Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Joint Statement from the President of the United States and the President of the Republic of Ecuador

Office of the Press Secretary

Joint Statement from the President of the United States and the President of the Republic of Ecuador

Today, President Donald J. Trump met with the President of the Republic of Ecuador, Lenín Moreno, signaling the historic turn in bilateral ties between our two countries.  President Trump recognized Ecuador as the “Gateway to the Andes” that will help foster a mutually beneficial relationship for the region.  The two leaders discussed Ecuador’s leadership role in advancing security, prosperity, and democracy in the Western Hemisphere.

President Trump applauded President Moreno’s stewardship of Ecuador to achieve a peaceful and democratic transition away from “21st century socialism,” to a democratic society focused on the defense of basic rights and a free market economy with a strong foundation in growth and job creation.  The United States will continue supporting President Moreno’s efforts to implement much-needed economic reforms to strengthen the economy, balance public finances, and revive growth in Ecuador.

The two leaders discussed support for Interim President Juan Guaidó as the legitimate president of Venezuela and agreed on the importance of increasing international pressure on the illegitimate regime of Nicolas Maduro to end the ongoing crisis, restore democracy, and protect human rights.  Furthermore, both leaders affirmed their support for Bolivia’s democratic transition process.

President Trump and President Moreno discussed the recently signed Growth in the Americas Memorandum of Understanding that creates new opportunities for greater United States investment in energy and infrastructure in Ecuador.  To further demonstrate the commitment of the United States to increasing economic and commercial ties with Ecuador, President Trump announced that the United States Trade Representative will send a high-level delegation of the Trade and Investment Council to Ecuador in April 2020.  In addition, United States International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) CEO Adam Boehler will visit Ecuador in the coming months to explore new financing opportunities.

President Trump and President Moreno committed to explore new areas in trade, investment, and job creation, which will benefit both countries.  The United States and Ecuador will develop a road map in the short term to improve our existing bilateral trade relationship based on a sound investment environment and fair market access.

Strengthening bilateral security cooperation is a priority for our two countries.  President Trump and President Moreno committed to continue working to strengthen bilateral security cooperation and combat transnational crime, drug trafficking, money laundering, terrorism, and corruption.  We thank the Government of Ecuador for signing the Automated Targeting System-Global agreement that will help strengthen border controls.

President Moreno reaffirmed his pledge to strengthen the legal and regulatory framework to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex with respect to access to credit, which is consistent with the Government of Ecuador’s commitment to support the objectives of the Women Global Development and Prosperity program (W-GDP).  The United States welcomes Ecuador’s support for W-GDP and its efforts to increase women’s economic empowerment in the Western Hemisphere.  In addition, we look forward to reopening our United States Agency for International Development office in Ecuador in March 2020.

This visit demonstrates the commitment of our two great countries to support like-minded nations in the region that share the common democratic principles of freedom, rule of law, economic and social development, and free and competitive markets.  Both countries look forward to working together on trade, security, and regional priorities and to further discussions at the next United States-Ecuador Bilateral Expanded Political Dialogue in May 2020.


Office of the Press Secretary


Via Teleconference

10:07 A.M. EST

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Hello.  Good morning everyone.  Thanks for joining us today for a background briefing on the signing of the Executive Order on Strengthening National Resilience Through the Responsible Use of Positioning, Navigation, and Timing Services -- or “PNT” services.

     This call is embargoed until its conclusion and is attributable on background to senior administration officials.

     Today we have [senior administration officials].  Each of our senior officials will give brief remarks and then will go into Q&A.  And with that, I’ll turn it over to our first senior administration official. 

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Good morning and thank you everyone for joining us on the call today.  This morning, President Trump signed the Executive Order on Strengthening National Resilience Through Responsible Use of Positioning, Navigation, and Timing Services, formally known as “PNT.”

     This is the first-ever executive order on PNT use and serves to highlight how important this utility has become to the functioning of the nation’s critical infrastructure.  As we continue to enhance society through technological advancements, PNT service will be relied upon in new and ever-demanding methods.

     PNT service such as U.S. Global Positioning System, or “GPS,” is among the most used utilities in the world.  Americans rely on it every day for a variety of purposes, ranging from electricity to smart phone applications.

     This EO directs the executive branch departments and agencies, among other things, to develop guidance that mitigates the risk of disruption to critical infrastructure that they rely on: PNT services.

     You will likely hear more about other actions from my agency colleagues, as they’ve joined me on this call.  But together, these actions will help ensure that the United States maintains uninterrupted access to essential services that rely on PNT.  Thank you.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Great.  Thank you very much.  And now we’ll turn it over to [senior administration official].

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Thank you very much and thank you all for listening.  Responsible use of PNT is critical in the transportation area, as all of you now.

     Secretary Chao is focused on reducing deaths and injury.  We can do that by increasing traffic efficiency, by helping navigation systems, emergency systems.  These all depend on a PNT that works properly.

     We have trucks with electronic logging devices to make sure that drivers do not drive past when they are tired.  We have general aviation that needs to work in the fog.  We have shipping.  We have timing signals of traffic lights.  We have intelligent transportation systems.  We now have electronic tolling.

     We have precision agriculture.  Tractors now use PNT to determine where to put the seed down, and where to fertilize that seed, and where to water that seed.

     Then, in the future, we’re going to have autonomous vehicles, driverless platooning trucks, and drones.  So we would like to thank President Trump for being the first President to have an executive order that talks about the responsible use of PNT because it is so important to the American people and the traveling public.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Thank you very much.  Now turning it over to [senior administration official].

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Good morning, everyone.  In support of the Executive Order for the Responsible Use of PNT, the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology, or “NIST,” which is a non-regulatory agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, will work in a public-private partnership to develop some foundational PNT cybersecurity profiles that will be designed to help organizations meet the objectives in the executive order of achieving responsible PNT and assist them in managing the cybersecurity risks to systems, networks, and assets that they identify and are dependent upon PNT services.

     NIST will also work to meet timing requirements that industries use in support of resilient and responsible PNT.  As part of this, NIST has launched a special calibration service for companies, utilities, or organizations that wish to receive and disseminate U.S. civilian standard time to a newly available commercial fiber-optic cable.  This service will use commercial telecommunications networks and distribute NIST’s realization of the global time standard, independent of GPS.

     This service will be more accurate than its current Internet time service by a factor of a thousand and we believe will move us forward in achieving responsible use of PNT.
     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Thank you.  Moving on to [senior administration official].
     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Good morning, and thank you.  PNT services are an integral part of our everyday interactions -- from mobile phone applications to automobile navigation.  Our interconnected society is dependent on PNT services.

     It's particularly important for the proper functioning of the nation's critical infrastructure and the recently identified 55 national critical functions.

     The disruption, corruption, or dysfunction of the capabilities, such as PNT services, could have a debilitating effect on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination thereof.

     Because GPS signal and the signals of other countries’ global navigation and satellite systems have been susceptible to manmade and natural disruption, we must engineer our critical infrastructures to be resilient to disruption or manipulation of these signals.

     By adopting a responsible use of PNT services, the federal government owners and operators of critical infrastructure can contribute meaningfully to the nation's resilience and ensure the continued delivery of services to the nation.

     The Department of Homeland Security looks forward to building our relationships with our interagency partners in the private sector to implement the executive order.

     DHS will continue to promote the security and resilience of critical infrastructure through the risk-based, responsible use of GPS and other PNT services.  Thank you.
     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Thank you.  And now, [senior administration official].
     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  To advance and support U.S. national security and military strategy now and into the future, this EO is attuned to the vital enabling role that PNT capabilities play in shaping the global and economic environment and preparing for future challenges.  The Department of Defense fully supports this EO.
     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Thank you very much.  We'll now open it up for questions.

     Q    Hello, this is Pete Behr with E&E News.  Thanks for this call.  Are you hearing me for the question?

     Q    So, two questions.  One is: How does this executive order affect the electric utility use of synchrophasor measurements to control the grid?  Would that fiber-optic piece that you mentioned be intended for grid use, and would there be any requirement that utilities use it?
     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  This is [senior administration official].  We believe that the application of responsible PNT is applicable across all the sectors.

     In the past, we have worked with the electric grid and the electric subsector to identify the use of synchrophasors and the electric community has really been on the leading edge of this to responsibly use synchrophasors and understand the limitations of them, the risk associated with them, the benefits, and balancing all of those things before they're implemented.

     So we look forward to continuing to work with the electric sector to identify even more robust applications of synchrophasors and responsible use of PNT.
     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  The time over fiber service certainly could be used in the electric sector and for some of their needs in synchrophasor timing requirements.  The accuracy that it will provide will meet those needs.

