Full-Text Political Transcripts May 8, 2018: Former President Barack Obama responds to President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Former President Barack Obama responds to President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal

Source: BG, 5-8-18
There are few issues more important to the security of the United States than the potential spread of nuclear weapons, or the potential for even more destructive war in the Middle East. That’s why the United States negotiated the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in the first place.
The reality is clear. The JCPOA is working – that is a view shared by our European allies, independent experts, and the current U.S. Secretary of Defense. The JCPOA is in America’s interest – it has significantly rolled back Iran’s nuclear program. And the JCPOA is a model for what diplomacy can accomplish – its inspections and verification regime is precisely what the United States should be working to put in place with North Korea. Indeed, at a time when we are all rooting for diplomacy with North Korea to succeed, walking away from the JCPOA risks losing a deal that accomplishes – with Iran – the very outcome that we are pursuing with the North Koreans.
That is why today’s announcement is so misguided. Walking away from the JCPOA turns our back on America’s closest allies, and an agreement that our country’s leading diplomats, scientists, and intelligence professionals negotiated. In a democracy, there will always be changes in policies and priorities from one Administration to the next. But the consistent flouting of agreements that our country is a party to risks eroding America’s credibility, and puts us at odds with the world’s major powers.
Debates in our country should be informed by facts, especially debates that have proven to be divisive. So it’s important to review several facts about the JCPOA.
First, the JCPOA was not just an agreement between my Administration and the Iranian government. After years of building an international coalition that could impose crippling sanctions on Iran, we reached the JCPOA together with the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the European Union, Russia, China, and Iran. It is a multilateral arms control deal, unanimously endorsed by a United Nations Security Council Resolution.
Second, the JCPOA has worked in rolling back Iran’s nuclear program. For decades, Iran had steadily advanced its nuclear program, approaching the point where they could rapidly produce enough fissile material to build a bomb. The JCPOA put a lid on that breakout capacity. Since the JCPOA was implemented, Iran has destroyed the core of a reactor that could have produced weapons-grade plutonium; removed two-thirds of its centrifuges (over 13,000) and placed them under international monitoring; and eliminated 97 percent of its stockpile of enriched uranium – the raw materials necessary for a bomb. So by any measure, the JCPOA has imposed strict limitations on Iran’s nuclear program and achieved real results.
Third, the JCPOA does not rely on trust – it is rooted in the most far-reaching inspections and verification regime ever negotiated in an arms control deal. Iran’s nuclear facilities are strictly monitored. International monitors also have access to Iran’s entire nuclear supply chain, so that we can catch them if they cheat. Without the JCPOA, this monitoring and inspections regime would go away.
Fourth, Iran is complying with the JCPOA. That was not simply the view of my Administration. The United States intelligence community has continued to find that Iran is meeting its responsibilities under the deal, and has reported as much to Congress. So have our closest allies, and the international agency responsible for verifying Iranian compliance – the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Fifth, the JCPOA does not expire. The prohibition on Iran ever obtaining a nuclear weapon is permanent. Some of the most important and intrusive inspections codified by the JCPOA are permanent. Even as some of the provisions in the JCPOA do become less strict with time, this won’t happen until ten, fifteen, twenty, or twenty-five years into the deal, so there is little reason to put those restrictions at risk today.
Finally, the JCPOA was never intended to solve all of our problems with Iran. We were clear-eyed that Iran engages in destabilizing behavior – including support for terrorism, and threats toward Israel and its neighbors. But that’s precisely why it was so important that we prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Every aspect of Iranian behavior that is troubling is far more dangerous if their nuclear program is unconstrained. Our ability to confront Iran’s destabilizing behavior – and to sustain a unity of purpose with our allies – is strengthened with the JCPOA, and weakened without it.
Because of these facts, I believe that the decision to put the JCPOA at risk without any Iranian violation of the deal is a serious mistake. Without the JCPOA, the United States could eventually be left with a losing choice between a nuclear-armed Iran or another war in the Middle East. We all know the dangers of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon. It could embolden an already dangerous regime; threaten our friends with destruction; pose unacceptable dangers to America’s own security; and trigger an arms race in the world’s most dangerous region. If the constraints on Iran’s nuclear program under the JCPOA are lost, we could be hastening the day when we are faced with the choice between living with that threat, or going to war to prevent it.
In a dangerous world, America must be able to rely in part on strong, principled diplomacy to secure our country. We have been safer in the years since we achieved the JCPOA, thanks in part to the work of our diplomats, many members of Congress, and our allies. Going forward, I hope that Americans continue to speak out in support of the kind of strong, principled, fact-based, and unifying leadership that can best secure our country and uphold our responsibilities around the globe.

