Earlier today, prior to a closed meeting between Secretary of State Tillerson and U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley, President Trump delivered remarks to the full cabinet within the White House Cabinet Room.
During remarks (transcript below) President Trump announced that North Korea will be designated as a state sponsor of terrorism, re-instituting a legal designation previously dropped by the Bush administration.
[Transcript] 11:40 A.M. EST – THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. We just returned from a historic 12-day trip to Asia. Everywhere we went, the American delegation was greeted with tremendous hospitality and tremendous respect. People are respecting our country again, believe me.
We brought back more than $300 billion worth of deals, which could reach well over a trillion dollars within a very near future. That means jobs for the United States at a very high level.
As you know, we’ve just come up with the best job performance in over 17 years. But this is a lot more jobs, and we think the number is going to actually get a lot better. We’re going to also put a lot of people that have not been able to find jobs, we’re going to put them back to work — because they’re not registered right now; they’ll be registered in a positive sense.
Japanese car companies will be opening up and expanding their plants in our country. We worked very closely with Prime Minister Abe on that. We’re renegotiating our bad trade deal with South Korea, and we’ve started talking about bilateral trade with many countries in Asia.
And most importantly, we’ve made clear to all countries that we cannot continue to be treated unfairly when it comes to trade any longer. It’s not fair to our companies, and it’s not fair to our workers. Last year, we lost over $800 billion on trade — on trade deals with other countries. So we had a negative number, a trade deficit of almost $800 billion with other countries. That’s not going to be happening. That’s changing. And I explained that to them. From the standpoint of Asia, they understand it. Every one of them understand it.
One of the primary goals of our trip was to pursue the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. I want to begin this morning by meeting and by talking about the fact that we will be instituting a very critical step, and that will start right now. Today, the United States is designating North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism. It should have happened a long time ago. It should have happened years ago.
In addition to threatening the world by nuclear devastation, North Korea has repeatedly supported acts of international terrorism, including assassinations on foreign soil.
As we take this action today, our thoughts to turn to Otto Warmbier, a wonderful young man, and the countless others so brutally affected by the North Korean oppression. This designation will impose further sanctions and penalties on North Korea and related persons, and supports our maximum pressure campaign to isolate the murderous regime that you’ve all been reading about and, in some cases, writing about.
Tomorrow, the Treasury Department will be announcing an additional sanction, and a very large one, on North Korea. This will be going on over the next two weeks. It will be the highest level of sanctions by the time it’s finished over a two-week period.
The North Korean regime must be lawful. It must end its unlawful nuclear and ballistic missile development, and cease all support for international terrorism — which it is not doing.
Today, Cabinet discussions will also focus on crucial domestic policy issues. I want to congratulate the House of Representatives for passing a vital and historic tax cut last week, and I’m very hopeful the Senate will do the same very soon.
We’re going to give the American people a huge tax cut for Christmas. Hopefully that will be a great, big, beautiful Christmas present.
With the Democrats giving us no votes for tax cuts, for purely political reasons — obstructionists — it will be up to the Republicans to come through for America. I think they will. I hope they will. It’s up to the Senate. And if they approve it, the House and the Senate will get together — I’ll be there right in the middle of it — and we will come up with a bill that will be spectacular for growth and spectacular for the people of this country.
Our tax plan will be bring urgent relief to hardworking families. We’ll reduce rates, increase the amount of income taxed at a rate of zero, expand the Child Tax Credit — very important, and simplify taxes as most family will be able to file on a single sheet of paper. We’ll restore America’s competitive edge so we can bring back our jobs. We want to bring our jobs back to our country. We were decimated over the last 40 years. We want to bring our jobs back to the United States.
We’ll go from being one of the highest-taxed nations in the world to one of the lowest-taxed nations in the world. Corporate rate will be reduced from 35 percent all the way down to 20 percent, which will make us competitive again, and companies won’t be leaving our country. Finally, our tax plan will return trillions of dollars in wealth to our shores so that companies can invest in America again.
At the same time, we’re working to reduce wasteful government spending. We will hear from budget director, Mick Mulvaney, who is working with my Cabinet to find taxpayer savings in each and every department.
The Cabinet members that are with us today are working on getting reductions through their various departments, and we think we’re going to be able to save a lot of money — even lower than the budgets, in the budgets that we’re submitting.
We’ll be working on healthcare, infrastructure, and welfare reform. We’re looking very strongly at welfare reform, and that will all take place right after taxes — very soon, very shortly after taxes. So we’ll be submitting plans on healthcare, plans on infrastructure, and plans on welfare reform — which is desperately needed in our country — soon after taxes.
Today, we’ll also discuss the opioid epidemic that is ravaging so many American families and communities. Last week, I was proud to nominate Alex Azar to serve as the next Secretary of Health and Human Services. I urge the Senate to swiftly confirm his nomination, and I want to thank Acting Secretary Eric Hargan for serving with such devotion and for doing such a great job in the meantime. Thank you very much, Eric.
Finally, I want to wish the American people a truly happy and blessed Thanksgiving, especially to our brave men and women serving in our military and our Border Patrol and ICE agents along the very dangerous southern border. As you heard, we lost a Border Patrol officer just yesterday, and another one was brutally beaten and badly, badly hurt. Looks like he’ll make it, but very, very badly hurt.
And we talk about the wall — we’re going to have the wall. It’s a part of what we’re doing. We need it. It’s rough territory. That’s where the drugs are coming in. A lot of things are happening along the border — the southern border — and we’re going to straighten it out.
We’ve already reduced the numbers — and you see the numbers — they’re back to 78 percent down from what they were. And those numbers will get better and better but we have to stop the massive drug flow from pouring in. And my respect to the families that were so badly hurt yesterday, because they were devastating. Those two families were devastated.
I just want to wish everybody a very, very Happy Thanksgiving. We’re going to be working very hard during the recess in Florida. We’re going to Florida. And I want to thank you all for being here, and let’s start our meeting. And to the media, to the press, thank you very much. We appreciate it. Thank you. Thank you very much.