Chopper pressers are the best pressers; even when they are from the tarmac at LAX in California. Moments ago President Donald Trump talked to the press pool with his newly named national security adviser, Robert O’Brien. [Video below Transcript ADDED]
[Transcript] – THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. We’re with Robert O’Brien, who, as you know, is the new National Security Advisor. He’s worked with me for quite a while now on hostages, and we’ve had a tremendous track record with respect to hostages. Robert can tell you about it.
But we brought a lot of people back home and we haven’t spent any money. So, that’s good, because you can’t do the money thing. If you do the money thing, all of a sudden it will double and triple and quadruple. You’ll say, “What’s going on?”
So, Robert has been fantastic. We know each other well. And maybe, Robert, say a few words. Please.
AMBASSADOR O’BRIEN: Great. Thank you. Look, it’s a privilege to serve with the President and to — and we look forward to another year and a half of peace through strength. We’ve had tremendous foreign policy successes under President Trump’s leadership. I expect those to continue.
We’ve got a number of challenges, but there’s a great team in place with Secretary Pompeo and Secretary Esper, Secretary Mnuchin, and others. And I look forward to working with them and working with the President to keep America safe and continue to rebuild our military and really get us back to a peace-through-strength posture that will keep the American people safe from the many challenges around the world today.
Q Mr. O’Brien, what advice do you have for the President about the situation in Saudi Arabia and any possible military strike on Iran?
AMBASSADOR O’BRIEN: Yeah, so we’re looking at those issues now and getting briefed up. And I think Secretary Pompeo is in Saudi Arabia now or is just coming home. And any advice that I give the President will be something I give him confidentially. But we’re monitoring that situation closely.
Q And, Mr. President, any update on your thinking?
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah, I have nothing to report yet. We’ll probably be speaking to you tomorrow, maybe the next day. But nothing to report. But it hasn’t changed very much. I think my thinking pretty much remains the same. And we haven’t learned much that we didn’t know. But there is — there is a certain — a guarantee factor. We’re really at a point now where we know very much what happened.
Q Lindsey Graham said sanctions aren’t enough. Will you do more on Iran?
THE PRESIDENT: We’ll see what happens. We’ll see. You’ll watch.
Q Mr. President, should Rouhani come to New York next week?
THE PRESIDENT: Excuse me?
Q Should President Rouhani come to New York next week for (inaudible)?
THE PRESIDENT: I really don’t know. I really don’t know. That’s up to him. I mean, I’m — it’s not up to me. It’s up to him. We’ll see what happens.
Q (Inaudible) visas from Iranians to come?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we’re going to see what happens. I would let them come. If it was up to me, I would let them come.
I’ve always felt the United Nations is very important. I think it’s got tremendous potential. I don’t think it’s ever lived up to the potential it has, but I would certainly not want to keep people out if they want to come. So, that would be up to them.
Q (Inaudible) Senator Graham, who said that the failure to strike Iran this summer was a sign of — taken by Iran as a sign of weakness?
THE PRESIDENT: No, I actually think it’s a sign of strength. We have the strongest military in the world now. And I think it’s a great sign of strength. It’s very easy to attack.
But if you ask Lindsey, ask him: How did going into the Middle East — how did that work out? And how did going in Iraq work out?
So, we have a disagreement on that. And, you know, there’s plenty of time to do some dastardly things. It’s very easy to start. And we’ll see what happens. We’ll see what happens.
I think we have a lot of good capital. If we have to do something, we’ll do it without hesitation.
Q Mr. President, do you agree with the Secretary — Mr. Pompeo — that the attacks in Saudi were an “act of war”? And if so, what’s the response on the U.S. end?
THE PRESIDENT: He just came out with a statement. He spoke to me a little while ago. And we’ll have an announcement. Okay?
Q What does Mr. O’Brien bring to the table that you were looking for that maybe you didn’t get through Mr. Bolton?
THE PRESIDENT: It’s very interesting. Mr. O’Brien is highly respected. He was highly respected by so many people that I didn’t even know really knew him. He did a tremendous job on hostage negotiation — really tremendous, like unparalleled. We’ve had tremendous success in that regard. Brought home many people. And through hostage negotiation, I got to know him very well myself. But also, a lot of people that I respect rated him as their absolute, number-one choice.
So, you know, I think we have a very good chemistry together, and I think we’re going to have a great relationship. He is a very talented man.
Q Mr. President, would you raise more sanctions on Iran today?
THE PRESIDENT: I did.
Q Would you announce more sanctions on Iran? What will they include?
THE PRESIDENT: We’ll be adding some very significant sanctions onto Iran.
Q And what will they include, sir?
THE PRESIDENT: We’ll be announcing it over the next 48 hours.
Q And you said that there will be a further announcement on Iran. Are you looking at a military strike?
THE PRESIDENT: We’ll see what happens.
Q What are the options, Mr. President, that you’re considering? You just said that there were some very bad things you’re thinking about.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, there are many options, as you know, Phil. There are many options. And there’s the ultimate option, and there are options that are a lot less than that. And we’ll see. We’re in a very powerful position. Right now, we’re in a very, very powerful position.
Q When you say “the ultimate option,” are you talking about a nuclear strike?
THE PRESIDENT: No, I’m saying “the ultimate option,” meaning go in — war. No, I’m not talking about — I’m not talking about that ultimate option. No.
THE PRESIDENT: Right?
Q How do you see the role of National Security Advisor changing with Mr. O’Brien?
THE PRESIDENT: I think it’s a very important role. It’s really a role that, if the President respects the person that’s the advisor, I think it really plays a very, very important role.
Okay? Thank you. Peter, thank you.
Q You’re heading to the border today?
THE PRESIDENT: We’re going to the border later. Are you all with me?
THE PRESIDENT: We’re going to show you a lot of wall. We’re building a lot of wall. We won the big case and a couple of other cases, as you know. We’re building a lot of wall.
So, we’ll be talking. We’ll be talking to you later on. Okay?
Q Have you spoken to Netanyahu?
THE PRESIDENT: I have not. Those results are coming in, and it’s very close. Do you have any updates? Any updates? Because you people usually should know before the President, right?
Q Are you suspicious at all about the results?
THE PRESIDENT: No, I’m not. No, I’m not. Everybody knew it was going to be very close, and we’ll see what happens. And, look, our relationship is with Israel. We’ll see what happens.
Thank you. Thank you everybody.