Full Transcript of the Donald Trump Interview with Chuck Todd

President Donald Trump recently sat down with Chuck Todd on June 21, 2019 to talk about Joe Biden, Iran, and more.

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CHUCK:             Mr. President welcome back to Meet the Press.

TRUMP:            Thank you.

CHUCK:             Let me start right in. What happened last night?

TRUMP:            Well, you had a situation that was very bad, because the night before they shot down an unmanned drone and the unmanned is a very big factor. The fact that there was not a person on it, a US person on it or anybody. And that had an impact on me. I said, “Well, we got a little problem.” And I think they did it on purpose because they understand that they will be hit very hard if that were a plane with a person in it. And I think they knew that there was nobody there.

TRUMP:            So, we had a very modest, but pretty heavy attack schedule.

CHUCK:             And this is a preplan that you had, something that if they did something you had something- these are sort of ready made plans to use if necessary.

TRUMP:            Sure. We have many of them. Oh, I have so many targets you wouldn’t believe.

CHUCK:             Right.

TRUMP:            We have targets all over.

CHUCK:             So did you green light something? Or had you said, “If we do it, I’ll do this?” What was the order?

TRUMP:            Nothing is green lighted until the very end because things change, right?

CHUCK:             So you never gave a final order.

TRUMP:            No, no. But we had something ready to go, subject to my approval. They came in and they came in about a half an hour before. They say, “So we’re about ready to go.” I said, “I want a better definition.”

CHUCK:             Like in the air? Were planes in the air?

TRUMP:            No, no, we’re about ready to go. No, but they would’ve been pretty soon. And things would’ve happened to a point where you wouldn’t turn back or couldn’t turn back. So they came and they said, “Sir, we’re ready to go. We’d like a decision.” I said, “I want to know something before you go. How many people will be killed?” In this case, Iranians. I said, “How many people are going to be killed?”

TRUMP:            “Sir, I’d like to get back to you on that.” Great people, these generals. They came back, said, “Sire, approximately 150.” And I thought about it for a second and I said, “You know what, they shot down an unmanned drone, plane, whatever you want to call it, and here we are sitting with 150 dead people that would’ve taken place probably within a half an hour after I said go ahead.” And I didn’t like it, I didn’t think it was proportionate.

TRUMP:            Now, that doesn’t mean…

CHUCK:             So what should the response be right now?

TRUMP:            I think the response should be, well first of all, as you know, we’ve done very massive sanctions. We’re increasing the sanctions now. But the response is always going to be very strong. I built up a lot of capital, I’ve had a lot of people that aren’t Trump fans saying, “I can’t believe.” You know, a lot of them said we’re going to be in World War III the first week, didn’t work out that way. We’re doing great in North Korea, we’re doing great in a lot of different places. We knocked out the caliphate in Syria, we knocked out 100%. Remember I was going to lead it-

CHUCK:             Not 100%. [crosstalk 00:02:44] at 100%.

TRUMP:            No, no, no. The caliphate.

CHUCK:             Okay. .

TRUMP:            No, the caliphate, which is the land, the area.

CHUCK:             The land, fair enough.

TRUMP:            Is 100%. You never knock these people out. These people are stone cold crazy. And they walk into a store and they’ll be wired up for bombs and they’ll blow, it’s a horrible thing. So I never say that. I don’t want to do what other presidents have done or other people have done saying we won, because you don’t win so conclusively. I would love to have the day where we can win.

TRUMP:            You know, I remember when I was young, I’d go on an airplane. I’d walk up, I’d buy a ticket, I’d go on a plane. Nobody thought about bombs and nobody thought about security, you’d walk in, you’d give the ticket to the person at the gate, and you’d walk into a plane. Today it’s like, a big deal.

TRUMP:            So what happened is I said I’m not going to do it. I’ll save it. If they do something else it’ll be double.

CHUCK:             I think they were trying to provoke you.

TRUMP:            No, I don’t think so. And I think it was very important that they… to them, don’t forget, their economy-

CHUCK:             You don’t think they intended to get you to respond militarily?

TRUMP:            Their economy is shattered, shattered.

CHUCK:             So what’s the message do you think they’re sending?

TRUMP:            Their inflation is through the roof. They’ve never had, the highest in the world right now. Worse than any place. They’re living not well.

CHUCK:             So put yourself in their shoes, what do you think message they’re trying to send you with this?

TRUMP:            I think they want to negotiate and I think they want to make a deal, and my deal is nuclear. Look, they’re not going to have a nuclear weapon. This isn’t about the Straits. Do you know that China gets 91% of its oil from the Straits? We don’t even need the Straits. We are now, since I came in, we’re the number one energy producer in the world, okay? Actually by far. And if I get the pipelines approved through the environmental process, which I will in Texas, we’ll go up by another 25%. But we’re way ahead of Russia, we’re way ahead of Saudi Arabia.

TRUMP:            I think that they want to negotiate, I don’t think they like the position they’re in. Their economy is absolutely broken.

CHUCK:             So you sent a letter to the Ayatollah via Prime Minister Abe. And the Ayatollah seemed to say, “I’m not talking to you.”

TRUMP:            I didn’t send a letter, no.

