President Donald Trump called his son-in-law a “good boy” while thanking Wall Street Journal editor-in-chief Gerard Baker for a positive editorial about Jared Kushner and said the leader of the Boy Scouts told him his jamboree speech was “the greatest speech ever made to them.”
The comments, made to The Wall Street Journal and obtained in a transcript by POLITICO, show Trump holding forth at length with Baker and engaging in a familiar back and forth. Baker, according to the transcript, asked many of the questions and took the lead byline on the main piece about the interview as well, an unusual step for the editor in chief of a paper with a large White House reporting staff.
The Journal has not published a full transcript of the interview. The newspaper posted certain excerpts of the transcript online, but the full version has circulated around the Journal newsroom as well as among others in New York and Washington.
Matt Murray, the Journal’s deputy editor-in-chief, warned staffers in a conference call in recent days about leaking the transcript, saying it would be a breach of trust, according to several sources familiar with the call.
“Damn right I told them that. It’s true,” Murray said on Tuesday via a Journal spokesperson.
According to the transcript, Ivanka Trump stopped by the Oval Office during the interview, telling Baker she heard he was there and wanted to say hello. Ivanka Trump has often made an appearance during interviews with her father, including with The New York Times and POLITICO, to make small talk.
Baker told Ivanka Trump, “It was nice to see you out in Southampton a couple weeks ago,” an apparent reference to a party thrown last month attended by many politicos, business titans and media elites thrown by Washington Post heiress Lally Weymouth, now the Post’s senior associate editor. Ivanka Trump and Baker also chatted about their daughters, both named Arabella.
The president and Baker also talked about golf and travel.
The interview renewed questions internally at the newspaper about Baker’s leadership and posture toward the White House.
Baker has defended his paper in the past from criticism, both internal and external, that the broadsheet has been too soft on the real estate mogul and reality-television star-turned-45th president of the United States.
In an internal town hall with employees in February, Baker said that anyone who claims the Journal has been soft on Trump is peddling “fake news,” and that employees who are unhappy with the Journal’s objective, as opposed to oppositional, approach to Trump should work somewhere else.
The interview occurred on July 25 and was arranged by Baker after initial requests by Journal reporters, multiple sources familiar with the interview said. A White House official said the president was not personally involved in setting up the interview.
Present at the interview were three editors — Baker, Murray and Washington Bureau Chief Paul Beckett — and White House reporters Michael Bender and Peter Nicholas.
A Wall Street Journal spokesperson said the newspaper is “proud of the on-the-record interview we conducted with President Trump, which produced multiple, newsworthy articles.”
“We published the noteworthy excerpts from the interview. We saw no reason to publish the crosstalk that inevitably accompanies any conversation,” the spokesperson said.
The president and his daughter praised Baker for a Wall Street Journal editorial, published the day before, that commended Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, for setting “a disclosure example on Russia” in an 11-page statement released before meeting with Senate and House intelligence committees, describing his contacts with Russian figures during the campaign and after the election.
“And I liked your editorial today, very nice. (Laughs.),” the transcript quotes Ivanka Trump as saying.
“Oh, good, good. Well, you see, you know, my colleagues write those, so they’ll be — they’ll be —,” Baker said, likely referring to the editorial section that is separate from the news section at the newspaper, before being cut off by the president.
“You did a good job,” Trump said.
“Yeah, you really did,” Ivanka Trump added.
“Thank you very much. Thank you,” Baker replied.
“You did a good job,” Trump continued before referring to Kushner: “He’s a good — he’s a good boy.”
“They wrote a very nice editorial, so very good,” Ivanka Trump said.
“In keeping with our longstanding tradition of total separation between News and Opinion, opinion pieces are the sole responsibility of Paul Gigot [editor of the editorial page] and his team,” the Journal spokesperson said.
The spokesperson also pointed to Baker’s comment in the transcript about how the editorial the president praised was written by his colleagues, not him.
At one point, Trump seemed annoyed that one of The Wall Street Journal reporters in the room called the reaction to his July 24 Boy Scouts speech “mixed.”
“There was no mix there. That was a standing ovation from the time I walked out to the time I left, and for five minutes after I had already gone. There was no mix,” Trump said.
He added: “And I got a call from the head of the Boy Scouts saying it was the greatest speech that was ever made to them, and they were very thankful. So there was — there was no mix.”
The chief of the Boy Scouts subsequently apologized for the political nature of the speech.
The full transcript, unpublished by the Journal but obtained by POLITICO, is below.
The Wall Street Journal
Interview with President Donald Trump
Location: Washington, D.C.
Date: Tuesday, July 25, 2017
GERARD BAKER: Yes, yes.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Tax, other things.
BAKER: Yeah. Economy, trade, fate of the world — world economy, market –
TRUMP: As we speak.
BAKER: Consumer confidence at a 17-year high.
TRUMP: What did you say?
BAKER: Consumer confidence at a 17-year high.
TRUMP: Can you believe it? Isn’t that nice. There’s good reason for it, too, and I think we’re doing pretty well on health care. We’ll see.
BAKER: Yeah, yeah.
TRUMP: I call it a motion to talk, you know. It’s not a motion to proceed.
BAKER: The Senate view –
TRUMP: It’s not — basically, it’s a motion to talk. But once you get that motion, it’s in pretty good shape, once you get in. It’s hard to get in, but once you get in. So we’re going to see. John McCain was a great help, coming in as he did. And so it was something I very much appreciate, and we’ll see what happens. We’re going to know in about two hours.
BAKER: What have you been doing, Mr. President, sort of behind the scenes?
TRUMP: A lot. A lot.
BAKER: I mean, what do you think the crucial conversations have been?
TRUMP: Many conversations. I just had one with a certain senator that was very convincing to that senator. So I’ve done a lot. I mean, last night — last night it was amazing. I was at the — you know, I was in West Virginia doing certain things and making a speech to the Boy Scouts, and that was some crowd. That was an incredible crowd.
But I’ve been working hard, trying to get the senators to go along with it. And I — you know, I think I — you know, look, just don’t quote me on this unless it happens, but I think we have a pretty good shot. And that vote’s taking place at about 2:00 today, right? 2:00?
WSJ: A little bit later, yeah, exactly.
TRUMP: A little bit later?
