Wednesday, October 23, 2019


Office of the Press Secretary

David L. Lawrence Convention Center
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

3:51 P.M. EDT

     THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  What a nice group.  (Applause.)  Ah, you’re much happier.  I was here three years ago; you’re much happier now.  (Applause.)  And you’re much wealthier, and you’re providing a lot more energy than you used to, that’s for sure.  Right?  (Applause.)  Thank you.

     You know, Harold is a very successful man.  And I was with the great football coach, Barry Switzer.  I think he might be the only one -- he won in the NFL and he won in college, right?  The championship.  But Barry is a great guy.  Great coach.  And he’s one of Harold’s best friends.

And Harold was coming into a meeting, and I was talking to Barry.  And he said about Harold, “You know, sir, that guy can take a straw” -- probably the plastic ones, before they changed.  (Laughter.)  I don’t think it would have worked; the paper straws aren’t working too well.  “Sir, he can take a straw and he can put it into the ground, and oil comes out.”  And other companies, they spend billions looking for oil.  They want to find that oil.  They just spend billions, and they can’t get it.  But this guy puts a straw in the ground.  And I said, “How cool is that?”  Right?

But that’s my friend, Harold.  He’s a great gentleman.  I learned a lot about energy from him.

But it’s wonderful to be here, back in Pittsburgh.  By the way, go Steelers.  Go Steelers.  (Applause.)  Big Ben.  I guess, Big Ben is recovering.  I know Ben.  He’s a great guy.  He’s a tough cookie.  And he’ll be back, right?  He’ll be back.  Big Ben.

And you have a great -- and you have a great ice hockey team, too.  You have a great ice hockey team.  (Applause.)  Sidney Crosby, the whole group -- you know, they were at the White House not a long time ago.  And they came in and they are a great group of people.

So you have a great sports place and a great sports town.

But I’m here with the incredible people who fuel our factories, light up our homes, power our industries, and fill our hearts with true American pride.  That’s you.  And, by the way, you guys -- sit down.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Sit down, everyone.  We’ll be here for a little while.  I like energy people.  (Laughter and applause.)  Energy people have a lot of energy, unlike some people I deal with.  (Laughter.)  They got a lot of energy, in more ways than one.

Nobody does it better than the hardworking men and women of Marcellus Shale country.  (Applause.)  Wouldn’t it be great if New York realized what they’re sitting on top of -- (applause) -- before the competing states take a lot of it?  You know, it gets down a little bit, right?  It keeps going down.  They’ll say, “Hey, we used to have a lot of energy before they took them from Pennsylvania and Ohio.”  But New York should do it, and New York should allow pipelines to go through so the people of New England can cut their energy costs in half, so the people in New York could cut their energy costs in half.  (Applause.)

New York doesn’t allow pipelines to go through.  I don’t know, there has to be some kind of a federal something that we can do there.  But they won’t allow pipelines to go through New York; this is for a long time.  And they won’t do any fracking in New York.  And they won’t take all of that wealth underneath and reduce their taxes.  Wouldn’t that be nice?  They don’t do it in New York.  Somebody, someday, will explain why.

They do it in Pennsylvania.  They do it in Ohio.  They do it in states right around New York.  They don’t do it in New York.  They’re sitting on a goldmine of energy.

With unmatched skill, grit, and devotion, you are making America the greatest energy superpower in the history of the world.  You’re number one, by far, now.  Right?  (Applause.)

And I want to thank the Marcellus Shale Coalition, the Ohio Oil and Gas Association.  Oh, I love Ohio.  I love that state.  Ohio.  (Applause.)  Don’t forget, for a year, I had to listen to, “You cannot win unless you win Ohio.”  I said, “No, no: ‘The great state of Ohio.’  Please, treat it well.”  (Applause.)  And we won Ohio by a lot.  It’s a great state.

And another great state: West Virginia.  (Applause.)  Right?  I think we won West Virginia by 42 points.  (Applause.)  That’s a lot.  I would say that’s a lot.  But they’re great people.  And, West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association, I want to thank you for the invitation to be here today.  Two great groups.

We’re honored to be joined by members of my Cabinet who are fighting every day to support the American energy revolution.  By the way, if the other people ever get in, everything I said, forget about.  You won’t have money to pay for a ticket to this place.  You’ll all be out of business very quickly.  In the meantime, you’re doing better than you’ve even done.

But I have Cabinet members here.  Interior Secretary -- largest landlord in the United States by a factor of about 200 -- David Bernhardt.  Where’s David?  David?  Thank you, David.  Stand up.  What a great job.  (Applause.)  He’s basically the landlord to about half of the United States.

A friend of mine -- a great gentleman.  He’s going to be leaving, and, I’ll tell you, there’s one that’s going to do well.  But he’s been right from the beginning.  We’re almost three years, now.  Energy Secretary, Rick Perry.  Rick.  (Applause.)

Great guy.  Great guy.  Great competitor.  I ran against Rick.  He was nasty.  He was tough.  He was tough.  But he -- he was a gentleman.  And when he decided that it was time to do something else, there was nobody that could have been nicer.  He’s been a tremendous asset to the administration.  And he was a great governor of Texas.  And he’s been a great -- great job with the energy.  And that includes nuclear energy.  Really fantastic job.  Thank you, Rick.  (Applause.)

Another man who is here, who’s been incredible -- he is a man that, no matter what you do, it’s never going to be considered right, because one group will like it and one group won't.  But he's really tough.  He's really smart.  And, by the way, he loves the environment: EPA Administrator, Andrew Wheeler.  Andrew, you've done a fantastic job.  (Applause.)

     And he's, right now, working on small refineries, getting them everything they need to stay because it's a highly competitive business.  We want to keep them really prosperous and keep them in business, Andrew.  So, I know you're working on that.  And he's dealing with them I think this week and next week, and you'll hopefully have something for the small refineries.

Anybody here from small refineries?  Yeah, a couple.  Not too many.  Don’t forget the small refineries.  We don’t have -- (laughter) -- now, you're going to take care of those small refineries.  They're great people, right?  And they've really been incredible for our country.

     Several outstanding members of Congress -- these are warriors; these are people that fight with me all the time on the witch hunts.  I've had the Mueller witch hunt, the Russia witch hunt.  I have witch hunts every week.  I say, "What's the witch hunt this week?"  (Laughter.)  They can't beat us at the ballot box.  They cannot beat us at the ballot box.  So they want to try and beat us the old-fashioned way, which is not very nice.  They are a nasty group of people.

And, you know, it's very interesting: If you look at what's happened and what's been doing, and all the things we've done, and we have to get USMCA done, and they don’t want to put it up for a vote.  And the Do-Nothing Democrats, they will pass it, but it has to be put up Nancy Pelosi.  So let's see what happens.  But I think they're going to put it up, because everybody --

AUDIENCE:  Booo --       

THE PRESIDENT:  No, everybody wants it, and I think ultimately they're going to do the right thing.  But it's all ready to go.  It's approved by Mexico.  It's approved by Canada.  It's approved by everybody that has to be approved.  We have to give it a vote.  It's been sitting for a long time.  A lot of money wasted, a lot of jobs wasted.  It's going to have a tremendous impact.

But these are warriors that have been with me right from the beginning.  A friend of mine, Mike Kelly.  Congressman Mike Kelly.  (Applause.)  Mike, stand up.  Great job, Mike.

A man with the greatest name if show business: Guy Reschenthaler.  (Applause.)  Now, if anybody can get elected to Congress with that name, you got to be one hell of a talent.  When you can have that name and get elected, I'll tell you what.  But he's a warrior.  They're all warriors.

This group is incredible.  I won't say it about every group.  Some aren’t warriors.  But this group is incredible.  It's called "Pennsylvania."  It's in the genes.  It's in the blood.  Right?  (Applause.)  It's in the blood.

Another terrific guy who's always there: Lloyd Smucker.  Thank you, Lloyd.  Great job. (Applause.)

GT Thompson.  We have them all today, huh?  GT.  (Applause.)  We have them all.

The great John Joyce.  John, thank you.  (Applause.)  Great job.  Thank you, John.

Dan Meuser.  Thank you, Dan.  Thank you, Dan.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  That looks like Cary Grant, doesn’t he?  Have you ever been told that, Dan?  It's not a bad compliment, I must say.

