Thursday, August 20, 2020

1600 Daily The White House • August 20, 2020 NEW: President Trump issues joint statement with Prime Minister of Iraq

1600 Daily
The White House • August 20, 2020

NEW: President Trump issues joint statement with Prime Minister of Iraq

President Trump welcomed Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi of Iraq to the White House today—the Iraqi leader’s first visit since assuming office in May.

We’re down to a very small number of soldiers in Iraq now. We defeated the ISIS caliphate in Iraq and Syria,” President Trump said. “I think our relationship [with Iraq] now is better than ever before.”

🎬 President Trump: “We knocked out 100 percent of the ISIS caliphate.”

America is leading the way to a more peaceful and prosperous Middle East—without fighting endless wars and without making terrible deals that harm our national security.

Just last week, President Trump secured a landmark agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, as the UAE became the first major Arab country to recognize Israel in over a quarter-century.

Elsewhere in the Middle East, while the disastrous Obama nuclear deal funneled billions of dollars to Iran—the world’s number one state sponsor of terror—President Trump’s maximum-pressure campaign is isolating and crippling the Iranian regime.

“Iran doesn’t have so much money to give to the world anymore—to the terrorists, to give to al Qaeda and various other groups of people that they were funding,” President Trump said. “They have to keep their own regime together, and it’s not easy for them.”

Like Ronald Reagan, “peace through strength” is President Trump’s approach to foreign policy. “Peace through stability” is another way to put it, Daniel McCarthy writes in The American Conservative this week.

“Bush’s war and Obama’s idea of peace both built-up Iranian power,” McCarthy says. “Donald Trump can succeed where the others fail because he is transactional, not ideological, and he looks out for the American interest.”

🎬 President Trump is bringing our great American soldiers home!

📖 READ: Joint Statement from President Trump and Iraqi Prime Minister

Before President Trump, America witnessed the slowest ‘recovery’ in decades 

“We inherited the worst, slowest economic recovery since, I don’t know, probably the Great Depression,” National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow said today.

“In 2016 . . . the economy was teetering very close to recession,” he added. Then, President Trump’s “policies of low taxes, deregulation, unleashing energy, free- and fair-trade deals to improve exports for manufactures and farmers—those policies generated a tremendous boom.” Unemployment plummeted to 3.5 percent as a result.

Now, the Great American Comeback from COVID-19 is already underway. Last week, President Trump shared six graphs that reveal the fastest recovery in history:
  1. Jobs Boom in Full Swing
  2. Manufacturing Boom in Full Swing
  3. Auto Market Showing Rapid Recovery
  4. Housing Market Quickly Rebounds
  5. U.S. Stocks Lead the World
  6. Shallowest Contraction

Photo of the Day

President Trump boards Air Force One before departing for Pennsylvania | August 20, 2020

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

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

Andrew J. Lawler, of California, to be Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.

Andrew J. Lawler is a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for International Fisheries at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  He serves concurrently as Alternate Federal Commissioner to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, and the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission.

Prior to joining the Department of Commerce, Mr. Lawler was the editor and publisher of numerous publications focused on general business topics, international trade, fishing, and ranching.  He received his B.A. from the University of Southern California.

Zachary T. Haines, of Ohio, to be a Member of the Board of Trustees of the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation.

Zachary T. Haines is an entrepreneur who currently serves as the CEO for Distributor Partners of America.  Under his leadership, the organization grew from approximately 67 distributors to more than 1,000 companies in the industrial, safety, and facility maintenance industries. In 2018, he was appointed to serve a nine-year term on the Board of Trustees for Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.

Mr. Haines is actively involved in the Sons of the American Revolution, having at least ten ancestors who served or furnished material aid to the cause of liberty in the Revolutionary War.  In this capacity, he chairs an annual patriotic essay contest for high school students and honors local ROTC cadets and midshipmen.

Mr. Haines earned his B.S. from Miami University, located in Oxford, Ohio.

Today, President Donald J. Trump announced his intent to appoint the following individuals to key positions in his Administration:

Peter N. Kirsanow, of Ohio, to be Vice Chairperson of the United States Commission on Civil Rights.

Aaron Ellis Ringel, of Virginia, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (Global Public Affairs).

John Finley, of New York, to be a Member of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.

Kristopher B. King, of South Carolina, to be a Member of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.

Luke A. Nichter, of Ohio, to be a Member of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.


Office of the Press Secretary


Oval Office

11:19 A.M. EDT

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Thank you very much.  It's great to have the Prime Minister of Iraq, a very highly respected gentleman all over the Middle East, and respected very much by our country, too.  I can say that.

     And we will be discussing, today, the obvious: defense -- and offense, I have to say.  But we'll be discussing military.  We're also involved in many oil projects and oil development within their country, and I think we've had a very, very good relationship since we started.

     We're down to a very small number of soldiers in Iraq now.  We defeated the ISIS caliphate in Iraq and Syria, and it's -- that has been defeated very strongly, and it does have a different feeling to it now that you've got it.  We had it at 98 percent, and we said, "Well, we can leave."  And then, everybody said, "Would you bring it to 100 percent?"  Then we brought it 100 percent.

     But the relationship is very good.  We have become friends.  We have become, I think, friendly.  I think our relationship now is better than ever before.  But we have very few soldiers in Iraq, and -- but we're there to help.  And the Prime Minister knows that.  We are there to help.  We're with some people that also -- Mike and Mike -- we -- and Robert.  We very much feel that if Iran should do anything, we will be there to help the Iraqi people.