WSJ: All depending on McCain’s plane landing.
WSJ: If you get the vote — if you get the vote today to go ahead, what will be the next hurdle that you —
TRUMP: Well, then you have to go and decide on what plan you want, which way you’re going to go. You want to decide on is it repeal or repeal and replace. If it’s repeal and replace, which one do you want to go? Which form of existing conditions? I mean, there’s many things. But once you’re in there, then you can really negotiate. This is actually the heart, though. Once you’re there, you can, you know, Gerard — oh, say hello.
MS.: Hi, Gerard. How are you?
BAKER: Oh, hey. How nice to see you. How are you doing?
MS.: I heard you were here. I wanted to come by and say hi.
MS.: How is your Arabella (sp)?
MR. BAKER: Oh, very — (inaudible). She just got back from Costa Rica. She was there for two weeks. And how’s — and how’s yours?
MS.: Oh, very good. (Inaudible.)
BAKER: It was nice to see you out in Southampton a couple weeks ago.
TRUMP: So you do, you have a — is it the same spelling?
BAKER: I have an — exactly the same spelling, Arabella (sp). Yeah.
TRUMP: How did that happen? I think you named your daughter after –
MS.: It’s an English name, but it’s not particularly common, so.
BAKER: It’s not very common, yeah, no. Actually, we were there first.
MS.: You’re the first.
BAKER: Mine is – mine is 15. How old is yours?
MS.: Oh, OK.
TRUMP: So he’s — I think you copied.
MS.: So I copied that. (Laughter.)
BAKER: Yeah, yeah, no, it’s actually –
MS.: And I liked your editorial today, very nice. (Laughs.)
BAKER: Oh, good, good. Well, you see, you know, my colleagues write those, so they’ll be — they’ll be —
TRUMP: You did a good job.
MS: Yeah, you really did.
BAKER: Thank you very much. Thank you.
TRUMP: You did a good job. He’s a good — he’s a good boy.
MS.: They wrote a very nice editorial, so very good.
BAKER: Thank you.
WSJ: Thank you.
TRUMP: Thanks, Honey. Stay around if you want.
MS.: Yeah, yeah.
TRUMP: So we’ll have the vote today at probably 3:00 or so. And we have the head of Lebanon coming in; that’ll be interesting, a little — a little change of pace. We keep it interesting. But so we’ll see what that’s all about.
BAKER: Are you recommending to the people that you talk to a particular — do you want — are you saying do this and then go for repeal, or are you going –
TRUMP: I’d rather see repeal and replace because I — I can do either way. If you remember, it was — you know, it was an idea that I had very early on, repeal. Trouble with repeal is you’ll have millions of people out there that — well, it’s like we just got the highest confidence in many years; you know, people out there that will say, well, you know, how do we know we’re going to have health care? And I hate to do that to people.
WSJ: But you’ve been concerned about that, right –
TRUMP: I’ve always — I’m always concerned about that. I don’t like it. I don’t like it from that standpoint. Now, with that being said, you might be able to make a very good deal because I think there’s a lot of pressure on the Democrats. But the Democrats are nothing more than obstructionists. That’s all they can do. That’s all they seem to be good at. So they’re obstructionists, so what they will do, even though it’s for the good of the country, they will obstruct. They can’t do anything about Obamacare, and I understand that. They don’t want to vote against it. But now, once it’s done — it was my original theory: Once it’s begun, now they can get together. They can do something. But they won’t do that. There’s too much — and this isn’t with respect to me; this is years. This is years, Gerry. I mean, if you look at what’s been going on over the last long period of time. I actually asked people that are political people — I could ask you people — you know, is it the worst you’ve seen it? And I’ve had every single person, no, actually there’s certain other times that were worse. There were certain times in Obama’s administration that were worse.
BAKER: The partisanship, you mean?
TRUMP: You think — yeah, the partisanship. So, anyway.
So I’d rather see — I’d rather see replace. I’d rather add the replace. And we have a very good plan. That’s the one thing, we really have a good plan. We’ve covered a lot of territory. It’s a very, very difficult situation because you move a little bit to the left and you lose four guys, you move a little bit to the right all of a sudden you have a bloc of people that are gone. You have about a one-inch road and it wheels through the middle of the valley, and if it’s even slightly off. It’s a very difficult – it’s a very difficult thing, always has been.
You know, if you think, Hillary Clinton, smart person, she was the first lady of the country, her entire life was spent — her entire eight years was spent trying to get health care. Never even came close. Obama — and one thing I have to say, I’m here now exactly six months. Obama took would you say a year-and-a-half?
WSJ: He took a year and a half, yeah.
TRUMP: Because people were saying, Trump has not produced. I honestly believe for six months I have done more than just about any president when you look at all of the bills that were passed, 42, 43.
BAKER: What are you most proud of in the first six months?
TRUMP: A lot of things. I think I’m proud of the Supreme Court choice. And that’s not just a nomination, that’s getting him through. I’m very proud of opening up regulations. One of the reasons you see optimism is because people can actually use their land. They can farm their land. I’ve had tremendous and tremendous — look, I had 45,000 people there yesterday. It’s the biggest crowd they’ve ever had, and they were — they were going wild yesterday in West Virginia. But people can actually use their land and they can build.
And I think one of the things that I have to be very proud of is the VA. I think we have a great, great administrator, OK –
TRUMP: … and a great secretary, David Shulkin. He’s — he was actually approved 100 to nothing, by the way.
BAKER: What about your disappointments? Any disappointments in the first six months?
TRUMP: Well, I’d have to let you know. I have to see where we are with this. Let’s see. Maybe it doesn’t work, but I think it’s going to. And, you know, it is — it would have been easier to start with taxes, but this is better if it works, OK? If it works, this is better.
WSJ: More general — generally.
TRUMP: But I think, you know, depending — so if you asked me that question in a month or really at the end of the year, because we hope to get this. We hope to get taxes and then infrastructure. And then I’m going to do a very big — we’re doing very big trade deals, and we’re looking forward to that. But we want to do, ideally, this first.
You know, a lot of people said you should have started with taxes or you should have started with infrastructure. Well, infrastructure, I’ll actually have bipartisan support, and I can use infrastructure to carry other things along. So I don’t want to waste it at the beginning, if that makes sense.