     The decision to use it versus a separate source or an internal clock will be up to the internal organization, but it certainly will be offered as a non-GPS dependent and independent time source, should they wish to use it.

     Q    Hi, this is Steve Herman from the Voice of America.  This question relates to NIST and the time signals.  I noticed there's about a 10 percent budget cut proposal for fiscal year 2021.  And specifically, how would this affect NIST and time management and dissemination?  And specifically, what is the fate of the terrestrial time signals -- namely WWV, WWVH, and WWVB -- that have been on the chopping block for some time?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  The current plans are that this will not have an effect on NIST’s other time services and time offerings.  NIST has deployed the time-over-fiber service and we are currently working with providers who wish to utilize this calibration service.  So we are not anticipating any change or disruption to current time services while we stand up and offer this additional calibration service over fiber as well.

     Q    Hi, this is Dave Shepardson from Reuters.  Just two quick questions: Can you talk about the status of the legislation approved in late 2018 that requires the administration to establish a terrestrial backup system for GPS?  And then can you also talk about this in the executive order?  I think, within a year, there has to be a plan to test the vulnerabilities of these systems; can you talk about that as well?  Thanks.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Yes.  The Department of Transportation put out request for proposals.  We got 20 different companies interested in providing technology -- terrestrial-based technology for PNT.  We are testing 11 of these technologies at our -- in Cape Cod and NASA Langley.  And these tests are going to be completed by May.

     We intend to fully comply with the laws that say that we need to have a recommendation for a backup system or systems in place by the end of 2020.  And then, it'll be up to Congress to provide the funds to fund this act.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  To build on that -- your question about the vulnerability assessments: Every PNT system, just like every cyber system (inaudible) comes with benefits and also potential vulnerabilities.  So, one of the driving foundations there is that as any system is tailored or deployed or adopted by industry, we can assist them in understanding not only what benefits that particular system would provide, but also potential vulnerabilities created by that system, how we can address those vulnerabilities through mitigation efforts, and how we can build security and resilience not only in the PNT system, but also the systems that are supported by the need for PNT data.

     Q    Hi, there.  Thanks for doing the call.  I just want to be clear if there is anything in here that is actually happening yet.  Other than the NIST changes to the time services, it looks like what this executive order does is simply say, "We're going to do -- we're going to direct people to start thinking about doing stuff."  But am I missing something?  Is there anything actually being announced here that is -- that is actually substantive and changes something about the actual technology that is being used by industry and government on the ground today?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Please announce your name and your outlet.

     Q    Oh, sorry.  Mike Shear at the New York Times.


     Q    I’m sorry, was there an answer to the question?  I just -- I’m not hearing anything.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Could you repeat your question, please?

     Q    Okay, sure.  The question is: Is there anything that’s actually happening here?  The executive order seems to simply direct the heads of all the agencies to start thinking about this issue?  And the -- you know, with the exception of the person from NIST, there didn’t seem to be anything announced on the call today that is actually changing in regards to the positioning systems that are being used by the government and industry.  So there is anything actually happening in this executive order or does it just direct the agencies to begin thinking about this issue?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  We actually -- thank you.  We do direct the agencies to begin the development of these profiles, which will be used to understand how the different sectors are using PNT.  And once we have an understanding of how the PNT is being used by the various sectors and sub-sectors within the 16 national critical infrastructure sectors, from there we’ll be able to start developing pilots and informing procurement decisions by the federal government on how we move forward with the procurement of devices that fly and use PNT.  And that would be a best practices we set forth and inform how we critically -- private owners and operators of critical infrastructure conduct their business.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Thank you.  And one last question, please.

     Q    Hello, this is Rick Weber at Inside Cybersecurity.  On the issue of cybersecurity profiles that NIST is working on: If somebody could talk about who the target audience is for that, who would be using those profiles?  Is that the telecom industry or the electric utility industry?  How would those profiles be used?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Hey, Rick.  It’s [senior administration official].  So the initial profile set will be a generic tailoring of the cybersecurity framework that will be applicable to many sectors across the U.S. who use or are dependent on PNT as the initial framework development.

     After that, as was discussed, sector agencies, NIST, and industry then will develop specific profiles for mission and context that then can be applied and used both by the government and then voluntarily by others should they wish to also follow the example.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Great.  Thank you everyone for joining today’s call.  As a reminder, this call is attributable on background to senior administration officials.  The call is now concluded and the embargo is lifted.  Thank you.
                              END                 10:24 A.M. EST       

President Donald J. Trump Announces Judicial Nominees and United States Marshal Nominee

Office of the Press Secretary
President Donald J. Trump Announces Judicial Nominees and United States Marshal Nominee
Today, President Donald J. Trump announced his intent to nominate:

Saritha Komatireddy of New York, to serve as Judge on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

Saritha Komatireddy is Deputy Chief of General Crimes in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.  She has also served as Acting Deputy Chief of International Narcotics and Money Laundering, and as the Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property Coordinator for the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.  Ms. Komatireddy also previously served as Counsel to the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, and was in private practice at Kellogg, Hansen, Todd, Figel & Frederick, PLLC.  Ms. Komatireddy is a Lecturer in Law at Columbia Law School and previously taught at George Washington University Law School.  Upon graduation from law school, Ms. Komatireddy served as a law clerk to then-Judge Brett Kavanaugh of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.  Ms. Komatireddy earned her B.A., cum laude, from Harvard University and her J.D., magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School, where she served on the Harvard Law Review.

Jennifer H. Rearden of New York, to serve as Judge on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Jennifer Rearden is a Partner in the Litigation and Crisis Management practice groups at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, LLP in New York, New York, where she has litigated complex commercial cases before United States District Courts and State courts throughout the country.  Prior to joining Gibson Dunn in 2003, Ms. Rearden practiced at Davis, Polk & Wardwell, LLP and in the Atlanta office of King & Spalding, LLP.  Ms. Rearden earned her B.A., magna cum laude, from Yale University and her J.D. from New York University School of Law, where she served as Article & Note Editor of the Journal of International Law & Politics.  

Tyreece L. Miller of Tennessee, to serve as United States Marshal for the Western District of Tennessee.

Tyreece Miller is the Deputy Chief–Commander of Police Patrol Operations in the Jackson Tennessee Police Department, where he has served for more than 22 years.  Mr. Miller began his career with the Jackson Police Department in 1997 and held various positions before assuming his current role, including Investigator, Sergeant, Captain of the Criminal Investigation Division, and Deputy Chief-Commander of the Investigative Services Bureau.  Before his law enforcement career, Mr. Miller served in the United States Marine Corps.  Mr. Miller earned his B.S. from Bethel University.

1600 Daily The White House • February 12, 2020 How Ivanka Trump and W-GDP Helped 12 Million Women in One Year

1600 Daily
The White House • February 12, 2020

How Ivanka Trump and W-GDP helped 12 million women in one year

This month marks one year since President Trump launched the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative, also known as W-GDP. With major support from Ivanka Trump, W-GDP addresses the lack of economic freedom that women face globally.

The idea is simple: When women are economically empowered, they reinvest that wealth in their families and communities. The ripple effect spurs more inclusive growth still—and often brings peace and stability with it.

WATCH: Ivanka Trump explains the importance of W-GDP

W-GDP’s ambitious goal is to help 50 million women in the developing world by 2025. Under Ivanka Trump’s leadership, 12 million women have been served in year one alone.

Ms. Trump celebrated that achievement today at the State Department. Whereas past presidents have talked a big game about women’s empowerment, she said, the Trump Administration is delivering. “This White House looks forward to working closely with Congress in passing W-GDP legislation and realizing this long-overdue goal.”

Joining her were a pair of lawmakers, were a pair of lawmakers, Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), who are leading a bipartisan charge to do just that.
How W-GDP will lift 50 million women by 2025

🎬 WATCH: 1 year of W-GDP, as told by Ivanka Trump

Once again, President Trump puts veterans FIRST

President Trump took a major step yesterday to support veterans and military spouses by signing the Supporting Veterans in STEM Careers Act.
🎥 President Trump: “This has been long in the making.”

“It’s a big deal,” the President said from the Oval Office. “The bill directs the National Science Foundation to work with other federal agencies to expand veteran eligibility for STEM-related programs and encourages veteran participation in these critical fields.”

