President Trump Full Interview With "Meet The Press"


President Donald Trump speaks with NBC's Chuck Todd from the White House in an exclusive interview which aired this morning on "Meet the Press."


Trump says he’s willing to speak with Iran with no pre-conditions:

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I'm not looking for war and if there is, it'll be obliteration like you've never seen before. But I'm not looking to do that. But you can't have a nuclear weapon. You want to talk? Good. Otherwise you can have a bad economy for the next --

CHUCK TODD: No pre-conditions?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: -- three years. Not as far as I'm concerned. No pre-conditions.

CHUCK TODD: And you'll talk anywhere?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Here it is. Look, you can't have nuclear weapons. And if you want to talk about it, good. Otherwise you can live in a shattered economy for a long time to come.

# # #

President Trump declines to say he’ll order the FBI to investigate Jamal Khashoggi’s death:

CHUCK TODD: The United Nations said they'd like the United States to order the FBI to investigate Jamal Khashoggi's death and possibly MBS involvement in it. Will you allow the FBI to do that?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I think it's been heavily investigated.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: By everybody. I mean --


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I’ve seen so many different reports.

CHUCK TODD: What about the FBI?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Here's where I am, you ready? Iran's killed many, many people a day. Other countries in the Middle East, this is a hostile place. This is a vicious, hostile place. If you're going to look at Saudi Arabia, look at Iran, look at other countries, I won't mention names, and take a look at what's happening. And then you go outside of the Middle East, and you take a look at what's happening with countries. Okay? And I only say they spend $400 to $450 billion over a period of time, all money, all jobs, buying equipment --

CHUCK TODD: That's the price. As long as they keep buying --


CHUCK TODD: -- you'll overlook some of this behavior.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: But I'm not like a fool that says, "We don't want to do business with them." And by the way, if they don't do business with us, you know what they do? They'll do business with the Russians or with the Chinese. They will buy -- We make the best equipment in the world, but they will buy great equipment from Russia and from China.

# # #

Trump says his administration is doing a “fantastic job” on the southern border “under the circumstances”:

CHUCK TODD: I want to ask what's going down with the, these, the children in these migrant camps. The stories are horrible, Mr. President. You have children without their parents. You have kids taking care of kids. You've, you’ve read these reports. I know people are coming to you. I know you think this is the Democrats' problem. Why aren't you doing something? They're in terrible shape down there, Mr. President. Down in Homestead, Florida, that's where I grew up, it’s, the conditions are terrible.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I agree. And it's been that way for a long time.

CHUCK TODD: Do something.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: And President Obama built the cages. Remember when they said that I built them? And then it was 1914 –

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Separation, President Obama, I took over separation. I'm the one that put it together. What's happened though are the cartels and all of these bad people, they're using the kids. They’re, they’re, It's almost like slavery.

CHUCK TODD: But let's not punish the kids more.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: No this has been happening --

CHUCK TODD: Aren’t you -- the kids are getting punished more.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: You're right. And this has been happening long before I got there. What we've done is we've created, we’ve, we’ve ended separation. You know, under President Obama you had separation. I was the one that ended it. Now I said one thing, when I ended it I said, "Here's what's going to happen. More families are going to come up." And that's what's happened. But they're really coming up for the economics. But once you ended the separation. But I ended separation. I inherited separation from President Obama. President Obama built, they call them jail cells. They were built --

CHUCK TODD: Let's talk about what's happening now. Your administration, and you’re not doing the recreation. You're not even schooling these kids anymore. You've gotten rid of all that stuff.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We're doing a fantastic job under the circumstances. The Democrats aren't even approving giving us money. Where is the money? You know what? The Democrats are holding up the humanitarian aid.

CHUCK TODD: It looks like these kids are being used as, as some sort of -- is it hostages? They're being held hostage--

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, they are being used. They are being used by very bad people on the other side where they actually get --

CHUCK TODD: But now they’re politically being used.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: --paid, where money is being made using them because our laws are so bad. Because if you have a child, you have an advantage. You know that better than anybody. And what should happen, Chuck --

CHUCK TODD: But why let the political debate hurt these children?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: If the Democrats would change the asylum laws and the loopholes, which they refuse to do because they think it's good politics, everything would be solved immediately. But they refuse to do it. They refuse to do it. You know what? If they change those, I say, I used to say 45 minutes. It's 15 minutes. If they changed asylum and if they changed loopholes everything on the border would be perfect.