WSJ: Can I ask on that? I mean, are you confident? When you say the Democrats are obstructionists, and obviously they’re looking ahead to the midterms next year, it doesn’t seem like politically for Democrats there’s a lot of incentive, even on a bipartisan thing like infrastructure, that might be popular — [inaudible]. How tough a road is it going to be? In any case, it’s hard –
TRUMP: Well, they tried — they tried it with me. She spent hundreds of millions of dollars on negative ads. She didn’t do a positive ad, virtually. And she lost easily, you know, 306 to 223 I think, right – 223, something like that. …
I mean, honestly, they — the ads were coming at me. Hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of negative ads. And when people went into the voter booth, they didn’t know what she stood for. I always said that. I said if I can take this onslaught personally, it’s going to be a great thing because nobody knew what she stood for. So now, they’re trying to change their message a little bit, you know. I mean, it’s — it’s one of those things, but now they’re trying to change their message and we’ll see what happens.
But I think that we’re doing very well. Every indication is that in every one of our swing states we’re substantially up, like Ohio. Tonight I’m going to Ohio — Youngstown, Ohio — and we’ll be up — we’re way up. You know, I won the state by 9 or 10 or something, by 9 or 10 points, without any governor support, OK? So you have the governor of Ohio not supporting you and you win by almost 10 points, which is pretty good because Ohio’s not — if you remember, you guys were always saying you have to win Ohio, right?
BAKER: No Republican has ever won the presidency without winning Ohio.
TRUMP: No, right, no, it’s — it was — and we won, you know, by a landslide.
BAKER: Yeah. [Laughter.]
TRUMP: But we’re up. We have now — are you going tonight? Are you going to the speech in Ohio tonight?
WSJ: We were in West Virginia yesterday.
TRUMP: Oh, you did? Was that a scene, though? Huh?
WSJ: That was a scene, yes. (Laughter.)
TRUMP: Biggest crowd they’ve ever had. What did you think?
WSJ: I thought it was an interesting speech in the context of the Boy Scouts.
WSJ: They seemed to get a lot of feedback from former scouts and –
TRUMP: Did they like it?
WSJ: It seemed mixed.
TRUMP: They loved it. [Laughter.] It wasn’t — it was no mix. That was a standing –
WSJ: In the — you got a good — you got a good reaction in –
TRUMP: I mean, you know, he writes mostly negative stuff. But that was a standing ovation –
WSJ: You got a good reaction inside the arena, that’s right.
TRUMP: … from the time I walked out on the stage — because I know. And by the way, I’d be the first to admit mixed. I’m a guy that will tell you mixed. There was no mix there. That was a standing ovation from the time I walked out to the time I left, and for five minutes after I had already gone. There was no mix.
WSJ: Yeah, there was a lot of supporters in the arena.
TRUMP: And I got a call from the head of the Boy Scouts saying it was the greatest speech that was ever made to them, and they were very thankful. So there was — there was no mix.
BAKER: Sir, can I ask you about taxes?
BAKER: So, you know, we’re awaiting the outcome of health, we’ll get a vote. I know you want to get tax reform done. Gary, you talked about it.
TRUMP: Yes, very much. Very important.
BAKER: So can – what’s – I mean, you’ve outlined the principles of tax reform. Can you tell us what you – you know, what you want to achieve fundamentally in tax reform?
TRUMP: Sure. I want to –
BAKER: What are the – what are the main goals?
TRUMP: I want to achieve growth. We’re the highest-taxed nation in the world, essentially, you know, of the size. But we’re the highest-taxed nation in the world. We have — nobody knows what the number is. I mean, it used to be, when we talked during the debate, $2.5 trillion, right, when the most elegant person — right? I call him Mr. Elegant. I mean, that was a great debate. We did such a great job. But at that time I was talking $2.5 trillion. I guess it’s $5 trillion now. Whatever it is, it’s a lot more. So we have anywhere from 4 [trillion] to 5 or even more trillions of dollars sitting offshore.
We want to get that back, No. One, at a very reasonable cost. And that cost is going to be 10 percent. And right now, it’s so high that, No. One: You would never do it on a business basis. But, No. Two: Bureaucratically it’s impossible. Did you know that? I have friends that try and get their money back. They say they have to go through years of writing out forms and this and that to bring money back into the country. We’re going to make that one — like a half-a-page document. It’s going to be very easy to bring your money back in. And it’s going to be taxed at 10 percent, which is a rate that’s — it’s within reason. And so that’s one of the things we want to do. That’ll be an easy one. That’s one that — you know, it’s — when you talk about a country that’s broken or a system that’s broken, there’s something — the $5 trillion, let’s call it — that the Democrats and the Republicans agree should come back in. It’s been out there for years. Nobody ever did anything about it. I mean, Obama …
WSJ: Well –
TRUMP: Obama could have gotten that money back in very easily, even if they did a separate bill. But nobody …
BAKER: Right. But a 10 percent corporate rate, that’s …
TRUMP: Ten percent.
WSJ: Ten percent repatriation.
BAKER: Repatriation rate.
WSJ: A repatriation rate. A 10 percent repatriation rate.
WSJ: What do you think is a reasonable corporate rate? We’ve heard 20 percent, but —
TRUMP: Well, you know, we’re going for 15 [percent]. We’re going to see, and we’ll see. But, you know, I don’t want to say anything about negotiation. I mean, we are asking for 15 percent, and we think we’re going to grow tremendously.
So I deal with foreign countries, and despite what you may read, I have unbelievable relationships with all of the foreign leaders. They like me. I like them. You know, it’s amazing. So I’ll call, like, major — major countries, and I’ll be dealing with the prime minister or the president. And I’ll say, how are you doing? Oh, don’t know, don’t know, not well, Mr. President, not well. I said, well, what’s the problem? Oh, GDP 9 percent, not well. And I’m saying to myself, here we are at like 1 percent, dying, and they’re at 9 percent and they’re unhappy. So, you know, and these are like countries, you know, fairly large, like 300 million people. You know, a lot of people say — they say, well, but the United States is large. And then you call places like Malaysia, Indonesia, and you say, you know, how many people do you have? And it’s pretty amazing how many people they have. So China’s going to be at 7 [percent] or 8 percent, and they have a billion-five, right? So we should do really well.
