Thursday, August 13, 2020


Office of the Press Secretary

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

1:30 P.M. EDT

     MS. MCENANY:  Hello, everyone.  This is a historic day, and I have here with me Senior Advisor Jared Kushner, Ambassador Robert O'Brien.  They're going to summarize the history that was made today and take a few of your questions.  We also have Special Representative Avi Berkowitz here; and Special Envoy to Iran, Brian Hook, who will be in attendance.

     MR. KUSHNER:  Thank you, Kayleigh.  And thank you all for being here.

     I want to start today by congratulating the people of Israel and the people of the United Arab Emirates.  Today is a historic breakthrough and a great day for peace.

     I also want to congratulate President Trump on this milestone.  He worked very hard on this with his team.  We worked with Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, who really are two visionary leaders who made a big step forward today to really change the region.

     The last time we had an agreement like this in the region was 1994, when Israel made an agreement with the Kingdom of Jordan, which stopped aggression and helped bring forward peace.

     Over the last 26 years, there's been a lot of developments in the region -- some positive, but many that have set the region back, and it has led to lots of lives being lost, lots of opportunity and hope being destroyed, and -- and a region that really has had a lot of problems.

     When President Trump came into office, we had a caliphate for ISIS in the Middle East, which was the size of Ohio.  We had a lot of instability.  Iran's aggression was being felt all throughout the region.  A lot of their proxies were very well funded and causing instability in Yemen and in Syria and in other places.

     And now we're in a position where we've been able to work with our allies.  A lot of our allies felt abandoned.  President Trump has been able to rebuild those relationships.  His first trip as President was to Saudi Arabia in May of 2017, where he laid out the problems that were facing the region and very clearly articulated that, in order to make progress, we'd all have to work together around common goals and we'd have to acknowledge historic differences and historic conflicts.  But we can't let those conflicts hold us back.

     President Trump's leadership, the ability to build the relationships with the leaders in the region -- people were modernizing their society and realizing that we needed a new paradigm.

     On President Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia, we made an agreement with a lot of these countries that we're going to start a counterterror finance center.  And since then, we've worked to limit the amount of funding that's gone to extremist groups.

     We worked with Saudi Arabia, which is the custodian of the two holy sites, and we worked with them to do a counter center, a counter-extremism center to combat online extremism, and that's made a big difference because you can't solve the short-term problem without taking on the long-term fight.  We've seen Saudi Arabia make a lot of modernizations over the last years, giving more rights to women and taking steps in the right direction, which have been very positive.  And now today's breakthrough really allows us to go forward.

     To give you a little bit of background on this deal, this is something that's been in discussions now for over a year and a half.  We were talking with Israel; we were talking with United Arab Emirates about moving forward.  Obviously, because of the Israeli elections and because of some other things that were happening in the region, this is something that was talked about but never really got to the right place for it to happen.

     As you know, with deals, deals happen when deals are ready.  And peace deals are very rare and very historic, and there's a lot of reasons why people would be held back from moving forward.

     What we saw was when the President rolled out his vision for peace, which we worked very hard on for a couple of years to really try to understand the issues in the region between the Israelis and Palestinians, he put forward 180 pages of detail on how we can address the issues of the past but also figure out how to move forward.

     During that acknowledgement, President Trump was able to get Israel to agree to have a two-state solution with the Palestinians and, for the first time in history, to agree to a map that outlined the territory that they would be willing to work with in order to see that happen.  That showed a lot of people in the region that Israel was serious about really moving forward and making peace and also showed them that President Trump's leadership and diplomacy could make things happen that hadn't happened previously.

     What happened is, as Israel was discussing with us providing -- taking Israeli law and sovereignty to areas of the West Bank and applying it, we were having these discussions.  And over the last six weeks, the discussions between UAE and Israel started accelerating around this being a potential different path.

     We all saw Ambassador Otaiba’s op-ed that came out that said that he thought applying Israeli sovereignty to this -- to these areas would be detrimental to the region.  And a new course, a new option was created that was discussed that ultimately both countries thought was a much more viable option to go forward.

     Israel has agreed to suspend those efforts at this time.  And as a result, we're going to focus on bringing these two countries together.  This is really a historic breakthrough, and it shows that President Trump's leadership, from the Riyadh speech until today -- you see a much different Middle East than what he inherited.  And hopefully, there's a lot more good things to come.

     This is an icebreaker between these two countries.  This is the first Arab country to normalize relations with Israel in a long time -- 26 years since Jordan.  And what we're going to hopefully see from there is more countries start to do the same.

     The final thing I'll just say is that, here in America, the biggest threat that we saw in the last campaign was really two things.  One was ISIS.  The caliphate was growing, we were seeing journalists being beheaded, we were seeing people burnt in cages, and the threat of ISIS was something that was very scary to a lot of Americans and needed to be stopped.  The instability was providing a place for extremists to plan attacks, to plan all kinds of terrible things, and the extremists were trying to radicalize the next generation.

     One of the biggest excuses that extremists use to radicalize the next generation is the mosque and -- the Al-Aqsa Mosque -- and saying that it’s being threatened and the fact that Muslims aren't able to pray there.  This deal will allow for flights from Dubai and Abu Dhabi to Tel Aviv, which will allow Muslims a real entrĂ©e to come and visit Israel peacefully and to come and pray at the mosque with whatever frequency they deem appropriate.

     This is a big breakthrough.  As people go there and pray and see that this is available, they'll share it with their friends and they'll share the experiences, they'll share pictures of it on Instagram and Facebook and Twitter, and people throughout the world will see that the mosque is safe and that -- that all people are welcome there.

     So this is a really great step forward for the region, a great step forward for the country, and a great step forward for the world.  And again, I just want to really compliment the three leaders who worked very hard to make this possible: Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel, the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed of Abu Dhabi, and President Trump here in America.

     Thank you.

     MR. O’BRIEN:  So, thank you to Jared for that summary.  And it's -- it's been extraordinary work by a number of fine diplomats, working under President Trump's leadership, to arrive at today's outcome.  Jared Kushner has been at the forefront of those efforts.   Avi, Brian Hook, and others have -- have put in just -- just tremendous work, under the President's direction, to get where we are here today.

     And I know, Jared, you're not a -- you don't have a diplomat-title or ambassador title, but we don't have the finer ambassador, especially in the region, than Advisor Kushner.  So thank you for those -- those remarks and for the really incredible effort.

     I want to start by congratulating, today, the President of the United States; the Prime Minister of Israel, Bibi Netanyahu; and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed.  This is a remarkable achievement, and they've been -- the achievement is now -- will now be known in history as the “Abraham Accords,” or the “Ibrahim Accords” in the Muslim countries, or the “Avraham Accords” in Israel.

     It's something very special.  It's something that doesn't happen very often.  Very few of my predecessors, as National Security Advisor, have been able to come to this podium to announce a peace deal in the Middle East.  It's a -- it's a very rare thing.

     As I said earlier in the Oval Office today, the President is going to be known in history as one of the change makers and one of the remarkable leaders in the Middle East.  And that's not something that you may have thought of when he came into office.  But one of his very first steps was repairing our relationship with Israel, which had been badly damaged, especially in the last month of the prior administration.

     The President did something that was unheard of.  Many presidential candidates, going back two decades, had promised that if they were elected, they would move the United States Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.  President Trump had the courage to do it, and he developed wonderful credibility and a reservoir of goodwill in Israel.

     He recognized the Golan Heights as being Israeli territory, and -- and took those away from a very -- what could have been a very destabilized situation that we've seen develop in Syria.

     He destroyed the physical caliphate of ISIS, which, Jared had said, was the size of Ohio.  It was -- it stretched across the Middle East, and terror reigned because of the caliphate.

     He brought justice to al-Baghdadi, who had killed so many Americans: Sotloff and Mueller and Kassig and Foley.

     He put maximum pressure on Iran and -- and cut off much of the terrorist funding that was going to the proxy wars in Yemen, in Hezbollah, in Lebanon, in Syria, and throughout the region.

     And today, we have the -- the Abraham Accords.  He's brought peace to the Middle East, at least peace between the UAE and Israel.  And what I have said is the President is often known as the greatest dealmaker, and he wrote the book “The Art of the Deal.”  And he's considered a great, great dealmaker, which he is.

     But I think history is going to remember the President for being a great peacemaker.  He brought peace to Israel and the UAE.  He has signed a -- his diplomat signed a historic accord in Afghanistan.  I want to remind people that we haven't had an American casualty in combat in Afghanistan since February 29th.

     He used his offices and his -- his pressure to stop Idlib from being overrun in Syria, and brought a ceasefire agreement when -- when Turkey had invaded Northern Syria.

     A lot of people said that when he came into office that there would be war in North Korea.  But through personal diplomacy, he’s -- has kept that situation from -- from turning into a kinetic event.

     So, it's really remarkable, I think, when you -- when you step back and take a look at what this President has done on the peace front.  And it wouldn't surprise me -- it'll take some time in this environment -- but it wouldn't surprise me if the President is eventually nominated for a Nobel Prize for the -- this -- today's work is an example of why he would be rightly considered and should be a frontrunner for the Nobel Peace Prize.

     So, I also want to compliment the courageousness of Mohammed bin Zayed, the Crown Prince.  You know, there have been two other great Arab leaders -- King Hussein -- in my lifetime, King Hussein and Anwar Sadat -- who have made peace with Israel.  And now, Mohammed bin Zayed enters that pantheon of great, courageous Arab leaders.

     And I want to compliment President -- Prime Minister Netanyahu, in Israel, who was under tremendous pressure to extend Israeli law and sovereignty to portions of the country, but is -- has stepped up against that political pressure to make peace.  Something that may have been politically popular, but he put the interest of his country and his people first.

     And so I think we've got some very courageous leaders that worked with the President to come to today's tremendous historical accord.

     Stepping back from -- what does this mean beyond the historic idea of a major Arab country making peace with Israel all these years after 1948?  It makes sense on so many different levels.  The UAE and Israel are both capable security partners of the United States, and close -- close partners of ours in the region, standing up to Iran, standing up to Islamic extremism.  They’ll -- them -- the peace agreement between these two countries will encourage and foster cooperation in those efforts.

     These are very innovative countries.  Israel is called the “startup nation.”  And for those of you who have been there, it's -- you feel like you're driving through Palo Alto through half the country.  The UAE is also a very innovative country.  Putting those two nations together is going to create a dynamic of innovation and creativity in the region.  And they -- both countries are populated by incredibly dynamic people.

     There are tremendous opportunities that are going to arise from this agreement.  Jared talked about the idea of Arab pilgrims and Muslim pilgrims going to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, going up to the Mount, and having the opportunity to pray in peace in Israel.

     The -- as you know, the President has made religious freedom, especially religious freedom in the Middle East, a center point -- a centerpiece of his foreign policy.  And this is a great step towards fulfilling the idea that the three great faiths that came from the Holy City -- Christianity, Judaism, and Islam -- will be able to pray and interact peaceably together in that beautiful city of Jerusalem.

     Tourism, with -- Abu Dhabi and Dubai and the other Emirates have become meccas for tourism, especially before the Chinese virus -- the COVID virus.  Israel is a great land for tourism.  That'll expand trade between the UAE and Israel, which both have incredible economies.  And again, as we -- as we recover from COVID, this agreement will help the economies of those countries and the countries in the region expand.  And I think you're going to see an increase in jobs in all three countries as a result of these accords.

     With respect to the peace process overall, we’ve got a great team.  That team is going to be fanning out.  We’re going to be on the -- working the phones.  We’re going to be in the region.  And we believe that there are other countries waiting in the wings that are going to watch and see how the -- the tremendous response to the courage of Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Crown Prince have been received by their people and by the world.  And, I mean, I've -- I've already been on the phone with a number of European counterparts who have called to congratulate us for our role in -- in this accord but who are -- some of whom were astounded that this took place.

     And we also think that this could lead to a great deal for the Palestinian people, that -- it's a people that the President of the United States, President Trump, has not forgotten.  And he’s -- he's endorsed the two-state solution.  He wants to see the Palestinian people in a prosperous country of their own.  And the groundwork has been laid for that, so I think we'll be working very hard on those efforts in the -- in the coming months and -- and year.

