Wednesday, August 19, 2020


Office of the Press Secretary

Via Teleconference

4:09 P.M. EDT
     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Great.  Thank you very much.  Good afternoon, everyone.  Thank you very much for joining this background briefing on tomorrow’s White House visit of Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi of the Republic of Iraq.

     The information on the call is embargoed until its conclusion and is attributable, on background, to a senior administration official.  

     With us today we have [senior administration official].  [Senior administration official] will provide brief remarks, and then we’ll go into brief Q&A after that.
     And with that, I will turn it over to [senior administration official] to set the scene for the visit, from the White House perspective.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Thanks very much.  And thanks to everyone participating in today’s call.  We appreciate it.  We’re very much looking forward to the first visit from Prime Minister al-Kadhimi to the White House.  And since the President’s trip, really, to Iraq in December of 2018, we have -- we have had a number of opportunities to further the discussion on the security, economic, and on the aid and assistance front.

     As you all know, this is a critical time for both the United States and for Iraq.  We stand shoulder to shoulder as partners against not only the enduring defeat of ISIS but also against common threats to internal stability and security.

     Our goal for Iraq -- we seek to further in this conversation -- is a stable, secure, and prosperous Iraq that is a constructive neighbor in the region.  We’ve got a range of things to discuss.  As you all know, this takes place during the context of a strategic dialogue with Iraq that encompasses all of our shared goals and interests.

     And so, today, at State, Secretary Pompeo was fortunate enough to host the senior delegation of Iraqi officials accompanying the Prime Minister on his visit.  And tomorrow, many of those same officials will join the President, and many Cabinet officials in the White House, to advance those discussions even further.

     This all takes place under the guise of the Strategic Framework Agreement between Iraq and the United States.  It is, as I intimated earlier, dedicated to building Iraq’s defensive capabilities, providing security assistance, and working with Iraq to improve its stability and security.  And this obviously includes preventing the reemergence of ISIS and addressing other internal security threats.

     It’s also, of course, important because security is the bedrock of stability, which provides conditions necessary for economic growth and prosperity.

     As you know, recent events, between the coronavirus pandemic and the decline in oil prices, have created a budget conundrum for Iraq.  And as it seeks to resolve it, the United States is willing and able to work with them to improve conditions and to work towards growth and prosperity.

     And so a significant portion of this visit will encompass a broad economic discussion where U.S. business interests and the resources of the federal government can be brought to bear to help Iraq face its many challenges.  I’m happy to discuss that and also would point towards the event at the Energy Department and Secretary Brouillette’s readout of it.  So I won’t preview too much there and allow him the opportunity to do so.

     In the end, because we’re working towards economic prosperity as well as freedom from foreign meddling in its internal affairs, improved relationships with neighbors is also a critical part of the conversation.  And as you saw last week in the President’s historic announcement with arriving at the Abraham Accord between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, the President is keen to ensure that we improve relations among the -- among our partners and allies in the region.  And certainly, Iraq is part of that conversation.  We want to improve its relations with its neighbors, and we think that’s a fundamental building block for its economic prosperity and for its security relationships.

     We’re also going to be discussing today its relationship with the Kurdistan regional government to ensure that that contract remains viable.  That’s a critical component of a stable, sovereign Iraq.  And also, we’re working towards ensuring that the rights and the needs of the persecuted religious minorities, including Christians, Yazidis, and Shabak, recover after the enduring defeat of ISIS.  It’s critical that we ensure that their needs are looked after.

     So we have a broad range of topics to discuss.  This is part of the strategic dialogue meant to address all of them.  This is part of a process that will continue and encompasses all domains of our cooperation and assistance.

     And so, with that, I think I’ll pause and look forward to taking your questions.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Great.  Moderator, we’re about to take questions, and we’ll try to get as many as we can in there.  I just want to let the participants on the call know that the questions for this particular call are limited to the subject of the Iraqi Prime Minister’s visit.  If you have any other questions on other Middle East-related topics, please just go ahead and reach out to us at NSC Press, and we’ll address those through the normal process.

     With that, Moderator, we’ll go ahead and take as many questions as we can.  And I’ll indicate when we have just time for a couple more questions for everyone’s planning purposes.

     Go ahead, Moderator.

     Q    Thank you.  Thank you for doing this.  Secretary Pompeo talked about armed groups not being under the Iraqi Prime Minister's control, like those who attacked the U.S. embassy in Baghdad earlier this year -- well, December 31st.  He also expressed in the remarks today that it would be better to replace them with police.  But these militia groups are technically under the Iraqi Security Forces umbrella.  They are -- they get government salaries.  So is the White House asking the Prime Minister to change that; to, in some way, outlaw them?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Thanks, Kim.  Great question.  And thanks for participating and asking -- asking that today.  So, as you know, and I'm sure many others on the call know, that this is a persistent problem that challenges Iraq's security.  It threatens U.S. forces and interests in the region.  And certainly, it's a challenge to Iraq’s sovereignty, and it's something that has very much seized this Prime Minister, and it has our full attention.

     I think, at the end of the day, we think that Iraq's internal security needs are best met by forces that are, first and foremost, under the sovereign control of the government of Iraq.  And that, we believe, is an essential component of it.

     We think, in many instances, especially now that ISIS has been defeated, that there is a strong need for local, reliable police forces certainly to perform those critical functions in communities.  It also allows for the return of many of the refugees.  The Nineveh Plains comes to mind, where the prevention of those return of refugees creates additional problems.  In fact, it, of course, contributes towards greater instability, and local police forces there may well be part of the equation that fixes it.

     I think our focus now is to ensure that we work with the Iraqi government to ensure that it has the resources necessary, in terms of the assistance we're providing, to be able to get the right composite mixture of security forces in the right ratios and in the right places so that we don’t have an imbalance.  And that, again, their response is to the Iraqi people, and they're under the sovereign control of the government of Iraq.  But that may include, again, not just police forces, but it may include, of course, broader security force arrangements and the ministry of defense and interior.

     In the end, we're not going to prescribe a solution, but I think we are going to discuss and we are going support and assist the Prime Minister get to the right answer in Iraq.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Okay.  Next question, Operator.

     Q    Yes.  You just recently talked -- mentioned it just now about the Nineveh Plains.  (Inaudible) a question about the Assyrian Christians of Iraq.  First of all, they're the indigenous people, so a little bit concerned about the use of the term "minority" because it's not used within Iraq.

     Second, will there be any discussions on the fulfillment of the Assyrian administrative region on the same framework as the KRG?  It's been promised a number of times, and it's potentially the only way that people are going to be willing to return to their area.  Have you -- will that be brought up?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  So, thanks very much, Phil, for the question.  And, as you know, regardless of the terminology used, the President and the administration are seized with the issue of individuals and their ability to express their religious beliefs and practice them freely without persecution.

     And, certainly, the defeat of ISIS as the principal threat to most religious groups -- and, really, to everyone in Iraq, Syria, and the region -- is a critical component of it.  In the aftermath of that and in part of the -- ensuring the enduring defeat, we recognize that it's critical that two things occur: The first is that the United States leverage the goodwill and the resources of this great country and provide support and assistance to those people, including the Assyrian Christians.

     The second is that, within the constitutional framework of Iraq, that it exercises its rights and its responsibilities to provide for the return of refugees displaced because of ISIS; and second, ensures they've got the sound and safe and stable, secure communities to return to.

     And to that end, as you know, we have led the way, providing more support and assistance to Iraq in order to accomplish this purpose than any other nation to which I’m aware.  And we’ll continue to do so.  And we will have the discussion with the Prime Minister during this visit to ensure that it remains so.  And so it has to be a priority for him and for his government.

     And I have to say, too, that, giving credit now to the Prime Minister, he has made visits that his predecessors have not.  And I think he’s expressed an interest and he’s taken some initial steps to provide for a safe and stable return of refugees into these areas.  And that encompasses a large number of Assyrian Christians.

     So thanks again for the question.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Thanks.  Moderator, we’ll go ahead and take the next question.

