I hope that happens. I hope that happens. But it may not," Trump told reporters.
Trump was also asked about Tucker Carlson's criticism of John Bolton and other advisors around the president who are hawkish.
"Your National Security Advisor came under some harsh criticism by Tucker Carlson and others for pushing too hard on Iran. You said you're not a warmonger, but do you have confidence in the judgment of your National Security Advisor John Bolton?" a reporter asked.
"Yes, I do because I have John Bolton who I would definitely say is a hawk," Trump responded. "And I have other people that are on the other side of the equation. Ultimately I make the decisions so it doesn't matter."
"I disagreed very much with John Bolton, his attitude on the Middle East and Iraq was going into Iraq," he said. "I think that was a big mistake, I think I have been proven right, but I have been against that war forever. John Bolton is doing a very good job. But he takes it generally a tough posture. But I have other people who don't take that posture."
"The only one that matters is me because I will listen to everybody and I want people on both sides," the president said. "Having people on both sides to me is very important."