Bloomberg interview Trump talks Trade, Taxes and Sessions
Bloomberg Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait and Bloomberg Businessweek's Peter Coy discuss the takeaways from Bloomberg News' Oval Office interview with President Donald Trump.
By Bloomberg News
Petroleumworld 09 03 2018
President Donald Trump was interviewed in the Oval Office on Thursday by Bloomberg News Editor In Chief John Micklethwait and reporters Jennifer Jacobs and Margaret Talev. Below is a transcript of their conversation. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Assistant to the President Dan Scavino sat in. Talev and Jacobs also interviewed Trump in May 2017.
BLOOMBERG: Last year on the speed round, you made some North Korea news. It was a format that worked well. Do you remember that? You said you'd be willing to meet with Kim Jong Un?
TRUMP: That's right. Look, they haven't had a missile test, a nuclear test, they haven't had anything, and when did I leave? Three and a half month -- three months ago.
TRUMP: And the other ones had been playing around for eight years, eight years, eight years, and you know, you go back many years with the family, but they haven't had a missile test, they haven't had anything, plus we got back our hostages.
BLOOMBERG: But are they trying your patience?
TRUMP: No, no.
BLOOMBERG: You're happy with them?
TRUMP: No, I have greater patience than any human being in the world.
BLOOMBERG: Yes, yes.
TRUMP: People don't understand that about me. I have great patience.
BLOOMBERG: So, you don't need to send them signals that time is running out for them to take action?
TRUMP: So no, I have -- I don't think I have to do anything. I have a -- you know, I've -- I've had a good -- now, that can always change, but I've had a good relationship with Kim Jong Un, and I'm not saying it won't change. It could change. The whole situation could change. But you've had no missile testing, you've had no rocket testing, we got back our hostages, and there's been no nuclear tests. And that's pretty good.
TRUMP: And I signed a document -- you know, that document I signed said there will be a denuclearization. You know, everyone says we didn't agree -- we agreed to a lot of very positive things.
Did you get a copy of the document?
BLOOMBERG: Yes. We did.
TRUMP: Nobody reports it. They say, like...
TRUMP: I look -- if you look at those points, it's -- it's everything. Now whether or not people live up to it, we'll see. But -- but I have confidence that eventually they'll live up to it. And in the meantime, we have our sanctions fully in place.
TRUMP: I have sanctions -- no, I left the sanctions on. You know, the sanctions haven't come off. But I have hopes that North Korea will be successful. I can't tell you that with surety, but I think we've certainly done better than anybody else, and we got all those things done that I told you about, including getting our hostages back.
Read more: Trump Says He Has Patience' for North Korea's Kim to Make Deal
And there's no sign of anything happening right now. We'll see what happens.
BLOOMBERG: Jumping over to the tariffs on China
are you thinking that as soon as the comment period is over on Thursday of next week, that...
TRUMP: Did you just release a story
that you won't go
that I'm putting out $200 billion? Who was the genius that?
BLOOMBERG: That was us.
BLOOMBERG: Me. Am I wrong?
TRUMP: Uh, I refuse to say. Not totally wrong. I can't do that to you, Jennifer. That's my Jennifer. You know how much I liked her when I first met her, then she started to kill me. But that's actually not-- wasn't your fault. It was somebody that you were dealing with that wasn't so good. Right? I never blamed you for that. I know the good. But this one you like, right?
TRUMP: The greatest. She's got the easiest job in politics.
BLOOMBERG: So you will work for -- next-- when next -- next -- next week's attempt comes to an end and you will just hit them with the tariffs straight off?
TRUMP: So here's the story, just if I could really quickly. For decades, China has taken advantage of the United States and its leaders. People don't like saying that because you have some Republicans that don't like it and you have some Democrats. I'm not just blaming President Obama. I'm blaming many administrations.
China was rebuilt with American dollars. They were taking out $500 billion a year. And, in earlier stages lesser amounts, but massive nevertheless. And I said it's time to stop. We can't let this happen. Can't let it happen.
And what I did is, because of North Korea, I delayed my decision by a little bit. I was going to do trade with China right away, and a couple of things happened. One thing happened is I got to know President Xi, who I like a lot. OK?
Another thing that happened is with the North Korea -- and -- and if you people remember, if you go back to the end of the Obama administration, we were ready to go to war with North Korea, just so you understand. You know, when people say, Oh, what have you done?' We don't feel that now. OK?
I mean, you can say, gee whiz, we're not going quick or we're going too quick. You can say whatever you want to say, we were ready to go to war. And when I was in very heated rhetoric, you know, it's interesting. With him they said, I'm going to cause war, I'm too strong -- and then with Putin, they said I'm being too nice. OK?
They wanted me to be in a boxing match. I'd like to have a good relationship with Putin. I'd like to have a good relationship with everybody because I think it's in the best interest of our country.
But it is interesting, Jennifer, isn't it? Remember, they said he's going to cause a war when I said rocket -- you know, when I did the rocket man thing and worse. Much worse.?
TRUMP: They said war. And with Putin, which was actually one of my best meetings because of my talk on Syria, Ukraine, Israel and other things. I think it was one of my best meetings. I think the press covered it unbelievably fake. It was real fake news but -- but it was a very good meeting.