     So, again, today is a great day.  It's a great day for the people of the UAE, it's a great day for the people of Israel, for their leaders.  And it's also a great day for the United States of America as we played a role that we've traditionally played throughout the world, in coming in to mediate in difficult situations and -- and achieve peace and achieve prosperity for our friends and neighbors.

     And again, I'm honored to be a part of the President's team on this.  And again, I’ll end with congratulations to the President for his leadership, and again, to Prime Minister Netanyahu and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed.  Thank you very much.

     MR. KUSHNER:  We’ll start with Steve.

     Q    How long did Israel agree to suspend its annexation plan on the West Bank?

     MR. KUSHNER:  So the suspension will last -- it's going to take a while for these agreements to get fully enforced and to go.  And I think that right now the focus that Israel is going to be applying is towards building this relationship.  The opportunities that are now created because of this from an investment point of view, from an innovation point of view, from a health point of view, from a terrorism point of view, and, most importantly to both countries, from a security point of view are very robust.

     And I do believe that, for the foreseeable future, you're going to see both countries focusing on that.  I also think that Israel sees a lot of exciting opportunity in doing what's being done today with other Arab and Muslim countries as well.  So that's really going to be the focus as to where we're going to be working with them.

     And, you know, one thing I also want to do is acknowledge the tremendous team that's worked on this to date.  Obviously, Secretary Pompeo has been leading the efforts.  The Vice President has been very supportive.  And then, obviously, Avi Berkowitz and Brian Hook have been just tremendous along the way -- both to get to today and also in the steps that will likely come forward soon.

     Q    Jared, this has already -- you guys are telling this as a good step forward.  But the Palestinian officials are already out criticizing it.  If they aren't on board, how is this a good peace deal right now?

     MR. KUSHNER:  Right.  So, look, we -- they have a fairly predictable response that we've si- -- seen time and time again to all types of things that help make their people's lives better.  Let's just focus on the facts of what's happening, and let's focus on how to push things forward.

     We laid out a 180-page, very detailed plan that we got Israel to agree to negotiate on the basis of that invests $50 billion into their economy; that allows them to double their GDP over 10 years; that can create a million new jobs; help their people have a much better standard of life.  We also got Israel to agree to have them have self-determination, have a secure environment, and then, in addition to that, figure out how to get the right land -- the right land outcome where we can go forward.

     So, look, I think that a lot of people in the region are seeing that we can't wait for the Palestinian leadership to try and resolve this.  Every country is going to do what's in their best interests, what's in the region's best interests.  And we have big problems in the world, and we can't be stuck in the past.  We have to be moving forward.

     Now, I will just say that a big part of what motivated the UAE to move forward at this time and take the risk that they're taking is the notion that they didn't want to see Israel take the provocative action of applying sovereignty to areas of the West Bank, which hopefully allows more space to the Palestinian leadership to come to the table and make a deal.

     So I don't know if it will happen tomorrow.  I don't know if it'll happen next month.  I don't know if it'll happen next year.  But at some point -- always learn, with deals, that there's a thing called “gravity.”  And right now you're in a situation where Israel has said that they're open to making peace.  A lot of people in the region have supported the vision that the President laid out.

     One thing you’ve seen with the President: He's a deal- making President, right?  And part of being a dealmaker is not always showing your cards.  Again, we were able to hold this quiet until this morning when we announced it.

     The President has had a very robust strategy for the Middle East that we've been executing piece by piece, day by day.  And we've seen things have been getting better, problems have been getting resolved.  The President has been taking things off the table -- you know, slaughtering sacred cows that were holding people back.

     And so if you kind of look at the snapshot today and you look back at the snapshot of where the President was when he started, you have a much different Middle East, and that's not by accident.

     So, I believe, over time, we're going to continue to ask ourselves two questions with that conflict.  Number one is: Are we doing things that allow Israel to be more secure versus less secure for the Israeli people?  That's America's strongest ally in the region.  With this step, actually, UAE joins a very exclusive club and becomes, you know, really, one of America's closest allies in the region.

     And then number two is: Are we taking steps that allow the Palestinian people to live a better life?  And so, you know, there's a lot of people who find historical traps where they can find excuses not to move forward.  But President Trump is focused on creating a bright future, crea- -- focused on progress and making people's lives better.

     So I will just say today that this is a big breakthrough.  This is something that's -- that's public.  We have a lot of things that are happening privately right now that are quite excited.  And I do believe, again, that over the next years, if the President is able to keep going forward, you're going to see some historic changes in the region that will make -- really make the world a much safer and better place.  Thank you.

     Q    Thank you, Jared.  Appreciate it.  I just actually want to ask you, Advisor O'Brien -- you mentioned Anwar Sadat, and I'm just curious: Do you see or envision sort of a -- a Sadat-Begin-Carter picture -- a moment like that for the leaders?  Because that's something, I think, people remember -- I want to say it was ’79, but going all the way back then.

     MR. O’BRIEN:  Right.  Right.  No, I -- I think we will have a formal signing ceremony at the White House.  And we'll have to see who comes from the various countries, but I would expect that Prime Minister Netanyahu will be here, and either the Crown Prince or one of his -- one of the other princes would likely be here in Washington.  And I think it'll be a great day.

     And, really, as you know, I normally don't talk about things that -- that were said on presidential phone calls.  But one of the -- one of the leaders said that we've had a tough 2020, and this is like the best news of the year.  It really is good news.  It’s a great news story for the American people, and it's been great to see the -- how the press has reacted in a -- in a somewhat polarized time.

     I think this is one of those stories that everybody -- regardless of your political stripes or on that sort of thing, everybody's excited about the fact that an Arab -- a Muslim Arab government is making peace with Israel.  Big day.

     And we'd love to host them here at the White House.  I think the President would very much like to host them.  And so I think we'll have an event, at some point, in the-not-too-distant future.

     Thank you.

     Q    And, Jared, if I could follow up on something that you mentioned earlier.  You talked about “visionary leadership,” not just in the region, but to -- in general, including the President, to make something like this happen.  He seemed, actually, fairly positive -- albeit maybe cryptically -- that may be something soon could happen again to keep this inertia going with perhaps another country.

     Is it your sense that, yes, there's a -- there's a good chance that we could have a similar announcement here in the next, say, 90 days, 80 days?

     MR. KUSHNER:  I do think there's a very good chance.  Now, one thing I'll say about the President is that one of the things you see in great leaders is a sense of optimism.  And the President is -- is a great leader for the country because he always wants to put forward a positive front and get people to do more than they're capable of doing and help people achieve things that people don't think is possible.  And so his optimism is one of his great traits as a leader.

     I will say here that we have had several discussions.  Obviously, we -- we kind of stopped those discussions because this one looked like it was going, and it was very important to the United Arab Emirates to be the first.  They wanted to make history and do it, but we do have several more that we've had discussions with, and now we'll continue those discussions to see if we can continue to move forward more.

     Look, at the end of the day, it's an inevitability, right?  People in the world want to move forward.  The Middle East has to stand on its own two feet.  We have some great allies there.  We'll continue to work with them and help them, but we'd like to see a security architecture and an economic architecture there where people have the safety and ability to live a better life, to have jobs, to have prosperity, and people need to believe that their children can have a better life than they can.  And once that happens, people will choose a job over -- over some of the other less good areas that they're being tempted to go to by the extremists.

     Thank you.

     Q    Jared, thank you.  A couple of questions.  First, you mentioned the flights.  Can you tell us how quickly you expect to actually see those flights begin, embassies to open up?  And to what extent is this strategy in part strategy (inaudible) hope that Iran will be further isolated?

     MR. KUSHNER:  I think Iran is -- Iran, if they want to move forward -- again, the President has been very clear he's not going to pay for a meeting, but he's always happy to talk to people.  And that's part of him being a dealmaker, and that's why, again, he was able to make this deal; he was able to make the deal for the OPEC Plus; he was able to make the U.S.-Mexico-Canada deal; he was able to make the Japan trade deal, the Korea deal.  We're able to get the FIFA 2026, the Olympics 2028.  The President is a dealmaker, so he'll always be flexible.

     I do think, though, seeing the two best -- two of the best militaries in the region come together should be something that people take note of because it shows that, again, people are figuring out how they can optimize.

     And I do think that Iran has benefited from kind of dividing and conquering.  Through their proxies, they've tried to create instability, and they've -- they've tried to have the Middle East divided, which is why they've always taken advantage of the Palestinian issue and -- and they've tried to stoke fear around that issue.  And they've used it to keep people from joining together with Israel.

     You know, no Israeli has ever killed in Emirati, right?  There -- there's not that hatred between the people, which is why there's no (inaudible).  So I do believe that we will start seeing interactions very quickly and that both countries are very motivated -- both from an economic point of view, from a tourism point of view, from a health point of view, from a technology point of view -- to start moving forward quite quickly.

     Q    And very, very quickly, if I could just follow up with you.  You’ve been in the headlines recently.  Just to give you the opportunity to respond: Can you tell us why you were meeting with Kanye West?  Did you discuss the election at all in any capacity?

     MR. KUSHNER:  Yeah.  So Kanye has been a friend of mine for -- I’ve known him for about 10 years.  And, you know, we talk every now and then about different things, and we both happened to be in Colorado.  And so we got together and we had a great discussion about a lot of things.  He has some great ideas for -- for what he'd like to see happen in the country, and that's why he has the candidacy that he's been doing.

     But again, there's a lot of issues that the President has championed that he admires, and -- and it was just great to have a friendly discussion.

     Thank you.

     Q    Just to follow up on Steve’s question -- Netanyahu just did a live address tonight, and he said, “We received a request to wait temporarily on annexation from President Trump.”  He said, “It’s a temporary postponement.  It is not removed from the table.  I’m telling you that.”  So how long is “temporary,” because you said it could be a long time?  And did you get guarantees that they will adhere to that?

     MR. KUSHNER:  Somewhere between a long time and a short time.  That’s what “temporary” means.

     Thank you.

     Q    But that’s important to them to know how long “temporary” is.  He’s saying it’s not off the table, it’s not cancelled; it’s only being postponed.

     MR. KUSHNER:  Look, our discussions with the Prime Minister have been very extensive over the last three and a half years.  We have a lot of trust between Israel and America.  We've done a lot of historic things together.

     The people of Israel trust President Trump to make the right decisions that are in the best interest of Israel's security and prosperity.  And obviously, Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Trump have a very close relationship.

     I believe that they will not take action to move forward, unless we have an understanding between America and Israel, that it's the right action at the right time.  And again, you know, it's not like a binary thing to move forward or not.  There's a lot of details, there's a lot of things that need to be considered.  And we had a lot of those discussions over the coming months, and then obviously put those discussions on hold as this came about.

     So I imagine, at some point in the future, this is something that will be discussed.  But today is a great day.  This is a big breakthrough.  This is a game changer for Israel.  It's a game changer for the Middle East.  And it's a game changer for the world.

     So, I think, for the time being, people are going to focus on that and focus how to optimize from that tremendous opportunity.

     Q    But just to be clear -- just to be --

     Q    If I could follow up on Kristen’s question --

     Q    Could I just --

     Q    Did you discuss the campaign -- his campaign -- with Kanye West?

     MR. KUSHNER:  We had a general discussion, more about policy.

     Q    Jared, let me ask you about a different deal -- one here in Washington.  Democrats, Republicans are $2.5 trillion apart, it seems.  From your view, do you believe it's possible right now of a phase four deal coming together?

     MR. KUSHNER:  Working with President Trump for the last five years on the campaign and through government, I would just say that, with President Trump, anything is possible.  So, you never know.  The President has accomplished a lot of things that people thought would never be accomplished, and -- but to comment specifically on the deal, I'll leave that up to the negotiators.

     Since we seem to have exhausted questions on this topic, I'm going to pass it back Kayleigh.  Thank you.

     Q    Jared -- just to follow up on Iran -- please, Jared, you promised me earlier (inaudible).  To follow up on Iran, you said earlier this is part of the (inaudible) of isolating Iran.  The administration has recently revised a U.N. Security Council resolution to extend the arms embargo on Iran.  (Inaudible) a lot of tough language on Iran, but still -- there is still a danger of veto from Russia and China.

     So, some observers are saying that the administration is risking losing face if you can’t get support over this deal.  Can you comment on that?

