Thursday, August 1, 2019

1600 Daily The White House • August 1, 2019 Video: Vice President Pence and Ivanka Trump Promote Job Opportunities For All

1600 Daily
The White House • August 1, 2019

Video: Vice President Pence and Ivanka Trump promote job opportunities for all 

“We want America to be the worst place in the world to commit a serious crime, but we also want America to be the best place in the world, once you’ve done your time, to get a second chance,” Vice President Mike Pence said in Jacksonville, Florida, last Friday.

The Vice President joined Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump for a roundtable with Operation New Hope, which for 20 years has been bringing opportunities for a fresh start to people who made the wrong choices early in their lives.

“The reality is that more than 50 percent of the people who leave prison are re-incarcerated within five years,” Vice President Pence said. But President Donald J. Trump’s historic criminal justice reform “now is creating new pathways for educational coursework, vocational training, faith-based programs in our federal prison system. And it’s been supported broadly by law enforcement across this country,” he added.

In Florida and across America, the U.S. economy is firing on all cylinders. That means more jobs are available to help former inmates adjust to life on the outside and become productive members of their communities. It also means more opportunities exist to help all working- and middle-class Americans thrive, regardless of background.

“Worker wages are growing much faster than previously reported,” The Wall Street Journal editorial board wrote this week. Compensation rose 4.5 percent in 2017 and 5 percent last year. In June, wages and salaries grew at an annual rate of 5.5 percent—still an incredible 4.1 percent after accounting for inflation.

“In sum, Americans are earning more and relying less on government,” the editors wrote.

In Jacksonville, Vice President Pence and Ms. Trump toured Miller Electric, a company that embodies what this Trump Economy is all about. In total, Miller Electric has added more than 300 new jobs since early last year. It has also grown its apprenticeship program, which now totals more than 500 people across the country.

American workers and students “of every age, income, and background should have the chance to pursue their dreams and succeed and thrive according to their abilities and their ambitions,” Vice President Pence told the company’s employees. When you look at those growing wages, “they’re actually rising at the fastest rate for hardworking, blue-collar Americans. The forgotten men and women of America are forgotten no more.”

The White House’s Pledge to America’s Workers is doubling down on that promise. The initiative launched last summer, aiming to expand workforce training and reskilling opportunities in the United States. Last week, as the Pledge celebrated its one-year anniversary, Ivanka Trump announced the tally: more than 12 million job training opportunities pledged thus far.

The Wall Street Journal: “The 99% Get a Bigger Raise”

Matthew Charles: Thanks to President Trump, “I got my second chance.”

Photo of the Day

Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour
President Donald J. Trump speaks with reporters on the South Lawn prior to boarding Marine One to begin his trip to Cincinnati | August 1, 2019


Office of the Press Secretary

South Lawn

3:47 P.M. EDT


     Q    Mr. President, why the tariffs against China now?  And are you concerned about the nosedive the Dow took today as a result?

     THE PRESIDENT:  No, I'm not concerned about that at all.  I expected that a little bit because people don't understand quite yet about what's happened.

     We've taxed China on 300 billion dollars' worth of goods and products being sold into our country.  And China eats it because they have to pay it.  Because what they do is they devalue their currency and they push money out.

     Our people haven't paid, as you know.  We're also charging them 25 percent on $250 billion.  So we're taking in many billions of dollars.  There's been absolutely no inflation.  And frankly, it hasn't cost our consumer anything; it costs China.

     Now, what has happened is a lot of companies are moving out of China so they can, you know, avoid.  And China has had a rough twenty- -- this is their worst year in 27 years, according to yesterday's Wall Street Journal.  I don't want that.

But when my people came home, they said we're talking.  We have another meeting in early September.  I said, "That's fine."  But in the meantime, until such time as there's a deal, we'll be taxing them.

We're just getting -- and we're getting very good numbers from the border.  The 21,000 soldiers supplied by Mexico.  And I want to thank Mexico.  They're doing a great job.  The numbers are way down at the border.

Q    On North Korea, sir.  On North Korea, they apparently just launched their third missile in about a week.  Is Kim testing you?

THE PRESIDENT:  I think it's very much under control.  Very much under control.

Q    President Trump, we're talking about a full-blown trade war here.  What do you say to American --

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, what would you say it is?

Q    No, I'm asking you --

THE PRESIDENT:  Let me ask you a question.

Q    What do you say to American business owners --

THE PRESIDENT:  Right.  Right.  Right.

Q    -- and consumers who are going to pay the price for these tariffs, sir.

THE PRESIDENT:  Sure.  Sure.  What would you say when China, for the last 20 years, has been taking hundreds of billions of dollars out of our country?  And we had a President that would never do anything -- a number of Presidents that never would do anything about it.  What would you say?

For many years, China has been taking money out by the hundreds of billions of dollars a year.  We have rebuilt China.  So now it's time that we change things around.  If they don't want to trade with us anymore, that would be fine with me.  We'd save a lot of money.