     Q    Hi.  It’s Laurie Mylroie, Kurdistan 24.  You said that one of your goals is to promote better ties between Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government.  Could you elaborate on that -- what you’re saying in these meetings?

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Thanks, Laurie.  Appreciate that question.  And, yes, happy to.

     In the end, you know, the constitution is the basis and the contract between Iraq’s people and its government.  And, as you know, there are a number of provisions regarding the relationship between Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government, and we’re keen to see those fulfilled.  We understand they’re not easy.  We are -- we are and we have been willing and able to assist in the process to do that.

     Our most acute conversation point in this visit is to make sure that the resources available to the Baghdad central government also find their way to the KRG.  And so there is an agreed-upon distribution of resources, and the KRG is part of that equation.  And we understand that the budget crisis -- again, already alluded to -- is significant.  And Iraq is not alone in this.

     Nonetheless, it is important, from our view, that Iraq continue to provide the support and assistance that the KRG needs, as it does to other regions within Iraq.

     So that is our primary concern, and we’ll continue to do that.  But as previously mentioned in Phil’s question and answer, we’re also concerned, relative to the KRG, that they -- we continue to get their support and assistance for the return of refugees.

     And, of course, to do that, they need funding.  And so that’s going to be -- among the subjects discussed, that’ll be a principal focus.

     Thanks for the question.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Operator, we’ll go ahead and take three more questions.

     Q    Hi, there.  Thank you guys for doing the call.  I wanted to ask you: Both sides have discussed publicly about a future reduction in U.S. forces in Iraq, and I wanted to ask if there was a specific timeline for that that will be discussed tomorrow.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Thanks for the question, Alex.  Appreciate it.  As you know, the strategic dialogue encompasses both of our defense ministries.  I don’t want to get ahead of this -- of that visit, that engagement, and the announcements that they may or may not make.

     I will say this: that the President’s strategy, relative to both ISIS and Iraq, has allowed us to adapt our force structure in the region, as you know.  And because we've had success against the physical caliphate itself and against ISIS more broadly, that’s enabled us to do two things: consolidate our positions for force protection purposes and also ensure that we can continue to train and advise our Iraqi Security Force counterparts.  And so, as a result, it’s managed to -- we've managed to reduce our overall presence in Iraq over time.

     That process will continue.  There are no hard and fast timelines, and there are no hard and fast numbers, but that certainly would be part of the discussion as we evaluate what Iraq security requirements are and what the United States believes it can do.  And I would also note that these discussions are also occurring at NATO SHAPE Headquarters over the next couple of months, as NATO evaluates its role in Iraq.  And, of course, we encourage their participation, as do the Iraqis.

     So thanks for the question.

    SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Great.  Operator, two more questions, please.

     Q    Hey, guys.  Thanks for doing this.  I'm intrigued by how you opened, talking about improving relations with neighbors, but without criticizing Iranian influence in Iraq.  Can you talk about the balance you're trying to find between the desire to reduce Iranian influence in Iraq and respecting the Iraqi government’s statements about needing to have a good relationship with Tehran?

     And then, following the Chevron MOU that we just saw, will you be discussing expanding business deals to other companies -- for example, Exxon -- and overcoming some of the bureaucratic, political opposition to those deals?  Thanks.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Thanks, Nick.  Great questions, as always.  So I’ll take the second one first because it’s easier.  And so, yes, we are covering a broad range of investments covering a number of different U.S. companies.

     One of the principal objectives of this visit is to put them on sound footing.  As you know and many others on the call know, we've been working with our Iraqi counterparts on energy- and electricity-related projects, and others, for some time.  And there have been a number of obstacles.

     The Prime Minister’s government has made this a priority; the President has made it a priority.  There is a significant engagement that will occur during this visit at the Energy Department, and Secretary Brouillette will be announcing the results of that.  So I don’t want to steal his thunder, but I will say that we have a significant range of U.S. companies making significant investments and signing agreements at different stages with the government of Iraq during this visit.  So thanks for the question.

     Second, “balance,” I think, is the operative word in your first question.  Our goal is to ensure that there is a balance within Iraq and in its relations with its neighbors.

     As it pertains to the non-Iranian neighbors, I think there’s much to be done to improve and expand those relations.  The Prime Minister agrees, and we are going to be working to assist and enable that.

     And, naturally, as you look to energy infrastructure and electricity projects, we have focused on this with a concerted effort.  It is vital that Iraq’s electricity grid be connected to the GCC.  We’ve been working on this, as I’m sure you know, and there’s more work to be done.  And so that will continue.

     As it pertains to Iran, our goal is to ensure that Iran’s malign and destabilizing influence is no longer present and affecting the stability, political, and security environment inside of Iraq.  Our conversations with the Prime Minister will be helped to -- help to assist him to be able to get to that point.

     But, of course, as you know, we recognize that the cultural and religious ties that exist between the two countries will persist.  That’s not, of course, our issue or objection.  Our concern is solely with the government in Tehran and its malign and destabilizing influence, which in many ways is exercised through militias, which are not answerable to the sovereign government of Iraq -- going back to an earlier question.

     But thanks for asking and appreciate that very much.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Thanks.  Operator, we’ll just go ahead and take one more question before concluding the call.

     Q    Yes, thank you for doing this.  My question is: What is the position of the U.S. of the intervention in Iraq -- let’s say, about Turkey intervention in the northern side of Iraq?  Thank you.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Great question.  And we expect that this also will be a topic of conversation.  We have watched this with interest and with concern.  In the end, the starting point for the answer to this question is Iraq’s sovereignty.  It’s an essential goal.  It is a longstanding requirement for us.  It is obviously a priority for the Prime Minister.

     So, first, is that for a sovereign, stable Iraq, it is essential that malign influence exercised and unilateral action taken inside the country -- we have to, obviously, ensure that the conditions that might bring that about are not present.

     And the second, I would say, is that Iraq’s relations with its neighbors, as I said earlier, is going to be a focus of work for both the United States and the Prime Minister.

     Our goal -- having a relationship with both countries -- is to work and mitigate the effects of that and, hopefully, remove the condition by which one country -- in this case, Turkey -- feels the necessity to do so.

     We have, as you know, over time, established coordination mechanisms in the past, and that may be one of the things discussed.

     But the bottom line is: We respect Iraqi sovereignty, and we expect other countries to do the same.

     Thank you.

     SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Thank you very much.  Thanks, everyone, for joining today’s call.  As a reminder, this call is attributable on background to a “senior administration official.”

     The call is now concluded, and the embargo is lifted.  Thanks very much, everyone.

              END                4:29 P.M. EDT

1600 Daily The White House • August 19, 2020 An update on the Border Wall!

1600 Daily
The White House • August 19, 2020

An update on the border wall!

President Trump traveled yesterday to Yuma, Arizona, where he met with Border Patrol officers and gave Americans an update on the border wall with Mexico.

“This administration has basically funded us for 733 miles” of wall, Lieutenant General Todd Semonite of the Army Corps of Engineers said. “Forty-nine different projects are all going in the ground” across four states.

🎬 President Trump: “In 2 weeks, we will have hit 300 miles of wall.”

The new wall system is one piece of President Trump’s larger agenda to protect America’s security and sovereignty. Last year, he negotiated historic agreements with Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras to help stop the flood of illegal immigration across our border. Mexico even deployed thousands of troops to help.

Border apprehensions have fallen by more than 70 percent since last May as a result.

American law enforcement officers are stopping crime, drugs, and gangs in their tracks, as well. So far this fiscal year, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has seized over 100,000 pounds of cocaine, over 83,000 pounds of meth, and over 2,700 pounds of fentanyl. Border Patrol apprehended 976 alien gang members last year, including 464 from the vile MS-13 gang. (MS-13’s motto is “Kill, Rape, Control.”)

🎬 WATCH: Border wall leads to huge reductions in human trafficking

“You’re setting records at the border,” President Trump told Border Patrol officers yesterday. “You’ve been unbelievable.”