     MR. O’BRIEN:  Well, the first thing is, we're always going to do the -- the administration is always do the right thing.  And President Trump is always going to do the right thing, whether it's losing face or there's a Russian veto or a Chinese veto.

     If the Chinese or the Russians veto the continuation of the arms embargo and want to start sending arms to Iran and destabilizing the region, that's on them and that's not on us.  So we're always going to take the position -- the right position -- and not worry about what the Russians or what the Chinese might do at the U.N.  If we did that, if we worried about that all the time, we'd get nothing done at the U.N.

     We also have other tools that we'll use to deal with Iran to make sure that that arms don't flow into Iran, that there's not further destabilization of the region.  There are tools that we can use diplomatically, and there are other tools that we have.

     And nobody in the region wants to see Iran on the receiving end of a bunch of Russian MiGs or Chinese missiles or Chinese drones.  The region has made that very clear, we've made that very clear, Israel has made that very clear -- so I don't think that's in the interest of anyone in the world.  It's not in the interest of global peace and security and prosperity.

     So we're going to continue to prosecute our case at the U.N. and we're going to hope for the best.  I hope the Russians and the Chinese do the right thing.  They should do the right thing.  And -- and if they don't do the right thing, well, we've got -- we've got backup steps that we’ll take.

     Q    Can you clarify whether you’ll support the snapback option?

     MR. O’BRIEN:  The snapback is certainly one of the tools that we could use.  And -- and that's something we're looking at very closely.  And it wouldn't -- look, what we're focused on right now is the vote to extend the arms embargo.  We'd like a clean rollover of the arms embargo.  We'd like to see our allies get behind it.  We'd like to see the Russians and Chinese get behind it.

     I just can't imagine any leader anywhere in the world who thinks it's a good idea to put advanced armaments in the hands of the Ayatollah and his regime, especially in today's Middle East.  I mean, that just makes zero sense whatsoever.

     So hopefully, the countries at the U.N., at the Security Council will do the right thing -- they'll roll over the arms embargo and keep it in place.  But if that doesn't happen, we've got -- we'll take steps necessary, and one of those steps could be could be snapback.

     Thank you.

     MS. MCENANY:  Thank you very much, to Senior Advisor Jared Kushner and Ambassador O'Brien.  And I will take a few of your questions on other matters, if you have any.

     Yes, Debra.

     Q    Thank you, Kayleigh.  The President has written a memoranda to give five states 100 percent of reimbursement for their National Guard costs dealing with the coronavirus.  A number of governors are trying to get on that list too, including Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak.  Have you had a chance to set up a time for them to talk?

     And the National Governors Association, say that -- says that the criteria for being one of those states that gets 100 percent, not 75 percent, aren't clear.  Can you tell me: How do you make the cut where you're 100 percent and not 75 percent?

     MS. MCENANY:  So, first, let me note that, in March, President Trump became the first President to authorize use of the National Guard under Title 32 status with 100 percent cost share.  The President supports the men and women of our National Guard.  This is a rarely used tool, but the President was willing to take this decisive action.

     Seventy-five percent of the cost share is still giving states tremendous unprecedented support, and states can utilize their Coronavirus Relief Fund dollars to cover the remaining 25 percent if they need to.  Specifically, a few states may direct cases to the President, and he obliged to support them at 100 percent.  But I won't go state by state as to where things stand.

     Q    But can you explain why some states --
     MS. MCENANY:  Yes.

     Q    A question about payroll tax and the President's comments yesterday: What did he mean by when he said he's going to "terminate" the payroll tax?  And a secondary question: If he's reelected, what should Americans believe about his commitment to Social Security?

     MS. MCENANY:  Yeah, he has unwavering commitment to Social Security -- making sure that it is fully funded and that our seniors are taken care of.  I've heard him express that private -- privately and publicly a myriad of times.

     What he was meaning yesterday is that he wants permanent forgiveness of the deferral.  He's, of course, deferred the payroll tax to the end of the year, and he wants to make that a permanent forgiveness of the deferral come next year because it's very important for, specifically, low- and middle-income Americans since it's a regressive tax.

     Q    In the long term though, does he think that the payroll tax should go away?

     MS. MCENANY:  The President is very clear on this matter that he wants a permanent forgiveness of the deferral.  That's as far as he's gone, and he's gone even further to say he's going to make sure that Social Security is fully funded.


     Q    Yeah --

     MS. MCENANY:  Lalit, and then we'll go to you next.

     Q    You've -- you voted by the U.S. mail, the President has voted by the U.S. mail, and many of his top people have voted by the mail.  Why is he trying to prevent ordinary Americans from voting by mail?

     MS. MCENANY:  So, first, let me note, I've voted absentee; the President has voted absentee.  He's always been for voting absentee for a reason.  What he is not for is mass mail-in voting or -- perhaps, to make it even clearer -- mass mail-out voting, where everyone on the voting rolls is mailed out a ballot.

     Voting rolls in Los Angeles County, for example -- you have 117 percent of the county registered to vote.  How does that even make sense?  It doesn't.  And that would mean that, in the least, 17 percent of the ballots floating around would be subject to potential fraud.  So, that's what the President is standing firmly against, but he has always been for absentee for a reason.

     Q    Kayleigh, we learned today that still roughly 15 and a half million Americans are without a job.  Nancy Pelosi spoke yesterday with the Treasury Secretary.  Seemingly, there was no progress on that call.

     For the 15 and a half million Americans and millions of others who could absolutely care less about the politics of it all, what would you tell them is coming next, considering that it seems as if nothing is moving policy-wise going forward?

     MS. MCENANY:  Yeah, what I would say is this: You know, Secretary Mnuchin said yesterday, "I am willing to move forward with legislation that provides funds to schools, childcare, food, vaccines, hospitals, PPP for small businesses, rental assistance, broadband, airports, state and local government assistance, and liability protection for universities, schools, and businesses."  He's been unmistakable -- this administration has, and this President has.  We're willing to move forward on that.

     What we're not willing to do is rubber stamp a behemoth $3.4 trillion dollar deal that the Democrats put forward that was fundamentally unserious, that would have made ballot harvesting mainstream, that was a Democrat wish list.  That's what we'll not move forward with.

     But this President, out of anyone, has taken action -- serious action on eviction protection, serious action on unemployment insurance, on a payroll tax cut, student loan forgiveness -- in his executive capacity.

     And what I would say the state of things now is: You know, you have Nancy Pelosi saying we were willing to come down a trillion if they came up with a trillion.  Well, it's fundamentally unserious because the Democrats, the Chief of Staff has told me, wouldn't even tell us what they would take out of the $1 trillion.  So, they said, "We'd come down a trillion," but wouldn't list out the things that they would take out of their Democrat wish list.  So, Nancy Pelosi needs to come back from recess and negotiate because the American people deserve better.

     Q    There are some conservatives who have made the argument that $3 trillion, give or take, has already been spent and no more needs to be spent.  If there isn't a deal that is viable, is the White House of the position that since $3 trillion has been spent, it's okay, we don't need to spend any more?

     MS. MCENANY:  No, the President is all about what is best for America's families.  He wants to see funding for our schools, direct payments to Americans.  He's protected the American people in every way he can in his executive capacity.

     But as you noted, in terms of the fiscal cost of things, and the height of -- in the height of this, when the economy was shut down, there was a $2 trillion deal negotiated.  Next, after that, when the economy was reopened, it was a $1 trillion deal.  So, for the Democrats to say, "We want more than what we even negotiated and passed during an economic shutdown" and to say, "We need $3.4 trillion" -- it's really an unserious proposal.


     Q    Thank you, Kayleigh.  Your reaction to unemployment claims dipping below a million -- 1.7 million new jobs, as well.

     And blue-state governors are politicizing school closures, says the President.  What did he mean by that?

     MS. MCENANY:  Yeah, what he means by that is that, when you look around the world, many countries in the Western world have opened their schools.  And that we, as the United States, can do the same.  We can find a way.

     The President, the White House has released guidance as to how to make that happen.  And he doesn't want a -- a decision that is so important for our children to be politicized because he believes it's in the public-health interest of the child to be back in school.  And I've listed out for you all the reasons for that previously.

     And what was your first question you --

     Q    The unemployment claims are dipping below --

     MS. MCENANY:  Yes.

     Q    -- a million.  How surprised are you that that’s the figure and the direction we’re going?

     MS. MCENANY:  I'm not surprised because, under this President -- he was the great jobs President once, brought us the greatest economy in modern history once, and he'll do it again.  And this is more evidence of that.

     To see unemployment claims dip below a million, coming on the backs of a July jobs report that exceeded expectations; and, of course, the two blockbuster jobs reports before that -- it goes in line with the manufacturing ISM good numbers that we saw and many other metrics.

     This is the President who's already making sure we have an economic rebound that outpaces Europe and other countries as well.


     Q    Has the President been briefed on the Russian coronavirus vaccine?  Does he think it's a workable vaccine?

     MS. MCENANY:  The President has been briefed on that.  He's also been briefed on our own vaccine progress.  One thing to note, and I believe Dr. Fauci made this point: Our vaccines go through rigorous phase three clinical trial, where we have 30,000 individuals that we test to make sure it's perfectly healthy in moving forward.  So that's the kind of standard we have for American vaccines, and it's important that we do that.

     But we do think that we'll have a vaccine by the end of the year.  And the President, in advance of that, is manufacturing hundreds and millions of doses of these vaccines in anticipation of one being successful.


     Q    Thank you, Kayleigh.  Going back to Iran and Russia as geopolitical actors in the Middle East, they have been wellsprings of instability there, as we discussed.  But how confident is this White House that Iran and Russia are finally going to be placed in their respective lanes in the advent of this deal and deals to come?

     MS. MCENANY:  Well, look, we believe that there's a big contrast here in where this administration stands and the previous administration.

     And when you look at the -- excuse me -- the Obama-Biden admin- -- administration, they cozied up to America's enemies.  The Iran deal was egregious.  We know that there were cash payouts to Iran.  And what this President has done is diametrically opposite: working with our allies, working with Israel, negotiating a historic peace agreement like hasn't been seen in a quarter of a century.

     So, when you work with our allies, when you engage in diplomacy, when you have a great dealmaker as President, you get deals like what we saw today.  And it's stark contrast to what we saw from the previous administration.


     Q    Does the President share former Vice President Biden's view that annexation would virtually end any chance at a two-state solution that would secure Israel's future as a Jewish and democratic state and uphold the right of Palestinians to a state of their own?  (Inaudible.)

     MS. MCENANY:  Yeah, so, I'm not going to go any further into the state of Middle East peace.  I'd refer you to NSC on that.  But today we're focusing on the historic agreement that's been made.


     Q    Yeah, is -- was the President aware about these two dozen letters between him and Chairman Kim that apparently are going to be published in the new Bob Woodward book?  Did he sign off on that?

     MS. MCENANY:  I haven't even looked into that, or spoken to him about that.  We're focused, today, on providing relief to the American people and the historic deal.


     Q    Thank you, Kayleigh.  Will the President's executive order on WeChat block Apple from distributing the app on their platform?  And if so, what is the administration say about concerns that it could be kneecapping an American company and diminishing its competitiveness?

     MS. MCENANY:  So, the only remarks I have for you today on TikTok and WeChat are this:  The President, he signed those two executive orders, exercising his authority under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act to address the threats posed by TikTok and WeChat.  The administration is committed to protecting the American people from all cyber threats, and these apps collect significant amounts of private data on users, and such information can be accessed and used by the PRC.  And TikTok has a documented history of censoring free speech to conform to CCP propaganda.  And we take the data of Americans very seriously.

     One other thing I wanted to clear up is that Speaker Pelosi has been fundamentally unserious in these negoti- -- negotiations and engaging in blatant partisanship.  One thing she said recently is that she needs three point billion -- $3.5 billion -- with a “B” -- for election funding.  That is a fund- -- fundamentally unserious ask for this reason.

     I talked to the Office of Management and Budget.  They said states have been given over $1.2 billion in Election Assistance Grants since Fiscal Year 2018.  And we estimate that they've spent less than a sixth of that funding in these three years and still have over $1 billion of those funds sitting around right now that have not been spent.