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Full-Text Political Transcripts May 8, 2018: President Donald Trump’s speech announcing the US is withdrawing from the Iran Nuclear Deal

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

President Donald Trump announces the US is withdrawing from the Iran Nuclear Deal

Source: WH, 5-8-18

Diplomatic Reception Room

2:13 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: My fellow Americans: Today, I want to update the world on our efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

The Iranian regime is the leading state sponsor of terror. It exports dangerous missiles, fuels conflicts across the Middle East, and supports terrorist proxies and militias such as Hezbollah, Hamas, the Taliban, and al Qaeda.

Over the years, Iran and its proxies have bombed American embassies and military installations, murdered hundreds of American servicemembers, and kidnapped, imprisoned, and tortured American citizens. The Iranian regime has funded its long reign of chaos and terror by plundering the wealth of its own people.

No action taken by the regime has been more dangerous than its pursuit of nuclear weapons and the means of delivering them.

In 2015, the previous administration joined with other nations in a deal regarding Iran’s nuclear program. This agreement was known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA.

In theory, the so-called “Iran deal” was supposed to protect the United States and our allies from the lunacy of an Iranian nuclear bomb, a weapon that will only endanger the survival of the Iranian regime. In fact, the deal allowed Iran to continue enriching uranium and, over time, reach the brink of a nuclear breakout.

The deal lifted crippling economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for very weak limits on the regime’s nuclear activity, and no limits at all on its other malign behavior, including its sinister activities in Syria, Yemen, and other places all around the world.

In other words, at the point when the United States had maximum leverage, this disastrous deal gave this regime — and it’s a regime of great terror — many billions of dollars, some of it in actual cash — a great embarrassment to me as a citizen and to all citizens of the United States.

A constructive deal could easily have been struck at the time, but it wasn’t. At the heart of the Iran deal was a giant fiction that a murderous regime desired only a peaceful nuclear energy program.

Today, we have definitive proof that this Iranian promise was a lie. Last week, Israel published intelligence documents long concealed by Iran, conclusively showing the Iranian regime and its history of pursuing nuclear weapons.

The fact is this was a horrible, one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made. It didn’t bring calm, it didn’t bring peace, and it never will.

In the years since the deal was reached, Iran’s military budget has grown by almost 40 percent, while its economy is doing very badly. After the sanctions were lifted, the dictatorship used its new funds to build nuclear-capable missiles, support terrorism, and cause havoc throughout the Middle East and beyond.

The agreement was so poorly negotiated that even if Iran fully complies, the regime can still be on the verge of a nuclear breakout in just a short period of time. The deal’s sunset provisions are totally unacceptable. If I allowed this deal to stand, there would soon be a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. Everyone would want their weapons ready by the time Iran had theirs.

Making matters worse, the deal’s inspection provisions lack adequate mechanisms to prevent, detect, and punish cheating, and don’t even have the unqualified right to inspect many important locations, including military facilities.

Not only does the deal fail to halt Iran’s nuclear ambitions, but it also fails to address the regime’s development of ballistic missiles that could deliver nuclear warheads.

Finally, the deal does nothing to constrain Iran’s destabilizing activities, including its support for terrorism. Since the agreement, Iran’s bloody ambitions have grown only more brazen.

In light of these glaring flaws, I announced last October that the Iran deal must either be renegotiated or terminated.

Three months later, on January 12th, I repeated these conditions. I made clear that if the deal could not be fixed, the United States would no longer be a party to the agreement.

Over the past few months, we have engaged extensively with our allies and partners around the world, including France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. We have also consulted with our friends from across the Middle East. We are unified in our understanding of the threat and in our conviction that Iran must never acquire a nuclear weapon.

After these consultations, it is clear to me that we cannot prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb under the decaying and rotten structure of the current agreement.

The Iran deal is defective at its core. If we do nothing, we know exactly what will happen. In just a short period of time, the world’s leading state sponsor of terror will be on the cusp of acquiring the world’s most dangerous weapons.

Therefore, I am announcing today that the United States will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.

In a few moments, I will sign a presidential memorandum to begin reinstating U.S. nuclear sanctions on the Iranian regime. We will be instituting the highest level of economic sanction. Any nation that helps Iran in its quest for nuclear weapons could also be strongly sanctioned by the United States.

