WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Here are highlights of the Reuters Oval Office interview with U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday.
“Well, I’d sit down but I’m not sure that sitting down will solve the problem.
“I’m not sure that talks will lead to anything meaningful. They’ve talked for 25 years and they’ve taken advantage of our presidents, of our previous presidents.”
“No, I just don’t want to say as to whether or not we’ve had communication. But, but we will see how that plays out. OK? And hopefully it can be done in a peaceful way but it’s very possible that it can’t.”
ON A PRE-EMPTIVE STRIKE AGAINST NORTH KOREA
“Well, again I don’t want to say what options I want to consider. I just don’t think we should be talking about options to the media.”
ON WHAT HIS REACTION WOULD BE TO NEW NORTH KOREAN ICBM TESTS
“I don’t like talking about things like that.
“We’re playing a very, very hard game of poker and you don’t want to reveal your hand.”
“I spoke with President Xi (Jinping) the other day, who I have a great chemistry with, I have a great relationship with.
“They’re doing a lot ... But they can do more. Ninety-three percent of the trade goes through China.
“Russia’s not helping us at all with North Korea. He (Russian President Vladimir Putin) can do a lot. But unfortunately we don’t have a relationship - I think it’s too bad, but unfortunately we don’t have much of a relationship with Russia, and in some cases it’s probable that what China takes back, Russia gives. So the net result is not as good as it could be.”
“I don’t think - they’re not there yet, but they’re close. And they get closer every day. And again, this is a problem that should have been handled over the last 25 years before they were this close or before they did have a capability.”
“We’re ordering more missile defense and we’re ordering more missile offense also. We have been very depleted as a nation and I would love to spend money on other things but I’m also a person of great common sense.”
“We’re going to be doing and we’ll announce something.
“I’ll talk about it at the State of the Union (annual address).
“It’s not only China. China’s just the biggest. It’s everybody.”
“They dump the panels, then everybody goes out of business. I think I heard we lost like 20 of 22 ... solar panel companies. How many have we lost, Gary?” (Economic adviser Gary Cohn: “We’re down to two. And one is basically on the edge of bankruptcy.”)
“We’re renegotiating NAFTA now. We’ll see what happens. I may terminate NAFTA. A lot of people are going to be unhappy if I terminate NAFTA. A lot of people don’t realize how good it would be to terminate NAFTA because the way you’re going to make the best deal is to terminate NAFTA. But people would like to see me not do that.”
“I’m not going to get into what I said, but I will tell you, it was a tough meeting.
“The reason it was a tough meeting was, I was told that we had a deal - and the deal was an unacceptable deal.
“Lindsey (Graham) - he meant well - but I said: ‘Well, how many Republicans agree with this?’ So far, I find one: Lindsey.
“After about 30 seconds, I realize – this deal’s terrible. It’s horrible for the security of our country.
“It’s the opposite of what I campaigned for.
“They gave very little funding for the wall, which we desperately need, by the way. But it also was weak on chain migration. They were very weak on chain migration. Very, very weak.
“The lottery system has to go, and the chain migration system is killing our country.
“I’ve had many meetings over the years. I’ve never had somebody run out to the press and say: ‘Trump said this, Trump said that, Trump said this.’ That’s not the way you make deals.
“I’ve lost all trust in (Democratic U.S. Senator Dick) Durbin.”
“I think you have great people from all countries. And I look at the individual and I want to bring in great individuals. I think much less about the country ... I want to bring in great people, great individuals.
“I love the people from Haiti. I campaigned, I went two or three times down to Little Haiti in Miami.
“I mean, I love the people. There’s a tremendous warmth. And I was very well-received. And they’re very hard-working people.
“We need workers in this country. So I’m not like somebody that wants to shut off people coming in – I think just the opposite. I want a lot of people to come in. But they have to come in through merit.”
“I always said the wall will be only where we need it. I never said a wall that’s 2,000 (miles). You have mountains. You have some really vicious waterways that you can’t get across.
“The other day I heard, ‘Well, Donald Trump has just made the wall smaller.’ No, no, the wall is the exact same wall as I made from day one.
“Obviously, it’s about 700 miles (1,126 km) of length is what we need.
“It’s always been that way. It was never a change.”
“I am going to be very much involved with the election in Pennsylvania. We have a great candidate in Pennsylvania. The congressional that is coming up in March, we have a great candidate there.
“I’ll be very much involved with [the midterm elections] - not so much primaries - other than I respect a lot of the people that are running. It’s hard, sometimes you really like three candidates, that’s a very tough position to be in.
“I am going to spend probably four or five days a week helping people because we need more Republicans.”
ON MOVING THE U.S. EMBASSY TO JERUSALEM BY YEAR-END
“No, that’s not - but we’re working on it.
“By the end of the year? We’re talking about different scenarios - I mean obviously that would be on a temporary basis. We’re not really looking at that.
“We’re looking at doing a beautiful embassy, but not one that costs $1.2 billion. You know what that means, you know what I mean by that?”
“Just so you understand, it started in the Bush term but the deal was made in the Obama term and the deal was built in the Obama term. And it came out tremendously over budget so now we have an embassy that cost $1.2 billion.”
“Everybody makes mistakes, but you have to learn from your mistakes. Would I have done certain things differently? Yes. Do I want to talk about that? No, but I know what I would have done differently and who I would have chosen differently, people I would have chosen differently.
“The end result is we have an economy that’s booming. We have jobs that are at the highest they’ve ever been.
“We’ve done a good job. I think we’re much more respected throughout the world. Money is pouring into NATO, which it never would have done, if I didn’t say, ‘You’ve got to pay your fair share.’”
“I love Washington, but it’s a mean place, it’s a very deceptive place. I have found the media to be unbelievably dishonest.”
“Most of us could lose a couple of pounds.
“See, a lot of people go to the gym and they’ll work out for two hours and all. I’ve seen people ... then they get their new knees when they’re 55 years old and they get their new hips and they do all those things. I don’t have those problems.
“I can play golf with a senator. I can play golf with people from Congress. At the same time I’m getting some exercise.
“Now, I could walk. But I’m on the golf course for two hours as opposed to a much longer period of time.
“Like people get on a treadmill, I go play golf.”
“I think the chefs, the people that do the food at the White House are extraordinary but I think they can maybe make the portions a little bit smaller and maybe we’ll cut out some of the more fattening ingredients, and I am OK with that.”
“I was on a treadmill for the first time actually in quite a while, and it was at a very steep angle, and I was there for a very long time. The doctor was shocked, actually. They were surprised. And they said, ‘Well you can stop now, that’s amazing.’ And I said, ‘I can go much longer than this if you want me to, while I’m on the treadmill.’”
“You want anything, does anybody want something to drink? Water? Coke? Anything?
“See, it looks like the nuclear - see, everyone thinks, ‘Oh, don’t push that button.’
“It looks nasty, doesn’t it? It looks quite nasty, actually.”
Reporting by Ayesha Rascoe, James Oliphant, Steve Holland, Jeff Mason and Roberta Rampton; Editing by Peter Cooney and Rosalba O'Brien