Q    Mr. President, sir, do you believe that Xi is slow-walking this?  And is this 10 percent tariff a bit of a hurry-up call?

THE PRESIDENT:  No, I don't know.  I think President Xi, who's somebody I like a lot, I think he wants to make a deal.  But frankly, he's not going fast enough.  He said he was going to be buying from our farmers; he didn't do that.  He said he was going to stop fentanyl from coming into our country -- it's all coming out of China; he didn't do that.  We're losing thousands of people to fentanyl.  And this was time.

And very importantly, for many years -- you know this better than anybody; you've been covering it for a long time -- for many years, China has been taking out hundreds of billions of dollars a year and rebuilding China.  It's time that we rebuild our country.

And, you know, the one thing I have to say -- and you have to say this: What China is doing is they're devaluing their currency and they're pumping money out like they've never done before.  And they're paying for these tariffs; we're not.

Q    Are you concerned by reports that the Chinese army may be preparing to intervene in Hong Kong against the demonstrators?  And what do you say to the accusation that the U.S. is somehow behind these protests?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, something is probably happening with Hong Kong because when you look at, you know, what's going on, they've had riots for a long period of time.  And I don't know what China's attitude is.  Somebody said that at some point they're going to want to stop that.  But that's between Hong Kong and that's between China, because Hong Kong is a part of China.  They'll have to deal with that themselves.  They don't need advice.

Q    You put a date -- you put a date of September 1 on these tariffs.  Are you giving Xi a chance to negotiate himself out of this?

THE PRESIDENT:  No.  No, no, no.  It's September 1.  The reason is, it takes a long time for the ships to come over.  And it's a period of time.  So I'm giving him four -- like a four-week period of time before the tariffs go on.

But we're now taking in tariffs on 10 percent on over $300 billion, and 25 percent on $250 billion.  And it's been proven that our people are not paying for those tariffs.

Q    Mr. President --

THE PRESIDENT:  Go ahead.  Go ahead.

Q    Thank you.  About North Korea, North Korea launched two missiles again yesterday.  How did you feel about that?  And --

THE PRESIDENT:  Short-range missiles.  We never made an agreement on that.  I have no problem.  We'll see what happens.  But these are short-range missiles.  They're very standard.

Q    And your response to Bernie Sanders who says --

THE PRESIDENT:  Go ahead.  What?

Q    -- that you are a pathological liar, sir?


Q    Thank you.  Mr. President, are you concerned about reports that your DNI nominee, Congressman Ratcliffe, has embellished his record at all -- that Democrats plan to oppose his nomination?

THE PRESIDENT:  Congressman Ratcliffe is an outstanding man and I'm sure that he'll be able to do very well.  I think he's just outstanding.  Highly respected by everybody that knows him.

Q    On Huawei, what will you do on Huawei to give relief to the companies --

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, we've not changed on Huawei.  We're not allowing Huawei into our country.  We're not changed on that.  We can do business for non-security things with Huawei because that's -- you know, we'll do that.  But anything having to do with national security, we're not dealing with Huawei.

Q    Mr. President, what do you think about the decision to not prosecute James Comey for leaking?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I haven't actually heard that.  I know there's a lot of things going on.  That's a piece of it, I guess.  But I really don't know.  I haven't spoken to them about that.

I would, frankly, be surprised, because what James Comey did was illegal.  So I would be surprised, but I don't know anything about that.

Q    Mr. President, in Cincinnati, at your rally tonight, are you prepared to tell your supporters to stop if they begin chanting something problematic?

THE PRESIDENT:  I don't know what's going to happen.  I can tell you this: I'm going to Cincinnati.  The arena is a very large one.  And we've sold it out.  We could sell it out probably 10 times, from what I hear.  The applications for seats, as you know -- never had an empty seat -- the applications are very big.  I have no idea.

We have a great group of people.  They love our country.  They love the job we’re doing.  And when they see the kind of people that want to represent us from the last two nights, that’s not what they want.

     I don’t know -- I can’t tell you whether or not they’re going to do that chant.  If they do the chant, we’ll have to see what happens.

     Q    Will you stop it, sir?  You think you will?

     THE PRESIDENT:  I don’t know that you can stop people.  I don't know that you can.  I mean, we’ll see what we can do.  I’d prefer that they don’t, but if they do it, we’ll have to make a decision then.

     Q    Mr. President, do you have a message -- do you have a message for them now, like before they go in?

     THE PRESIDENT:  I do have a message.  My message is for the people I’m going to -- so, we had over 100,000 applications for whatever the size of the -- I think it’s a 14,000-seat arena.  But we’re way over a hundred and -- I think 122,000 applications for those seats.

     You know what my message is?  I love them.  And I think they love me.

     Q    So your message is not “don’t do this”?

     THE PRESIDENT:  I actually think they love me.

     Q    India has rejected your offer of help on Kashmir.  India is also -- India has rejected your offer of help on Kashmir.  India says Kashmir is a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan.

     THE PRESIDENT:  Have they accepted the offer or not?

