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Trump Speech to Veterans of Foreign Wars; Trump Ready for Iran Deal; Trump Defends Trade Wars. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired July 24, 2018 - 13:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[13:00:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Providing the leadership that this country needs as we lead the world into this new century. And now, I tell you what, I think he needs reinforcements in Washington, D.C. Do you agree with that?

So let's -- let's do this. Let's show our appreciation again for President Trump and the leadership that he is giving to this country, and let's redouble our efforts and recommit ourselves to standing together, working hard, and making America great again.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Wow. Good-bye, folks. That was great. What a great young man.

Before going any further, I want to take this moment to send our prayers to the victims of the tragic boat accident that took place in your great state last week. And I have to tell you, the whole world was watching that. We lost 17 beautiful souls, including nine members of one family and babies for whom life was just beginning. Their lives were cut short, but they and their loved ones will never, ever be forgotten. A tragedy. We will hold their memory close to our hearts.

I want to thank your governor, Mike Parson -- friend of mine, a great person -- for his leadership during this terrible tragedy, along with the Coast Guard and all of the first responders who were incredible. Thank you very much. Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

Next year will mark the 120th anniversary of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the oldest major veterans' organization in our country. That's pretty good, right?

(APPLAUSE)

For more than a century, the VFW has represented American heroes who promoted American values, and they did so with honor. You are the universal symbol of the patriotic pride that beats loudly in every single American heart.

We don't apologize for America any more. We stand up for America.

(APPLAUSE)

We stand up for the patriots who defend America.

(APPLAUSE)

And we stand up for our national anthem.

(APPLAUSE)

We're putting America first again and we are seeing the incredible results. We're destroying the bloodthirsty killers known as ISIS -- almost gone.

(APPLAUSE)

We're calling the threat by its real name. A name that wasn't mentioned for a long time. It's called "radical Islamic terrorism." That's what it is.

(APPLAUSE)

You have to know your enemy before you can defeat your enemy.

Earlier this year, I recognized the true capital of Israel, as Josh said. Jerusalem, where we just opened the American embassy.

(APPLAUSE)

They thought it would never be named. And after it was named, they thought it would never get built. And I built it within four months. How about that one.

(APPLAUSE)

You know, that's all. Four months. They came to my office. They had a document to be signed, $1 billion for the embassy. I said, "One billion?" They didn't have a site, they didn't know anything.

And our great ambassador to Israel called, David Friedman. He's a very successful lawyer in New York City, one of the most. And he said, "You know, we could do it a lot faster. We have a great site. We have a building already on the site. We could renovate the building quickly and we could open the embassy, if you'd like to do that, sir."

I said, "How much would it cost?" He said, "$150,000." I said, "What!"

(LAUGHTER)

What! He said, " think we can do it in four months." So we're talking about $1 billion maybe in 20 years, maybe never. Probably never happens, right? We know what goes on.

Besides that, I'd rather build ships or I'd rather build something else.

[13:05:00]

(APPLAUSE)

If we can save the money. We can save that money, let's use it wisely. (UNKNOWN): (OFF-MIKE)

TRUMP: So I said, "David, let's not do 150. Let's do, like, how about 400,000? And make it nicer." And it's beautiful. It just opened and it is beautiful.

So we're many years ahead of schedule. And I understand, frankly, every president for the last many presidents has said we're going to open our embassy in Jerusalem, and then they never did it. They all failed. They never did it.

And I understand why. Because when it came time and when people were hearing rumors about it, I was inundated from calls of every leader from all over the world, imploring me, even demanding that we not do it.

To a point where I never took their calls unless (ph) -- I called them back after I did it, you know? It's one of those jobs. Let's me call her (ph) back.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

I was getting calls from kings and presidents and dictators. I was getting a call from everyone. And when I knew what it was about, I'd say, "Tell them I'll call them next week." Then I called them and I said, "Oh, I didn't know you felt that way. Well, it's too late." It's (inaudible).