CHUCK:             Was it a verbal message? What did Prime Minister Abe carry on your behalf?

TRUMP:            Prime Minister Abe’s a great guy. He’s a friend of mine and he obviously is close to them. I think he was their largest buyer of oil from before.

CHUCK:             Did he deliver a message from you to them?

TRUMP:            No. He wanted to do something.

CHUCK:             Okay.

TRUMP:            According to Prime Minister Abe, they went to him, this is according to the Prime Minister, and they said, “What do we do with Trump? Can we make a deal? Is there something that can be done?” That’s what Prime Minister Abe told me.

TRUMP:            I said, “Do you mind if I say that if I have to?” And he said, “Not particularly.” So they came to Prime Minister Abe. He then called me, I said, “Send the following message: you can’t have nuclear weapons and other than that we can sit down and make a deal. But you cannot have nuclear weapons.”

CHUCK:             No other conditions other than that?

TRUMP:            You cannot have nuclear weapons. And they would’ve had them with President Obama. He gave them 150 billion dollars [crosstalk 00:05:33] Remember this-

CHUCK:             What is your deal? I understand, but what is your deal going to look like with them?

TRUMP:            Let me explain something. Number one, you have to look at the sites. Some of the most important sites we weren’t even allowed to look at or inspect, okay? Number two, the term was not long enough. There’s like, a short number of years left. After a very small number of years, you’re talking about a country, after a very small number of years, they have a free pass to nuclear weapons. You can’t do that. So I want to be able to inspect all sites, they cannot have ballistic missiles, which under the agreement isn’t even covered. And as you know, that agreement wasn’t even approved by Congress, a lot of people don’t know that. That was an agreement that he couldn’t get through Congress. He was not authorized really to do that deal.

CHUCK:             Congress did give him some authorization [crosstalk 00:06:16]

TRUMP:            It wasn’t ratified by Congress.

CHUCK:             It wasn’t a treaty.

TRUMP:            It was very, very short of what it should have been. You know that.

CHUCK:             Don’t you think though… what does it tell you that the Iranians haven’t violated the agreement yet? That they are trying hard not to violate the agreement?

TRUMP:            Well you see, I think they have violated the agreement, because I think in the areas that we’re not allowed to inspect they’re doing things, and I think they have been for years.

CHUCK:             Europeans don’t think they’re violating the agreement.

TRUMP:            Well I don’t care about the Europeans. The Europeans are going out and making a lot of money. The Europeans are fine, but they’re going out and making a lot of money. In France they’re selling cars to Iran. They’re doing other things. And let me tell you, we’re very good to Europe. We take care of them. NATO, we spend a tremendous about of disproportionate amount. On trade, the European Union’s taken, they have really taken advantage of us for a long time.

TRUMP:            Just to finish, we have great relationships with Europe. I don’t mind Europe getting in the middle, Europe wants to make a deal too, Europe would love to see a deal being made.

CHUCK:             Are these going to be separate deals? Do you want to do a separate deal with Iran or do you want to get everybody involved in the same deal? Get the Russians, get the Chinese.

TRUMP:            I don’t care what kind of a deal, it can be separate or it can be total.

CHUCK:             But it’s one on one talks, you and the Ayatollah?

TRUMP:            All it is-

CHUCK:             Is it one on one talks, you and the Ayatollah? Or you and the President?

TRUMP:            It doesn’t matter to me. Here’s what I want, anything that gets you to the result they cannot have a nuclear weapon. It’s not about the Straits, you know, a lot of people covered it incorrectly. They never mention they cannot have a nuclear weapon, they’d use it, and they’re not going to have a nuclear weapon. And it’s not about the oil-

CHUCK:             Did you send the message last night? Reuters is reporting that you sent a message to the Iranians saying, “I don’t want war, I want to talk.”

TRUMP:            I did not send that message. I did not send that message. I don’t know who would’ve said that.

CHUCK:             Okay. Send a message right now to the Ayatollah.

TRUMP:            I mean, it’s fake news.

CHUCK:             Then send a message right now to the Ayatollah.

TRUMP:            It wouldn’t be much different than that message.

CHUCK:             Which is?

TRUMP:            I’m not looking for war. And if there is, it’ll be obliteration like you’ve never seen before. But I’m not looking to do that, but you can’t have a nuclear weapon. You want to talk, good. Otherwise you can have a bad economy for the next three years.

CHUCK:             No preconditions?

TRUMP:            Not as far as I’m concerned, no preconditions.

CHUCK:             And you’ll talk anyway?

TRUMP:            Here it is, look, you can’t have nuclear weapons. And if you want to talk about it, good. Otherwise you can live in a shattered economy for a long time to come.

CHUCK:             Do you feel like you were being pushed into military action against Iran by any of your advisors?

TRUMP:            I have two groups of people, I have doves and I have hawks.

CHUCK:             Yeah, you have some serious hawks.

TRUMP:            I have some hawks, yeah, John Bolton is absolutely a hawk. If it was up to him he’d take on the whole world at one time, okay? But that doesn’t matter because I want both sides. You know, some people said, “Why did you put.” You know, I was against going into Iraq, for years and years. And before it ever happened, I was against going into Iraq. And some people said, “Oh, I don’t know.” I was totally against and I was a private citizen, it never made sense to me.