     So, that's where we are.  We're doing big trade deals, we're doing military deals, and we're doing military purchases by them, where they're spending a lot of money on purchasing equipment and they're building up their military rapidly, and we like to see that.

     So, thank you very much, Mr. Prime Minister, for being here.  I appreciate it.  Please.

     PRIME MINISTER KADHIMI:  Thank you, Mr. President.  I just want to thank you for receiving us in the White House today.  I’m grateful for all the support offered by the United States to Iraq during the war against ISIS.

     This support has built our partnership for the best interests for our nation.  Mr. President, yesterday we signed many contact -- many contracts with American companies -- over (inaudible).  Iraq is open for American business and investment and for a better future for Iraq and Iraqi people.

     Thank you very much.

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Thank you very much.


     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Very much.

     Q    Mr. President, what’s your reaction to the indictment of your former campaign aid, Steve Bannon?

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Well, I feel very badly.  I haven’t been dealing with him for a long period of time, as most of the people in this room know.  He was involved in our campaign.  He worked for Goldman Sachs.  He worked for a lot of companies.  But he was involved, likewise, in our campaign, and for a small part of the administration, very early on.  I haven’t been dealing with him at all.

     I know nothing about the project, other than I didn’t like -- when I read about it, I didn’t like it.  I said, “This is for government.  This isn’t for private people.”  And it sounded, to me, like showboating.  And I think I let my opinion be very strongly stated at the time.  I didn’t like it.  It was showboating and maybe looking for funds.  But you’ll have to see what happens.

     I think it’s a very sad thing for Mr. Bannon.  I think it’s surprising.  But this was something, as you know, just by reading social media and by reading whatever it is, and by speaking to Mike and Mike and all of them, I didn’t like that project.  I thought that was a project that was being done for showboating reasons.

     I don’t know that he was in charge.  I didn’t know any of the other people either.  But it’s sad.  It’s very sad.

     Q    But it’s not just Steve Bannon.  It’s Roger Stone.  It’s Michael Flynn.  It’s Rick Gates, Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen.  What does it say about your judgment that these are the kind of people who you’re affiliated with --

    PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Well, I have no idea.

     Q    -- and the culture of lawlessness --

    PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Yeah.  Yeah.

     Q    -- around people who are involved in the leadership of your 2016 campaign?

    PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Well, no, there was great lawlessness in the Obama administration.  They spied on our campaign illegally.  And if you look at all of the things and all of the scandals they had, they had tremendous lawlessness.

     But I know nothing about it.  I was not involved in the project.  I have no idea who was.  But I can tell you: I didn’t know the people; the three people that were talked about were people that I did not know.  I don’t believe I ever met them.

     I don’t think that should be a privately financed wall.  I don’t think -- it’s too complex; it’s too big.  And we’re now up to 300 miles, almost.  In another week, week and a half, we’ll be up to 300 miles of wall at the highest level.  They were even having construction problems.

     I was reading -- the little I know about it, I got from you.  I was reading, where they were having construction problems with the wall that they were -- they had a small area just to show people that they could build a wall, and they were having a lot of problems where it was toppling over and other things.  And I didn’t like it because I didn’t want to be associated with that.

     We built a very powerful wall.  It was a wall that is virtually impossible to get through.  It’s very, very tough.  It’s very strong, and it’s everything the Border Patrol wanted.  And I didn’t want to have a wall that was going to be an inferior wall.  And I felt this was going to be an inferior wall.

     Q    Kris Kobach said you endorsed the wall.  Is that true?  The project.

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  So I didn’t -- I didn’t know -- I didn’t know that.  I didn’t know about Bannon’s involvement, but I didn’t know any -- I didn’t know the other people.  And I -- but I do think it’s a sad event.

     And, again, Steve has had a great career at Goldman Sachs.  He’s had a career with a lot of other people.  I haven’t dealt with him at all, over years now -- literally, years.  And I guess this was a project he was involved in, but it was something that -- in fact, you can see I made statements about it a long time ago.  It was something that I very much felt was inappropriate to be doing.

     Okay.  Please go ahead.


     No, go ahead, please.

     Q    Mr. President, the end of the militia roles in Iraq -- it’s one of the very important issues to stabilize the country in Iraq.  How America is going to support ending the militia role in Iraq and --

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  You know, you’re -- you’re very hard to understand.  Could you maybe help me with it?

     Q    Mr. President --

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Wait.  Go ahead.  Try it again.

     Q    (No translation provided.)

     PRIME MINISTER KADHIMI:  (As interpreted.)  The United States helped the -- helped Iraq enormously in defeating ISIS and also in toppling the Saddam Hussein regime.  We are working on building a strong relationship that is based on joint interests between Iraq and the United States, that is based on economic interest for the better future of the Iraqi people and the United States people.

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  When I got to -- when we came into office, ISIS was running rampant all over Iraq and Syria.  And we knocked out the -- 100 percent of the ISIS caliphate.  But the Obama administration did a very, very poor job.  They were running rampant all over.  And we came in and we did a real job, and we got rid of that, and that was a good thing.

     And now we’re working with Iraq.  They use the great American Dollar, which is the most powerful currency in the world.  And they’re starting to do well.  And we are with them.  And this gentleman, in particular, we’ve developed a very good relationship.  And hopefully, it’s going to be very strong for your country.

     Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  There have been 32 attacks -- there have been 32 attacks in the last 10 months on U.S. interests in Iraq, particularly in the Green Zone and U.S. military bases.  How are you going to help Iraq to halt these attacks by pro-Iranian militia and to hold these people accountable?