The NATO meeting was phenomenal. You know they're putting up hundreds of billions of dollars more, and I came out of that one where they said I was too rough on the other presidents and prime ministers of the countries, so OK, give me a break. But in the meantime we were carrying them on NATO. They weren't paying their bills, or as you would say in your wonderful magazine, they were delinquent. Very delinquent, OK?
So we had some very good successes.
BLOOMBERG: Mr. President
TRUMP: Just to --just to finish, I think a lot of good things are going to happen, but I delayed my devaluations. Monetary, you know, on the monetary -- the devaluations. My currency manipulations, and also my tariffs, for a period of a year, with China, because I wanted to get as much help as -- as they could give us with respect to North Korea. That had an impact. So I delayed it.
But there came time when I couldn't delay it anymore because it's too much money that they drain out of our country. Just too much money. That's where we are now. So I put 50 -- I hope you can cover this pretty much as I say it because you can't really cut it out. It's it's a story.
BLOOMBERG: Mr. President, you told the Chinese -- the Chinese say, Look, we're going to wait him out' because Xi is an autocrat, doesn't have to do midterm elections. He doesn't. He can
TRUMP: He has his own election. He has a different kind of election.
He can match it tariff by tariff. They think they're stronger. They think they can outlast you.
TRUMP: Oh no, we're a much stronger -- we are a much stronger country. We are much stronger.
Read more: Trump Says U.S. Much Stronger' Than China in Trade Disputes
TRUMP: Nobody is waiting us out. Our country is stronger than it's ever been financially, and nobody is waiting us out. We're having the best numbers, and by the way, you look at the numbers, you know they adjusted 41 to 42 you saw that 40 you saw that 4.1 to 4.2.
TRUMP: And we have tremendous -- we have tremendous numbers to come because these are real -- this isn't like in the old days where you had a lot of numbers that didn't mean anything. You have tremendous potential, tremendous numbers to come. We have horrible, horrible trade deals that are going to be made into great trade deals.?
TRUMP: The deal with Mexico, I don't know how you covered it, but that deal is jobs, farmers, keeping companies in this country and jobs in this country, bringing new companies back.
You know, you have a group of people that won't like the deal I made with Mexico because they think it's wonderful when a company closes up and goes and builds someplace else in the world. They're called globalists. I'm not a globalist, OK? So it's a great deal. It's one -- it's a great deal. And it's going to be good for both countries.
BLOOMBERG: Are you not going to deal with --
TRUMP: By the way, Canada is here right now. You know that.
BLOOMBERG: Do you think you have a tentative deal? A tentative agreement?
BLOOMBERG: Could you tell us if tomorrow comes and goes, what happens to Canada? What will happen if Canada has...
TRUMP: I think Canada's going to make a deal at some point. It may be by Friday, or it may be within a period of time. But ultimately they have no choice.
BLOOMBERG: Do you think that they've reached a tentative deal right now? Does Lighthizer have something cooking pretty close?
TRUMP: I think we're close to a deal, yes.
TRUMP: They would love to make a deal.
Read more: Ahead of Nafta Deadline, Trump Says Canada Has No Choice But to Make a Deal
And I'm -- and I'm happy with that.
BLOOMBERG: Was part of the Mexico deal aimed at China? Because you look at -- you look at...
BLOOMBERG: What about on the Mexico deal, was it aimed it China? You look at the Mexico deal, and there's a lot of thing that --
TRUMP: China's -- well it was aimed at China in the sense that we will be making a lot of money -- we will be taking in a lot more money and jobs that China won't be getting. So in that respect it was. But not only in China, it was aimed at many countries that, you know, were going in through Mexico and into a backdoor. They were coming in through a backdoor. So in that sense it was aimed at many countries that were taking advantage of the United States. The Mexico deal's an incredible deal. If you want to keep your companies here -- look, I grew up where companies were leaving.
Read more: Trump Says Iranian Regime May Collapse Because of His Policies
NAFTA was the worst deal -- one of the worst deals ever made. OK? There were numerous of them. The Iran deal, which, by the way, has had a major impact on Iran. When I came into Iran -- when I came into here, it was a question of when would they take over the Middle East. Now it's a question of will they survive. It's a big difference in one and a half years.
BLOOMBERG: Is your goal with China, as a lot of Chinese think, actually to prevent China from becoming the world's No. 1 economy?
TRUMP: No, but it's -- it's -- it's a deal that will -- again, the best thing that China and I have going -- and -- and the U.S. have going -- is that President Xi and I have a really great relationship. OK?
TRUMP: That being said, he represents China; I represent us. We were going in the wrong direction. The United States -- look, since the World Trade Organization, which was probably, I called -- I called NAFTA the second-worst trade deal ever made. I would say the WTO was the single worst trade deal ever made.
And if they don't shape up, I would withdraw from the WTO. We rarely won a lawsuit except for the last year. You know, in the last year, we're starting to win a lot. You know why? Because they know if we don't, I'm out of there. I'll take them out. We're starting to win lawsuits that we never -- you know that. We never won lawsuits because the courts are stacked. You know they -- it's sad. We have a minority on the courts.
Read more: Trump Threatens to Pull U.S. Out of WTO If It Doesn't Shape Up'
So, the WTO was a horrible deal. NAFTA was a -- they were all bad deals. You know, we made a deal with South Korea; nobody talks about it. We made a deal with South Korea We took the horrible deal that was made by Hillary Clinton where she said 200,000 jobs will be produced -- and she was right -- for South Korea. They were produced for South Korea, not for us. OK?
