President Trump spoke at a fundraiser Wednesday for Republican Senate candidate Josh Hawley, who is taking on Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) in November's midterm election. The Washington Post obtained an audio recording of Trump's private remarks at the Hilton St. Louis Frontenac.
At the event, Trump said he made up information in a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, telling the U.S. ally that the United States runs a trade deficit with its neighbor to the north without knowing whether that was true. The president also discussed his decision to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, how Republicans should sell voters on the recent tax cuts and how he believes the United States is being taken advantage of on trade.
What follows is a transcript of his remarks.
President Trump: What a, what a family and your sister, where is your sister? Your sister was in uniform before, where is she? See? We're very proud of you. [Applause]
So, you know we have a lot of friends in this area, and I just stopped at a little place called Boeing. [Unintelligible.] Dennis is doing a good job. But we were just looking at some of the new planes without pilots, now. I mean, you know, look at them. I'm saying, “What about that one?” It has no cockpit.
Dennis, tell me, what's going on?
He said, “Well, this plane doesn't have a pilot.” This is where we're going, I guess. But, what a job they're doing. I want to thank a great friend of mine Congressman Jason Smith. He's here someplace, where is Jason?
First off we have a situation so important here. That's why I'm here. I'm here for this [unintelligible] big success, from what I understand. A [unintelligible] success. That's a big success, isn't it? [Applause.]
Really. It's a testament to a wonderful guy who's running who knows what it's all about. He's somebody that can win. He's leading the polls, just about every poll I've seen. But there was one that was a little bit down. And that's the one you have to run on because you always have to run a little bit scared, right, a little bit scared. But then I saw fortunately the following week it kicked back up, I got a little nervous. [Laughter.] But you're doing good, and I tell ya, every one of them. And, you're the one that can do it. And the whole the whole world is watching, really, we have to change things. And we need, we need those votes. We need the votes. You'll work on the filibuster once you get in there, right? I know that. Does anybody know what that means? Wouldn't it be nice if we had 51 instead of 60? Wouldn't that be nice?
Some day somebody's going to explain that do me. What's going on here?
But that's it. Some of the senators have been there, really, for a long time are just dead set on that. But we're gonna get — we have a chance to win a number of seats. And I think we have a really good chance to win a large number of seats, so we'll see what happens. Mr. Ashcroft, where is Mr. Ashcroft? I didn't see him. I met your son, by the way. [Unintelligible.] [Applause.] I met John's son.
I said, “Hey, where's your father?” He said, “He's up speaking,” I said, “Oh, okay. So, maybe I'll see him outside.” You're a terrific man, terrific family.
But we have a chance to do something that's going to be very important and it starts right here, it starts right here. And you know, last night, I don't know I guess the final results aren't quite in, we had an interesting time because we lifted seven points up that's a lot. And I was up 22 points, and we lifted seven and seven normally would be enough, but we'll see. We'll see how it all comes out. It's like virtually a tie.
Where's our great Ronna, is she here?
Ronna McDaniel, who ran Michigan for me. And we won the state of Michigan, first time since Reagan. [Unintelligible.] [Applause] Two hundred and some odd thousand votes and it was a difference of four hundred and something, right? Four hundred and something votes. And I don't know what's going to happen but I know he came up a lot in the last few days. We went there, we read his speech, the place was packed, and we'll see what happens. It's actually interesting because it's only a congressman for about five months. I don't know about that one, Josh, it's a lot of work for five months. They changed the district, they're redistricting.
But we'll see what happens. But I told Josh just a little while ago, I'm coming back here just before the race and we'll get, get a bigger [unintelligible] and get a big something, and we'll do a job. [Unintelligible.] [Applause.]
The country is watching. This is one of the most important races because this is one that we can win because of Josh, we had to get Josh to do it. Once that was it just we haven't ingested. Once that was [unintelligible], that was a big thing. Because you do need the right candidate, and we have a few of them, we have a few pretty good ones. You know about what's happening. A couple of other guys joined and they are going to have great success. So we look forward to — One of the things that we, that Josh actually mentioned that I think is probably underscored understated but very important is judges.