America will not be held hostage to nuclear blackmail. We will not allow American cities to be threatened with destruction. And we will not allow a regime that chants “Death to America” to gain access to the most deadly weapons on Earth.

Today’s action sends a critical message: The United States no longer makes empty threats. When I make promises, I keep them. In fact, at this very moment, Secretary Pompeo is on his way to North Korea in preparation for my upcoming meeting with Kim Jong-un. Plans are being made. Relationships are building. Hopefully, a deal will happen and, with the help of China, South Korea, and Japan, a future of great prosperity and security can be achieved for everyone.

As we exit the Iran deal, we will be working with our allies to find a real, comprehensive, and lasting solution to the Iranian nuclear threat. This will include efforts to eliminate the threat of Iran’s ballistic missile program; to stop its terrorist activities worldwide; and to block its menacing activity across the Middle East. In the meantime, powerful sanctions will go into full effect. If the regime continues its nuclear aspirations, it will have bigger problems than it has ever had before.

Finally, I want to deliver a message to the long-suffering people of Iran: The people of America stand with you. It has now been almost 40 years since this dictatorship seized power and took a proud nation hostage. Most of Iran’s 80 million citizens have sadly never known an Iran that prospered in peace with its neighbors and commanded the admiration of the world.

But the future of Iran belongs to its people. They are the rightful heirs to a rich culture and an ancient land. And they deserve a nation that does justice to their dreams, honor to their history, and glory to God.

Iran’s leaders will naturally say that they refuse to negotiate a new deal; they refuse. And that’s fine. I’d probably say the same thing if I was in their position. But the fact is they are going to want to make a new and lasting deal, one that benefits all of Iran and the Iranian people. When they do, I am ready, willing, and able.

Great things can happen for Iran, and great things can happen for the peace and stability that we all want in the Middle East.

There has been enough suffering, death, and destruction. Let it end now.

Thank you. God bless you. Thank you.

(The presidential memorandum is signed.)

Q Mr. President, how does this make America safer? How does this make America safer?

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. This will make America much safer. Thank you very much.

Q Is Secretary Pompeo bringing the detainees home?

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Secretary Pompeo is, right now, going to North Korea. He will be there very shortly in a matter of virtual — probably an hour. He’s got meetings set up. We have our meeting scheduled. We have our meeting set. The location is picked — the time and the date. Everything is picked. And we look forward to having a very great success.

We think relationships are building with North Korea. We’ll see how it all works out. Maybe it will, maybe it won’t. But it can be a great thing for North Korea, South Korea, Japan and the entire world. We hope it all works out.

Thank you very much.

Q Are the Americans being freed?

Q Are the Americans coming home, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT: We’ll all soon be finding out. We will soon be finding out. It would be a great thing if they are. We’ll soon be finding out. Thank you very much.

END

2:25 P.M. EDT

Full-Text Political Transcripts May 3, 2018: President Donald Trump’s Speech at the National Day of Prayer

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Source: WH, 5-3-18

Rose Garden

11:38 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you. Please. Thank you very much. What a day. What a beautiful day. And our country is doing very well. You’ll see some very good announcements very shortly.

It’s wonderful to be here on this glorious spring morning as we celebrate the National Day of Prayer at the White House in the Rose Garden. (Applause.)

I want to thank Vice President Mike Pence and Karen for joining us. Very special people. Thank you very much. (Applause.) We are truly blessed to have a Vice President and a Second Lady who believe in the power of prayer and the glory of God. And they do believe. I’m with them a lot; they believe. (Applause.) It’s good. Thank you, Mike.

Thanks, also, to the members of the Cabinet who have joined us today, along with so many amazing faith leaders from across the country, including my good friend Paula White, who’s done such an incredible job. Paula. Paula. Stand, Paula. Thank you, Paula. (Applause.) And the President of the National Day of Prayer, Dr. Ronnie Floyd. Thank you. Thank you, Doctor. Thank you. Thanks, Ronnie. (Applause.)

I especially want to recognize Cissie Graham. And I will now add that word “Lynch” because I always call her Cissie Graham, but it’s really Cissie Graham Lynch. You like it that way better, right? Don’t you think we — I like it that way, too. I like it that way because you’re married to a great gentleman. A fantastic man. So, Cissie, thank you very much for being here. We appreciate it very much. (Applause.)

