December 12, 2018 / 1:50 AM / a month ago

Highlights: Key quotes from the Reuters interview with Trump

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Here are highlights from the Reuters interview with U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday.

U.S. President Donald Trump answers questions during an exclusive interview with Reuters journalists in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S. December 11, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

ON THE POSSIBLE EXTRADITION OF HUAWEI EXECUTIVE

“Well I think I’d want to speak to China. We’ve spoken to the Justice Department. You know – it wasn’t good what happened with the company, you understand that, in terms of what they did. And this has been a big problem that we’ve had in so many different ways with so many companies from China and from other places. So I want to see what China requests. So far they have not made that request.”

ON WHETHER HE WOULD INTERVENE IN THE HUAWEI CASE

“Whatever’s good for this country, I would do. If I think it’s good for the country, if I think it’s good for what will be certainly the largest trade deal ever made – which is a very important thing – what’s good for national security – I would certainly intervene if I thought it was necessary.”

ON CHINA TRADE

“They’re buying tremendous amounts of soybeans. They’re back in the market ... I just heard today that they’re buying tremendous amounts of soybeans. They are starting, just starting now.”

“We’ll probably have another meeting. And maybe a meeting of the top people on both sides. If it’s necessary, I’ll have another meeting with President Xi, who I like a lot and get along with very well.”

ON WHETHER HE WILL PUT TARIFFS ON CARS FROM JAPAN AND THE EU

“It depends on how we do with the trade negotiations. If we don’t do well, that’s one of the options that we have.”

“We’re having very good talks with the EU and we’re having very good talks with Japan. You know those talks have already started. But that certainly is an option.”

ON WHETHER THE SAUDI CROWN PRINCE WAS COMPLICIT IN THE DEATH OF JAMAL KHASHOGGI

“Well, I don’t want to get into that. I can say that he says no, and other people say no, and some people say yes.”

“The fact is, you know, he vehemently denies it, as you know. The crown prince vehemently denies it.”

ON FURTHER RESPONSE TO THE DEATH OF KHASHOGGI

“I really hope that people aren’t going to suggest that we should not take hundreds of billions of dollars that they’re going to siphon off to Russia and to China, primarily those two, instead of giving it to us. You’re talking about hundreds of thousands of jobs. You’re talking about huge military and other contracts. I hope that’s not going to be a recommendation. But that’s moving along. And some of the senators are coming over to see me.”

ON WHETHER STANDING BY SAUDI ARABIA MEANS STANDING BY THE CROWN PRINCE

“Well, at this moment, it certainly does. He’s the leader of Saudi Arabia. They’ve been a very good ally.”

ON REPORTS THAT SOME IN THE SAUDI ROYAL FAMILY WANT CHANGE

“I just haven’t heard that. Honestly, I can’t comment on it because I had not heard that at all. In fact, if anything, I’ve heard that he’s very strongly in power.”

“That’s going to be up to them. They’re going to have to make that decision.”

ON ENDING THE U.S. INVOLVEMENT IN YEMEN

“Well, I’m much more open to Yemen because frankly, I hate to see what’s going on in Yemen. But it takes two to tango. I’d want to see Iran pull out of Yemen too. Because – and I think they will.”

ON HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH DEMOCRATS IN CONGRESS

“We’re going to go down one of two tracks. We’re either going to start the campaign and they’re going to do presidential harassment. Or we’re going to get tremendous amounts of legislation passed working together. There’s not a third track. We’re not going to do both.”

ON WHETHER HE WORRIES ABOUT IMPEACHMENT

“It’s hard to impeach somebody who hasn’t done anything wrong and who’s created the greatest economy in the history of our country.”

“I’m not concerned, no. I think that the people would revolt if that happened.”

ON HIS FORMER LAWYER, MICHAEL COHEN, AND HUSH MONEY PAYMENTS

“Number one: it wasn’t a campaign contribution. If it were, it’s only civil. And even if it’s only civil, there was no violation based on what we did.”

“And to add a fourth little tranche to it: Michael Cohen IS a lawyer. He’s supposed to know what to do. That’s what you rely on people for. That’s what you pay lawyers for.”

“Michael Cohen should have known what he was doing. I hope he did. My lawyers say frankly that everything he did was fine.”

ON WHETHER THE U.S. IS HEADED TOWARD A RECESSION

“In my opinion, we are doing really well. Our companies are doing really well. If the Fed is going to act reasonably and rationally, I think we’ll go - I think we are a rocket ship going up.”

ON THE POSSIBILITY OF THE FED RAISING RATES NEXT WEEK

“Well, I think that would be foolish but what can I say? What can I say? You know, I put a man there. What can I say? If they do that, I’d be disappointed and I think a lot of people would be disappointed.”

“You have to understand, we’re fighting some trade battles and we’re winning. But I need accommodation, too.”

“I think Jay (Powell) is great.”

“I think he’s trying to do what he thinks is best. I disagree with him - I think he’s a great guy. But, I think he’s trying to get it right but I think he’s being too aggressive, far too aggressive, actually far too aggressive.”

ON WHAT HE IS LOOKING FOR IN A NEW CHIEF OF STAFF

“Somebody that I can really get along with well. Somebody whose ideas are similar to my ideas. Somebody that will take my ideas and go with them. That doesn’t mean they can’t be questioned. I like being questioned.”

“I have at least 10, 12 - 12 people that want it badly.”

“Everybody wants it. Who doesn’t want to be one of the top few people in Washington, D.C.?”

ON HIS RE-ELECTION CAMPAIGN

“I think I’ll do well with the re-election. I’m looking at polls. We had 50 yesterday in Rasmussen, right? That’s higher than Obama had, by a lot.”

“Even Bruce Springsteen said they have nobody that’s going to beat Trump. And you know what, I listened to that - in one ear out the other - because frankly I don’t want to be sitting here someday saying, ‘You know, I believed this.’ I don’t believe anything. All I know is I’ll work very hard. We’re doing a great job. The country’s in great shape.”

Reporting by Roberta Rampton, Jeff Mason, Steve Holland; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall

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