President Trump discussed battling coronavirus, reopening the U.S. economy and fallout from the Russia investigation in an interview with Maria Bartiromo on Thursday’s broadcast of FOX Business Network’s ‘Mornings with Maria.’ Partial transcript, via FBN:
MARIA BARTIROMO: How are you doing? I know that coronavirus has hit here as well. How are you doing? Your team? Your inside teams? PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, we’re doing well. It’s very sad what’s happened to the world and to our country, with all of the deaths. We are going to build our economy back bigger than ever, but with all of that death, you could never replace what’s taken. And it’s very sad for a lot of families that it has so horribly hit — and so unnecessary. They could have stopped it. They could have stopped it in China where it came from. But it didn’t happen that way. BARTIROMO: I want to ask you about China. I’ll get to that. But let’s talk about the reopening of America right now. About half of the states have begun this process. TRUMP: Right. BARTIROMO: Is it too soon? There are some calls out there that they’re talking about a relapse in the fall. Is it too soon? TRUMP: So I want them to open when they can, when they want. The governors are opening them. Most of them are either opened or opening or considering it. I think that we have to get back to work. We have to get our country back. We have to take it back. It was artificially closed. I think we’re doing incredibly well, considering the fact that we had the greatest economy, Maria, in history. You report it every morning. The greatest that anyone’s ever seen – the best job numbers, best stock numbers, best everything. We had the best everything. And in addition to military being strong, all of the things we’ve done, and we had to just one day, boom, close it. We did the right thing, and now we’ve got to get back. We’ve got to bring our country back. And it’s going to happen, and it’s going to happen fast. We’re going to — I call it a transition to greatness. You’re going to have the third quarter — people are starting to get into that right now, but it’s going to be a transition. That’s a transition quarter. We’re going to do well in the fourth quarter, and I think next year, with all of the stimulus, all of the things we’ve done, I think we’re going to have one of the best economic years we’ve ever had. BARTIROMO: Dr. Fauci is saying a different thing. He says he’s worried about spikes turning into outbreaks. He said it seems like it could be too soon and that the major message he wants to convey is that the danger is, if you skip over the checkpoints and the guidelines to open America again, then we risk the danger of multiple outbreaks. TRUMP: So Anthony is a good person, very good person. I’ve disagreed with him. When I closed the border to China, he disagreed with that. And then ultimately he agreed. And he said I saved hundreds of thousands of lives, which is what happened. Everybody disagreed when I did that. I think that we have to open our schools. Young people are very little affected by this. We have to get the schools open. We have to get our country open. We have to open our country. Now, we want to do it safely, but we also want to do it as quickly as possible. We can’t keep going on like this. We’re going to have — you’re having bedlam already in the streets. You can’t — you can’t do this. We have to get it open. I totally disagree with him on schools. And we will have, I call them embers. I call them spikes. And he called — I noticed he used the word spike. Well, you might have that, and we’ll put it out. You know, we’ve learned a lot. We didn’t know anything about this. This is a horrible disease. This is a horrible plague. I call it a plague. It’s a terrible thing. We’ve learned a lot. And we also know how to put it out. But we have to open our country. We have no choice. You know, people are dying this way, too. When you report this — better than I could ever report it — but people are report — they’re dying with this closure, with this shutdown of a country where they’re in the house, they’re in their apartment. They’re not allowed — some people are too tough on it. They’re not allowed to go out. They can’t. They’re losing their jobs. We’re not going to let it happen. BARTIROMO: Do you think your critics want you to keep it closed going into the election? TRUMP: Yeah. I do, I do. I think it’s a political thing in addition. I think some are saying — (CROSSTALK) BARTIROMO: But they’re saying you’re putting money, business, ahead of lives. TRUMP: They don’t know. I think the people that want to see the right thing happen; they agree with me. We have to get our country open. You know, if it was up to some people, let’s keep it closed for a long time. OK? A long time. And watch the United States go down the tubes. Not going to happen. Never going to happen on my watch. (CROSSTALK) BARTIROMO: — I want to ask you, I mean, do you see long-term damage done the longer that you stay closed? Because Jay Powell said that as well, that there is a long-term impact the longer it stays closed. TRUMP: Yeah. So I — what I do see is this. I see we’re losing a tremendous number of lives. So is the world. You know, the world… 184 countries. It’s now more than that. Think of it. The tremendous lives lost. So that can never — when you talk about damage, that can never be replaced. We’re going to lose over 100,000 perhaps in this country. Now in all fairness, that’s at the bottom level of the scale. We would have lost two million, we would have lost more if we did it a different way. But you’re talking about 100,000 more, a little bit less, more — who knows? It’s a terrible thing. No. So that can’t be replaced. We’re spending trillions of dollars on all of the damage economically, financially, that it’s caused. So it is a terrible thing. It’s just an incredible thing. We were sailing. Two months ago we were sailing- (CROSSTALK) BARTIROMO: – certainly. And now we’re talking about 33 million people filing for unemployment, even after $10 trillion in stimulus — (CROSSTALK) TRUMP: That’s all going to come back. (CROSSTALK) BARTIROMO: — bankruptcy. TRUMP: The lives won’t come back. That’s all going to come back. It’s going to come back fast. No. With that we’re spending money, we’re borrowing money, we’re spending money. All of that stuff is bad. But all of that’s going to work out. That’s going to all come back. We have a strong dollar. We have a great country. The people want to go back to work. And they don’t want to lose their jobs, by the way. BARTIROMO: So you want a strong dollar. Because in the past you’ve said you didn’t want a strong dollar — (CROSSTALK) TRUMP: I’ll tell you what. It’s a great time to have a strong dollar. Because the whole world — you know, we’re paying zero interest, right. That’s never happened either. We’re paying so low. Everybody wants to be in the dollar, because we kept it strong. I kept it strong. Now, from a trade standpoint, it’s tougher. But from a country standpoint and an inflation standpoint, you don’t have inflation, you don’t have problems. No, we have a strong dollar. And right now it’s good to have a strong dollar. BARTIROMO: Mr. President, what’s the — (CROSSTALK) TRUMP: And I can live both ways. You understand that. But right now having a strong dollar is a great thing. BARTIROMO: What’s the right mix of policies to get us back? You had a policy program in 2017 and you moved the needle on economic growth. That was tax cuts, that was deregulation, that was turning on the energy spigot, and it was a new trade situation. Is it the same playbook to get us back? TRUMP: So we’re going to have maybe a different playbook — stronger than I would have ever said. I was very much a pro-USA person. I was America first. Right? Always. You’ve known me — ever since you’ve known me, and I was right about that. Strong borders. Our border is very strong. We have some of the best numbers we’ve ever had. Southern border, the best numbers we’ve ever had and — (CROSSTALK) BARTIROMO: This is what you campaigned on. TRUMP: I did. And we’ve now built 182 miles of wall. You know, what that is, 182 miles? We’ll be at close to 500 miles by early next year of wall. (CROSSTALK) BARTIROMO: Of new wall. TRUMP: Brand new. All brand new. And renovated, too. But I’m not even talking about that. We’re talking about over 500 miles of wall. And we have — you have to understand. I had a party totally — they want open borders. They want people pouring in. And even they don’t mention it. You notice? I have all the financing. They didn’t even bother with it at the end. Because I turned out to be right. They didn’t want to be the party that was opposed to having walls, of having strong borders. But they are. They want open borders. They want people pouring into our country, and now they look at it and they say, they pour in, do they have COVID-19, do they — what’s the problem? You know, what problem do they have? OK. And so they want to stay away from that subject. But when you think of what we’ve done — and I was always America first. Make America Great Again. Right? And basically it’s that, but it’s that plus — because a lot of people fought me on China. You hear what that — you hear all that honking? You know what that is? That’s trucks. They love their — (CROSSTALK) BARTIROMO: Trucking protestors, right? TRUMP: Well, they’re not protestors. They’re supporters of me, because we’re getting things for the truckers and all those great truckers that are all over the country — BARTIROMO: They want the economy open. (CROSSTALK) TRUMP: They’re honking, and they’re — they’re really very thankful that I’m president, frankly. So when I hear the horns – (CROSSTALK) (LAUGHTER) TRUMP: — there’s a thousand trucks outside. It’s great. So what we’re doing