11:14 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Hello. First of all, I’d like to thank law enforcement yesterday, in Texas. They’ve been incredible. First responders, law enforcement, the police, the FBI, Governor Abbott — incredible, the job they did. It’s tragic, but they did an incredible job under the circumstances. It’s another very sick person.
So I just want to thank everybody involved. And always, you say: As bad as it was, it could have been worse. But it was certainly bad. Very, very sad situation.
Also, I’d like to introduce Admiral Brown of the U.S. Coast Guard, a highly respected man. We spent two days at Camp David going over a lot of different things having to do with the hurricane. The Admiral has informed me through all of the different sources that he has — but you can pretty much get it on television, Admiral — this is now a Category 5. It seems to be one of the biggest hurricanes we’ve ever seen. And that’s a problem. That’s a problem.
So I think a lot of — we have a lot of great — we have a lot of great people working right now. We don’t know where it’s going to hit but we have an idea. Probably a little bit different than the original course. The original course was dead into Florida. Now it seems to be going up to toward South Carolina, toward North Carolina. Georgia is going to be hit. Alabama is going to get a piece of it, it looks like. But it can change its course again and it could go back more toward Florida.
So we’ll be knowing — we’ll be learning over the next probably, less than 24 hours. But it is a very, very powerful hurricane.
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah, we’re looking at the same things. We’re in the process of dealing with Democrats, Republicans. They’ve been working very hard on it. They’re coming back very soon. And there’s a big package of things that’s going to be put before them by a lot of different people. We have a lot of groups working on it.
Q Mr. President, have you spoken to Senators Toomey, (inaudible), Wayne LaPierre (inaudible)?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I’ve been speaking to them. I’ve been speaking to a lot of senators. We’ve been speaking to a lot of House members, a lot of Republicans, a lot of Democrats. And people want to do something. So we’re going to see.
This really hasn’t changed anything. We’re doing a package, and we’ll see what it all — how it comes about. It’s coming about right now. And a lot of people are talking about it. And that’s irrespective of what happened yesterday in Texas.
Q Mr. President, have you spoken to House Democrats about (inaudible)?
THE PRESIDENT: Well we’re looking at a lot of different things. We’re looking at a lot of different bills, ideas, concepts. It’s been going on for a long while. Background checks.
I will say that, for the most part, sadly, if you look at the last four or five — going back, even five or six or seven years, for the most part, as strong as you make your background checks, they would not have stopped any of it. So it’s a big problem. It’s a mental problem. It’s a big problem.
Q On China, sir, the new tariffs (inaudible) — have you spoken to President Xi?
THE PRESIDENT: So China is moving along. We’re doing very well. It was brought out very strongly today by a number of great economists that, because China has devalued their currency so much, that, in fact, they are actually paying for all of the tariffs. We have — in addition to that, as you know, they’re pouring money into their economy. So those two things, they are paying for their tariffs.
As you know, some new tariffs get on. We’re taking in tens of billions of dollars. We’re giving some of the money to the farmers. I’m making the farmers more than whole. The farmers are doing better than if China, frankly, were buying. I’m taking a piece of the massive amount of tariffs, and we’re giving them to the farmers who have been targeted unfairly by China.
We are talking to China. The meeting is still on, as you know, in September. That hasn’t changed. They haven’t changed and we haven’t. We’ll see what happens.
But we can’t allow China to rip us off anymore as a country. We can’t allow China to take $500 billion a year out of our country. We can’t do that.
Q Mr. President, do you have a message for Poland —
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah.
Q — on the 80th anniversary of the Second World War? What (inaudible)?
THE PRESIDENT: I do have a great message for Poland. And we have Mike Pence, our Vice President, is just about landing right now. And he is representing me. I look forward to being there soon.
But I just want to congratulate Poland. It’s a great country with great people. We also have many Polish people in our country; it could be 8 million. We love our Polish friends. And I will be there soon.
Q Mr. President, do you believe that Congress should (inaudible)? And why should Americans —
THE PRESIDENT: Say it. Say it. Speak up.
Q Mr. President, do you believe that Congress should (inaudible)? And why should Americans believe that now (inaudible)?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think Congress has got a lot of thinking to do, frankly, and they have a lot of — they’ve been doing a lot of work. I will tell you, on behalf of Republicans and Democrats, they’ve been doing a lot of work having to do with guns. And I think you’re going to see some interesting things coming along.
On the hurricane, Admiral, would you like to say something as to the size and scope of the hurricane?
ADMIRAL BROWN: Certainly, Mr. President. Thank you. This hurricane is very strong — Category 5 — which talks about the wind. It will also have substantial destructive, life-threatening storm surge, fresh-water rainfall in four states. Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina can all expect to see tropical storm to hurricane-force impacts over the coming days. So the time for preparation is now.
THE PRESIDENT: And I’ll be going with the Admiral and many others over to FEMA in about an hour. And we’ll be having somewhat of a news conference over there where you won’t have the engines blaring. But we’ll have a news conference over at FEMA. So we’ll see you — most of you — there.
Okay? Thank you. Thank you very much.