     Q    No, they have not.

     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, that’s up to -- it’s really up to Prime Minister Modi.  And I met with Prime Minister Khan; I got along great with -- I think they’re a fantastic people, Khan and Modi.  I mean, I would imagine they can get along very well.

But if they wanted somebody to intervene or to help them -- and I spoke with Pakistan about that, and I spoke, frankly, to India about it.  But that’s been going on, that battle, for a long time.

Q    How do you want to resolve the Kashmir --

THE PRESIDENT:  If I can -- if they wanted me to, I would certainly intervene.


Q    Is the U.S. government involved in the death of Hamza bin Laden?

THE PRESIDENT:  I can’t comment about that.  But he was very threatening to our country.  He was saying very bad things about our country.  I will let you make your own comment about it.

Q    Did you hear anything about it?

THE PRESIDENT:  But I don’t comment.  But I will say, Hamza bin Laden was very threatening to our country, and you can’t do that.  As far as anything beyond that, I have no comment.  

Q    Mr. President, Robert Mueller said last week that Russia is interfering in U.S. elections right now.  Did you raise that with Vladimir Putin yesterday?

THE PRESIDENT:  You don't really believe this.  Do you believe this?

Q    He said it last week.  Did you raise that with President Putin yesterday?

THE PRESIDENT:  We didn’t talk about that.  I spoke with President Putin of Russia yesterday.  They’re having massive fires in the -- in their forests.  They have tremendous -- I’ve never seen anything like it.  It’s very big.

I just offered our assistance because we’re very good at putting out forest fires, frankly.  And if they should need it, I offered our assistance.  We had a good talk -- a short talk but a good talk.  And I think he appreciated it.

So we would be able to help them.  It’s -- these are massive fires like I haven’t seen.  That was the primary importance of the conversation.  And I think they -- I think they very much appreciated it.

Q    Mueller said right now, he believes, Russia is interfering with the election.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I watched Mueller.  I’m not sure Mueller knows what’s going on, if you want to know the truth.  But all I do know is he said, “No collusion with us.  No collusion,” and ultimately “no obstruction,” because it led to no obstruction by a very smart group of people, including our Attorney General.  So, no collusion, no obstruction.

As far as Mueller’s performance, you would have to say it was, maybe, not so good.

Q    On the Fed, sir?  Sir, on the Fed?  Mr. President, on the Fed, why wasn’t a quarter rate cut good enough?

THE PRESIDENT:  So, our country is doing very well.  We’re setting records in every way, including employment, unemployment.  We have now more people working in the United States than ever before.  The stock market, it will take a little hit, but it will be phenomenal because ultimately it will be much better because of what I’m doing.  Somebody should have done this with China a long time ago.   They decided not to do it; they made a big mistake.

But I will say this: There has never been a time in the history of our country like we have right now.  The highest number of people employed, the best employment numbers for African Americans, Hispanic, women -- for everybody.  I mean, the best numbers we’ve ever had.

Our military is being rebuilt and it’s almost fully rebuilt.  It’s going to be at a level, in a very short period of time, stronger and better than ever before with new aircraft, new missiles, new everything.  Hopefully, we don’t have to use it.

Go ahead.

Q    Mr. President, what did you think of the Democratic debate last night?  Biden and, specifically, the charge from Congresswoman Gabbard that you’re assisting al Qaeda.

THE PRESIDENT:  So, yeah, nobody knows what she meant by that.  I think even you probably didn’t like that statement, John.  She doesn’t know what she’s talking about.  If you remember, a short while ago, I defeated ISIS.  We have 100 percent of the caliphate.

So, you know, you’re always going to have somebody around.  We're -- right now we have captured over 10,000.  We have 2,500 ISIS fighters that we want Europe to take because they were going back into Europe -- into France, into Germany, into various places.  So we have, right now, 2,500 ISIS that we captured.  We’ve captured 100 percent of the caliphate.  And we’ve done a big job on al Qaeda and everybody else.

So for her to make that statement is ridiculous, frankly.  For her to make that statement is so ridiculous.  And she has taken a lot of heat on it because nobody has done more against that war than I have.

So we have thousands ISIS fighters that we want Europe to take.  And let’s see if they take them.  And if they don’t take them, we’ll probably have to release them to Europe.

Q    Will you still negotiate, sir?  Sir, can you still negotiate with Kim after what he's done this week?

THE PRESIDENT:  Say it?  What?

Q    Can you still negotiate with Kim after what he’s done now?

THE PRESIDENT:  Oh, sure.  Sure.  Because these are short range missiles.  We never discussed that.  We discussed nuclear.  What we talk about is nuclear.  Those are short-range missiles.  Sure.  And a lot of other countries test that kind of missile also.

Q    Mr. President, why was the tariff 10 percent and not 25?  And then on the Fed --

THE PRESIDENT:  (Laughs.)  Oh, that's funny.

Q    -- you said a quarter point wasn’t good enough.  What would be good enough for you on the Fed, sir?