(LAUGHTER)

But I understand why they didn't do it. Because there was tremendous pressure. We did it, we're proud of it, it's there. Enjoy it.

(APPLAUSE)

And by the way, the biggest fan may very well be the evangelicals. They wanted that built. They wanted that there. So we're very -- we're very proud of it.

(APPLAUSE)

We've removed unnecessary restraints on our war fighters in Afghanistan. Those who risk their life and limb for our country, they deserve rules of engagement that give them the best opportunity to finally defeat the enemy.

(APPLAUSE)

And we're making, for the first time in years, we're making a lot of progress in Afghanistan. I withdrew the United States from the horrible one-sided Iran nuclear deal.

(APPLAUSE) And Iran is not the same country any more. That I can say. And we'll see what happens, but we're ready to make a real deal, not the deal that was done by the previous administration, which was a disaster.

(APPLAUSE)

We're also pursuing the de-nuclearization of North Korea and a new future of prosperity, security and peace on the Korean peninsula and all of Asia. New images just today show that North Korea has begun the process of dismantling a key missile site and we appreciate that.

We had a fantastic meeting with Chairman Kim and it seems to be going very well.

(APPLAUSE)

I know we're joined today by many incredible veterans of the Korean War, thank you for your courageous service. As you may know, we're also working to bring back the remains of your brothers in arms who gave their lives to Korea and I hope that very soon these fallen warriors will begin coming home to lay at rest in American soil.

(APPLAUSE)

That's starting the process. At the very end of our meeting, I said to Chairman Kim -- good relationship, good feeling, I said I would really appreciate it if you could do that. He said it will be done, so I was very happy and I think that process is starting fairly soon, we hope.

(APPLAUSE)

Because we believe in no American left behind, we believe in that, right?

(APPLAUSE)

No American left behind. I want to thank the VFW for your devotion to our fallen heroes, unknown soldiers, prisoners of war and those missing in action and their families. No one better understands the horrors of war than the people in this room.

It is the warrior who bears the scars of battle and who prays most fervently for peace. That is why we remember George Washington's advice, that the best way to preserve the peace is to be prepared for war.

[13:10:00]

(APPLAUSE)

And that is exactly what we do all the time. My thinking is always on military and military strength. That is why I'm proud to report that we are now undertaking the greatest rebuilding of our United States Military in its history.

(APPLAUSE) We have secured $700 billion for defense this year, and $716 billion next year approved.

(APPLAUSE)

We're ordering 147 new F-35 lightning fighters, this is an incredible plane. It's stealth, you can't see it. So when I talk to even people from the other side, they're trying to order our plane. They like the fact that you can't see it.

I said how would it do in battle with your plane? They say well we have one problem, we can't see your plane.

(LAUGHTER)

That's a big problem, stealth. Super stealth, the best in the world. We make the best military equipment in the world -- also, remember this, jobs.

(APPLAUSE)

We're ordering 239 Apache and Blackhawk helicopters, you know what they are, they're incredible.

(APPLAUSE)

19 major naval vessels and nearly 8,000 humvees, and these will be humvees that are used by our great soldiers, not handed out to everybody like you've been reading about in the past.

(APPLAUSE)

All made right here in the USA.

(APPLAUSE)

And we're adding nearly 30,000 new soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, and I've directed the Pentagon to begin the process of creating the sixth branch of our military. It's called the Space Force.

(APPLAUSE)

We are living in a different world and we have to be able to adapt. And that's what it is, lot of very important things are going to be taking place in space. And I just don't mean going up to the moon and going up to Mars where we'll be going very soon.

We'll be going to Mars very soon. But from a military standpoint, space is becoming every day more and more important. I'm also thrilled to say that we have secured for our military service members and their families the largest -- you don't really want it, you're too patriotic for this -- the largest pay raise in almost a decade. Largest pay raise, you don't want it.