TRUMP:            I was against going into the Middle East. CHUCK, we’ve spent seven trillion dollars in the Middle East right now.

CHUCK:             Why is this our problem? This is a proxy war. Iran and Saudi Arabia are in a fight to the death out there.

TRUMP:            Yeah, you’re right. Your right. And that’s another thing I’ve done.

CHUCK:             Canada, Trump, for years would have said, “Not our fight.” Why get involved?

TRUMP:            Because of nuclear weapons, it has nothing to do with oil.

CHUCK:             So the minute you get them to do nuclear weapons you want out of the Middle East?

TRUMP:            That’s all I care about… well, we’re going to protect Israel, but I have nothing to do, absolutely nothing- and we’re going to protect Saudi Arabia, look, Saudi Arabia’s buying 400 billion dollars worth of things for us, that’s a very good thing.

CHUCK:             You used to say we don’t get anything in return for protecting Saudi Arabia.

TRUMP:            We are now.

CHUCK:             Do you feel like they’re now paying for the American protection?

TRUMP:            I spoke to the Crown Prince this morning. We had a great conversation. I said, “This is a very expensive operation, you and the other nations that we’re protecting have to pay.” And he said, “Yes.”

CHUCK:             Did you talk to him about the UN report about Jamal Khashoggi?

TRUMP:            I did not because it really didn’t come up in that discussion. I called about one reason.

CHUCK:             I understand.

TRUMP:            I didn’t call about that. I called about one reason. There’s a very expensive operation. Unlike President Obama, and unlike everybody else, I’ll say others too, not just President Obama. You’ve got to pay for it. We just don’t want to go and protect the Middle East and protect Saudi Arabia and everyone else and not get reimbursed.

CHUCK:             So this is why you’re overruling Congress and letting all these weapon sales happen in Saudi Arabia.

TRUMP:            Economic development. And that, but economic development.

CHUCK:             Nevermind the humanitarian disaster that’s taken place in Yemen?

TRUMP:            A million jobs. No, it’s going to end, it’s going to end. By the way, who’s causing it though? If you look at it, Iran goes into Yemen, they start firing rockets at Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia has to protect themselves, CHUCK. But it’s a million jobs and probable more. They buy massive amounts, 150 billion dollars worth of military equipment, that by the way, we use. We use their military equipment. Unlike other countries that don’t have money, and we have to subsidize everything, so Saudi Arabia’s a big buyer of American product. That means something to me. It’s a big producer of jobs.

CHUCK:             It makes you overlook some of their bad behavior?

TRUMP:            No. I don’t like anybody’s bad behavior.

CHUCK:             The United Nations said they’d like the United States to order the FBI to investigate Jamal Khashoggi’s death. And possibly MBS’s involvement in it. Will you allow the FBI to do that?

TRUMP:            I think it’s been heavily investigated.

CHUCK:             By who?

TRUMP:            By everybody.

CHUCK:             By the FBI?

TRUMP:            I’ve seen so many different reports.

CHUCK:             What about the FBI?

TRUMP:            Here’s where I am. You ready?

CHUCK:             Mm-hmm (affirmative).

TRUMP:            Iran’s killed many, many people a day. Other countries in the Middle East, this is a hostile place. This is a vicious, hostile place. If you’re going to look at Saudi Arabia, look at Iran, look at other countries, I won’t mention names, and take a look at what’s happening. Then you go outside of the Middle East and you take a look at what’s happening with countries, okay? I only say they spend 400 to 450 billion over a period of time. All money, all jobs, buying equipment.

CHUCK:             So that’s the price, as long as they keep buying you’ll overlook some of this behavior.

TRUMP:            No. But I’m not like, a fool that says we don’t want to do business with them. By the way, if they don’t do business with us, you know what they do? They’ll do business with the Russians and with the Chinese. We make the best equipment in the world, but they will buy great equipment from Russia and from China. CHUCK, take their money. Take their money, CHUCK.

CHUCK:             What would candidate Trump have said about a president who on his watch had Iran shooting down a drone, a Venezuelan dictator thumbing his nose at you, Obamacare’s still on the books, and no results yet on the border. The border getting tough.

TRUMP:            Well let’s take a look.

CHUCK:             What would candidate Trump have said about that?

TRUMP:            Let’s take a look. The border’s doing great, Mexico’s been fantastic. They’ve been trying to get a deal with Mexico for 45 years, right? So for 45 years they couldn’t get a deal, I got one in one day. I said, “We’re going to put tariffs on and you can have a deal or not.” We agreed in one day, Mexico just moved 6000 people to their southern border, 6000 troops to their southern border. The border’s working out well and the wall is being built. I mean, a lot of people don’t like to talk about it, we’re building the wall. We will have 400 miles of wall built by the end of next year. And that’s hard because the Democrats don’t want to approve it, we just beat them in a big lawsuit as you know, in Washington, in DC, we just beat them at a very big lawsuit where they tried to-

CHUCK:             But doesn’t it frustrate you that your border numbers are worse than Obama’s?