We are going to be appointing 145, came in 140 — you know, my whole life I've helped a few people become a federal judge. Not gotten it for them, but I helped and they never forget. It's a big deal. A federal judge.
So I come and there's this whole pile of papers on my desk — these are federal judges, these are applications. I said, “How many do we appoint?” "145.” "145!” Because for two years, two and a half years, almost none were appointed by President Obama. So I say thank you, President Obama. [Applause]
Well, we have 17 court of appeals judges. We had one Supreme Court judge who's done a fantastic job, Justice Gorsuch. And we'll see what happens on that score, but we have 145 judges and 17 court of appeals judges and we've appointed — I guess we've had almost 30 approved already. And what difference that's making. That'll be almost half of the judiciary will be appointed by us. [Unintelligible.] [Applause.]
I mentioned before, we have to run on the tax cuts because that has become the most popular thing. Everybody's happy, the companies kicked in like crazy you know. The companies — we didn't expect, when we did the tax cuts and you know they called it tax reform. I said, “Do me a favor, don't call it tax reform, hasn't worked in 45 years, right?” Tax reform! People saying, “Are you going to raise my taxes? They're reforming taxes!” I said that means taxes to go up, and they said well, no, but it's always called tax reform, I said, let's call it tax cuts. In fact, I said, they said what would you like to call it? Call it the tax cut cut cut plan. [Applause.] They thought it sounded a little hokey, so we called it the tax cut and jobs plan.
I liked the first one better.
We had no Democrat votes. Claire McCaskill was against it because she's party line. It's not that she's was against it. She's party line. She's going to go with the party line. It's like the young man last night that ran, he said, oh, I'm like Trump. He said, I, I, you know, Second Amendment, all, everything. I love the tax cuts. Everything. You wouldn't have known. It's a pretty smart race, actually. But he ran and he ran on that basis. But the bottom line is when he votes, he's going to vote with Nancy Pelosi. He's going to vote with Pelosi, he's going to vote with Schumer, and that's what's going to happen. And there's nothing he can do about it, he's not going to vote with the Republicans. So it doesn't matter, what he feels doesn't matter. Claire McCaskill has voted against everything that we want. Voted against everything that you stand for, and voted against these massive tax cuts that are bringing wealth back into families and bringing wealth into the state of Missouri and every other state. And she voted against, because this wasn't principle. This was the fact that she was told to vote that way, and she has to vote that way. And if she didn't vote that way, the party would drop her very easily and wouldn't be around and wouldn't be spending lots of money on her and that's the way it is. So she voted against tax cuts and I believe that anybody that voted against that bill, I think it would be very hard to win an election.
So I think when you campaign when you're out there Josh, you should just keep bringing it up, she voted against. And I read an article and I thought it was very nice, actually. She said she said she's not going to say bad things about President Trump, I said, boy, I must be very popular in that state.
And last night, the young man also, he ran on a campaign, he said very nice things about me. I kept saying, is he a Republican? He sounded like a Republican to me. But I guess when you're popular in a certain area, that's probably a good tactic. But we're not going to get her vote. So you have to defeat her. You have to defeat her. And if you don't, it's just going to be Trump. I mean, they could actually take away the tax cuts, they could take away your Second Amendment. Very importantly, judges, they'll start putting the judges that we've been having poured onto the court over the last eight years. You can't take it. I mean you just can't have it. You see some of the decisions. How about the Ninth Circuit? Anytime you go. They always file in the Ninth Circuit, which says something — look that's not right. No matter where they're sued, they file in the Ninth Circuit. And they win, win, win and then they lose, usually the Supreme Court, hopefully they will. But it's you know it's a very unfair thing, it shows you how important it is to have fair people put on the bench.