BLOOMBERG: Would you -- would you do a deal with Europe, who have come out this morning saying they would do cars -- on autos, they would do zero tariffs with America. So, is that a good deal?...
TRUMP: It's not -- it's not good enough, no.
BLOOMBERG: Not good enough, why?
Read more: EU Offer for No Auto Tariffs Is Not Good Enough,' Trump Says
TRUMP: No, no. Because they do a lot more auto business than we will ever do. In other words -- well, first of all, it's not just tariffs; they also have barriers up to our cars. They have a they'll take the barriers down and they'll charge us no tax, but it's not good enough, because they will always sell more cars. Their cars -- their habits, their consumer habits are to buying their cars -- not to buying our cars.
BLOOMBERG: But you can't change that, surely. I'm not that's ...
TRUMP: ... no. But -- but no, but I want our -- no, no, you're right...
BLOOMBERG: ... you have to set a level playing ...
TRUMP: ... they have a strength with cars, and we have a strength with agriculture and many other things. They won't let many of our products into Europe. So, the European -- if you look at the -- if you look at Europe, you look at the whole situation as to trade, OK, with Jean-Claude -- the great Jean-Claude, who came here.
BLOOMBERG: Yes, I remember.
TRUMP: I mean, I will tell you -- but Jean-Claude. Look at the European Union -- Union, it's as restrictive as any single country in the world including China. European Union doesn't let our agricultural products in. They have a wall. They don't even -- it's not even a tariff; they have a wall. They don't want it. They don't let our agriculture -- and they create, you know, standards that make it impossible because they have standards that-- that -- like, with medical equipment, they created new standards so we can't get our medical equipment -- not that the standards are higher.
It's just that they're different. So, our companies can't -- can't get the medical equipment into Europe. You know, the big medical equipment, like made by Philips and others.
TRUMP: So, I said, you have to change your ways,' because the European Union is almost as bad as China, just smaller.
BLOOOMBERG: But do you think you can outlast them as well?
TRUMP: Absolutely, they're dying to make a deal. Look, it's all about the cars. And the do you understand what I mean by that, Jennifer? It's all about the cars. We can talk steel and I've rebuilt the steel industry in this country in six months.
It's rebuilt, it's when I say rebuilt, it's really rebuilding fast. You call up the head of U.S. Steel, chief executive officer, what's his name? Great guy. He's he's opening up six or seven plants, he's going to open up others, he's spending billions of dollars.
You call up Nucor -- Nucor, call up the various steel companies. It's like it's like nobody can believe what's happening with this. So you guys haven't covered it?
SCAVINO: David Burritt.
TRUMP: Correct, correct.
BLOOMBERG: People are losing their jobs though on the aluminum tariffs and things like that. Is that does that worry you?
TRUMP: I know, the the aluminum business is doing much better. It was it was a dead business. There's so and I only charged 10 percent on that one because of that. It's a you know, it's it was a little more delicate.
Steel is and I'll tell you what's going to happen with steel, they were dumping like nobody's ever seen dumping before. Historic dumping. And don't believe 2 percent by China. It was trans-shipping. You know, everyone's saying, well, China was only doing 2 percent.
No, China was doing 50 percent. What they were doing is they were trans-shipping steel to other countries that didn't even have steel plants and steel mills. They were sending them to countries that didn't even deal in steel, and these countries are dumping here because China didn't want people to know that they're sending us 50 percent and more.
So you understand what I mean by that, because every time I read an article it says, oh, but China only sends us 2 percent. I say give me a break, take a look at the countries where they're coming from.
Some countries don't even do steel and they're sending us 4 percent of the product. So so but but I have to say, the steel industry is is one of my pride and joys. I'm going tonight to Indiana, and I don't know if you saw the lines, the lines started forming today at 4 o'clock in the morning.
They had 45,000 requests for for 8,000 or 9,000 seats. Is anybody going? Are you going tonight? It's going to be exciting.
BLOOMBERG: We have someone else on the plane. Justin Sink.
TRUMP: Have you heard what's going on there?
BLOOMBERG: No, they're going to take Air Force One with you.
TRUMP: It's going to be a pretty amazing evening, I think.
BLOOMBERG: You mentioned currency manipulation with China. Are you now prepared to call them a currency manipulator? You said you're
TRUMP: Well, we're doing all the studies. No, we're it is a formula, and we are we are looking very strongly at the formula. As you look, as you see what's gone with the yuan, it's gone, you know, it's they're trying to make up for lack of business by cutting their currency. ?
It's no good. You can't do that.
That's not, like, playing on a level playing field. And...
TRUMP: ... and we're not being accommodated...
TRUMP: ... by our Fed. You know? We're not being accommodated by our Fed. So they're doing the lowering interest ...
TRUMP: We're doing, we're competing against not only -- not only the yuan, we're competing against the euro. So they keep dropping, dropping, dropping...
TRUMP: ... which, ultimately, is not good for them. But it is certainly good in the shorter term. And it lets them do some business that they wouldn't be doing. And it -- it -- it -- not even close to nullifies. But it has a little bit of an impact on the tariffs.
