Aug 20, 2020
Donald Trump Meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Transcript August 20: Talks Steve Bannon
President Donald Trump met with the Iraqi Prime Minister on August 20. He talked about Steve Bannon and said: “I haven’t been dealing with him for a long period of time, as most of the people in this room know”. Read the transcript of the press event here.
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Speaker 1: (00:00)
Reaction to the indictment of your former campaign aid, Steve Bannon?
President Donald Trump: (00:03)
Well, I feel very badly. I haven’t been dealing with him for a long period of time, as most of the people in this room know. He was involved in our campaign. He worked for Goldman Sachs. He worked for a lot of companies, but he was involved likewise in our campaign and for a small part of the administration, very early on. I haven’t been dealing with him at all. I know nothing about the project other than I didn’t like, when I read about it, I didn’t like it. I said, “This is for government, this isn’t for private people.” It sounded to me like show boating.
President Donald Trump: (00:35)
I think I let my opinion be very strongly stated at the time, I didn’t like it. It was showboating and maybe looking for funds, but you’ll have to see what happens. I think it’s a very sad thing for Mr. Bannon. I think it’s surprising, but this was something, as you know, just by reading social media and by reading, whatever it is, and by speaking to Mike and Mike and all of them, I didn’t like that project. I thought that was a project that was being done for showboating reasons. I don’t know that he was in charge. I didn’t know any of the other people either, but it’s sad. It’s very sad.
Speaker 1: (01:10)
Respectfully sir, it’s not just Steve Bannon, it’s Roger Stone, it’s Michael Flynn, it’s Rick Gates. Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen. What’s it say about your judgment that these are the kinds of people you’re affiliated with and the culture of lawlessness around people who were involved in the leadership of your 2016 campaign?
President Donald Trump: (01:24)
There was great lawlessness this in the Obama administration. They spied on our campaign illegally. And if you look at all of the things and all of the scandals they had, they had tremendous lawlessness, but I know nothing about … I was not involved in the project. I have no idea who was, but I can tell you, I didn’t know the people, the three people that were talked about, were people that I did not know. I don’t believe I ever met him. I don’t think that should be a privately financed wall. It’s too complex. It’s too big. And we’re now up to 300 miles almost in another week, week and a half. We’ll be up to 300 miles of wall at the highest level. They were even having construction problems. I was reading the little I know about it, I got from you. I was reading where they’re having construction problems with the wall that they had a small area just to show people that they could build a wall.
President Donald Trump: (02:13)
And they were having a lot of problems where it was toppling over and other things. I didn’t like it because I didn’t want to be associated with that. We’ve built a very powerful wall. It was a wall that is virtually impossible to get through. It’s very, very tough. It’s very strong and it’s everything the border patrol wanted. I didn’t want to have a wall that was going to be an inferior wall and I felt this was going to be an inferior wall.
Speaker 1: (02:37)
Kris Kobach says you endorsed the wall. Is that true, the project?
President Donald Trump: (02:38)
I didn’t know that. I didn’t know about Bannon’s involvement, but I didn’t know the other people, but I do think it’s a sad event. And again, Steve has had a great career at Goldman Sachs. He’s had a career with a lot of other people. I haven’t dealt with him at all over years now, literally years. And I guess this was a project he was involved in, but it was something that … In fact you can see I’ve made statements about it a long time ago. It was something that I very much felt was inappropriate to be doing.
President Donald Trump: (03:10)
Yes, go ahead. Please
Speaker 3: (03:17)
Mr. President, the end of the [inaudible 00:03:20] in Iraq is one of the very important issues to civilize the country in Iraq. How America is going to support ending the militia role in Iraq?
President Donald Trump: (03:32)
You’re very hard to understand. Could you maybe help me with that? Go ahead and try it again.
Speaker 4: (03:39)
[foreign language 00:03:41].
Speaker 5: (04:02)
The United States helped Iraq enormously in defeating ISIS and also in toppling the Saddam Hussein regime. We are working on building a strong relationship that is based on joint interest between Iraq and the United States that is based on economic interest for the better future of the Iraqi people and the United States people.