So the judges are so important, I mean just so important. We're doing a lot of things. Companies are moving back into our country. Chrysler that's coming back from Mexico, you [unintelligible] hear that one? It's always they're leaving from Mexico, someone's leaving from Mexico, they're always leaving for Mexico. And now, you have many, many companies coming back in, you have steel mills opening up, which hasn't happened in 30 years. And the tariffs are just a form of, like, you just can't keep doing this to the outside world. And some of our worst abusers in terms of what they do on trade our so-called friends. You look in some of these countries that are our friends and you look at the trade deficits we have and it's, it's staggering. So that's just Phase One, but that's a little phase, but we have to get back the respect. You know we built ourselves as a great power, a great manufacturing power. And then you look how so many jobs was taken. I mean NAFTA has been a disaster for this country. And I know it affected your [unintelligible], but you go up to New England, and they're still paying the price of losing all of those jobs. And those are real jobs. Those are real, incredible, powerful, important jobs — even for defense. We have to be able to make steel. We have to be able to have aluminum. We were at a point where we were going to lose all our steel factories, our steel mills, our plants, and we can't let that happen. People said you know it's sort of — oh, we'll get our steel from China. Oh good. Let's see if we can, we have a national emergency. We're gonna get our steel from China. It's incredible.
I've been using the expression, if you don't have steel you don't have a country. There's a lot to it. This is like we're making pencils. This is big stuff.
So since I announced this we've had numerous openings of plants and you have some that are going to open up or expand right here, and we've had a lot of, I mean, people are [unintelligible] to see a little bit differently. But we have to do what's called reciprocal tax, because we have countries that charge us 25 percent to get a car and they don't take the car anyway. Just so you know.
They have nondollar barriers. okay, they're nondollar. You know what the barrier says? You can't sell in our country. That's worse than heavy taxes. So we have countries and groups of countries, which is even worse.
European Union is very tough. You know, we had the European Union — a lot of you came from Europe, right? Guess what. They're pretty smart. And they formed a group, and they make it very difficult, they're very difficult traders. They have these barriers where you can't get your product in. No matter what you do, if you do get your product in, you pay dearly. China would be the biggest abuser. There's no question about it.
So last year with China, we lost 500 billion dollars, would you say that? Not million, 500 million, that's a lot.
500 billion dollars. And it's been that way for years, from 200 to 504 billion dollars, every year. We rebuilt China, we actually did. You take that money away from China.
I mean we rebuilt it, and it all started with the World Trade Organization. If you look at China, it's like this for many, many centuries.
World trade, it's like a rocket ship, and much of it came right out of this country, got to stop it. And I'm very friendly with the president, he's a great guy. We have a great chemistry, a great relationship. But he's for China and I'm for the good old USA. [Applause.]
As an example, they send a car to us, we charge them a 2 percent tax. We send a car to them, and they charge us a 25 percent tax.
Somehow that doesn't work too well.
That's not a great formula. But not only is it 25, 25, but most of the time you can't even get the car. Even Japan. Look, the prime minister's a great guy, Abe. He's a warrior. Tough, strong, smart. But I said trade isn't so good with Japan. It's so one-sided. They don't take our product and we take their cars, I mean the cars and 90 percent of the cars, they just come. They need Mario Andretti to drive those cars off the boats. They come off the boats like 60 miles an hour. We send a car to Japan, they analyze it for four weeks before they decide to send it back because it's not environmentally friendly. [Unintelligible.] They actually, one of the car companies actually had a car made and it was the most environmentally perfect car, cost them a fortune. They spent a fortune. And they had everything, the highest quality that you can have. Everything was far better than any car they ever sent to us. They spent three or four hundred thousand dollars for a car that would sell for like 35,000, right? Not a good deal. But they wanted to see if they could get it in. And it, they were going crazy. Four days went by. Then five days. And they were ready to approve it and they said, no no, we have to do one more test. It's called the bowling ball test, do you know what that is? That's where they take a bowling ball from 20 feet up in the air and they drop it on the hood of the car. And if the hood dents, then the car doesn't qualify. Well, guess what, the roof dented a little bit, and they said, nope, this car doesn't qualify. It's horrible, the way we're treated. It's horrible.
