Full Text Political Transcripts July 31, 2017: President Donald Trump’s Remarks at Presentation of Medal of Honor to Specialist Five James C. McCloughan, U.S. Army

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Trump at Presentation of Medal of Honor to Specialist Five James C. McCloughan, U.S. Army

Source: WH,  7-31-17

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East Room

3:15 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  Please be seated.  Thank you, Chaplain Hurley.  Secretary Mnuchin, Secretary Mattis, Secretary Shulkin, Senator Stabenow, Congressman Upton, and members of the Armed Forces:  Thank you for joining us as we award our nation’s highest military honor to Specialist Five James C. McCloughan.

Today, we pay tribute to a veteran who went above and beyond the call of duty to protect our comrades, our country, and our freedom.

Joining Jim today is his wife Cherie, his brothers Mike and Tom, his sons Jamie and Matt, and many other members of his very large and beautiful family.

We’re also gratified to be joined by eight previous Medal of Honor recipients.  Now, Jim’s name will stand forever alongside theirs in our history and in our hearts.  I want to take a few minutes to tell you about Jim and how he earned this place among legends.

Jim was raised in Bangor, Michigan.  His father built their house from scratch and worked 40 years at a piano factory.  Jim’s dad taught him a simple but powerful lesson:  Never do anything halfway.  Always do your best.  Jim took that lesson very much to heart.  He played for four varsity sports in high school and three in college.

In August of 1968, Jim was drafted into the Army.  Within six months, he was trained as a medic and arrived in Vietnam. Right away, Jim poured all of himself into his duties treating the sick and the wounded.  Before long, all his fellow soldiers called him “Doc.”

On May 13, 1969, less than three months after he arrived, Jim was one of 89 men in Charlie Company to embark on a mission to secure a transportation route near Nui Yon.  As Jim and his men jumped out of the helicopter, it quickly became clear that they were surrounded by enemy troops.  Within minutes, two choppers were shot down, and one of his men was badly wounded in the middle of an open field.

Jim did not hesitate.  He blazed through 100 meters of enemy fire to carry the wounded and the soldier to safety.  But this was only the first of many heroic deeds Jim would perform over the next 48 hours.

After tending to the first wounded soldier, Jim joined a mission to advance toward the enemy, and advance they did.  Before long, they were ambushed.  Again, he ran into danger to rescue his men.  As he cared for two soldiers, shrapnel from a rocket-propelled grenade slashed open the back of Jim’s body from head to foot.

Yet that terrible wound didn’t stop Jim from pulling those two men to safety, nor did it stop him from answering the plea of another wounded comrade and carrying him to safety atop his own badly injured body.  He was badly injured.

And so it went, shot after shot, blast upon blast.  As one of his comrades recalled, whoever called “medic” could immediately count on McCloughan.  He’s a brave guy.

As day turned to dusk, nearly all of those who could and really, really had to make it back — they were finally within their night defensive position, except for one soldier whose plea Jim could not ignore.

Again, “Doc” did not hesitate.  He crawled through a rice paddy thick with steel rain.  That means bullets all over the place.  As soldiers watched him, they were sure that was the last time they would see “Doc.”  They thought that was the end of their friend, Jim.

But after several minutes passed, Jim emerged from the smoke and fire carrying yet another soldier.  He immediately badgered [bandaged] and fixed and worked, but he got the wounds fixed and lifted the soldier to a medevac helicopter.

His lieutenant ordered Jim to get in, too.  “Get in,” he said, “get in.”  But Jim refused.  He said, “You’re going to need me here.”  As Jim now says, “I would have rather died on the battlefield than know that men died because they did not have a medic.”

Over the next 24 hours, Jim fired at enemy soldiers, suffered a bullet wound to his arm, and continued to race into gunfire to save more and more lives.

And yet, as night approached again, after nearly two days of no food, no water, and no rest, Jim volunteered to hold a blinking light in an open field to signal for a supply drop.  He would not yield, he would not rest, he would not stop, and he would not flinch in the face of sure death and definite danger.