Today we have Tom Arnold.  In those days, you had a little different.  Those days, you had Errol Flynn, Cary Grant.  A little different.  But today we're doing better in so many different ways.

And, of course, somebody that fights like you've never seen before: Fred Keller.  (Applause.)  Fred.  Thank you, Fred.  Great.  Doing a great job.

Thank you all.  I mean, these are fantastic people.

And David.  Where's David?  Is here there?  Where's David?  What happened to him?  All right, we won't mention his name.  He's in the back.  Pretend that I didn’t say it.

When I last spoke at this conference in 2016, American energy was under relentless assault from the previous administration.  You know that so well.  More than a third of all of the coalmining jobs had vanished.  A moratorium had been placed on new coal leases on federal land.  Drilling and mining on federal lands was blocked and restricted at every turn. Desperately needed pipelines were obstructed and denied.  Federal regulations and bureaucrats were working around the clock to shut down vital infrastructure projects, bankrupt producers, and keep America’s vast energies and treasures buried deep underground.  They didn’t want to let you go get them.  So good for the American people in so many ways.

I promised that, as President, I'd unleash American energy like never before, because our natural resources do not belong to government, they belong to the people of this country.  (Applause.)  American energy belongs to hardworking men and women like you who get up every day and make this country run.  (Applause.)
Today, I'm proud to declare that I've delivered on every single promise I made to this conference three years ago, and much, much more.  Every one.  (Applause.)
Wow.  Look at the great people.  Thank you very much.  (Laughs.)  Four more years.  Why don’t you drive them crazy?  Go 16 more years; you'll drive them totally crazy.  (Applause.)  Sixteen more years.  Thank you.  Thank you.
We're now energy independent.  Who would've thought that?  That wasn’t going to happen for a long time.  We've ended the war on American energy, and we've ended the economic assault on our wonderful energy workers.  You were under assault for a long period of time, but no longer.  No longer.  That's why we have to keep it going.  Because if you talk about assault, it was nothing compared to what would happen if one of these people got in office.  What they would do to you would be unthinkable.  And what they'd do to this incredible profession that you're in, but this segment of the economy that's so big and so vast and so many jobs, would be just absolutely terrible.  Hard to believe they're even talking the way they're talking.  And, in many ways, I think it actually would be worse than they're even saying it will be.
In the process, we set off an economic boom of truly historic proportions, bringing prosperity back to cities and to towns all across America.  Not only energy.  Energy was just the first step in so many other ways.  But without energy, it all doesn’t happen.
     In my first week in office, I approved permits for the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines.  (Applause.)  And that's a big thing.  That was a very, very unfair situation in the case of Dakota Access.  They had built it, except for one small section.  And they weren’t being given the permits.  They'd spent billions of dollars building it.  One small section where it connects, they were not going to get the permits.  And I gave them the permits and they got it built, and it’s been operating now and very successfully.  And a lot of jobs and a lot of everything else.  And a lot of clean environment because that’s what it is.

And with Keystone -- same thing.  They have everything they need.  They need a couple of little extra ones in one or two states, one state in particular, and they'll start.  And it's a combination of 48,000 jobs on top of everything else.

We cancelled the last administration’s so-called Clean Power Plan.  Sounds nice, but it wasn’t nice.  It was a disaster.  (Applause.)  Which would have cost Americans nearly $40 billion a year and caused electricity prices to soar to double digits, while cutting coal production by almost 250 million tons.

We repealed the Interior Department's Stream Protection Rule, which was a disaster.  It sounds so beautiful.  It sounds so beautiful, and it was so bad.  Which would have cost businesses $1.2 billion and was a backdoor attempt to destroy the American coal industry -- which is now starting to thrive again, which we're very happy about.  (Applause.)

We revoked the ridiculous Waters of the United States rule. No longer will federal bureaucrats be allowed to micromanage every public pond and drainage ditch on private land.  They've taken away your rights.  They took away your -- they took away your heart.  When I did that, I had people in my office -- I had miners and I had farmers and I had builders building homes.  And many of them were tough, strong men and women.  And almost all of them were crying.  They said, "Sir, you've given our life back to us."

I did it in Minnesota with the Iron Range.  Minnesota -- we gave them back the Iron Range.  That was closed by President Obama.  Someday they'll explain why they closed it.  The finest iron ore in the world, they say.
I withdrew the United States from the terrible, one-sided Paris Climate Accord.  It was a total disaster for our country.  (Applause.)  And I thought when I did that, it would be very tough.  And all I do is get applauded for that move, so much.  It would’ve been so bad for our country.  They were taking away our wealth.  It was almost as though it was meant to hurt the competitiveness -- really, competitiveness of the United States.  So, we did away with that one.

The Paris Accord would've been a giant transfer of American wealth to foreign nations that are responsible for most of the world’s pollution.  Our air right now and our water right now is as clean as it's been in decades.  Shutting down American producers -- (applause) -- the Paris Accord would've been shutting down American producers with excessive regulatory restrictions like you would not believe, while allowing foreign producers to pollute with impunity.  They were allowed to do what they were doing.

I'm proud that, today, the United States has among the very cleanest air and drinking water on Earth -- anywhere on Earth.  And we're going to keep it that way, because everybody in this room -- you're in the energy business, but you want the same clean water and same clean air that I do, that my family does, your family.  So I just want to thank you.  It's really incredible.  But we're at a very, very good point environmentally right now.

What we won’t do to punish -- (applause) -- thank you.  Thank you.  What we won't do is punish the American people while enriching foreign polluters.  Because I can say it: Right now -- and I'm proud to say it: It's called "America First."  Finally, it's called "America First."  (Applause.)  My job is to represent the people of Pittsburgh, not the people of Paris.  (Applause.)

We're opening federal lands and offshore areas for responsible oil and gas production.  And I opened ANWR to oil and gas in Alaska.  You know, the ANWR site is one of the biggest in the world and nobody could get it approved, including Ronald Reagan.  They could not get it approved.  I got it approved.  And it's one of the -- one of the great potential sites anywhere in the world.

Nationwide, the Interior Department -- thank you, David --has been drilling permits -- and you've seen drilling permits increase by over 300 percent since I've been in office.  And we are issuing permits three times faster than when I first took office.  And that number is going up, and we're doing it in a very environmental responsible way.  David, thank you.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

Oil production on federal lands is at an all-time high, and revenue to the American taxpayer from energy development has nearly doubled since I took office.  Think of that.

(Protestors in the audience.)

Thank you.

We are streamlining the EPA’s oil and gas methane rule.

AUDIENCE:  Booo --

THE PRESIDENT:  Don't pay attention.  Don't pay attention.

Saving energy producers millions of dollars in compliance costs while maintaining sterling environmental standards like never before.

Yeah, don’t hurt him.  Don’t hurt him, please.  They don’t know they're dealing with very tough people in this room.  (Laughter and applause.)  Oh, they don’t know who they're dealing with.  They don’t know who they're dealing with.  They just don’t understand.  All right.  Go home to mom.  (Laughter.)  Explain to mom that you tried to take on very powerful people, and many of them physically as well as mentally.  That’s not a good thing to do -- not in this room.  Be careful.  Make sure you don’t hurt them, please.  Thank you.

We're also slashing the time it takes to get a permit for building critical energy infrastructure into just a tiny fraction of what it took before.  America built the Empire State Building in just one year.  Believe it or not, in nine months.  Can you believe that?  They don’t do that today.  It should not take 10 years to get the permits to build a road or a pipeline.  We brought that number way, way down.  (Applause.)  way down.

And, in Texas, we're working very, very hard -- very, very hard -- to get those pipelines approved environmentally.  And I know my people are doing it.  And, Rick, you're going to be giving it to some of the most talented people that are going to be taking your position.

But we're working very hard to get those pipelines approved immediately in Texas, because it would make a 20 percent and maybe even 25 percent increase in oil.  And, you know, as I said before, we're now number one, not by a little bit, but by far.  Way ahead of Saudi Arabia.  Way ahead of Russia.  But we can do even much better than that.  (Applause.)

So we're working on that.  And we're going to also work on getting a pipeline through New York.  We have to do that.  We can't let them hold us up like this.  (Applause.)

