Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Statement from the Press Secretary

Office of the Press Secretary
Statement from the Press Secretary
President Donald J. Trump will host and provide keynote remarks at the Global Call to Protect Religious Freedom event on Monday, September 23, 2019, at the United Nations Headquarters.  Vice President Mike Pence will also be in attendance and will introduce President Trump.  The President is working to broaden international support for ongoing efforts to protect religious freedom in the wake of increasing persecution of people on the basis of their beliefs and a growing number of attacks on and destruction of houses of worship by state and non-state actors.  The President will call on the international community to take concrete steps to prevent attacks against people on the basis of their religion or beliefs and to ensure the sanctity of houses of worship and all public spaces for all faiths.


Office of the Press Secretary


Via Teleconference

4:31 P.M. EDT

     MS. SLOBODIEN:  Thank you everyone for joining us.  Today we are joined by Acting Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers Tomas Philipson who will provide on-the-record remarks about the state of homelessness in America.  After his remarks conclude and time permitting, we will open the lines up for question and answer.  At that time, we may have additional senior administration officials speak on background.  I will now turn things over to Tomas.

ACTING CHAIRMAN PHILIPSON:  Thank you, Rachael.  And thank you everyone for joining in our call today to discuss CEA's newly released report which provides an in-depth look at the state of homelessness in America and the supply and demand factors in the housing market that may actually cause it.

The Trump administration's overall economic agenda has been involved in an extensive amount of deregulation that has lowered costs of the supply side of the economy and thereby increased economic activity and GDP growth.

In several previous CEA reports, we have documented large economic value to the U.S. economy from the deregulatory agenda.  CEA's report today on the state of homelessness in America continues this effort by focusing on how government barriers in the housing market limit supply and thereby raises prices.  These barriers can be reduced by deregulation that increases competition on the supply side, reduces prices, and thereby lowers homelessness.

More specifically, as our report discusses, harmful local government policies in select cities, along with ineffective federal government policies of prior administrations, have exaggerated the homelessness problem.  Therefore, the Trump administration is working to reverse the failed policies of the past, and instead implement policies that address the underlying causes of homelessness.

Before discussing the finding of this report, I'll offer an outline on what it entails.

In this report, CEA first describes the homelessness barriers across the United States and analyzes the major factors driving these differences, especially harmful local government policies.

Next, we discuss the shortcomings of previous federal policies to reduce homelessness populations.

And finally, we describe what the Trump administration is doing to improve federal efforts to reduce homelessness through increasing both the supply and demand for homes.  I will now go over each of these three parts in turn.

Our first part was on the state of homelessness across America.  On any given night, over half a million Americans are homeless, which is about 0.2 percent of our population.  Approximately 65 percent of homeless people are found in a homeless shelter, and the other 35 percent are found in unsheltered -- or found unsheltered on our streets and places not intended for human habitation, such as sidewalks, parks, cars, or abandoned buildings.

Contrary to reported trends that suggest that more than 94,000, or 15 percent, of a reduction that’s taken place since 2007, it is unclear whether homelessness in the United States has actually decreased.  At least in part, the reported decline in homelessness may be a result of an inconsistent definition of people living in transitional housing versus rapid re-housing, and miscounting of the unsheltered homeless population.

Today, unsheltered homelessness remains concentrated on the West Coast, where sheltered homelessness is concentrated in the Northeast.  First, we document several facts in this report on unsheltered homelessness.  In total, almost half, or 47 percent, of people sleeping on the streets in the United States are found in California, although the state only represents 12 percent of the U.S. population.

Almost one-fifth, or 19 percent, of all people sleeping on the streets in the United States are found in Los Angeles County, although the county only represents 3.1 percent of the U.S. population.  Of the five cities with the highest rates of unsheltered homelessness, four are in California, the fifth being in Seattle.

The highest rates of sheltered homelessness are in the three cities in the Northeast: Boston, New York, and Washington, D.C.  The rates of sheltered homelessness in these three cities are more than twice as high as the rate in every other major city.

In fact, over 20 percent of all people sleeping in shelters in the United States are found in New York City, although the city only represents 2.6 percent of the U.S. population.

One of the questions this CEA report addresses is: What is the reason for the higher concentration of homelessness in Northeast and on the West Coast?   What’s responsible for these differences?  In particular, have state and local government policies in these regions contributed to the problem?

The simple answer to this question is yes.  Specifically, overregulation of local housing markets has reduced supply and raised prices, making the cost of a home out of reach for more people.  In fact, as this CEA report finds, deregulating housing markets with excessive regulations would result in major reductions in homelessness in a number of key metropolitan areas.

Homelessness would fall by 54 percent in San Francisco.  It would fall by 40 percent in Los Angeles.  It would fall by 36 percent in Washington, D.C., and 23 percent in New York City, if markets were deregulated.

Homelessness would fall by an average of 31 percent in the 11 metropolitan areas with excessive regulation that significantly drives up the cost of housing.  These 11 metropolitan areas currently contain 42 percent of the overall homeless population in the United States.

A second major factor that increases homelessness is the tolerability of sleeping on the street.  Unsurprisingly, unsheltered homelessness is much more likely in warmer cities. But not all warm places have high rates of unsheltered homelessness.

The report finds that states like California, Oregon, and Washington have rates of unsheltered homelessness over twice as high as would be predicted given their weather, home prices, and poverty rates.  On the contrary, states like Florida and Arizona have lower-than-expected rates.

Local policies, including the role of the police, could play a role in these differences.  When paired with effective services, humane policing may be an important tool to help move people off the street and into shelter or housing where they can get the services they need, as well as to ensure the health and safety of homeless and non-homeless people alike.