Though he was thousands of miles from home, it was as if the strength and pride of our whole nation was beating inside of Jim’s heart.  Jim did what his father had taught him — he gave it his all and then he just kept giving.

In those 48 hours, Jim rescued 10 American soldiers and tended to countless others.  He was one of 32 men who fought until the end.  They held their ground against more than 2,000 enemy troops.

Jim, I know I speak for every person here when I say that we are in awe of your actions and your bravery.  But let me tell you one thing, and one more story about Jim.  On the second day of that bloody fight, Jim found a few soldiers and a fellow soldier who had been shot badly in the stomach.  He knew the soldier wouldn’t make it if he flung him on the back, so he lifted him up and carried him in his arms.

As Jim was carrying the soldier, a thought flashed through his mind.  Although Jim had always been very close to his father, he realized that it was not since he had been a young boy that he had told his dad those three very simple but beautiful words:  “I love you.”

In that moment, Jim offered up a prayer.  He asked God, “If you get me out of this hell on Earth so I can tell my dad I love him, I’ll be the best coach and the best father you could ever ask for.”  As he prayed, a great peace came over him.  And if it was God’s will for him to live, he’d keep his promise to God as soon as he had the chance.

Jim made it out of that hell on Earth.  He made it; here he is.  And the first thing he did when he arrived back on American soil was to say those beautiful words:  “I love you, Dad.  I love you.”  Jim said those words over and over again for the next 22 years until the last time he saw his father, the night before his dad passed on.

Today, I’d venture to say his dad is the proudest father in heaven.  Jim fought with all of the love and courage in his soul.  He was prepared to lay down his life so his brothers-in-arms could live theirs.

With us today are 10 of the men who fought alongside Jim, and five of those he saved.  To Bill, Randy, Mike, Joe, Kent, Robert, John, Charles, Michael, Orestes — thank you for your service and sacrifice.  Stand up wherever you may be.  Where are you?  Where are you?  (Applause.)  Thank you, fellas.  That’s great.

For over two centuries, our brave men and women in uniform have overcome tyranny, fascism, communism, and every threat to our freedom — every single threat they’ve overcome.  And we’ve overcome these threats because of titans like Jim whose spirit could never be conquered.

That’s what this award is, and Jim’s life represents so well:  America’s unbreakable spirit.  It’s been 48 years since Jim’s battle in Vietnam.  He is now a husband, a father, and a grandfather.  He coached high school football, wrestling, and baseball for 38 years, just like he said he would.  And he brought together every member he could find of his beloved Charlie Company.

To many people in this room, Specialist Five McCloughan has always been their friend, “Jim.”  To others, he’s been “Coach.” To those who bravely served with him in Vietnam, he’s still called their “Doc.”  To his parents Scotty and Margaret, both watching from heaven, he will always be their son.  But today, [to] 320 million grateful American hearts, Private McCloughan carries one immortal title — and that title is “hero.”

Specialist Five McCloughan:  We honor you.  We salute you. And with God as your witness, we thank you for what you did for all of us.

Now I would like the military aide to come forward and read the citation.

MILITARY AIDE:  The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, March 3rd, 1863, has awarded in the name of Congress the Medal of Honor to Private First Class James C. McCloughan, United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.

Private First Class [James] C. McCloughan distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty from May 13th through 15th, 1969, while serving as a combat medic with Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry, 196th Light Infantry Brigade, Americal Division.

The company air assaulted into an area near Tam Ky and Nui Yon Hill.  On May 13th, with complete disregard for his life, he ran 100 meters in an open field through heavy fire to rescue a comrade too injured to move and carried him to safety.  That same day, 2nd Platoon was ordered to search the area near Nui Yon Hill when the platoon was ambushed by a large North Vietnamese Army force and sustained heavy casualties.