TRUMP:            No, because the people are coming up because our economy is so good. They’re pouring up because the economy is so good. Obama had a lousy economy, it was a dead economy.

CHUCK:             Can I ask you about that? Let me show you this chart. Do you see that chart?

TRUMP:            No.

CHUCK:             It’s the unemployment rate from the peak of the Recession.

TRUMP:            Right.

CHUCK:             Your economy’s great, I’m not saying it’s not great. But this recovery started, and in the 28 months that you’ve been president, and the last 28 months of Obama’s presidency, he averaged more new jobs than your first 28 months.

TRUMP:            That’s because he started off with such a bad base.

CHUCK:             Okay. But is it not a continuous-

TRUMP:            CHUCK, you have to understand, nobody was working. The whole place was a disaster, and I’d never take that away. But it’s very easy, because when that turned around, they pumped a tremendous amount of money into the economy. He also had a Federal Reserve person who kept the interest rates low, I don’t. I don’t have that privilege.

CHUCK:             Sounds like you do now.

TRUMP:            Oh, no, no. You raised him far too fast. You raised him far too fast.

CHUCK:             Your threat to demote him, do you think that’s had an impact?

TRUMP:            I didn’t ever threaten to demote him.

CHUCK:             There’s been some talk that you might demote him to the number two slot.

TRUMP:            I’d be able to do that if I wanted, but I haven’t suggested that.

CHUCK:             That’s not a threat, that’s just a reminder that you can?

TRUMP:            No, no. I have the right to do that, but I haven’t said that. What he’s done is 50 billion a month in quantitative tightening, that’s ridiculous. What he’s done is he raised interest rates too fast, I can prove it all.

CHUCK:             Do you worry he’s going to hurt your reelection?

TRUMP:            I think the economy’s so strong we’re going to bull through it. But I’m not happy with his actions, no. I don’t think he’s done a good job. I think this, if he didn’t raise rates… Obama had very low rates, so Obama was playing with funny money, I wasn’t. I’m playing with the real stuff.

CHUCK:             Let me ask you this.

TRUMP:            Wait, wait. Obama had somebody that kept the rates very low, I had somebody that raised the rates very rapidly, too much. He made a mistake, that’s been proven. And yet, my economy is phenomenal. We have now the best economy maybe in the history of our country. Just to finish off, when I took over, this country, the economy was ready to collapse. You take a look at the numbers, it was ready to collapse. And if I didn’t win-

CHUCK:             I just showed you the numbers. It was not ready to collapse.

TRUMP:            You showed me unemployment numbers.

CHUCK:             Yeah, but unemployment, it was not ready to collapse.

TRUMP:            Excuse me, excuse me. Take a look at your GDP, take a look at your jobs, take a look at your optimism, take a look at all of the charts. When I took over, from election day on, I mean you show me one chart.

CHUCK:             Let’s see your unemployment rate.

TRUMP:            I did well in that too, but I’m not talking about that. Take a look at some of the optimism charts and everything else. It went from 57 to 92? Nobody’s ever seen anything that-

CHUCK:             Your right. The optimism, you’re right.

TRUMP:            Right after I won. Well optimism is a big part of success in business, okay.

CHUCK:             You were always hard on Obama, you thought he wasn’t enough of a cheerleader.

TRUMP:            He was not a cheerleader.

CHUCK:             If you could have one do over as president, what would it be?

TRUMP:            Well it would be personnel. I would say if I had one do over, it would be I would not have appointed Jeff Sessions to be Attorney General, that would be my one.

CHUCK:             In your mind that [crosstalk 00:16:16]

TRUMP:            Yeah. That was the biggest.

CHUCK:             Is Bill Barr your Roy Cohn?

TRUMP:            He should’ve never… I think he’s a very talented, very-

CHUCK:             You know what I mean by that, you’ve always said, “Where’s my Roy Cohn?” Is he your Roy Cohn?

TRUMP:            No, no, no. Look, you have to see him, Roy Cohn, but I had many, many lawyers, a lot of lawyers. Roy was one of them, he was a tough guy. Bill Barr is a… First of all, Bill Barr-

CHUCK:             Is he cut from the same cloth you think?

TRUMP:            Bill Barr is equally tough. He’s a fine man. He’s a fine man. The job he’s done is incredible. He’s brought sanity back. I think he’s real, I don’t think, I know, he’s respected. You know, he loves the Department of Justice. He saw what was happening. He has done a spectacular job. Now he’s in the process of doing something and I stay away from it, I stay away from it. But I think he feels that what’s happened in this country was a very bad thing and very bad for our country.

CHUCK:             I want to ask what’s going down with the children in these migrant camps. The stories are horrible, Mr. President. You have children without their parents, you have kids taking care of kids.

TRUMP:            Yeah.

CHUCK:             You’ve read these reports, I know people are coming to you. I know you think this is the Democrats problem. Forget it, why aren’t you doing something about it?

TRUMP:            Are you ready?

CHUCK:             They are in terrible shape down there, Mr. President. Down in Homestead, Florida, that’s where I grew up.

TRUMP:            Okay.

CHUCK:             The conditions are terrible.

TRUMP:            I agree. And it’s been that way for a long time.

CHUCK:             Do something.