A third major factor that increases homelessness is the quality and availability of shelters.  Boston, New York City, and Washington, D.C., have rates of sheltered homeless over 2.7 times as high as the rate in every other city.  Each of these cities has the Right to Shelter law that guarantees shelter of minimum-quality level.

     Of course, it is important to provide shelters to those who need it, but Right to Shelter laws can be an inefficient way to ensure people remain housed.

     Finally, the prevalence of individual risk factors that lowers demand for housing, such as mental illness and substance abuse, can increase homelessness as well. 

     Our second part of the report discusses the failed policies of the past.  In addition to shortcomings at the local government level, decades of misguided federal government politics have largely been ineffective.  The federal government has supported a major expansion of permanent housing assistance targeted to homeless people over the past decade.

     Though well intentioned, these policies may be less effective in the long run as permanent housing assistance delays transitions into private, as opposed to public, housing.  

     The failure is evidenced by the lack of reduction in homelessness correctly measured.  Falling homeless counts over the past decade do not represent the actual hardship of the homeless population in that they are likely a result of inconsistent definitions of homelessness across assistance types and miscounting unsheltered homeless populations.

     Lastly, our third part of the report discusses the Trump administration’s policies to reduce homelessness.  The administration is dedicated to reversing the failed policies of the past by addressing the root causes of homelessness.  To this end, President Trump has signed an executive order on removing regulatory barriers limiting housing supply.  This regulatory effort would reduce the price of homes and, in turn, reduce homelessness.  This executive order continues the President’s overall effort to deregulate the economy for better performance.

     In addition to addressing factors that limit supply, the Trump administration is also addressing factors that reduce demand for housing, and thereby raise homelessness.

     These actions include successful efforts to stem the illicit drug prices, improve the federal response to mental illness, improve the prospects for people exiting prison, and increasing incomes and opportunity for those at the bottom of the income distribution.

     The President’s policies to reduce the supply of illicit drugs entering the United States, prevent new people from becoming addicted by ensuring proper use of prescription drugs, and provide treatment to those with substance use disorders have been successful in finally reducing drug overdose deaths.

The Trump administration is also supporting the police in their efforts to promote safer cities.  When paired with effective social service provisions, the police can be an important partner in moving highly vulnerable people off the streets into shelter or housing where they can receive the help they need.

As potential evidence of better-supported police, the violent crime rate fell slightly, by 0.9 percent, in 2017 after increasing by 7 percent between 2014 and ’16.  According to preliminary data based on the first six months of 2018, violent crime in 2018 fell by 4.3 percent.

Under the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s lead, federal homeless assistance programs have been improved by providing flexibility for communities, if they choose, to require people who use homeless assistance to participate in provided supportive services that address their underlying problems after they have been stabilized in housing.  Programs have also been improved to more strongly encourage self-sufficiency.

Finally, strong economic growth, historically low unemployment rates, and reductions in poverty have increased the incomes of people at the bottom of the distribution and can reduce their likelihood of falling into homelessness.

During the second quarter of 2019, the weekly wages for the 10th percentile of full-time workers -- meaning, the 10 percent of the lowest compensated workers -- was up 6.6 percent year-to-year, according to BLS data.  This is higher than the median 3.7 [percent] year-to-year growth and higher than during the Obama administration, particularly so for lower-income individuals. 

With the time remaining, I would be happy to take any questions.  Thank you.

Q    Hi, there.  Thank you for taking the time.  Just a quick point of clarification.  The call is all on the record, but any comments other than Mr. Philipson -- Chairman Philipson, would be background?  If you could just clarify that.

And, Mr. Philipson, I wanted you to address, again, the executive order.  Did you say that was signed today?  And could you give us any more detail on that?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Josh, this is [senior administration official].  Yes, you are correct in understanding of the ground rules.  Everything that Chairman Philipson says is on the record.  And then we also have senior administration officials who will be speaking on background.

And I’ll turn that over -- turn it over to them to answer the question about the executive order.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Yes, the executive order under question was signed on June 25th, so just a couple of months ago.  It established the White House Council on Eliminating Regulatory Barriers to Affordable Housing.

Q    Thank you.

Q    Hi.  Thank you for taking my call.  Could you please -- could somebody please explain a little bit more how you reach these figures on how much homelessness would be reduced in these cities if you deregulated the housing market?  I mean, this seems, on the surface, quite a leap.  I mean, how can you tell that homelessness would go down 54 percent in San Francisco by removing housing regulations?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Sure.  So I would definitely recommend checking the report.  So we basically take estimates from Ed Glaesar and Joe Gyourko, who have a lot of research on the impacts of regulations in the housing market and driving up home prices.

So, basically, we assume that if you deregulated these housing markets, home prices would fall until hitting the cost to produce a home.  We then translate that reduction in home prices into reductions in rent.  And we use estimates on the academic literature to estimate how much debt reduction in rent would reduce homelessness.

Q    Okay.  Does it clarify what regulations you’re talking about?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I mean, we do list a large set of examples.  There are a lot of different types of regulations that drive up home prices.  And we do list a number of those in the report.  Those are also areas that have been listed in the executive order on deregulation housing markets.  And that will hopefully be addressed as well.

Q    Thank you.

     Q    Hi.  Thanks for doing the call.  I was hoping you could just expand a little bit more about your findings in New York City -- what you're seeing about the state of homelessness there, as well as what Bill de Blasio and the city administration is doing that is helping or hurting the homeless population.
     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Sure.  I think the main factor in New York City -- I mean, one factor is their higher home prices due to overregulation of housing markets.  We do find that, if they were to deregulate their housing markets, you would see something like a 20, 23 percent reduction in homelessness.