(APPLAUSE) You don't want it. Nah, anybody willing to give it up for the sake of your country? OK, keep it, you deserve it, you really do. It's been a long time since you've gotten a raise, you deserve it. My administration is committed to ensuring that our war fighters have the tools, the resources, the firepower that they need to defeat our enemies with overwhelming force.

Hopefully we will never have to use the kind of power that I'm building and helping to build for you. Hopefully people will look at us and they'll say let's pass, let's pass.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

America is a peace loving nation. We do not seek conflict, but if conflict is forced upon us, we will defend ourselves and if we must, we will fight and we will do nothing but win.

(APPLAUSE)

As the great General MacArthur once said, in war, there is no substitute for victory -- victory. We're also committed to ensuring that when our warriors return home as veterans, they receive the best care anywhere on Earth.

(APPLAUSE)

[13:15:00] Since taking office and working alongside of the VFW and by the way, your Representatives have done an incredible job on helping us with the V.A. -- complicated subjects, so many different things. They helped us so much, because we put in legislation -- I said let's make sure that it's legislation that's good and that works, not legislation that's obsolete before we even get it.

If we're going to fight like hell to get everybody to approve it, let's get approved what's good. And we've enacted some of the largest V.A. reforms in the history of the V.A.

(APPLAUSE)

Probably the largest.

Last year I signed into law the landmark V.A. Accountability Act, which nobody thought we could get approved. Nobody. We're good at getting things approved. Nobody thought.

(APPLAUSE)

Now when a bad person, maybe a federal employee in this case, when somebody bad mistreats, or neglects or abuses our great veterans in their time of need, we can turn to them, look them in the eye and say, you're fired, get out. Get out.

(APPLAUSE) Before there was nothing you could do; you had to live with these people. We've gotten rid of a lot of people over the last year. Only the bad ones, the good ones we cherish. We cherish the good ones. But we had some bad apples, and they're gone.

As promised, we established the White House V.A. Hotline. And every V.A. medical center now offers same-day emergency mental health care. Something very important.

(APPLAUSE)

We're greatly expanding telehealth and walk-in clinics so our veterans can get anywhere at any time. They can get what they need. They can learn about the problem, and they don't have to necessarily drive long distances and wait.

We are also -- it's been a very big success.

(APPLAUSE)

We're also processing veteran disability claims more quickly than ever before by far. The V.A. has implemented the decision-ready claims process, where claims can be completed in under two weeks. We're striving for one day. But under two weeks. It used to be many, many months.

(APPLAUSE)

Last year I signed legislation -- it's amazing I just said "last year." It's been a long time already, hasn't it, huh? That was some campaign, wasn't it?

I signed legislation so that veterans can use their G.I. Bill education benefits at any point in their lifetime. It's a big difference.

(APPLAUSE)

They never expire, so vets can get the education they need when it is right for them. And with the VFW's tremendous help, we passed Veterans Choice, the biggest thing ever, the biggest thing. That's got to be the biggest improvement you can have. So now if you can't get treatment that you need in a timely manner -- people used to wait two weeks, three weeks, eight weeks, they couldn't get to a doctor -- you will have the right to see a private doctor immediately, and we will pay for it. And you know what, it's very, very cost effective. And thousands and thousands of lives are going to be saved. And your quality of life is going to be so much better, so you don't have to wait online for two-and-a-half weeks to see a doctor like in the past. Veterans Choice has been passed.

(APPLAUSE)

And my administration also understands that we cannot be a safe country if we are not a prosperous country. We have to think of ourselves. You have to see these trade deals I'm working on. They're a disaster. We're losing hundreds of billions of dollars with individual countries a year. And they're sticking -- you got to stick it out. You've got to just -- we're going to fight it. Nobody else fought it.

I went to some of the countries, I said, how did it get so imbalanced? They said, nobody ever called. They said, nobody ever called. They do whatever they wanted and we just put up with it. Not any longer, folks. Not any longer.