Border protection is more important than ever as the Coronavirus pandemic spreads globally. Strong border security is crucial to helping slow the spread of the disease.

“A lot of the procedures that we are putting in place today are having a real impact on applying a consequence to those that are entering the country illegally,” Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said.

“We are returning 90 percent of those individuals within 120 minutes, to date. That’s a big accomplishment.”

📷 PHOTO: New border wall system is going up!

📖 READ: President Trump’s full update on the border wall

Video of the day: Democrats left town. President Trump took action.

While Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her Democrat colleagues went home without a deal to help American workers and students struggling during the pandemic, President Trump remained hard at work.

He took four major executive actions—to stop evictions, provide unemployment insurance, pause federal student loan payments, and cut payroll taxes.

“The concerns of everyday Americans were not the concerns of Democrats on Capitol Hill,” Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said today.

Photo of the Day

President Trump with U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers in Yuma, Arizona | August 18, 2020


Office of the Press Secretary

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
1:24 P.M. EDT
     MS. MCENANY:  Hello, everyone.  Where is Nancy Pelosi?  The House is in recess.  House and Senate Democrats left town after failing to compromise and make a deal to provide relief to the American people.  While Nancy Pelosi and her colleagues went home, this President remained hard at work.  President Trump took executive action, including stopping evictions; providing unemployment insurance; pausing student loan payments; cutting the payroll tax, which put money in the pockets of all Americans.

     Democrats apparently were unable to stick around to make a deal.  Now, suddenly, Democrats will be rushing back to Washington.  But why?  The answer: the United States Postal Service.  It's a stunning turn of events.  Democrats went home after accomplishing nothing: no deal on stimulus checks, no deal on small-business relief, no deal on eviction protections.  The concerns of everyday Americans were not the concerns of Democrats on Capitol Hill.

     So where is Nancy Pelosi?  She and her Democrat colleagues will be back in Washington soon to pursue their latest manufactured crisis: the Postal Service.  Democrats denied a $10 billion offer for the U.S. Postal Service by this President before they went on recess.  But now they're back to pursue the latest Democrat-manufactured crisis.  It's sad, but it's clear where Democrats’ priorities stand.

     And with that, I'll take questions.


     Q    Kayleigh, looking ahead to potential action at the United Nations: Will the President dispatch the Secretary of State to go to the U.N. to invoke the snapback clause on sanctions?

     MS. MCENANY:  Yeah, so I have no announcements, and I won't get ahead of the President.  But what I will say is: The President has said that he will be willing to invoke the snapback option soon, and I'll leave that to him.


     Q    Kayleigh, the President said this week: The only way we “lose this election is if the election is rigged.”  It begs the question: Does the President believe there's any circumstance under which he could lose the election fairly?

     MS. MCENANY:  The President believes he's done a great job for the American people, and he believes that will show in November.  He believes that voter fraud is real, in line with what we see all across the country, particularly with mail-in ballots, which are prone to fraud.


     Q    Thank you very much, Kayleigh.  Two questions for you.  Firstly, given the President's tweet on Goodyear and lashing out at them, is the Beast still going to be using Goodyear tires?

     MS. MCENANY:  I'm not going to comment on security matters.

     Q    Okay.  And then I want to follow up with a question that I asked the President last week but he didn't answer.  I asked him about QAnon.  So I wanted to know: Have you ever heard the President talk about QAnon?  And what does he think of the conspiracy theory?

     MS. MCENANY:  No, I've never heard of that.  There's a lot of media focus on that, but certainly never heard of that from the President.


     Q    Kayleigh, just a follow-up on what my colleague said over there.  With regard to the President saying make sure to get out and vote because “the only way we're going to lose this election is if the election is rigged,” does the President -- is the President saying if he doesn't win this election, that he will not accept the results unless he wins?

     MS. MCENANY:  The President has always said he'll see what happens and make a determination in the aftermath.  It's the same thing he said last November.  He wants a free election, a fair election, and he wants confidence in the results of the election, particularly when you have states like Nevada doing mass mail-out voting to their voting rolls.  And when they tried this in the primary, it was a massive failure.  Ballots were piled up in trash cans.  Ballots were pinned to apartment dartboards.  And with that being the system, the President wants to take a hard look at this and make sure that these are fair election results and not subject to fraud.


     Q    So will he accept the results, Kayleigh?

     Q    Can you tell us if the White House has reached out to Pelosi or the Democrats to talk over the next couple of days about stimulus?

     MS. MCENANY:  Yeah, so I have no updates on the personal conversations that we've been having.  But what I'll say is this: is I know the Speaker is interested in potentially a skinny bill with Post Office funding.  But what we want here at the White House is we're certainly open to Post Office funding.  We did, after all, offer that $10 billion that was turned down.

     So we're open to that, but what we want to see in there is relief for the American people who are hurt through no fault of their own.  For unemployed Americans, we want to see enhanced unemployment insurance.  PPP: We want to see small businesses get taken care of.  That money goes directly to payroll, so to pay workers and, thus, keep jobs.  And we're interested in seeing stimulus checks go out to the American people as well.

     Q    On the Post Office, are you able to share if you’re -- if the White House is open to the $25 billion that the Democrats are proposing?  Or is $10 billion the cap?

     MS. MCENANY:  No, we don't have a cap.  We're certainly open to looking at the $25 billion, but we want included in there relief for the American people that, thus far, Speaker Pelosi has been entirely uninterested in, as this President has taken unilateral action to protect Americans subject to eviction, to protect Americans who are unemployed, to protect Americans via a tax cut through payroll deferral.

     So this President has taken action.  Still, we're waiting on a reckless Speaker Pelosi to get back and do her job.


     Q    Just to follow up on that, and then I have another question: Are there other things that the President could do in the realm of the executive action to address this problem with the Postal Service to ensure that they've got sufficient funding?  Is there anything that he could do to, sort of, fill the gap?

     MS. MCENANY:  So the Post Office does have sufficient funding through 2021, and they do currently have cash on hand.  They've been given that $10 billion line of credit through the CARES Act.  So that's important to note.

     And, look, we're looking at the Post Office funding to do with Speaker Pelosi, but that must also include money for our hardworking Americans as well.

     And the President, just to underscore this, mentioned yesterday that he wants to protect postal workers.  These are great, hardworking Americans, and he wants to make the Post Office solvent and -- to protect those post office jobs.  And he mentioned Amazon -- needing to raise the price of packages for Amazon as a way to help the solvency with the Post Office.

     Q    And a quick follow-up.

     MS. MCENANY:  Yes.

     Q    So with the recent agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, there is great interest on the part of the Emiratis to purchase F-35s.  What is the President's position on selling those high-end aircraft to the Emirates at this point?  And would that require congressional changes to remove the qualitative military edge that is guaranteed to Israel at this moment?

     MS. MCENANY:  So we don't confirm or comment on proposed defense sales or transfers until they're formally notified to Congress.

     To circle back on your first point, too, about the Post Office funding, I did want to highlight a piece that was written by Ruth Goldway, who’s a retired Chairwoman and Commissioner of the U.S. Postal Regulatory Commission.  I believe it was in the New York Times.  And she said, quote, that the Post Office “has access to about $25 billion in cash.  Its own forecasts predict that it will have enough money to operate into 2021.”

     So this notion that there's this emergency for which Nancy Pelosi needs to rush back to Capitol Hill to solve is a farce.  It is false.  The real thing that's happening here is Nancy Pelosi is feeling pressure from her members, from her constituents because she's not delivered relief for the American people, and President Trump has.

     Yes, Paula.

     Q    Thank you, Kayleigh.  Today, the President encouraged Americans not to buy Goodyear tires, suggesting that they had a ban on MAGA hats.  But it appears that their policy is just a ban on political speech.  It's pretty common for most companies.  So why is the President retaliating against a private company for their dress code and potentially jeopardizing American jobs?

     MS. MCENANY:  So Goodyear needs to come out and clarify their policy.  There was an image --

     Q    They have.  They released a statement.  Have you seen that? 