BLOOMBERG: But with the -- their currency going down is also a function of your one staying quite high. And do you think...
BLOOMBERG: ... which is, as you say, partly linked to the Fed. Do you think the president should have the right to be able to approve or disapprove some of the Fed's decisions?
TRUMP: Well, look. I put a man in there who I like, who I respect. And in private life, I always liked -- in private life, please put it that way....
TRUMP: In private life, I always liked a weak dollar and a low interest rate, OK? A strong dollar was only good if I wanted to buy Turnberry in Europe, in Scotland...
TRUMP: ... or if I wanted to buy Aberdeen or if I wanted to buy Doonbeg in Ireland. It was the only thing the strong dollar was good for. That was in my private life. And I did. I bought a lot of things when the dollar was very strong and the, you know, Ireland had crashed and Europe was crashing. I bought a lot of great stuff, including the great Turnberry, as you know, right?
BLOOMBERG: Yeah, yeah. Fantastic.
TRUMP: And that's why I find -- that's the only time I found the dollar to be -- in my private life. As president, I feel a little bit differently. As president, there's something really nice-sounding about the fact that our dollar is so strong and so powerful. The bad news is that it makes life more difficult when you're looking to sell product to the rest of the world. And they are cutting their currencies very substantially, far more than they should be allowed to do. And we're not being accommodated. I don't like that.
TRUMP: With that being said, I'm not sure that a currency should be controlled by a politician.
BLOOMBERG: What do you mean by "we're not being accommodated"?
TRUMP: We're not being accommodated by the Fed.
BLOOMBERG: "We" meaning you?
TRUMP: When I say that, the country.
TRUMP: So we're doing tariffs, and we are in a war, in a sense, because we have been ripped off so badly by past presidents that should never have allowed this to happen. Last year, we lost $800 billion on trade. Because of bad trade deals.
Not last year -- for years. But we lost $800 billion on trade. How the hell do you do that? You know, more than half was with China.
BLOOMBERG: But you say you don't think that policy should be...
TRUMP: No, I -- I'm -- I'm not-- look, my businesses have been very strong. I've done very well. I understand it. I think I understand it better than the so-called economists, where you -- mostly, it's a flip a coin and pick. Is it heads or tails? They have no clue. But -- but at the same time, I'm not sure that we should ever allow politicians to control very important things, you know, strong monetary policy, the things that the Fed right now controls.
But China is being accommodated because they can do whatever they want, and the euro is being accommodated because they basically do whatever they want, and we are not being accommodated at all by the trade.
BLOOMBERG: But you don't regret picking Jay Powell?
TRUMP: No, I don't regret. I think somebody else would maybe -- what I'm saying is that we are fighting horrible trade deals that were made by people that were either incompetent or didn't care.
Read more: Trump Says He Has No Regrets Over Appointing Fed Chair Powell
And -- and I should be -- I should be allowed -- and -- and they -- and those -- those countries are being accommodated by their monetary policy. Our country is not.
SANDERS: Sir, we have just a few more minutes.
TRUMP: Leave it a little bit longer, it's fine. I actually find it intellectually stimulating. What time are we leaving for Indiana?
SANDERS: About 3:45.
BLOOMBERG: Do you favor the idea of indexing capital gains?
TRUMP: I'm thinking about it. I'm thinking about it.
BLOOMBERG: Are you leaning towards liking it?
Read more: Trump Says He's Thinking About Indexing Capital Gains to Inflation
TRUMP: Well, no, I - I -- I just -- there are a lot of people that love it; there's some people that don't. But I'm thinking about it very strongly.
I'm also thinking about going, as you know, to a -- to a half-time instead of a quarter-time for reporting and guidance.
BLOOMBERG: Yeah, any closer on that, on making a decision?
TRUMP: I've asked Jay Clayton to look at it very strongly. He's looking at it. I like the concept, but I'll -- I'll be relying -- the only one that will be fighting us on that will be the accountants.
BLOOMBERG: Do you imagine that you would make a decision before the midterms on indexing?
TRUMP: I -- I don't want to say that, but it's something that a lot of people like. How do you feel about that -- indexing?
BLOOMBERG: In foreign countries, lots of people index.
TRUMP: Right. Have you -- have you taken a view on it, from Bloomberg?
BLOOMBERG: Bloomberg, I think, on the whole, we've -- I don't -- we haven't opposed it.
BLOOMBERG: We haven't opposed it.
BLOOMBERG: Most -- most people, because...
TRUMP: It's a stimulus.
BLOOMBERG: Yeah, and also, you -- it's -- out of the various tax things you can do, it's probably one of the more sensible.
TRUMP: It's a lot of people -- a lot of people like it.
TRUMP: Some people don't.
BLOOMBERG: On Jeff Sessions, would it be fair to say that Jeff Sessions will be A.G. until at least the mid-terms?
TRUMP: I would I would think so, yeah. I would think so.
BLOOMBERG: Then how many days afterwards?
TRUMP: Oh, I don't I don't even want to get into it. Look. I just want people to do their jobs. I have a great cabinet. I'm really happy with my cabinet. I've made some replacements. Mike Pompeo's becoming a star. You look at my cabinet members, we have really great cabinet members. There are those that say this is the best cabinet ever assembled. We really have great and you've heard that, Sarah, too. We hear it a lot.