     Another factor with New York City -- and they share this characteristic with Boston in the state of Massachusetts and Washington, D.C. -- is a Right to Shelter law, which basically says, "We're going to provide shelter to all those who need it."  Obviously, we do want to provide shelter to those who need it, but this type of provision does end up bringing in people into the system who otherwise would be housed on their own.  And so, for this reason, we see much higher rates of sheltered homelessness in New York City than other places with similar characteristics.

     Q    And, forgive me, who is this speaking?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  A senior administration official on background.

     Q    Okay.  Thank you.

     Q    Hi.  Thank you for taking my question.  I wanted to ask about the portion of the report about conditions for sleeping on the streets and -- as it relates to policing.  Are you saying that -- you know, areas like Los Angeles maybe, cities in California, are fairly heavily policed?  So what exactly are you saying would be a change necessary that -- from police -- that would improve homelessness?
     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Yes.  I mean, I think the main message from the paper on this is, you know, one of the major factors when it comes to unsheltered homelessness is obviously climate.  If it's very cold out -- places like Minneapolis have very low rates of unsheltered homelessness.  What we find is that if you look at warm places, such as places in California or Florida, there's lot of variation in rates of unsheltered homelessness.  So, for instance, California has a much higher rate of unsheltered homelessness than Florida.

     There's lots of potential factors that could explain that.  One of them could be policing.  You know, we need more research on the extent to what types of policing policies, what types of ordinances affect that.

     I think, policy-wise, obviously there's lots of options that are being considered.  But it is important, we believe, to get people off the street and into the services that they need in order to address their fundamental problem.

     Q    Okay.  So just to clarify, you didn't identify a specific policy or method of policing, such as, like, a broken windows policy that contributed to that difference.

     Q    Thank you.

     Q    Hi, guys.  Thanks for doing the call.  One, I was wondering if you could address the rumor that the President is going to be making a visit to San Francisco on this topic as part of his trip this week.

And secondly, when you talk about regulation driving up housing costs, did you all consider factors like concentration, desirability of these cities -- when you talk about like a New York or a San Francisco, just in terms of inability to expand?  Did you look at that as a factor in driving up the cost of homes?
     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  On the second question, I can answer.  I mean, there is certainly geographical constraints around building housing in places like San Francisco.

     But, for the most part, you know, we're looking at metropolitan areas here.  And there generally is room to build -- either more densely, building up higher.  And so, there are real ways in which regulation -- even in these places with geographic constraints, these regulations really are driving up the price of homes.  And with real deregulatory action, we could see reduction in rent and therefore reductions in homelessness.
     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  And for the question about the President's schedule, I'd refer you to the White House Press Office.

     Q    Okay, thanks.

     Q    Yes.  Thank you.  Hi, thank you for taking -- making this call available.  I'm -- there's been some discourse that this homelessness push is a punitive measure meant to punish states like New York and California -- in particular cities like San Francisco, New York, where the President is not popular.  How do you -- how do you address that and how do you do this work -- how does this work have legitimacy in those places?

     ACTING CHAIRMAN PHILIPSON:  So basically -- this is Tomas Philipson again.  Basically, this report basically only lays out the facts.  So those facts are basically the ones I discussed, where it's concentrated in California for unsheltered homelessness, and in the Northeast for sheltered.  And then we looked at the evidence on what are driving those patterns and we argued that deregul- -- or regulatory barriers to supply is an important component of the homelessness.  And we're not necessarily singling out, we're just documenting the facts around the problem.

     Q    Hi, this is Ben Oreskes from the LA Times.  Could you guys address sort of the reports from the Washington Post last week about using government buildings to build shelters in California, and whether or not there is any credence to the idea that you'd be kind of trying to find ways to compel people who are living on the streets without access to a shelter into these FAA facilities or other shelters that you might have in mind?

     ACTING CHAIRMAN PHILIPSON:  So this report is -- it’s Tom Philipson again.  This report only addresses the evidence, which it -- basically therefore (inaudible) to past evidence on homelessness.  And current deliberations on our policy agenda going forward is not something that the report addresses, and I'm not going to address it today.

     Q    But is there anything you could say, just broadly, about the administration's thinking about how they could help cities?  I mean, the federal government's role in dealing with or addressing homelessness is new.  This would be new.  Can you say anything about what you guys are thinking may be ways you could help?

     ACTING CHAIRMAN PHILIPSON:  Well, obviously the President is very concerned with the unsheltered homelessness crisis in California.  But today's talk -- today's call is only on this report and we will be discussing, you know, our initiatives in future calls.

     Q    Hi there.  This is Alex Alper and Lisa Lambert.  Will there be any policy announcements on Trump's trip to California this week on homelessness?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Again, I would refer you to the White House Press Office for questions regarding the President's travel.

     I think we have time for one more caller.

     Q    Hi there and thanks for doing the call.  Governor Newsom has come out with a statement saying that the administration is obviously proposing significant cuts to public housing, asking for 50,000 more vouchers.  What is your response to the Governor?  And do you see any room to work with California?  Do you see any middle ground?

     ACTING CHAIRMAN PHILIPSON:  Yeah, so I think this is not the correct call for that.  I think that you should discuss that with the Governmental Affairs Office, as opposed to the Council of Economic Advisers.

     MS. SLOBODIEN:  And with that, we're ready to wrap up our call.  Thank you everyone for joining us today.

                              END                 4:56 P.M. EDT


West Wing Reads This Constitution Week, America Welcomes 34,000 New Legal Citizens

West Wing Reads

This Constitution Week, America Welcomes 34,000 New Legal Citizens

Today, we celebrate Constitution Day and Citizenship Day, part of Constitution Week.