     MS. MCENANY:  They failed to clar- -- yes, I did see their statement, which still -- still faired -- failed to clarify their policy.

     What happened is there was an image that was put out that showed that certain speech was acceptable -- Black Lives Matter insignia, for instance -- but what was not allowed was Blue Lives Matter; what was not allowed was MAGA hats.

     What was clearly targeted was a certain ideology.  They have not denied that that image was presented at one of their facilities, and they need to come out --

     Q    (Inaudible) racial equality, racial justice, that is okay, but not political speech.  That’s pretty standard across the board right now.  That's not that unusual.  Did the President even reach out to Goodyear before he tweeted?

     MS. MCENANY:  They came out and said “equity issues.”  As far as I'm concerned, Blue Lives Matter is an equity issue.  There have been police officers across this country that have been targeted because they wear the badge.  Look no further than Dallas, where five police officers died.

     So Black Lives Matter, an organization who’s -- in their D.C. branch said, “Black Lives Matter means defund the police.”  One of their presidents in New York said, “We will burn down the system.”  We all remember, in 2015, the yelling of “Pigs in a blanket, fry them like bacon” at a Black Lives Matter rally.

     Q    Did the President reach out to Goodyear to clarify the policy before --

     MS. MCENANY:  That speech is allowed, but --

     Q    -- he potentially put U.S. jobs at risk?

     MS. MCENANY:  -- Blue Lives Matter is not allowed?  And I will stand at this podium and say Blue Lives Matter is an equity issue, and Goodyear needs to come out and acknowledge that.

     Q    Is the policy debate worth putting American jobs at risk?

     Q    But that’s not the reason he called for the boycott.

     MS. MCENANY:  Yes.

     Q    Does the White House --

     MS. MCENANY:  Well, (inaudible) address that.  The reason he called for the boycott was over MAGA.  MAGA is pretty much unanimous with Blue Lives Matter these days, if you've seen the endorsements.


     Q    Hi, Kayleigh.  Does the White House support rolling back those existing operational changes that Louis DeJoy has done at the Postal Service, like those mail-sorting machines?  He said he would pause the operational changes going forward, but does he -- do you guys support rolling back the ones that have already affected mail delivery?

     MS. MCENANY:  So the President made his position clear on this yesterday, and it is making the Post Office solvent via Amazon package rates being raised.

     It's important to note how this works.  So for letters, magazines, catalogs, the Post Office can only raise prices by the rate of inflation, whereas with packages and commercial freight, like Amazon, they can raise those competitive prices.

     And the Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has proposed doing just that, because we don't believe that Amazon should be able to push expensive packages to the Post Office and burden them further -- when they've already had issues with funding -- and push it there, but yet take advantage of the cheaper shipping.  It's a business model that works for Amazon, but it's not one that works for the American people and clearly not one that works for the Post Office.

     Q    But what about those specific operational changes?

     MS. MCENANY:  He's -- the President has made clear that Amazon -- he thinks that's the best way to go.  And I'll let him answer any further on that.


     Q    Thanks, Kayleigh.  The President, last night, congratulated Laura Loomer for her primary win in Florida.  He's also backed Marjorie Taylor Green in Georgia.  Both women have expressed anti-Muslim sentiments.  Does the President endorse their view of -- their views of Muslims?  And does he believe that those views belong in Congress?

     MS. MCENANY:  Well, the President routinely congratulates people who offit- -- who officially get the Republican nomination for Congress.  So he does that as a matter of course.  He hasn't done a deep dive into the statements by these two particular women.  I don't know if he's even seen that, but he supports the Muslim community; he supports the community of faith, more broadly, in this country.


     Q    Thank you, Kayleigh.  The President said that cost has been a consideration in selecting the White House as the location for his acceptance speech next week.  And I'm wondering if cost, in terms of keeping costs down for security purposes, is a consideration when he's selecting when to travel to his homes in Florida and New Jersey.

     MS. MCENANY:  Look, the President made clear that he wants to look at cost with regard to the convention.  He always tries to.  But the President is entitled, at times, to leave the White House, and he's done that just like every past President has.


     Q    Thank you, Kayleigh.  Can you confirm that the U.S.-China trade deal phase one talks with Ambassador Lighthizer are still on track?  And if so, do you have a date for those?

     MS. MCENANY:  Yeah, so the trade representatives do speak, and the President has expressed his displeasure with China, with regard to COVID and the pandemic.  I don't have a date for any official talks, but it is safe to say, should they continue, it would be between the trade representatives.

     Yes.  Blake.

     Q    Kayleigh, back -- back to Goodyear for a second.  Set the issue of the Beast aside.  When the President says, “Don't buy Goodyear tires.  Get better tires for far less,” is he imploring that to his supporters?  Or is that the official policy of the U.S. federal government that the President has directed, saying, “Do not buy Goodyear tires going forward”?

     MS. MCENANY:  The President was talking to his supporters when he tweeted that in particular.  And, look, this President will never apologize for standing with law enforcement.  He won't.  He thinks it's unacceptable.  If you can wear a Black Lives Matter hat, guess what?  You should be able to wear a Blue Lives Matter one, too, particularly when our police officers are targeted like they were in Dallas; particularly when David Dorn lost his life amid these riots.

     He will always stand against our police officers and Blue Lives Matter for some reason not being an equity issue, as Goodyear appears to maintain.

     Q    So for all the -- so for all the fleets out there that have Goodyear tires on them, that inevitably need to be replaced, that is fine?  Go ahead and purchase --

     MS. MCENANY:  I haven't spoken to him about that in particular.  You can ask him later in the 5:00 p.m. hour.

     Yes, Chanel.

     Q    Thank you, Kayleigh.  As the White House continues to spearhead its vision and its victories for Middle East peace, what commitments does the White House hope to establish with the visit of the Prime Minister from Iraq tomorrow?

     MS. MCENANY:  Yeah, so that visit -- we're very much looking forward to that tomorrow.  The President looks forward to welcoming Prime Minister Kadhimi to the White House.  The U.S.-Iraq strategic partnership is based upon a common goal for a stable, secure, and prosperous Middle East, and Iraq is a key partner to the U.S. on a range of regional security issues, including the enduring defeat of ISIS.  So all of those matters will be discussed tomorrow.

     Q    Kayleigh.

     MS. MCENANY:  Yes, John.

     Q    The President has been very bullish on the potential of convalescent plasma.  And it appeared as though the FDA was poised to issue an emergency use authorization for convalescent plasma.  But a number of the President's top advisors in the medical field, including Doctors Collins and Fauci, said, “Let's put a hold on the EUA.  It's too early.  We don't yet know about the true efficacy of convalescent plasma.”  Does the President agree with putting off the emergency use authorization, or does he have a different mind of it?

     MS. MCENANY:  Yeah, so I haven't spoken to the President about that particular EUA.  You can ask him that later this afternoon.

     But I did follow up in -- with the FDA on a testing issue.  And I wanted to look into the average time for a point- of-care test because you all ask often about our point-of-care or more rapid test.  And the average time for point-of-care test from submission to the FDA to decision for COVID-related, rapid point-of-care tests was 20 days.  And, by comparison, that for Ebola, flu, and strep point-of-care test was over 100 days.

     So this FDA, under this President, has managed to prove these rapid point-of-care tests that you all ask about at a rate five times faster than for Ebola, flu, and strep, which have taken more than 100 days on average.

     And just before I walked out here, Attorney General Barr announced some very good new news.  Last week, of course, we learned that the suspected killer of LeGend Taliferro was charged, which was very encouraging to see.  Operation LeGend was, of course, named after LeGend Taliferro, the four-year-old boy who was shot and killed in his bed.

     This has been going on for six weeks.  There have been a thousand federal agents, from FBI, DEA, ATF, and U.S. Marshals, working side by side with state and local authorities.  Operation LeGend is a very good example of cooperation and action, which is a sharp contrast to those who merely express empty sentiments or, worse, hold blatant disregard for the unacceptable violence in our cities, of which many children have fallen victim to.