Priest Narayanachar, Sister Bingham, Chaplain Agbere, Rabbi Shemtov, Cardinal Wuerl, and the Hope Christian Church Choir. I heard you, by the way, right inside the Oval Office. That was beautiful. That was great music. Thank you. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

As we gather this morning, our thoughts also turn to the memory of a man who awakened the light of God in the hearts of millions of America’s pastors. And that’s the great, legendary, wonderful Billy Graham. Great, great man. Great. (Applause.) So, Cissie, I want to thank you for carrying on your grandfather’s incredible, towering legacy.

Today, we remember the words of Reverend Graham, “Prayer is the key that opens [to] us the treasures of God’s mercies and blessings.” Always beautiful. And when he said it, it meant so much. When I say it, it means something. But I liked when he said it better. (Laughter.) Right? I think he did that a little better than I do.

Reverend Graham’s words remind us that prayer has always been at the center of American life, because America is a nation of believers. Right? That’s very true. (Applause.)

The prayers of religious believers helped gain our independence, and the prayers of religious leaders like the Reverend Martin Luther King — great man — helped win the long struggle for civil rights. Faith has shaped our families, and it’s shaped our communities. It’s inspired our commitment to charity and our defense of liberty. And faith has forged the identity and the destiny of this great nation that we all love. (Applause.)

Americans of faith have built the hospitals that care for our sick, the homes that tend to our elderly, and the charities that house the orphaned, and they minister — and they really do, they minister to the poor, and so beautifully and with such love.

We are proud of our religious heritage. And as President, I will always protect religious liberty. We’ve been doing it. We’ve been doing it. (Applause.) Last year on this day, I took executive action to prevent the Johnson Amendment — a disaster — from interfering with our First Amendment rights. I was so proud of that. I’ve been saying from the beginning. You know that. (Applause.) I was saying for a long time we’re going to do that.

Across the government, we have taken action to defend the religious conscience of doctors, nurses, teachers, students, and groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor. (Applause.)

In January of this year, I was proud to be the first President to stand here in the Rose Garden to address the March for Life. A very special day. (Applause.)

And my administration has spoken out against religious persecution around the world, including the persecution of many, many Christians. What’s going on is horrible. And we’re taking action. We are taking action. (Applause.)

We condemn all crimes against people of faith, and today we are launching another historic action to promote religious freedom. I will soon be signing an executive order to create a faith initiative at the White House. (Applause.) Thank you very much.

The faith initiative will help design new policies that recognize the vital role of faith in our families, our communities, and our great country. This office will also help ensure that faith-based organizations have equal access to government funding and the equal right to exercise their deeply held beliefs.

We take this step because we know that, in solving the many, many problems and our great challenges, faith is more powerful than government, and nothing is more powerful than God. (Applause.)

With us today is a living reminder of this truth. His name is Jon Ponder, from Las Vegas, Nevada. Where’s Jon? Come on up here, Jon. Get up here, Jon. (Applause.)

Jon grew up without his father. As he tells it, “My mother was strong, but she wasn’t able to keep us out of the gangs and off the streets.” Right? Jon was in and out of jail for years until, at age 38, he was arrested for bank robbery. You don’t look like a bank robber, Jon. (Laughter.) He’s come a long way.

Jon soon ended up in federal prison, relegated to solitary confinement. That’s where God found him. Jon began to read the Bible and listen to Christian radio. Right? (Applause.) Incredible.

One morning, at 2 a.m., he woke up to the voice of the great Billy Graham. Reverend Graham’s words came through the airwaves, “Jesus wants to be Lord of your life.” That night, Jon dedicated his life to Christ. (Applause.)

He spent the rest of his time in prison praying, studying the Bible, and bringing the Lord to his fellow inmates. The day after Jon’s release, a visitor knocked on his door. It was the man who put him in jail, FBI Special Agent Richard Beasley — who is here. Richard. Come on up, Richard. (Applause.)

“I want you to know that I’ve been praying for you very strongly,” he said, that, “God called me to the FBI in part because of you, Jon.” The two are now lifelong friends.

Jon, do you like him?

PONDER: I love him.

THE PRESIDENT: You love him? That’s nice. (Applause.) That’s beautiful.

Jon runs a ministry that has helped more than 2,000 former inmates rejoin society, and he’s the talk of the country. The job Jon does is incredible.

Jon and Richard, you are a living testament to the power of prayer. (Applause.) Your story reminds us that prayer changes hearts and transforms lives. It uplifts the soul, inspires action, and unites us all as one nation, under God. So important.