The Trump Administration has made caring for our brave veterans a top priority:
  • With VA accountability, over 8,000 underperforming staffers have been replaced by workers who will treat our veterans better. Before President Trump, there was no strong mechanism to punish bad employees and reward great ones.
  • With the VA Mission Act, veterans are able to find the best healthcare options available for them—whether it be at VA facilities or community providers.
  • With a booming economy, the veteran unemployment rate has hit a record low, and veteran homelessness has dropped by more than 5 percent.
 America’s vets are our top priority, and it will stay that way!

Photo of the Day

President Trump signs the Supporting Veterans in STEM Careers Act | February 11, 2020


Office of the Press Secretary

Oval Office

2:42 P.M. EST

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Well, thank you very much.  It’s great to be with the President of Ecuador -- and it’s one of the most beautiful countries in the world -- and perhaps equally as important, and maybe even more importantly, your great First Lady.  Thank you very much for being here.  This is a tremendous honor.  Some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world and one of the most beautiful places on Earth, they say.  I’ve heard that for a long time.

     And we are working on trade deals, we’re working on military options, including the purchase of a lot of our military equipment.  We do make the best equipment in the world, by far.  And we’re negotiating some very important pacts between Ecuador and the United States.

     So, Mr. President, Madam First Lady, thank you very much.  Thank you very much.  Appreciate it.  Please.

     PRESIDENT MORENO:  (As interpreted.)  I would like to first thank everyone for -- especially Mr. President, for his kindness and to invite us over to talk about these very important topics -- topics which are common to both countries.  I’d like to thank the President for the warmth with which he has greeted us.

     And I have to stress the fact that our relationship between Ecuador and the USA is a relationship of fraternity that has been going -- that dates back a very long time.

     We actually have taken the foundational principles of the U.S. to -- as a basis for our own foundational principles to create the first Republic of Ecuador.

     We are going to be discussing issues that are common to both nations, such as democracy, liberty, freedom, respect of human rights, the fight against organized crime, the fight against drug trafficking, the fight against corruption.

     And we are going to also be speaking about the importance of investment, trade, technology transfer that are all common principles to us.  We know that both our peoples want to be governed with justice and equality, and that is what both of us are striving for.

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  We want to thank you very much.  This is a great honor to be with you.

     Okay.  Do you have any questions?  Yeah.

     Q    On Roger Stone, sir.  On Roger Stone: Isn’t your tweet political interference?

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  No, not at all.  He was treated very badly.  Nine years recommended by four people that -- perhaps they were Mueller people.  I don’t know who they were.  Prosecutors.  And they -- I don’t know what happened.  They all hit the road pretty quickly.

     Look, you had somebody -- just recently, you saw what happened.  He got two months.  He got sentenced to two months for leaking classified information at the highest level.

     Q    Who’s that that you’re referring to?

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  They treated Roger Stone very badly.  They treated everybody very badly.  And if you look at the Mueller investigation, it was a scam because it was illegally set up.  It was set up based on false documentation and false documents.

     If you look at what happened -- how many people were hurt.  Their lives were destroyed.  And nothing happened with all the people that did it and launched this scam.  Where’s Comey?  Why -- where is Comey?  What’s happening to McCabe?  What’s happening to Lisa and -- to Pete Strzok and Lisa Page?  What’s happening with them?  It was a whole setup, it was a disgrace for our country, and everyone knows it too -- everyone -- including NBC, which gives a lot of fake news.

     The fact is that Roger Stone was treated horribly and so were many other people.  And their lives were destroyed.

     And it turns out -- if you look at the FISA warrants and what just happened with FISA, where they found out it was fixed, that it was a dirty, rotten deal.  So when you look at that, and you see what happened to Roger Stone --

     But think of it: A man leaks classified information -- highly classified.  They give him two months -- Roger Stone -- for doing -- nobody even knows what he did.  In fact, they said he intimidated somebody.  That person said he had no idea he was going to jail for that.  That person didn’t want to press charges.  They put him in for nine years.  It’s a disgrace.

     And, frankly, they ought to apologize to a lot of the people whose lives they’ve ruined.

     All right.  Next question.  Go ahead.

     Q    Mr. President, it’s the first time --

     Q    Mr. President --

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Yeah.  Please, Steve.

     Q    -- are you considering a pardon for Roger Stone?

     Q    -- that (inaudible) official visit --

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Wait, wait, wait.  What?

     Q    Oh, sorry.

     Q    Are you considering a pardon for Roger Stone?

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  I don’t want to say that yet.  But I tell you what: People were hurt viciously and badly by these corrupt people.

     And I want to thank -- if you look at what happened, I want to thank the Justice Department for seeing this horrible thing.  And I didn’t speak to them, by the way, just so you understand.  They saw the horribleness of a nine-year sentence for doing nothing.  You have murderers and drugs addicts; they don’t get nine years.  Nine years for doing something that nobody even can define what he did.

     Somebody said he put out a tweet, and the tweet -- you based it on that.  We have killers, we have murderers all over the place -- nothing happens.  And then they put a man in jail and destroy his life, his family, his wife, his children.  Nine years in jail.  It’s a disgrace.

     In the meantime, Comey walks around making book deals.  The people that launched this scam investigation -- and what they did is a disgrace.  And, hopefully, it’ll be treated fairly; everything else will be treated fairly.

     Q    Sir, aren’t you speaking -- aren’t you speaking to the Attorney General through your tweets?

     Q    Mr. Donald Trump --

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Go ahead, please.

     Q    (As interpreted.)  Mr. President, I’d like to congratulate you for the macroeconomic indicators; they’re excellent.  But in that number, the growth expectations are going down, especially for the growth in Ecuador, which is at zero.  How can we help Latin American economies?  How can we help Ecuador, Mr. President?  And congratulations.

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Well, thank you.  I love that question.  I wish we had some people like that here.  He's congratulating us on our great success as a country.  And I want to congratulate you, too, because what you've done in Ecuador and your President have done a fantastic job.  Thank you very much.

     Q    Mr. President, are you concerned about the four prosecutors?

     Q    Thank you, Mr. President --

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  I'm not concerned about anything; concerned about nothing.

     Q    Does it show that there's something wrong at DOJ?

     PRESIDENT TRUMP: I'm not concerned about anything.  They ought to go back to school and learn, because I'll tell you, with the way they treated people, nobody should be treated like that.

     Go ahead.

     Q    Mr. President, thank you so much.  It's been 17 years since the last time a President from Ecuador visited the White House and a President of the United States did an official visit with them --

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  And when was it?  When was it?

     Q    Seventeen years ago.


     Q    It was with George W. Bush in 2003.  What changed now?  What is your specific interest with Ecuador now?

     And usted -- also in Spanish now -- Presidente de Ecuador --
     (Continues question in Spanish.)  (No translation provided.)       Thank you, Mr. President.  

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  She did a good job.  Go ahead.  I think I understood it.

     PRESIDENT MORENO:  (As interpreted.)  Ecuador has -- after having gone through very hard times, and especially in regards to its international relationships -- has decided to come together again with the international community and bring refreshed relationships to those who are -- who have the same way of thinking as we do.  We wanted to come closer to them.

     (Continues answer in Spanish.)  (Interpreter pauses translation.)

     (Cross-talk by reporters.)

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Don't interrupt.  Don't interrupt.

(Interpreter resumes translation.)

     PRESIDENT MORENO:  (As interpreted.)  We need to remember that the USA is the main trade partner for Ecuador.  And this is not only in terms of trade, but because we share many common values such as the love for liberty, democracy, justice, solidarity, fraternity, and the respect of human rights.

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  And I can tell you the thing that has changed from our standpoint: We're the number-one economy in the world, by far.  We've never done better.  We have the strongest markets we've ever had.  The market is up very substantially today: 250 points, when I last looked.

     And our country has never done better, militarily.  We've rebuilt our military.  We've cut our taxes; we've cut regulations at a level that nobody has ever been able to cut them.

     And our country is doing great, and we've really reestablished a lot of relationships, but we have certainly reestablished it with Ecuador.  Ecuador had a very unusual outlook on life, but with your great President, he realizes how important it is to get along with the United States.

     And I want to just congratulate him, because our relationship is very good.  He's made tremendous progress.

     Q    Mr. President, are you open to working on a trade deal with Ecuador?

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Yeah, sure, we will.  And they have incredible product.  And they grow it and they make it, and we like it.  So, we will.  Sure.  And they need our product, too.

     Q    Is it going to be like the USMCA?  That's your model for that?

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Well, that's a great model.  We just finished that, and it's a great model with Mexico and with Canada.  USMCA has been very successful.  Already, the fruits are really taking place.  You take a look at what's happening in terms of the kind of numbers we'll be doing with the USMCA.  And this, on a much smaller scale, would be interesting.  We are looking at that kind of a model, yes.