     And, sir, if I may also, there was some reporting that the U.S. troops will withdraw from Iraq totally in three years.  Is this true?

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  So, at some point, we obviously will be gone.  We’ve brought it down to a very, very low level.  We deal -- where there are attacks, we take care of those attacks, and we take care of them very easily.  Nobody has the weaponry we have.  Nobody has the -- anything -- of what we have.  We have the finest, the greatest military in the world.  When somebody hits us, we hit back hard than they hit us.  So we handle it.

     In addition to that, Iraq has been very helpful, where necessary.  But we have been taking our troops out of Iraq fairly rapidly, and we look forward to the day when we don’t have to be there.  And hopefully Iraq can live their own lives and they can defend themselves, which they’ve been doing long before we got involved.

     Yes, please.

     Q    Mr. President how do you see the role of the Kurds in Iraq?

     Q    Mr. President, about -- about the bounties -- about the bounties: You say you hit back hard, but we haven’t seen any definitive strike back for bounties upon Americans.

    PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Well, you don’t know about the bounties.  I mean, you're telling me -- if you know something, you can let us know, but you obviously don’t know very much about it.  But if we found out, that would be true; if we found, that would be a very -- it would be a fact, what you just said.  We would hit them so hard your head would spin.

     Go ahead.

     Q    Mr. President how do you see the role of the Kurds in Iraq?  And how is important relationship between Baghdad and Erbil (inaudible)?

    PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Well, the Kurds helped us greatly in defeating the -- as you know, the ISIS, and getting the ISIS -- 100 percent of the ISIS caliphate.  So we have a very good relationship with the Kurds, and we've also treated them very well.

     Q    Mr. President --

    PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Yes, please.

     Q    -- on the bounties --

     Q    Yeah.  The end of the militia rules in Iraq is very important to -- to stabilize the country.  How America can help ending the militia rules?  And how can help Iraq in the democracy process?

    PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Well, what we’re doing is we’re helping where we can.  But again, that’s a country -- that’s a separate country.  They have a prime minister, and they have people in office, and they have to run their country.  We've been in Iraq for a long time.  I won’t say whether or not I said we should be there, but frankly, I didn’t think it was a good idea.  But I was a civilian, so who’s going to listen to me?  But I made my point pretty clear; I guess as clear as a civilian can do it.

     But we were there, and now we’re getting out.  We’ll be leaving shortly.  And the relationship is very good.  We’re making very big oil deals.  Our oil companies are making massive deals.  And that’s basically the story.

     I mean, we’re very -- we’re very happy with the relationship that we've developed over the last couple of years.  I thought, before that, frankly, the United States was being taken advantage of.  But we’re going to be leaving, and hopefully we’re going to be leaving a country that can defend itself.

     Q    While you are here in the United States, there were -- there were airstrikes on northern Iraq, in Kurdistan region, killing one civilian.  I know -- in your talks, in your meetings here, you talk a lot about the sovereignty of Iraq.  Is that something that you're looking for help from the United States?

     And Mr. President, if that’s something can -- if Iraq is asking for help, in terms of the interference from the neighbors -- not just Iran, but other neighbors where they're attacking northern Iraq?

     PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, they’ll have to make a specific request, but certainly, the Prime Minister has my ear.  So if he does that, we’ll take a look.  They do have -- it’s a very unstable part of the world.  And I'm not talking about Iraq; I'm talking about the -- the whole of the Middle East.  It’s a very, very unstable part of the world.

     But we're there to help.  And because of the relationship, we would certainly be willing to lend you the kind of support that you need.

     PRIME MINISTER KADHIMI:  (As interpreted.)  Definitely the Turkish attacks are not accepted.  On the other hand, the Iraqi constitution also does not allow Iraq to be -- to become used to attack any -- any neighboring -- neighboring country.  We are entering dialogue with Turkey to rectify this situation.  And I look forward to solving this problem with Turkey and getting our neighbors, the Turks, to understand Iraq's circumstances.

     But once again, the Iraqi constitution does not allow Iraqi territory to be used to attack any neighboring country.

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  I will say this: The United States, and me in particular, has a very good relationship with Turkey and with President Erdoğan, and we'll be talking to him.  But we have a very, very good relationship with Turkey and with President Erdoğan.

     Q    Mr. President, just to follow up on the troops question, sir: Do you have a timeframe for the full and complete withdrawal of U.S. troops from -- from Iraq?

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Mike, what would you say to that?

     SECRETARY POMPEO:  As soon as we can complete the mission.  The President has made very clear he wants to get our forces down to the lowest level as quickly as we possibly can.  That's the mission he's given us, and we're working with Iraqis to achieve that.

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  We’re at the lowest level now, Jeff -- we’re at the lowest level in Afghanistan that we have been in many years.  We'll be down to about 4,000 troops in Afghanistan.

     SECRETARY POMPEO:  In a couple months.

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  And that will be when?

     SECRETARY POMPEO:  A couple months, sir.

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Yeah, within a few months.  A couple of months.

     Q   Mr. President -- one other thing, Mr. President --

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  As you know, in Syria we're down to almost nothing, except we kept the oil.  But we'll work out some kind of a deal with the Kurds on that.  But we left, but we kept the oil.  And we left the border.  We said Turkey and Syria can take care of their own border; we don't have to do it.  And that worked out very well.  I remember when I did that, I was scorned by everybody.  They said, “This is terrible.”