TRUMP:            President Obama built the cages. Remember when they said that I built them? And then it was 1914.

CHUCK:             Do two wrongs make a right?

TRUMP:            It was 2014. CHUCK, just listen for one second, separation. President Obama, I took over separation. I’m the one that put it together. What’s happened though, are the cartels and all of these bad people, they’re using the kids. It’s almost like slavery.

CHUCK:             Well let’s not punish the kids more.

TRUMP:            This has been happening-

CHUCK:             The kids are getting punished more.

TRUMP:            You’re right, and this has been happening long before I got there. What we’ve done is we’ve created- we’ve ended separation. You know, under President Obama you had separation. I was the one that ended it. Now I said one thing. When I ended it, I said, “Here’s what’s going to happen, more families are going to come up.” And that’s what’s happened. But they’re really coming up for the economics, but once you ended the separation. But I ended separation. I inherited separation from President Obama.

TRUMP:            President Obama built, they call them jail cells. They were built by the Obama-

CHUCK:             Let’s talk about what’s happening now.

TRUMP:            I’m just telling you.

CHUCK:             Your administration, you’re not doing the recreation, you’re not even schooling these kids anymore, you’ve gotten rid of all that stuff.

TRUMP:            We’re doing a fantastic job under the circumstances. The Democrats aren’t even approving giving us money. Where is the money? You know what? The Democrats are holding up the humanitarian aide.

CHUCK:             It looks like these kids are being used as some sort of… is it hostage? They’re being held hostage.

TRUMP:            Well they are being used. They are being used by very bad people on the other side, where they actually get paid. Money is being made using them because our laws are so bad. Because if you have a child, you have an advantage, you know that better than anybody. And what should happen, CHUCK?

CHUCK:             But why let the political debate hurt these children? They could be impacted for years.

TRUMP:            If the Democrats would change the asylum laws and the loopholes, which they refuse to do because they think it’s good politics, everything would be solved immediately. But they refuse to do it. They refuse to do it. Do you know what? If they change those, I say, I used to say 45 minutes, it’s 15 minutes. If they changed asylum and if they changed loopholes, everything on the border would be perfect.

CHUCK:             Let me ask you this, why do you think Nancy Pelosi has held off her impeachment caucus?

TRUMP:            Because I think she feels that I will win much easier. I mean, I’ve been told that by many people.

CHUCK:             Do you think impeachment’s good politics for you?

TRUMP:            I think I win the election easier, but you know, I’m not sure that I like having it. Look, I did nothing wrong, I was spied on. What they did to me was illegal. It was illegal on the other side, I did nothing wrong. So impeachment’s a very unfair thing, because nothing that I did was wrong. And if you look at the Mueller Report, there was no collusion. This was all about collusion.

CHUCK:             Nowhere in the Mueller Report, by the way, Mr. President, you say no collusion, I’ve read this Mueller Report, both parts of it-

TRUMP:            Use the word collusion, or use-

CHUCK:             There’s not one place that says nothing happened.

TRUMP:            Use the word collusion, use the word conspiracy.

CHUCK:             It never says no collusion.

TRUMP:            I’ll be honest with you, nobody even mentions Russia anymore. Since the Mueller Report, they don’t mention it, in all fairness. Nobody mentions Russia anymore, and it was about Russia. It was a hoax.

CHUCK:             Let me ask you this, during the campaign-

TRUMP:            Wait a minute. Wait, wait, we’ll give you the time that you need.

CHUCK:             What hoax it was?

TRUMP:            It was a hoax, the Russian hoax, with me.

CHUCK:             You don’t believe it happened?

TRUMP:            I had nothing to do-

CHUCK:             You don’t believe the Russians interfered in our election?

TRUMP:            What they did with respect to the election is different, we’re not talking about that. We’re talking about my campaign working is a hoax.

CHUCK:             The idea that you were conspiring. Fair enough.

TRUMP:            Okay, good.

CHUCK:             But going back, on Wikileaks, knowing now that that was stolen foreign material, do you regret using it?

TRUMP:            Well I wouldn’t have, but this was well known. I think it was in papers, and again now, I’m going back a long ways, but [crosstalk 00:21:00]

CHUCK:             It was all rumored to be Russian stolen property so why’d you use it?

TRUMP:            How would I even know that? I made a speech. It was in there about Wikileaks, I’m not a Wikileaks person.

CHUCK:             Knowing now, knowing that they’re a Russian Intelligence asset, do you regret it?

TRUMP:            Let me tell you, Wikileaks, et cetera, that’s not my deal in life. In other words, I don’t know about Wikileaks, it was a strange name. But there were stories about, something Wikileaks, that they had information. And I say it in a joking manner at a speech. Joking, everybody laughing, everybody having a good… and they made it like it was serious. No, I don’t want anything bad to happen to our country. Anything bad happens to this country, I will end it and I’ll end it fast, I don’t want any of that to happen.

CHUCK:             There’s one part in the Mueller Report, your son, Trump Junior did cooperate and appeared before the Senate Intelligence Committee. In the Mueller Report it says that he did not voluntarily sit for an interview with Mueller’s team, and then there’s a redaction, a Grand Jury redaction. Did he involuntarily sit?