We and we have great judges. I put on judges that when I got here, I had 145 openings. Nobody's ever had that before. And that was because something happened in the last three years of Obama where he didn't put judges on. I think they forgot. I really do, I believe they forgot. And there's nothing more you know, there's probably nothing more important other than war and peace, there's probably nothing more important.
BLOOMBERG: But on the other half of that is, maybe Jeff Sessions might not necessarily be safe after the midterms?
TRUMP: I don't want to comment on it. Look, I just would love to have him do a great job. And I'd love to have him look at the other side. And I have purposely and there's no reason for me to do this I could go and you know, I mean I'm allowed to do. You look at Article II, you look at whatever you want to look at, I'm allowed to be very much involved. This is just a witch hunt.
But but I will tell you that they should be looking at the other side. When you look at Ohr this is the last, you know Ohr and his wife. And his wife is getting Nellie and his wife is getting paid by Fusion. And Fusion's getting money from Russia and all this and nobody wants to look at that stuff, and you look at Strzok and his lover, Lisa Page, and you look at what went on there and the things that they were saying and the spying and the surveillance, and a hundred other things.
You look at the lies of Comey, the horrible lies. You look at the lies of Brennan. Look at the lies he said. And why aren't they looking at that side? So I do question, you know, what is Jeff doing? Now and I just finish with this. I'll say this. There was no collusion. I think almost everybody, even in your business, is saying there just is no collusion. There were no Russians. If there were, you would have known about it. There was collusion between the Democrats and the DNC and Russia.
I do ask, why didn't the FBI take the server from the DNC? And why didn't they do it? They didn't take it. I mean, what kind of you mean they wouldn't give it, they wouldn't give it to them, they would not give their server. I mean, Jennifer, you've figured that one out too a long time ago. And I do say, Arwan from Pakistan, he had three servers, all with congressional medal congressional people. They just settled the case with him, they gave him nothing. And they and they never got the servers.
BLOOMBERG: But if you get if you get subpoenaed if you get subpoenaed by Mueller, would you would you comply with it? Or would you fight it?
TRUMP: Well, I'll see what happens.
BLOOMBERG: But you but it but it doesn't
TRUMP: See, I view it I view it differently. First of all.
BLOOMBERG: It doesn't sound as if you're going to go it doesn't sound as if you're going to go voluntarily. So, he would is it fair to say, he would have to subpoena?
TRUMP: I view it as an illegal investigation. It should've never been
BLOOMBERG: So you wouldn't you wouldn't go?
it should have been no, I'm not saying anything. I'm just telling you this, you read any of the great you read the great scholars, the great legal -- there should have never been a special counsel. It shouldn't have been set up.
Between all of the conflicts, and all of the all of the reasoning that turned out to be wrong, all of the corruption, all of the statements where Comey said in Congress that he he did things, and he leaked, and he did to get a special counsel and various other things.
Read more: Trump Says He'll Keep Sessions Until November Despite Illegal' Probe
So, I'd just like to have Jeff Sessions do his job and if he did, I'd be very happy. But the job entails two sides, not one side. Now, I have not purposely, and not from any legal standpoint because from a legal standpoint, I'm allowed to get totally involved. But I have, purposely, not gotten involved. But, you know, at some point I guess that could change.
BLOOMBERG: Mr. President, there's there's been a lot of talk in Washington, this week, about your CFO from the Trump Organization, Mr. Weisselberg, accepting that immunity deal from prosecutors that delves into your finance your company's financial dealings.
BLOOMBERG: Whether you think he's betrayed you in any way, or that he he's.
TRUMP: No, he's 100 percent 100 percent.
BLOOMBERG: A hundred percent not?
TRUMP: A hundred percent he didn't.
Read more: Trump Says Weisselberg Is Wonderful Guy' Who Didn't Betray Him
TRUMP: A hundred percent. He's a he's a wonderful guy. It was a very limited, little period of time.
BLOOMBERG: The $130,000. Did you did you know about that before the election?
TRUMP: Well, I don't want to get into it because it's been covered so much. So, we won't get into that. Let's get into more important things. I can say this, there's no campaign violation whatsoever.
And if you watch all of the good legal pundits, you'll see that. No campaign violation whatsoever. There is none.
And most of them -- other than fake news -- admit that. There was no campaign violation.
BLOOMBERG: There are some in the legal community that say you could prove that if there was a pattern of Michael making payments over a long period of years, then -- then it would be argued that it was--
TRUMP: Jennifer, there was no campaign violation -- all of them.
BLOOMBERG: --if those payments would have been to protect the Trump business brand.
TRUMP: All I'm saying is this -- every lawyer that everybody's spoken to said there's no campaign violation. So.
BLOOMBERG: Not every lawyer.
TRUMP: Well, other than the fake news--
BLOOMBERG: The federal prosecutors.
Read more: Trump Won't Say When He Learned of Cohen's Stormy Daniels Payment
TRUMP: --of which there was, there was quite a bit. Go ahead. Next question.
BLOOMBERG: Should ask you about -- should ask you about Google -- jumping in obviously on doing business, you -- you look at, wherever I go -- the stock market -- the stock market's being propelled by these big tech companies, you wander around the world, and wherever you go, foreigners say, we'd love to have companies like Google, Amazon, Facebook.