     So we encourage for Speaker Pelosi to follow in the footsteps of the suggestion of Congressman Ro Khanna, of her own party, who said, “I think Congress should be in session.  I think it's absurd for Congress to be going on a break during a pandemic and a national crisis.”  I can tell you one person who hasn't been on a break: It's this President, providing relief for the American people.

     Thank you.  And he'll be out here at 5:30.  Thanks so much.

                   END                   2:13 P.M. EDT


Office of the Press Secretary

     Robert Benedict Bowes, of Virginia, to be a Commissioner of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission for a term expiring April 13, 2025, vice Brian D. Quintenz, term expired.



Office of the Press Secretary
Oval Office
 10:51 A.M. EDT
     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, thank you very much.  This is very important.  This is a big event.  And I want to just congratulate all of the people standing behind me because they have done an incredible job.  This is something that hasn’t been done in more than 25 years.
     Just a few moments ago, I hosted a very special call with two friends -- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed of the United Arab Emirates -- where they agreed to finalize a historical peace agreement.  Everybody said this would be impossible.  And, as you know, Mohammed is one of the great leaders of the Middle East.
     After 49 years, Israel and the United Arab Emirates will fully normalize their diplomatic relations.  They will exchange embassies and ambassadors, and begin cooperation across the board and on a broad range of areas, including tourism, education, healthcare, trade, and security.
     This is a truly historic moment.  Not since the Israel-Jordan peace treaty was signed more than 25 years ago has so much progress been made towards peace in the Middle East.
     By uniting two of America’s closest and most capable partners in the region -- something which said could not be done -- this deal is a significant step towards building a more peaceful, secure, and prosperous Middle East.
     Now that the ice has been broken, I expect more Arab and Muslim countries will follow the United Arab Emirates’ lead.  And I want to just thank them for being -- it’s not surprising, knowing Mohammed so well.  It’s not surprising.  They are in that lead position.  And normalize relations with Israel.  We are already discussing this with other nations -- with very powerful, very good nations and people that want to see peace in the Middle East.  So you will probably see others of these, but this is the first one in more than 25 years.
     This deal will allow much greater access to Muslims from throughout the world to visit the many historic sites in Israel -- which the Muslims want to see very badly and have wanted to see for many, many decades -- and to peacefully pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which is a very special place for them.
     My first trip as President was to Saudi Arabia in May of 2017.  In my speech to the assembled leaders of 54 Muslim countries -- every single one was by their leader, their number-one leader.  It was an amazing -- really, an incredible event.  A very important event.  I made clear that the problems of the Middle East can only be solved when people of all faiths come together to fight Islamic extremism and pursue economic opportunity for people of all faiths. 
     And when you look at what’s happening, you’re seeing a lot of progress is being made that nobody thought could possibly be made.  And things are happening that I can’t talk about, but they’re extremely positive.
     I want to thank the leaders of Israel and the UAE for their courage and for their leadership to forge this tremendous agreement.  It will be known as the “Abraham Accord.”  And I’d like to ask our ambassador, David Friedman, to please explain why we’re doing and calling it the “Abraham Accord.” 
     AMBASSADOR FRIEDMAN:  Thank you, Mr. President, and congratulations to you on brokering this historic peace agreement. 
     Abraham, as many of you know, was the father of all three great faiths.  He is referred to as “Abraham” in the Christian faith, “Ibrahim” in the Muslim faith, and “Avraham” in the Jewish faith. 
     And no person better symbolizes the potential for unity among all these three great faiths than Abraham, and that’s why this accord has been given that name. 
     THE PRESIDENT:  It’s a great -- great thing.  I wanted it to be called the “Donald J. Trump Accord.”  (Laughter.)  But I didn’t think the press would understand that.  I didn’t do that. 
     Avi, say a few words, please. 
     MR. BERKOWITZ:  Thank you, Mr. President.  It’s really been the honor of my life to work in your administration.  I think this re- -- reaffirms your commitment to Israel, to stability in the region. 
     It’s just a historic accomplishment, and it’s -- it’s peace.  Peace is a beautiful thing, and it’s something that everybody in the country should celebrate, I hope.  And I’m just so honored to -- to be here and to serve in your administration.
     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, you’ve done a great job.  And Jared has done a fantastic job.  People don’t really understand the things that he’s able to do.  He’s done a fantastic job on this.  And you and your team -- nobody else could have done it.  I don’t think anybody else could have done it. 
     Jared, say a few words, please.
     MR. KUSHNER:  Thank you, Mr. President.  And I would like to say that -- I want to thank the President for his leadership on this historic peace effort. 
     The President, like with all things, urged us to take an untraditional approach.  You can't solve problems that have gone unsolved by doing it the same way that people before you have tried and failed. 
     The President takes untraditional approaches.  He does things in different ways, but he uses common sense and he tries to unite people by focusing on common interests, as opposed to allowing them to focus on their common grievances. 
     And what happened was, here -- is we were able to achieve results that others were not able to achieve, and this will advance the region, and this will advance the whole world. 
     I would like to say to the people of the region -- Muslims, Jews, Christians -- that this does give hope that the problems of the past do not condemn you to a future with conflict.  There is a lot of hope and a lot of potential, and this will benefit you and this will also benefit people here in America.  Because in America, we used to have a big dependency on the Middle East for gas and for oil.  Thanks to your leadership, America is now energy independent.  We no longer have that. 
     But a lot of American soldiers have fought for securing our allies in that region.  And making more peace there lessens our need, as a country, to have as many soldiers in that region and lessens our need to have as many conflicts in that region. 
     And obviously, radical extremism, which we see as a cancer that has infected so many areas in the world -- a lot of the extremists have used these conflicts to -- to recruit people and to say that the mosque is under attack and that Muslims don't have access to the mosque. 
     And now this will enable people to take flights from Dubai and Abu Dhabi directly to Tel Aviv.  Muslims will be welcome in Israel, and this will create better interfaith exchange. 
     So this is a tremendous step forward for peace in the world, for -- for America, for -- for Israel, for Abu Dhabi.  And all would not have been possible without your leadership.  So I just want to thank you. 
     THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  Thank you, Jared.  What a great job.  And what Jared said is so, though -- we don't have to be there anymore.  We don't need oil.  We don't need anything there except friendship.  We have some great friends.  These are two countries that have been great friends, and we've been great friends to them.  But we no longer have to be there. 
     It started off when we had to be there, but as of a few years ago, we don't have to be there.  We don't have to be patrolling the straits.  We're doing things that other countries wouldn't do.  But we put ourself, over the last few years, in a position where we no longer have to be in areas that, at one point, were vital.  And that's a big statement.  But we are there for our friends, and we always will be there for our friends.
     Robert, would you say a few words please?
     MR. O’BRIEN:  Mr. President, thank you.  The point I want to make, Mr. President: You inherited a Middle East that was a mess when you came to office, and this is one more historic step in bringing peace to the Middle East.
     First of all, there was a caliphate that was raging -- an ISIS caliphate.  And that physical caliphate was destroyed, and you brought justice to al-Baghdadi.  You reassured our friends in Israel, who had suffered at the end of the last administration, with a U.N. resolution.  You moved the capital to Jerusalem.  You recognized the Golan Heights. 
     In the broader region, you had a very difficult situation in Afghanistan, where we were -- soldiers were -- American soldiers were coming home injured; wounded; sadly, in some cases, dead.  You brought a -- you’ve got a peace agreement now with the Taliban, and we're going to have less than half the number of troops in Afghanistan that were there when you started your term of office. 
     And now you've brought about this historic peace deal between the UAE and Israel.  This is the first time in 25 years that Israel and an Arab country have normalized diplomatic relations and entered into a peace deal.  And they're the two most capable countries in the Middle East -- two very capable, very skilled, very innovative allies of the United States.  So, it's great for Israel, it's great for the UAE, but it's also great for the American -- the American people.
     So, you came in -- you came into office with a region that was -- that was really aflame, and you brought peace to that region, and there's more to come.  And so it's an honor to be part of your team, Mr. President, and to serve under your leadership.
     THE PRESIDENT:  We do have a lot more to come in the Middle East.  A lot of very positive things are happening, and you'll be seeing that taking place.  But where we can get a leader like UAE to head the band and get along with Israel, that's a big -- that's a very big step.
     Would you please say a few words?  You have done such a fantastic job.
     MR. HOOK:  Thank you, Mr. President.  The Trump administration made history today.  It's been an honor to be a part of this team that Jared has led. 
     Peace between the Arabs and the Israelis is Iran's worst nightmare.  And no one has done more to intensify the conflict between Arabs and Israelis than Iran. 
     And what we see today is a new Middle East.  The trend lines are very different today.  And we see the future is very much in the Gulf and with Israel, and the past is with the Iranian regime. It clings to power on the basis of brute force that has lost the -- it is facing a crisis of legitimacy and credibility with its own people.  And the President's maximum pressure campaign has achieved historic results. 
     THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Great job you’ve done. 
     Would you like to say something?
     MAJOR GENERAL CORREA:  Yes, sir.  As a -- as a soldier who has been in every war since Desert Storm, it is an honor and a privilege for your leadership, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, and Prime Minister Netanyahu to get to peace. 
     So, your vision and those leaders' vision on what we can do in the future is just incredible.  So, I would thank you, as a soldier.
     THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  I appreciate it.
     Would anybody like to say a few words?  Anybody here?  Because you were saying plenty of words during that negotiation.  (Laughter.)  So they got very quiet in front of the media.
     SECRETARY MNUCHIN:  Mr. President --
     THE PRESIDENT:  That happens -- that happens on occasion.
     SECRETARY MNUCHIN:  Mr. President --
     THE PRESIDENT:  Yes, Steve.
     SECRETARY MNUCHIN:  It's a historic moment.  Thank you for being -- letting us all be part of this.  It is really extraordinary.  Nothing is more important than peace.  This is an unbelievable moment. 
     And I would just echo what Brian Hook said: Your maximum-pressure campaign -- under your leadership, we've had the strongest sanctions on Iran.  And your commitment to make sure that Iran will never have a nuclear weapon is part of the most important legacy for peace in the Middle East.
     THE PRESIDENT:  So, which is easier: dealing with the Democrats or dealing with the Middle East?  (Laughter.)
     SECRETARY MNUCHIN:  Well, a lot of people never thought you'd get a -- this type of deal. 
     THE PRESIDENT:  I tell you, I think --
     SECRETARY MNUCHIN:  So I'll be hopeful that we can deal with the Democrats.
     THE PRESIDENT:  I think the Middle East is more reasonable, actually.  (Laughter.)
     I'd like you two guys to say a couple of words.  You've been so instrumental.  Please.
     MR. GREENWAY:  Sir, it’s a privilege to serve in your administration.  This is a remarkable achievement that'll stand the test of time, and we look forward to the prosperity and the peace this brings the Middle East and the ways we’ll be able to leverage that for the United States’ national interest.
     THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  
     MR. GREENWAY:  So, it's a privilege, sir. 
     THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.
     MR. VANDROFF:  And I would just echo what Rob said.  It's -- thank you for the opportunity to be part -- and especially, I want to thank Avi and the opportunity to serve in his negotiating team to do something so historic.  That -- thank you for this opportunity, Mr. President.  This really changes the world.
     THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  Thank you.  Thank you all very much.  This is very exciting.  Thank you.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you very much.  Thank you.  Thank you very much.
     Do you have any questions?  Do you have any questions on this accord?
     Q    Mr. President --
     THE PRESIDENT:  Steve, go ahead, please.
     Q    Could you just describe the tenor of the conversation you had with the two other leaders?  Was there any hesitation on their part --
     Q    -- in reaching this deal?
     THE PRESIDENT:  No.  It was like and love.  It was a tremendous relationship that’s been built up over the last, I would say, year.  Before that, it was very tense, as everything in the Middle East is.  It’s very tense.  It's a very tense place.  But it's becoming less tense, and I have great relationships with all of the leaders.  And some of -- some are enemies against each other, and I get along with both. 
     That's, I guess, the big thing; people don't understand that about me.  I actually -- I've gotten along.  Remember, when I was elected, they said the war will start with somebody within days, and I've kept us out of war. 
     You look at North Korea.  Everybody said, including President Obama, that's the biggest problem.  Everybody said you'd be at war.  Well, we're not at war.  It would have been a war if I wasn't elected, if it was somebody else. 
     No, we're -- we're doing very well in the Middle East.  And I'll tell you what: It's been an incredible thing. 
     But, no, it was tense, but the relationship has become a very good one with -- between UAE and Israel -- and also with other countries, many other countries. 
     And I think you'll be seeing some very exciting things, including ultimately with the Palestinians.  I think that's going to be happening at some point because it makes a lot of sense for them to let it happen.
     Q    Do you support annexation of Palestinian land by Israelis at this point?
     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, we're talking to Israel about that right now, actually. 
     Q    What about the snapback option on Iran?  Do you support that?
     THE PRESIDENT:  Oh, you really know you're stuff, don’t you?  (Laughter.)  Well, we’re not going to talk to you about that.  We're going to work something out, and then we'll talk after it's completed.  But it'll be a very satisfactory --
     Q    Why now did they come to an agreement?
     THE PRESIDENT:  We've been working on this for a long time.  It's been a labor of love for a lot of the people in this room.  And a lot of them love Israel, and a lot of them love the Middle East, and they love the countries that we're talking about --
     THE PRESIDENT:  -- like UAE, as an example -- standing right here.  And it's been a labor of love.  They know it has to happen. 
     And I don't want to be speaking too much about it, but if you look, what's happened since I broke up that ridiculous Iran nuclear deal -- money isn't going to some horrible, horrible groups.  And you haven't seen the kind of terrorism that you saw before. 
     Now, I don't like saying it, because all of a sudden, they'll say, “We've got to do something.”  But you know what?  They're not getting money because Iran isn't giving money, and I appreciate that.  But Iran is going through very difficult times, and I appreciate that. 
     And I'll say this, and I can say it very publicly, that if I win the election, I will have a deal made with Iran within 30 days.  They make a very fast deal.  They're dying to make a deal, but they'd much rather negotiate with Sleepy Joe Biden than with us.
     Q   Why haven’t you already done that, sir?
     THE PRESIDENT:  But we’ll -- we'll be having a deal made very, very quickly.  But, you know, rightfully, they’re waiting until after the election because they would -- there's nothing China, Iran, Russia, all of them would like to see more than have Trump be defeated, where they could deal with Joe Biden, because that would be like a dream. 
     And this was something that was very exciting.  We thought this would be the first country.  He's a great leader; Mohammed is a great leader.  And we're very happy that he was the first country, I would say.  And you can see many other things happening in the Middle East over a fairly short period of time.  But this is the first time in more than 25 years and -- and UAE is big stuff. 
     The UAE is very powerful, very strong --
     Q    Do you know when the dele- --
     THE PRESIDENT:  -- has one of the strongest militaries.  It's big stuff. 
     Q    Do you know when the delegations are going to meet specifically?
     THE PRESIDENT:  Very soon.  I guess they'll be setting up the meetings.  Do you have any time?
     MR. O’BRIEN:  I think in the next several weeks, Mr. President. And then we expect that there will be a meeting here at the White House, with the -- the leaders as well.
     THE PRESIDENT:  There will be an official signing at the White House over the next few weeks.  Okay? 
     And other than that, we’ll meet you at 5:30 or so, and we’ll talk, and we’ll actually take one of your questions.  Okay?  Thank you.  Thank you everybody.  (Applause.) 
                        END                11:08 A.M. EDT