TRUMP:            I don’t know. I can only tell you this. My son-

CHUCK:             Is it possible he was subpoenaed?

TRUMP:            I really don’t know.

CHUCK:             You don’t know if he was subpoenaed?

TRUMP:            But let me tell you what I do know.

CHUCK:             So did you not read the Mueller Report?

TRUMP:            Let me tell you, I read much of it.

CHUCK:             The unredacted version? Or no.

TRUMP:            No I didn’t, I didn’t. But let me just tell you-

CHUCK:             So if he was subpoenaed you wouldn’t know?

TRUMP:            I read the conclusion. Well he was subpoenaed, ultimately he was subpoenaed to sit before the Senate intel. And he did that.

CHUCK:             But was he subpoenaed by Mr. Mueller?

TRUMP:            I don’t know, but I don’t think so.

CHUCK:             If he was subpoenaed, was he going to appear before the Grand Jury or was he just going to plead the fifth?

TRUMP:            I don’t know, I really don’t know, but you can certainly ask him. I just don’t know.

CHUCK:             But you don’t know.

TRUMP:            My son, he has been treated so unfairly. He sat for many, many hours before these committees. I think, my impression is that Mueller took all of the information from the committees, and he used that information. How much can you talk about something? Remember the phone calls? The three phone calls?

TRUMP:            It was such a big deal. Three phone calls that were made to a special type number. Okay? And everybody said, “Oh, he called his father.” That went on for a year. In other words, before this so called meeting, and after the meeting, “He called his father!” The biggest story, headlines all over the place. And then it turned out… and I give Mueller credit because Mueller was the one that found out, through I guess the phone companies or whatever, somebody found out, maybe through the FBI… Big investigation on who the calls were made, if they were made to me it would have sounded like you.

TRUMP:            Wait a minute, they turned out that it wasn’t to me. It was to a real estate person and a NASCAR person. Two great people. Have nothing to do with Russia, have nothing to do. And you know what? People hardly even put the story in. My son was treated unfairly. My son, he spent 20 some odd hours, and then he went back again. He is a very innocent young man, and he was treated very badly.

CHUCK:             You’re going to see Vladimir Putin in a week.

TRUMP:            Yes. I’m going to see him [crosstalk 00:23:57]

CHUCK:             Are you going to address him directly about interference in 2020?

TRUMP:            I may. I may.

CHUCK:             Are you going to tell him not to do it?

TRUMP:            I may, if you’d like me to do it, I’ll do that. You know what? Here’s what you do.

CHUCK:             Well some people think that your answer last week invited him to do it again.

TRUMP:            Oh, that’s not true. That’s not true.

CHUCK:             Are you going to tell him not to, and what are the consequences?

TRUMP:            My answer last week was both. I said both, I’d do both. Except they didn’t put it on, and when they did put it on, people understood. But they didn’t put it on because they put a different segment on. So they asked me a question, but when I said, “Yeah, I’d do both.” People saw that in the last version of it, because the thing played like all weekend and on Friday. So it’s just more fake news.

TRUMP:            CHUCK, there’s so much fake news. It would be so good if-

CHUCK:             That’s why I’m interviewing you one on one.

TRUMP:            That’s fine, that’s what I like doing.

CHUCK:             Let me ask you this.

TRUMP:            But I like live interviews better, you know why? Because you can’t cut the answers.

CHUCK:             Guess what, you’re going to enjoy the fact that I’m not going to over edit this interview, that I promise you.

CHUCK:             Do you think you’ve been more successful in business or the presidency?

TRUMP:            Well, I can’t be more successful in politics. I mean, I ran once and I’m President, right? So you have to say that’s about… it’s never happened before, right? So I’m one for one and I hope to be two for two. But my business has been a tremendous success. I actually said to the lawyers, I’d like to show my financial statement. My financial statement is great. I built a [crosstalk 00:25:15]

CHUCK:             You could release your tax returns any day if you want.

TRUMP:            You don’t learn from tax returns, and I’m under audit, CHUCK. I’ve been saying I, I’m under audit. But you don’t learn from tax returns.

CHUCK:             I was under audit, I had my tax returns.

TRUMP:            But you would learn from a financial statement. I would like to release it. I’ve built a great company. They like to… for instance, banks. I could’ve borrowed from banks but I didn’t need to, because I had money. I did things.. in fact a lot of people over the last couple of years were really surprised. “He paid all cash, he didn’t use banks.”

TRUMP:            I think I’ve been tremendously successful in business. I think I’ve been tremendously successful in show business, with The Apprentice. I mean, I did one show and it was a great hit, as you know from NBC. And I guess you’d have to say I’ve been really successful in politics.

CHUCK:             The Republican Party has changed in your image. Do you think you caused that change? Or do you think the party was changing and you were the leader they selected?

TRUMP:            I think common sense caused it. You know, I’m about common sense. People say, “Are you conservative?” I guess I’m conservative, but I’m about common sense. I’m about we need borders, we’re going to have borders and we have strong borders. By the way, Mexico has done a great job, it’s slowed down so much. But we have an amazing economy and people want to come up, but it’s slowed down so much.