“On this day, we recognize the signing of the U.S. Constitution and reflect upon the meaning and importance of citizenship and what it means to be an American, whether native or foreign-born,” Ken Cuccinelli, Acting Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), writes for Fox News.

Across the country this week, USCIS will welcome over 34,000 new citizens at more than 300 special naturalization ceremonies in celebration of Constitution Week.

“We believe that U.S. citizenship is the greatest honor and privilege in the world,” he says.

Click here to read more.
“Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh will apparently receive continuing education in the politics of personal destruction, and this weekend came another round of rumor-mill accusations,” The Wall Street Journal editorial board writes. “It’s important to understand that this assault on the Justice is part of the left’s larger campaign against the legitimacy of the current Supreme Court and an independent judiciary.”
President Trump’s USMCA trade deal “will play a critical role in the revitalization of our automobile industry,” Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) writes in the Washington Examiner. “It has become clear over the last decade that NAFTA’s rules over automobile manufacturing were outdated and were hurting the American auto industry.”
“Past administrations neglected their constitutional duty, refusing to uphold and enforce our nation’s laws. President Trump is different. He is taking bold, decisive actions to keep America safe and secure – and the numbers prove that his strategy is working,” Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) writes for Fox News. “The number of [border] apprehensions has dropped because every mile of wall makes it harder and harder to get into America illegally.”

Presidential Proclamation on Constitution Day, Citizenship Day, and Constitution Week, 2019

Office of the Press Secretary

- - - - - - -



     Two hundred thirty-two years ago, the Framers of the Constitution met in Philadelphia and set our country on a bold course toward forming a more perfect Union.  John Adams called the drafting of the Constitution "the greatest single effort of national deliberation that the world has ever seen," and since its ratification, this exceptional document has remained the bedrock of the rule of law for our Nation.  On this day and during this week, we celebrate the signing of the Constitution and the American citizens who have devoted their lives to implementing the Framers' vision for the world's grandest and most successful experiment in self-government.

     The Founders understood that a self-governing republic requires a free and empowered citizenry.  We are therefore grateful that our Constitution is designed, first and foremost, to secure liberty.  Through a system of limited Government and checks and balances, the Constitution limits the ability of the State to become an obstacle to human flourishing, while simultaneously enabling the State to serve order, protect rights, and provide public goods.

     Since taking office, I have nominated two Justices to the Supreme Court of the United States who have exhibited a proven commitment to the Constitution.  I have also nominated and the Senate has confirmed 150 other Federal lower court judges who will faithfully interpret the Constitution and the laws of our Nation.  With appropriate respect for the genius of the Framers and in accordance with the rule of law, our Nation's Federal judges should always strive to interpret our laws, including our Constitution as written, regardless of any political or policy preferences they may hold in their capacity as citizens.

     The drafters of our Constitution were committed not to a king or Government but to a belief in the promise of America as a free and prosperous society.  To fulfill that promise, they designed a Government and a Constitution that could withstand the inevitable demagoguery, passions, and exigencies that would seek to unmake us as a people.  And though the durability of our Constitution has been tested through crises and wars, it has endured.  Today and throughout this week, we recognize the magnitude of the Constitution and the unparalleled success of the system of Government it helped create.

     The Congress, by joint resolution of February 29, 1952 (36 U.S.C. 106), designated September 17 as "Constitution Day and Citizenship Day," and by joint resolution of August 2, 1956 (36 U.S.C. 108), requested that the President proclaim the week beginning September 17 and ending September 23 of each year as "Constitution Week."

     NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim September 17, 2019, as Constitution Day and Citizenship Day, and September 17, 2019, through September 23, 2019, as Constitution Week.  On this day and during this week, we celebrate the citizens and the Constitution that have made America the greatest Nation this world has ever known.  In doing so, we recommit ourselves to the enduring principles of the Constitution and thereby "secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity."

     IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this
sixteenth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand nineteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-fourth.

                              DONALD J. TRUMP


1600 Daily The White House • September 16, 2019 Baseball legend Mariano Rivera awarded Medal of Freedom

1600 Daily
The White House • September 16, 2019

Baseball legend Mariano Rivera awarded Medal of Freedom ⚾

Today, President Donald J. Trump presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom—America’s highest civilian honor—to one of the best closers in American sports history, former New York Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera.

🎬 President Trump: He shines as an example of American greatness!

During 19 seasons in Major League Baseball, Rivera established himself as the greatest relief pitcher of all time. His legendary career began with the Yankees in 1990, with whom he became a 13-time All-Star and a 5-time World Series champion.

After hanging up the glove, Rivera became the first player in the history of the sport to be elected unanimously into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Off the field, Rivera is an incredible humanitarian and patriot. His Mariano Rivera Foundation, for example, has provided hundreds of scholarships and countless educational resources to underprivileged children.

Watch Rivera’s story of learning English: “I was the happiest man in baseball.”

In photos: See past recipients of the Medal of Freedom.

America’s economic miracle goes west

President Trump left for New Mexico this afternoon, the first stop of a three-day trip for the President out West. The timing couldn’t be better, as families across “the Land of Enchantment” feel the economic revival happening under this Administration.

New Mexico’s economy is flourishing, and it’s not difficult to see how—and when—it started happening. Since President Trump’s election, New Mexico’s unemployment rate has dropped from 6.5 percent to 4.9 percent. Nearly 35,000 jobs have been added in that span, many going to workers in the state’s blue-collar industries.

The state’s economic future looks bright, as well, with applications to start new businesses—the lifeblood of innovation and wage growth—up 29 percent in that time.