THE PRESIDENT:  That's so interesting, because everyone says, “Gee, that’s so tough.”  And now you’re saying I should have done more.

Q    But why didn’t you do more?

THE PRESIDENT:  Look, I did more than anybody thought with the first $250 billion.  And the 10 percent is for a short-term period, and then I can always do much more or I can do less, depending on what happens with respect to a deal.

     But I'm very happy the way it is right now.  My people came back.  They're going to meet again in September.  I said, "Look, if you meet, that's great."  But in the meantime, we're going to pay -- they're going to pay a tariff and it'll be a very substantial tariff.

     Now, if you remember, when I did the 25 percent, I did it in stages.  And this can also be lifted, ultimately, in stages, or it can be taken off.  But it can be lifted in stages.  So we're starting at 10 percent, and it can be lifted up to well beyond 25 percent.  But we're not looking to do that necessarily.

     But this would be done in stages.  So I put on 10 percent on 300 -- it's approximately $300 billion.  We already have a 25 percent tariff on the first $250 billion.  So, the 10 percent follows the $250 billion at 25 percent.

     Q    Mr. President, thank you.  Are you considering a blockade or quarantine of Venezuela, given the amount of foreign involvement from Russia, China, and Iran?

     THE PRESIDENT:  Yes, I am.

     Q    You are considering it?

     THE PRESIDENT:  Yes, I am.  Yes.  Yes, I am.

     Q    I want to ask you, Mr. President, since the Mueller hearing, 116 House Democrats have said they want to launch a House inquiry.  Why do you think that number continues to go up?

     THE PRESIDENT:  You know, it's interesting -- nobody has even mentioned this question to me in so long.

     Q    Right.

     THE PRESIDENT:  Until last night at the very end, it wasn’t even mentioned in the debates.  People aren’t even thinking -- it’s a hoax.  I don’t know if you know that.  You know it's a hoax, right?

     So, nobody has mentioned it to me.

     One thing I will say that you haven’t covered: Two days ago, a highly respected judge in the Southern District of New York, in Manhattan, came out with a decision on the whole Russia hoax, and he said exactly that: it's a hoax.

     You ought to read the decision.  This is a decision by a judge who is highly respected -- who was appointed by Bill Clinton when he was President -- and he came out and he said, "It's a hoax."  And that’s exactly what it is.  This was a case brought by the Democrats against me, and nobody wants to talk about it.  You know why?  Because it's fake news.

     Q    Mr. President, what did you tell Putin about the INF Treaty?

     THE PRESIDENT:  We didn’t discuss the INF.  Mostly, we discussed the forest fires in Siberia and other parts of Russia.  And I said, "Look, we have the greatest equipment.  If we can help you, let us know."  Large sections are burning.  And so I said to President Putin, "If we can help you, let me know."

     Q    But we're pulling out of the treaty tomorrow.

     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, we'll see what happens.

     By the way, I will say, Russia would like to do something on a nuclear treaty.  And that’s okay with me.  They'd like to do something, and so would I.

     Q    What's your response to Elizabeth Warren's comment last night that --

     THE PRESIDENT:  Say it again.

     Q    What's your response to Elizabeth Warren's comment last night that white supremacy should be considered domestic terrorism?

     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I think, Elizabeth -- I mean, I've watched Elizabeth Warren, sometimes referred to as "Pocahontas," with her phony try at an ancestry that she didn’t have.  I've watched her and, I don’t know, to me, she doesn’t have credibility.  It's possible I'll have to run against her.  But everything she did was a fraud.  She got into colleges, she got teaching jobs.  She said she was of Indian heritage.  It turned out to be a lie.  So Elizabeth Warren really has a big lack of credibility.  

     Q    Mr. President, what did you think about the statements from --

     THE PRESIDENT:  The which?

     Q    The statements between Tulsi Gabbard and Kamala Harris.  Do you think Tulsi really got Kamala (inaudible)?

     THE PRESIDENT:  I didn’t really -- no, I didn’t look.  I think that Kamala did not do well last night.  I think that -- I think Biden did okay.  He came through.  He came limping through, as I say about Sleepy Joe.  He limped right through it.  But he got through it.  He really did.  I think he was okay.

I think Kamala had a bad night last night, I would say.  But it's really boiling down to four or five of them.  Let's face it.  I don’t think -- I don’t see anybody coming from (inaudible).

Q    Do you have a message for Poland on the anniversary of Warsaw Uprising, which is today?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I have a lot of respect for Poland.  And, as you know, the people of Poland like me, and I like them.  And I'm going to be going to Poland fairly soon.  And I know they're building an installation that -- and they're putting in all of the money -- 100 percent of the money.  So they're building something very nice for the United States to have.

Go ahead.

Q    On Nancy Pelosi -- I'm sorry.  Just so I don’t have to yell at you here, if you don’t mind.  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi -- I don’t know if you saw -- but she described Jared Kushner as a kind of Baltimore slumlord because he owns property there.  Do you think your son-in-law bears any responsibility for those conditions?