BLOOMBERG: But you've spent quite a lot of time attacking them. Is that -- do you -- do you worry at all about American capitalism ...
TRUMP: No, no, not at all, because this is -- this is the engine for everybody. Without this country it doesn't work. No, I don't at all and I think they have to treat people fairly.
BLOOMBERG: So, it's just -- it's a pure -- it's a pure thing to do, what they do on their media sides, rather than the business as a whole?
BLOOMBERG: You think Google is a good business, you think ...
BLOOMBERG: What about the -- on the business, you -- all these guys, as I said, you know, the -- this is -- this is the American -- this is what people think American capitalism is about. It -- do you -- do you not feel bad about that ...
TRUMP: Well, if -- if you look -- if you look, the conservatives have been treated very unfairly. I can tell you from my years, I -- I think very few people -- I guess, Dan, what do we have now total on the various ...
SCAVINO: ... 100 -- 155 million, 160 million ...
SCAVINO: Between on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, Whitehouse.gov, all combined.
BLOOMBERG: What would you let your ...
TRUMP: Yeah. If you add them up. So, and we really get a good picture of what's going on. And I'll tell you, there are some moments where we say, wow, that really is bad what they're doing. You know, we just put something up yesterday on Google--
BLOOMBERG: Yeah, I saw that.
TRUMP: --where they were promoting Obama, Obama, Obama -- the day I got to office for the same event, which was the State of the Union speech, the day I got to office, they -- it was like, dead.
BLOOMBERG: Would you -- could you -- would you want to break up Google or break up Bezos?
TRUMP: I can't -- I won't -- I won't comment on that. I can't comment.
BLOOMBERG: It almost makes me think you're thinking about it.
BLOOMBERG: Wait, why are you saying you can't comment?
TRUMP: Can't comment.
BLOOMBERG: Do you see it as a utility?
BLOOMBERG: It's something that's crossed your mind?
TRUMP: I just can't comment. No, I don't want to say that either. I just -- I won't comment on the breaking up of -- whether it's that or Amazon or -- or Facebook.
BLOOMBERG: Do you think that's
Read more: Trump Says Google, Facebook, Amazon May Be Antitrust Situation'
TRUMP: As you know, many people think it -- it is a very antitrust situation, the three of them. But I just -- I won't comment on that.
BLOOMBERG: People are going to read into that no comment, sir.
TRUMP: Well, what -- what can I do? I can't -- I just can't comment.
BLOOMBERG: I -- I think we have -- can we, can we go to our speed round?
TRUMP: Are you worried about a speed round, Sarah?
SANDERS: Not with you, sir.
TRUMP: Let's go.
BLOOMBERG: OK, speed round. Is Emmet Flood going to be the next White House counsel?
TRUMP: He's a man I really like and respect. He's doing a great job.
BLOOMBERG: Is he the frontrunner?
TRUMP: I don't want to say that. I don't want to comment on that.
BLOOMBERG: Are there more than one possibility right now?
TRUMP: I don't want to comment on it, but I have -- I can tell you this, everybody wants the job. Everybody wants it but I -- I just don't want to comment on it.
BLOOMBERG: If America was attacked by -- if there is a terrorism attack, which foreign leader would you call first?
TRUMP: That's an interesting -- I guess it depends on where the attack took -- took place--
TRUMP: --and who made the attack. But -- but I
BLOOMBERG: --imagine it's -- it's in -- it's in New York. It's in New York, which -- which -- which--
TRUMP: I'll tell you what, I think I have a lot--
BLOOMBERG: Who do you trust and admire?
TRUMP: I -- I think I trust a lot of them. I -- I have a great relationship. Sarah, you see it, you go with me. Dan, you see it. I have a great relationship with a lot of foreign leaders, I think a really great relationship with really a lot.
BLOOMBERG: Angela Merkel?
TRUMP: I think I would have a very good -- I have a very good relationship with Angela Merkel. An excellent relationship. I just disagree. I don't think she should be buying oil for Russia -- from Russia. I don't think that, you know, she should be paying 1 percent and we're paying 4.3 percent for NATO. You know, I have a lot of disagreements with her.
BLOOMBERG: But have you -- but have you--
TRUMP: At the same time, I have a great relationship with her, and I like her and she likes me.
BLOOMBERG: Have you told her--
TRUMP: And -- and by the way, I think--
BLOOMBERG: Have you told her that she shouldn't buy -- she shouldn't buy the oil?
TRUMP: I told her I think it's ridiculous that you have a NATO to protect yourself from a certain country and then you're paying a fortune to that certain country. I said what kind of a deal is that?
BLOOMBERG: But if you had one phone call, there's a big terrorist attack in New York City and you've got to call a foreign leader, who would it be?
TRUMP: I don't want to say because I'll be insulting a lot of other foreign leaders, honestly.
BLOOMBERG: OK, fair enough.
TRUMP: You know, I really -- I have -- I have mostly great relationships, including until recently Turkey. I have a very good relationship with Erdogan, but he let me down because of the pastor.
Read more: Trump Says He's Very Disappointed' in Erdogan Over Pastor)
We'll see what happens, by the way.
BLOOMBERG: If he doesn't -- if he doesn't hand over the pastor, should you -- should NATO -- should -- should Turkey be kicked out of NATO?