President Donald Trump: (04:28)
When we came into office, ISIS was running rampant all over Iraq and Syria, and we knocked out 100% of the ISIS caliphate, but the Obama administration did a very, very poor job. They were running rampant all over and we came in and we did a real job, and we got rid of that. And that was a good thing. Now we’re working with Iraq. They use the greater American dollar, which is the most powerful currency in the world, and they’re starting to do well. We are with them and this gentleman in particular, we’ve developed a very good relationship and hopefully it’s going to be very strong for your country.
Speaker 6: (05:09)
Thank you, Mr. President. There have been 32 attacks in the last 10 months when US interests in Iraq, particularly in the green zone and US military bases. How are you going to help you Iraq to hold these attacks by pro Iranian militia and to hold these people accountable? And sir, if I may also, there was some reporting that the US troops would withdraw from Iraq totally in three years, is this true?
President Donald Trump: (05:39)
At some point we obviously will be gone. We’ve brought it down to a very, very low level. We deal where there are attacks. We take care of those attacks so we take care of them very easily. Nobody has the weaponry we have, nobody has anything … Of what we have, we have the finest, the greatest military, the world. When somebody hits us, we hit back harder than they hit us. So we handle it. In addition to that, Iraq has been very helpful where necessary, but we have been taking our troops out of Iraq fairly rapidly. We look forward to the day when we don’t have to be there and hopefully Iraq can live their own lives and they can defend themselves, which they’ve been doing long before we got involved. Yes.
Speaker 7: (06:20)
Mr. President, how do you [inaudible 00:06:22] in Iraq?
Speaker 8: (06:23)
About the bounties. You say you hit that hard, but we haven’t seen any definitive strike back for bounties upon Americans.
President Donald Trump: (06:33)
Well, you don’t know about the bounties. I mean, you’d tell me if you know, something you could let us know, but you obviously don’t know very much about it, but if we found out that would be true, if we found that would be a very … It would be a fact what you just said. We would hit them so hard, your head would spin. Go ahead.
Speaker 7: (06:49)
Mr. President, How do you see the role of the curse in Iraq? And how is important relationship between Baghdad and [inaudible 00:00:06:57]?
President Donald Trump: (06:57)
Well, the Kurds helped us greatly in defeating the, as you know, the ISIS and getting the ISIS 100% of the ISIS caliphate. So we have a very good relationship with the Kurds and we’ve also treated them very well.
Speaker 9: (07:10)
Mr. President, on the bombings sir.
Speaker 10: (07:13)
The end of the minutia rules in Iran is very important to stabilize the country, how America can help ending the militia rules and how can help Iraq in the democratic process?
President Donald Trump: (07:26)
Well, what we’re doing is we’re helping where we can, but again, that’s a country, that’s a separate country. They have a prime minister and they have people in office and they have to run their country. We’ve been in Iraq for a long time. I won’t say whether or not I said we should be there, but frankly, I didn’t think it was a good idea, but I was a civilian so who’s going to listen to me, but I made my point pretty clear. I guess as clear as a civilian can do it. But we were there and now we’re getting out. We’ll be leaving shortly. The relationship is very good. We’re making very big oil deals. Our oil companies are making massive deals and that’s basically the story. I mean, we’re very happy with the relationship that we’ve developed over the last couple of years. I thought before that, frankly, the United States was being taken advantage of, but we’re going to be leaving and hopefully we’re going to be living a country that can defend itself.
Speaker 11: (08:25)
Mr. President, while you’re here in the United States, there were airstrikes on Northern Iraq in Kurdistan region killing one civilian. I know in your talks and your meetings here, you talk a lot about the [inaudible 00:08:37] of Iraq. Is that something that you’re looking for help from the United States? Mr. President, if that’s something Iraq has asking for help in terms of the interference from the neighbors, not just Iran, but other neighbors where they’re attacking Northern Iraq?
President Donald Trump: (08:50)
Well, then have to make a specific request, but certainly the prime minister has my ear. If he does that, we’ll take a look. It’s a very unstable part of the world, and I’m not talking about Iraq. I’m talking about the whole of the middle East. It’s a very, very unstable part of the world, but we’re there to help. And because of the relationship, we would certainly be willing to lend you the kind of support that you need.
Speaker 4: (09:17)
[foreign language 00:09:21].