# # #

On if he will address 2020 election interference with Vladimir Putin at the G-20:

CHUCK TODD: You're going to see Vladimir Putin in a week … Are you going to address him directly about interference in 2020?


CHUCK TODD: Are you going to tell him not to do it?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I may if you'd like me to do it, I'll do that.

CHUCK TODD: Because some -- Well, some people think that your answer that your answer last week invited him to do it again.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Oh, that's not true. That's not true.

CHUCK TODD: Are you going to tell him not to and what are the consequences?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: My answer last week was both. I said both. I'd do both. Except they didn't put it on. And when they did put it on people understood. But they didn't put it on because they put a different segment on. So they ask me a question. But when I said, "Yeah, I'd do both," people saw that in the last version of it because the thing played like all weekend and on Friday. So it's just more fake news. Chuck, there's so much fake news.

# # #

On one “do-over” as president: “I would not have appointed Jeff Sessions to be attorney general”

CHUCK TODD: If you could have one do over as president, what would it be?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, it would be personnel.

CHUCK TODD: Who is it?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I would say if I had one do over, it would be, I would not have appointed Jeff Sessions to be attorney general. That would be my one --

CHUCK TODD: That’s your, in your mind, that's your worst mistake?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Yeah, that was the biggest mistake.

# # #

Trump defends Obamacare lawsuit, blames John McCain for failed health care efforts:

CHUCK TODD: By the way, why is the economy doing so well if Obamacare is still law of the land? You had said in 2011 "Obamacare's going to destroy the economy." Obamacare's still here and the economy's great.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Because I've managed it great. I had a choice. I could have let it implode and killed it or I could have managed it --

CHUCK TODD: You're still trying to kill it.


CHUCK TODD: Why are you still trying to kill it with the getting rid of preexisting -- If you -- This lawsuit that the Department of Justice joined, it could get rid of coverage of preexisting conditions.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I am in favor of preexisting conditions. I am fighting --

CHUCK TODD: So get rid -- so drop the lawsuit.


CHUCK TODD: So drop your aspect of the lawsuit.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: It has nothing to do with it. The lawsuit is one thing. We are going to put in a bill, total preexisting conditions. And the Republicans are in favor of preexisting conditions.

CHUCK TODD: Mr. President, you had full Republican control and they couldn't pass anything.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Chuck, are you ready?

CHUCK TODD: What makes you think you're going to get it done this time?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We had a negative vote from John McCain. It was a surprising vote. But I got rid of the worst part of Obamacare which was the individual mandate. We will always protect pre-existing conditions. And the reason Obamacare continues is my decision. Wait, I made a big decision. We have a man named Azar, our secretary, he's fantastic man, Alex. A total pro. I could have managed Obamacare so it would have failed or I could have managed it the way we did so it's as good as it can be. Not great, but it’s as good -- It's too expensive and the premiums are too high. I had a decision to make. I could have politically killed Obamacare. I decided not to do it. But still it's not good. We're going to come up with great health care if we win the House, the Senate and the presidency.

# # #

On how impeachment would impact his reelection:

CHUCK TODD: Let me ask you this, why do you think Nancy Pelosi has held off her impeachment caucus?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Because I think she feels that I will win much easier. I mean, I've been told that by many people.

CHUCK TODD: Do you think impeachment's good politics for you?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I think I win the election easier. But, you know, I'm not sure that I like having it. Look, I did nothing wrong. I was spied on. What they did to me was illegal. It was illegal on the other side. I did nothing wrong. So impeachment's a very unfair thing because nothing that I did was wrong. And if you look at the Mueller report, there was no collusion. This was all about collusion.

# # #

Trump says he’d prefer to run against Joe Biden in 2020, that Hillary Clinton “was a great candidate … smart, tough, ruthless and vicious”:

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: … I actually think that Hillary Clinton was a great candidate. She was very smart. She was very tough. She was ruthless and vicious.

CHUCK TODD: You'd rather run against her again, wouldn't you?


CHUCK TODD: You only talked about her in your announcement speech.


