President Trump delivers remarks to the media as he departs the White House for a trip to Texas. [Video and Transcript]
[Transcript] – 9:28 A.M. EDT – THE PRESIDENT: The economy is doing very, very well. We have numbers coming from companies that are beyond expectation. The tax cuts are working very, very well. So we’re very proud of the economy. Job numbers are as good as we’ve ever had, and more people are working right now than ever worked in our country before. We’re doing really well.
I’d like to congratulate Bibi Netanyahu. It looks like that race has been won by him. It may be a little early, but I’m hearing he’s won it and won it in good fashion. So, he’s been a great ally and he’s a friend. I’d like to congratulate him. That was a well fought-out race, I can tell you. But it looks like Bibi has won that race.
Go ahead, Steve.
Q Are you going to release the Middle East Peace Plan now?
THE PRESIDENT: Say it?
Q Are you going to release the Middle East Peace Plan now?
THE PRESIDENT: So, the fact that Bibi won, I think we’ll see some pretty good action in terms of peace. Look, everyone said — and I never made it a promise — but everybody said you can’t have peace in the Middle East with Israel and the Palestinians. I think we have a chance. And I think we have, now, a better chance with Bibi having won.
Yes, please. Major.
Q Mr. President, have you been briefed on the —
THE PRESIDENT: Hold it. Major.
Q Do you believe (inaudible) law requires you to give Congress your tax returns?
THE PRESIDENT: No, there is no law. As you know, I got elected last time with this same issue. And while I’m under audit, I won’t do it. If I’m not under audit, I would do it. I had no problem with it. But while I’m under audit, I would not give my taxes. There’s no law whatsoever.
Now, I will say this: I would love to give them, but I’m not going to do it while I’m under audit. It’s very simple. Remember, I got elected last time — the same exact issue, with same intensity, which wasn’t very much because, frankly, the people don’t care.
What I have done is approximately a 104-page summary — and, really, in great detail — of assets and values. And nobody wants to go over that because it’s so good. I built a great company, one of the best companies. I have some of the greatest assets in the world. I did a good job. And now, frankly, I don’t care about them; I only care about the United States.
But I have no obligation to do that while I’m under audit. And no lawyer would tell you to release your tax returns while you’re under audit.
Q Do you want to see a binary choice for asylum seekers?
THE PRESIDENT: I think that the whole asylum rules, laws, and regulations have been taken advantage of by people that are very bad people, in many cases. These are the people running the cartels. They’re gaming the system; they have been for years. The only difference is our economy is now so strong that more people come up.
We have done a great job at the border with bad laws. It’s very important that the Democrats in Congress change these loopholes. If they don’t change them, we’re just going to be fighting.
Now, the other thing: We’ve built a lot of wall. A lot of wall. And it’s new wall. You know, when we rip down an old wall and then replace it, it’s called a “new wall.” And that’s what we’ve done. A lot of wall is going up. And every place we build the wall, it’s less and less.
But the power of the economy, it’s like a magnet; it’s bringing more people than we’ve seen in a long time.
Q Mr. President, what is your current thinking on releasing as much of the Mueller Report as possible? The Attorney General yesterday said (inaudible). Do you agree with that?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, the Mueller Report is interesting. After $35 million, with 13 — increased to 18 — angry Democrats — people that truly hated Donald Trump, truly hated Trump — they found no collusion whatsoever with Russia. But I could have told you that and so could most people. And so could have everybody that voted for me, which was a lot of people.
So after wasting all of this money and all of this time with people that were haters — people that worked on the Hillary Clinton Foundation, people that were absolutely haters of Trump — they found no collusion.
What has been found during this period of time are the illegal acts of getting this whole phony investigation started. And hopefully that’s where people are going now. That’s where people are going.
And it’s very interesting. It was an illegal investigation. Major, it was an illegal investigation. It was started illegally. Everything about it was crooked — every single thing about it. There were dirty cops. These were bad people. If you look at McCabe and Comey, and you look at Lisa and Peter Strzok, these were bad people.