Office of the Press Secretary
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

5:56 P.M. EDT
     THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  I appreciate you being here, and good evening.  As we continue to confront the China virus, we're rebuilding America's economy like nobody thought possible, actually.  We're doing incredibly well. 
     The stock market is up almost 300 points again today.  While our economy is performing significantly better than Europe -- which people have to understand very strongly; it's performing better than any market anywhere in the world actually.  At the same time, Europe has experienced a 40 percent higher excess mortality than the United States.  And I will say that that's a significant number.  We're working with Europe on their difficulties, and we are going to help them all the way. 
     We're doing very well, as you know, on the vaccines and the therapeutics.  But think of that: We have the strongest economy -- performing economy in the world.  We're up -- I think it's $9 trillion since March -- $9 trillion in value.  That's a -- that's a number that nobody has ever heard of before.  We're also getting close to about a 50 percent number since March, which is incredible.  So, it's $9 trillion.  It's almost 50 percent.  In fact, I think it went above 50 percent today with the 300 point increase.  And it's -- so we're doing much better than Europe, significantly.  And at the same time, Europe has experienced a 40 percent higher excess mortality than the United States.
     I just want to mention because another number of judges were approved recently.  We'll be, probably, over 300 judges --federal judges, including court of appeals judges -- approved by the end of my first term.  And other than they -- when they added new judges into somebody's term, which happens seldom, but we have more than any -- this is a record.  Nobody has ever seen anything like this in one term.  So we're going to have over 300 federal judges, and that's court of appeals judges, and that's just in the first term.  It's -- probably we’ll finish out over 300, which is pretty amazing. 
     The stock market's rebound signals a "V"-shaped recovery, stronger than our competitors anywhere in the world -- stronger.  If you look, you'll see exactly what we have.  We -- we lead the world.  Japan is second.  But in terms of dollar value, it's not even close.  So there it is.  A lot of great competitors: Europe, United Kingdom, Japan, China, Hong Kong.  The United States is leading the world, very substantially.
     On the second slide, you'll see the virus-induced economic contraction in the United States has been far less severe than it was with our peers and peer nations.  And you see that, right there; there's the United States.  And that's despite the fact that we've done more testing than any other nation in the world, that we've done more, by far, ventilators.  We're building thousands and thousands of ventilators a month, and we're distributing them all over the world.  We're helping other countries.
     But despite all of these factors, the shallowest contraction, which is a big deal.  I'm sure you'd love to put them in your various media outlets.  I know you want to get that out.  If you want to leave the room early and do that, that would be fine.  The rapid recovery -- but it would be nice to report it. 
     The rapid recovery of homebuilders’ sentiment points to massive new construction.  And we are doing massive amounts of construction of new homes, and that's because people have tremendous confidence.  This is where we went, and the housing market has quickly rebounded.  We were at a record, and now we're going to be at a record again very shortly.  Those numbers are incredible.  That’s where we are.  And we had to turn off the economy, and now we're turning it back on, and that's beyond a "V" shape.  This is going to be very strong; it's called a “strong ‘V.’"
     Automobile demand has increased 65 percent over the last three months.  Sixty-five percent automobile demand.  And we're anticipating that that's going to go up even further, but that's more than any -- anybody else.  The manufacturing sector -- remember "manufacturing is dead," according to the past administration of Obama and Biden?  "Manufacturing is dead. You'd need a magic wand."  Well, you don't need a magic wand.  You need competence and capability.  The manufacturing sector is booming, and the Production Index is at the highest reading since October of '18, which is -- was a -- an extraordinary period of time.  And there we are.  That's pretty good.
     These are numbers that nobody has seen until just recently, and now they're just coming out.  These are numbers that are leading -- I guess, the stock market people, they're very smart people.  I know many of them, and they're seeing things that they don't even believe.  So, the manufacturing sector is booming, and the Production Index is at its highest reading in a long, long time.
     The economy generated over 9 million jobs in the last three years -- a record, by far -- and 12 million more jobs than experts predicted.  So, there you are.  You look at that, and that's a record, and it's a record for the quarter.  We had over 9 million -- substantially more than 9 million jobs. 
     So those are incredible numbers about our economy and how it's coming back.  It's coming back very strongly, and it's coming back at a level that's far greater than anybody anticipated.  And we're very proud of that.  And I give a lot of credit to all of our people -- Steve and Larry. 
     And we'll be talking about it.  If you have any questions on it -- shouldn't have any questions.  I didn't -- I didn't print those charts.  Who did?  The economy (inaudible), let’s see.  I don’t know.  We'll find that out for you, but it wasn’t us.  We took those -- we took those numbers from somebody.  Where did you get those numbers, Larry?  They're from where?
     MR. KUDLOW: It’s from the BLS jobs report (inaudible).
     THE PRESIDENT:  BLS jobs report.
     MR. KUDLOW:  The monthly jobs report, through July.
     THE PRESIDENT:  Okay.  Everybody has that -- everybody who needs?
     The Democrats have abandoned the American people over the simple subject of politics.  Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi are holding the American people hostage over money for their radical leftwing agenda that the country doesn't want and won't accept. 
     For example, they've asked for a ridiculous $3.5 billion -- that's billion -- $3.5 billion for universal mail-in voting, a system riddled by fraud and corruption.  You just look at what happened with the Carolyn Maloney race.  They should do that race over, by the way.  I think her opponent is right when he is having fits about that race.  When you look at the ballot, the ballots that are missing, and the ballot frauds -- nobody knows what's going on with that race, and yet they declared her a winner.  So, her opponent -- I don't know what's happened over the last 24 hours, but her opponent is rightfully going a little bit crazy. 
     And then you look at what happened in Virginia, where they have 500,000 applications sent out at random to people that have no idea what happened.  And they admitted they made a mistake.  And many were sent to dead people and many were sent to -- a number was sent -- I guess, two -- that at least two, three, four were sent to dogs.  One was sent to a cat.  They're sent all over the place.  That was in Virginia. 
     In Paterson, New Jersey, they had a massive amount of voter fraud.  And it's been a disaster.  Paterson, New Jersey has been total disaster -- that's universal mail-in voting.
     So, they want $3.5 billion for universal mail-in voting for the country, where you have hundreds of millions of voters.  They can't do a little race with 20,000 people; now they want to take it countrywide.  Mail-in voting -- it's going to be the greatest fraud in the history of elections.  When you always talk about "Russia, Russia, Russia," China, Iran on voting -- your biggest problem is going to be with the Democrats, not with China, Russia, and Iran.  Your biggest problem is going to be with the Democrats.
     But now the Democrats -- they want $3.5 billion, think of it.  But now that they're unwilling to approve a bill that gives all of that money -- of course, we would never approve an amount like that.  And they also want $25 billion additional for the Post Office, Steve.  Twenty-five billion for the Post Office, so the Post Office can handle this vast amount of ballots that are being sent, at random, all over the place.  They have no idea where they're going.
     So, they want $25 billion, and they want -- think of this: They want $3.5 billion.  Would you say that's enough to cover it?  I think we could do it for less, right?  I think we could do it for less.  But they want $25 billion for the Post Office because of this. 
     And remember, the new man -- who is a great person, a great businessman -- he just got there a little while ago.  The Post Office has been run poorly for many, many decades.  Great people in the Post Office, incredible people, but they've had very bad leadership for many years.  So, we'll get it straightened out. 
     But they turned down this bill because they want radical-left agenda items that nobody in their right mind would approve.  So, they want $25 billion for the Post Office.  They want $2.5- or $3.5 billion for universal mail-in -- $3.5 billion.  And the bill is not going to happen because they don't even want to talk about it because we can't give them the kind of ridiculous things that they want that have nothing to do with the China virus.  It has nothing at all to do with China virus, much of what they're asking for.  So, therefore, they don’t have the money to do the universal mail-in voting.  So, therefore, they can't do it, I guess.  Right? 
     Are they going to do it even though they don’t have the money?  They're asking for the $3.5 billion.  They're asking for $25 billion for the Post Office so they can do this, I guess, and other things.  At $25 [billion], I would hope it would be a lot of other things, too. 
     But, therefore, they don't have it.  They don't have the money to do the universal mail-in votes.  It'll be the greatest rigged election in history.  It'll be the greatest fraud ever perpetrated, other than perhaps what they did to my campaign, where they spied on my campaign -- President Obama, Biden, and everybody else.  And they got caught.  Let's see what happens.  This will be one of the greatest frauds in history. 
     So they're admitting that they want $3.5 billion, and they're not going to do a deal that's good for the American people.  Therefore, they're not going to get the $3.5 billion.  Therefore, they can't do the universal mail-in vote.  It’s very simple.  How are they going to do it if they don't have the money to do it?
     The Democrats are also holding up money for schools, and hospitals, and small businesses, and state and local governments.  They tried to stop Americans from getting unemployment insurance and protection from evictions, which is why I took this decisive action.  And I did executive orders, which are now in full force in effect, and they're going forward. 
     I signed a directive to provide a total of $400 of additional support for Americans who are unemployed due to the China virus.  That's $400 more than the Democrats have provided.  Remember that: That’s $400 more than the Democrats have provided. 
     Nancy and Chuck haven't provided anything.  And remember this: President Obama, when we had a problem -- a pretty big problem; a very big problem -- you know what he gave?  Twenty-five dollars.  He gave 25 bucks.  So now they say, “Well, we want to give $500 or we want to give $600.”  They don’t want to give.  They don’t even give anything.  They're not doing anything. 
     But President Obama and Biden -- Sleepy Joe -- gave $25.  Twenty-five.  And they'll complain, “Oh, we want to give more.”  Well, we're giving $400, and that's now in the works, and that'll be getting out to the people soon, Steve.  Okay?  Remember that: $25 is what they gave the last time.  Twenty-five.
     I want to make it unmistakably clear that I'm protecting people from evictions.  They didn't want to do that.  The Democrats didn't want to do a protection from evictions -- people getting evicted because of the coronavirus or the “China virus,” whatever you want to call it.  We have 20 -- now we’re up to 21 different names.  All we know is it came out of China, and it shouldn't have.  They should have stopped it.
     Under my executive order, HUD, HHS, and CDC have been directed to ensure renters and homeowners that they can stay safely in their homes.  They're not going to be evicted.  They are not going to be evicted.  And those letters have already been sent out, Steve, so you'll make sure of that.
     I'm providing a payroll tax holiday to all Americans earning less than $100,000 per year, meaning bigger paychecks for working families through the end of 2020.  That's a tremendous amount of money that's being supplied and given to families.  Tremendous. 
     The Democrats didn't want to do a payroll tax.  They thought it was “too much money,” I guess, or it would make businesses too successful.  They don't want to see success.  They certainly don't want to see it before the election.  They certainly don't want to see the kind of graphs and charts that you saw up there.  They don't.  Because they say they can't win with that kind of success.  They can't win.  They have to get used to it.
     Remember: We've already gotten $3 trillion in stimulus, so they should have probably negotiated a little bit differently.  Maybe they should have asked for all of this before they got most of the money and we gave it out -- a lot of it to the people.
     When we win the election -- when I win the election, I'm going to completely and totally forgive all deferred payroll taxes without in any way, shape, or form hurting Social Security.  That money is going to come from the General Fund.  We're not going to touch Social Security.  I said from day one that we're going to protect Social Security, and we're going to protect our people.  And Social Security is one of the things that will be protected.  Pre-existing conditions will be protected.  Medicare will be protected. 
     But Social Security will be totally protected under me.  Under them, it will not be protected because we will have a stock market crash the likes of which you've never seen.  Your taxes will be doubled and tripled.  And your regulations will go through the roof, which is what was causing the problems with the country in the first place.