TRUMP: We're going to see what happens. I -- I think...
BLOOMBERG: Would you -- would you consider that as an option?
TRUMP: I don't want to comment on it, because it's -- it's -- it's a subject that is -- it's too dear to my heart. I don't want to comment on it. But...
BLOOMBERG: Is there a chance you might--
TRUMP: But I will -- I will tell you, I'm disappointed in him. You know, I got back somebody for him, as you know.
TRUMP: And to be honest with you, I'm very disappointed in him. But we'll see how it all works out. I think it'll work out fine.
BLOOMBERG: Is there a chance you might meet Kim in -- in New York for the UN General Assembly?
TRUMP: I don't know that he's coming. I really don't. But I have a good relationship with him, and it's -- it -- Isn't it nice to have a good relationship? And I was going to tell you before, I think I'd have a very good relationship with Putin, but the Russian rigged witch hunt gets -- you know, gets in the way of that. It makes it very difficult. It's a very bad thing for our country.
BLOOMBERG: If Kim decided to come to the UN in September, it -- would you be ready to have that meeting, or does he need to show you a little more?
TRUMP: I'm -- I'm ready -- I'm always ready for a meeting.
TRUMP: I think meetings are good. Not bad. I think talk is good. I think -- I think dialogue between two countries is a good thing, not a bad thing. Now there may be instances where that wouldn't be so, but very rarely.
BLOOMBERG: Mr. President, as you know, of course John McCain's remains are on -- on -- on their way back to Washington now. You had an opportunity to unite the country this week. I'm just wondering if you felt like you screwed it up?
TRUMP: No, I don't think I did at all. I -- I've -- I've done everything that they requested, and no, I don't think I have at all. You know, we had our disagreements and they were very strong disagreements. I disagreed with many of the things that I assume he believed in.
But with that being said, I respect his service to the country.
BLOOMBERG: Would he -- would McCain have been a better president than Obama?
TRUMP: I don't want to comment on it. I have a very strong opinion on it.
BLOOMBERG: Ooh. We would love to know.
TRUMP: I have a very strong...
BLOOMBERG: That's not -- that's not a terrible question, that...
TRUMP: I have a very strong -- Sarah, she's just having a nervous breakdown.
TRUMP: I have a very strong opinion on it.
BLOOMBERG: But you want to -- you want to keep that to yourself.
Read more: Trump Defends His Handling of McCain's Death
TRUMP: Maybe I'll give you that answer someday later. Yes. But I have a very strong opinion on that.
SANDERS: Time for one more.
TRUMP: OK, one more.
BLOOMBERG: What about Paul Ryan? Would Republicans in the House do better if Paul Ryan were to step down as speaker early?
TRUMP: I'd -- look, here's -- I like Paul Ryan. I actually get along very well with him. I've had a much better relationship with Paul Ryan than people understand. And I do like him. And that's all going to work out. You know, that's all going to work out.
BLOOMBERG: But would the House Republicans do better with--
TRUMP: Well, we're going to have to see how we do.
BLOOMBERG: Jim Jordan?
TRUMP: I think, frankly, and -- and I like all of these -- you know, I guess you have the -- primarily the two, right? You have Kevin and you have Jim, both fantastic people. So we'll have to see how it all works out.
But I've had a I've had a very good relationship with Paul Ryan.
BLOOMBERG: OK. So no need for him to clear out before his term's up?
TRUMP: I look, right now, people are focused on the midterms. I don't think they're thinking about a speaker because it's really going to be depending on the midterms. I hope that we're going to be in a position where we have to worry about a speaker.
I think we're going to do really well in the Senate, and I think we're going to do, frankly, well in the House, because in the history of our country, we've never had a better economy.
BLOOMBERG: How many are you going to win by? How many will Republicans win by?
TRUMP: Well, I don't want to I don't want to predict because then if I if I'm wrong, you're going to say, Oh, he's devastated you're going to say, He's devastated that they didn't win.
So I don't want to do that, but I think we're going to do well. Now I'm betting against history because if you look at history, like literally, over 150 years, for whatever reason, when you have the president, that party doesn't do very well in the midterms. I don't know why.
The advantage we have is I am actually a very popular president, which people don't like to say, you know. In fact, I guess the Republican poll came out, there's one at 92 and one at 93 and one at 90, and they're the highest numbers that have ever been, with the exception of a tiny period of time with a bullhorn.
But that period lasted for about a week.
BLOOMBERG: But do you do you feel do you feel frustrated? Do you you have a the economy, as you say, is growing, end of the longest bull market, all those things.
BLOOMBERG: And yet you're going into a midterm election and most most people wrongly or rightly, fake news, real news, whatever, expect you to lose the House, but it feels--
TRUMP: Well, my personal polls--
BLOOMBERG: Do you feel annoyed about the--
TRUMP: Yes, my personal polls are very good. When you look at but the question is, will they transfer over to people getting out and voting? So if I were running and you people know this better, that it seems like nobody comes close. I dream about the people that are running. I hope it's that same group. I hope they don't change the group. I like the group. They're great now. You know, take your top 10.
But but if I were running, people come out and vote. I saw today on Fox, they're in Indiana, and the level of of love is just a beautiful thing to watch, and I speak to people, and that's around the country. They're happy because the economy is so good. Their 401(k)s are through the roof, et cetera, et cetera. The question is whether or not it's going to transfer. Now I'm going to work hard, and I'm going to be out campaigning for a lot of people.