THE PRESIDENT:  No.  I think the responsibility is the people that have run Baltimore for so many years, obviously headed up by Elijah Cummings.  They've run Baltimore into the ground.  We've given billions and billions of dollars to Baltimore.  The people of Baltimore appreciate what I've done for them by bringing this up.

It's the number one city, proportionately, in the United States on crime.  I saw a statistic where it's worse than Honduras, right now.  And I think what the people of Baltimore -- I think they really appreciate what I'm doing.  The money was stolen or misspent or wasted.  And a lot of things happened.  A lot of bad things.

But the government, for many years, has been very good to Baltimore.  We have to help the people.  Elijah Cummings has not helped the people.  But maybe at some point we'll get together and we'll get it straightened out.  But what happened in Baltimore is disgraceful.  And it's not only Baltimore, it's other Democrat-run cities, and you ought to report on it sometime.  Thank you.

Q    Mr. President, (inaudible).

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I haven’t seen the (inaudible) at all, but I'll take a look at them.  But I will tell you, the church has loved me and I love them.  You know, we've got about 84 percent of the vote.  And the churches love Donald Trump and I love them.

                                   END                4:06 P.M. EDT



Office of the Press Secretary

     Natalie E. Brown, of Nebraska, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Uganda.

     Jovita Carranza, of Illinois, to be Administrator of the Small Business Administration, vice Linda E. McMahon.

     Robert S. Gilchrist, of Florida, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Lithuania.

     Steven Christopher Koutsis, of Massachusetts, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Chad.

     Alina L. Romanowski, of Illinois, a Career Member of the Senior Executive Service, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the State of Kuwait.

     David Carey Woll, Jr., of Connecticut, to be an Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, vice Neal J. Rackleff.



Office of the Press Secretary

Via Telephone

July 31, 2019

4:02 P.M. EDT

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Thank you, everyone, for joining the call today.  The reason that we're here is that we are going to designate the Islamic Republic of Iran's Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, today, acting on the authorities established by President Trump's executive order sanctioning the Supreme Leader of Iran and the Office of the Supreme Leader.  And I will leave the details of that designation to my esteemed Treasury colleagues.

     Zarif is the international face of this regime, spearheading propaganda and disinformation campaigns in support of Tehran's nuclear program, ballistic missiles, and terrorist network.  Zarif also defends the regime's persecution of the Iranian people, having recently endorsed their abhorrent practice of executing gay people, as well as the regime's suppression of free speech, having acted as the apologist for their cruel and unjust detention of Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian between 2014 and '16.

     Zarif's office functions as an extension of the Supreme Leader's Office and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a designated foreign terrorist organization, and also is designed to spread the regime's malign influence.

     While the United States has historically placed a high priority on preserving space for diplomacy, there are limits to our patience when a regime so routinely flouts these protocols.

     After all, the Islamic Republic began by taking more than 50 credentialed U.S. diplomats hostage for 444 days.  It routinely attacks diplomatic facilities.  And just last summer, one of Zarif's own credentialed diplomats was apprehended for plotting a bomb attack in Paris.

     For far too long, he has been indulged as the reasonable and credible official representative of Iran.  And today, President Trump decided enough is enough.

     We will continue to build on our maximum pressure campaign until Iran abandons its reckless foreign policy that threatens the United States and our allies.

     Thank you.  And with that, I'll turn it over to my Treasury colleague.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Thank you.  So as was already mentioned day, OFAC took action against Zarif, and we did so pursuant to the new Executive Order 13876, because Zarif acted or purported to act for, or on behalf of, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

     Just to give you a background on the new executive order: On June 24, 2019, the President issued Executive Order 13876, imposing sanctions on the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Supreme Leader's Office, and authorizing sanctions on others associated with the Supreme Leader.

     Concurrently, Treasury, at that time, added the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Hosseini Khamenei, to our Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List.

     This executive order was signed by the President in light of the actions of the government of Iran and Iranian-backed proxies, particularly those taken to destabilize the Middle East, promote international terrorism, and advance Iran's ballistic missile program and Iran's irresponsible and provocative actions in and over international waters, including the targeting of military assets and civilian vessels.

     Today's OFAC designation of Zarif is our first designation pursuant to this executive order.  Zarif implements the reckless agenda of Iran's Supreme Leader and is the regime's primary spokesperson around the world.  The United States is sending a clear message to the regime that its recent behavior is completely unacceptable.

     Also, at the same time the Iranian regime denied Iranian citizens access to social media, Zarif himself spread the regime's propaganda and disinformation around the world through these mediums.

     While OFAC is taking today's action against Zarif under Executive Order 13876, this new authority, additional information, indicates -- the authority's additional information indicates Zarif oversees a foreign ministry that has coordinated with one of the regime's most nefarious state entities, the IRGC-Quds Force, which, of course, is designated pursuant to terrorism and human rights authorities.