And then you hear about the free traders, because I'm a free trader, but I'm like, I want to be a smart trader, I want to be a fair trader. It's so unfair what's happened to our country, and I don't know, the politicians have lost their way. In some cases like South Korea you know they're making a fortune. Well we backed them many years ago.
But we never trade — you know when they became rich we never changed the deal. So we were backing, backing, backing. And no politician ever changed the deal.
Now we have a very big trade deficit with them, and we protect them. So we lose money on trade, and we lose money on the military. We have right now 32,000 soldiers on the border between North and South Korea.
Let's see what happens. Think I've done a good job with that one. That's sort of interesting.
People are saying, "oh, his rhetoric is terrible. He's going to go" — well, the rhetoric from last 30 years hasn't been so good. It was called appeasement.
Please don't do anything. Obama, let's not talk about that. In the meantime, he's making nuclear weapons. He had a test, they had a test of a nuclear weapon about a year ago, and it registered as an 8.6. Now, you heard of that, on the Richter scale, right? So they said, "man, there was an earthquake." Eight point six someplace in Asia. Where was it? Oh it was in North Korea. It wasn't — it was a nuclear test, and it shifted a mountain — it was a real mountain. This isn't like a little, you know, 10-foot deal. It's not a hill. And it actually shifted. That's the power. So they're all saying, his rhetoric is terrible and so tough. Little Rocket Man, you know all this stuff. It's so terrible. He's going to get us into a war. Well, you know what's going to get us into a war is weakness. [Applause.] [Unintelligible.] Massive sanctions on North Korea.
Massive, like nobody's ever been sanctioned. And in all fairness, China has really helped at the border. They could help more, but they've done more for us than they've done for any president, that I can tell you.
So here's a funny subject — everybody's saying, oh, he's going to get us in trouble, in trouble. Then three weeks ago, you hear, we'd love to go to the Olympics and participate.
Everybody's like, what? Where did that come from? So they participate in the Olympics, that's nice. Then the delegation comes over from South Korea and they just left North Korea, and they said Mr. President, Kim Jong Un would love to meet with you. And he will not do any testing and he will not do missile launches and he would love to meet with you. I said really? Well. That's good. I said how did that happen. And he said well, you're having an impact. They go out to the press, and the press is there, they were — you never saw so many reporters. Because they heard there was a big announcement on North Korea. So the worst, like CNN, you know, fake news?
Erin Burnett said this could make him a great president. [Applause.] Right? She said it. She'll probably lose her job.
But she actually said that — this could make him a great president. Even the worst — for two hours, three hours they couldn't believe. They said, did you hear what ha — they're looking at each other. Can you believe? Where did this come from, after 25, 30 years, where did this come from?
You believe what just come from after 25, 30 years from. And then it happened. A day later, “Obama could have done that, too.” Obama could not have done it. [“No way,” crowd replies.]
It's really, you know, it's really sad. Now, it was almost, you had to smile, because it's so out of control. But what I heard — and I woke up the next morning and said, finally I'm getting some great stuff — because got things, the taxes, the this, they were — a lot of stuff.
Our military's stronger now, and we just got 700 billion dollars. We have to build it because it's totally depleted. We don't have our military, we're not going to be here. We'll be walking into the doors. [Unintelligible.] [Applause.] It's jobs.
We make the greatest equipment in the world right down the street with Boeing and other places. And it's jobs. But we have no choice. But when I heard that, I said, I wake up and I just heard the greatest statements from MSNBC, from CNN, from all the haters. I hear these — they couldn't believe it.
Reporters. Professionals. The ones you see hating all the time. I say, this is the most incredible thing, we've never seen anything like it.