     Q    And on Venezuela, are you going to talk about that?  And are you worried about the assault on Juan Guaidó yesterday when he arrived in Caracas?

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Yeah, we’ll be looking at and talking about Venezuela.  And it’s always close to our heart.  We have millions of people from Venezuela living in the United States very successfully.  They love our country and they love Venezuela.  We’ll take care of the Venezuelan people.

     Q    Sir, some Republicans said they hope you learned a lesson from impeachment.  What lesson did you learn from impeachment?

     I think you were -- you weren’t chosen.  Steve, go ahead.

     Q    Thank you, sir.  The Filipino President decided to --

     Q    (Asks question in Spanish.)

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Excuse me, one second.  We’ll do this gentleman and then you.  Go ahead.  Steve?

     Q    The President of the Philippines decided to sever a U.S. military pact with the United States.  What was your reaction to that, sir?  Is there anything to convince him otherwise?

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Well, I -- I never minded that very much, to be honest.  We helped the Philippines very much.  We helped them defeat ISIS.  I get along -- actually, I have a very good relationship there.  But I -- I really don’t mind.  If they would like to do that, that’s fine.  We’ll save a lot of money.  You know, my views are different than other people.  I view it as, “Thank you very much.  We save a lot of money.”

     But if you look back -- if you go back three years ago, when ISIS was overrunning the Philippines, we came in and, literally, single-handedly were able to save them from vicious attacks on their islands.  But I haven’t heard exactly that, what you -- the way you expressed the question.

     And my relationship, as you know, is a very good one with their leader.  And we’ll see what happens.  They’ll have to tell me that.

     Q    Thank you, and good afternoon, Mr. President.  (Asks question in Spanish.)

     (Repeats question in English.)  My question is about security.  We know that Ecuador has a problem with narco-traffic and some other problems.  So one of the topics you’re going to talk about is security.  I want to know what Ecuador wants to learn from the United States in that topic.

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Well, we’re doing very well on our southern border.  We’re doing incredibly well.  We built over 100 miles now.  It’s substantially more than that, of wall.  Very powerful wall.  It’s got all sorts of protections on it.  We have alarm systems, we have lighting systems, we have everything you can have.  It’s pretty much the ultimate of what you can do in terms of that.  We have great protection.  We have great protection with our military.

     We’ve been dealing also with Mexico.  Mexico has 27,000 soldiers on our southern border, and they’ve been great. And we just set another record.  As you saw, the numbers have come way down in terms of people coming through our border.  Way down.  They’re going to be very low.

     And after the wall is complete, even in the areas where we’re now over 100 miles, incredibly, the traffic has virtually stopped.  It’s come to a halt.  The wall has been a tremendous -- a tremendous thing.

     So we’ll have that finished by the end of next year.  And sometime during next year, we’ll have it finished.  And we’ll probably be up to close -- by the end of this year, close to 400 miles of wall.  And it’s made a tremendous difference.

     So we have great security.  We’ll be discussing with Ecuador their situation and their security.  They do have a problem with the narcos, and that’s not good.  And we will be working with them to help, okay?

     Q    (In Spanish.)

     Q    Mr. President, why (inaudible) nomination?

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  One second.  She’s going to just answer the question.

     Q    He’s going to answer my question.

     PRESIDENT MORENO:  (In Spanish.)  (No translation provided.)

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Last night, as you know, we had a very interesting election, and from the standpoint of the Republican Party and myself, but from the standpoint of the Republican Party, it was a tremendous success.  I got more votes than any incumbent President in many decades.  That includes a lot of Presidents.  And it was really incredible -- the love in New Hampshire.

     And, by the way, we did the same thing in Iowa, and we were actually able to quickly count our votes.  We knew within minutes after the poll how many votes we had, unlike the Democrats.

     So we had a tremendous success in Iowa.  And last night, we had a tremendous -- a very powerful success in New Hampshire.  So it was a great honor.

     But setting that record in both states was terrific, and now we're off to some areas that I like very much: Nevada, you look at that; South Carolina, you look at that.  And I think we're going to do very well there.  Probably setting up a major rally in South Carolina.  We already have one in Nevada.  So we'll be in those two locations, and we'll be at a few others also.  But it's been incredible.

     The rally we had in New Hampshire and in Iowa -- again, it was almost the same; it was -- they were both spectacular.  You could have put them in a big stadium.  We were already in large arenas, but you could’ve put them in a big stadium.  We could’ve sold it out numerous times, so it was really, really terrific.  And we appreciate it.  Yeah, we appreciate it.

     Q    Who is the Democratic front-runner, sir?

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  That’s a good question.  I would say Bernie looks like he's doing very well.

     Q    Why is he surging?

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  I think people like his message.  He's got energy.  His people have energy.  But they like his message.  But a lot of people don’t like that particular message.  But there is a group that probably agrees with it.  And, you know, whoever it is, we'll take them on.  But it would certainly seem that Bernie Sanders has the advantage right now.

     Q    Will you debate whoever wins?  Will you debate whoever wins?

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Sure.  I look forward to it, actually.

     Q    Lisa Murkowski, moments ago -- Lisa Murkowski, earlier, said that you shouldn’t have gotten involved with the Roger Stone case.  She said it's just bad.  Some Republicans have said they hoped you would learn a lesson from impeachment.  What lesson did you learn from impeachment?

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  That the Democrats are crooked.  They've got a lot of crooked things going.  That they're vicious.  That they shouldn’t have brought impeachment.

     Q    Anything about yourself?

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  And that my poll numbers are 10 points higher because of fake news like NBC, which reports the news very inaccurately.  Probably more inaccurately than CNN, if that's possible.  "MSDNC" and you're "MS…" and if you take a look at NBC.  No, I think they're among the most dishonest reporters of the news.

     Okay.  Thank you very much, everybody.  I appreciate it.  Thank you very much.  Thank you.  Thank you very much.

                                        END                3:01 P.M. EST

Fifteen Nominations and Two Withdrawals Sent to the Senate

Office of the Press Secretary

     Catherine Bird, of Texas, to be General Counsel of the Federal Labor Relations Authority for a term of five years, vice Julia Akins Clark, term expired.

     Lorenzo Candelaria, of New York, to be a Member of the National Council on the Humanities for a term expiring January 26, 2024, vice Shelly Colleen Lowe, term expired.

     Kenneth Charles Canterbury, Jr., of South Carolina, to be Director, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, vice Byron Todd Jones, resigned.

     James P. Danly, of Tennessee, to be a Member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for the remainder of the term expiring June 30, 2023, vice Kevin J. McIntyre.

     William G. Dauster, of Maryland, to be a Member of the Board of Trustees of the Federal Supplementary Medical Insurance Trust Fund for a term of four years, vice Robert D. Reischauer, term expired.

     William G. Dauster, of Maryland, to be a Member of the Board of Trustees of the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund and the Federal Disability Insurance Trust Fund for a term of four years, vice Robert D. Reischauer, term expired.

     William G. Dauster, of Maryland, to be a Member of the Board of Trustees of the Federal Hospital Insurance Trust Fund for a term of four years, vice Robert D. Reischauer, term expired.

     David W. Dugan, of Illinois, to be United States District Judge for the Southern District of Illinois, vice David R. Herndon, retired.

     Tony Hammond, of Missouri, to be a Member of the Board of Trustees of the Harry S Truman Scholarship Foundation for a term expiring December 10, 2025, vice Javaid Anwar, term expired.

     Iain D. Johnston, of Illinois, to be United States District Judge for the Northern District of Illinois, vice Frederick J. Kapala, retired.

     Craig Edward Leen, of the District of Columbia, to be Inspector General, Office of Personnel Management, vice Patrick E. McFarland, resigned.

     Tyreece L. Miller, of Tennessee, to be United States Marshal for the Western District of Tennessee for the term of four years, vice Jeffrey Thomas Holt, term expired.

     Franklin Ulyses Valderrama, of Illinois, to be United States District Judge for the Northern District of Illinois, vice Ruben Castillo, retired.

     Christy Criswell Wiegand, of Pennsylvania, to be United States District Judge for the Western District of Pennsylvania, vice Peter J. Phipps, elevated.

     Richard E. Zuckerman, of Michigan, to be an Assistant Attorney General, vice Kathryn Keneally, resigned.


     Jessie K. Liu, of Virginia, to be Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Crimes, vice Sigal Mandelker, resigned, which was sent to the Senate on January 6, 2020.