(APPLAUSE)

We're making tremendous progress. They're all coming. They don't want to have those tariffs put on them. They're all coming to see us. And the farmers will be the biggest beneficiary. Watch.

(APPLAUSE)

We're opening up markets. You watch what's going to happen. Just be a little patient. They're all aiming at anybody that likes me. And they have lobbyists like nobody's ever seen. They have the best lobbyists ever put together. I was hearing and reading that they have some of the greatest lobbying teams ever put together -- you've got to stop the president from putting tariffs on these countries and these companies that are ripping off the United States. You've got to stop him. Just remember, we're going to do something that honestly nobody else could do. Nobody else could do.

Thank you, darling.

(APPLAUSE)

I like you too. I like her.

Thank you very much. That was good timing.

(LAUGHTER)

We're now in the midst of a great economic revival. And it's for that reason that I chose this as the time.

Last year our country lost $817 billion, with a 'b' dollars, on trade. We lost $817 billion. And people say, oh, could you do it this week? could you get it done immediately? These countries have been ripping us off for decades. It doesn't take a week. It takes a little longer. But we're going to get it done. But just remember, we can't lose $817 billion. We rebuilt china. What the European Union is doing to us is incredible. How bad? They made $151 billion last year, our trade deficit with the European Union. They sound nice, but they're rough. They're all coming in to see me tomorrow. They're all coming to the White House. I said, you have to change. They didn't want to change. I said, OK, good, we're going to tariff your cars. They sell (ph) millions of cars. Mercedes, all of them. BMW, so many cars. I said, we're going to have to tariff your cars. They said, when can we show up? When can we be there?

(LAUGHTER)

Would tomorrow be okay?

Oh, folks, stick with us. Stick with us.

(APPLAUSE)

Amazing. But remember they have the biggest, best, strongest lobbyists, and they're doing a number. Just stick with us. Don't believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news.

(APPLAUSE)

I mean, I saw a piece on NBC today -- NBC. Not just CNN. CNN's the worst.

(LAUGHTER)

But I saw a piece on NBC. It was heart-throbbing. They were interviewing people. They probably go through 20 and then pick the one that sounds like the worst. But they went through a group of people. In fact, I wanted to say, I've got to do something about this Trump. Terrible. And that piece was done by the lobbyists and by the people that they hire. It was a total setup. This country is doing better than it's ever done before economically. This is the time...

(APPLAUSE)

... to take off the rip-off (ph) of tariffs. We have to do it. You know, other countries have tariffs on us. So when I say, "Well, I'm going to put tariffs on them," they all start screaming. "He's using tariffs!"

(UNKNOWN): Thank you!

TRUMP: China charges us when we make a car, 25 percent tariff. We charge them 2.5 percent. Other than that, it's a fair deal. OK?

(LAUGHTER)

Similar things with other countries like the European Union. They're a big abuser. But it's all working out. And just remember, what you're seeing and what you're reading is not what's happening.

And I'll tell you, I have so many people that are so (inaudible) -- because we have to make our country truly great again. Remember? Make America great again. And then in two and a half years, it's called "Keep America great."

So the way we keep America great is to make at least reasonable -- I'm not saying -- at least reasonable, at least fair trade deals, not stupid trade deals like we've put up with for 25 years.

So we're changing it and we're changing it rapidly.

[13:25:04] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, we're going to continue to monitor the president of the United States. He's addressing the Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention in Kansas City, Missouri.

Going through a lot of his regular stump speech issues, making it clear that he is going to increasingly impose tariffs on various countries, including close U.S. allies like the European Union, Canada, Mexico, among others, even though there's such strong opposition, even including from the speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, who earlier in the day said he opposes these kinds of tariffs, which he sees as a tax on the American people because so many products coming into the United States will wind up costing the American public a lot more.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. We've got excellent reporters and analysts to discuss what we just heard from the president of the United States.