TRUMP:            But I’m about borders. I’m about great healthcare. Obamacare is a disaster. I got rid of the individual mandate.

CHUCK:             By the way, why is the economy doing so well if Obamacare is still law of the land? You had said in 2011-

TRUMP:            We are managing.

CHUCK:             “Obamacare is going to destroy the economy.” Obamacare is still here, and the economy’s great.

TRUMP:            Because I’ve managed it great. I had a choice. I could’ve let it implode and killed it, or I could’ve managed it.

CHUCK:             You’re still trying to kill it.

TRUMP:            No, no.

CHUCK:             Why are you still trying to kill it… This lawsuit that the Department of Justice joined, it could get rid of coverage in preexisting conditions.

TRUMP:            I am in favor of preexisting conditions, I am fighting.

CHUCK:             So get rid of… so drop the lawsuit. Drop your aspect of the lawsuit.

TRUMP:            It has nothing to do with it. The lawsuit is one thing. We are going to put it in a bill, total preexisting conditions. And the Republicans are in favor of preexisting conditions.

CHUCK:             Sir, you have full Republican control and they couldn’t pass anything.

TRUMP:            CHUCK-

CHUCK:             What makes you think you’re going to get it done this time?

TRUMP:            Are you ready? We had a negative vote from John McCain, it was a surprising vote, but I got rid of the worst part of Obamacare which was the individual mandate. We will always protect preexisting conditions, and the reason Obamacare continues is my decision.

CHUCK:             And maybe- right.

TRUMP:            Wait. I made a big decision.

CHUCK:             Okay.

TRUMP:            We have a man named Azar, our Secretary. He’s a fantastic man. Alex. A total pro. I could’ve managed Obamacare so it would’ve failed, or I could’ve managed it the way we did so it’s as good as it can be. Not great, but it’s as good… it’s too expensive, the premiums are too high. I had a decision to make. I could’ve politically killed Obamacare. I decided not to do it. But still, it’s not good. We’re going to come up with great healthcare if we win the House, the Senate and the Presidency.

CHUCK:             Are you prepared to lose?

TRUMP:            No. Probably not.

CHUCK:             Fair enough.

TRUMP:            Probably not. I mean, it would be much better if I said, “Yeah.” It would be much easier for me to say, “Well yes.” No, I’m probably not too prepared to lose. I don’t like to lose and I haven’t lost very much in my life.

CHUCK:             You didn’t like the fact that you lost the popular vote. That bothered you didn’t it.

TRUMP:            Well I think it was a… I mean I’ll say something that again, is controversial. There were a lot of votes cast that I don’t believe. I look at California.

CHUCK:             Mr. President.

TRUMP:            Excuse me. Take a look at Judicial Watch, take a look at their settlement. California admitted to a million votes, they admitted to a million votes.

CHUCK:             A million votes of what?

TRUMP:            Take a look at Judicial-

CHUCK:             What are you talking about?

TRUMP:            Judicial Watch made a settlement. There was much-

CHUCK:             About what?

TRUMP:            There was much illegal voting. But let me tell you about popular vote, do you have a second?

CHUCK:             Yes, because you were a big fan of it. Until you weren’t.

TRUMP:            There are two… well I like popular vote.

CHUCK:             Yeah.

TRUMP:            I think I’d do better with a popular vote. But I didn’t campaign for the popular vote.

CHUCK:             You’re right.

TRUMP:            You didn’t see me campaigning in California or New York. If it was up to the popular vote, I would’ve done I think even better. I won 306 to 223, which was a lot in the Electoral College. But it’s like, you’re training for the 100 yard dash versus the mile.

CHUCK:             You’re totally right. If it’s a popular vote, you campaign differently.

TRUMP:            I went to Wisconsin.

CHUCK:             I don’t disagree.

TRUMP:            She forgot. I went to Michigan, she didn’t go to Michigan enough. I won Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania. I won places that she didn’t do a good job, what can I tell you.

TRUMP:            No, maybe I did a great job. You know, I never get credit for that. They always say she was a lousy candidate. I actually think that Hillary Clinton was a great candidate. She was very smart, she was very tough. She was ruthless and vicious.

CHUCK:             You’d rather run against her again, wouldn’t you? You only talked about her in your announcement speech.

TRUMP:            No, no.

CHUCK:             You spent a lot of time talking about her.

TRUMP:            No, I would actually rather run against Biden. I think that would be my preference.

CHUCK:             Why?

TRUMP:            Sleepy Joe. He’s sleepy. She was not sleepy. Let me just tell you something, the Electoral College is tougher for a Republican to win than the popular vote in my… at least me. I feel I’d go to three places. I went to 19 or 21 states. I went to Maine four times because I wanted to get one, and I did get it. And that’s the beauty of the Electoral College. You know, I’d been a proponent of the other sometimes, and I change. But I will tell you, the Electoral College brings you to many of the states in this country.

CHUCK:             You have joked about a third term, you’ve joked about these things.

TRUMP:            I only joke. I joke and I say, “Watch, I will CHUCK Todd crazy.”

CHUCK:             Okay.

TRUMP:            Yes, [crosstalk 00:30:32]

CHUCK:             You will accept the result.