     J. David Patterson, of Tennessee, to be a Deputy Under Secretary of Defense, vice Laura Junor, resigned, which was sent to the Senate on January 9, 2020.


Office of the Press Secretary

Oval Office

February 11, 2020
4:13 P.M.  EST

     THE PRESIDENT:  Okay.  Thank you very much.  We are today signing the Supporting Veterans in STEM Careers Act.  It's a big deal and the people behind me have been so involved -- our senators, our congressmen.  We're missing a few great senators because we're approving, I think, five judges today.  And Marco Rubio was very much involved in this process and helped everybody very much and so I want to thank him.

     But we're taking action to increase access to education and job opportunities in science, technology, engineering, math, and computer science for our amazing veterans and our military spouses, their military spouses.

     I'm grateful to be joined today by Secretary Robert Wilkie, and senators that are just fantastic people.  And they've worked for us so hard, and this is one of the many things they've been doing.  They just came from a great vote for those judges -- some of the judges.  There'll be five today.

     Senator Kevin Cramer of North Dakota -- thank you very much, Kevin.  Senator John Hoeven of North Dakota.  And they're going to be bringing their tremendous football team to the White House very shortly because they won the championship for their division, and it's a big deal.  And they've won it for a lot of years, right?

     SENATOR HOEVEN:  Eight out of nine.  Go Bison!

     THE PRESIDENT:  So what's going on in North Dakota that you won it so much?

     SENATOR HOEVEN:  It's a great program.  I mean, eight out of nine.  They got a 30-some-game winning streak going.  And our first game next year is Oregon at Oregon, so that’s going to be a lot of fun.

    SENATOR CRAMER:  They wanted to test that theory of winning too much.  (Laughter.)

     SENATOR HOEVEN:  Yeah.  They like that winning.

     SENATOR CRAMER:  Yeah.  So far, not.

     THE PRESIDENT:  They're winning so much they can't stand it anymore, right?  (Laughter.)  No, but we look forward to seeing the team.

     SENATOR HOEVEN:  Thanks very much for inviting us.

     THE PRESIDENT:  We did it last year and we look forward to it.  We had LSU here.  We'll have -- we're going to be having the Super Bowl Champion very soon.  They're really looking forward.  A great coach.  Andy Reid is a great coach.  And he's been a great coach, and now he's got that big one and that was an amazing game.  But they'll be coming very shortly.

     I want to thank Senator Jerry Moran, who is a friend of mine, who has been incredible in every way.  And we really -- when I think of Jerry, we did a lot of work together, but the thing he did that -- I don’t know if people even know it, Jerry -- but something that couldn’t be done for 44 years, they say, and that’s Veterans Choice.

     SENATOR MORAN:  Thanks, Mr. President.

     THE PRESIDENT:  So I want to thank you, Jerry.  That was incredible.  (Applause.)  I mean, it really -- Jerry was so, so knowledgeable.  Active, but knowledgeable.  A lot of people are active; not a lot of people are knowledgeable.  (Laughter.)

And they got Veterans Choice.  And that’s one of the reasons, I think, the VA is doing so well, because people don’t have to wait around for six weeks to see a doctor.  They go out, they get the doctor, we pay the bill, and it works out incredibly well.  It's been a tremendous success.

     Representative Brian Babin.  Thank you very much, Brian.


     THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, Brian.  Thank you.

     REPRESENTATIVE BABIN:  It's good to be here.  Good to be here, Mr. President.

     THE PRESIDENT:  Michael Waltz.  Thank you, Michael.

     REPRESENTATIVE WALTZ:  Yes, sir.  Thank you, sir.

     THE PRESIDENT:  Thanks, Michael.


     THE PRESIDENT:  Great job.  And you're going to say a few words, a couple of you, if you want.

     Andy Barr of Kentucky.  Andy Barr, thank you very much.  Hi, Andy.  Good job today.  I watched you at the hearing with our wonderful, high-interest man.  He likes high interest rates, right?  The Federal Reserve.  He likes high interest rates.

     Neal Dunn, thank you.  Thank you, Neal.

     REPRESENTATIVE DUNN:  Thank you very much, Mr. President.

     THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  I appreciate it.

     Roger Marshall.

     REPRESENTATIVE MARSHALL:  Mr. President, congratulations.  Another win for the veterans.

     THE PRESIDENT:  This is a good win.  This is a really good -- and, B.J. Lawrence, I want to thank Veterans of Foreign Wars.  Right?

     MR. LAWRENCE:  Thank you, Mr. President.  Good seeing you.

     THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  Here, let me have a hand there.  Great job you're doing.

     MR. LAWRENCE:  Thank you, sir.

     THE PRESIDENT:  Lou Celli and the American Legion.

     MR. CELLI:  Thank you, Mr. President.

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

     And Nate Anderson, Concerned Veterans for America.

     MR. ANDERSON:  Thank you, Mr. President.

     THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  Thank you.  Thanks.  Good job.  A young guy.  (Laughter.)

     Jared Lyon.  We have a Derek Lyons.  (Laughter.)  I said -- where is Derek Lyons?  He's around here someplace, right?

     MR. LYONS:  Back here, sir.

     THE PRESIDENT:  But I said -- terrific lawyer.  Look at him back there.  They're off just with two letters, right?  One on the first name; one on the second name.  But Jared Lyon, thank you very much.  Student Veterans of America.

     MR. LYON:  Thank you, Mr. President.

     THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  Great job.

     MR. LYON:  Thank you, sir.

     THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.

     Mona Dexter, Hiring Our Heroes.

     MS. DEXTER:  Thank you, Mr. President.

     THE PRESIDENT: And that’s a fantastic thing you do.  Thank you, Mona.  I hear it goes well.

     And Elizabeth O'Brien, and that’s Hiring -- working along with, Mona -- Hiring our Heroes.  So thank you.

     MS. O'BRIEN:  Thank you, sir.  Appreciate it.

     THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  Appreciate it very much.  Great job.

     So this has been long in the making.  They’ve wanted to do this for a long time.  The bill directs the National Science Foundation to work with other federal agencies to expand veteran eligibility for STEM-related programs and encourages veteran participation in these critical fields.  Incredible work and it's so good for our veterans.  Our veterans are doing so well because of what we just spoke of with Jerry -- with Choice.  It's amazing.

     And the other thing, Jerry, we can talk about is Accountability.  I guess if you were going to, say, maybe rate them, Choice is probably number one, but Accountability something -- nobody thought it was possible to do that.  And now if people don’t take care of our veterans, they can be dismissed; they can be terminated.

     And we had to work through civil service.  We had to work through the unions.  We had to work through a lot of things, but between you and Jerry and some of the people here, we got that done, too.  So we have Accountability done.  And, I guess, you've let go -- how many -- Robert, how many?

     SECRETARY WILKIE:  Over 8,000.

     THE PRESIDENT:  Over 8,000 people that weren’t taking care of our vets.  And they've been replaced with people that love our vets and love our country.  But we had some people that were terrible.  We had sadistic people.  We had people that stole.  We had a lot of people and you couldn’t get rid of them, and now you just say, "You're fired.  Get out."

     My first year in office, I signed legislation to encourage employers to hire American veterans who have risked their lives protecting us.  The unemployment rate among veterans has reached a record low.  Veteran homelessness has fallen by more than 5 percent.

     And totally and permanently disabled veterans have their federal student loan debt -- and you saw that we discharged their loan debt.  These are veterans that are very, very seriously disabled.  And they go to war -- they have loan debt before they go, and then they have a horrible thing happen to them, and then you'd have people coming after them for the money.

     And I'll tell you what: That was a discharge of loan debt and I haven’t heard one person say anything negative about it.  And they leave -- I mean, in almost all cases, they leave and they're healthy.  They go to war, they come back, and they have problems.  But they had gone to college or they had gone to school.  And we discharged that debt, and it's been a very great thing to do.  It's something that everybody wanted to do, and very few people fought us on that.

     The signing of this bill takes us one step closer to giving our veterans and their families the support that they so richly earned and deserve.  And I want to thank you and I want to thank the great people behind me, because it was really them more than anybody else.

     And we had a couple of people that we were having a hard time with.  I was able to call a couple of people and we got their vote.  But this was a tremendous thing that -- that we have.
     And I'm going to ask a couple of people -- because this was just given to me by one of the folks.  So, when the United States -- the market is setting a record.  We set another record today.  It will be the 144th time in a three-year period that I'm President.  So, for 144 days, Kevin, we set a record stock market, which, to me, means 401(k) and it means jobs.  That's what it means to me.  To other people, it means other things.  But it means we have a great economy.