And as I said, the energy prices in New England, if they allowed that to happen, could be cut in half.  Energy prices in New York and other areas -- we have to have a pipeline go through.  They won't let it happen.  But we'll do our best.  Right?  Right, Andrew?  Good luck.  We'll get it.  We'll get it.  It never made sense, does it?  Can you imagine?  They hold it up, they stop it.  They stop it.  Never made sense.  That’s one -- never made sense.  And they don’t drill.  They don't frack.  They're sitting on a fortune.

What they could do -- they could pay off their debt.  They could pay off a lot of things.  They could have taxes cut in half, maybe better than that.  So, someday, somebody in this room is going to sit down and explain me to what the hell are they doing in New York.  What tremendous -- what tremendous potential.  (Applause.)  But we’ll be talking to Governor Cuomo about it.  We'll be talking to some of the people about it because I know the people in this room want it to happen because the prices of energy will go plummeting down.

The Interior Department has already cut the time it takes to complete an environmental impact statement from more than five years to less than one year.  And the average page length is down nearly 90 percent.  (Applause.)

I know all about environmental impact statements.  I've done many of them.  And then I see the same consultants that I'm paying up in places like Albany and different capitals of the states, and they're working to make the rules much tougher so that we have to hire them to get our permits.  But we're trying to cut it way, way back because I want you people to be able to move fast.

And you know what?  If you have a bad project, if you a bad road, if you have a bad pipeline, if you have a bad well, I don't want you to get the permit.  But you don't have to wait for almost an entire lifetime to be told "no."  We'll tell you in a year or less.  And if you can do it, we'll tell you in a year or shortly more than a year.

But we've brought roads -- I mean, roads are under consideration for -- we have roads, 21 years, 22 years.  They end up costing many, many times more.  Instead of a straight line, there's one particular road; it looks like this.  If you've had a couple drinks, you're in big trouble.  (Laughter.)  It ended up costing many, many, many times the cost.  It took 21 years to get approved.

And they circled the nesting of, you know, things you want to save, you want to help, but you also have to worry about ourselves.  So they have a road, instead of a straight line.  They have a road that looks like the Indy Speedway.  It's not a good situation, and we're trying to do away with that.  And we're very close to getting it.  But permits that took 17, 18, 19 years, we think we can get -- we're down to two years.  And we think we can get it around one.  And you may get rejected, folks, but it's going to be fast.

I have a friend who has been waiting 22 years to get a permit for something.  I said, "You know, he's devoted half of his life to getting one permit."  And then, in many cases, you don't get them.  They vote "no," by a vote of three to two.  The guy spent 22 years.  I told him, I said, "You got to find another profession."  But now, he doesn't, because we're moving those time limits up like nobody can believe.

At long last, we're reclaiming our American heritage as a nation of builders.  You were stopped from building.  They really stopped you.  They really stopped you from building.  You know what I mean.  (Applause.)

And with the help of our pro-energy agenda -- and, by the way, you'll never have another President like me, okay?  (Applause.)  You'll never have -- that's for sure.  You'll never have another President that's going to do this, though.  Because I was a builder.  It's what I did the best.  I built.  I really built good.  I built under budget.  I built ahead of schedule.  You don't hear those words too much in government.  But I built.  And I understand what you go through.  I understand how you're ruined, how you're destroyed.  I also understand how bad it is for our country.

But all of you here today have achieved something that everyone said was impossible: You've helped make America the number one producer of oil and natural gas on planet Earth, by far.  (Applause.)  Number one, by far.  Number one, by far.  And think what that means for jobs.

Think what that -- I just left Louisiana recently.  And we opened a $10 billion LNG plant.  I don't know if I've ever seen a longer building.  It's like a sky scraper laid on its side.  It is the most incredible thing you've ever seen.  More pipes in that building that -- nobody realized how complex it is.  But it took years and years, and it was a dead project.  And I had it approved almost immediately.  You know what we're talking about, fellas.  And it just opened.

And I went, and we cut a ribbon, and it's a tremendous success.  And now, I think they're going to double the size of that.  We're going to double it.  It's already about the biggest in the world, but they're going to double it.  It's doing phenomenally well.  It sold out for 25 years.  You know what that means.  It's like an office building, except more money.  (Laughter.)  Can you imagine?  I never understood that, when they said it's sold out -- they sold it out.  Other countries have purchased the LNG.  But now they're going to double it up and they're going to build another one.  And we have -- in Texas, we have so many things happening.  It's so exciting.

We have a tremendous potential in our country.  People don’t realize it.  They think we’re doing well.  When these trade deals become ripe -- when we get them finished with China, where we’re doing fantastically well, fantastically well.  (Applause.)  When we get them finished with Mexico and Canada -- USMCA.  When we get some of the other ones, we -- as an example, we finished it with South Korea.  What a difference that has made.  That was a Hillary Clinton deal.  She said, “This will produce 250,000 jobs.”  And she was right, except the jobs were produced for South Korea, not for us, okay?  (Laughter.)  She didn’t tell us she meant South Korea.  She said, “This is good for two hundred…”  What a horrible deal that was, our deal with South Korea.

We’ve essentially terminated it and redone it.  Brand-new deal.  You guys know.  And it’s now a really great deal.  But that was a disaster.  “Two hundred and fifty thousand jobs it will produce,” I remember her saying.  And then it turned out that it was for a different country.  We don’t like those deals, do we?  (Applause.)

For the first time in more than 60 years, we are an exporter of natural gas.  And our net energy imports are the lowest level in more than 60 years.  (Applause.)

So, you know, on the Straits -- the famous Straits, where they make so much money, and we protect everybody.  We don’t get paid, but we’re starting to get paid a lot.  But, you know, other people need those Straits.  We don’t need them much anymore.  They were saying, “How come American ships are doing so well?”  Because we don’t have too many of them going over there anymore.  Isn’t that amazing?  We don’t have too many of them -- dangerous territory.  We don’t have too many of them going over.

My administration has more than doubled approvals for LNG exports, and it’s going much, much higher than that in the pipeline.  (Applause.)  I look forward to seeing even more brand-new LNG facilities built with American labor and American steel.  (Applause.)


THE PRESIDENT:  You know, with the pipelines that we approved, I said, “I want them to use American steel.”  Like on Keystone, I said, “I want them to use American steel.”  And they came to me, they said, “Sir, we have a problem.  They already bought it.  They’ve got it.  They just can’t get their permits.”  Can you believe it?  They had the pipeline.

And so it was a little bit tough to say, “Bury it.”  And we went -- so I gave them a little break.  What am I going to do?  But we’ll write right on the bottom.  Somebody said, “Well, that’s a little bit complex.”  I said, “No, it’s not.  Give me a pen.  ‘You must use American steel.’”  (Laughter.)  And we’re doing that more and more and more.  (Applause.)  Right?  Our guys are doing that.

To restore American manufacturing, we’re reversing decades of disastrous trade policies that devastated our working-class communities.  Pennsylvania lost one in three -- can you believe that?  And it’s actually a higher a number; we want to be conservative.  Because with the fake news, I have to be very conservative.  (Laughter.)  Otherwise, they’ll say, “He didn’t tell the truth.  He didn’t tell the truth.”
So we’re very conservative with these numbers.  The fake news.  But Pennsylvania lost more than one in three manufacturing jobs after a twin disaster took place, and that’s NAFTA and China’s entrance into the World Trade Organization.  That was a disaster.  China was mainlining.  And then, all of the sudden, it went up like a rocket ship because of a certain politician that came up with the idea for the WTO.  That was not a good idea.  It may have been worse than NAFTA, and I never thought anything could be worse than NAFTA.

We’re standing up for our great workers.  And America is winning, winning, winning once again.  And we’re winning.  We’re winning.  (Applause.)  And we’re respected again.  We’re respected.  You know, respect is a part of winning.  We’re respected again, as a country.  We’re not laughed at.  And it’s getting more and more that way.  And you know it, and I know it.  And, you know, most importantly, other countries know it.  They know it.  (Applause.)