TRUMP:            Sure.

CHUCK:             Whatever happens in 2020.

TRUMP:            Sure.

CHUCK:             You’ll be like, you’re not going to like it, but you walk out.

TRUMP:            In fact I said at a speech recently, I said, “Watch. We’ll drive the media crazy. Let’s go for a third term and then a fourth.” And some of the media said, “He is going to do it.”

CHUCK:             Speaking of driving people crazy, when you were asked about Mike Pence and 2024, and you paused a minute about endorsing him as your successor, that got a lot of people going. Is Mike Pence 100% on your ticket in 2020?

TRUMP:            Well look, 100%, yes.

CHUCK:             100%. There is no wiggle room?

TRUMP:            Yes, he’s been a terrific Vice President. He’s my friend and a lot of things. No. Zero, zero.

CHUCK:             So why’d you hesitate in endorsing him in being-

TRUMP:            Because it was a surprise question. I mean, I’m not even thinking of it, it’s so far out.

CHUCK:             Okay.

TRUMP:            I mean, it’s so far out. That would be the only reason. Now what happens in 2024, I don’t know that Mike is going to run. I don’t know who’s running or anything else. I will say this, I think it’s a tremendous embarrassment to Joe Biden that Obama has not… the President Obama, I like to say that because it’s respect for the office. And respect for him.

CHUCK:             Do you speak to any of the former presidents?

TRUMP:            Yes.

CHUCK:             Who’s the last one you did?

TRUMP:            Well I speak to Bush. I speak to Jimmy Carter.

CHUCK:             You do? What about President Obama?

TRUMP:            I have not spoken to him pretty much from the beginning.

CHUCK:             But George W. Bush you do? And Jimmy Carter?

TRUMP:            I have spoken to Bush, I have spoken to Jimmy Carter, yes.

CHUCK:             Yeah? Do you get… why?

TRUMP:            I like Jimmy Carter. You know, Jimmy Carter has oftentimes come to my defense. I don’t necessarily agree with the way he ran things and that’s okay, and he understands that and so do I. But he came to my defense on numerous occasions, and he thinks that I was treated the worst of anybody he’s ever seen by the press.

CHUCK:             During every new season-

TRUMP:            I don’t think he’s including you.

CHUCK:             Every new season of The Apprentice, you had something new to roll out. What’s your big new idea for your reelection?

TRUMP:            I think that the economy has tremendous upward potential despite the fact that we’re doing really well. I think when we really unleash some of the things that we’re going to do-

CHUCK:             Well what’s your new idea? What is the new big idea?

TRUMP:            I also think that healthcare is going to be very important for me. I will tell you, if we win the House, the Senate and the Presidency, I will get tremendous healthcare, because Obamacare is a disaster.

CHUCK:             You think Democrats won the house because of healthcare?

TRUMP:            I think they won because of preexisting condition, nothing to do with me. Because if you know, almost every race that I campaigned for somebody, they won. But I couldn’t devote too much time to the House, there’s too many people. But if you look at some of the congressmen that I did go for and went for, they won. Like in Kentucky, et cetera, et cetera.

CHUCK:             So you’re one new idea is going to be healthcare?

TRUMP:            Ohio governor, he was behind, great guy.

CHUCK:             He was?

TRUMP:            Mike won. Georgia, President Obama was there, Oprah was there, Michelle Obama was there it was going to be a big celebration, she was the star of the party. I went there for Brian. Brian Kemp. Brian Kemp won. Florida, Ron DeSantis. He was going to lose, he was low in the polls. I endorsed him, he went up 60 points after I endorsed him. Ron won, and he’s been a great Governor of Florida.

TRUMP:            You know, I’ve always heard that an endorsement is nice to have but it doesn’t mean anything. I’m driving people up 30, 40, 50, 60 percent.

CHUCK:             Well when you show up, you bring a lot of people.

TRUMP:            We bring something very good.

CHUCK:             I am curious, did you see Jon Stewart’s pretty passionate plea on behalf of 9/11 responders?

TRUMP:            I was very impressed, yes.

CHUCK:             He’s frustrated with Mitch McConnell, he feels like Mitch McConnell’s the guy standing in the way of this bill. You’re a New Yorker first, I know that in you. I’ve got to think Jon Stewart got to you.

TRUMP:            Yeah, well-

CHUCK:             Are you going to tell Mitch McConnell to-

TRUMP:            I liked what Jon Stewart did, I actually did. And I actually have a meeting on that subject next week. So we’ll see what happens. You know it’s a very complicated subject for a lot of reasons, okay?

CHUCK:             I understand that it is. But do you think that Jon Stewart had a point that Congress hadn’t done enough?

TRUMP:            I have a meeting on that subject with… Well when you say Congress, billions of dollars has been paid.

CHUCK:             I understand that.

TRUMP:            Okay, billions.

CHUCK:             Right. But the fund was about to run out.

TRUMP:            Memorials have been built. Tremendous amounts of money. But there are still people that are sick. I have a meeting on it next week.

CHUCK:             All right, Mr. President.

TRUMP:            Thank you.

CHUCK:             I appreciate the time.

TRUMP:            Thank you very much.

CHUCK:             Thank you sir.