TRUMP: I mean, literally, before not for any reason, before just before, here look, all these people are, you know, running, literally before John James is going to be very interesting in Michigan, by the way. It's going to be a very interesting thing.
BLOOMBERG: Montana's going to be interesting, too?
TRUMP: I'll tell you one quick story than we'll finish. So I'm watching television, and I see this young woman on television. I say, Who's that? Oh, she's campaigning against Joe.
You know who Joe is, right? So Queens. Crowley. So I say Ah, let me just watch her for a second wonderful thing, TiVo. So you go back huh, tell him he's going to lose.
Now, I don't agree with her views, her views are terrible, but that's Cortez. To just put to use one term. I had a similar thing in Michigan. I was watching an event and I see a man campaigning, a good looking African-American man who is making a beautiful speech, talking about his military service, his leadership, his flying the Apache helicopters.
I said Stop that for a second, go back, I want to see that. I watched him, I said He's a potential star. And as you know, he was down and I endorsed him spoke to him, I endorsed him and he's doing really well against an opponent that wasn't really on the list of potentials, right? And I think John James is going to be very interesting, I think. Watch him.
BLOOMBERG: Are those Democrats--
TRUMP: I've been very good at this stuff. Hey hey, you know, you look at you look at Ron DeSantis. You look at Donovan on Staten Island, he's 10 down just before the election and he wins the election by 25.
I mean there are many of those instances, not just a few. You look at you look at the Republican nominee from for governor of Georgia. He was down, he won 70 percent to 30 percent.
TRUMP: He won by he won by 40 points.
BLOOMBERG: What about Cuomo and Cynthia Nixon? Who wins out of those two?
TRUMP: Cuomo's going to win.
Read more: Trump Says He Predicted Ocasio-Cortez's Upset Primary Win
TRUMP: Cuomo's going to win.
BLOOMBERG: Do if Democrats pull off what they're trying to do and take over the House, and if they were to try to impeach you, do you believe that that would cripple your ability to govern or do you--
TRUMP: I don't think--
BLOOMBERG: --think it would help your re-election?
TRUMP: I don't think they can impeach somebody even if that happened, I mean I'll go against the wisdom. Even if that happened, I don't think they can impeach somebody that's doing a great job.
BLOOMBERG: But do you think it would hurt your re-election bid or do you think it would help your re-election bid?
TRUMP: I I don't know, I have no opinion on it. I just don't think they can do it if look, I'm doing a great job. You look at the economy, you look at jobs, you look at foreign what's going on with other countries, you look at trade deals.
I'm doing a great job. I don't think that because if they could do that, here's what would happen: you get elected president and your House is the opposite party, and every time you get elected president, they're going to impeach the person.
That can't work. In other words, because of the division that you have now that that you know that you've had. Here's somebody is this the most divisive you've seen it? No, Clinton was worse. I said what about Obama? No, Obama wasn't as bad as Clinton.
And I'm saying to myself, you know, it's sort of interesting but they say there were years in the Clinton years that were far worse than this. And it's very interesting.
Read more: Trump Says Democrats Can't Impeach Him Because He's Doing a Great Job'
You know we think of this, then of course they can also go back and say how about the Civil War. That was pretty bad too.
BLOOMBERG: That's a low -- that's a low barrier.
TRUMP: Yes, Civil War.
BLOOMBERG: Can you get out of Afghanistan?
TRUMP: But -- but I just -- I do want to say this -- I do want to say this and that will be the last but what that would mean, I'm doing a great job. And fair people would say you look at foreign relations, you look at what's going on, you look at so many -- look at -- look at labor. I mean labor loves me. I won the labor vote. You look at those people in line today
BLOOMBERG: Don't forget your wall though.
BLOOMBERG: You got to get your border wall. I hope you have some creative ideas for
TRUMP: Oh no, the wall's happening. By the way, I've already started the wall.
BLOOMBERG: Do you have some creative ideas for paying for it?
TRUMP: I have a lot of creative ideas for the wall. But just so you understand, I got $1.6 billion in spent. We have another $1.6 billion now. We're building. We're building actually 80 miles of the wall right now. The wall is already started.
You know the -- as you know it's in San Diego. It's almost complete all up San Diego in a very bad stretch and we're building the wall in the bad stretches. You know the stretches. But just so you understand, so you get elected as a Republican or a Democrat and the opposite party gets put into the House.
That would mean, oh, let's impeach him. Can't do it. If you look at the definition of impeachment that's a -- that's a high bar and that would take a long time to fight that if you're doing a good job. And I'm doing a great job. Somebody said what do you grade yourself? I said an A+. Other than that, enjoy yourselves. OK.
BLOOMBERG: Thank you.
BLOOMBERG: Thank you, sir.
TRUMP: Say hello to Michael.
BLOOMBERG: Thank you. Yes.
TRUMP: Take care of yourselves. Thank you very much.
With assistance by Laurie Asseo, Margaret Talev, and Jennifer Jacobs
Interview by Bloomberg News Editor In Chief John Micklethwait and reporters Jennifer Jacobs and Margaret Talev from Bloomberg News.
bloomberg.com 09 02 2018
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