After losing 60,000 factories -- so, when I first saw that number a few years ago, I said, “That can’t be right.”  I got to be careful, because I have these people back here.  And they’ll say, “It’s not 60.  It’s like 5.”  Right?  It’s 60,000.  So I had it researched and checked.  And you know it's right when they never correct you.  I've been saying it for years.  (Laughter.)  It's true.  It has to be right.  Otherwise, they'd say, "He's not telling the truth."

But after losing 60,000 -- it's not even possible to believe that much -- 60,000 factories under the previous two administrations, we've now gained nearly 10,000 new factories under my administration, under the Trump administration.  (Applause.)

And NAFTA, that we've been talking about, will be replaced with the USMCA, which will really be a historic win for American energy producers, farmers, and factory workers of all types.  The Do-Nothing Democrats in Congress, including Democrat Conor Lamb --

AUDIENCE:  Booo --

THE PRESIDENT:  This guy talks so nicely about me.  He's, like, got my policy, except for one problem: He never votes with me -- never, ever, ever.

They want to take away your guns.  Conor Lamb wants to take away your guns.

AUDIENCE:  Booo --

THE PRESIDENT:  They want to take away your energy.  That one you know, right?

So, Conor Lamb -- right here from Pittsburgh.  And I appreciate -- Conor, whoever you are -- I have no idea what you even look like.  (Laughter.) But there's some guy named Conor Lamb who speaks very nicely about -- you know why?  Because you're in like a Trump district.  (Applause.)  No, it's right.  It's true.  Right?

"No, the President is excellent.  He's doing a good job."  I thought he was a Republican until I found out.  (Laughter.)  I thought -- I said, "This guy's got to be a Republican."  But he never votes with us.  That's the only thing that matters, right?  We don’t get his vote.

But we have to stop this Democrat insanity and get back to work.  We have to pass the USMCA.

And, by the way, I have to tell you something.  There's a guy named Sean Parnell, who is a fantastic military man.  Brilliant.  Got everything going.  And I heard, fellas -- maybe my genius congressman can tell me -- I hear that Sean is going to -- Sean Parnell is going to run against Conor Lamb.  That will help the energy business a lot.  (Applause.)  And he should win.  He should win.  And Sean will vote for us, and he'll work for us.

Industries are racing back to America because we've made this the best place in the world to hire, to invest, build, and to grow.  We've enacted fair trade policies, unlocked affordable energy, cut a record number of job-killing regulations, and made our tax code globally competitive.

Our taxes were a disaster.  You couldn't compete with other nations.  Since our tax cuts were passed -- the largest tax cuts in the history of our country -- the Democrats want to raise your taxes.  I don't know, how does that work, politically?  I haven't figured that one out.  They want to raise your taxes.  I talk about tax cuts.  They say, "No, we want to raise your taxes."  You know, they're vicious and they stick together.  But they're lousy politicians, I will tell you.  (Applause.) It's true.

They got two things.  They've got two things: They stick together and they're vicious.  Their policies are horrible: open borders, sanctuary cities, take everyone's guns away.

AUDIENCE:  Booo --

THE PRESIDENT:  But they do -- they stick together.  They don't have a Mitt Romney in their midst.  They don't have the Mitt Romneys of the world.  They stick together better than the Republicans do.

I love the Republicans.  Ninety-four and ninety-five percent approval rating they gave me recently.  But still, they don't -- they don’t stick.  We got to stick together.  We got to stick together.  (Applause.)  Right?

Since our tax cuts were passed, nearly $1 trillion have returned from other countries back home, where it belongs.  Think of it: We've gotten $1 trillion -- trillion, with a "T" -- $1 trillion back from overseas, from other countries that, instead of spending the money over there -- the reason was it was prohibitive; you couldn't do it.  It was bureaucratically impossible and the tax rate was so high, nobody would do it. Now the money is pouring back into our country, and they're using it for lots of different things.  One trillion dollars.  It's going to be much more than that.

Massive new investments are bringing thousands of energy jobs to states like Ohio and West Virginia that we mentioned, that we love.  New Mexico, which I think we're going to win.  You know why we're going to win New Mexico?  Because they want safety on their border.  And they didn't have it.

And we're building a wall on the border of New Mexico, and we're building a wall in Colorado.  (Applause.)  We're building a beautiful wall, a big one that really works, that you can't get over, you can't get under.  (Applause.)  And we're building a wall in Texas.  (Applause.)  And we're not building a wall in Kansas, but they get the benefit of the walls that we just mentioned.

And Louisiana is incredible.  We have a great race in Louisiana.  The governor turned out to be not very popular.  We have a race between a great Republican and a governor that has not done a good job -- high taxes, horrible insurance.  They can do so much better.  We have a great Republican running in Louisiana.  You've been watching that the last week.

Indiana, Michigan, Tennessee, Pennsylvania -- so many states, such potential.  Such potential for growth.

Two months ago, I traveled to Beaver County, not far from us today -- (applause) -- where Shell -- anybody here from Shell?  Shell?  Where Shell is making the largest investment in Pennsylvania's history.  Think of that.  That's a big investment.  (Applause.)

Their gigantic new petroleum plant and petrochemical plant -- it's the biggest -- one of the biggest in the world -- will create more than 600 new Pennsylvania jobs and thousands and thousands of construction jobs, and provide a tremendous boost to the local economy, to put it mildly.  A similar $10 billion investment will soon, we believe -- got to get a little more push -- be coming to the great state of Ohio.  They'll like that.  Great people in Ohio.  (Applause.)  Great.

And our goal is to bring 100,000 -- that's a lot of jobs -- energy jobs to Appalachia, and to rebuild this magnificent region.  And it is a magnificent region with magnificent people, which was forgotten for too long by the Democrats.  And they’d get votes.  The Democrats would get votes.

And remember what I said?  “What do you have to lose?”  I said it to Appalachia, and we did tremendously.  I said it our great African American community.  I say, "What do you have to lose?”  You have the most crime.  You have the worst education.  You have the lowest home ownership.  You have all of these horrible statistics, I'm reading.  And then I said, "What do you have to lose?"

     Now, the African American community has the lowest unemployment numbers in the history of our country.  (Applause.)  They have the best employment numbers in the history of our country.  They have their best poverty numbers in the history of our country, in the positive sense.  And I think we're going to do great with the African American community and the Hispanic community -- which has its best numbers that they've ever had.  Their median income -- Hispanic median income is the highest it's ever been: over $50,000 per person.  (Applause.)

     And all of those people that came out and they came out to vote, they'll never be forgotten again.  The Democrats are trying to figure out: Where the hell did they all come from?  It was something.

You know, a number just came out.  I don’t know if you saw.  Moody's -- respected.  And it said that, under the Bush administration, for eight years, median household income went up $400.  That's over eight years.  Okay?  So, remember: $400, eight years.  Under President Obama, median household income went up $975 over eight years.

Over your favorite President -- (laughter) -- President Donald J. Trump -- (applause) -- median household income, for two and a half years -- so remember this: eight years, eight years, 400 bucks -- 400 bucks.  You don't even -- that gets wiped out by inflation. Four hundred dollars.  Nine hundred and seventy-five dollars.

In two and a half years, our number is $5,000, plus $2,000 for the tax cuts.  Seven thousand dollars.  (Applause.)  How do you lose that debate?  How do you lose that one?  (Applause.)  When you're up debating, how do you lose those debates?

But we're very proud of those numbers.  Very, very proud of what's happened with unemployment for African American, for Asian and Hispanic.  The numbers are the best in the history of our country.

With American energy once again powering our prosperity, the United States has the hottest economy recognized by everybody, anywhere on Earth.  These leaders from other countries -- prime ministers, presidents, kings, queens, and dictators -- they just don't want to be known as a dictator.  Actually, some do, but they don't want to be known as a dictator.

But they come in and they say, "President, we'd like to congratulate you on the economy."  They're trying to copy us.  I say, "It won't work."  Because we have the greatest people on Earth.  We really do.  We have the greatest people on Earth.  I really believe that.  (Applause.)

Since the election, we've created more than 6.4 million new jobs, including more than 240,000 jobs in Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.  (Applause.)  A beautiful number is that more than 2 million Americans have been raised out of poverty, taken out of poverty.  Wages are rising and they are rising the fastest of all -- a lot of you people are going to like this -- for the blue-collar workers.  The best proportion of anybody.  (Applause.)  Blue-collar.