What explains the success? One reason is the rebirth of American industry under President Trump. One crucial sector to New Mexico’s economy, for example, is energy. In addition to general pro-growth policies such as tax cuts, the Trump Administration has prioritized removing burdens that used to weigh down American energy producers.

Today, crude oil production in New Mexico has skyrocketed more than 110 percent, hitting a record high last year. The state’s natural gas production has seen phenomenal growth, too, increasing by 40 percent since President Trump’s election.

These industries provide real value for middle-class families across America—and good-paying jobs for workers in places like New Mexico and elsewhere.

And as a border state, of course, no one knows firsthand more about the importance of real border security than New Mexico families and law enforcement officers. Otero County declared a state of emergency earlier this year while President Trump pressured Congress to help him address the security and humanitarian crisis at the border.

President Trump’s efforts are paying off, especially after successful negotiations led Mexico, Guatemala, and other countries to step up and do more to help American officials end the surge of illegal immigration and crime spilling across our border.

The border wall is going up fast!

Morning in America: Disadvantaged groups see biggest gains in Trump Economy!

Photo of the Day

Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian
President Donald J. Trump presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Baseball Legend Mariano Rivera in the East Room of the White House | September 16, 2019


Office of the Press Secretary


Oval Office

3:18 P.M. EDT

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Well, thank you very much.  It’s a great honor to be with the Crown Prince of Bahrain.  He is a friend of mine, and the country is a friend of ours.  We’re always going to be with them, and I know they’re always going to be with us.  We have a tremendous relationship militarily, but we have also a tremendous economic relationship -- trade.  And we’re going to be discussing all of those things.  We’ll certainly be discussing what took place over the last two days in Saudi Arabia.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  And we’ll be discussing the Middle East.  But our relationship has never been stronger than it is right now.  And I think that is largely based on the relationship that we have.  So I look forward to having our discussion.

CROWN PRINCE SALMAN:  Thank you, Mr. President.  It’s a great pleasure to be here.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Thank you.  Thank you very much.  Please.  Would you like to say something?

CROWN PRINCE SALMAN:  Well, I would like to say -- thank the President for receiving me and my delegation here today.  I’m here to convey the greetings of His Majesty and the people of Bahrain; to strengthen the relationship, which is based on shared values where they overlap, ideals.

We primarily, as the President said, are going to focus on discussions related to security enhancement and trade enhancement.

We signed today a agreement to purchase additional -- or to purchase our first Patriot Missile Battery Systems.


CROWN PRINCE SALMAN:  And it couldn’t have come at a better time.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Good timing.

CROWN PRINCE SALMAN:  Absolutely.  And we seek to strengthen America’s ability to trade with the world, and we have some concrete ideas on how we can do that.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Well, thank you very much.

CROWN PRINCE SALMAN:  Thank you, Mr. President.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  I look forward to the day and spending time with you.

And thank you all very much.  I’ll be doing a news conference outside in a little while.  Just part of the trip.  We’re going to New Mexico and to other places for two and half days.  And many of you will be with us, and I look forward to that.  But in particular, I look forward to our meeting.


PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Thank you very much.

Q    Mr. President, have you seen evidence, proof, that Iran was behind the attack in Saudi Arabia?

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Well, it's looking that way.  We’ll have some pretty good -- we’re having some very strong studies done, but it’s certainly looking that way at this moment.  And we’ll let you know.  As soon as we find out definitively, we’ll let you know.  But it does look that way.

Q    Do you want war with Iran, Mr. President?  Do you want war with Iran?

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Do I want war?  I don’t want war with anybody.  I’m somebody that would like not to have war.  We have the strongest military in the world.  We’ve spent more than a trillion and a half dollars in the last short period of time on our military.  Nobody has even come close.  We have the best equipment in the world.  We have the best missiles.  And as you say, you just bought the Patriot system.


PRESIDENT TRUMP:  There’s nothing even close.

But, no, I don’t want war with anybody.  But we’re prepared more than anybody.  Two and a half years ago, I will tell you, it was not the same thing.  And with what we’ve done, we’ve totally rebuilt our military in so many different ways, but we’ve rebuilt it.  And there’s nobody -- it has the F-35.  We have the best fighter jets, the best rockets, the best missiles, the best equipment.  But with all of that being said, we’d certainly like to avoid it.

Q    What are the options, Mr. President?  What are the options if not a military (inaudible)?

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Well, we have a lot of options, but I’m not looking at options right now.  We want to find definitively who did this.  We’re dealing with Saudi Arabia.  We’re dealing with the Crown Prince and so many other of your neighbors, and we’re all talking about it together.  We’ll see what happens.

Q    Mr. President, will you meet with President Rouhani in New York, as it was speculated that you might meet?


Q    Will you still meet with President Rouhani in Iran?  Is this -- in New York, I mean.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Well, I have no meeting scheduled.  I know they want to meet.  I know they’re not doing well as a country.  Iran has got a lot of problems right now that two and a half years ago -- and even a little bit more than that -- when I came in -- it’s hard to believe it’s almost three years -- but two and half to three years ago, they were causing a lot of trouble.  And we’ll see what happens.

But we’ll let you know definitively if there were -- as you know, there are ways to see definitively where they came from, and we have all of those ways.  And that’s being checked out right now.

Q    Are you still willing to meet with the Iranians without preconditions?  Still willing to meet with President Rouhani?

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Well, you know, there were always conditions, because the conditions -- if you look at it, the sanctions are not going to be taken off.  So if the sanctions -- that’s a condition.  So, you know, that’s why the press misreported it.  The biggest thing you can talk about are the sanctions, and the sanctions are massive.  There’s never been sanctions put on a country like that.  And I think they have a tremendous future, but not the way they’re behaving.