CHUCK TODD: You spent a lot of time talking about her.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: No. I would actually rather run against Biden.

CHUCK TODD: Than Hillary.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I think that would be my preference.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Sleepy Joe. He's sleepy. She was not sleepy. Let me just tell you something, the Electoral College is tougher for a Republican to win than the popular vote. At least me. I feel that I go to three places. I went to 19 or 21 states. I went to Maine four times because I wanted to get one. And I did get it. And that's the beauty of the electoral college.

# # #

On if Mike Pence will be on his ticket in 2020:

CHUCK TODD: When you were asked about Mike Pence in 2024 and you, and you, and you paused a minute about endorsing him as your successor, that got a lot of people going, "Is Mike Pence 100% on your ticket in 2020?"

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, look, look -- 100%, yes.



CHUCK TODD: There is no wiggle room?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: He's been, he’s been a terrific vice president. He's my friend and … No. Zero. Zero.

CHUCK TODD: So why'd you hesitate in endorsing him in being, succeeding you?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Because it was a surprise question.

CHUCK TODD: You hadn’t thought about it?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I mean, you know, I’m not even thinking of it. It's so far out. I mean, It's so far out. That would be the only reason. Now what happens in 2024? I don't know that Mike is going to run. I don't know who's running or anything else.

# # #

On Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell: “I'm not happy with his actions. No, I don't think he's done a good job”:

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: [President Obama] also had a Federal Reserve person who kept the interest rates low. I don't. I don't have that privilege.

CHUCK TODD: Sounds like you do now. Do you feel like you have --


CHUCK TODD: -- do you feel you have sent --

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: He raised them far too fast.

CHUCK TODD: -- the threat --

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: He raised them far too fast.

CHUCK TODD: -- your threat to demote him, do you think that's had an impact?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I didn't ever threaten to demote him.

CHUCK TODD: There's been some talk that you might demote him to the number two slot.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, I, I, I'd be able to do that if I wanted but I haven't suggested that. I mean --

CHUCK TODD: That’s not a threat --


CHUCK TODD: -- that’s just a reminder that you can?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: No, no, I have the right to do that. But I haven't said that. What he's done is $50 billion a month in quantitative tightening. That's ridiculous. What he's done is he raised interest rates too fast.

CHUCK TODD: Do you worry it's going to hurt --

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I've been proven right.

CHUCK TODD: -- your reelection?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I think the economy's so strong we're going to bull through it. But I'm not happy with his actions. No, I don't think he's done a good job. I think this, if he didn't raise rates Obama had very low rates. So Obama was playing with funny money. I wasn't. I'm playing with the real stuff.

CHUCK TODD: Let me ask you this.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Wait, wait. Obama had somebody that kept the rates very low. I had somebody that raised the rates very rapidly. Too much. He made a mistake. That's been proven. And yet my economy is phenomenal. We have now the best economy, maybe in the history of our country. One -- just to finish off, when I took over, this country, the economy was ready to collapse. You take a look at the numbers. It was ready to collapse. And if I didn't win --

# # #

Trump says he’s not prepared to lose in 2020:

CHUCK TODD: Are you prepared to lose?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: No. Probably not. Probably not. It would be much better, it would be much better if I said, “Yeah.” It would be much easier for me to say, "Oh yes." No I'm probably not too prepared to lose. I don't like losing. I haven't lost very much in my life.

CHUCK TODD: You didn't like the fact that you lost the popular vote. That bothered you, didn't it?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, I think it was a -- I mean, I'll say something that, again, is controversial. There were a lot of votes cast that I don't believe.

# # #

Trump on John Bolton: He “is absolutely a hawk. If it was up to him he'd take on the whole world at one time”:

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I have two groups of people. I have doves and I have hawks.

CHUCK TODD: Yeah, you have some serious hawks.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I have some hawks. Yeah, John Bolton is absolutely a hawk. If it was up to him he'd take on the whole world at one time, okay? But that doesn't matter because I want both sides. You know, some people said, “Why did you put --” You know, I was against going into Iraq for years and years. And before it ever happened I was against going into Iraq. And some people said, "Oh I don't know." I was totally against and I was a private citizen. It never made sense to me. I was against going into the Middle East. Chuck, we've spent $7 trillion in the Middle East right now.

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