But by the time you woke up the next morning, they had a new line: Anybody could've done it. Obama could have met. Bush could have met. I don't know how many Bush fans are in here. But Bush could have — [Laughter.] But they couldn't have met. Because nobody would've done what I did to set the table.
And this suffering, I don't want them to suffer. But they're suffering. Lack of food, lack of everything. Nobody would've done that.
So you see the narrative change, because now they're saying it will take at least two months to be able to negotiate. And so these are the people who say you will take two months to be able to negotiate. He shouldn't go there. And the greatest line is, President Trump has agreed to meet — these are people who say I can't believe it. Unbelievable. This is great news. This is the biggest thing that's happened in 40 years. The next day: President Trump has conceded a meeting with Kim Jong Un. Because he has met, he has already given them a victory because he's agreed to meet. I mean [unintelligible] media, right? [Applause.] The greatest is when, you know, you're watching them, and these are the people who were so afraid it was going to be — and then they say, and they say it was incredible and then they get back and their bosses tell them what to say. But they say maybe he's not the one to negotiate.
He's got, he's got very little knowledge of the Korean Peninsula, and maybe he's not the one. Maybe we should send in the people that have been playing games and didn’t know what the hell they’ve been doing for 25 years. [Applause.] [Unintelligible.] What we're finding there, and I don't know if you are now, is, it's a beautiful young, beautiful couple that everybody thinks is a star, and he is a star, and I don't know how the press treats you. [Unintelligible.] [Laughter.] Enjoy it while you can.
The better you do, the worse they'll [unintelligible.] And I tell this Korea story because it was, it was somewhat of a miracle. It's actually far ahead of schedule. And you know, you hear that we're making a major concession by agreeing to the meeting, you know, it's the craziest thing. But go back a couple of weeks earlier and listen to what — they were petrified. [Unintelligible.] They were afraid of being blown up. Then all of a sudden they say let's not meet.
So we are always a little bit of a disadvantage because of the media, and you have it here, I know you have it here too. But the advantage we have is the people are really smart. When I did the tariffs — and basically what I'm really saying, it's not so much tariffs, it's really saying we can't be taking advantage of anymore by these people that come in and dump everything into our country and destroy our mills and destroy our workers and destroy everything. So when I did the tariffs, most people understand what I'm doing is fighting for them, I'm fighting for these companies that are being abandoned and the jobs that are being abandoned.
And that's why we have a lot of companies moving back in.
I mean seriously, when you see what's happening you look — we're renegotiating NAFTA right now. I don't know that we can make it good.
I tell people openly, because the best deal is to terminate it and then make a new deal. But I don't know that we can make a deal because Mexico is so spoiled with this horrible deal that they've lived with, from our standpoint horrible.
So think of it, Mexico makes more than a hundred billion dollars a year on the United States. Now, how stupid is this.
But sometimes something is so good that you can't — how do you? The best way? Terminate, let's start all over again. Let's start all over again. But some of the politicians are afraid to terminate, oh, we don't want to terminate NAFTA. Take a look at these empty mills all over the place, that they turn into nursing homes, you know. Nice solid walls on the outside. But, it's — it just can't be.
I really think we're making the point a lot of people are digging it. I will tell you, the people that really count, which is you, the workers, everybody, they're really understanding what's going on. Nobody's done what I'm doing. I mean it's sort of really virgin territory.
It's absolutely virgin territory. It's territory that our country for 50 or 60 or 70 years has not wanted to go there. They just haven't for whatever reason.
And our wealth has been taken, our jobs have been taken, our companies have moved, and now they're starting to move back. So it's, it's a formula that is, it's just absolute — there's disruption, there's anger. And just remember, our friends that everybody says — our allies, our allies are wonderful — I love our allies. Our allies care about themselves, they don't care about us. You look at our trade deficit with these countries are our allies. It's unbelievable. And they understand it. I don't blame them.