But in order to do that — you know, it’s tax reform, but it’s a big tax cut. But it’s simplification, it’s reform, and it’s a big tax cut, 15 –
BAKER: And on the personal side, the Treasury secretary back – way back at the start of the administration said –
TRUMP: Yeah, we want to do personal.
BAKER: Yeah, want to do personal taxes and want to make – so whatever cuts in the rates that there are – the marginal rates there are will be balanced by the reduction in deductions, so that the people who benefit from especially at the high end would not – overall would not be net beneficiaries of tax cuts, right?
TRUMP: Right. Yeah, that’s – we don’t want –
BAKER: And that’s still the aim? That’s still very much the aim?
TRUMP: So I shouldn’t say it with everybody in the room, especially Gary, but – (laughter) – this is –
MR. : Yeah, let’s all worry about me.
TRUMP: The truth is the people I care most about are the middle-income people in this country who have gotten screwed. And this upward revision, it’s going to be on high-income people.
You know, I was with Bob Kraft the other night. He came to have dinner with me. He’s a friend of mine. And as he left, he said, Donald, don’t worry about the rich people. Tax the rich people. You got to take care of the people in the country. It was a very interesting statement. I feel the same way.
BAKER: Well, Gary’s a middle-income – (inaudible). (Laughter.) He works for the White House. He’s on a –
TRUMP: He had to pay 200 million (dollars) in tax, Gary. Gary wrote a check for 200 (million dollars).
WSJ: There was some focus – Steve Bannon was saying that maybe you want a higher income tax than the 40 percent, you know, that you might be –
TRUMP: No, that was not right. That was not a correct statement, no.
MR. : That was not a – that was not a correct –
WSJ: OK. OK.
TRUMP: We want – look, the job producers we’re going to take great care of, but we have to take care of middle-income people in this country. They built the country, they started this whole beautiful thing that we have, and we have to take care of them. And people have not taken care of them, and we’re going to.
And I mean, I have wealthy friends that say to me I don’t mind paying more tax. And I’ll tell you what I sort of don’t like, is when they – you know, you’ll do your charts in The Wall Street Journal and they’ll be brilliantly done, very nice, and they’ll show that a rich guy who made, you know, $25 million last year is going to pay less than he was. In a certain way, I don’t like that. I’d rather take that difference and put it into the middle-income and put it into corporate.
BAKER: You should be able to get Democrat support for that, right? I mean, you can reach across the aisle –
TRUMP: Yeah, except they’re obstructionists. If they weren’t obstructionists, I would normally get Democratic support. So we don’t anticipate that. We don’t –
WSJ: How would you rate your chances of being able to make those permanent as opposed to temporary?
TRUMP: Well, do you mean 10 years versus? So it hasn’t really come up. I mean, the last time it was 10 years. When George Steinbrenner died, like with the estate taxes, the estate paid nothing. And if he would have died like two weeks later, they would have paid 50 percent of the Yankees. That would have been the end of the team, right? He had very fine tax planners. But it hasn’t come up. We’d like –
WSJ: Or doctors. (Laughter.)
TRUMP: We would like to make them permanent, but I assume you’re talking about like a –
MR. : So if it balances in the 10-year window, it’s permanent. The only way you have to end the tax plan is at the end of 10 years if it creates a deficit. We are working towards a plan that is permanent. To get the capital investment that the president wants – and that’s how you create jobs, and that’s how you create economic growth – businesses have to know it’s a permanent tax change. So that is our objective.
WSJ: Does that – [inaudible] – for businesses?
MR. : We think – we’ve spent an enormous amount of time working as a group to make sure that we get permanent tax change, simplification, and lower rates.
TRUMP: We think we’re going to have tremendous growth. We think money’s going to come pouring into the country.
Look, we’re losing companies. People don’t even realize how bad it is, but we’re losing companies every single day where they’re leaving because the taxes are too high. When we do this, we’ll have companies – I know companies that have left. They go to Ireland, they go to other – I own a lot of property in Ireland. They go to Ireland because of these incredible tax rates, and other places, right? We’ll have companies pouring back into our nation. I mean, it’s going to be – you know, it’s going to be beautiful.
I hope we can – I hope we can do the 15 percent, actually. By the way, 15 percent is not by any means the lowest, but at least we would go from the highest to one of the lower, lower taxes.
MS. : Another area of real focus has been skill training, as well, to ensure increased workforce participation and ensure that people are trained with the skills necessary for the jobs – (inaudible).
BAKER: We’ve read a fair bit about that.
MS. : So you’ve been covering that a lot, but it’s so important. It’s one of the number one things we hear from the private sector, that they don’t have people to fill the jobs they have and they are looking to fill. So we’re working to close that gap.
BAKER: Which is what makes immigration –
TRUMP: But one of the things we’re doing that, so Gary and I are working – because I said, you know, Gary, we’re going to have Foxconn come in. We’re going to have a lot of companies that are coming in. Foxconn’s coming in with a big plan. We have Tim Cook I spoke to, and he’s promised me three big plants – big, big, big. I said, you know, Tim, unless –
WSJ: Really? Where?
TRUMP: We’ll have to see. You can call him. But I said, Tim, unless you start building your plants in this country, I won’t consider my administration an economic success, OK? And he’s called me and he says, you know, they’re going forward, three big, beautiful plants. You’ll have to call him. I mean, maybe he won’t tell you what he tells me, but I believe he will do that. I really believe it.
But I said to Gary, I said, you know, Gary, you go to certain sections and you’re going to need people to work in these massive plants that we’re getting, that are moving in. Where do we have the people? You know where we have the people? In New York state that can’t get jobs, in many other places that can’t get jobs. And people are going to have to start moving. They’re going to move to Colorado and they’re going to move to Iowa and Wisconsin and places where – like if Foxconn goes to Wisconsin, which is one of the places they’re very strongly considering – but if Foxconn goes to Wisconsin and they have a very low rate and the governor’s done an excellent job, you’re going to have a situation where you got to get the people. But they’re going to start moving. And I’m going to start explaining to people when you have an area that just isn’t working – like upper New York state, where people are getting very badly hurt – and then you’ll have another area 500 miles away where you can’t – you can’t get people, I’m going to explain you can leave, it’s OK, don’t worry about your house.