     And we have four trillion-dollar companies.  One is Microsoft, one is Apple, one is Google, one is Amazon.  So you have Amazon, Google, Apple, and Microsoft.  And so, you have an M, you have an A, you have a G, and you have an A.  You have "MAGA."

     PARTICIPANT:  MAGA!  (Applause.)

     THE PRESIDENT:  Who would think of that, John?  Huh?  Look at that, John.  You better report that tonight on Fox -- that great Fox.  (Laughter.)  Not what it used to be, John, but it's still pretty good.  (Laughter.)  Not what -- not like the old days, John.  They put more Democrats on Fox now than they put Republicans, but that's all right.  I think they get it.

     Q    It's a big country, sir.

     THE PRESIDENT:  We have big crowds.  You've been great, John.

     So I think, maybe before we sign, I'd like to have a couple of the folks, if they'd like.  And maybe we'll start with Robert, who's done a fantastic job at the VA.

     SECRETARY WILKIE:  Yes, sir.

     THE PRESIDENT:  You can talk a little bit about it.

     SECRETARY WILKIE:  Well, thank you.  Thank you, sir.  This is really important.  You know, when we -- when we look at America's warriors, most of them, by the time they're 25, they've probably made more life-altering decisions than most Americans make in a lifetime.

     And when you look at sailors and airmen who are mixing complex chemicals for fuel, for ships or planes, or artillerymen who are using complex calculus to send rounds downrange, they're the ones we need in science, technology, engineering, and math.  They're the ones most ready to do it because they've actually done it in real life.  And this is important for them and this is important for their families.  It's a great step forward.

     THE PRESIDENT:  And you've done a great job.

     SECRETARY WILKIE:   Thank you, sir.

     THE PRESIDENT:  You know, a constant -- I shouldn't say this to these people, but you used to in the old days -- in all fairness, before Trump, but always for a little while until we got Choice and Accountability done -- every night, there'd be stories, these horror stories about the Vet- -- you know, the VA.  And you'd have these horrible stories.  Now it's running so well, and I want to thank you for the great job you've done.  (Applause.)

     You're not finished; you have a lot of plans.

     SECRETARY WILKIE:  No, I have a lot to do.

     THE PRESIDENT:  I know that.  Thank you very much.

     SECRETARY WILKIE:  Thank you, sir.

     THE PRESIDENT:  Kevin, how about you?

     SENATOR CRAMER:  Well, I would just say, I think it's interesting that you pointed out the MAGA companies, and these are some of the companies that are going to be looking for the type of talent that this program is going to help encourage.  And it's great when you have a booming economy, but the biggest challenge is the workforce.  And here, you're merging a supply and a demand and more supply, which is, I think, a winning situation all the way around.
     Thank you.  Congratulations.

     THE PRESIDENT:  And, you know, Kevin won a race that was unwinnable.  The opponent he beat was unbeatable.  They said the only man that might do it -- we discussed it, John --

     SENATOR HOEVEN:  Yeah.  Yeah, we did.

     THE PRESIDENT:  -- is Kevin Cramer.  And couldn't get him to do it.  Finally, he decided to do it.  His wife is an incredible woman.  And he decided to do it.  And I think you won by, like, 12 points or something, right?

     SENATOR CRAMER:  Every time you talk, it gets a little better, so -- (laughter).  It was --

     THE PRESIDENT:  He won by a lot.

     SENATOR CRAMER:  It was 11.  It was 11.

     THE PRESIDENT:  Eleven?  Well, that's not bad.  That wasn’t too bad.

          THE PRESIDENT:  Anyway, well, great job and we appreciate it.

     SENATOR CRAMER:  Thank you.

     THE PRESIDENT:  You've been fantastic.  Really fantastic.  John?  Please.

     SENATOR HOEVEN:  Well, absolutely.  There's a real shortage in these areas.  So we're talking science, technology, energy -- or engineering, mathematics.  And so this is a double win, right?  This is a win for our veterans and this is a win for our economy because we need people in these professions.

     In North Dakota, we're a big ag state, we're a big energy state; we're tying it together with technology.  What better way to do it than to help our vets get this STEM education and then get them in these great jobs?

     Again, double win for our veterans, for our economy.

     THE PRESIDENT:  And you're a great football state, too.  (Laughter.)

     SENATOR HOEVEN:  Yeah, we really are.  Bison!  Go, Bison.  Absolutely.

     THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Hey, Jerry, why don't you say something, and we'll finish off with the signing.

     SENATOR MORAN:  Thank you, Mr. President.  First, let me thank you.  From even before you were being sworn in, you prioritized veterans.  You promised that you would serve those who served our country as President of the United States, and you have done so.  You have been a champion for those who served our nation.  And your Secretary, Secretary Wilkie, has been a great ally in that regard.  He is somebody that we appreciate working with.

     I'm honored now to chair the Senate Veterans Committee.  I will do my best to do my duty to those who serve.  It's an honor to stand here beside those who not only served their country, but now spend their time serving other veterans.

     And so, we're a team and we'll work hard to make certain that those who served our nation get the respect.

     This particular bill -- any time we can provide jobs, economic opportunity for veterans, we're doing something certainly good.  But as our committee focuses on mental health and suicide, one of the best things that can happen to someone who is in the community, somebody who has returned home from battle, is to be a part of that community.

     And earning a living and the self-esteem and the joy that comes from having a job helps us in all our battles in trying to make sure that every veteran, every place in the country has a bright future, that they're living the American Dream.

     So, thank you, Mr. President.

     THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, Jerry.  Will you be making some adjust- -- a little adjustments, one way or the other, to Veterans Choice?  Do you see that happening over a period of time?

     SENATOR MORAN:  Mr. President, we held a hearing last week in front of our committee, in which we had the Deputy Secretary with us to talk about its implementation.  We want to do oversight and make sure that it's being done in a way that meets the needs of these men and women and the veterans they serve.  So, yes.

     THE PRESIDENT:  Fantastic job.  Thank you, Jerry.

     SENATOR MORAN:  Thank you.  Thank you very much.

     THE PRESIDENT:  We appreciate it very much.  Mike Pence?  Please.

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Well, I don't think there's ever been a President in my lifetime who's done more for the men and women who have worn the uniform of the United States than President Donald Trump.  And today is just the latest installment, Mr. President, in keeping the promises you made to the American people in 2016.

     We've reformed the VA through Veterans Choice and through Accountability.  Eight thousand people no longer at the VA because they weren't providing the level of care that you demanded.

     ut these members of the House and the Senate, and Chairman …level of care that you demanded.  But these members of the House and the Senate, Chairman Moran, have a heart for our veterans.  And today is just one more installment, in your commitment and the American people’s commitment, to make sure that those who served our nation -- and they are our nation’s best -- get America’s best.

     So, thank you, Mr. President.

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

     Fellas, please, go ahead.

     REPRESENTATIVE BANKS:  Mr. President, as a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, your veteran record, as the Vice President said, is second to none.  From Accountability at the VA, to the largest investment in modernizing electronic health records, on top of everything else that your administration has done, you’re always going to be known as the veterans' President.  And I, as a younger veteran (inaudible), we appreciate it very much.  (Applause.)

     THE PRESIDENT:  I appreciate that.  Very nice.  Thank you.

     REPRESENTATIVE BARR:  Mr. President, you mentioned the hearing today with the Federal Reserve.

     THE PRESIDENT:  Right.

     REPRESENTATIVE BARR:  And what we heard today was, with this Trump economy, we have over 7 million more job openings in America than we have unemployed Americans.  And many of those job openings are in the STEM fields.

     And so, as was mentioned before, this is a two-fer.  We get to fill these STEM vacancies with the best and brightest our country has to offer these veteran heroes.  And, at the same time, we get to fill these jobs, these employer jobs.  And this follows on the other bill that you signed last year that enhanced the Forever GI Bill that provides STEM scholarships for these heroes.

     So, thank you.

     THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  Brian?

     REPRESENTATIVE BABIN:  Hey, Mr. President, as a veteran and also as the ranking member on the Science -- the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics, I can tell you we appreciate your leadership, and I agree that you have been, really, the most pro-vet President that I have seen in my lifetime.

     THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, Brian.

     EPRESENTATIVE BABIN:  And I just want to thank my colleagues that have introduced this bill.  And I was proud to be a co-sponsor of it.  And STEM is where it’s at.  And if we want to catch up with our adversaries and stay ahead of them, I should say, then this could -- there’s no more important thing that we can be doing.