     Well, I did it.  It's now two years ago.  And we did it with -- Mike Pence went over and met with the various parties and very successfully, and we removed our troops.  Nobody was killed.  Nobody.  And now they protect their own border like they have been for hundreds of years.  And we’ll -- we've left.  But we did keep a small force, and we kept the oil.  And we'll make a determination on that oil fairly soon.

     Q    And just one domestic question, sir:  The Manhattan case about your taxes has now ruled that you do need to give your -- to turn over your taxes.  Do you have a reaction to that?

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Well, the Supreme Court said, if it's a fishing expedition, you don't have to do it.  And this is a fishing expedition.

     But more importantly, this is a continuation of the witch hunt -- the greatest witch hunt in history.  There's never been anything like it, where people want to examine every deal you've ever done to see if they can find that there's a comma out of place.  No President has ever had to go through this.  The Supreme Court shouldn't have allowed this to happen.  But no President has ever had to go through this.

     But what the Supreme Court did do is say if it's a fishing expedition, you -- my interpretation is essentially, you don't have to do it.  So we'll probably end up back in the Supreme Court.

     But this is just a continuation of the most hideous witch hunt in the history of our country.  We beat Mueller.  We won at every level in this -- in Washington, in D.C.  We won at every lev- -- level.  So, now, what they do: They send it into New York.  So now we have an all-Democrat state -- all Democrats.  And they send it into New York.  This should never be allowed to happen to another President.

     This is a continuation of the most disgusting witch hunt in the history of our country -- all it is.  But the Supreme Court said “fishing expedition.”  This is the ultimate fishing expedition.  Nobody has anything.  We didn’t -- we don't do things wrong.

     But they'll say, “Let's go in and inspect every deal he's ever done.  Let's get papers from 10 years.  Every paper.  Every deal he's ever signed.  Maybe we can find where some lawyer made a mistake, where they didn't dot an “i,” where they didn’t put a comma down someplace.  And then we can do something.”  This is a disgrace and this should never, ever be allowed to happen again.

     All right?  Thank you very much.

     Q    Mr. President, on Navalny, the Russian opposition leader: He was hospitalized, and they think he was poisoned.  Is that the U.S. government's determination, that he was --

     PRESIDENT TRUMP:  We haven't seen it yet.  We're looking at it.  And Mike is going to be reporting to me soon.  Okay?

     Thank you very much everybody.
                        END                11:36 A.M. EDT

Joint Statement of President Donald J. Trump and Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi

Office of the Press Secretary
Joint Statement of President Donald J. Trump and Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi 
The strategic partnership between the United States and Iraq is based on a mutual desire for security and prosperity.

Together, the United States-led Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS and the Iraqi Security Forces destroyed the ISIS physical caliphate, and we continue to work in close coordination to ensure that ISIS is rendered incapable of posing a threat to Iraq and every other nation. We reaffirm our commitment to long-term security cooperation to build Iraq’s military capability and address threats to our shared interests.

Our security collaboration strengthens the foundation of our efforts to expand economic, humanitarian, political, and cultural cooperation. The COVID-19 pandemic further underscores the importance of working together to build a prosperous and stable Iraq that provides jobs and services to the Iraqi people and serves as a stabilizing force for the Middle East.  

West Wing Reads The Israel-UAE Deal Proves That President Trump's Foreign Policy is Working

West Wing Reads

The Israel-UAE Deal Proves That President Trump's Foreign Policy is Working

“President Trump has so far been a remarkably successful foreign-policy president. His success lies in his ability to identify America’s national interest clearly and pursue it without regard to outdated ideological investments,” Daniel McCarthy writes in The American Conservative.

From China to Iran to the new Middle East deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, “Donald Trump can succeed where the others fail because he is transactional, not ideological, and he looks out for the American interest—which is peace through stability—rather than trying to bring about peace through perfection.”

Click here to read more.
“More than 1,000 arrests have been made in major metropolitan cities since the Department of Justice launched Operation Legend in July,” Danielle Wallace reports. “Operation Legend is the heart of the federal government’s response to this upturn in violent crime,” Attorney General William Barr said. Read more in Fox News.
“Catholic churches across the country have been open for up to four months since shelter-in-place orders were lifted . . . The Good News: for Catholic churches following [CDC] guidelines, no outbreaks of COVID-19 have been linked to church attendance,” doctors Paul Cieslak, Timothy Flanigan, and Thomas McGovern write in RealClearScience.
“Millions of Californians have lost power in recent days amid a brutal heat wave, and state regulators warn of more outages in the days and perhaps years to come. Welcome to California’s green new normal . . . California’s Independent System Operator (Caiso) has been warning for years that the state’s increasing dependence on intermittent renewables, especially solar, is making it harder to ensure reliable power,” The Wall Street Journal editorial board writes.


Office of the Press Secretary


James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

5:54 P.M. EDT

     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, thank you very much.  Before I provide an update on our continued progress against the China virus, I'd like to discuss our latest actions against the Iranian regime.

     Today, I'm directing the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, to notify the U.N. Security Council that the United States intends to restore virtually all of the previously suspended United Nations sanctions on Iran.  It's a snapback; it’s not uncommon.

     Two years ago, I withdrew the United States from the disastrous Iran nuclear deal, which was a product of the Obama-Biden foreign policy failure -- a failure like few people have seen, in terms of the amount of money we paid for absolutely nothing and a short-term deal.  This deal funneled tens of billions of dollars to Iran -- $150 billion, to be exact -- plus $1.8 billion in cash, which I don't know that the President have the authority to give.  He gave $1.8 billion in cash.  Just another great deal.  That turned out to be a total disaster.  It would have funded all of the chaos and the bloodshed and the terror in the region and all throughout the world.