I told Japan — so we lose 100 billion dollars a year with Japan — 100 billion. So why aren't we taxing their cars when they come in. Then we'd lose nothing. We might even make something. And you know what they're going to do, they're going to say we don't want to pay that tax, so let's build plants in the United States. They already have some. But they'll expand them and they'll build new plants. Because they don't want to pay the tax — I want them to build new plants in the United States. Let them make United States here — like China makes them do, we have a company, they want to build planes over there, hate to say it, Boeing is being forced to build plants. I don't like that, I don't like it, so I'm not saying China's wrong. I was with President Xi, I was with a big group of people, and I was saying how China is ripping off the United States. And he's like "woo, this is uncomfortable." [Laughter.] 700 press. I'm saying China is ripping off our — but I don't blame you. I say, it's great that you were able to do it for yourselves. I blame the people that represented our country, because they were not doing their job — they were delinquent in allowing this to happen to us. So we owe 21 trillion dollars. We lose 800 billion a year.
Josh will say, I don't think I'm going to ruin [unintelligible.] Think of it, Josh. We lose 800 billion a year on trade. Who made these deals? Who made these deals?
Then you have certain people that think it's okay to lose 800. You know, these worldly people. You know why they're worldly people, because they have stuff on the other side. [Laughter.] That's what it is. Can't be any other reason. But we lose 800 billion dollars a year on trade. We lose our jobs, we lose everything.
And it's not happening anymore, because it's starting to come back. But over the next few months, you're going to find it even more interesting. Because things are really — you know, we have, statutorily you have to do this, this, this, wait 90 days, wait six months, you can't do it, you're not allowed to legally. We have agreements that are so bad.
We have one agreement with a trade. I said when does that agreement terminate, it's terrible. Sir, there is no termination. I said, what do you mean? We don't have the right to term — I said, well, okay, after 10 years, 20 years. No sir, there is no right of term — I said what the hell kind of — So you know what I did, I just terminated. [Applause.]
Which would mean that's, we'll call it unconstitutional. There's no end date. There's no nothing. I'll give you another example, Mexico, so they have this great deal. The day it was signed, it was a bad deal, because they have a 16 percent VAT tax, and we don't. So they were already up 16 percent before the deal. And nobody saw that. And by the time they realized it, the deal was gone. But instead of adjusting the deal — what was that, 30 years ago when it was first signed — instead of adjusting the deal, we lived with it. What the hell difference does it make?
So they had a 16 percent step up advantage on us, and they have for many years. And Mexico and Canada — and, by the way, Canada, they negotiate tougher than Mexico. Trudeau came to see me, he's a good guy, Justin. He said, no, no, we have no trade deficit with you, we have none. Donald, please. Nice guy, good-looking, comes in — Donald, we have no trade deficit — he was very proud, because everybody else you know were getting killed with our, so he's [unintelligible]. I said wrong, Justin, you do. I didn't even know. Josh, I had no idea. I just said, you're wrong. You know why? Because we're so stupid. [Unintelligible, laughter] And I thought they were smart.
I said you're wrong, Justin. He said, Nope, we have no trade deficit. I said, Well, in that case, I feel differently, I said, but I don’t believe it. I sent one of our guys out, his guy, my guy, they went out, I said, Check, because I can’t believe it.
Well sir you're actually right. We have no deficit, but that doesn't include energy and timber. But when you do we lose 17 billion dollars a year. It's incredible. So you're in good hands. And I need Josh to help [unintelligible]. [Applause.]
Claire McCaskill is a guaranteed negative vote on every single thing that you people stand for, and frankly that a vast majority of the people of Missouri stand for. It is a negative vote for our country. And you have to defeat Claire McCaskill. Last time she get very lucky. She got lucky — she was going to lose. That was a done deal. And then, something happened. I was watching, I said, oh! What happened. That was big! The next day I said, oh yeah, I was right, I watched that.
So you got to get her out. Bad for Missouri, bad for the country. And this is going to be a great United States senator. Thank you very much. [Applause.]