     The President cares.  The President wants law and order restored.  He wants peace in our streets.  So this President took action.  And today, the Attorney General can announce, under the leadership of this President, that federal agents have made over 1,000 arrests as part of Operation LeGend.  Many of these arrests are for violent state crimes, including 90 homicides.  And as AG Barr notes, that means 90 killers would still be on the streets today without the law and order actions of President Trump.

     And as the mother of LeGend Taliferro said, this -- she said, quote, “My one and only child who fought through open-heart surgery at four months is gone due to senseless gun violence.  Children are supposed to be our future, and our [four-year-old] son did not even make it to kindergarten.  I stand here today as a mother fighting against violence for my son LeGend Taliferro.  My family and I support Operation LeGend, and we strongly want our communities and everyone else behind us.”

     Today, LeGend Taliferro was once again honored by the actions of Operation LeGend, and we can thank President Trump and the work of Attorney General Barr for that great news.

     Thank you all very much.  The President will be back here in the 5:00 p.m. hour. 

                                       END            1:41 P.M. EDT

West Wing Reads How the White House Prepared for a Pandemic

West Wing Reads

How the White House Prepared for a Pandemic

The Trump Administration “was well aware of the threat of a pandemic before the novel coronavirus emerged,” Joel Zinberg and Tomas Philipson write in The Wall Street Journal. In fact, a White House report produced last September laid the groundwork for President Trump’s historic push for a vaccine, now known as Operation Warp Speed.

“The report discussed how the lack of private market incentives had led to underinvestment in developing and using innovative technologies that can quickly produce vaccines for a new virus . . . When Covid-19 appeared a few months later, the administration expeditiously applied the report’s lessons on the value of public-private partnerships to speed vaccine innovation and production.”

Now, “new vaccines are being developed at previously unimaginable speed.”

Click here to read more.
“President Trump recently delivered on our recommendation to suspend the payroll tax . . . The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimates that Trump's tax deferral may put $100 billion worth of extra pay back in the pockets of U.S. workers through year-end,” Stephen Moore and Alfredo Ortiz write in RealClearMarkets.
“Chicago police officers have been retiring at double the normal rate recently, raising concerns that the number of new hires won’t keep pace with the number leaving,” Frank Main reports. “Who wants to stay in this environment? . . . The mayor doesn’t back us,” the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police President said. Read more in the Chicago Sun-Times.
“Science is one of the strongest weapons that we have against this virus, which is why President Trump has enlisted our unrivaled research community in the fight. Since the start of the pandemic, the Trump administration has taken several actions to engage scientists in academia, industry, and government to understand and defeat this disease,” writes Kelvin Droegemeier, President Trump’s science advisor, for the Washington Examiner


Office of the Press Secretary
Joe Foss Hangar
Yuma, Arizona

1:34 P.M. MST

     THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everybody.  We’re here to celebrate a very big achievement.  And it’s Yuma, and it’s hot.  (Inaudible) a little hot out there.  I’m supposed to speak for 45 minutes.  It’s about 120 degrees.  Do you think Joe Biden could do that?  I don’t think so.  (Laughter.)  I have a feeling he couldn’t do it.

     So we’re really, sort of, celebrating a lot of things.  The incredible people right over there have done such an incredible job.  (Applause.)  That’s first and foremost.

     And I will say this: You’re setting records at the border.  You’ve been unbelievable, and I know the wall is helping.  You know, in two weeks, we will have hit 300 miles of wall.  And this is a small version of it because, actually, the real deal goes up 30 feet.  This is much smaller than that.  But this is a small version of it.  This is what the finish will be.

     Those are anti-climb plates at top, so that makes it much more difficult when you get to the top -- because you see these guys climbing up with drugs on their back, and when you see that, it’s actually -- they look at the wall and they say, “Let’s pass.  Let’s take a pass on it.”  So it’s a -- it’s been a really incredible success.

     So, within two weeks, we’ll be in 300 -- General, I think -- in 300 miles.
     LIEUTENANT GENERAL SEMONITE:  Sir, we’re actually going faster than that.  We'd like to think we can get to 300 by the end of this week.

     THE PRESIDENT:  That’s fan- -- wow.


     THE PRESIDENT:  And we’re doing about how many a week?  About 10 miles a week?

     LIEUTENANT GENERAL SEMONITE:  Over 10 miles a week; over 2 miles a day.

     THE PRESIDENT:  That’s fantastic.  That’s fantastic.  So, it’s a great -- it’s a great feeling to have closed up the border.  Now people come in if they come in through merit, if they come in legally -- but they don’t come in like they used to.  And human trafficking is -- I think we’re down 96 percent or something.  It's been incredible.

     Mark, why don’t you say a few words, please.

     ACTING COMMISSIONER MORGAN:  Yes, sir.  So, thank you.  So first of all, what you see behind me has saved American lives.  Every single bit of concrete and steel that goes into the ground, the operational capacity of the men and women you’re seeing right here goes exponentially higher to stop dangerous things and people from coming into this country.

     Drugs -- drugs alone -- what this wall does is it helps us shape the behavior of the cartels.  It puts us in an offensive position, just like the President said.  Because of that, this year -- year, to date -- we've seized over a million pounds of drugs.  Think about that: this year, to date, a million pounds of drugs.  And this wall is helping shape the behavior so that we can get better at doing that.

     We talked about criminals.  We apprehend thousands of criminals every single year.  Think about that.  You know, a lot of these individuals are violent criminals.  Because of this wall, we’re able to apprehend and stop these criminals from coming into this country to repeat their offenses.  So we have fewer victims of United States citizens because of the wall, because of what this President has provided us.

     Let’s talk about gangs.  Every single year, we stop hundreds and hundreds of gangs from pouring into this country -- like MS-13, whose motto is “Rape, Kill, and Control.”  That's their motto: “Rape, Kill, and Control.”  Just recently -- it wasn't that long ago -- they used machetes to hack up their victims, and they actually leave them decapitated.  That's what we're talking about when we're talking about what this tool provides us.

     And then, of course, illegal immigration: Even during the height of a global pandemic, illegal immigration continues.  And they allow themselves to be put in stash houses that are unsanitary, unsafe.  They're put in tractor trailers for days.  I mean, there’s COVID -- that's like a COVID petri dish.  But yet, they're coming across.  But because of the tools that we have, like this wall, we're able to stop the illegal entry of individuals that have COVID to protect our -- a citizen of this country.

     And, Mr. President, I can say: I've been in law enforcement for over 30 years -- my entire adult life -- and I want to personally thank you.  You absolutely understand the threats that we face along our borders.  You understand that border security is national security.  And what today represents is a tremendous achievement that shows our commitment and the President's commitment to do what he said he was going to do from the beginning, and that's everything that we can to give these men and women the tools that they need to safeguard the health, safety, and security of the American people.

     So, on behalf of the Customs and Border Protection, Mr. President, I want to say thank you for your continued commitment.  (Applause.)

     THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  Not a bad job.  That was a not a bad job, Mark.  I’m impressed.  Well, you’ve been my friend, and you've been with us from very early on, and we appreciate it.  We’ve made a lot of progress.

     You know, you don't hear about the wall anymore because we won.  When you win -- if you’re us -- you never hear about it again.  And we have page after page of achievement that you never hear of anymore.  And people say, “Oh, let's not talk about Space Force.  Let's not talk about all of the things we've done.”

     But the wall is something that probably was the most visible of all.  And it's working so incredibly -- 280 miles, a little more than that.  And again, that'll be a great -- whether it's next week or the week after -- knowing the general, we'll do it next week -- but we'll be at that 300-mile mark.  And the difference is like day and night.  Number one, you can use a lot less people, so you can be doing other things, which is great.  Because once you have the wall, nobody gets through it.

     Additionally, the wall is equipped with various things.  It's -- it’s set up for cameras and all sorts of elements.  You control a lot of things, even from the air, within the wall.