     And I won't say anything, because I don't like saying it, but Iran doesn’t have so much money to give to the world anymore -- to the terrorists, to give to al Qaeda and various other groups of people that they were funding.  They have to keep their own regime together, and it's not easy for them.

     And if and when I win the election, within the first month, Iran will come to us and they are going to be asking for a deal so quickly because they are doing very poorly.

     But that deal was a disaster: 150 billion dollars; 1.8 billion dollars in cash.  And we got nothing, except a short-term, little deal.  A short-term, expiring.  It’s starting to expire already.  It's terminated, but it would have, if we didn't terminate it, start to expire very shortly.

     A good deal was the deal we made with UAE and Israel.  And, by the way, other countries, I will tell you now, want to come into that deal.  Countries that you wouldn't even believe want to come into that deal.  And, all of a sudden, you're going to have peace in the Middle East, and you couldn't have done it with this ridiculous Iran nuclear deal, as they call it, that President Obama made along with Sleepy Joe Biden.

     I imposed the toughest-ever sanctions on Iran, and this has caused great difficulty for them giving money to terrorist organizations.  And if they do, they'll have hell to pay.

     Earlier this year, I ordered the strike that took out the world's number one terrorist, Qasem Soleimani, in addition to previously terminating leader and founder of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the two leading terrorists by far in the world.  The founder of ISIS.  Nobody even talks about that.  And we also defeated -- we now have 100 percent of the ISIS caliphate in Syria.  When I took over, it was a mess.  It was a total mess.  It was -- they were all over the place.

     My administration will not allow this Iran nuclear situation to go on.  They will never have a nuclear weapon.  Iran will never have -- mark it down.  Mark it down: Iran will never have a nuclear weapon.  When the United States entered into the Iran deal, it was clear that the United States would always have the right to restore the U.N. sanctions that will prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.  We paid a fortune for a failed concept and a failed policy -- a policy that would have made it impossible to have peace in the Middle East.

     Here at home, through Operation LeGend, we are confronting the wave of crime in Democrat-run American cities.  It's absolutely shocking.  When you look at Portland or New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, sometimes Los Angeles -- Democrat-run cities -- they're a mess because they don't get it.  Either they don't get it or there’s something that nobody else understands.

     We've deployed more than 1,000 additional federal agents to help these Democrat-run disasters.  We just have done this.  We have to give them a hand.  And we can stop it immediately, like a Portland would be so easy to stop.  We'd stop it immediately.

     We only sent in some Homeland people -- who are great, by the way -- to save the courthouse, because it would have been blown up or burned down, and they did that very easily.  But if we were called upon, we would send in, whether it's Homeland, whether it's FBI, whether it's just law enforcement -- and we'd send them in quickly.  We would eradicate it, just like happened in Minneapolis.  As soon as they were called in -- they should have been called in a lot sooner; you would've had far less damage.

     Today, we announced that Operation LeGend has successfully resulted in nearly 1,500 arrests already.  Bad ones.  Bad ones.  Really bad people.  Prosecutions and prison sentences will follow.  And they’ll be a very long time in prison for what they’ve done to these cities.  Most cities are well run; most of the nation is well run.  And the areas that we're talking about are all -- in all cases, run by Democrats, usually radi- -- radical-left-leaning Democrats, like in New York or in Portland.

     We’ve made arrests in Kansas City, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Memphis, and Albuquerque for many violent crimes, including gun crimes, arson, and 91 murders.

     We’re also using the full power of the federal government to defeat, as you know, the China virus.  New cases have declined in 80 percent of the jurisdictions in the past week.  Eighty percent.  New Zealand, by the way, had a big outbreak.  And other countries that were held up to try and make us look not as good as we should look -- because we've done an incredible job -- but they’re having a lot of outbreaks, but they'll be able to put them out and we put them out.

     The hospitalization rate has fallen in our country 54 percent since its peak in April.  Fifty-four percent.  Older Americans are still the most vulnerable to the virus: 92 percent of deaths have occurred among those 55 and older.  Only 2.7 percent of deaths have occurred among those 44 years -- think of that -- 44 years and younger.  So 44 years old and younger: only 2.7 percent of deaths have occurred.  And many of those people had preexisting conditions, they had problems -- heart, diabetes, and other problems, but -- many of those.  So, think of that: only 2.7 percent under 44 years of age.

     Excess mortality in Europe this year is 33 percent higher than the United States -- evidence that the tragic cost of this virus is higher in other Western nations.  South Korea -- you've been reading about South Korea doing well.  Well, they just had a very big breakout, but they'll be able to solve the problem.

     We must all remain vigilant and continue to exercise extreme caution around those at highest risk, as we know.  Multiple colleges and universities announced that they would suspend in-person teaching.  We have learned one thing: There's nothing like campus, there's nothing like being with the teacher as opposed to being on a computer board.  It's been proven a lot better.  It's a lot better.  The iPads are wonderful, but you're not going to learn the same way you do by being there.  So, nevertheless, certain colleges and universities have announced that they would suspend the in-person teaching.

     For older people and individuals with underlying conditions, the China virus is very dangerous, but for university students, the likelihood of severe illness is less than or equal to the risk of a seasonal few [sic] -- a seasonal flu.  And the seasonal flu happens and comes and it goes, and it can be very bad, but people don't talk about it in the same way, and they shouldn't.  But if you look at that, the odds are less than or equal to.

