11:21 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: So, the economy is doing very well by every measure. We’re having probably the greatest economy that we’ve had anywhere, anytime, in the history of our country.
We’re having a little squabble with China because we’ve been treated very unfairly for many, many decades — for, actually, a long time. And it should have been handled a long time ago, and it wasn’t. And we’ll handle it now.
I think it’s going to be — I think it’s going to turn out extremely well. We’re at a very strong position. We are the piggy bank that everybody likes to take advantage of, or take from. And we can’t let that happen anymore.
We’ve been losing, for many years, anywhere from $300 billion to $500 billion a year with China and trade with China. We can’t let that happen.
The relationship I have with President Xi is extraordinary. It’s, really, very good. But he’s for China and I’m for the USA, and it’s very simple.
We are, again, in a very, very strong position. They want to make a deal. It could absolutely happen. But, in the meantime, a lot of money is being made by the United States, and a lot of strength is being shown. This has never happened to China before.
Our economy is fantastic; theirs is not so good. We’ve gone up trillions and trillions of dollars since the election; they’ve gone way down since my election.
So, that’s the way it is. That’s the way it stands. We’re going to do very well.
Q Mr. President, are you confident that there will be no recession while you’re in office?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, you never can say that, but we’re doing very well. We’re doing — I think we probably have the greatest economy that we’ve ever had.
The employment numbers came out. As you know, they’re record levels in almost every category: African American — the best in history, if you take a look; Hispanic American, the best in history. Yesterday, Asian American numbers came in; they are the lowest in history — the history of our country. Women — I think in 61 years, and soon that will be historic, too.
So that we are doing — and as far as employment numbers, we have the most people working today in the United States than we’ve ever had before. Almost 160 million people. So it’s really good.
Q Mr. President, trade talks collapsed with China. Would you describe it —
THE PRESIDENT: You got a machine over there.
Q Have trade talks collapsed with China? Would you describe it like that?
THE PRESIDENT: No, I wouldn’t. We have a very good dialogue. We have a dialogue going. It’ll always continue. But we made a deal with China. It was a deal that was a very good deal. It had to be a good deal; otherwise, we’re not making it. Because we’ve been down so low in trade — and other Presidents should’ve done this a long time ago — we can’t just make a new deal. And I told that to President Xi.
But we had a deal that was very close, and then they broke it. They really did. I mean, more than just — more than renegotiate, they really broke it. So we can’t have that happen.
Q Mr. President, did you ask the Attorney General to launch a probe into the Russia investigation?
THE PRESIDENT: No, I didn’t ask him to do that.
Q Did you know he was going to do it?
THE PRESIDENT: I didn’t know it. I didn’t know it. But I think it’s a great thing that he did it. I saw it last night. And they want to look at how that whole hoax got started. It was a hoax. And even Mueller — not a friend of mine — even Bob Mueller came out: “No collusion.” And he had 18 people that didn’t like Donald Trump. They were Hillary Clinton fans. They contributed, many of them, to Hillary Clinton. They came out. It was the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the people of this country.
And you know what? I am so proud of our Attorney General, that he is looking into it. I think it’s great. I did not know about it. No.
Q Mr. President, were you surprised by the Chinese retaliation, sir? You tweeted they “should not retaliate,” and then they did.
THE PRESIDENT: No, no, no. I wasn’t surprised. But you have to understand they do $600 billion, meaning we buy $600 billion and they buy $100 billion. We have all the advantage. It’s a very small factor for us. And we have a much bigger economy now. You know, since my election, we’ve gone up so much. We have a much bigger economy than China. But if you take a look, $600 million [billion] versus $100 million [billion]. It’s a different world.
Q Mr. President, (inaudible) $100 billion in additional tariffs, then?
THE PRESIDENT: We’re looking at that very strongly. About the $325 billion — we’re looking at it very strongly.
Q Mr. President, did you tell DHS to round up immigrant families?
THE PRESIDENT: I don’t know anything about that. I read that. It’s probably fake news. But I read that this morning. I don’t know anything about it.
Q Mr. President, why is it unfair? Why is it unfair, sir, for Don Jr. to be subpoenaed if he’s pulled out of testifying twice?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, you know, it’s really a tough situation because my son spent, I guess, over 20 hours testifying about something that Mueller said was 100 percent okay. And now they want him to testify again. I don’t know why. I have no idea why, but it seems very unfair to me.
Q Mr. President, are you planning to send 120,000 troops to the Middle East in response to Iran?
THE PRESIDENT: I think it’s fake news, okay? Now, would I do that? Absolutely. But we have not planned for that. Hopefully we’re not going to have to plan for that. And if we did that, we’d send a hell of a lot more troops than that.
But I think it’s just — where was that story? In the New York Times? Well, the New York Times is fake news.
Q You say this is a small squabble, but don’t you understand that American consumers may very well suffer because of this?
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah. So you have no tariff to pay whatsoever if you’re a business. All you have to do is build or make your product in the United States. There’s no tariff whatsoever. So that really works out very well.
Q Do you think you’re winning the trade war, Mr. President?
THE PRESIDENT: I think we’re winning it. We’re going to be collecting over $100 billion in tariffs. Our people, if they want, they can buy from someplace else, other than China. Or they can — really, the ideal is make their product in the USA. That’s what I really want. Yeah, we’re winning it.
You know what? You want to know something? You want to know something? We always win. We always win.
How are you, Emerald?
Q I’m good. How are you?
THE PRESIDENT: Good. What’s up?
Q Do you have confidence in Christopher Wray after he said he wouldn’t exactly call it “spying”?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I didn’t understand his answer because I thought the Attorney General answered it perfectly. So I certainly didn’t understand that answer. I thought it was a ridiculous answer.