In the first half of this year, wages for the lowest income workers increased by more than 6 percent -- an unheard of number.  Unemployment is at the lowest rate in more than 51 years.

Joining us today are a few of the hardworking Americans who are thriving thanks to America's booming energy sector.  Andrea Brownlee owns and operates a trucking company that services the natural gas industry.  Andrea -- she's seen growth in her company. She's seen growth in the energy industry like she never thought was possible.  Could you come up and say a few words please, Andrea?  (Applause.)  Thank you.

MS. BROWNLEE:  Thank you, Mr. President.  Thank you.

I grew up here in the Ohio Valley.  The daughter of a steelworker, still actively farming on my grandfather's farm.  (Applause.)

I own Brownlee Trucking, a small business providing logistic services to the ever-growing natural gas industry here in Western Pennsylvania, which has allowed us to provide more jobs and opportunities to provide quality health insurance and benefits for our employees.  Because of the policies and support of natural gas, we have seen amazing growth in the industry and a future with good-paying jobs for our children here at home and Western Pennsylvania.  (Applause.)  Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT:  Great job.  They like you.  Great job.  Thank you, Andrea.

Rawley Cogan is a biologist and president of the Keystone Elk Country Alliance. I assume that's no relationship to the Keystone pipeline.  (Laughter.)

It's supposed to be a great charity that works to conserve Pennsylvania's beautiful elk population.  Rawley, I wish you'd come up and tell us a little bit about your partnership with the energy industry and how it's been so incredible for American wildlife.  Rawley, please.  Thank you.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

MR. COGAN:  Thank you, Mr. President.  Ladies and gentlemen, don't let this hat fool you.  I'm a born and bred, Pennsylvania-proud country boy.  (Applause.)

Energy and conservation -- what do they have in common?  Strong partnerships and a stewardship ethic.  About two hours north of here is a 2 million-acre block of public land.  And, by the way, I came down here yesterday in a vehicle powered by compressed natural gas.  (Applause.)  Yeah.

A 2 million-acre block of public land, two hours north of here, called the Pennsylvania Wilds -- it’s the size of Yellowstone National Park.  It’s a home to the easternmost wild elk herd in the United States, Pennsylvania’s elk herd.

In my career as an elk biologist, I have worked with this industry for 37 years.  We enhanced pipelines.  We lined.  We fertilized.  We mowed.  We planted high-quality forage for elk and other wildlife.

Pennsylvania’s elk herd has grown from less than 100 elk in 1982, to over 1,100 elk today.  (Applause.)  And elk are a big attraction.  Thank you.  Elk are a major attraction.

The Keystone Elk Country Alliance is a Pennsylvania-based 501(c)(3) wildlife conservation organization.  We operate and manage the Elk Country Visitor Center in Benezette.  We do that in partnership with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Since opening the Elk Country Visitor Center in September of 2010, we have welcomed over 3.3 million visitors to our front door.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Those visitors generate $250 million annually in economic development, primarily in food, transportation, and lodging.

The natural gas industry has been a longtime supporter of Pennsylvania’s Elk Country.  They have contributed significant dollars to Pennsylvania's Elk Country and also to the Keystone Elk Country Alliance’s educational programs, as well as our habitat projects.

But most compelling to me are the leaders of this industry -- the people I’m looking at right now.  They care deeply about our natural resources; I've watched it for 37 years.  They care deeply about our environment, because it's who they are.  They're from Pennsylvania, they're from Ohio, they're from West Virginia, and they're from all over this country.  They go on vacation in our natural resources.  They take their families there.  That's where they go to disconnect.  I have all the confidence in the world that they're going to continue to be good stewards of our environment.  (Applause.)

Energy and conservation.  There are longstanding partnerships and I value our partnerships.  I applaud your conservation ethic.  And I am genuinely appreciative of your leadership, making our country energy-independent.

Thank you.  And thank you, Mr. President.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, Rawley.  Thank you.  Thank you very much, Rawley.

Finally, Bonnie Moore runs a farm in southwest Pennsylvania that has been in her family for more than two centuries.  That's a long time.  That is a long time, Bonnie.

Over the years, Bonnie could do nothing but watch as economic decay drained her community of its vitality.  It drained her community of its people and its wealth.  But now it is springing beautifully back to life.  Bonnie, please come up and tell us about what's going on.  Please.  (Applause.)

MS. MOORE:  I have lived in Washington County, PA, all my life on the Moore homestead.  Prior to this administration, the area was declining in jobs and population.  The farmers had to work an outside job to support their farms.

After this administration unleashed regulations on the oil and gas industry, our area boomed.  (Applause.)  We had job growth, supply-chain growth, and the landowners were compensated for allowing the energy companies to use their properties.  (Applause.)

As a result, it has helped many landowners, including ourselves.  We were able to purchase another adjacent farm with the compensation these energy companies provided, updating buildings and equipment.

I want to thank President Trump and his administration for revitalizing and saving our area and America.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, Bonnie.  See what you're doing, fellas?  What a great job you're doing. Thank you very much, Bonnie.

A thriving energy industry not only benefits hardworking Americans like Andrea and Rawley and Bonnie, who live in shale country; it's also an enormous benefit to citizens all across our country, all across our land.

According to the Council of Economic Advisers, who cannot even believe the numbers and the success that we're having, the astonishing increase in production made possible by shale and the shale revolution saves Americans $203 billion every year, or $2,500 for a family of four in lower electric bills, lower prices, and at the gas pump.

So now you can add that $2,500 on to the $7,000.  I think I'm going to do that from now on, if you don't mind, Mr. Congressman.  I think we're going to do that, because now you add it on, and you're getting close to $10,000 a year, compared to $400 and to $975. That's a big difference.  I think we have to add it on.  We’ll add it on, right?  (Applause.)  Why not?

But despite these terrific benefits, many politicians in our country are targeting your industry and your jobs for, literally, total destruction.  Whether you like it or not, that's where they're going.  I don't know; Is it on purpose?  Is it stupidity?  Is it through evil?  How could it be possible that they do this?

Virtually every leading Democrat has pledged to entirely eliminate fossil fuels, wiping out American production of oil, and coal, and natural gas, and, by the way, jobs.  These Democrat plans would obliterate millions of American jobs, devastating communities across Pennsylvania and bankrupting families all across our nation.  As long as I am your President, that will never, ever even come close to happening -- not even a chance.  (Applause.)  Thank you.

Anti-energy zealots are blinded by ideology.  Democrats want to ban shale energy, but shale energy has reduced America's carbon emissions by 527 million metric tons per year.  So what are they doing?  A much better record than the European Union, which is always telling us how to do it.  We should be telling them how to do it, based on our economy.

The radical policies of Democrats in Congress would result in massive layoffs, exploding energy prices, and a gigantic gift to our foreign adversaries.  Oh, they want us to do it so badly, because our businesses would no longer be competitive with their businesses.  Some people think that that's why they come out with all of these schemes.

Our vision is the exact opposite of what they want to do.  Our vision is pro-worker, pro-jobs, pro-family, pro-energy, and 100 percent pro-American.  (Applause.)  Thank you.

We believe the United States should never again be at the mercy of a foreign supplier of energy.  We were at their mercy for many, many decades.  We are committed not only to energy independence but to American energy dominance.  (Applause.)

And the path to that future starts right here in shale country, with all of you -- the proud patriots of Pennsylvania and Ohio and West Virginia.  You've always been loyal to America and I will always be loyal to you.  The job you've done is incredible.  (Applause.)

In every action I take -- from defending American energy, to securing American borders, to ending the endless wars -- I am fighting for your interest, your families, and your countries above all others.  We're fighting for you.  We have to fight for you.  And we're fighting for you -- and remember that -- above all others.  We were calling it, "Make America Great Again."  We're calling it now, "Keep America Great."  We will keep it going.  (Applause.)  And finally, as your President, we will always put America first.  (Applause.)  Thank you.

From the first days of our nation, the true sources of American greatness has always been hardworking, faithful citizens just like you.