     Instead of saving lives, the decision to close universities could cost lives.  It is significantly safer for students to live with other young people than to go home and spread the virus to older Americans.  Makes sense.

     And the shutdown thing is causing tremendous depression for those places that are still shut down.  You look at certain areas that -- in all cases, Democrat-run -- still shut down, and the numbers there aren't even good.  But causing tremendous depression, suicide, drugs, alcohol abuse.  A lot of problems are being caused -- probably far more, I would say, Scott, than is caused by the virus itself, now that we understand the virus.

     Colleges should take reasonable precautions.  Students who feel sick should not attend class and should limit social interaction, as they would for any other illness.  And universities should implement measures to protect the high-risk students or professors and teachers.

     The ultimate goal of testing is to prevent transmission in high-risk settings -- and to prevent transmission, period -- but especially in nursing homes; and to care for the vulnerable and our elderly, which really fit into that definition of who is vulnerable.

     We have tremendous unused testing capacity in our country.  We have a tremendous unused testing capacity.  It's something that a lot of other nations are very impressed with, they tell us.

     In our path forward, we will continue to follow a science-based approach to protecting the high risk while enabling healthy Americans to safely go back to work and school.  Our country will be open.  Our country is getting open quickly.  Our stock markets are almost back to where they were, prior to the China virus disaster coming in.

     And I want to thank you all for being here, and we'll take some questions.

     Yeah, please.

     Q    During the pandemic, the QAnon movement has been -- appears to be gaining a lot of followers.  Can you talk about what you think about that and what you have to say to people who are following this movement right now?

     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I don't know much about the movement, other than I understand they like me very much, which I appreciate, but I don't know much about the movement.  I have heard that it is gaining in popularity.  And from what I hear, it’s -- these are people that, when they watch the streets of Portland, when they watch what happened in New York City in just the last six or seven months -- but this was starting even four years ago when I came here.  Almost four years; can you believe it?

     These are people that don't like seeing what's going on in places like Portland and places like Chicago and New York and other cities and states.  And I've heard these are people that love our country, and they just don't like seeing it.

     So I don't know, really, anything about it other than they do, supposedly, like me.  And they also would like to see problems in these areas -- like, especially the areas that we're talking about -- go away.  Because there's no reason the Democrats can't run a city.  And if they can't, we will send in all of the federal -- whether it's troops or law enforcement, whatever they'd like -- we'll send them in.  We'll straighten out their problem in 24 hours or less.


     Q    And, Mr. President, at the crux of the theory is this belief that you are secretly saving the world from this satanic cult of pedophiles and cannibals.  Does that sound like something you are behind or a believer in?

     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I haven't -- I haven't heard that.  But is that supposed to be a bad thing or a good thing?  I mean, you know, if I can help save the world from problems, I'm willing to do it.  I'm willing to put myself out there.

     And we are, actually.  We’re saving the world from a radical-left philosophy that will destroy this country.  And when this country is gone, the rest of the world would follow.  The rest of the world would follow.  That's the importance of this country.

     And when you look at some of the things that these people are saying, with “Defund the Police” and no borders, open borders -- everybody just pour right into our country; no testing, no nothing.  You know, you talk about testing -- no testing.  Mexico, as you know, has a very high rate of infection.

     The wall is now going to be, next week, 300 miles long.  Our numbers are extraordinary on the border.  Had that -- and this is through luck, perhaps, more than talent, although the talent is getting built when one party refuses to allow it.  You don't hear talk about the wall anymore.

     But I will say this: We need strength in our country, not weakness.  Too much weakness.

     Yes, John.  Please.

     Q    Mr. President, you have been very bullish on the promise of convalescent plasma --

     THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah.

     Q    -- to treat coronavirus.  The FDA appeared to be on the brink of issuing an emergency use authorization for convalescent plasma.  But after hearing from top officials at the NIH that there wasn't enough evidence to go ahead with that, the FDA has put that on pause.  Your reaction to that?  And do you believe that convalescent plasma should be in the arsenal of treatments for coronavirus?

     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I hear great things about it, John.  That's all I can tell you.  And it could be a political decision, because you have a lot of people over there that don't want to rush things because they want to -- they want to do it after November 3rd.  And you've heard that one before.

     But I've heard fantastic things about convalescent plasma.  And I've heard numbers way over 50 percent success.  And people are dying, and we should have it approved if it's good.  And I'm hearing it's good.  I heard from people at the FDA that it's good.  So we'll see.  I'm going to check that right after this conference.

     Q    It’s my understanding that the White House will encourage the NIH and the FDA to get this out there as quickly as possible.  Is that correct?

     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, if the numbers are as good as I'm hearing -- I mean, I'm hearing over 50 percent, and that's very good.  And we've approved -- certain things are at 31 percent, and that's okay, too; that's not bad.  And it's really had a tremendous impact.

     But, no, I have -- you’re telling me something right now that surprises me, but we'll check it out right after this.

     Q    Are you concerned about a delay?

     THE PRESIDENT:  I don't want delays.  I don't want people dying.  I don't want people dying.

     Yeah, please.  Go ahead.

     Q    Mr. President, I want to ask you about your tweet earlier today on Goodyear.  It was essentially calling for a boycott on Goodyear tires.

     THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah.