     Thank you for what you’ve done.

     THE PRESIDENT:  Good.  Thank you, Brian.  Thank you very much.

     REPRESENTATIVE BABIN:  Yes, sir.  Yes, sir.

     THE PRESIDENT:  Please.

     REPRESENTATIVE MARSHALL:  Promises made and promises kept.  Those veterans made a promise to serve our country.  Candidate Trump made a promise to take care of the veterans, to rebuild our military.  You’ve kept your promises, Mr. President.  Thanks for keeping your promises.  We’re grateful.

     THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  Appreciate it.  (Applause.)  Please.

     REPRESENTATIVE WALTZ:  Mr. President, I would say to those MAGA companies: Talk is cheap.  If you want to support your veterans, hire one.  Right?  Put your money where your mouth is; hire veterans.  To Microsoft, Apple, Google, and Amazon: Talk is cheap in this town.

     THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah, it's a good point.

     REPRESENTATIVE WALTZ:  If you want to support a veteran, hire one.

     And if we’re going to keep up with the Chinese, if we’re going to stay the world leader, then we have to put our best and brightest from the military and our best and brightest from the private sector.

     THE PRESIDENT:  Good.  Very good point.


     RESPRESENTATIVE DUNN:  Mr. President, I want to say thank you.  But also, I want the veterans who are gathered to know that everybody really is pro-veteran.  I mean, we do love you.  We’re proud of all the things that you’ve done.

     I’m very grateful to have had the help of virtually everybody standing here, and certainly Secretary Wilkie, to introduce this bill.

     I want to call out a few people who also deserve credit for that.  One is Senator Marco Rubio.  Another is Representative Alexander Lamar, who is no longer -- I’m sorry, Lamar Alexander -- who is no longer with us.  He’s -- in 2018, he was in the House and he helped me author that bill.  And also, our Democrat co-sponsor, Conor Lamb, was on that and helped us get it across the floor this time.

     So it’s a -- it’s a real win for the veterans.  I’m a veteran, too.  And I want to let (inaudible) say to Secretary Wilkie: I’ve spent the last two days on the MISSION Act and VA; I’m a ranking member of VA Health.  And I have had two great days with the VA.  I mean, a lot of great improvements for our veterans in health.  Thank you very much.  And thank you, Mr. President.

     THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.

     Would anybody like to say -- you’re the ones that really should be speaking up.  Would you like to say something?  Please, go ahead.

     MR. CELLI:  Thank you, Mr. President.  You know, no one knows more than veterans.  The American Legion supports, obviously, our nation and our veterans.  And no one knows more than veterans than what it takes to be technologically advanced.  And they have the greatest stake in making sure that our country is at the forefront of technology when it comes to their weapons systems, when it comes to their information technology, and when it comes to cybersecurity.  So this is really a win for every veteran that’s out there.  Thank you, sir.

     THE PRESIDENT:  Great.  Thank you very much.  Please.

     MS. O’BRIEN:  Thank you.  On behalf of Hiring Our Heroes, thank you to you and to your administration for what you have done.  I want to point out this isn’t only an opportunity for us to provide paths into STEM for veterans, it’s also an opportunity for us to welcome a chronically underemployed and unemployed population in our military spouses and put them to work by upskilling and reskilling them.

     THE PRESIDENT:  Great.

     MS. O’BRIEN:  So, thank you.  Appreciate it.

     THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Please, go ahead.

     MS. DEXTER:  Well, as we continue to work to bridge the civilian-military divide in the business community and help build America’s workforce with the best and the brightest -- you know, reiterating what Liz said -- this provides that opportunity to allow the veterans to upskill into what the current roles are, along with, you know, the support of the military spouses and employment.

     THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.

     MS. DEXTER:  Thank you.

     THE PRESIDENT:  Great job.  Thank you very much.  Great.


     MR. LYON:  Mr. President, just a big thank you.  Student Veterans of America is representing nearly a million veterans who are in college using their GI Bill right now.  And the top three majors that veterans are pursuing in college this moment are business, just like yourself, as well as science, technology, engineering, and math, and health-related fields.

     So as we look at this post-9/11 era -- those veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan -- we are looking at the most educated generation of veterans because the solid GI Bill that you have improved with the Forever GI Bill, as well as the members here have extended, and the great leadership of Secretary Wilkie to implement this law -- this is a great opportunity to help transitioning service members enter the workforce and to continue to educate our youth through K-12 education in the STEM fields.  So just an all-around win, and thank you, Mr. President.

     THE PRESIDENT:  Great job.  Thank you very much.

     MR. ANDERSON:  Mr. President, veterans experience unique challenges and unique solutions are often required to remedy that, so thank you.  Thank you, Senator Wil- -- thank you, Secretary Wilkie, for pursuing policies that allow veterans to live healthy, prosperous lives after service.

     THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  Great job.  Great job everybody.  So let’s do the signing, right?

     You see a man named Chuck Grassley.  You don’t get better than Chuck, right?  (Laughter.)  That’s great.  Thank you.

     (The bill is signed.)  (Applause.)

     Here you go.  Go ahead.  So you go ahead; just pass them out.

     (Ceremonial signing pens are distributed.)

     So thank you very much.  This is a great honor.  And we’ll just do this, because some people like to see this.  Can you see that, fellas, okay?

     I don’t know if they’re going to ask questions, but it might not be on this subject.

     Q    Mr. President --

     THE PRESIDENT:  It should be on the subject.  Go ahead.  Ask on -- ask on stem cells [sic].

     Q    On a separate subject, if I can -- (laughter) --

     THE PRESIDENT:  Oh, I’m shocked.  I’m shocked.  I’m shocked.

     Q    Can you -- you seemed, from your tweet today, that you were upset about the Roger Stone sentencing.  Did you --

     THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah, I thought it was ridiculous that -- that of that --

     Q    Did you ask the Justice Department to change that?

     THE PRESIDENT:  No, I didn’t speak with the Just- -- I’d be able to do it if I wanted.  I have the absolute right to do it.  I stay out of things to a degree that people wouldn’t believe.  But I didn’t speak to them.  I thought the recommendation was ridiculous.  I thought the whole prosecution was ridiculous.

     And I look at others that haven’t been prosecuted or -- I don’t know where it is now.  But when you see that, I thought it was an insult to our country.  And it shouldn’t happen.  And we’ll see what -- what goes on there.  But that was a -- that was a horrible aberration.
     These are the -- I guess, the same Mueller people that put everybody through hell.  And I think it’s a disgrace.  No, I have not been involved with it at all.

     Q    Would you consider commuting or --

     THE PRESIDENT:  I don’t want to talk about that now.  I think it was a disgraceful recommendation.

     Q    But do you think it would be appropriate --

     THE PRESIDENT:  They ought to be ashamed of themselves -- what they’ve done to General Flynn, what they’ve done to others.  And then the really guilty ones -- people that have committed major crimes -- are getting away with it.  I think it’s disgrace.  We’ll see what happens.

     Go ahead, John.

     Q    I was going to say, Mr. President, you took on Michael Bloomberg -- and Brad Parscale, did as well -- over stop-and-frisk.  Yet, in 2016 and 2018, you praised Rudy Giuliani for the stop-and-frisk program.  So what’s different about what Bloomberg said from what you believe the program (inaudible)?

     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I’ll tell you what: I looked at it and I watched him pander at a church and practically beg for forgiveness.  I wouldn’t have begged for forgiveness.  I mean, he was doing his job at the time.  And then he -- when he went up to the church, I thought it was disgraceful.  But I put something out and it was so -- it was pretty nasty.  And I thought, you know, I’m looking to bring the country together, not divide the country further.

     But when he went up to a church and he apologized for everything he has ever done, that was only for getting votes.  And I think probably people understand that.

     Yeah, please.

     Q    Mr. President, you are traveling to India later this month.

     THE PRESIDENT:  I am.

     Q    Can you tell us something about --

     THE PRESIDENT:  I am.  I spoke with Prime Minister Modi and it’s going to be very -- I don’t know who’s going, but it’s -- he said we will have millions and millions of people.

     My only problem is -- so, last night, we probably had 40- or 50,000 people.  Far more than anyone else.  But when we have 50,000 people nowadays, fellas, I’m not going to feel so good -- (laughter) -- because he thinks we’ll have 5- to 7 million people just from the airport to the new stadium.  (Laughter.) 