     Student loans: I signed a directive providing relief to student borrowers.  Not their fault that they can't go to college.  I will be deferring payments on student loans at zero interest until further notice.  So we're going to take care of our students.  We have a lot of great students out there, and they -- they got hit like everybody else.  So I will be deferring payments on student loans at zero interest until further notice.
     And the payroll tax -- we’ll be terminating the payroll tax after I, hopefully, get elected.  We’ll be terminating the payroll tax, so that will mean anywhere from $5,000 to even more per family, and also great for businesses and great for jobs.  A lot of people will be very happy to hear that.  A lot of the great -- certainly, conservative economists will be great to have -- they think that's the greatest thing we can do.  That's better than the payments; that's better than anything else.
     But it's a lot of money, and it's -- it's going right directly to the people, and it goes there very easily.  But it also creates stronger companies to employ the people.  So we will be -- on the assumption I win, we are going to be terminating the payroll tax after the beginning of the new year.
     Today, I met with parents, students, teachers, and health experts to discuss the vital importance of safety and safely reopening America's schools.  This evening, I'll outline the commonsense recommendations that should guide schools as they reopen with precautions.  We want to be very, very safe and very careful -- so, precautions in place.
     Our strategy to safely reopen schools mirrors our approach nationwide as we race toward the competition -- and the completion -- we're competing with us, but I'm not completing -- competing with anyone.  We just want to have a vaccine.  We have -- we're dealing with other countries, and we want them to do well.  We're giving them whatever information they need.  We're all working towards something that will happen.  It will happen before the end of the year -- maybe substantially before, but before the end of the year.  And therapeutics will happen, likewise, even sooner.
     But we're looking for that responsible path forward to shelter those at highest risk, while allowing those at lower risk to resume work and school and play football.  Go play football.
     I spoke to some of the great football players -- college players -- Trevor and a lot of great players.  Called Coach -- a coach called “Coach O.”  A lot of fantastic people I got to speak to -- athletes, leaders.  They want to play football.  Let them play.  Let them play.  And they'll -- they feel safer in the field than they do walking around and doing nothing.
     So, hopefully, that will happen.  And hopefully, when they play football, they will proudly stand for the National Anthem and they will proudly stand and -- and respect the American flag -- or at least I'm not watching.  I can't speak for others, but based on what I see now and based on what I'm looking at, with respect to the NBA at this point, a lot of people agree with me.  So we want people -- we would like to request people -- you stand proudly for the flag and for the National Anthem.
     In the months since the virus arrived, we've learned a great deal.  While this is a dangerous and highly infectious disease, it primarily affects the oldest segment of our population or those with chronic health issues.
     The United States has the largest nursing home and assisted-living home population in the Western world, by far.  Nearly half of all of the deaths from the China virus in the United States have occurred in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. 
     The median age of those who succumb to the virus is 78 years old.  These findings underscore that all Americans must continue to apply extreme vigilance in protecting our elderly population and those with chronic conditions.  Outcomes are very different for younger Americans without serious health issues -- tremendously different.  They can often expect mild or moderate symptoms or even no symptoms whatsoever.  They have very strong immune systems, we've learned -- even more so than we ever thought.
     In a typical year, approximately five times as many Americans under the age of 65 die from heart disease as have so far been lost to the coronavirus from the same age group.  That's an interesting statistic. 
     Bless- -- blessedly, children appear to face the lowest risk of all.  It's 99.995 percent of all fatilities [fatalities] are adults.  Think of that: 99.95.  That is extremely close to 100 percent of all fatilities [fatalities] are adults. 
     Children often have only mild symptoms, and medical complications are incredibly rare -- very, very, very rare.  Those that do face complications often have underlying medical conditions.  In each of the last five years, the flu resulted in more deaths of those under 18 in the United States than have been lost thus far to coronavirus, by far.  The flu -- the flu does kill young people.
     Given these considerations, we believe many school districts can now reopen safely, provided they implement mitigation measures and health protocols to protect families, protect teachers, and protect students.  All families should be empowered to make the decision that is right for their own circumstances.  This is especially important if a child has underlying health conditions or lives with a parent or grandparent who is at a high risk.
     And one of the things we'd like to do is when we make payment to schools -- because we spend a lot of money on schools -- we'd like to make the payment directly to the student or to the child.  And that would be to the parents, essentially, but to the child.  We want to follow the child so that if a school is closed, the family can go to another school, maybe in another area, but they can do it.  And we’d like to make that payment -- rather than paying a school that’s closed, we’d rather pay directly.  We're following the child -- where the child goes.  And we want to pay the family, pay the child, and then the family can take care of the cost. 
     And we're trying to get that approved too, but the Democrats don't like doing anything, unless it means doing for the union, which controls Nancy and controls Chuck 100 percent.  And I have nothing wrong with the union.  I have great respect, more than -- very few people do I respect more than a great teacher.  That’s a tremendous talent.  They -- they're really underappreciated.  These are phenomenal people with tremendous talent -- the great ones are among the most important people we have in this country.
     But -- and they’ll be great at other -- they’ll be great at charter schools.  And they’ll be great at -- well, we talk about school choice, which we'd like to see so that parents can take their children to the school of their choice.  That’s something we want.  We think it's very important, especially in the minority communities.  They want it so badly.  African American, Hispanic American, Asian American -- they want it so badly.
     But the two people I mentioned, Nancy and Chuck, they're totally controlled by the heads of the union.  I think the teachers like us a lot.  We're taking care of our teachers.  We want to take care of our teachers.
     But we cannot indefinitely stop 50 million American children from going to school and harming their mental, physical, emotional, and academic development, and inflicting long-term, lasting damage. 
     I heard a gentleman today, a great person -- some of you were at that meeting -- from Harvard, say that every year is $10,000.  It's a -- people -- they lose a tremendous amount of money in the future.  He mentioned $10,000.  And I think he was talking about on a yearly basis.  They lose a lot by every year of education that they lost.  Every year they gain, they gain $10,000.  And when you have students sitting at home, playing with a computer, it's not the same.  That's one thing we've learned for sure: It's not the same.  It can never be the same as being in a classroom.  So we want to get our students in the classroom. 
     The American Academy of Pediatrics has released guidance recommendation that schools reopen.  They said, “Reopen.”  It said, quote, “Lengthy time away from school and associated interruption of supportive services often results in social isolation, making it difficult for schools to identify and address important learning deficits.”  The doctors, also warned about the risk of increased abuse, substance use, depression, and suicide.  Suicide. 
     The National Education Association recently stated, “Despite the momentous efforts of educators during the pandemic, online learning has never been an effective replacement for in-person learning and support.”  So when you sit at home in a basement, looking at a computer, your brain starts to wither away.  We have a lot of good experience at that, just by taking a look at what's happening in politics. 
     Studies estimate that school closures last spring caused the average student to fall 50 percent behind in math and roughly 35 percent in reading compared to a typical year.  Think of that: It caused the average student to fall 50 percent behind in math and 35 percent in reading, compared to being at the school, being with your teachers, being in a classroom.  We've learned that.  We've learned that learning from a laptop is not great. 
     And, frankly, we've also learned that telehealth -- a little unrelated, but it’s up 35,000 percent, and it's been incredible -- 35,000 percent.  We'll check that number later, but that's an incredible -- but it is, people staying home.  And the telehealth -- that has been a tremendous success. 
     We've learned those two things during this period of time with the -- with the plague -- with the plague coming in.  And those are two things we know. 
     School closures harm low-income students the most because they have less access to high-quality remote learning -- they don't have computers -- and less resources for academic support. 
     All schools should be making plans to resume in-person classes as soon as possible.  To support the reopening of America’s schools, we provided $13 billion in elementary and secondary schools toward the CARES Act and CARES Act funding -- we're giving CARES Act funding -- the vast majority of which remain available for states to use.  So, a tremendous amount of money: $13 billion.  That's the CARES Act funding and we're giving a large portion of that for states to use. 
     Today, I'm pleased to announce that we will provide up to $125 million reusable masks to various school districts all around the country. 
     My administration also stands ready to deploy CDC teams to support schools that are opening and schools that need help in safety and in order to safely reopen. 
     Finally, today my administration is highlighting general recommendations for all schools and guidance to protect high-risk teachers and students.  We're working very, very closely with many of the schools and school districts throughout the country. 
     They include the following:
  • To ensure all students, teachers, and staff understand the symptoms of the China virus. 
  • Require all students, teachers, and staff to self-assess their health every morning before coming to school. 
  • Encourage frequent hand washing or hand sanitizing during the school day, beginning upon entrance to school, and ensuring that hand-washing facilities are widely available throughout the school.  And, for the most part, schools have been very good at that. 
  • Minimize large indoor gatherings.  Hold large gatherings outdoors whenever possible. 
  • Maintain high standards of hygiene and ventilation within the classrooms, including keeping windows and doors open whenever possible, and running fans and air conditioning units whenever possible. 
  • Require students, teachers, and staff to socially distance around high-risk individuals and socially distance whenever possible in any event. 
  • Encourage the use of masks when social distancing is not possible. 
  • Post instructions regarding hygiene and social distancing all over the school and all around the school. 
     We encourage schools to adopt these measures.  We've been working with so many of them.  And, to the best of my knowledge, virtually every one of them agrees to do that. 
     While we're also providing high-risk teachers and students options to engage in distance teaching or learning, we're working on that also.  College-age students also continue to be one of the lowest-risk demographics.  More than 99.8 percent of the deaths from this horrible disease -- “the invisible enemy,” we call it -- occur in people over 24 years of age.  Think of that: 99.8 percent occur in people over 24 years of age. 
     For this reason, it could be safer for them to live at a school rather than live with their older parents or grandparents.  They got to go to school.  We got to open up.  We got to open up our schools and open up our businesses.  And a lot of it has been open, but we can do better. 
     As we move forward, the number of cases is not, by any means, the most important metric to focus on because the fact is we have more cases because we have far more testing than any country in the world.  There's no country that's even close. 
     We've done more testing and better testing than any country.  And many of these countries that the media was putting up as a shining example of success, they're, right now, in massive outbreaks.  You see what's going on in many of the countries that you constantly mention. 
     Far more important is who the virus is infecting.  That's why our strategy and attention are focused on preventing the cases that are most likely to require hospitalization or result in death -- those that afflict the elderly and those with certain underlying health conditions -- all the while acting to prevent hospital overcrowding. 
     If you look at some of the states that had a flare-up recently, they're all doing very well.  Florida is going down rapidly.  I want to give a lot of credit to the governors.  Florida is going down, and Arizona is going down, way down.  They've done a fantastic job.  California, as you know, is going down.  And many other locations -- it’s doing very well.  And many locations are really in fantastic shape -- some with very little, if any, problem -- large portions of the United States. 