     Zarif's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its high-ranking officials have engaged in and funded efforts to influence elections, some of which have involved the Quds Force.  Additionally, senior officials of Iran's Ministry of Foreign Affairs sought to facilitate the release of two Quds Force operatives from a foreign country by making payments to foreign judiciary officials.

     All property, and interest in property, of this individual that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC.  OFAC's regulations generally prohibit all dealings by U.S. persons or within -- or transiting -- the United States that involve any property, or interests in property of blocked or designated persons.

     And, in addition, persons that knowingly provide significant support to the individual designated today may themselves be exposed to designations.  Furthermore, any foreign financial institution that knowingly facilitates a significant transaction on behalf of him could be subject to U.S. correspondent account or payable-through sanctions.

     With that, I'll turn it over to my colleague from the State Department.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  No opening statement from the State Department, but I'll be happy to assist with questions and answers.  Thanks.
     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Perfect.  We're ready for Q&A.

     Q    Hi.  This is Steve Herman from the Voice of America.  I'm wondering if you have any information, evidence, that Zarif actually has any property or investments, connections, to the U.S. that would be reportable under this action today.  Thank you.
     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  So that's not the kind of information that we would typically comment on.

     Q    It's Vivian Salama from the Wall Street Journal.  Thanks for doing the call.  You talked about the assets -- how it's going to impact Zarif's assets.  But can you tell us practically what the travel restrictions are going to be?  Obviously, it's going to -- it sounds like it's going to prohibit him from going pretty much anywhere, since contact with other people is going to expose them.  But can you, kind of, spell that out for us?

     Also, if you can just elaborate a little bit on why there was the delay from the initial announcement that Secretary Mnuchin made a couple of weeks ago, versus now just rolling the sanctions out officially.  Thanks.
     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  On the question regarding travel -- specifically travel to the United Nations, for example -- State Department will evaluate specific circumstances related to this designation on a case-by-case basis, consistent with existing laws and obligations.  And this includes the United Nations Headquarters Agreement.  The United States will continue to uphold our obligations under the United Nations Headquarters Agreement.

     Regarding other travel to the United States, I would just say that eligible officials traveling for official United Nations duties would be immune from arrest while exercising their functions and during their travel to and from the United Nations.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Vivian, I'd just follow up on that, that obviously there's been no -- to our knowledge, as my State Department colleague was just saying, there's not been an application for a visa.  There have been grounds to deny them in the past.  It happened in '88 with Yasser Arafat.  And the Iranians also have a history of trying to really push the boundaries with the courtesies we routinely extend them for the United Nations.

     I think, in 2014, they tried to nominate one of the 1979 hostage-takers to be their perm rep in New York.  And Congress acted to block that action.  So, you know, obviously this designation indicates a fairly high degree of skepticism about him.

     Oh, and for the delay, I mean, as you know, taking these actions -- which are very serious -- this is obviously a highly unusual action.  Sometimes the process just takes a little time.
Q    Hey, guys.  It's Christina from CBS News.  Can you talk a little bit more about the back-and-forth as to whether to go ahead with these sanctions or not?  And then, what are the parameters of this call?  There was none at the top.  Is it embargoed until the end of the call, or can we report it now?  Thank you.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  The content is embargoed until 4:30 p.m.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  And, Christina, we're not at liberty to divulge internal deliberations.  Obviously, you know, all of the administration comes to an issue like this with their own perspective based on their particular responsibilities.  And, as is our routine practice, all of those perspectives and concerns are heard, and then, you know, a decision is reached.

     Q    Hi.  Thanks.  This is Jeff Schogol with Task & Purpose.  Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought Zarif was the point of contact for the nuclear negotiations.  If you sanction him, who are you going to negotiate with?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  He was the point of contact for the previous administration’s nuclear negotiations.  You might have noticed we actually withdrew from the JCPOA a little over a year ago.  So we do not consider him to be our primary point of contact.

     In addition, I think if we do have an official contact with Iran, we would want to have contact with somebody who is a significant decision-maker.  I think Zarif, who -- it was in the news this week that he wrote a complaining letter to the Supreme Leader because he felt he had not been portrayed in a suitably dignified fashion on some Iranian television show -- would not be the President’s selected point of contact.

     Q    Hello.  This is (inaudible).  Thanks for having this call.  I have a question regarding Emmanuel Macron’s offer to mediate between (inaudible).  So do you find this channel of indirect communication helpful?  And, in general, do you support (inaudible) as a mediator?  Thank you.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I had some trouble hearing that question.  I think it was about President Macron’s offer to mediate.  Is that accurate?

     Q    Yes, that’s correct.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I mean, President Trump has been very open that he is ready to speak to the senior leadership in Tehran and that he has certainly not prevented any of our friends or allies from communicating with them as well.  But I wouldn’t say that one channel is any more or less productive than Prime Minister Abe’s visit, for example.

     Q    Good morning, this is -- pardon me, good afternoon.  This is Toby Capion from EWTN.  I just wanted to know: Why is the strategy with Iran and North Korea so different?  Why not create more dialogue with Iran?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  We’ve offered to create dialogue with Iran.  I actually think the strategies are remarkably similar.  You might have noticed no sanctions have been relieved on North Korea.  The President has remained staunch on that.