     Interestingly, if you look, this is steel -- the exterior -- but inside the steel is hardened concrete.  Very, very strong, heavy-strength concrete.  And inside the concrete is rebar.  So you have steel.  You have concrete.  You have rebar.  You have all different materials.  So it's very, very hard to get through.  Very, very hard.  And it made it, actually, much stronger than it would be, even if it was steel.  So, inside, concrete.  Inside that, what's called “grade-A hardened rebar,” which is very hard to saw.  You cannot do it very easily.  But I think it's going to be fantastic.

     And again, the big thing is that plate; that's a big deal.  We had people, they couldn't -- they couldn't get over that.  That was the thing that stopped them.  They could get up to the plate, but once they got there, there was nothing to grab.  So it's called “anti-climb.”  It's been -- it's been great.

     General, would you like to say something?

     LIEUTENANT GENERAL SEMONITE:  I would, sir.  And, you know, I think the amazing thing about this is it’s part of a great team here.  We enjoy working for DHS.  Commissioner Morgan and his people and the agents standing next to here are the real heroes.  They're the ones we work with every single day.  And the Corps of Engineers -- again, we stay in concrete and steel, but our employees out in the Army Corps of Engineers are very, very dedicated to be able to make sure we get this done.

     We talked about the 300-mile mark, but what you might not know is that this administration has basically funded us for 733 miles.  Three hundred are going in -- or, I mean, are already in right now, basically.  There's another 300 that are being built right now in every -- all along places across these four states.  Forty-nine different projects are all going in the ground.  And then the last 133 are in design and acquisition.  We're writing the contracts; we're designing it.  But that's 733 miles that are paid for to be able to continue to execute.

     Last two things I would say, Mr. President, is that we want to continue to go out of our way to try to make sure we're taking care of the environment and mitigate any damages out there.  We're also worried about the Native American tribes.  We're worried about land owners.  We want to do this the best way we can to achieve this objective.  And we’re just very, very proud and honored to be a part of this overall great team.

     THE PRESIDENT:  Great job.  Fantastic job.

     As you know, we have some natural walls, so to speak.  We have mountain areas.  We have very, very rough areas that are virtually impossible to get by.  We have the river itself.  We have a river that's a rough river, a dangerous river.  And you don't need walls at certain locations, but we have covered it.  And this is something that's very special, very important.

     And I looked at the platform.  I didn't see it, but I know they used to talk about it -- that they would take down the wall if they got in.  They would take it down.  And one of the incredible things in terms, Mark, of timing, is that because of the coronavirus, or whatever you want to call it -- the “China plague.”  Call it whatever you want.  “China plague” is more accurate.  But because of what happened with this, Mexico is heavily infected, and it's stopping people from coming across.

     We put up 18 miles in San Diego, as an example, right opposite Tijuana.  And Tijuana is probably the worst place in South America, in terms of the China virus.  It's -- I think it is the worst place.  And San Diego is not suffering at all because of it.  So it’s -- I mean, it's an incredible thing that happened.

     So California is actually very happy that we built the wall.  They don’t say it publicly because they can't; it’s not good, politically, for them, although I actually think it probably is good, politically, for them.

     So it's been an incredible success.  Chad, do you want to say a couple of words, please?

     ACTING SECRETARY WOLF:  Absolutely.  Let me again thank you for your leadership, Mr. President, on providing the resources to build over 450 miles of the new border wall system by the end of this calendar year.  Never did we ever dream of that at the beginning of this administration.  So thank you for that.

     Let me also say: A lot of the procedures that we are putting in place today are having a real impact on applying a consequence to those that are entering the country illegally -- those that are coming into the country without any legal right to be here.  We put enough procedures in place that we are returning 90 percent of those individuals within 120 minutes, to date.  That’s a big accomplishment.
     And then let me just end by thanking you for your support for the men and women of law enforcement.  DHS is the largest law enforcement agency in the country.  We have over 60,000 law enforcement officers.  And the dangerous push and policies that we see today -- talking about defunding law enforcement and defunding police -- are irresponsible.

     So I want to thank you for your support for the men and women of law enforcement, the men and women that are standing to your left.  Thank you for that as well.  And we'll continue to do the mission of the department every day, despite the -- the types of criticisms that we receive.

     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, a lot of people, even the media, frankly -- I mean, they see what's happening, they see the numbers, and there hasn't been very much criticism, amazingly.

     Would anybody have anything to say to the -- we call it the “fake news” media, but we don’t want to say that.  Do you have anything to say?  Any statements to make or questions to ask of them?  Huh?  (Laughter.)

     PARTICIPANT:  (Inaudible.)

     THE PRESIDENT:  You’re very smart.  (Laughter.)

     Oh, there.  Okay, go ahead.  Please.

     DEPUTY ORTIZ:  Just on behalf of the men and women of CBP and all the law enforcement across the country, thank you for your support.

     I’ve been doing this job for 29 years, and I can tell you that it makes a world of difference knowing that we have the top cover from our commissioners, the Secretary, and certainly from the administration.

     And I want to tell you that the infrastructure that we're putting into place -- whether it's a technology, whether it's the wall system, or the men and women that we're adding to our workforce each and every day -- it's certainly going to help improve the security in our country.  And so, on behalf of all of us that, each day, put on our uniform, leave our families, hoping to make a difference, we appreciate your support.  Thank you.

     THE PRESIDENT:  And I appreciate your support.


     Do you have any questions?

     Q    Secretary Wolf, back home, Miles Taylor says that the White House Liaison for DHS has been asked to “dig up dirt on him.”  Is that true?

     ACTING SECRETARY WOLF:  I don’t know anything about that.  What I can tell you is I’m very disappointed in Mr. Taylor.  He was at the Department for a number of years, but again, decided to -- left the Department over a year ago, a year and a half ago; left the Department very -- praising the administration’s policies, procedures; has said nothing since that time; and 70 days -- roughly 70 days from election, has decided now to start talking.  I think most reasonable Americans understand what that is all about.  So, very disappointed.

     THE PRESIDENT:  And if I could add: I never met him, to the best of my knowledge.  I never heard of him.  I don’t know who he is.  I then said, “When did he leave?”  And it was like a year and a half ago.  He said the best things about what we’re doing, unbelievable statements, and he left a year and a half ago.  All of a sudden, he’s badmouthing.

     Now, the reason is the Democrats or somebody got to him and said, “How would you like to speak?” or whatever.  He’s a lowlife.  Anybody that does that is a lowlife to me, and it’s a shame, because these people work so hard.  And I don’t even know if you know Miles Taylor.  Do you know who he is?

     COMMISSIONER MORGAN:  I never met him, sir.

     THE PRESIDENT:  I never met him; I never heard of him before.  But, all of a sudden, they have big headlines: “Member of the Trump administration…” -- he’s not a Trump administration.  And he’s been gone for close to a year and a half.  And I guess you met him or knew him a little bit.  But he left, and we checked -- said the greatest things.  And all of a sudden, he says bad, right before an election.  These are bad people.  These are sick people.  And we call it out.  The difference is: We call it out.  Somebody else would let him get away with it.  We call him out.  He's a lowlife.  Okay?

     Q    Do you have an update on the Post Office situation?

     THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah, the Post Office is running as well as it has in a long time.  They took a lot of old administrative acts where they wanted to do -- from past administrations -- and they’ve done them.

     Look, I have a much better idea on the Post Office: You raise the price per package by a number that it should be, so that instead of Amazon and these other companies making a fortune -- including the fact that they pay virtually no tax, which is ridiculous, and very unfair to regular stores -- Amazon will pay for the cost of the Post Office.

     So now, instead of losing tens of billions of dollars a year, like it has been for 30, 40 years, Amazon should pay for it and so should other companies in the business of Amazon -- delivery.  They should pay.  They should also pay tax, by the way.  And then you'll solve your problem with the Post Office, because I don't want to lay people off.  I'm not laying postal workers off.

     And let me just tell you, what we do is: It's price per package, and they haven't figured out exactly whether it's $2 or $3.  And you make it so Amazon has to pay, and they can't pass it on.  They make a lot of money; they can't pass it on to their customer.