You know, a lot of them don’t leave because of their house. Because they say, gee, my house, I thought it was worth 70,000 (dollars) and now it’s worth nothing. It’s OK. Go, cut your losses, right?
BAKER: While we’re on the economy, can I ask you, we’re coming up very soon to the time to decide whether or not to reappoint Janet Yellen as the –
BAKER: – chair of the Federal Reserve or to appoint somebody else. Are you – have you reached a decision?
TRUMP: I have a lot of respect for her, and I like her. I’ve met her just a couple of times, but I like her. It’s early to make the decision. She doesn’t come up until February/March?
MR. : End of June.
WSJ: February. February 1st is –
WSJ: Yeah, yeah.
TRUMP: No, I have a lot of respect for her. I like her. She is –
BAKER: Does that mean it’s possible you would keep her?
TRUMP: I do like low interest rates. I mean, you know, I’m not making that a big secret. I think low interest rates are good. I like a dollar that’s not too strong. I mean, I’ve seen strong dollars. And frankly, other than the fact that it sounds good, lots of bad things happen with a strong dollar.
BAKER: So she’s definitely – she’s definitely in the running to be replaced this time?
TRUMP: I would say – you mean to stay?
BAKER: To stay.
TRUMP: I would say yes, she is in the running to stay.
WSJ: Is Gary a candidate? (Laughter.)
TRUMP: He doesn’t know this, but yes, he is. (Laughter.)
WSJ: Are there other candidates?
TRUMP: I actually think he likes what he’s doing right now.
BAKER: That’s what he tells us.
TRUMP: Don’t tell Gary what I just said.
WSJ: Are there other candidates?
TRUMP: Yeah, there are two or three. But she is – she is in the running, absolutely. I like her. I like her demeanor. I think she’s done a good job. I’d like to see rates stay low. She’s always been – you know, she’s historically been a low-interest-rate person, a believer.
WSJ: Do you have a time frame for announcing a decision?
TRUMP: I would say sometime by the end of year, probably.
WSJ: So you’re going to wait till it’s pretty –
TRUMP: I think so.
WSJ: So you’re not –
BAKER: It would need a confirmation process, which will take time.
TRUMP: Yeah, but it’ll go quickly. We’re starting to get them much quicker. You know, they’ve been really holding up – I mean, nine months, they have really been – that’s all they can do well. You know how many people I have in there? I have – I have a lot of people in there, and they complain to me. Like Woody Johnson. He’s the ambassador to the Court of St. James, which is England, you know, et cetera, et cetera. And I mean, he said what they did to him was unbelievable. The process was so ugly. I’ve had three or four people to be ambassadors, tremendous people, very successful people. They called me and they – their whole life they wanted to do this, and they gave up. It’s, you know –
WSJ: Are there other names?
WSJ: Are there other names you might offer who are in the mix for the Fed?
TRUMP: I’d rather not do that.
BAKER: Kevin Warsh has been mentioned. Can we – [inaudible] –
TRUMP: I haven’t – I’d rather not get involved. But I would say she is, certainly. And Gary is somebody that I’ve gained great – I’ve known Gary for a long time – but I’ve gained great respect for Gary working with him. So Gary certainly would be in the mix. I just don’t know if he’d like – this is off the record – if he wants to sit down. Interest rates will be moving up one-eighth of a point –
BAKER: That’s the exciting stuff. (Laughter.) That’s the exciting stuff.
TRUMP: Right? Yeah, exactly. And then you leave. By the way, then the market crashes and it goes through the roof. You know, what you say. And then he goes off and he’ll play golf and relax for the next 30 or –
BAKER: So, Gary, Yellen, and there are other contenders you’re thinking of?
TRUMP: Yeah, there are people that are highly respected that I would certainly think about. I don’t know that Gary would want it. I think Gary loves what he’s doing, you know, and he’s doing a very good job.
WSJ: Who else –
WSJ: Sometimes needs to get a comment from Gary. (Laughter.)
TRUMP: You want to comment? (Laughs.)
WSJ: On the record. On the record.
MR. : This is an interview with the president. This is an interview with the president.
WSJ: We’ll call your office.
WSJ: This is an interview with the president.
WSJ: Can I ask another economics question, while we’re on the subject?
WSJ: You tweeted this morning about trade talks with Britain.
WSJ: Can you tell us more about what’s going on?
TRUMP: No, but I can say that we’re going to be very involved with the U.K. I mean, you don’t hear the word Britain anymore. It’s very interesting. It’s like, nope.
WSJ: I work with a Brit.
BAKER: I’m English. We always make that point. You’re right, yeah.
TRUMP: Is Scotland going to go for the vote, by the way? You don’t see it. It would be terrible. They just went through hell.
BAKER: (Inaudible) – but they’re going to be –
TRUMP: They just went through hell.
BAKER: Besides, the first minister’s already made it clear she –
TRUMP: What do you think? You don’t think so, right?
BAKER: I don’t.
TRUMP: One little thing, what would they do with the British Open if they ever got out? They’d no longer have the British Open.
TRUMP: Scotland. Keep it in Scotland.
BAKER: We just had a – (inaudible).
TRUMP: By the way, are you a member there?
BAKER: No. I’ve played there, but I –
TRUMP: I thought that course showed well.
WSJ: It’s a gorgeous, gorgeous course.
BAKER: Did you see Jordan Spieth’s amazing –
TRUMP: I – well, I saw his first four holes. And I said, man, that’s the end of that, because – you know?
TRUMP: So for a guy to go – you know, to me, that’s almost worse than, like, a triple bogey, because – but for a guy to go through these horrible holes, hit a bad drive like I’ve never seen – I mean, he was 150 yards right. I don’t know what that –
WSJ: Come on, you and I have hit worse drives. You and I have hit –
TRUMP: No, no, but for – I know, but for a tour pro it was very unusual. But for a guy to then go birdie, eagle, birdie, birdie, that’s a special –
BAKER: He could – he could be a career major – he could be the youngest guy to do the career major –
TRUMP: Well, he’s actually sort of – he’s in with Tiger and Jack. He’s essentially even, you know, with a number of terms and a number of majors.
BAKER: Anyway, are you looking forward to doing a trade deal with the U.K.?