     And certainly, if -- he has demonstrated by his willingness to meet with Chairman Kim that he is absolutely sincere in his offers of dialogue.  The Iranians have chosen not to accept them.

     Q    Hi, this is John Hudson with the Washington Post.  You know, the U.S. says it’s eager to reach a diplomatic solution with Iran.  How would you respond to those who would say that, by taking this action against Iran’s top diplomat, it’s not in fact interested in a diplomatic solution?

     And just a second question: I was wondering if this, in any way, is an effort to prevent some of the President’s other allies, such as Rand Paul, from interacting with Zarif -- other allies who have fought to increase dialogue with Iran.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Hey, John.  Thanks for that question.  I think, on Zarif, what is the key issue is that he has had this veneer -- masquerade, if you will -- of being the sincere and reasonable interlocutor for the regime.

     Our point today is that he is no such thing.  We have granted him every courtesy.  We have allowed him to exercise the right to free speech that he -- that that regime routinely denies to its own citizens.

     I think particularly the actions I highlighted in my opening remarks -- his recent defense of execution of homosexuals, his 2015 defense of the imprisonment of Jason Rezaian -- are reprehensible and demonstrate the degree which he functions as a propaganda minister, not a foreign minister.

     And did you have a second question?  Oh, the Rand Paul question.  As with President Macron or Prime Minister Abe, the President has placed no restrictions on elected officials having conversations with foreign counterparts.

     Q    Do you have any updates on the sanctions and their effects on trade with India?  Because, every once in a while, we get the media reports from India that there is a dialogue going on between India and Iran to deal with the trade to their currencies.  And it's always -- and then there is no denial that it will not be.  So, do you have any updates on the sanctions -- oil and other trades?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I think we would not speak, obviously, for the government of India.  We have been highly gratified by cooperation from a great friend and partner like India, and even less well-aligned countries such as China, in making the rather obvious choice that the United States would be the business partner of choice, not Iran.

You might've seen an open source yesterday.  They're estimating Iranian exports of oil for July at 100,000 barrels per day, which is down considerably from the previous historic low of, I believe, 781,000.  I'll have to confirm that number for you.  But, obviously, this is a restriction like they've never seen before.  They have, for that reason, very little to offer in terms of being a trading partner.

And so the United States just continues to be appreciative, particularly of India's cooperation, and continues to be very mindful of India's legitimate energy needs and that we are very happy as a major energy producer to contribute to what we see as an ample supply to the global market that can keep India amply supplied with energy.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I would just add to that -- you know, everything that my colleague said -- but also that, of course, we've been all over the world very carefully making sure that all of our partners and allies and companies around the world understand what the consequences are of violating our sanctions, where the money -- where the revenue -- when they do trade with Iran, where the revenue would otherwise be going to.

We've been very explicit about the need to ensure that sanctionable activity has ceased.  And, as my colleague said, I think we're getting very important results there.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Hey, we'll take one more question.

     Q    Hi, it’s Michael Crowley from the New York Times.  Thank you so much.  Can you confirm reports that the nuclear waivers due to expire in the next day -- or two, it might be -- will be extended?  And if so, can you shed any light on the rationale?

     And just a quick unrelated question: Can you comment on reports Hamza bin Laden was killed in Iran?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Michael, I think we’re going to need to confine our topics today to the Zarif action.  I refer to State on the nuclear waivers.  And we’re not going to comment on the bin Laden story.

If you’d like, I will take an executive action here and allow you a second question if you would like to ask about a Zarif-related topic.

Q    No.  Thank you for entertaining the others.


SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  All right, thanks everyone.  And as a reminder, the contents of this call is embargoed for another seven minutes.  I appreciate everyone’s time today.  Thank you.

                                   END                 4:24 P.M. EDT

West Wing Reads Baltimore Murder Rate Worse than Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Driving Asylum Surge

West Wing Reads

Baltimore Murder Rate Worse than Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Driving Asylum Surge

“The Baltimore murder rate is higher than the three Central American nations driving the border surge by migrants seeking to flee crime and murder back home,” Paul Bedard reports in the Washington Examiner.

“In an analysis of the murder rates done after President Trump criticized Baltimore Rep. Elijah Cummings over the weekend, Baltimore's was reported at 56 per 100,000. The city is on track for 340 murders. By comparison, said the Princeton Policy Advisors analysis, the murder rate in El Salvador was 50, in Guatemala it was 22 and Honduras was 38.”

The bottom line: “That Baltimore's murder rate is higher than the most dangerous countries' in Central America is frankly appalling on many levels, and as someone who grew up in Baltimore, I believe increased accountability is long overdue,” Princeton Policy President Steven Kopits said.