     Right now, Amazon comes in, they build their big plant, and they deliver the easy ones; and the hard ones, they give to the Post Office.  And the plant is usually right next to a big Post Office building or Post Office.  They dump packages into the Post Office; we, the United States, delivers the package for Amazon, and we lose a lot of money.  Unacceptable.

     And I've been telling these people to do this for the last three years, but they just got the board, and we're going to be doing it.  Amazon is going to pay for the Post Office.

     Q    Did you have any role in the decision not to make any changes to the Postal Service, in terms of overtime or --

     THE PRESIDENT:  No, I wasn’t involved.  You have a good man and -- the head man.  And he was carrying on for years what has been taking place at -- Mark, is that a correct statement?

     COMMISSIONER MORGAN:  That’s correct.

     THE PRESIDENT:  This has been going on for a long time.  But I have a much better idea: You get more per package, because the people that used to be there under the Obama administration, appointed by Obama, they never went -- really, they never raised the prices on Amazon.  So Amazon is paying an ancient price, and they shouldn't be.  And they shouldn't be allowed to pass it on to their customer.  They have to pay for it themselves.  They make a fortune.

     So they've used the Post Office, and they've used it very smartly, very well.  And I've known this for a period of time, but now you have a full board.  And we should raise the price of packages Amazon has to pay, and we shouldn't get rid of any of our postal workers.  I don't want to get rid of our postal workers.  If you look at past administrations, they wanted to cut the Post Office way down; I don't want to do that.

     And, by the way, Amazon could never replicate the Post Office.  The Post Office is bigger than Amazon, by a lot.  Hard to believe how big it is.  But it also loses billions and billions.  Lost $78 billion over a short period, like a 12-year period of time.  Something like that.  Seventy-eight billion.

     Now, we'll fix it very easily.  It can be done in one day.  We charge Amazon for use, because it's part of their model.  They think the Post Office is stupid.  They think the people in government are stupid.  So he builds plants, he builds his receptor plant, or whatever he may call it or they may call it, and he takes a lot of that stuff, and he drops it into the Post Office.  Then the Post Office loses two and a half dollars every time they deliver a package.  They shouldn't do that.

     So my idea is very simple: Amazon has to pay.  They can't pass it on to their customer because they shouldn't.  They make so much money.  They’ve made money by using the U.S. Post Office, and nobody did anything about it.  I did, because we started this project two years ago, and now we’re in a position to do it.

     So that’s what they should be doing.  This way, you keep everything.  Your Post Office could almost, probably, make money.  Probably ends up making money, where -- first time in 45 years that it would actually make money.  And I don’t want to fire anybody in the Postal Service, all right?  I think that's pretty clear.


     Q    Mr. President, do you agree with the Senate’s conclusion that -- do you agree with the Senate’s conclusion that Vladimir Putin directed the hack of Democrats’ emails?

     THE PRESIDENT:  I don't know anything about it.  I didn't read it.  I did see Senator Rubio saying, “Donald Trump had absolutely nothing to do with it.”  He was on before; he said, “Donald Trump had absolutely nothing to do with Russia.”  It's all a hoax.  It’s a big hoax.

     What was in a report done by some politicians on the other side, like Warner?  What was in the report?  That, I don't know?  But I know one thing that was in the report: that Donald Trump had absolutely nothing to do with it or with Russia.  Is that right?  Did you read that?

     Q    It did --

     THE PRESIDENT:  Go ahead.  Did you read it?  Come on.  You can say.

     Q    It concluded that you were --

     THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.

     Q    But, Mr. President --

     THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.

     Q    Mr. President -- Mr. President --

     THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah, go ahead.  Please.

     Q   The report also said that Ukraine -- there was no evidence that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election.  Do you still believe --

     THE PRESIDENT:  Oh, now it’s Ukraine.

     Q    They -- they did not find --

     THE PRESIDENT:  So, I thought it was Russia.  You mean now it’s --

     Q    They didn’t find any evidence --

     THE PRESIDENT:  Who are you with?  Who are you with?

     Q    You know who I’m with.


     Q    They did not find any evidence that Ukraine interfered in 2016.  Do you believe that Ukraine --

     THE PRESIDENT:  You’re telling me that Ukraine did interfere now.

     Q    No, I’m not.  I’m saying that Senate -- the Senate Intelligence Committee, led by Republicans, did not find any evidence that Ukraine interfered in 2016.  You repeatedly have said that they did.  Do you still believe they did?

     THE PRESIDENT:  I don’t know anything about it.  I don’t know about Ukraine.  I don’t know about Russia.  All I know is that I had nothing to do with either one of them, and that came out loud and clear in the report.  Loud and clear.

     And I want to thank Senator Rubio.  He made it very, very powerfully; he made a very powerful statement today.  He said, “Donald Trump had absolutely nothing to do with Russia.”  And that's true.

     Okay, what else?

     Q    Mr. President, the U.S.-China talks were postponed.  You were --

     THE PRESIDENT:  Please.

     Q    U.S.-China talks were postponed.  You were supposed to have a review of this --

     THE PRESIDENT:  I don’t want to -- that’s right.

     Q    -- trade deal.  So --

     THE PRESIDENT:  I postponed them.

     Q    So, is the --

     THE PRESIDENT:  I postponed talks with China.  You know why?  I don’t want to deal with them now.  I don't want to deal with them now.  With what they did to this country and to the world, I don't want to talk to China right now.  Okay?

     Q    Are you going to -- are you going to pull out of the trade deal?

     THE PRESIDENT:  We’ll see.  We'll see what happens.  Look, let me tell you, what China did to the world was not even thinkable.  They could have stopped it.  They stopped it from going into China, and they should have stopped it.  So that's correct: I cancelled talks with China.

     Q    Mr. President, Mike Lin- --

     THE PRESIDENT:  And, by the way, if Sleepy Joe Biden ever got in, China would own the United States.  They’d own it.  They’d own every one of these people.  They’d own this building.  They’d own the United States -- because Biden would give them everything for two reasons: Number one, he’s not smart; and number two, he's weak.  China would own our country.

     And you know what else?  You'll have a deal the first month, or sooner, with Iran.  Iran is dying to make a deal.  But I said, “Let's wait until after the election.”  And they would want to wait because there's a chance -- if Biden ever got in, they'd give them another $150 billion, like they did.  The dumbest deal I've ever seen.

     Q    Are you going to take action against Iran on the basis of the U.S. intelligence report that they paid bounties?

     THE PRESIDENT:  You’re going to see.  You’re going to see.  You’re going to see very soon.  I don't talk about that.  You'll see very soon.

     Any other questions?

     Q    Mr. President, Mike Lindell, “Mr. Pillow” -- the pillow guy -- he’s promoting a new therapeutic for COVID-19, oleandrin.  And he says you're enthusiastic about it.  Is that true?

     THE PRESIDENT:  I know nothing about it other than I know he's got something that he's working with some science people.

     Q    Why should we listen to him?  He doesn’t -- he manufactures pillows.

     THE PRESIDENT:  I don't know.  I don't know.  All I know is this: We're very close to a vaccine.  We have the best companies in the world doing it.  We're very close to a therapeutic.  We're going to solve it therapeutically, in addition -- which, frankly, to me, is better because it's quicker for now.  The vaccine is great, but therapeutics -- and we're very close to coming up with the answers.  We already, I think, have answers, if you want to know the truth.  Then when we have to -- General, we have to deliver it.  We’re going to do it through the military, through one of your friends, who’s a general for logistics.

     But I don't know anything about it.  I haven't heard that.  What is he doing?

     Q    Did many medical experts talk to you about --

     THE PRESIDENT:  He’s -- wait.  He’s promoting some kind of a --

     Q    Yeah.  Oleandrin.  He’s out here talking about it.

     THE PRESIDENT:  That, I don't know.

     Q    He said you’re enthusiastic about it.

     THE PRESIDENT:  I don't know the name.  But I know Mike; he’s a good man.  He does -- he’s a good man, and he makes a good pillow.