TRUMP: Yeah. I have a great relationship –
WSJ: It would be after, right? They have a time frame.
WSJ: The one thing is there’s a – the one thing is there’s a ticking clock with Brexit, so.
WSJ: Well, yeah. Your tweet made it sound like you’re really talking and so you have – (inaudible) –
TRUMP: We have a very good relationship. I have a very good relationship with the prime minister. And we are absolutely looking to do a major trade deal.
WSJ: Would the idea be that the trade deal will kick in pretty much as soon as Brexit happens?
TRUMP: As soon as it’s appropriate to have it kick in, absolutely. And it’ll be a big trade deal – much, much more business than we do right now, many, many times.
WSJ: Are there keys that would be the important pieces of it? What would – can you highlight specific –
TRUMP: There’ll be certain pieces. It’s not – there’ll be certain pieces. I mean, one of the things that – I have a very good relationship with the EU people and all, but they are very, very protectionist. You know, our farmers and others can’t even deal with – you know, you can’t sell in. It’s very unfair. And that’s what I’ve been talking about for a long time. It’s so stacked against the United States. Now, the EU was conceived to the point that they wanted to do something to compete with the United States. Well, you know, you could say that’s a friendly act or an unfriendly act. But it’s very protectionist. Among the most, we have farm products that you just can’t get into the EU. And we don’t do that to them.
BAKER: So you’d include an agriculture deal with the U.K.?
TRUMP: Well, I’ll tell you, you know, I did – I did thing that nobody even wrote about – although, you did. (Laughter.) But when I was with President Xi, who I have a very good relationship with, I said: Do me a favor. Would you allow cattle, please, to come in? I was last night in West Virginia, and I had farmers coming up to me and hugging me and kissing me because of the cattle stuff. They actually weren’t from West Virginia; they were from other places. (Laughter.) But, you know, it was the Boy Scouts, so they came from all over the country, but –
BAKER: Could you do a services deal with the U.K.? Could that include services?
TRUMP: Yeah. It would include everything.
BAKER: Including financial services?
TRUMP: Oh, no, it would be very – it would be – it would be very all-in with –
BAKER: That’s a big deal.
WSJ: Because we have a lot of financial companies already paring back their numbers, moving people to Frankfurt, already clearing out of London some. Do you think that’s a good idea right now, ahead of this?
TRUMP: That’s up to them. But we’re going to have a very good relationship with the U.K. And we do have to talk to the European Union, because it’s not a reciprocal deal, you know.
The word reciprocal, to me, is very important. For instance, we have countries that charge us 100 percent tax to sell a Harley-Davidson into that country. And yet, they sell their motorcycles into us, or their bikes, or anything comparable, and we charge them nothing. There has to be a reciprocal deal. I’m all about that. And you know, it’s very interesting, at the border – people may have problems with border, but when you say reciprocal, everybody says, oh, that’s fair. So people have a problem with charging a 10 percent tax, which they shouldn’t have but they do. But when you say you’re going to charge reciprocal charge – in other words, what they charge we’re going to charge – all of a sudden these same people – it might be much more money – but these same people, all of a sudden they’re OK with it. So we have got to be much smarter.
You know, our country was built, to a large extent, on protecting our manufacturers. If you go back to Jefferson, you go back to all of these great, great people that ran the United States properly, it was really based on a certain form of tariff and a certain form of protection. We’re just the opposite now. We’re the people that are getting beat up – one of the reasons I think I’m talking to – I’m sitting behind this beautiful desk as opposed to somebody else.
BAKER: What about – just, very quickly, on tariffs. On steel tariffs, you committed to imposing steel tariffs. You haven’t done that, but you still –
TRUMP: Well, we’re waiting – we’re waiting till we get everything completed. We don’t want to do at this moment. We’re going to – we’re going to wait till we get everything completed here. We’re going to see. It’s a very unfair situation. They’re dumping steel in our country. It’s extremely unfair. But we like to keep it as simple as – we like to keep very complicated subjects as simple as possible. So we’re waiting till we get everything finished up between health care and taxes and maybe even infrastructure. But we’re going to be addressing the steel dumping at a very – fairly soon.
We – just so you understand – we have massive reports. You know, a lot of this stuff you can’t just walk in and say I’m going to do this. You have to do statutory studies. And then you have to wait 90 days. And then you have to do another. And you have to wait another 20 days. It doesn’t go that quickly. It’s like NAFTA. You know, you have a six-month termination. I was ready to terminate NAFTA. I was looking forward to it, frankly, because NAFTA’s a horrible deal for the United States. And then I got a call from the president of Mexico, who’s a terrific guy, and I got a call from the prime minister of Canada. And they heard I was getting ready to terminate it. And they said: Would you have a meeting with us first? I said, yes. And if you look at my speeches, I’ve always said, either renegotiate it or terminate it.
Now, renegotiating it is easier. And we’re in the midst of a renegotiation right now. So we’ll see. And maybe we’ll have to terminate it. I happen to think NAFTA’s one of the truly bad deals – I mean, outside of the Iran deal, which is one of the worst deals in history –
WSJ: Do you think it’s salvageable? Do you think NAFTA’s salvageable?
TRUMP: It may be salvageable.
WSJ: What do you need for that?
TRUMP: I would say – I would say it may be salvageable. But certainly, I have an obligation to give it a shot.
WSJ: What are you looking for specifically –
TRUMP: I’m looking for fairness.
WSJ: But what does that – can you give an example?
TRUMP: No, it means – look, our automobile industry has just left us and gone to Mexico – I mean, a big chunk of it. And it’s very unfair for them to take our companies, built their cars, and then sell the car back into our country with no tax. It’s very unfair. They fire all our people in Michigan and Ohio, and they take it, and they build a car. And now they sell the car back in with no tax. It’s not fair.
WSJ: Do they get that –
TRUMP: We have a $70 billion trade deficit with China, as an example.
WSJ: What does the president of Mexico say when you say that?
TRUMP: He’s not thrilled. But that’s OK. I wasn’t thrilled about what he said to me.
WSJ: Does he – but does he disagree with you about that view, or does he –
TRUMP: Oh, there’s not much to disagree with. Look, we have a $70 billion – we have a $70 billion trade deficit. What is anybody saying? With China, we have 350 to 504. Nobody can really define it, deficit. We have a trade deficit of $350 to $504 billion each year. We’re not going to be – it’s just not going to happen that way anymore.