Click here to read more.
“The Trump administration announced plans to allow the importation of drugs from other countries, a major part of President Trump's agenda for lowering the cost of prescriptions,” Cassidy Morrison reports for the Washington Examiner. “This is the next important step in the Administration’s work to end foreign freeloading and put American patients first,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said yesterday.
In The Daily Caller, Surya Gunasekara and Mandy Gunasekara write that President Trump’s newly confirmed UN Ambassador, Kelly Knight Craft, is America’s best hope for saving the once-proud institution. For years, American tax dollars have been wasted allowing authoritarian regimes, including Iran, to hobnob in the Big Apple. “While member states willingly turn a blind eye to these fundamental problems, they continue to pass anti-Semitic resolutions denigrating the one true beacon of hope and key ally the U.S. has in the middle east — Israel.”
“As capital comes back home to the U.S., we are seeing President Trump’s tax reform pay off bigly for our country,” former Reagan economist Art Laffer writes in Fox Business. “Not so long ago, companies viewed the U.S. as a poor choice for headquartering international business operations. This was because the U.S. had one of the highest corporate income tax rates in the world,” he says. No longer—and the results prove it.
USMCA is a chance to modernize North America’s outdated trade agreement, “with higher standards, and better policies that will help workers and businesses be even more competitive in the 21st-century economy,” writes Jon Barela, CEO of the Borderplex Alliance, in the El Paso Herald-Post. “The next step is congressional action to ratify this critical agreement. We need our U.S. Representatives and Senators in Congress to immediately declare their support and vote to ratify the accord soon.”


Office of the Press Secretary

“Corporate profits declined 2.9% in the first quarter of 2019 even as wages grew at an annual rate of 10.1%. This sure sounds like an economy that is benefiting the 99%.”

The 99% Get a Bigger Raise 
The Wall Street Journal
July 30, 2019

Worker wages are growing much faster than previously reported.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) on Tuesday published its annual revisions to personal income data, and the surprise was the huge jump in disposable income and employee compensation.

The revisions show that employee compensation rose 4.5% in 2017 and 5% in 2018—some $4.4 billion and $87.1 billion more than previously reported. The trend has continued into 2019, with compensation increasing $378 billion or 3.4% in the first six months alone. Wages and salaries were revised upward to 5.3% from 3.6% in May year over year. And in June wages and salaries grew at an annual rate of 5.5%, which is a rocking 4.1% after adjusting for inflation.

In sum, Americans are earning more and relying less on government.

Recall how liberals blamed “secular stagnation” as the reason worker incomes weren’t growing faster during the latter years of Barack Obama’s Presidency. Yet employee compensation has increased by $150 billion more in the first six months of 2019 than all of 2016. Compensation increased 42% more during the first two years of the Trump Presidency than in 2015 and 2016. This refutes the claim by liberals that the economy has merely continued on the same trajectory since 2017 as it was before.

Deregulation has unleashed repressed animal spirits, especially in energy. Tax reform has also spurred business investment in new facilities and equipment, which over time should translate into higher worker productivity and wages.

While Democrats and even some conservatives complain that workers haven’t benefited from tax reform, the evidence suggests otherwise.
Read the full editorial here.


Presidential Message on National Shooting Sports Month, 2019

Office of the Press Secretary
Presidential Message on National Shooting Sports Month, 2019

During National Shooting Sports Month, we celebrate the cherished tradition of recreational and sport shooting activities.  Shooting sports bring people together and instill comradery among a significant portion of its fellow enthusiasts.  The vibrant shooting sport culture is made possible, in large part, by our steadfast protection of one of our bedrock and most-cherished liberties, the right to keep and bear arms.

Americans have a long history of participating in recreational and sport shooting activities.  Early sharpshooters participated in matches to entertain family and friends and test their skills for a prize.  During the turn of the 18th century, these competitions grew in popularity and legends like Buffalo Bill Cody and Annie Oakley began to enthrall audiences around the world.  Today, talented Americans rigorously train for worldwide competitions, including the Olympic and Paralympics Games.  Whether amateur or professional, shooting sport athletes possess the traits that characterize the best of our Nation—they are disciplined, determined, passionate, and confident.

As President, the safety of the American people is my top priority, and I want to ensure that those participating in shooting sports—one of our Nation’s greatest traditions—have the proper facilities to learn how to operate a firearm responsibly.  That is why I was proud, earlier this year, to sign into law H.R. 1222, the Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act.  This important legislation will support State wildlife management agencies as they construct or expand shooting ranges, providing more opportunities for citizens to safely and properly learn marksmanship skills.  My Administration has also expanded access to America’s public lands, opening millions of acres for use, including by hunters and recreational shooters.  And, in June, my Administration announced a plan to open an additional 1.4 million acres in national wildlife refuges and fish hatcheries to new or expanded hunting, fishing, and recreational opportunities.  These actions will help ensure a perpetual investment in wildlife and habitat conservation, foster responsible stewardship, and increase interest in shooting sports for current and future generations.

As we celebrate this National Shooting Sports Month, I encourage all those participating in recreational and sport shooting activities to continue to learn from this tradition and to promote a culture of safety and responsibility.