     Q    Do you want the federal government to stop buying and using Goodyear product as well?  And is there anything --

     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I’m not happy with Goodyear because what they're doing is playing politics.  And the funny thing is the people that work for a Goodyear -- I can guarantee you I poll very well with all of those great workers in Goodyear.

     And when they say that you can’t have “Blue Lives Matter,” you can’t show a blue line, you can't wear a MAGA hat, but you can have other things that are Marxist in nature, there's something wrong with the top of Goodyear.

     And what the radical left does is they make it impossible for people to do business if they're Republican or if they're conservative.  They put out all sorts of effort: “Don't shop there.”  They do vicious things, not so different than what you saw on the streets of Portland two nights ago.

     Q    But what kind of boycott do you envision?

     THE PRESIDENT:  Oh, I don’t know.  That’s up to people.  But I wouldn’t recommend it.  If they -- if they want to hold political speech, if they want to let you not do what everybody is doing; if they want to wear a MAGA hat or if they want to wear a “Blue Lives…”  You know what “Blue Lives Matter,” right?  That’s policemen and women.  That’s a terrible thing.  That’s a terrible thing.

     So they’re using their power over these people, and these people want to wear whatever it is that we're talking about.  You know that.  And so I would be very much in favor if people don’t want to buy there.  And you know what?  They’ll be able to get a good job -- because we set a jobs record over the last quarter, as you know.  The most jobs ever in the history of our country.  You'll be able to get another good jobs.  I think it's disgraceful that they did this.

     Please, go ahead, in the back.

     Q    Yes.  Mr. President, you've said that the arrest of Jimmy Lai in Hong Kong is, quote, “a terrible thing.”  Do you have a message for Jimmy Lai?  Has your administration spoken directly with him?  Is your State Department working for his release?

     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I send him best wishes.  I hear he's a wonderful gentleman.  He's certainly a brave man.  And I send him best wishes.

     With that being said, because of that and obviously what happened in Hong Kong, we've taken all of the vast amounts of money that we used to subsidize Hong Kong.  We essentially subsidized Hong Kong by giving them all sorts of incentives.  And that's what made Hong Kong -- the exchange and business in Hong Kong -- successful.  I've taken it all back.  That means that the United States is going to do a lot more business.  You know, we -- we -- we really gave them tremendous incentive and subsidy in order that they be successful for freedom.

     But now that the freedom obviously seems to have been taken away, we will keep all of the incentives that we were giving them, which is billions and billions of dollars.  And all of that business will come into our country, including the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ.  And it'll all come here.

     But I feel badly for him because I hear he's a good person.  I don't know him, but I hear he's a good person; obviously, a very brave person.

     Did you have something?  Go ahead, please.

     Q    Yes, sir.  Thank you, Mr. President.  With the Iraqi Prime Minister coming in tomorrow, what about --

     THE PRESIDENT:  Say it?

     Q    The Iraqi Prime Minister is coming in tomorrow to meet with you.  And how do you feel about this notion that Iraq can once again become the buffer between Iranian influence and Russian influence in the Middle East?  Do you feel that under this Prime Minister that that's possible once again?  What are your thoughts on it?

     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, this is a man that I get along with very well.  We're largely out of Iraq.  We're down to a very few soldiers.  I said we're getting out of these endless wars -- these ridiculous, endless wars.  We should have never been there in the first place.  I think it was the worst decision made in the history of our country.  Should have never been there.  In the Middle East, we should have never been.  But we're getting out rapidly, out of -- you know, over the course of three years.  And getting out -- it's very sticky getting out.  And some people agree, and many people don't agree, but I think most people very much agree.

     We're doing very well in our negotiations with Afghanistan.  We're getting out.  We're down to a much smaller number of people left there.  And, you know, I greet men and women coming home, and coming home after they've been hit.  I've also greeted many, many at Dover -- greeted many bodies coming back in.

     And we've been there 19 years, and we're basically policemen.  We're acting as police, as opposed to soldiers.  And they're going to have to police their own states, and they've been doing that for thousands of years.  But it's time, after 19 years, that our soldiers come home.

     They've done an incredible job, but, you know, they don't -- they're not allowed to fight to win.  And -- and maybe they shouldn't be, because a lot of the people -- it's not their fault.  But with the Taliban and with going to Iraq -- again, we're down in Afghanistan; very low numbers.  And that'll be taking place.

     And I let them know, “Do anything, and you'll be hit like you've never hit -- been hit before.”  So we're -- we're doing very well.  Syria, the same thing.  Remember when I took all of the soldiers off of the border between Syria and Turkey.  Right?  And everybody said, “Oh, this is -- that was two years ago.  It was a long time ago.”  They said, “Oh, this is terrible, terrible, terrible.  We're going to leave.”

     Why do we have our soldiers between Syria and Turkey?  Turkey can definitely take care of itself.  I have a very good relationship with President Erdoğan.  And Syria has been fighting forever.  And I say, “Why are we guarding their border?”  And I brought our soldiers back home.  I got them out.  And guess what?  Nothing has happened.  They've been fighting like they have been for a thousand years.  Okay?  Nothing has happened.  And nobody mentions that.

     Everybody said, “This is going to be a disaster.”  There's no disaster; nothing has happened.  And so we're getting out of the endless wars.  And we are building a military, the likes of which the world has never seen.  Two and a half trillion dollars we have spent.  And we hopefully don't ever have to use it.  But we want to focus on a much bigger picture because we have a much bigger picture.