     Those advocating for a never-ending, blanket, nationwide lockdown have no answer for what it would do to the mental, physical, and social health of millions of American children and people.  This includes parents, where they have to stay home with their children because -- and they lose their work and they lose their job because their children isn't at school.  They have to have somebody to take care of it, and they want to take care of their child.  They don't trust people.  A society must put the health and safety of our children first. 
     A man who has the respect of everybody -- he's highly respected by me and anybody on this subject.  He's just the expert.  Dr. Scott Atlas is here from Stanford, and he's been working with us for a period of time.  And I thought it would be great -- he was saying things to me the other day.  I said it would be great if you could tell that to the media. 
     So this is the first time I've shared the platform.  And it's an honor to do so.  Scott is truly -- he’s a brilliant man.  He's a wonderful man.  And he cares about the subject very much.  And I'd like to ask Scott to come up please and say a few words. 
     Thank you, Scott. 
     DR. ATLAS:  Thank you, Mr. President.  It’s obviously a great honor to be here and a great honor to serve this President, who's really focused on the very important parts of the pandemic. 
     And I'm new here.  I'm just, sort of, getting involved, but I want to thank you and the Vice President and the entire team, the task force team, and all the people who are not very visible, really, for working so hard.  These people are working 24/7, and it's -- it's quite amazing. 
     And I think that we -- today, we had a fantastic event, that I'll just mention, on opening the schools, because the President's priority is to open the schools and open them safely and have parents have the options to either use open schools or do whatever they can to eventually get back to open schools, including any kind of hybrid or other arrangement they may want to do. 
     It was a great event.  We had a group of fantastic parents, teachers, medical experts, and it went very well.  And so I won't spend a lot of time up here, but thank you very much and I hope I can help out in some way.  Thank you. 
     THE PRESIDENT:  Steve?  Thank you.
     Q    You mentioned the executive orders that you signed.  Are we now unlikely to see any more stimulus legislation before the election? 
     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, we're giving $400.  And we are in constant touch with governors, also, who -- they’ll be making, perhaps, a contribution.  They have options.  They can do it, or they don't have to do it.  I think most of them will do it. 
     We're also doing a payroll tax cut, which is a massive number.  That's a very big number.  And that's a number that's bigger than the -- any of the numbers we talked about.  And the beauty of that is that it really incentivizes companies, and -- because it's both a company cut and a -- a employee cut.  So that much, really -- very much incentivizes people to go back to work, and work hard, and the company to hire people back.  And we've had some of the great economic minds saying that's the most important cut; that would be the best cut you could do. 
     We couldn't get the Democrats to even think about agreeing to it.  It's not the Democrat way, I guess.  Because it just seems that, whether it's Larry Kudlow, or any of your many friends, that's the one they wanted the most.  Would you say, Larry?
     MR. KUDLOW:  Yes, sir.
     THE PRESIDENT:  And so we’re doing that.  And that was never even really discussed, because that was taken off the table by the Democrats immediately. 
     And this is every week.  Every week, you get a check -- or a month, or bi-weekly.  This is a major amount of money that you're getting directly.  So it's really -- you know, it's a very big number.  It's very substantial number.  And this is -- don't forget, this is in addition to the -- to the $400.  And this is a big number. 
     And now, at the end of the year, on the assumption that I win, I'm going to terminate the payroll tax, which is another thing that some of the great economists would like to see done.  We’ll be paying into Social Security through the General Fund.  And it works out very nicely.
     If Biden would win, he wouldn’t do that because he's going to double and triple everybody's taxes.  He's going to have to explain that one.  And as you know, he's also going to quadruple regulations.  He wants to put regulations on. 
     One of the reasons that we had the kind of numbers and -- and big bounces that you've seen -- I mean we closed it up.  We saved millions of lives, and now we open it, and we bounce right back where we were.  It looks like we'll be bouncing right back where we were.  But one of the reasons is because we cut so many horrible regulations. 
     And Biden, with his new partner, Kamala, will -- if you think -- he’s going to put it all back, but many times more.  I mean, they want to increase regulations, and that's just going to drive companies out, and it's going to drive people out.  It's going to drive them to other countries, and it's going to make us not competitive with other countries.
     Please, OAN.
     Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  I would like to highlight a kind of odd situation.  In the last hour or so, if you Googled “,” it would take you straight to Joe Biden’s website, his official campaign website.  Odd situation.  We don't know who's behind that. 
     But it raises an interesting leadership question: Should Joe Biden, the Democrat Party, Kamala Harris -- should they publicly denounce the Antifa as a -- as a domestic terrorist organization?
     THE PRESIDENT:  They should.  I think they're afraid to.  It's -- in my book, it's a virtually apart of their campaign: Antifa.  The Democrats act like, “Gee, I don't know exactly what that is.”  Take a look at Portland.  Take a look at any place you want to take a look at, and they're all over the place.  They were here.  We put on a 10-year prison sentence if you knocked down any statues, two months ago.  And since then, we haven't seen much of them.
     We had to send border security -- and we sent actually Homeland and Border and different forms of Homeland to -- to Portland, in order to -- you know what we had to do.  We had to save -- they want to knock down a courthouse.  A $500 million courthouse.  They wanted to burn it down, knock it down.  And they were easily eas- -- able to defend.  But the mayor and the governor of the state, they didn't want to do that. 
     And we actually sent our people there, and they did a great job.  And they were -- they did it easily.  But in the meantime, they went to other parts of the city, and they're doing damage.  And we're recommending to the governor that they call in national security, call in the National Guard.  We're willing to get -- we would stop -- we would stop that problem in one hour.
     We sent just defensive measures to protect and save that courthouse from being burned down or knocked down.  We also saved a couple of other buildings -- federal buildings -- because they were unable to do the job. 
     I have to say this: They have really good police.  They have a great group of people that, if they would be allowed to do their job -- same with Chicago and same with New York and a couple of other cities -- if they allowed -- you have, in Chicago, 25,000 police, and they’re really good, but they're not allowed to do their job. 
     In New York, you have New York's Finest, but they've totally taken away their incentive.  They’ve -- they've taken away their lives, in a sense, because they don't allow them to do their job.  They could do that job so easily; you wouldn't have a problem in New York.  And that includes with terrorism and everything else.  They disbanded -- they've cut by $1 billion their budget in New York.  One billion dollars.  And crime is up by 200 percent, 250 percent -- depends on what week you're looking at.  It's crazy what's going on in New York. 
     We could solve that problem easily, but we don't have to, because they should be able to do it themselves.  But they have to give the -- they have to give the honor back.  It's the -- it's an honor.  They have to give the honor back to their law enforcement groups.  New York is great, so is Chicago. 
     And in Portland, they could do the job.  If they don't want to do that, we would send in -- gladly, if they want -- the National Guard will take care of it in one hour.  It'll go very quickly.
     As we did -- by the way, if you take a look in Minneapolis, when they were burning down Minneapolis -- a wonderful place but nobody's ever seen anything like it.  After days, the very liberal mayor -- and these are all run by liberal Democrats.  Every place I talk about is run -- because we have great cities and they're run by Republicans.  Okay?  It's -- you know, it's -- there's no magic to it.  It's obvious, what's going on. 
     And these cit- -- the cities that I mentioned are all run by liberal -- very liberal Democrats.  And it's very sad when you see what's happening to New York.  It's very sad when you see what's happening to other cities -- not just those three, other cities.  And when you look at what's happening, it's not even -- it's not even believable. 
     I left New York almost four years ago.  And you could see signs of problems, because de Blasio was there.  He's a horrific mayor -- just horrific.  I mean, people don't want to go there anymore.  He's -- not only is it bad with crime, I mean, the way he talks about the city and what he does.  He's horrific.  And when I see that, it's a very sad thing.  I left almost four years ago, right?  And when I look and see what's happening to a city that I love -- that still has great potential, but it's going to have to be brought back.  Because what happened in New York is -- is -- it's not even believable. 
     What's happening in Chicago, where one weekend you have 78 people shot and 18 die -- in a weekend.  And then successive weekends, you have so much of that happening.  And it's -- it's not even -- it's really not even believable.
     And if you let Democrats run this country -- and we've stopped it from going other places -- if you let Democrats run this country, you'll have all of your cities be just like that.
     Yeah, please. 
     Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  The heads of the Boston and Dallas Fed, today, said that the economy hasn't recovered strong enough because the country hasn’t contained the virus.  So what's your response to them?  And wouldn’t that argue for a stronger federal response?
     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, look, you just saw it.  Other countries -- we’re doing much better than all other major countries, peer countries.  This chart came out just a little while ago.  I thought I'd say -- see, it’s that kind of a question -- a wiseguy question -- because I just went over the whole thing.  We're doing better than almost everyone with the economy.  And I think we're -- we're -- you know, we face a headwind because Democrats, perhaps for political reasons, don't want to open up their states.  And that's having a huge toll -- that's taking a huge toll on people within those states.
     When you look at North Carolina, you have -- a man doesn't want to open it up.  You have -- you look at Michigan, you look at some states -- I mean, they just want to keep these people in their -- in their houses -- in their prisons.  They call them “prisons.”  And I think a lot of it is for political reasons because they want to look as bad as possible on November 3rd.  But I don't think it's going to matter because we're doing so well in so many ways. 
     As far as the -- the plague is concerned, when you look at the numbers -- take a look at what's going on now with other countries, they’re having flare-ups that are very, very substantial, and we've done very well.  We're helping a lot of those countries.  And those were model countries that you used to talk about and say how well they were doing, except they just exploded.  They just had very big flare-ups.  You understand that.  No, we're doing very well.  And I don't have to show you the charts again, but those charts are at a level that nobody even thought possible. 
     I think we're going to have a fantastic third quarter.  I think next year will be one of the strongest years we've had.  And this is with California being closed down.  This is where North Carolina and Michigan and tremendous states -- great states -- are being closed by -- for reasons, I think, that would -- that Scott would tell you -- you would disagree with, right?  You disagree with.  He -- we spent a great amount of time talking about it. 
     We got to open up our country.  We understand the disease.  We understand who it hits.  We have to protect our elderly people, especially our elderly people that are not well.  We have to protect them.  But we understand it, and we understand it well.  We've learned a lot. 
     And we're going to have the vaccine soon and we're going to have the therapeutic soon.  Going to come out very soon, and we're very proud of the people and the job they've done.
     Yeah, please.  Go ahead.
     Q    Thanks, Mr. President.  Joe Biden and Kamala Harris just appeared together in their first campaign event, right before you've got up on this podium.  Can you tell us if you watched the remarks and give us your reaction to them?
     THE PRESIDENT:  I didn't watch.  I saw just a moment of him speaking, a moment of her speaking, and it was enough. 
     Look, he made a choice: He picked her.  I watched her.  I watched her poll numbers go boom, boom, boom -- down to almost nothing.  And she left angry.  She left mad.  There was nobody more insulting to Biden than she was.  She said horrible things about him, including accusations made about him by a woman where she, I guess, believed the woman.  And now all of a sudden, she's running to be Vice President, saying how wonderful he is.
     I thought it was a very unusual pick because she said such bad things.  And you know better than anybody what -- you know, you won’t write it because, you know, you don't want to do that -- but you know better than anybody.  She said horrible things about him.  Horrible things.  And she mocked him -- openly mocked him.  That's why I thought that was a very risky pick, because I'm sure that'll be played back -- not necessarily by me, but others -- it'll be played back.
     The other thing, if you look, she wants a $3 trillion tax hike.  No fracking.  How do you think “no fracking” in Pennsylvania is going to play?  That’s a big fracking state.  If you didn't have energy produced that way, you would have taxes that would triple, and you'd have unemployment that you wouldn't believe. 