We’ll see what happens in terms of this attack.  Secretary Pompeo and others will be going over to Saudi Arabia at some point to discuss what -- they feel they’re going to make a statement fairly soon.  But they also know something that most people don’t know, as to where it came from, who did it.  And we’ll be able to find that out.  We’ll figure that out very quickly.  We pretty much already know.

Q    (Inaudible) prepared for war?


Q    You said the United States is prepared for war.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  The United States is more prepared than any country in the history of -- of -- in any history, if we have to go that way.  As to whether or not we go that way, we’ll see.  We have to find out definitively who did it.  We have to speak to Saudi Arabia.  They have to have a lot of -- they have to have a lot in the game also.  And, you know, they’re willing to do that.  I think everybody knows they’re willing to do that.

So we’ll be meeting with Saudi Arabia.  We’ll be talking to Saudi Arabia.  We’ll be talking to UAE and many of the neighbors out there that we’re very close friends with.  We’re also talking to Europe, a lot of the countries that we’re dealing with -- whether it’s France, Germany, et cetera.  Talking to a lot of different folks.  And we’re figuring out what they think.

But I will tell you, that was a very large attack and it could be met with an attack many, many times larger, very easily, by our country.  But we’re going to find out who definitively did it, first.

Q    Can you clarify, Mr. President?  So you said that you think that Iran is responsible for the attack.  Do you think that the attack --

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  I didn’t say that.  Why do you say that?

Q    You said -- you said that you think you might --

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  I said that we think we know who it was, but I didn’t say anybody.

Q    And then you said it was Iran.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  But, certainly, it would look to most like it was Iran, but I did not say it the way you said.  Go.

Q    So do you think it was launched from Iran, is the second question.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  You’re going to find out in great detail in the very near future.  We have the exact locations of just about everything.  You’re going to find out at the right time.  But it’s too early to tell you that now.

Q    Do you want to release the oil reserves to help cushion the oil prices that are rising now?

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Well, they haven’t risen very much.  And we have the Strategic Oil Reserves, which are massive.  And we can release a little bit of that.  And other countries, including Bahrain -- but other countries can be a little bit more generous with the oil, and you’d bring it right down.

So, no, that’s not a problem.  It went up five dollars, and that is not a problem.

     And you have to remember, we’re now the largest producer of oil and gas in the world.  So a lot of people in the old days -- and this happened over the last very short period of time.  We’re number one in the world, by far.

     CROWN PRINCE SALMAN:  Yes, you are.

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  By far.  So I never want to be benefitted that way.  But the fact is, there are those that say we benefit.  I don’t view that as a benefit.  But we are certainly -- we take in more money than anybody else from energy.  Not even close.

     Q    Mr. President, do you still think it’s the responsibility of the Saudis to defend themselves?  Or should the United States be --
PRESIDENT TRUMP:  I think it's certainly the responsibility of them to do a big -- a big deal of their defense, certainly.  I also think it's the responsibility of the Saudis to, if somebody like us -- which are the ones -- are going to help them, they, I know, that monetarily will be very much involved in paying for that.

This is something that's much different than other Presidents would mention, Jon.  But the fact is that the Saudis are going to have a lot of involvement in this if we decide to do something.  They'll be very much involved, and that includes payment.  And they understand that fully.

     But they're going to be -- look, they’re very upset.  They're very angry.  They know pretty much what we know.  They know pretty much where they came from.  And we're looking for the final checkpoints, and I think you won't be surprised to see who did it.

     Q    Mr. President, will you discuss the Israeli-Palestinian peace plan with the Crown Prince, since Bahrain hosted the first --

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  We'll be discussing it, yeah.  We'll be discussing.

     Q    And (inaudible), is it soon -- before or after the Israeli election?

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Well, we're going to see.  I mean, it's -- the election is on Tuesday.



CROWN PRINCE SALMAN:  It's tomorrow.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  So you have an election tomorrow, so I would think it would be afterwards, okay?  But we -- you do have an election.  Big election tomorrow in Israel.  And that'll be a very interesting outcome.  It's going to be close.  It's going to be a close election.

     Q    Did Chairman Kim invite you to North Korea in that (inaudible)?

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  I don’t want to comment on that.

     Q    Okay.

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  The relationship is very good, but I don’t want to comment on it.

     Q    Would you be willing to go there?

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  I just don’t think it's appropriate for me to comment.

     Q    Would you be willing to go to North Korea?

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Probably not.  I don’t think it's ready.  I don’t think we're ready for that.  I would do it sometime at -- sometime at a later future.  And depending on what happens, I'm sure he'll love coming to the United States also.  But, no, I don’t think it's ready for that.  I think we have a ways to go yet.

     Q    Do you stand with the autoworkers in the strike against GM?

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Well, I have a great relationship with the autoworkers.  I got tremendous numbers of votes from the autoworkers.  I don’t want General Motors to be building plants outside of this country.  As you know, they built many plants in China and Mexico, and I don’t like that at all.

My relationship has been very powerful with the autoworkers -- not necessarily the top person or two, but the people that work doing automobiles.  Nobody has ever brought more companies into the United States.  You know, I have Japan and Germany, and many countries have been bringing car companies in and opening plants and expanding plants.  And big things are happening in Ohio, including with Lordstown.  Very positive things are happening.

     We have many plants that are either being renovated or expanded or built new, right now, in the United States -- many more than we've had for decades and decades.  So nobody has been better to the autoworkers than me.

I'd like to see it work out, but I don’t want General Motors building plants in China and Mexico.  This was before my watch.  And I don’t think they'll be doing that, I don’t think.