is what I was doing before but even more so. And I’m even, you know, stronger about it. America first. China, I made a great trade deal. The ink wasn’t dry when the plague came over from China. The ink wasn’t even dry. BARTIROMO: They didn’t tell you about it when they came here on the 15th of January — (CROSSTALK) TRUMP: No. BARTIROMO: — and shook everybody’s hands. TRUMP: That was never even a subject. That was not anything that anybody really understood or knew about at the time. But China — I’m very disappointed in China. I will tell you that right now. BARTIROMO: I have a lot of – (CROSSTALK) TRUMP: And Maria – BARTIROMO: — on China – (CROSSTALK) TRUMP: We can — we can do things in our country. We can — you know, we used to make our own product. Would you believe it, right? We used to make our own product. We don’t need 37 pencils, we can buy 2 pencils-and they can be better. But you know went astray, the whole thing, we went astray. I’ve been talking about this for 20 years. Probably it’s the number one reason I ran for president. Because I saw that our car industry is leaving, going to Mexico. You know, Mexico makes 30 percent of our cars. It’s not even believable. BARTIROMO: Well, businesses want — (CROSSTALK) TRUMP: And Canada makes a lot of our cars. (CROSSTALK) BARTIROMO: Businesses wanted cheap labor, but they also wanted lax environmental rules. TRUMP: But see, the cheap labor turned out to be very expensive, because when you add what this has costing — you just take a look at what’s happening. And when you add what’s costing by us with our drugs, our pharmaceutical products, so many different things – BARTIROMO: Minerals. TRUMP: So I put tariffs on China, and we’ve taken in tens of billions of dollars. I gave a lot of those — that money to the farmers, because they were targeted by China. And every other president let China do whatever they wanted. You know, we were — we were losing anywhere from $200 billion to $500 billion to China a year. Think of it. We rebuilt China — and I give them a lot of credit. But I don’t give our past presidents and leaders a lot of credit, because they got taken to the cleaners. And worst of all, was the last eight years under President Obama and Biden, where his son gets – (CROSSTALK) BARTIROMO: I’m going to get to that. (CROSSTALK) TRUMP: — his son gets a billion and a half dollars, and then they’re supposed to be tough on China. Doesn’t work that way. BARTIROMO: He traveled on Air Force Two. (CROSSTALK) TRUMP: His father got him to hundreds — look. It’s impossible to do what he did. If you talk to Steve Schwarzman, if you talk — and I asked him, I said, Steve, is something like that possible. He said — (CROSSTALK) BARTIROMO: To get that kind of money. TRUMP: He said it’s impossible. You can’t get that money. He said, this guy had no experience. He didn’t even have a job. And he walked out of China with $1.5 billion dollars to invest for them, of which he makes hundreds of thousands — and actually millions — of dollars. What is this? BARTIROMO: So how do you get us back? When you look at these numbers — we’re going to be going into the election with a double-digit unemployment rate. I mean, could we get below 10 percent by September, on unemployment? (CROSSTALK) TRUMP: No, but by – (CROSSTALK) BARTIROMO: And what are your policies — (CROSSTALK) TRUMP: By next year I think we’re going to be very, very strong again. We have tremendous powers that other people don’t have. We have tremendous job capacity. And I think what’s going to happen is next year is going to be one of our best years. I feel that we will transition in this third quarter; fourth quarter is going to be good. Next year’s going to be incredible. BARTIROMO: Are there industries that you’re thinking of that will lead us out of there? That are more poised to open and have economic activity than others? And what about states, are there states out there that have become a model for you? I know Georgia did well. Florida as well, in terms of their openings. (CROSSTALK) TRUMP: Many – many states did. BARTIROMO: What can you tell us about the openings so far? (CROSSTALK) TRUMP: But don’t forget, those states, none of them would have done well without what we did in the federal government because we became the ventilator maker of the world. I mean, we are now doing things with ventilators that nobody thought possible. When we took over, we didn’t have ventilators. Nobody knew what a ventilator was. We’re making thousands of ventilators now a week. And also, by the way, everybody’s got ventilators. We’re giving them now and selling them to other countries who desperately need them. Other countries are calling up. They desperately need them. We’re the testing capital. You see the numbers. I mean I — you’ve seen this before. But they want — this is us in the globe. (CROSSTALK) BARTIROMO: You’re up to 10 million. TRUMP: Look at us. Over 10 million tests.