The extraordinary workers of this region are the ones who forged the steel that shaped our city skylines, and mined the coal that powered our industries.  They farm the fields, man the assembly lines, and loaded those railcars.  They gave their best each and every day to build the proudest and mightiest nation the world has ever seen.  And we have never been stronger -- economically, militarily -- than we are right now.  Our military has been completely rebuilt.  (Applause.)


THE PRESIDENT:  It was their labor and their sweat that fueled America's rise.  And it's your sweat and your skill and your soul and your love that are fueling the greatest comeback, by far, in American history.  That's what we're doing -- greatest comeback we've ever seen.  (Applause.)

We are stronger today than ever before.  And we will be even stronger tomorrow.  You have to see what we have planned for our great country.  (Applause.)  Because we are one united team, one united people, and one United States of America.  (Applause.)

I will never stop fighting for you because I know that you are the ones who are rebuilding our nation.  You are the ones who are restoring our strength.  You are the ones renewing our spirit.  And you are the ones who are making America greater than it has ever been before.  And it's not even close.

And congratulations to all of you, our great energy people, for what you've been able to accomplish, especially in the last three years.

Thank you.  God bless you.  And God bless America.  (Applause.)
                                       END                4:54 P.M. EDT

President Donald J. Trump Announces Intent to Appoint Individuals to Key Administration Posts

Office of the Press Secretary
President Donald J. Trump Announces Intent to Appoint Individuals to Key Administration Posts
Today, President Donald J. Trump announced his intent to appoint the following individuals to key positions in his Administration:

Matthias Mitman of Virginia, to be the Executive Secretary of the National Security Council.

Mr. Mitman, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, most recently served as Chief of Staff to the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs.  He previously served as Principal Officer in U.S. Consulates General in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; Erbil, Iraq; and Basrah, Iraq.  Mr. Mitman was also the Deputy Chief of Mission at U.S. Embassy Tegucigalpa, Honduras and Minister Counselor for Economic Affairs at U.S. Embassy Moscow, Russia.  This will be his third detail to the National Security Council, having earlier served as Senior Duty Officer in the White House Situation Room and as Director for Iraq.  Before joining the Foreign Service, Mr. Mitman taught as an Assistant Professor of Economics at Ball State University.  He is a Distinguished Graduate of the National War College and earned an A.B. from Wabash College.  

Christopher W. Oliver of Alaska, to be a Member of the International Pacific Halibut Commission (NOAA Rep) for term expiring December 12, 2020.

Thomas Luebke of Maryland, to be a Member of the Committee for the Preservation of the White House.

David Miracle of Ohio, to be a Member of the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission.

The following individuals to be Members of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council for a term expiring January 15, 2024:
  • Adam E. Beren of Kansas
  • Joshua B. Bolten of the District of Columbia
  • Sonia Marilyn Breslow of Arizona
  • Ari Fleischer of New York
  • Adele Malpass of the District of Columbia
  • Frederick R. Marcus of Georgia
  • Irvin Shapell of Florida
  • Ronald Weiser of Michigan
The following individuals to be Members of the Presidio Trust Board of Directors for a term expiring May 4, 2023:
  • Lynne K. Benioff of California
  • Carole McNeil of California

1600 Daily The White House • October 23, 2019 NEW TODAY: President Trump Secures Permanent Ceasefire in Northeast Syria

1600 Daily
The White House • October 23, 2019

NEW TODAY: President Trump secures permanent ceasefire in northeast Syria

In a major address today, President Donald J. Trump said that Turkey has agreed to turn their recent ceasefire along the Syrian border into a permanent agreement. As a result, the U.S. Treasury has lifted all of its recently imposed sanctions on Turkey.

 President Trump: 8 years after failed regime change, it’s time to come home.

The agreement achieved by the Trump Administration, including the original 5-day ceasefire negotiated last week, has helped save lives and allow the Kurds to safely leave affected areas. These actions will help secure a more peaceful and stable border between Turkey and Syria. Ultimately, however, responsibility rests with those countries.   

“How many Americans must die in the Middle East in the midst of these ancient sectarian and tribal conflicts?” President Trump asked. “After all of the precious blood and treasure America has poured into the deserts of the Middle East, I am committed to pursuing a different course—one that leads to victory for America.”

The United States expects Turkey to honor its commitments in the efforts to counter ISIS. We have defeated the Islamic State caliphate, and now it’s time for others in the region to step up and ensure ISIS does not regain territory.

“Should Turkey fail to honor its obligations—including the protection of religious and ethnic minorities—we reserve the right to re-impose crippling sanctions, including substantially increased tariffs on steel and all other products coming out of Turkey,” President Trump said.

Tough diplomacy, backed by American economic power and strength, saves lives. It also avoids the worst instincts of the Washington foreign policy establishment. “We have avoided another costly military intervention that could've led to disastrous, far-reaching consequences. Many thousands of people could've been killed,” the President said.

Bottom line: President Trump will not send tens of thousands of American troops into never-ending conflict in Syria. He is not going to continue the disastrous policies of the previous Administration in the Middle East. And, most important, he is not going to get America into another endless war that costs us countless lives and resources.

­čÄČ President Trump: 30 days turned into 10 years of war.

First Lady Melania Trump visits Capitol Hill

This morning, First Lady Melania Trump made her first solo visit to the U.S. Capitol, marking the one year anniversary of the SUPPORT Act, which promotes opioid recovery.

While there, she thanked the legislators who helped make the law into a reality.

  Watch: First Lady encourages kids to stay drug free

“A year ago, you passed and our Administration signed into law the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act . . . Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, or NAS, is an area I have focused on, and this Act provides support to mothers and their infants born with NAS,” Mrs. Trump said.

“I have traveled to some of the areas hardest hit by drug abuse, and I have seen the devastating effects that this crisis has on families and children. This is why the SUPPORT Act is so important. It provides the necessary tools to fight this crisis.”

With National Drug Take Back Day coming this Saturday, the First Lady also highlighted the importance of safely discarding leftover prescription opioids that can be found in our homes. Left in place, these unused drugs often find their way into our children’s hands.

“Melania Trump receives warm welcome on first solo Capitol Hill visit.”

MoreLearn about the First Lady’s ‘Be Best’ initiative for child well-being.

Photo of the Day

Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead
President Trump talks to members of the press on the South Lawn prior to boarding Marine One | October 23, 2019


Office of the Press Secretary

October 23, 2019

Dear Mr. Chairman:  (Dear Acting Chairwoman:)

Consistent with section 1043(b) of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 (Public Law 115-232), I transmit herewith a strategy to counter malign foreign influence operations and campaigns.

                   DONALD J. TRUMP


Office of the Press Secretary


“Instead of relying on foreign oil and foreign energy, we are now relying on American energy and American workers like never before.” – President Donald J. Trump
ESTABLISHING ENERGY DOMINANCE: President Donald J. Trump has implemented policies that increase energy production and advance energy independence.
  • Today, President Trump visited Pennsylvania to speak at the Shale Insight Conference—highlighting the incredible work being done to usher in a new era of energy independence.
  • President Trump’s agenda is promoting a boom in energy production and manufacturing, advancing energy independence, and establishing American energy dominance.
  • By unleashing America’s energy potential, the President is revitalizing local economies and creating jobs for American workers. 
  • President Trump’s policies are ensuring domestic energy prices remain low and improving the quality of life for all Americans.
ABOLISHING THE WAR ON ENERGY: President Trump ended the costly war on energy that hurt America’s vital energy producers and cost American workers their jobs.
  • President Trump has ended the war on energy by rolling back excessive regulations.
  • The Administration ended the job killing policies put in place by the previous administration, like the Clean Power Plan and “stream protection rule.”
  • The President announced he is pulling the United States out of the fraudulent, ineffective, and one-sided Paris Climate Accord.
    • Complying with the Paris Accord would have cost Americans billions of dollars and put millions of jobs at risk for no meaningful reduction of emissions.
  • President Trump has opened up federally owned land and offshore areas for energy exploration and production.
    • President Trump completed a 40-year effort to open up the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge for American energy companies to explore and develop.
ADVANCING AMERICAN ENERGY: The Trump Administration is unleashing an unprecedented energy production boom and improving energy infrastructure.
  • The United States is now the world leader in oil and natural gas production.
    • Crude oil production reached a record high last year and is projected to reach another record high this year.
    • Natural gas production is on pace to set a record high in 2019, which would be the third straight year of record production.
  • This energy production boom is leading to increasingly more energy exports.
    • In 2018, coal exports reached their highest level in 5 years.
    • Crude oil exports reached a record average of 2 million barrels per day last year, and have averaged a record 2.8 million barrels per day so far this year.
  • The Trump Administration has taken action to improve America’s energy infrastructure.
    • The Trump Administration has approved permits for nationally important infrastructure such as the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines.
    • President Trump has taken action to improve and expedite the Federal permitting process for energy and other infrastructure projects.