And this was a — an attempted coup. This was an attempted takedown of a President. And we beat them. We beat them.
So the Mueller Report, when they talk about obstruction, we fight back. And do you know why we fight back? Because I knew how illegal this whole thing was. It was a scam. And what I’m most interested in —
THE PRESIDENT: Excuse me. What I’m most interested in is getting started.
Hopefully, the Attorney General — he mentioned it yesterday — he’s doing a great job — getting started on going back to the origins of exactly where this all started, because this was an illegal witch hunt and everybody knew it, and they knew it too. And they got caught.
And what they did was treason. What they did was terrible. What they did was against our Constitution and everything we stand for.
So hopefully that will happen. There is a hunger for that to happen in this country like I have never seen before, including all of the millions of people that voted for me.
What they did was disgraceful. There’s never been anything like it in the history of our country.
Q Mr. President, Senate Republicans have concerns about Herman Cain. Is his nomination safe?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I like Herman Cain. And Herman will make that determination. Herman is a wonderful man. He’s been a supporter of mine for a long time. He actually ran a very good campaign. And that’s up to Herman.
Herman is — you know, he’s already sat on one the Fed boards, and he’s just somebody I like a lot. As to how he’s doing in the process, that I don’t know. You go through a process. But Herman is a great guy, and I hope he does well.
Q Mr. President, since Stephen Miller is already, basically, running your Homeland Security apparatus, have you ever thought about making Stephen Miller the DHS Secretary?
THE PRESIDENT: No, Stephen is an excellent guy. He’s a wonderful person. People don’t know him. He’s a wonderful — been with me from the beginning. He’s a brilliant man. And, frankly, there’s only one person that’s running it. You know who that is? It’s me.
Q Mr. President, has anyone in this White House been briefed on the Mueller report, or have you seen it?
THE PRESIDENT: I have not seen the Mueller report. I have not read the Mueller report. I won. No collusion. No obstruction. I won. Everybody knows I won. And the pros knew it was illegally started. The whole thing was illegal.
I have not read the Mueller report. I haven’t seen the Mueller report. As far as I’m concerned, I don’t care about the Mueller report. I’ve been totally exonerated. No collusion. No obstruction.
And I’m off to dealing with China. I’m off to dealing with North Korea. I’m off to dealing with Venezuela and all the problems in this world. I’m not worrying about something that never, ever should’ve taken place.
Q Did you see what happened to Candace Owens yesterday?
THE PRESIDENT: I did not see what happened. I did not see what happened to Candace Owens.
THE PRESIDENT: Excuse me. I did not see what happened to Candace Owens.
Q Congressman Ted Lieu played a little snip of audio and accused her of being a Hitler supporter, and then she slapped back at him.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think that’s a terrible thing. I think that’s a terrible thing that he would do that. I find her to be a very — I know her. I think she’s a fine person, a fine young woman, and I think that’s disgraceful that they could say that.
Q The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the Southern District has spoken to Hope Hicks, Keith Schiller, and others in their investigations. Any response to that?
THE PRESIDENT: I don’t hear you.
Q The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the Southern District has spoken to Keith Schiller, Hope Hicks —
THE PRESIDENT: I have no idea.
Q Mr. President, what are your thoughts on Kris Kobach for DHS? Is he a leading contender for you?
THE PRESIDENT: I respect him. I like him. And he’s somebody that, you know, I have a lot of regard for.
Q SDNY, Mr. President — SDNY (inaudible) into your finances up in New York. Are you concerned about that investigation?
THE PRESIDENT: My finances are very clean. I don’t think there is an investigation. If you say it, I don’t know. But I don’t think there is an investigation. My finances are very clean.
Q Mr. President, will Kevin be your nominee for DHS Secretary permanently?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I like him a lot. He’s doing a very good job. It could happen. We’ll make a determination.
Q Are you looking at others like Rick Perry or Matt Whitaker?
THE PRESIDENT: We have others, but right now he’s the man. He’s doing a great job.
THE PRESIDENT: Kevin.
Thank you. See you in Texas.