remarks by president donald trump in press gaggle aboard air force one, en route to hanoi, vietnam.
3:35 p.m. ict
it’s been a — i think it’s been a great trip. in certain ways, it’s been very epic. i think things have happened that have been really amazing. prime minister abe came up to me just at the end, and he said that since you left south korea and japan, that those two countries are now getting along much, much better. that’s from prime minister abe — that there’s been a real bonding between south korea and japan. so that was great.
q how were your discussions with vladimir putin? did you discuss syria? and apparently they’ve issued a joint statement that —
president trump: we issued a joint statement. we’re going to be — have you seen the statement yet?
ms. sanders: it’s going out — it’s on the way.
president trump: so i think it’ll go out. you’ll see it in a little while.
ms. sanders: it may be out, now that you guys — now that we’re in the air.
president trump: it’s going to save tremendous numbers of lives. and we did that very quickly. we agreed very quickly.
as you know, we saw each other last night just for a picture, and that was the first time. and then today we had a roundtable with numerous countries. you have a list of the countries, obviously. right? you have a list.
and we spoke intermittently during that roundtable. we seem to have a very good feeling for each other and a good relationship considering we don’t know each other well. i think it’s a very good relationship.
we had two or three very short conversations because of the meeting, the fact that we’re at a meeting. but during those conversations, we talked about syria and de-conflicting, et cetera. you know, we have areas where troops are facing — our troops — i mean, their troops are facing our troops and there’s nothing in between.
and we issued a statement — a joint statement. it was just approved, and i think people are going to be extremely happy with it and also very impressed with it.
q did russia’s attempts to meddle in u.s. elections come up in the conversation?
president trump: he said he didn’t meddle. he said he didn’t meddle. i asked him again. you can only ask so many times. but i just asked him again, and he said he absolutely did not meddle in our election. he did not do what they’re saying he did. and he said —
q do you believe him?
president trump: well, look, i can’t stand there and argue with him. i’d rather have him get out of syria, to be honest with you. i’d rather have him — you know, work with him on the ukraine than standing and arguing about whether or not — because that whole thing was set up by the democrats.
i mean, they ought to look at podesta. they ought to look at all of the things that they’ve done with the phony dossier. those are the big events. those are the big events.
but putin said he did not do what they said he did. and, you know, there are those that say, if he did do it, he wouldn’t have gotten caught, all right? which is a very interesting statement. but we have a — you know, we have a good feeling toward getting things done.
if we had a relationship with russia, that would be a good thing. in fact, it would be a great thing, not a bad thing. because he could really help us in north korea. we have a big problem with north korea. and china is helping us. and because of the lack of a relationship that we have with russia because of this artificial thing that’s happening with this democratic-inspired thing, we could really be helped a lot, tremendously, with russia having to do with north korea.
and, you know, you’re talking about millions and millions of lives. this isn’t baby stuff. this is the real deal. and if russia helped us, in addition to china, that problem would go away a lot faster.
q how did you bring up the issue of election meddling? did you ask him a question?
president trump: he just — every time he sees me, he says, “i didn’t do that.” and i believe — i really believe that when he tells me that, he means it. but he says, “i didn’t do that.” i think he’s very insulted by it, if you want to know the truth.
don’t forget, all he said is he never did that, he didn’t do that. i think he’s very insulted by it, which is not a good thing for our country. because again, if we had a relationship with russia, north korea — which is our single biggest problem right now — north korea, it would be helped a lot. i think i’m doing very well with respect to china. they’ve cut off financing; they’ve cut off bank lines; they’ve cut off lots of oil and lots of other things, lots of trade. and it’s having a big impact. but russia, on the other hand, may be making up the difference. and if they are, that’s not a good thing.
so having a relationship with russia would be a great thing — not a good thing — it would be a great thing, especially as it relates to north korea.
and i’ll say this, hillary had her stupid reset button that she spelled the word wrong, but she doesn’t have what it takes to have that kind of a relationship where you could call or you could do something and they would pull back from north korea, or they’d pull back from syria, or maybe pull back from ukraine. i mean, if we could solve the ukraine problem —
but this is really an artificial barrier that’s put in front of us for solving problems with russia, and he says that very strongly. he really seems to be insulted by it, and he says he didn’t do it. so —
q (inaudible) do you believe him —
president trump: excuse me?
q even if he (inaudible) one-on-one, do you believe him?
president trump: i think that he is very, very strong in the fact that he didn’t do it. and then you look, and you look at what’s going on with podesta, and you look at what’s going on with the server from the dnc and why didn’t the fbi take it, why did they leave it; why did a third party look at the server and not the fbi — if you look at all of this stuff, and you say, what’s going on here?
and then you hear it’s 17 agencies. well, it’s three. and one is brennan and one is whatever. i mean, give me a break. they’re political hacks.
so you look at it — i mean, you have brennan, you have clapper, and you have comey. comey is proven now to be a liar and he’s proven to be a leaker.
so you look at that, and you have president putin very strongly, vehemently says he had nothing to do with that. now, you’re not going to get into an argument. you’re going to start talking about syria and the ukraine.
q you seem to have a fairly warm relationship with a number of —
president trump: i do.
but when we can — i mean, you’ll be seeing the release that’s put out. but we can save many, many, many lives by making a deal with russia having to do with syria, and then ultimately getting syria solved and getting ukraine solved and doing other things, having a good relationship with russia is a great, great thing.
and this artificial democratic hit job gets in the way. it gets in the way. and that’s a shame because people will die because of it. and it’s a pure hit job. and it’s artificially induced. and it’s a shame. but anyway.
q so you didn’t have time to ask putin specific things on north korea?
president trump: i wasn’t able to — because i really didn’t, jennifer. i really just — we did, like, little snippets in between. we didn’t have a planned meeting. we spoke, but we didn’t have a planned meeting.
q where did you leave it with president putin? are you looking for another meeting? him coming to the u.s.? or are you —
q what do you mean by “artificial democratic barrier”? i mean, you and putin can’t warm up because of this investigation? or what —
president trump: there’s an artificial barrier that puts in the way by the democrats. it’s a fake barrier. there was no collusion. everybody knows there was no collusion. i mean, you speak to these people — i saw dianne feinstein the other day and i respect her. she was on television the other day saying there’s no collusion. the democrats — the republicans come out screaming it, but the democrats come out, and they say, “no, there’s no collusion.” there is no collusion. there’s nothing.
and i think it’s a shame that something like that can destroy a very important potential relationship between two countries that are very important countries. russia could really help us. and the democrats wanted to have a good relationship with russia, but they couldn’t do it because they didn’t have the talent to do it. they didn’t have the chemistry to do it. they didn’t have what it takes to do it. you know, there is a talent to that.
but i think putin and i — president putin and i would have a great relationship, and that would be great for both countries. and it would take a lot of the danger out because we’re really — you know, this is a dangerous time. this isn’t small stuff. this is a very dangerous time. and having a great relationship, or even a good relationship, with the president of russia — hillary tried it, and she failed. nobody mentions that. they act like, you know — it’s so terrible. she did that reset button; it was a joke. but she tried and she failed.
obama tried and he failed. couldn’t have it, because he didn’t have chemistry. they didn’t have the right chemistry. and you know what? i understand that, because there are some people i don’t have chemistry with. let’s see, some of you are right here. (laughter.) there are some people i don’t — you know, sometimes if you don’t have chemistry with somebody, you don’t.
but obama did not have the right chemistry with putin. and hillary was way over her head.
ms. sanders: let’s take one more and then let them have lunch.
end 4:01 p.m. ict