Jim Sciutto, you were listening very closely to a lot of the national security issues. So far in this address, he hasn't addressed the specific issue, what happened eight days ago in Helsinki in the summit with Putin.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: No, no, he was, as you said, running through kind of a greatest hits list of (INAUDIBLE) out of the Iran deal, bringing, of course, relevant to this audience, Veterans of Foreign Wars, the negotiations to bring home the remains of soldiers killed in the Korean War, increase in military spending, always going to get a cheer from a crowd, a military crowd, no question. As we were discussing before, certainly a mention of the anthem as well. This is a crowd that is going to be cheering for respect for the flag.

But Russia not mentioned at all. Russia, which, when you speak to U.S. military commanders and national security officials, they regularly put Russia at the top of the list as imminent dangers to the U.S. And one of the reasons for a U.S. military build-up with this, of course, uncomfortable territory for the president. And I should mention, he has not mentioned Russia as there's bipartisan legislation on The Hill sponsored by his friend, Lindsey Graham, that is seeking to further tie the president's hands and impose more sanctions on Russia. But that -- that's a space that the president did not go so far at least in this speech.

One bit of news that struck me. Two days ago you'll remember his tweet threatening untold (Ph) of war on Iran. He said in this speech that he is open, in his words, to a real deal with Iran. Was the president signaling serious openness to new negotiations on a deal to replace the one the Obama administration negotiated? It seemed -- that seemed to be what he was saying.

BLITZER: He said, and I'm quoting him now because I wrote it down, he said the United States is, quote, ready to make a real deal with Iran.

This a day after that very all-caps tweet that he posted --

SCIUTTO: Yes.

BLITZER: Warning the Iranian leader, Rouhani, that if he goes ahead and continues to make threats against the United States, they will pay a price, and I'm paraphrasing right now, like the world has never seen before.

SCIUTTO: Absolutely. And a threat really that, at the end of the day, is somewhat empty because it's our reporting that there are no serious military options on the table for the president now. And certainly the U.S. has military options to attack Iran, but not ones under serious consideration right now. So that turn, perhaps it's classic Trump, right, that, you know, you seek to negotiate from a position of strength, so you make the threat as he did to North Korea, right, weeks before he was willing to sit down with the North Korean leader.

But this is quite a fast turn on a dime, even for this president.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes, but in some ways in the spirit of this speech, right, about all the deals he has made and all the deals he is going to make, right? He had this whole riff about tariffs and how he's going to be strong and all these countries have ripped Americans off, but he's in the middle of making a really good deal.

What was striking about his talk about tariffs and trade is he is essentially, I think, feeling the heat around this. He's seemingly to recognize that people are nervous about this. Farmers all across the country, governors, Republican governors complaining about some of the fallout of it. So he was telling people there, sit tight, something good is going to happen. At some point, it's not clear whether or not people are going to believe him, are going to experience that or experience the real downside of tariffs and see it in real time on their farms, their car companies, in all sorts of ways throughout the country.

BLITZER: And all of a sudden, A.B. Stoddard, he's pushing, what, for a $12 billion subsidy to farmers, the agriculture industry in the United States, because they're suffering right now as a result of this trade war that has developed.

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR AND COLUMNIST, "REALCLEARPOLITICS": Yes. Nia's right, it's a bad day for the trade war. The president, we've never seen him with this sort of palpable level of discomfort where he's saying just please stay with me on this. And it's because Speaker Ryan said something today against it. It's because the Republican Party is not the party of subsidies and bailouts. These farmers, both parties agree, want to sell their crop and their products, they don't want a bailout. And it's an acknowledgment the fact that it's being prepared with government spending that no one wants to spend in either party that the farmers are hurting as a result of these tariffs. So he's really in a corner increasingly on this issue.

[13:29:59] What's also interesting is that he didn't -- he spoke about Afghanistan, but not a hot, active war, which is our presence in Syria. He actually made, in the two hours of mystery behind closed doors with Vladimir Putin, which he wants to distract the conversation from and he wants to talk