THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
June 15, 2018
EXCERPTS OF REMARKS BY PRESIDENT TRUMP IN PRESS GAGGLE
9:03 A.M. EDT
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Q Mr. President, you have spoken so passionately about the circumstances that led to Otto Warmbier’s death.
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah.
Q In the same breath, you’re defending now Kim Jong Un’s human rights records. How can you do that?
THE PRESIDENT: You know why? Because I don’t want to see a nuclear weapon destroy you or your family. I don’t want to see —
Q By the way, you declared the nuclear threat from North Korea is over.
THE PRESIDENT: Excuse me. Because I don’t want to see a nuclear weapon destroy you and your family. I want to have a good relationship with North Korea. I want to have a good relationship with many other countries. And what I’ve done, if you remember, if you’re fair, which most of you aren’t — but if you’re fair, when I came in, people thought we were probably going to war with North Korea. If we did —
Q You say the threat is over. Is it over?
THE PRESIDENT: Quiet. Quiet. Quiet. If we did, millions of people would have been killed. I don’t mean like — you know, people are saying 100,000. Seoul has 28 million people 30 miles off the border. You would have had 30, 40, 50 million people killed. Who knows what would have happened?
I came in; that was what I inherited. I should have never inherited. That should have been solved long before I got there. I did a great job this week. The fake news said, “Oh, you met.” But the only thing they saw that I gave up — one broadcast said, “He gave up so much.” You know what I gave up? I met. I met. We had great chemistry. He gave us a lot. You haven’t had a missile test in seven months. You haven’t had a firing. You haven’t had a nuclear test in eight and a half months. You haven’t had missiles flying over Japan. He gave us the remains of our great heroes. I have had so many people begging me — parents, and fathers, mothers, daughters, sons — wherever I went, “Could you please get the remains of my boy back?” They’re giving them back. Nobody thought that was possible.
Q Sir —
THE PRESIDENT: Wait, wait. They’re doing so much. And now we’re well on our way to denuclearization. And the agreement says there will be total denuclearization. Nobody wants to report that.
So the only thing I did was I met. I got along with him great. He is great. We have a great chemistry together. That’s a good thing, not a bad thing.
Q How can Kim love his people if he’s killing them? 2018
THE PRESIDENT: I can’t speak to that. I can only speak to the fact that we signed an incredible agreement. It’s great. And it’s going to be great for them, too. Because now North Korea can develop and North Korea can become a great country economically. It can become whatever they want. But there won’t be nuclear weapons and they won’t be aimed at you and your families.
Q Mr. President, why did you offer to halt the military exercises with South Korea?
THE PRESIDENT: That was my offer. Just so you understand. Military —
THE PRESIDENT: Okay, you want to hear?
THE PRESIDENT: Okay? Military — I call them “war games.” I hated them from the day I came in. I said, why aren’t we being reimbursed?
Q That’s North Korea’s term. “War games.”
THE PRESIDENT: That’s my term.
Q They use it too.
THE PRESIDENT: They might use it. We pay for it. We pay millions and millions of dollars for planes, and all of this. It’s my term. I said, I’d like to halt it because it’s bad to be negotiating and doing it. It costs us a lot of money. I saved lot of money. That’s a good thing for us.
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Q Mr. President, at the end of the “Fox & Friends” interview, you said that you were going to spend Father’s Day weekend doing work, and you said that you were going to have a call with North Korea. Who are you going to talk to in North Korea?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I’m going to speak to people in North Korea, and I’m going to speak to my people who are over in North Korea. A lot of things are happening.
And I will tell you this: We now have a very good relationship with North Korea. When I came into this job, it looked like war — not because of me, but because — if you remember the sit-down with Barack Obama, I think you will admit this, he said the biggest problem that the United States has, and by far the most dangerous problem — and he said to me — that we’ve ever had, because of nuclear, is North Korea.
Now, that was shortly before I entered office. I have solved that problem. Now, we’re getting it memorialized and all, but that problem is largely solved, and part of the reason is we signed, number one, a very good document. But you know what? More importantly than the document — more importantly than the document, I have a good relationship with Kim Jong Un. That’s a very important thing.
I can now call him. I can now say, “Well, we have a problem.” I told him — I gave him a very direct number. He can now call me if he has any difficulty. I can call him. We have communication. It’s a very good thing.
People are shocked that this is the kind of — you know, they thought Trump was going to get in and he was going to start throwing bombs all over the place. It’s actually the opposite.
But we’re building a military so strong — $716 billion next year; $700 [billion] this year. We’re building a military so strong, nobody is going to mess with us. But you know what? I never want to have to use it.
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Q What’s verification process going to look like?
THE PRESIDENT: We’re going to have a very strong verification process.
Q What’s it’s going to look like?
THE PRESIDENT: Now, if you read the agreement, which most of you didn’t, point after point after point he gave, including getting back our — the remains of our great heroes, okay? Of our great, great heroes. Which made — some people are crying in the streets they’re so happy. Nobody thought we were going to get that. Point after point.
All they said about me is, “You met. He met. It’s terrible you met.” Of course I met. Meeting is a good thing, not a bad thing. By the way, it was good for the United States; it was good for them.
I spoke with China. They are very happy. Actually, they were much happier. Now, they may not be as happy today because of what I’m doing with trade. You probably heard that. I assume it’s been announced by now. But we’re putting tariffs on 50 billion dollars’ worth of technology and other things because we have to, because we’ve been treated very unfairly.
But China has been terrific. President Xi has been terrific. President Moon, everybody — we’re all working together because of me.
Q How long will you give Kim Jong Un to follow through on denuclearization before you —
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we’re working it as fast as possible.
Q Is he coming to the White House soon?
Q — before you put sanctions back on?
THE PRESIDENT: We’re working it as fast as possible.
Q Is he visiting the White House, Mr. Trump?
THE PRESIDENT: We’re working that. We’re working denuclearization as fast as possible.
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END 9:21 A.M. EDT