     I had meetings with Mary Barra, the head of GM, and I don’t want them leaving our country.  I don’t want them building in China.  I don’t want to build them in other countries.  I don’t want these big, massive auto plants built in other countries.  And I don’t think they'll be doing that anymore.

     You know, General Motors makes most of its money in the United States, and it's too bad they spent billions and billions of dollars outside of the United States, before I got here.  One of the things very important in the USMCA, which we have to have approved for the -- not only for the unions, for the autoworkers, but for the farmers and for the manufacturers -- for everybody.  Everybody wants USMCA.  It's very important, even more so now than it was two weeks ago.  But people really want it.

     I'm sad to see the strike.  Hopefully, it's going to be a quick one.  

Q    Mr. President, has diplomacy been exhausted when it comes to issues of Iran?  Diplomacy -- has it been exhausted?

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  No.  It's never exhausted.  In fact, the Crown Prince can tell you, especially in your part of the world, it's never exhausted until the final 12 seconds.  Is that right?

     CROWN PRINCE SALMAN:  That is correct.

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  You never know what's going to happen.  No, it's not exhausted.  Nothing is exhausted.  And we'll see what happens.

     I think they would like to make a deal.  I know they'd like to make a deal.  They'd like to do it, but they'd like to do it on certain terms and conditions, and we won't do that.  But at some point, it will work out, in my opinion.

The problem was, the deal that was signed by the previous administration was a disaster -- which, by the way, would be expiring in a very short period of time also.  So you really don’t have a deal.  You know, that deal was a very short-term deal.  So they made a deal, but it was for a very short period of time.  So that deal would be expiring very soon.

     Q    Mr. President?


     Q    Sorry.  Are you encouraging Israel and the Saudis to work together on this issue, particularly since they have a shared common goal?

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Always.  I encourage everybody.  I want everybody to work together.  The Middle East is an interesting place.  They, historically, have not been working together too well.

     But, no, Israel is starting to work together with a lot of countries that you wouldn’t have thought possible two years ago.
     Yes, Steve.

     Q    Have you promised the Saudis that the U.S. will protect them in this case?

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  No, I haven't.  No, I haven’t.  I haven’t promised the Saudis that.  We have to sit down with the Saudis and work something out.  And the Saudis want very much for us to protect them, but I say, well, we have to work.  That was an attack on Saudi Arabia, and that wasn’t an attack on us.

But we would certainly help them.  They've been a great ally.  They spend $400 billion in our country over the last number of years.  Four hundred billion dollars.  That's a million and a half jobs.  And they're not ones that, unlike some countries, where they want terms; they want terms and conditions.  They want to say, "Can we borrow the money at zero percent for the next 400 years?"  No.  No.  Saudi Arabia pays cash.  They've helped us out from the standpoint of jobs and all of the other things.  And they've actually helped us.

I would call and I would say, "Listen, our oil prices, our gasoline, is too high.  You got to let more go."  You know that.


PRESIDENT TRUMP:  I would call the Crown Prince and I'd say, "You got to help us out.  You got to get some more."  And, all of a sudden, the oil starts flowing and the gasoline prices are down.  No other President can do that.  No other President was able to do that, or maybe they didn’t try.  But I've done it.

So now they're under attack, and we will work something out with them.  But they also know that -- you know, I'm not looking to get into new conflict, but sometimes you have to.

Q    Mr. President, what's your message to Iran right now?


Q    What's your message to Iran right now?

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  I think I'll have a stronger message, or maybe no message at all, when we get the final results of what we're looking at.  But, right now, it's too soon to say.  There's plenty of time.  You know, there's no rush.  We'll all be here a long time.  There's no rush.

But I'll have a message -- whether it's a strong message or maybe no message at all, depending on the final results.

Q    And how concerned are you about the risk of an all-out war in the Middle East?

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  I'm not concerned at all.

Q    You don’t think that we're a step closer to that, given what Iran just did?

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  No.  I'm not.  Personally, I'm not concerned at all.  We have military power the likes of which the world has never seen.  I'm not concerned at all.  I'd like to avoid it.

You know, when I came here three years ago almost, General Mattis told me, "Sir, we're very low on ammunition."  I said, "That's a horrible thing to say."  I'm not blaming him; I'm not blaming anybody.  But that's what he told me.  Because we were at a position where, with a certain country -- I won't say which one -- we may have had conflict.  And he said to me, "Sir, if you could, delay it, because we're very low on ammunition."  And I said, "You know what, General?  I never want to hear that again from another general."  No President should ever, ever hear that statement, "We’re low on ammunition."

And we now have more ammunition, more missiles, more rockets, more tanks, more -- we have more of everything than we've ever had before.  More jet fighters.  When I came here, 50 percent of our jet fighters didn't fly.  You know that.  And they were in bad shape.  And now we have the best fighters in the world.  Everybody wants to buy them.  Are you buying our jet fighters?

     CROWN PRINCE SALMAN:  We are, sir.

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Which one?


     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  That's great.

     CROWN PRINCE SALMAN:  Signed it here.

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  You have good taste.  (Laughter.)

     CROWN PRINCE SALMAN:  Thank you, sir.

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  That's a great one.

So, we are very high on ammunition now.  That's a story I've never told before.  Breaking news.  But we have -- we were very low.  I could even say it stronger.  I don't want to say, "No ammunition," but that gets a lot closer.

     I said, "I never want to hear that again.  And I never want another President of the United States to hear that again."  Could you imagine, as President, when they say, "We're very low on ammunition?"  By the way, stronger than that, but I'm not going to go there.  That was what I was told.  And I said, "I never want to be in a position like that again."  And he said, "Could you delay if we do something, sir?  Could you delay it as we fill up?"  And that is what I inherited from the past administration.  And, in all fairness, to President Obama, to administrations before President Obama.  That's what I got stuck with.  And we fixed it, and we fixed it good.