WSJ: You mentioned the Iran deal, but it’s been certified as in compliance twice now. It comes up again in September. Would you – is there going to come a point where you just –
TRUMP: Well, we’re doing major studies. Oh, I would be very surprised if they will be – look, we’ve been extremely nice to them. We’ve been extremely nice to them in saying they were compliant, OK? We’ve given them the benefit of every doubt. But we’re doing very detailed studies. And personally, I have great respect for my people. If it was up to me, I would have had them noncompliant 180 days ago.
WSJ: Do you expect them to be declared noncompliant the next time?
TRUMP: Personally, I do. I do.
WSJ: In September?
TRUMP: I think they’ll be noncompliant. I think they’re taking advantage of this country. They’ve taken advantage of a president, named Barack Obama, who didn’t know what the hell he was doing. And I do not expect that they will be compliant.
WSJ: Will you overrule your staff on that, if they come back with a recommendation –
TRUMP: Oh, sure. Sure. Look, I have a lot of respect for Rex and his people, good relationship. It’s easier to say they comply. It’s a lot easier. But it’s the wrong thing. They don’t comply. And so we’ll see what happens. I mean, we’ll talk about this subject in 90 days. But, yeah, I would be – I would be surprised if they were in compliance.
STAFF: Mr. President? I’m sorry. We just have time for a few more.
WSJ: Mr. President –
BAKER: OK, if I may, can I ask you quick, Mr. President, we’ve talked about your achievements and disappointments. I was reminded of President Eisenhower, when he left office, said that his two biggest mistakes in officer were both sitting on the Supreme Court. From things you’ve been saying in the –
TRUMP: So far I can’t say that, right?
BAKER: From the same – from the things you’ve been saying in the last week or so, and tweeting, it sounds as though you may think that maybe your biggest mistake is running the Justice Department. Is that –
TRUMP: I’m disappointed in Jeff Sessions, yes.
WSJ: Do you want him to leave?
TRUMP: Number one, they should go after the leakers in intelligence. I don’t mean the White House stuff where they’re fighting over who loves me the most, OK? (Laughter.) It’s just stupid people doing that.
BAKER: Anthony’s already taken care of that. (Laughter.)
TRUMP: I know, that’s just – and Anthony will handle that. [aughter.] I can – Anthony can do that out of his back pocket, OK? I’m talking about intelligence leaks. I’m talking like the story about Syria that was in The New York Times the other day. I’m – which by the way, was a decision made by people, not me. But, you know, they wrote it 100 – it was in the –
WSJ: The Post, I thought. It was in The Washington Post.
TRUMP: It was in The Washington Post. That was not something that I was involved in, other than they did come and they suggested. It turns out it’s – a lot of al-Qaida we’re giving these weapons to. You know, they didn’t write the truthful story, which they never do. So all of those things are very important. But, no, I’m very disappointed in the fact that the Justice Department has not gone after the leakers. And they’re the ones that have the great power to go after the leakers, you understand. So – and I’m very disappointed in Jeff Sessions.
WSJ: You can fire him.
TRUMP: Look, Jeff – I could. But we’ll see what happens. But I was – I appointed a man to a position. And then shortly after he gets the position, he recused himself. I said, what’s that all about? Why didn’t you tell me that you were going to do that, and I wouldn’t have appointed you? But I appointed him. And shortly thereafter, he recused himself. So I think that is a –
BAKER: You also suggested in Cleveland today they should be going – or, yesterday – they should be going after Hillary Clinton. Is that –
TRUMP: Well, I didn’t – I wouldn’t have wanted to. But I see the way they go after us on a witch hunt, you know? The Russian – the Russian story’s all an excuse for the Democrats losing. In fact, if you read the book, “Shattered,” they have a whole chapter where they sat the day after the election and they said: Yeah, Russia. It was Russia. And, you know, Trump was involved. OK, the one thing interesting, you never heard me even associated with anybody. But, no, that’s a total witch hunt, the whole Russia story. It’s a hoax. It’s a hoax. We had no collusion with Russia. We never dealt with Russia.
People that were on the campaign, like Corey, came in yesterday. It was very interesting. He was being interviewed. He said – I was watching, Corey Lewandowski – he says: I was here from the beginning. And I must be honest with you, I never dealt with any Russians. He was only the campaign manager. I can even look at Hope. She was here from virtually the same day that Corey started, those two. Hope, how many Russians have you seen involved in the campaign, OK?
HOPE HICKS: None. (Laughs.)
TRUMP: OK? You know, I mean, it’s sad. So they do that. And I say, that’s fine. But then we should really look at real crimes, because real crimes are what Hillary did with 33,000 emails, where she deleted them and bleached them after getting a subpoena. Real crimes are what’s happening and what happened with the uranium deal. And also – I mean, you can say the speeches made while she was secretary of state where they paid her a fortune, Podesta owning a big company in Russia – they talk about me. I have nothing to do with Russia.
You know, I put out a letter from a very – from the biggest law firm saying Trump has no involvement with Russia. I don’t. I have no involvement. I mean, I had Ms. Universe there, like, nine years ago, eight years ago, something like that. But I have nothing to do with Russia. So – and it’s very funny, because all of these people that have been on the campaign, some of them right from the beginning – Anthony’s another example. You’ve been there. You know –
ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI (?): (Inaudible) – I said from the podium on Friday that’s there’s nothing to the Russia story. I said on the weekend there was nothing to the Russia story.
TRUMP: You know, Anthony came in to see me before it all began. And he said, I want to back you for president. This was before the June 16th day. I said, Anthony, I’m not really sure that I’m running. I’m not sure. I may, but I’m not sure. He said, you got to run, you got to run. I want to endorse you. I said, but I’m not sure. This was a few months earlier than when I ran. And he was leaving and he was disappointed. I say, Anthony, what are you going to do? He goes, I got to back somebody, because that’s the way he is. That’s his personality. And he went to a very good guy named Walker.
Then I came after the hedge fund business. So he wasn’t in love with me for a short period of time. And he backed Bush. And that was OK. But his first choice was Trump. I think it’s important to say that because, you know. Is that a true story, by the way?