And we say it here. You know, a lot of people — (applause) — they don’t say it. But you know what? They’re starting to say it more. Just like we’re starting to say, “Merry Christmas” when that day comes around. (Applause.) You notice the big difference between now and two or three years ago? It was — Paula, it was going in the other direction rapidly. Right? Now it’s straight up.

Our country was founded on prayer. Our communities are sustained by prayer. And our nation will be renewed by hard work, a lot of intelligence, and prayer. (Applause.)

Today we gather to remember this truth: We thank God for the faith of our people. We praise God for the blessings of freedom. And we ask God to forever bless this magnificent land that we all love so much.

America, thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States. Thank you, everybody. (Applause.) Thank you very much. Thank you, Jon.

(The executive order is signed.) (Applause.)

Thank you very much, everybody. It’s a great day. Thank you.

END

11:52 A.M. EDT

Full-Text Political Transcripts May 2, 2018: Remarks by President Donald Trump at the National Teacher of the Year Reception

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Trump at the National Teacher of the Year Reception

Source: WH, 5-2-18

East Room

4:38 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  What beautiful singing I just heard from the glee club.  Thank you very much.  That was so beautiful.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Good afternoon.  I’m thrilled to be here with so many friends and colleagues and distinguished educators for our annual National Teacher of the Year celebration.

I’d like to thank Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos for joining us, along with Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta.  Thank you very much, Betsy and Alex.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

And a very special thanks, again, to the Glee Club of the Walter B. Patterson Elementary School.  Brilliant talent, and great voices.  Big future.  Big future.  (Applause.)

Finally, congratulations to all of the Teachers of the Year representing their respective states, territories, and the District of Columbia.  Very, very special people.  Very important.

We’re joined by three amazing finalists for National Teacher of the Year: Amy Anderson, Jonathan Juravich, and Kara Ball.  Where’s Kara Ball?  Where is Kara?  Please stand up.  Jonathan, stand up.  All three, please stand up.  (Applause.)  That’s a great job.  Thank you, Kara.  Thank you.  Thank you, Jonathan.  Beautiful.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  I just met — we took pictures backstage, and it was my great honor.  It’s a tremendous achievement.

And it’s also my honor to host all of you — your families, your amazing friends — all right here at the White House.  A very, very special place.  We all agree.  You were saying before just how special it was, and it’s special.  Every time I walk into it or go to sleep upstairs — (laughter) — I say, “This is a very, very great place.”

Each of you has dedicated your lives to our nation’s single most important resource: our children.  Every President since Harry Truman has honored the National Teacher of the Year, and I’m proud to continue this tradition with this year’s recipient: Mandy Manning, of the state of Washington.  Great state.  Thank you.  Fantastic, Mandy.  (Applause.)  Outstanding job by Mandy — by everybody.  But outstanding job by Mandy.  Thank you.

Having begun her teaching career in the Peace Corps almost two decades ago, I know that Mandy will be pleased to see Dr. Jody Olsen, Director of the Peace Corps, joining us in her honor.  Thank you very much, Doctor.  Appreciate it.  Thank you.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

Mandy took her passion for education from the Peace Corps to Joel E. Ferris High School in Spokane, Washington, where she has been teaching English and math for the past six years.

Her incredible devotion has earned her the adoration — total adoration, actually — and respect of students and colleagues throughout her school district, community, and the entire state.

Teachers like Mandy play a vital role in the well-being of our children, the strength of our communities, and the success of our nation.

The job of a teacher is not only to instruct the next generation of workers, but the next generation of citizens to teach our children to care for others, to think for themselves, to love their country, to be proud of our history, and to be true pillars of their families and their communities.  Such an important job.  There is no more important job.

We have teachers to thank for identifying and nurturing the boundless potential of America’s youth.  Sometimes, all it takes to begin the next great American success story is a teacher who really, really cares.

The legacy of a good teacher extends through many lifetimes.  As the great author Henry Adams once said, “A teacher affects eternity.”  So true.

To Mandy and all of the amazing educators here today: Your tireless dedication doesn’t just inspire your students, it inspires all of us.  And I can tell you, it very much inspires me.  We honor you and every citizen called to the noble vocation of teaching.

Now, it is my privilege to present Mandy with the National Teacher of the Year Award.  This is a truly special award.  And, Mandy, congratulations.  (Applause.)

(The award is presented.)  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I just want to thank everybody again for being here.  I want to really wish you the best, for Mandy and for all of this incredible talent.  And that’s what it is.  This is talent.

I just want to say God bless you.  And God bless America.  Congratulations.  Thank you all very much.  Thank you.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

END

4:44 P.M. EDT

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