Office of the Press Secretary

South Lawn

1:33 P.M. EDT

     THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everybody.  We’re going to Pennsylvania, on an energy meeting and speech, and look forward to it.

     I hope you saw what I had to say about the safe zone in Syria, and -- are dealing with Turkey.  It’s been very successful.  We’ll see what happens.  It’s a very volatile part of the world, but, so far, it’s been pretty amazing what’s gone on.  We’ve lost no soldiers.  We didn’t have a soldier hurt.  We didn’t have a finger broken.  It’s pretty unusual.

     And we have thousands of soldiers that have moved out or are moving out of various areas.  We have it under very good control.  Turkey has done what we’ve asked them to do.

We have tremendous economic might -- far more than we had, relatively speaking, when I took office.  When I took office, everybody said that China would be the largest economy in the world within the first two years.  And we picked up trillions and trillions of dollars of worth, and China has lost trillions of dollars of worth.

So we are far and away the most powerful economy in the world.  And if you have a smart President, you’ll stay there.

     Other than that, our military is looking good.  It’s been rebuilt and we’re respected again.

     But I’m going right now -- I’ll be going over to Pennsylvania.  And many of you, I hope, will be following me.

     Thank you.  Thank you.

                             END                1:36 P.M. EDT



Office of the Press Secretary

Via Telephone

1:39 P.M. EDT

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Thanks, everyone, for joining the call this afternoon.  Just as a reminder, the contents will be on background, attributed to a senior administration official, and the contents of the call are embargoed until the call is complete.

     With that, I'll turn it over to [senior administration official].

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Thank you, everyone.  I believe most folks on the call probably saw the President's remarks earlier today.  I'm not going to repeat those.  They were strong remarks and speak for themselves.

     I will give you just a little bit of background and then open up for questions.  As you know, Turkey informed the administration this morning that the five-day pause that had been called for on the October 17, 2019, agreement ended, and it turned into what was referred to in the agreement, in paragraph 11, as a "halt" of Operation Peace Spring.

     And so, the agreement had the effect that we had hoped, that the President hoped it would have, as well as, I believe, the parties.

     The President, earlier today, spoke with General Mazloum of the SDF.  The SDF, he reported, had many of their fighters spared and many of their people spared from combat and death or injury.  He was very thankful for the efforts and for the pause, which allowed the SDF to withdraw safely, for the most part, from northeast Syria, from the safe-zone area.

     I also want to note that, at the time that I went to Ankara with our team, with our delegation, and at the time that the Secretary and the Vice President were there, there were widespread reports of rocket attacks from Syria, into Turkey, that had targeted Turkish civilians and citizens.  The Turks had claimed that there were over 20 citizens -- of their citizens that had been killed as a result of these rocket attacks and more than that number injured.  That rocket fire into Turkey has now also, as a result of the pause and now the halt of the operation, that has ended.

     So in light of the foregoing, the President did lift the sanctions that had been imposed on Turkey on the, I believe, the 18th and 19th.  We are looking forward to good relations with Turkey, which is a NATO member.  We also look to continue a good relationship with the Kurds in Syria.  We're obviously hoping for the best in Syria, and we'll continue to work with Turkey, with the Kurds, with our allies who are also engaged in the region, to ensure that civilians are protected, that religious minorities, including Christians and Yazidis and others who have been the targets of past attacks by ISIS and others, are protected.  And we're going to continue to work for peace and stability in the region.

     So, with those comments, I'll now open up to questions.

     Q    Hi, thanks so much for doing the call today.  I was wondering if you could help us understand the President's remarks about trying to protect the oil in the Kurdish area of Syria, what the U.S. interest is there.  And right now, that oil -- most of it -- is going to the Assad government, so whether or not that's the trade that the U.S. is trying to protect.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  So, thank you for that question.  Look, the reason that the United States has been in Syria is to defeat ISIS.  The physical caliphate was defeated in an extraordinary effort -- as a result of extraordinary efforts by American service men and women, as well as our coalition partners in that fight.

     The President has stated that we are going to have a residual force in the region to protect areas that in part contain -- or hold the oil fields, as well as the base down at Al-Tanf, in southern Syria.  Those are important areas to allow us to constrain the resurgence of ISIS.  And there is some artillery benefit, of course, to Kurds and other Democratic Forces being in control of the oil.

     As far as how the oil will be sold and that sort of thing, that's something that we'll certainly look into and we'll monitor going forward.  And we'll keep a close eye on that.

     So, eventually, the goal of the administration, the goal of the President -- as he made very clear today -- is to have all American troops out of Syria, and that's something that we believe will ultimately happen.  But, in the meantime, we are going to have some residual forces in the appropriate areas in Syria to ensure that the dramatic victory that the President and the United States and our coalition allies won against ISIS remains and -- remains in place.

     Q    Hey.  Thanks for doing the call.  How many troops are you talking about as part as this residual force?  And secondly, what is your understanding of the Russian role in this safe zone?  And are you concerned about it?
     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Hi, Steve.  Look, I'm not going to get into the number of soldiers that we're going to have deployed in any specific area.  There are soldiers that are being moved.  Some soldiers are being moved out of what is the area of operations near the border.  Some will go to Iraq, some will go to other places.  How those soldiers will be dispersed, I'm not going to get into for their own safety.  Those are operational issues that, at some point, Steve, Pentagon may want to address.  But that's a question that is better given to the -- or, asked to the Pentagon.

But we'll make sure that wherever our soldiers are, that they have proper force protection, both air cover and that they'll have the necessary assets on the ground to protect themselves.

     And, I'm sorry, Steve, what was the second part of your question?

     Q    What is your understanding of the Russian role in this safe zone now?  And are you concerned about it?  Are you wary -- watching them warily?  Or what, exactly?
     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Look, I think we always watch the Russians warily, wherever they are.  And so, the deal between Turkey and the Russians is something that's between them.  We did not have any role to play in that.  The area that we had worked with the Turks on was roughly the area between Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ayn, down to the M4, M10 highway.  And that's the area from which the SDF force were successfully evacuated -- both the wounded and the fighters.  And that's the area where the operations have ceased.

     To the extent that the Turks are making other deals with the Russians, I mean, we -- you know, we caution our friends in Turkey and all others to be careful about whatever those deals are.
     We will closely monitor how the rights of the affected populations are in those areas.  And we call on all sides -- whether they're Russians, Syrians, Turks, Kurds -- to prevent the forcible removal of civilians from their homes and to avoid the use of military force, especially when it's in the cities and the residential areas.

     Q    Hi.  Yes.  Could you please just talk a little bit more on that point, I think, you were just referring to there, the forced relocation of civilians?  How will the United States keep an eye on that?  Do you consider this to be a form of ethnic cleansing?  And if so, what will the United States do about any perceived war crimes or ethnic cleaning that may take place?
     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Thanks, Anne.  You know, as of now, I don't think we've seen any evidence of ethnic cleansing.  And so, you know, that's obviously -- that would be a very serious thing if it took place.  We'll monitor the situation in Syria closely.  We have plenty of means and methods to do so.  I know that the press will be watching it closely as well.  And we would, you know, discourage -- strongly discourage any side from forced population removals and ethnic cleansing.  I mean, that's just something that doesn't belong in the 21st century.

     And so, I hope that won't happen.  We've been told by our Turkish colleagues that there are no such plans.  And so it's -- I don’t expect it will happen.  And I think that any side that thinks, in this day and age, that they can get away with ethnic cleansing is sorely mistaken.  So, that's something we'll definitely keep an eye on.