     The Crown Prince understands $700 billion; the next year, $718 billion; and the next year, which is right now, we just got approved, $738 billion.  And that's a lot of money even for Bahrain.  Right?

     CROWN PRINCE SALMAN:  It's a lot of money, sir.

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  It's a lot even for Bahrain.

     CROWN PRINCE SALMAN:  It's a lot of money.

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  And Bahrain has a lot of money.  Okay?

     Q    You have the Israeli election coming up tomorrow.  How does that affect the timing of your Middle East peace plan?

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Well, we'll have to see what happens, Steve.  I just don't know.  I can't tell you what's going to happen.  I can make a prediction; I sort of have a feeling.  But we're going to have to see what happens.  That's a big election.  That's one we're all going to be watching.

     Q    Do you think Netanyahu will pull it out?

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Well, certainly he has a good chance.  But it's a very -- you know, it's a 50/50 election.  A lot of people, if you look at the polls and everything else, it's going to be very close.  So we'll see what happens.  Polls -- polls are often wrong.

     Q    Netanyahu called for annexing all settlements in the West Bank.  Is that something your government would (inaudible)?

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Yeah, I don’t want to talk about that, but certainly it's something we were told about that they'd like to do.  But, no, I don't want to be talking about that.  It's too soon.

     Q    Mr. President, can you, kind of, elaborate a little bit on why the decision was taken yesterday to release the Strategic Reserves?  Why did you decide right away to do that?

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Well, just in case we ran a little bit low on oil.  We have so much with the Strategic Reserves.  Plus, being the number one producer, we can fill them up very quickly.  Very, very quickly.

And one of the things I'm doing also is I'm approving the pipelines in Texas.  We have a tremendous pipeline system that's being held up by various agencies for a very good reason, for it -- going through the normal process.

And we're going to have to avoid the normal process, because if we do that -- Texas is a massive distributor, a massive producer of oil, far bigger than anybody would have even thought five years ago.  So what I'm going to do is expedite the pipeline approvals.  That will get us another 25 percent energy -- additional energy.

I know this is exactly the opposite of the Democrats.  They want to have wind, solar, and, I guess, make-believe would be the third alternative, right? 

No, this is something we have to do.  We have the greatest wealth in the world, and we want to be able to capitalize on it, especially when it comes to safety.  Okay?

Thank you all very much.  Thank you.

Q    Just for one more second.  You talked about an urban agenda when you ran for President the first time.  You went to Baltimore last week.  What are your plans for Baltimore and cities like Baltimore?  Instead of pointing fingers, what are you trying to do to help the city rise up from the "rodent-infested place" that you say it is?

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Well, I think what I've done for the inner cities is more than any President has done for a long time.  We've created Opportunity Zones.  In fact, I did that with Tim Scott, who you know very well, who is, I think, a tremendous guy.  It was his initiative.  And he came to see me.

They're having a tremendously positive impact on the inner cities, including Baltimore, including a lot of other cities that you wouldn't necessarily think.  Oakland, California, is an example.  We're having tremendous success in the inner cities because of the Opportunity Zones.

Criminal justice reform -- I was the one that got it.  Nobody else.  I mean, we had people that helped, but a group of extremely liberal Democrats came to the office and they said, "We cannot get it."  President Obama was unable to get it, as you know.  President Bush -- they were all unable to get it, and I got it.

And I got it with some very conservative senators and people that wanted it to happen.  And nobody else could have done it.  And it's sort of interesting, because they don't like mentioning my name, although, I guess now people are understanding.

But we got it.  We got it done.  We formed a coalition with some very conservative people, as you know, and some people that are very far left.  And we did a thing called, "criminal justice reform," something that nobody thought.  The Crown Prince has seen this.  Nobody thought this could possibly happen.  And I'm very proud of criminal justice reform.  So, we did that.  We did the Opportunity Zones and a lot of other things.

Our job numbers for African Americans are the best in history.  You saw the new ones came out; they're even better than they were two months ago.  Hispanic, the best in history.  Asian, the best in history.  Overall, they're phenomenal.  The best in 51 years.  And I think we'll soon be historic on that one too.

The economy is doing great.  And that's the best thing I can do.

Q    Did you look at Baltimore when you flew over?  Did you see what you --

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  No, when I drove through I looked at it.  And we flew over.  But we also -- no, you have some sections that need a lot of help.

And, you know, what people don't know -- I had a great meeting with Elijah Cummings in this office very early in my tenure.  And it was a meeting on drug prices.  And I saw him get emotional talking about drug prices.  Seriously emotional.  And I was really impressed.  He cared about it.  And I would certainly be willing to meet with Elijah and other people, if they'd like.

But I saw the emotion and the feeling that he had for reducing drug prices.  And we've worked hard, and we've actually had the first year in 51 years where prices went down.  But we can get them down much further if we can get the help from Congress.

So I think we're going to do much lower drug prices over the next year.  And I think that if Elijah Cummings would want help, I am here.  But I did see him at a moment that was actually, I thought, a very beautiful moment.  I've talked about it often because I see the political rhetoric every once in a while.  And I said, "That's not the same guy I had in my office."  That was a very caring man that wanted to see drug prices lowered.  And he wanted that for the community -- for his community.

So, I look forward to working with Elijah, but I look forward to working with a lot of people.  But I think Opportunity Zones have been tremendous for the inner cities.

And criminal justice reform is something we're very proud of.  Thank you all very much. 

                         END                 3:42 P.M. EDT