     Q    On Russia: Do you accept that your 2016 campaign staff were a security risk, given their high level of contacts with Russian officials?

     THE PRESIDENT:  You’re going to have to say it louder.

     Q    Do you accept that your 2016 campaign staff constituted a security risk because of their repeated contacts with Russian officials?

     THE PRESIDENT:  I don't even know who you're talking about.  I know that -- I know that Ukraine sent a phony document, saying it was a Manafort document and it was a forged document -- the black book; they call it a “black book.”  And it turned out, I believed, to be forged.  But I wouldn't know what you're talking about.

     I can only tell you this: They said, “Donald Trump knew nothing about anything.”  And that came out loud and clear.  You could find a couple of sentences inside that say something; I don't know.  But I can say this: That black book that had to do with somebody that worked for me for a very short period of time -- I think he's a good man, if you want to know the truth.  But I don't know.  But will say that the book, I think, they said was forged.  It was a phony book, just like everything else was phony with that whole deal.

     Look, we caught the Obama administration spying on our campaign.  They spied on our campaign.  That's treason.  That's treason.  If this were the other way around, and it was Democrats instead of Republicans, there’d be people -- many people would be in jail already.  It's a disgrace that it's taking this long.  We caught him spying on our campaign.  Let's see what happens.

     Just last week -- I guess they announced last week that a very high-level person from the FBI was forging documents in order to make me look bad.  All right?  It's all about making me look bad.  So he was a high-level man.  He was forging documents.  Let's see what happens to him.

     But the bottom line is: We caught President Obama and Sleepy Joe spying on our campaign.  That's treason.  That's illegal.  These people should take them and do something with them -- I’ll tell you.  It’s a disgrace.  It’s really a disgrace.  And they knew it.  And not only spying; they were working on our campaign before I won and after I won, hence the insurance policy from Strzok and his lover, Page.  Two lovers.  They got caught because they were lovers.

     And she said, and he said, “She's going to win, but just in case she loses, we have an insurance policy.”  Well, we went through the insurance policy.  The problem is we caught them, and we caught them cold.  And let's see what happens.  And Obama knew about it, and I'm sure Michelle knew about it, and Biden knew about it.  All right?

     Q    Are you going to pardon Manafort then?

     THE PRESIDENT:  I think he was treated unbelievably, because the black book, they say, was a phony book.  So we'll see what happens with him.  We’ll see.

     I'm very happy to have given a full and complete pardon to Susan B. Anthony.  That was a great thing.  That was very popular too.  That was a very good one.  And I actually asked the other day; I said -- they were talking about Susan B. Anthony, and, you know, she made -- she did that for other people, and she didn't want herself included.  She wasn't included in the pardon from many years ago.

     And I said, “Well, so, she has a record?”  And they said, “Yeah, she has a record.”  I said, “Why can't we pardon her?”  They said, “That's the coolest idea I've ever heard.”  And it's been very, very popular.  Susan B. Anthony.  And I've just signed the pardon.  I've just signed the papers.  And she is fully pardoned.  The first time in a long time, she’s fully pardoned.

     Q    How do you feel about Oracle?  Do you feel Oracle would be a good buyer for TikTok?

     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I think Oracle is a great company, and I think its owner is a tremendous guy.  He’s a tremendous person.  I think that Oracle would be certainly somebody that could handle it.  Yeah.  We gave them until September 15th.

     Q    Okay.

     THE PRESIDENT:  After that, they got to close shop, okay?  That’s TikTok.

     Q    Would you prefer Oracle to Microsoft?

     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I guess Microsoft wants it and so does Oracle, and probably so do other people, but they have to also make sure the United States is well compensated because we're the ones making it possible.  Very simple: We're the ones making it possible.  So our Treasury has to be very well compensated.

     Q    How would that work?  Would that be a fee?  A commission fee?

     THE PRESIDENT:  It’s very simple how it would work.  It’s called: “You have to put money into the Treasury.”

     Any other questions?

     Q    How are you going to make your convention a bit more lively than the Democratic one?

     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, their ratings were very bad.  They just announced their ratings.  I thought it was not the best television I’ve ever watched.  It was brutal, actually.

     No, their ratings were very bad.  I think we're going to do great.  Thursday night, I'm doing it live.  Unlike Michelle Obama, I'm doing it live.  And it’ll be Thursday night.  It’ll be at the White House, on the South Lawn.  And, hopefully, you'll enjoy it.  Okay?

     Q    Mr. President, since we're here at the border and we’re --

     THE PRESIDENT:  Live, by the way, it always much more exciting than a tape, especially once you made the tape long before the event.  She didn't even have the accurate facts.  And then they say, “What a wonderful job.”  What -- what was wonderful about it?  It was a divisive speech, devoid of facts, and it wasn't current; it was old.  It was done probably two, three weeks ago.  So, you know.  But the media will always say good.

     Q    President Trump, since we’re here talking about the wall, and the election is fast approaching, do you have anything to say about your 2016 campaign promise that Mexico would pay for it?

     THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah, they are paying for it.

     Q    How?

     THE PRESIDENT:  They’re going to pay at the border, at the gate -- cars going through.  We're going to do a toll, or we may do a toll for money being sent back and forth.  They will pay for it.  Yeah, they are paying for it.  It’s a hundred percent.

     Q    But just to be clear: Right now, they are not paying for it.

     THE PRESIDENT:  No, no, it doesn’t matter whether they pay now or over the next 12 months.  No, no, Mexico will be paying.  We have a very good relationship with Mexico.  And we built the wall under budget, ahead of schedule.  Once we started, these guys -- the Army Corps of Engineers -- did a great job.  And Mexico is paying for the wall, yeah -- either through the toll.  And it's a very small charge because we do such big business.

     You know, it's the largest entry to a country in terms of business anywhere in the world, by far -- a lot of people don't know that -- our southern -- our border between Mexico and other countries.  But our southern border, it's the largest point of entry anywhere in the world.

     So they are paying for it.  Yeah.

     Q    Just, can one of the officials here, one of the experts talk a little bit about what that fee is, how much it is, and how much you plan to actually earn from it?

     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I think what we’re doing is we're figuring how much we have to charge, what the charge would be.  It won’t be very substantial because we have millions and millions of cars and trucks going through the border.  And we also may do it as a tax or a combination.  We may do it as a tax -- money being sent back into Mexico.

     Q    Even though the border is closed right now?

     THE PRESIDENT:  And you know what?  That’s closed, but it’s not going to always be closed.  And it's open at entry.  At the points of entry, it's open, but we're very, very careful.  But it will be fully open in a short period of (inaudible).  When the pandemic, when the China virus goes, it will be open.

     But I will tell you this:  We built a great wall.  The Army Corps of Engineers did a spectacular job, maybe even superseded by Border Patrol and all of the people, right?


     THE PRESIDENT:  Because the job you've done without the wall is incredible.  You know, the Democrats used to say, “You don't need a wall.  We need drones.”  What are you going to do with the drone?  Watch people go by?  Two things never got old.  You know, technology is an amazing thing.  Two things never got.  You know what it was?  One is the wall and one is a wheel.  And you can come back in 1,000 years from now, and you're going to have walls and you're going to have wheels.  Other things, they're all obsolete.

     But we can run drones right from the wall.  We have technology that we flip onto the wall.  We can run our drones; we can run all sorts of cameras.  It's all wired up.  We have everything you can possibly have.  It's an amazing -- it's an amazing and very complex setup.


     Q    Mr. President, Speaker Pelosi said today that she would -- wanted to meet halfway on a stimulus bill.  When are you guys ready to --

     THE PRESIDENT:  I don’t know what she says.  She doesn't know what she says.  She reminds me of Joe Biden.  She doesn't know what she says.

     Okay.  Thank you very much.  Now, I’ve got to make a speech.  I’m sure you’ll enjoy a speech in 120-degree weather.  But I got to do it, and I will do it.

     Thank you very much.  Thank you.

                               END                 2:14 P.M. MST