     As far as war crimes, we would expect, if there are war crimes that are committed or there are allegations of war crimes, you know, with -- and whoever committed war crimes, I mean, those are things that should be documented and investigated.  We would expect the militaries of the countries involved to investigate any allegations of war crimes that take place in areas that they control.  And it's something, again, we'll keep a close eye on.

     But there's no place in today's world for ethnic cleansing or war crimes.  Those are incredibly serious and they're things that we'll keep an eye on.

     Q    Hi, thank you for this.  My question is about relations with Turkey.  You said that you are looking forward to good relations with Turkey.  But yesterday, Special Envoy James Jeffrey was very critical in testifying before Congress about President Erdo─čan's decision to invade Syria.  Do we just pick up and move back?  Are we going to resume trade talks with Turkey?  Are we going to allow them into the F-35?  What happens?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Yeah, that’s a great question.  And, look, I don’t think it's just Ambassador Jeffrey that was disappointed in this military operation that Turkey undertook.  I was disappointed.  I think the President was disappointed.  Many of you probably saw the letter that he sent to President Erdo─čan.  I think he spelled out very clearly his own disappointment at the military operation.  But the reality is, the operation took place.  There was fighting that broke out as a result of it.

And the President stepped in and negotiated both a temporary ceasefire that now appears to be permanent, as the President said.  "Permanent" is somewhat of a loaded term in the Middle East, but it’s a -- the President stepped in when he needed to and helped save a lot of lives -- Turkish lives, Kurdish lives, civilian lives, lives of soldiers on both sides.  So we think that's a victory.

We're appreciative of the fact that the Turks have appeared to live up to their end of the bargain.  We're appreciative of the fact that the SDF appears to have lived up their -- to the things that they told us they would do.

So, look, Turkey is a very important country.  It's a country of almost 90 million people.  It sits in a strategic location between the Eurasian landmasses.  It's a member of NATO.  We have, you know, hundreds of thousands of Americans in Turkey.  We have thousands of U.S. troops -- soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines -- in Turkey.  Turkey is a treaty ally of the United States.  So, look, we want -- as the President often says, we want good relations with everyone.  And we would certainly like to have good relations with Turkey.

You pointed out a couple of issues: the F-35, the S-400.  Look, the United States has made it very clear: As long as -- if Turkey makes the S-400 operational or continues to purchase the S-400, or makes other significant military purchases from Russia, that’s inconsistent with them being part of the F-35 program.

My hope is that the Turks would decide not to move forward with their S-400 program, and that they would come back to being what we would consider standard practice for other NATO countries and not having major Russian weapons systems as part of their defense structure.

So, look, we think there's room to move forward with a good relationship with Turkey.  We want to have a good relationship with Turkey, and we want to have a good relationship with, you know, all of our member countries in Europe -- or NATO member countries in Europe. 

Q    Hi, thanks for doing this.  Two questions.  One, have you heard anything from Turkey about whether they would agree not to move forward with the S-400?  And the second question: Jim Jeffrey told the House Foreign Affairs Committee this morning that the safe zone was 130 kilometers wide, but the Turks say it runs the length of the border.  So, can you clear that up?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Yeah.  So, on the first question on the S-400: Look, we've certainly had many conversations, both public and private, with respect to the S-400.  We think it's a very bad idea for Turkey.  It's certainly a bad idea for NATO.  And we've conveyed that to the Turks, and we'll continue to have conversations with them -- private conversations with them to express our displeasure.

And, as you know, there's legislation in Congress and there's a lot of concern on the Hill regarding this issue.  There's concern within the administration regarding this issue.  So, that’s that.  That's something that we'll continue to take up with the Turks and hopefully get a resolution that’s good for Turkey and good for the United States. 

But there's -- again, we can’t -- you know, Turkey will not be able to participate in the F-35 and potentially other programs with NATO or with the United States as long as the S-400 is there.

And, I'm sorry, your second question related to the safe zone and the length of the safe zone?

Q    Yes.  Jim Jeffrey said it was 130 kilometers, but the Turks say it runs the whole length of the border.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Sure.  So all I can refer to is the joint statement that we had on October 17th with the Turks, and that related to the zone that was under Turkish control.  That was roughly between Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ayn, and going down the M4, M10 highway.  So that was the area that we were referring to, that our agreement referred to.

The Turks are obviously in the process, as we've seen, of trying to work out other arrangements and other safe zone arrangements in other areas with the Syrian regime or with the Russians, or both of them, to determine how those portions of the border will be patrolled or how they'll move forward in other areas outside of the area that was the subject of our joint statement with them.

     So I can’t really comment on those areas.  I’m sure the Turks would like to have a much broader, longer safe zone.  But, you know, we’re referring to the area where we had influence over the SDF and had influence with the Turks and were able to come to an agreement to evacuate folks from that safe zone area.  We’ll have to wait and see how things work out between the Turks and the Russians and the Syrians with respect to the rest of that border region.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Hey, John, with that, we’ll take one more question.

     Q    Hey, thanks very much for doing this.  I just want to just kind of double down on Deb’s question.  You know, what the Turks are describing seems, to me, an abrogation of the deal that you and Turkey had.  You know, you guys have talked about that 75-mile-wide box.  You just talked about a Turkish-controlled YPG had to leave.  Jim Jeffrey has repeatedly said that, outside of that box, Turkey doesn’t control the area and the YPG does not have to leave.  And a senior administration official, even before Jeffrey talked, said yesterday that, “Look, halt means halt.  They have to stop within that box."

     So what I’m trying to understand is: Why does the Turkish-Russian agreement that gives Turkey, you know, basically an indefinite military presence along the entire length of the border, hundreds of miles wide -- why does that not abrogate the U.S.-Turkey agreement and what Turkey promised not to do when you guys were there?  Thanks.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  So, listen, our agreement was with respect to the area that Turkey controlled at the time that we had the -- that we made the agreement.  That was the agreement.  And they’ve lived up to it, and the YPG and SDF forces have lived up to what we asked them to do.  And the operations in that area have stopped.

     But the Turks don’t control the other areas.  The other areas that we’re talking about on their left and right flank, on both sides of that -- people are calling a “box” or the “safe zone” -- those are controlled by the Syrians and the Russians.  And, you know, the Turks are going to work out their own agreement with the Syrians and the Russians.  Those are not agreement -- we’re not party to those agreements.  We’re not part of that.  And from what I understand, is that the -- and what from what I’ve seen -- but again, this is what I’ve seen open source in the press, is that similar arrangements are being made for YPG or SDF fighters to leave those areas.

     But, again, ultimately, that’s going to be -- you know, those are issues for the Russians and the Syrians who control the ground to deal with the Turks on.  It doesn’t have anything to do with the agreement that we have with Turkey.

    And I’ll just raise one final issue.  I know we’re not doing any more questions.  I know I’ve seen some reports about the issue of ISIS fighters -- what the status is of ISIS fighters.

     My understanding, and what we’ve been told by various parties in the region, including General Mazloum, is that the SDF continues to hold the vast majority of the ISIS fighters that were under -- that were being detained; that those ISIS fighters remained under SDF lock and key.

     We have made it very clear to the SDF and to the Turks that, because of this military operation that was commenced by Turkey, that Turkey now has responsibility to ensure that any ISIS fighters that were released or escaped as a result of those military operations, that’s a responsibility for Turkey to round anyone up.

     The SDF has undertaken commitments to us to make sure that the ISIS fighters are -- remain detained.  It’s obviously a fluid situation on the ground.  We’re monitoring it closely.  We have assets in the region and we’ve got good relations with the various parties on the ground.

And so we’re keeping a very close eye on the on the situation with the ISIS fighters.  There are a lot of different numbers that are floating around in the press.  I’m not sure where they’re from -- you know, a hundred fighters were released, twenty fighters were released or escaped; ten fighters were out there.

Look, we’re doing everything we can to monitor that situation very closely.  But we have very strong commitments from the parties that are on the ground in control of the actual areas, whether it be Kurdish or Turkish, that ISIS fighters will be kept under lock and key.  And then, to the extent that they are released, that they will be hunted down and recaptured.

So we’re keeping an eye on that issue.  And if we have any further information on it, we’ll get back to you and let you know.

Thank you all very much.  Pleasure to talk to you.  Look forward to doing this again soon.  Take care.

                                       END                1:59 P.M. EDT