Speaker 5: (09:48)
Definitely the Turkish attacks are not accepted. On the other hand, the Iraqi constitution also does not allow Iraq to become used to attack any neighboring country. We are entering dialogue with Turkey to rectify this situation and I look forward to solving this problem with Turkey and getting our neighbors, the Turks, to understand Iraq’s circumstances. But once again, the Iraqi constitution does not allow Iraqi territory to be used to attack any neighboring country.
President Donald Trump: (10:23)
I will say this, the United States and me in particular, has a very good relationship with Turkey and with President Erdogan. We’ll be talking to him, but we have a very, very good relationship with Turkey and with President Erdogan.
Speaker 12: (10:38)
Mr. President, just to follow up on the troop question, sir, do you have a timeframe for the full and complete withdrawal of us troops from Iraq?
President Donald Trump: (10:47)
Mike, what would you say to that?
Speaker 13: (10:49)
As we complete the mission, the President’s made very clear. He wants to get our forces down to the lowest level as quickly as we possibly can. That’s the vision he’s given us and we’re working with Iraqi to achieve that.
President Donald Trump: (11:00)
We’re at the lowest level now, Jeff, we’re at the lowest level in Afghanistan that we have been at many years. We’ll be down to about 4,000 troops in Afghanistan. And that will be when?
Speaker 13: (11:11)
Couple months, sir.
President Donald Trump: (11:12)
Yeah, within a few months, a couple of minutes. As you know, in Syria, we’re down to almost nothing, except we kept the oil, but we’ll work out some kind of a deal with the Kurds on that. But we left, but we kept the oil and we left the border. We said, Turkey and Syria can take care of their own border. We don’t have to do it and that worked out very well. I remember when I did that, I was scorned by everybody. They said, “This is terrible.” Well, I did it. It’s now two years ago. We did it with Mike Pence, went over and met with various parties and very successfully. And we removed our trips. Nobody was killed, nobody. And now they protect their own border like they have been for hundreds of years and we’ve left. But we did keep a small force and we kept the oil. We’ll make a determination on that oil fairly soon.
Speaker 12: (12:01)
Just one domestic question, sir, to the Manhattan case about your taxes has now ruled that you do need to turn over your taxes. Do you have a reaction to that?
President Donald Trump: (12:10)
Well, the Supreme Court said, if it’s a fishing expedition, you don’t have to do it and this is a fishing expedition, but more importantly, this is a continuation of the witch hunt. The greatest witch hunt in history. There’s never been anything like it where people want to examine every deal you’ve ever done to see if they can find that there’s a comma out of place. No president has ever had to go through this. The Supreme Court shouldn’t have allowed this to happen, but no president has ever had to go through this. But what the Supreme Court did do is say, if it’s a fishing expedition, my interpretation is essentially, you don’t have to do it. We’ll probably end up back in the Supreme Court. But this is just a continuation of the most hideous witch hunt in the history of our country.
President Donald Trump: (12:58)
We beat Mueller. We wanted every level in Washington, in DC, we wanted every level. So now what they do? They send it into New York. So now we have an old Democrats state, all Democrats, and they send it into New York. This should never be allowed to happen to another president. This is a continuation of the most disgusting witch hunt in the history of our country. All it is. The Supreme Court said fishing expedition. This is the ultimate fishing expedition. Nobody has anything. We don’t do things wrong, but they’ll say, “Let’s go in and inspect every deal he’s ever done. Let’s get papers from 10 years, every paper, every deal he’s ever side, maybe we can find where some lawyer made a mistake where they didn’t dot an i or they didn’t put a comma down someplace and then we can do something.” This is a disgrace and this should never, ever be allowed to happen again. Thank you very much.
Speaker 12: (13:56)
Mr. President, on Navalny, the Russian opposition leader, he was hospitalized and I think he was poisoned. Is that the US government’s determination that-
President Donald Trump: (14:02)
We haven’t seen it yet. We’re looking at it and Mike’s going to be reporting to me soon. Okay. Thank you very much, everybody.
Speaker 14: (14:07)
All right, let’s go.
Speaker 15: (14:14)
Press, let’s go.
Speaker 14: (14:14)
Press, we’re leaving.
Speaker 15: (14:14)
This way guys. Press, thank you. Guys, let’s go.
Speaker 14: (14:14)
Press, we’re leaving.
Speaker 15: (14:14)
We’re moving, let’s go. Come on. Keep going, keep going.