     It's -- when you look at what China is doing, when you look at what Russia is doing, when you look at what some other countries are doing, we want to be ready just in case there is a catastrophe.  We don't want to see that; we don't want to ever use it.  We've rebuilt our military -- new missiles, new rockets, and new tanks, and new everything.  New everything -- two and a half trillion dollars -- all made in the USA.

     And we've upgraded incredibly our nuclear capability.  And some of our nuclear needed nourishment.  It needed new strength.  And we've -- we've upgraded it very, very significantly -- I mean, to a level that nobody would even believe.  And hopefully we don't -- you pray to God we never have to use it.  Okay?  But we've never been in a position where we've been this strong.


     Q    Mr. President, thank you so much.  I wanted to ask you about the Middle East.  I have a couple questions.  You mentioned that other countries are interested in following suit --


     Q    -- after the Emiratis --

     THE PRESIDENT:  Having to do with UAE and Israel.

     Q    Exactly.

     THE PRESIDENT:  Correct.

     Q    So is -- do you expect that Saudi Arabia will join? And --

     THE PRESIDENT:  I do.

     Q    Yes.  And also, the Emiratis have expressed interest in the F-35.  Do you think that that should be something that they could look forward to in the future?  Is there some sort of time delay?

     THE PRESIDENT:  No, I think they’ll -- I think -- look, they’ve definitely got the money to pay for it.  You know, it's nice because usually what we -- a lot of times, we make deals; they don’t have 10 cents, these countries we deal with.  We give it to them like, “How about paying this back later?”  But they never pay because they don't have the money.

     No, they have the money, and they all -- they would like to order quite a few F-35s; it’s the greatest fighter jet in the world, as you know, by far.  Stealth.  Totally stealth.  You can’t see it.  Makes it very difficult.  I was asking a pilot, “What do you think is better: This one?  This one?  That one?”  Talking about Russian planes, Chinese planes.  He said, “Well, the advantage we have is you can’t see it.”  So when we're fighting, they can't see us.  I say, “That sounds like a really big advantage to me.”  To these guys --

     Q    But the Israelis don’t want them to have it.

     THE PRESIDENT:  You know, they look -- by the way, I said to these pilots that I meet -- they look better than Tom Cruise, and they're definitely tougher.  And he's a nice guy.  But these -- these people are amazing.  And I speak to them a lot about it -- “What do you think?” -- you know, as I go around to the various places.  I saved the big one in Florida, as an example.  That was a big one.  Knocked down, pretty much, by the hurricane.

     So I spent a lot of time on that.  And it's the greatest plane in the world.  One thing about that kind of thing -- technology -- high-technology -- the greatest plane doesn't last long.  Somebody comes up with something else, but we're always the one to come up with something else.

     So, yeah, they'd like to buy F-35s; we'll see what happens.  It's under review, but they made a great -- a great advance in peace in the Middle East.  Even the New York Times thought it was an incredible deal.  Can you imagine that?  Tom Friedman had a very nice thing to say about it.  I spoke to him about it.  He thought it was terrific.  And -- and it is terrific.

     I see a lot of countries coming in fairly quickly.  And when you have them all in, ultimately, Iran will come in too.  There’ll be peace in the Middle East.  That’ll be a nice.  Iran will be very much neutralized.  They never thought this could have happened.

     And with the horrendously stupid Iran deal signed by Obama, this could have never happened.

     Q    Can I follow on something, Mr. President?  On the Goodyear issue: You ride on Goodyear tires --

     THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah.

     Q    -- in the presidential limousine.

     THE PRESIDENT:  Correct.

     Q    If there were an alternative, would you want those tires swapped out?

     THE PRESIDENT:  Yeah, I would do that.  I would -- I would swap them out, based on what I heard.  We'll see what happens.  Hey, look, you're going to have a lot of people not wanting to buy that product anymore, and they'll buy from a competitor -- made in the USA, too.  Okay?

     Please.  Go ahead.

     Q    Mr. President, excerpts from Obama's speech that he’ll give later at the Democratic Convention show that he will -- he says that he hoped that you would take being President more “seriously” once you have the job and “discover…reverence for democracy.”  And then he said, I quote, “But he never did.”  What is your reaction to that?

     THE PRESIDENT:  You know, when I listen to that and then I see the horror that he's left us, the stupidity of the transactions that he made.  Look what we're doing: We have our great border wall.  We have security.  We have the UAE deal, which has been universally praised -- praised by people that aren't exactly fans of Donald Trump for various reasons.  I don't know why; can't be my personality.  But they're not fans.  Right?

     And when I look at what we have -- now, look at how bad he was, how ineffective a President he was.  He was so ineffective, so terrible.  Slowest-growing recovery in the history -- I guess, since 1929 -- on the economy.

     Don’t forget, until the China virus came in, we had the greatest economy in the history of the world.  And now we're doing it again.  I'm going to have to do it a second time.  We're doing it again -- hard to believe.

     We're doing very well.  You heard the numbers; they’re way, way down on the -- on the virus.

     But when you look at the kind of numbers that we're producing on the stock markets, we're almost at the level -- in fact, NASDAQ and S&P are higher than they were at their highest point prior to the China virus coming in -- the plague coming in.

     No, President Obama did not do a good job.  And the reason I'm here is because of President Obama and Joe Biden.  Because if they did a good job, I wouldn't be here.  And probably, if they did a good job, I wouldn't have even run; I would have been very happy.  I enjoyed my previous life very much, but they did such a bad job that I stand before you as President.

     Thank you all very much.  Thank you.

                                       END                6:23 P.M. EDT