SCARAMUCCI (?): I was hitting you a little bit – (inaudible) – hedge funds first.
TRUMP: Give me those notes, Hope, come on, just give – I can’t read it. What do you think, I have 20/20 perfect –
HICKS: I was just saying, you self-funded.
HICKS: You self-funded.
TRUMP: Oh, yeah, I self-funded much of my –
WSJ: Just on Sessions, just one thing. Would you like to see him step aside? Would you like to see him resign? Would it be in the country’s best interest just –
TRUMP: I’m just very disappointed in him. I’m disappointed in, you know, a number of categories. I told you, the leakers. He should have – he should be after them. So many people say to me: Why are they going after you on nothing and they leave Hillary Clinton alone on, you know, really major things? And it is – so I’m disappointed in him. And don’t forget, when they say he endorsed me, I went to Alabama. I had 40,000 people, you may have been there, remember, in Mobile?
WSJ: I remember.
TRUMP: I had 40,000 people. He was the senator from Alabama. I won the state by a lot, massive numbers. A lot of the states I won by massive numbers. But he was a senator. He looks at 40,000 people and he probably says, what do I have to lose, and he endorsed me. So it’s not like a great, loyal thing about the endorsement. But I’m very disappointed in Jeff Sessions.
WSJ: Are you willing for the status quo to continue, though? At what point do you say enough?
TRUMP: I’m just looking at it. I’ll just see.
WSJ: What about Bob Mueller?
TRUMP: It’s a very important, very important thing.
WSJ: I mean, but, Bob Mueller is also really the one leading this investigation. It’s his job to see –
TRUMP: Well, we’re going to see.
BAKER: And he’s investigating Russia – your Russian connection –
WSJ: He’s the Russian guy. So Sessions has recused himself, but is Bob Mueller’s job safe? There is speculation –
TRUMP: No, we’re going to see. I mean, I have no comment yet, because it’s too early. But we’ll see. We’re going to see. Here’s the good news: I was never involved with Russia. There was nobody in the campaign. I’ve got 200 people that will say that they’ve never seen anybody on the campaign. Here’s another – he was involved early. There’s nobody on the campaign that saw anybody from Russia. We had nothing to do with Russia. They lost an election and they came up with this as an excuse. And the only ones that are laughing are the Democrats and the Russians. They’re the only ones that are laughing. And if Jeff Sessions didn’t recuse himself, we wouldn’t even be talking about this subject.
WSJ: Would you consider –
TRUMP: You know, it was very interesting. Trey Gowdy said today – again, he’s a very straight shooter, he’s a good guy – he said, no, I understand the president. He was on Fox. He said: I understand the president. You put a man in office who really wanted that job. I actually said to him – and you know some of my lawyers, it’s not – you know, off the record, it’s not exactly – right? You know some of them.
BAKER: I know Marc quite well.
TRUMP: Well, but a lot of them. But I put a man in office – and he said this. And he goes in office, then he immediately recuses himself. I fully understand the president. You know, and a lot of people do, a lot of people. He – you know, I don’t go to loyalty. I think it’s disloyal to the office of the presidency, not necessarily me. I think it’s very disloyal to the office of the presidency. And if he didn’t do that, you wouldn’t have all this stuff. You know, you wouldn’t have it.
So, just a couple of things before we finish. Just – I’m sure you love Stuart Varney. But he just came out, $4 trillion in value in the stock market. RNC has more than 80 million in cash, whereas the Democrats owe money, OK, although they’re trying to come up with their new campaign. Trust me, it won’t work. And I said it the last time (and I was wrong ?). Immigration went down 78 percent at the border – 78 percent at the border. Kelly’s done a great job.
BAKER: You going to veto the Russian sanctions legislation?
TRUMP: Well, I haven’t seen them yet. I haven’t seen them in final form. I will say this, Congress, if they’re going to negotiate, they make the worst deals I’ve ever seen. They made NAFTA. They made – you know, they allowed the Iran deal to go through.
WSJ: You said you’re opposed –
TRUMP: I make good deals. I don’t make bad deals. I make good deals. So, but, I haven’t made my – I have not seen them. I have to see.
By the way, a lot of things have taken place in that agreement that are a lot different from what it was two weeks ago – a lot of things.
BAKER: You also – you brought in Anthony, obviously. Are you planning other changes – are you planning other changes in the White House? After you brought in Anthony, are you planning other changes?
TRUMP: I mean, we’ll see. We’ll see. I do say this, I believe we’ve done more than just about any president of the United States in six months. And I was going to tell you before, so a lot of times I’ll turn on television or I’ll read in The Wall Street Journal, right –
WSJ: Thank you.
TRUMP: – what’s Trump doing? He hasn’t produced health care. I’m not even six months yet, right? So these guys went eight years – Hillary Clinton, eight years, got nothing. Obama went a year and a half, almost two years, and they had to sell their soul. They had to give away the state of Nebraska in order to buy that vote. And that was two years. I’m six months. They got to give me a little break, OK? And today we’re having a big vote, and we’ll see what happens. But today’s vote is big, because once you get in – once you’re allowed to talk a lot of –
BAKER: But we can’t expect any more staff changes in the immediate – in the immediate future?
TRUMP: No, I don’t think so.
TRUMP: But I’m very happy with Anthony. I think Anthony is going to do amazing.
WSJ: Would you consider pardons, Mr. President, given the investigation is –
TRUMP: You know what? I don’t even think of pardons. Here’s why, nobody did anything wrong. Look at Jared, everybody – we do appreciate the editorial – but everybody said Jared Kushner. Jared’s a very private person. He doesn’t get out. I mean, maybe it’s good or maybe it’s bad what I do, but at least people know how I feel. Jared’s this really nice, smart guy, who’d love to see peace in the Middle East and in Israel, OK?
WSJ: Gerry, yeah, Gary and are bouncers from – (inaudible). (Laughter.)
BAKER: Thank you very much. Thank you very much, Mr. President.
WSJ: Thank you, Mr. President. Thanks.
WSJ: Tom Barrack as Mexican ambassador?
TRUMP: I’m thinking about it. What do you think? Do you like him?
TRUMP: Tom Barrack, yes? Call him up, tell him I’m giving it to him. [Laughter.]
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