     And Pennsylvania, last year, had the best year they've ever had.  Texas, last year, had the best year they've ever had.  Oklahoma, best year.  Almost every state in our nation, last year, had the best year they've ever had.  And they're going to have that again next year.  And you can see that by what -- but think of it: She wants no fossil fuels.  No fossil fuels.  Really?  Tell that to Texas.
     And then I hear, “Trump is only one point up in Texas.”  No, they said the same thing with Crooked Hillary Clinton.  They said, “Texas is in play.  Trump is down in Texas.”  And then I won Texas.  Immediately, when they said the polls are closed, “Trump has won Texas.”  And I won by a lot. 
     And I won Georgia by a lot.  It’s the same thing over -- it's almost like a duplication of what happened before, except we have much more energy now than we ever did in 2016, and we had a lot.  We had record amounts in 2016.
     But you -- you take a look at the tax cuts.  We gave the biggest tax cut in the history of our country and the biggest regulation cuts in the history of our country, by far.  Right? 
     He wants to increase everybody's taxes.  And she's one of the people that wants that. 
     I mean, you take a look at that.  She wants to defund or at least substantially reduce money going to police departments.  And you can't do that.  You can't do that.  It's actually got to be the opposite.  I've been endorsed by so many police departments.  I’m getting a really good one this week that you'll be seeing -- really big, really good.
     But who could ever -- what -- what police department, what law enforcement group could ever support Joe Biden, where he said things that are so bad and so foolish -- frankly, so stupid -- in terms of -- in terms of crime and what would happen.  So we're getting all of law enforcement.
     We're getting the military.  She wants to spend much less on our military.  I've rebuilt the military.  We have the strongest military now.  Much of the equipment is coming in, all made in the United States; $2.5 trillion, we spent.
     When I took over we had a military that was totally -- it was in terrible, terrible shape.  It was depleted.  It was a depleted military: old planes, old tanks, old everything.  And we have a beautiful, brand-new military with the best people in the world.  We never had anything like it.  Some of the equipment is still coming in.
     No, we have -- we've done a real job.  And I think we're going to be extremely successful.  I was surprised that he picked her -- very surprised -- because of the horrible way she talked about him.  And, frankly, because she dropped like a rock. 
     I didn’t when I ran.  I ran against 17 people, mostly governors and senators, some others.  Ben Carson was very strong, very good.  A couple of others, but mostly governors, mostly senators.  And I ran, and I went up. 
     She ran, and she went down to rock bottom.  I don't think she ever got to run her first -- to take a vote in her first -- in the first state.  And so, generally speaking, you don't want to pick somebody that went down, and she went down.  But she went down in a very terrible way, and she said horrible things about Biden. 
     She said far worse about Biden than I ever did.  And now she's running as Vice President.  So how does that work?
     Please, in the back. 
     Q    Mr. President, thank you for taking my question.  I’m wondering tonight if you might have any words of encouragement for middle schoolers or high schoolers starting the school year strictly online who might be frustrated, wondering how they're going to get through the next quarter, missing their friends and teachers?  Just wondering if you might have any words of encouragement for them.
     THE PRESIDENT:  It's such a fair question.  Such a good question.  Yeah, I mean, you hear what I was saying and what -- Scott will be involved and he'll be talking to you over the next couple of days -- what he's saying from great experience. 
     No, I feel very badly for them.  And I have a feeling that on November 4th, somebody is going to announce, “Schools are open.  The country is open.  Everything is open.”  I really believe a lot of it is done for political reasons, if you want to know the truth.  I think so.   
     But you’re right; online is not the same as being in the classroom.  And that's been proven.  It's been proven loud and clear. 
     Yeah.  Any other questions?
     Q    Mr. President?
     Q    On the economy, Mr. President --
     THE PRESIDENT:  Go ahead.  Go ahead, please.  Please.   
     Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  You have sworn several times that if Joe Biden is elected President that there will be an invasion in suburban neighborhoods.  It’s a sentiment that you expressed in a --
     THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah.
     Q    -- tweet again this morning.  What exactly do you mean by “invasion”? 
     THE PRESIDENT:  What I mean is people are going to be come -- they are going to be opening up areas of your neighborhood -- which they're doing, and now they're going to do -- they wanted to expand it.  And they will expand it.  If, for any reason -- they're going to, in my opinion, destroy suburbia. 
     And just so you understand, 30 percent-plus of the people living in suburbia are minorities.  African American, Asian American, Hispanic American -- they’re minorities.  Thirty percent.  The number is even higher, it's -- they say 35, but I like to cut it a little bit lower.  You know why?  That way I can never get myself in too much trouble with the fake news.  But 30 percent-plus are minorities living in suburbia. 
     And when they go in and they want to change zoning so that you have lots of problems, where they want to build low-income housing -- you want something where people can aspire to be there, not something where it gets hurt badly.  And that's what happens.
     So, with suburban women, suburban men, I think they feel very strongly about what I'm doing.  It's a very -- I mean, it's a very fair question.  It's a very important question.  But they fought all their lives to be there, and then all of a sudden, they have -- something happened that changes their life and changes what they fought for, for so many years.
     John, please.
     Q    Quick -- two quick ones, if I could, Mr. President.  I know you were briefed on it; have you decided where are you’re going to give your acceptance speech yet?
     THE PRESIDENT:  So we're looking at Gettysburg.
     Q    I know that.
     THE PRESIDENT:  A magnificent site.  I've been there a number of times.  Just a magnificent site.  And we're looking at the White House.  And I would say it's really down to those two. 
     The White House would be a much easier, from the standpoint of Secret Service and, you know, the movement of hundreds of people, as you know.
     Q    Which way are you leaning? 
     THE PRESIDENT:  I would say we love them both.  I love Gettysburg, but it's -- this is simpler.  It would be magnificent.  The White House is a -- the White House is the White House.  Gettysburg is one of the great and historic sites of our country -- frankly, as far as I'm concerned, of the world.  So one of those two.  I'll probably be announcing it over the next week or so, maybe less.
     Q    And then I had a question about payroll taxes.  If you permanently rescind the payroll tax, how do you pay for Social Security?
     THE PRESIDENT:  We're taking it out of the General Fund.  And what we’ll do --
     Q    But that would incur huge deficits.
     THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah, what we’ll be doing is, if we do that, we'll get it approved, in that case, by Congress.  And we'll take the money from other places, other than -- we will not take it from Social Security in --
     Q    Right, but --
     THE PRESIDENT:  -- any way shape or form.
     Q    How do you fund it from the General Fund, when the General Fund just incurred a debt of $2.8 trillion?
     THE PRESIDENT: You’re right, but we're going to have tremendous growth.  We have tremendous growth.  You take a look at what's happening here. 
     Next year -- unless somebody comes in who doesn't know what they're doing and they start raising taxes and forcing everybody to leave the country or leave their jobs and companies to close -- we will have tremendous growth.  You will see growth like you haven't seen in a long time.
     Okay.  Yeah, please.
     Q    Mr. President, since you didn’t see Kamala Harris’s remarks today, I wonder if we could just get you to respond to one thing that she said?
     THE PRESIDENT:  Sure.
     Q    She said that your “refusal to get testing up and running”; your -- I'm paraphrasing -- your “flip-flopping on social distancing and [wearing] masks”; and your “delusional belief that you know better than the experts -- all of that,” in her words, are “reason” that one American dies of COVID-19 every minute.  What do you think of that?
     THE PRESIDENT:  I think that's probably one of the reasons she was a terrible candidate and was forced to leave the race -- because she got her facts wrong.  You know she’s very bad on facts.  She is very weak on facts. 
     And, just so you understand: We've done more testing than any country in the world, by far.  That includes India, which has 1.5 billion people.  That includes China.  That includes every country in the world.  We've done more testing.  We have better testing than any country in the world.  They call; they want to know, “Where do we get it?  How do we get it?”  We have better testing than any country in the world. 
     When you do as much testing as us, however, as you understand, you develop more cases.  If you tested instead of 65 million people, which is what we've done -- when you test that many people, you're going to find cases that normally you wouldn't see. 
     If you go to Mexico and you go to other countries, you'll see they do almost no testing.  They test if somebody is not feeling well.  They test if somebody is symptomatic.  They test very little.  They test very little.
     We've done more testing than anybody in the world.  We've done the best job of any country in the world, and that includes from making ventilators that nobody else could have done.  We are the ventilator king of the world.  We're supplying the whole world now, in a few short months, with ventilators that are very hard to produce, very expensive, very complex, very delicate, very, very important.  We've done a great job.
     And then, on top of that, when you look at the numbers -- how we were impacted less than these other countries.  And now, you look at the explosion of countries that you would have said “did such a good job,” and some of them had advantages over us for obvious reasons, having to do with the pandemic.  But when you look at the job that we've done compared to others, we've done a great job. 
     And she -- I read today that she's very short on facts.  She -- I think she's going to be a big failure.  And I think -- I look forward to the debate between her and Mike Pence, because I think he'll do even better against her than he did about -- against Senator Kaine, which was a total wipeout.  So we'll see how it all works out. 
     All right, one more.  Yeah, please, in the back.
     Q    Mr. President, thank you very much.
     THE PRESIDENT:  Go ahead.
     Q    Me?
     THE PRESIDENT:  You in the back, please.
     Q    Thank you.  I just ask what -- what do you say to those critics who argue you’re trying to sow distrust in democracy and deliberately trying to sabotage the Post Office -- to undermining mail-in voting, which a lot of people need?
     THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah.  I say the Democrats are sabotaging the Post Office because they're not approving $25 billion that was requested.  So they're sabotaging the Post Office, and they’re not allowing the Post Office to function properly, and they're certainly not allowing universal mail-in votes if -- when they do that. 
     But equally importantly, they're not allowing $3.5 billion in funds to do voting that they'd like to do.  Therefore all of this -- and all of the tremendous mistakes that were made with regard to mail-in voting -- all of these tremendous mistakes, you can't even -- you can't even do it. 
     I would imagine the courts -- you know, this is in many courts right now.  They're showing all of the disasters that have taken place just in the last short period of time -- in the last two months -- with respect to universal mail-in voting.  It's just like a total catastrophe what's happening.  And we can't let that happen.
     Go ahead, real fast.  Go ahead.
     Q    Thank you very much.  Two questions.  One is about -- you had graphs about the economics of COVID --
     THE PRESIDENT:  Right.
     Q    -- but deaths in America are still going up.  Whereas in Europe, right now: zero deaths in UK, zero deaths in France.
     THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah.  Well, it’s going up by cases.  If you look at cases.  And the cases are going up because we do so much testing and we find it.  And I call it “fake-media gold” because we do so much more testing than any other country.  And when you do all that testing, you find cases.
     Go ahead, Steve.  Real fast.  Go ahead. 
     Q    A quick one on trade:  You’ve got these trade talks with China going on.  Is it possible you would pull out of the trade deal with China if they're not meeting their commitment?
     THE PRESIDENT:  We've taken a lot of money from China on the last year and a half that no other President has taken in.  We've done things to China that nobody else has done to China, or even thought of doing -- with 25 percent tariffs and taking in billions and billions of dollars -- tens of billions of dollars.  And giving then -- giving the farmers, as an example, $12 billion one year, $16 billion another year -- and made the farmers extremely happy.  You don't hear them complaining.  They were targeted by China.
     But I'm very angry at China because they let this horrible disease -- they let this horrible plague come into our country and come into the world.  And they should have been able to stop it.  They stopped it from going into China.  They should have been able to stop it.  So I'm very angry at China.
     Thank you very much.  Thank you.
                                                                           END            7:00 P.M. EDT