     And, you know, it’s the largest stadium in the world.  He’s building it now.  It’s almost complete and it’s the largest in the world.  And he’s a friend of mine.  He’s a great gentleman.  And I look forward to going to India.  So we’ll be going at the end of the month.

     Q    Do you plan to sign a trade deal with the Indians when you travel?

     THE PRESIDENT:  They would like to do something, and we’ll see.  If we can make the right deal, we’ll do it.

     Q    Mr. President, do you know who “anonymous” is?

     THE PRESIDENT:  I don’t want to say, but you’d be surprised.  You would be surprised, but I don’t want to say.

     Q    Then can you talk a little bit more about some of the recent departures from the White House, including the Vindman twins and --

     THE PRESIDENT:  No, well --

     Q    -- and pending departures?

     THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah, I obviously wasn’t happy with the job he did.  First of all, he reported a false call.  That wasn’t what was said on the call.  What was said on the call was totally appropriate.  And I call it a “perfect call.”  I always will call it a “perfect call.”  And it wasn’t one call; it was two calls.  There were two perfect calls.  There was no setup.  There was no anything.  And he reported it totally differently.

     And then they all went wild when I said that we have transcripts of the calls.  And they turned out to be totally accurate transcripts.  And if anybody felt there was any changes, we let them make it because it didn’t matter.  So we had accurate -- totally accurate transcripts.  And it turned out that what he reported was very different.

     And also, when you look at Vindman’s -- the person he reports to -- said horrible things: avoided the chain of command, leaked, did a lot of bad things.  And so we sent him on his way to a much different location and the military can handle him any way they want.  General Milley has him now.  I congratulate General Milley.  He can have him, but -- and his brother also.

     So we’ll -- we’ll find out what happened.  I mean, we’ll find out.  But he reported very inaccurate things.  You understand that, John.  When you look at his report and then when you look at what, actually, the exact the words - fortunately, I had the words, because otherwise we would have had a lot of people lying.  And we were able to do it.  So fortunately, we had transcripts of those calls.

     I think you guys all agree with that.  Right?

     PARTICIPANT:  Yes, it was.

     THE PRESIDENT:  Wasn’t it nice?  After they said these horrible things and made up these horrible, horrible lies about what was said in the call -- and then I said, “Here is the call.”  I had a transcript.  If I didn’t have a transcript, it would’ve been my word against their word.

     But there were other people on that call.  There were many people on that call -- Mike Pompeo.  And I know that.  When I speak to the head of state of countries, presidents, prime ministers, etcetera -- there are always a lot of people on those calls, especially form the other countries, I imagine.  I don’t know that for a fact, but I know for a fact that we have a lot of people on those calls.

     Who would say something wrong?  I wouldn’t say it wrong anyway, but who would say it wrong when you have -- when a call is loaded up with, you know, sometimes as many as 25 people, sometimes as many as 3 or 4 or 2.  But there’s always people on those calls.  I fully know that.  But that was a perfect call, and it wasn’t reported the way it was reported -- like, “oh it was so terrible.”  That was a very nice call.  That was a very friendly call.

     A couple of things: The President, as you know, of Ukraine stated very strongly that there was no pressure, there was no anything, there was nothing wrong.  And it was really a very sad state of affairs that our country wasted that much time on nothing -- on nothing.  And I want to thank our three senators that are here for agreeing with me.

     I mean, you had one grandstander.  He’s always been a grandstander.

     Q    Are there more departures to come?

     THE PRESIDENT:  Oh, sure.  Oh, sure.  Absolutely.

     Q    Mr. President, when you say that --

     THE PRESIDENT:  There always are.

     Q    When you -- when you say that the military can deal with Vindman any way that they want, are you sugg- --

     THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah, no, well, that’s up to them.

     Q    Are you suggesting he should face --

     THE PRESIDENT:  He is now -- he’s -- he’s over with the military.

     Q    Do you think he needs to face disciplinary action?

     THE PRESIDENT:  That’s going to be up to the military.  We’ll have to see.  But if you look at what happened, I mean, they’re going to certainly, I would imagine, take a look at that.  But, no, I think what he did was just reported a false call.

     If you look at what he said, and then -- and I’ll tell you, the one worse was -- you look at Shifty Schiff.  Take a look at what he did.  He made up my conversation.  And then we dropped the transcript, and he almost had a heart attack.

     Didn’t he say eight “quid pro quos”?  Think of it.  So eight times I said the same thing, according to Shifty Schiff.  If I ever did that -- so you say it once.  Now you say it again.  We’re talking about a man that I never even met before.  Now you say it a third time, a fourth time, a fifth time, a sixth time, seven times, eight times.  Eight times he said that I asked for the exact same thing in one call.

     After the third time, they’d have to take you away, okay?  He’s a sick person.  Schiff is a very corrupt politician and he’s a sick person.  So he made up -- totally made up.  And because he’s shielded, which a lot of people didn’t know -- but because he’s shielded by the halls of Congress -- you know, in terms of what he says -- you can say anything you want.

     He made up a story; it was total fiction.  And then at the end, he said, “Don’t call me, I’ll call you.”  That’s a mob statement.  Very famous statement in numerous movies, one in particular.  That’s a mob statement.  “Don’t call me, I’ll call you.”  He said that I said that.  He said that I said, eight times, “quid pro quo.”  Well, there were no times “quid pro quo.”  Nothing.  That whole thing was corrupt and a disgrace.

     And Romney is a disgrace for voting against.  He’s a disgrace.

     Okay.  Anybody else?

     Q    Mr. President, can I ask you to elaborate a little bit more on stop-and-frisk?  It’s going to big a big issue in the coming days.

     THE PRESIDENT:  Sure.

     Q    Do you support that policy?  And is it, as you said in a tweet --

     THE PRESIDENT:  I support anything we can do to get down crime and to get rid of drugs.  But I think when a man is with stop-and-frisk his whole life, and then he decides to go Democrat, and he goes to a church and he’s practically crying -- he looked like hell.  He’s practically crying, saying how -- what a horrible thing he did.  I think that’s so disingenuous.  You know what I’m talking about, fellas.  That was so -- of Bloomberg.

     Look, he’s a lightweight.  He’s a lightweight.  You’re going to find that out.  He’s also one of the worst debaters I’ve ever seen.  And his presence is zero.  So he will spend his three, four, five million dollars.  Maybe they will take it away.  Frankly, I’d rather run against Bloomberg than Bernie Sanders, because Sanders has real followers -- whether you like him or not, whether you agree with him or not.  I happen to think it’s terrible what he says.  But he has followers.  Bloomberg is just buying his way in.

     But we’re going to find out what happens.  We’re going to find out.  But when you watch -- go back to the church, where he apologized for everything he ever did, practically -- and he looked pathetic.  Our country doesn’t need that kind of leadership.  Thank you all very much.

     Q    What do you think of the Biden campaign?

     THE PRESIDENT:  It’s stumbling.  It’s mumbling.  Not pretty.  But we’ll see how he does.  You never know.  You never know.  The only time you knew for sure was the Trump campaign.  Trump was going to win.

     Q    Do you think he can turn it around in South Carolina?

     THE PRESIDENT:  He can always turn it around.  You know, I think it’s not going to be easy.  I think he can turn it around, yeah.  I think he has a shot.  He’s got probably almost as good a shot as anyone, but he’s going to have to work.  He’s going to have to work very hard, much harder than they thought.

     Don’t forget, when he first ran I called him “1 percent Joe,” because every time he ran, he only got 1 percent.  And then Obama took him off the garbage heap.  But he only got 1 percent.  Right, John?  You know that.  One percent Joe.  But now he’s -- what? -- 19 percent Joe.  It’s better.  He’s doing better.  He’s made a lot of progress.

     But it’s going to be -- it’s going to be very interesting.  I think we have -- we’re going to have a very interesting Democrat race and I think we’re going to have a very interesting election.

     But our country is doing better than it’s ever done.  We’ve rebuilt our military.  Thanks to the people back here, we’ve taken care of our vets at a level that they’ve never been taken care of before.  Jerry -- I mean, never even close.  And it’s really something that we’re very proud of.

     You look at the economy -- I mean, we have the best economy we’ve ever had.  We have the best employment numbers we’ve ever had: African American, Asian American, Hispanic American.

     We’re going to protect our Second Amendment.  The Democrats want to take away the guns.  They want to take away everyone’s gun.  They want to destroy the Second Amendment.

     So when you add it all up, you know, I don’t see how we lose, but you never know.  It’s politics.  Right, fellas?  Thank you all very much.  Thank you.

                   END                        4:46 P.M. EST