With complete disregard for his life and personal safety, Private First Class McCloughan led two Americans into the safety of a trench while being wounded by shrapnel from a rocket-propelled grenade.  He ignored a direct order to stay back, and braved an enemy assault while moving into the “kill zone” on four more occasions to extract wounded comrades.

He treated the injured, prepared the evacuation, and though bleeding heavily from shrapnel wounds on his head and entire body, refused evacuation to safety in order to remain at the battle site with his fellow soldiers who were heavily outnumbered by the North Vietnamese Army forces.

On May 14th, the platoon was again ordered to move out towards Nui Yon Hill.  Private First Class McCloughan was wounded a second time by small arms fire and shrapnel from a rocket-propelled grenade while rendering aid to two soldiers in an open rice paddy.  In the final phases of the attack, two companies from 2nd North Vietnamese Army Division and an element of 700 soldiers from a Viet Cong regiment descended upon Charlie Company’s position on three sides.

Private First Class McCloughan, again with complete disregard for his life, went into the crossfire numerous times throughout the battle to extract the wounded soldiers, while also fighting the enemy.  His relentless and courageous actions inspired and motivated his comrades to fight for their survival.  When supplies ran low, Private First Class McCloughan volunteered to hold a blinking strobe light in an open area as a marker for a nighttime resupply drop.  He remained steadfast while bullets landed all around him and rocket-propelled grenades flew over his prone, exposed body.

During the morning darkness of May 15th, Private First Class McCloughan knocked out a rocket-propelled grenade position with a grenade, fought and eliminated enemy soldiers, treated numerous casualties, kept two critically-wounded soldiers alive through the night, and organized the dead and wounded for evacuation at daylight.  His timely and courageous actions were instrumental in saving the lives of his fellow soldiers.

Private First Class McCloughan’s personal heroism, professional competence, and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, the Americal Division, and the United States Army.

(The Medal of Honor is presented.)  (Applause.)

(A prayer is given.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Jim, thank you.  God bless you.  God bless your family.  God bless the United States of America.  Thank you, Jim.  (Applause.)

END
3:35 P.M. EDT

Full Text Political Transcripts July 27, 2017: President Donald Trump’s Remarks at Ceremony Recognizing the First Responders to the June 14 Shooting Involving Congressman Scalise

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

July 27, 2017

Remarks by President Trump at Ceremony Recognizing the First Responders to the June 14 Shooting Involving Congressman Scalise

Source: WH, 7-27-17

East Room

3:25 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Please sit down.  Thank you.  And thank you to Vice President for doing a fantastic job and for the introduction.  We welcome you all, members of Congress and distinguished guests.  We are gathered here today for a very, very special occasion, as we pay tribute to real heroes whose courageous actions under fire saved so many lives in Alexandria, Virginia just six weeks ago.

On the morning of June 14th, several members of Congress began their day on the baseball diamond, practicing for one of this town’s greatest traditions — the annual charity Congressional baseball game.  It was just another beautiful morning until the unthinkable happened.  The familiar sounds of baseball were suddenly interrupted by loud, vicious gunfire.

Matt Mika, Zachary Barth, and beloved Congressman, and my friend, Steve Scalise were each shot during an attack. Others were injured trying to evade the incoming bullets, of which there were many.

Fortunately, from the moment that gunman began to shoot, he was met by return fire.  Capitol Police Special Agents David Bailey and Crystal Griner raced through the bullets — and that’s exactly what they did, they raced through the bullets — and immediately engaged the gunman.

Minutes later, members of the Alexandria Police Department arrived on scene. Officers Nicole Battaglia, Kevin Jobe, and Alex Jensen joined the fight.  Special Agent Griner was shot in the leg — visited her in the hospital, she was hurt very badly — and shrapnel injured Special Agent Bailey as bullets swirled around him.

Despite their injuries, both officers heroically continued to face down the gunman until they brought him down.  And he had rifles; they had handguns.  That’s a big difference.

These officers saved the lives of every innocent person on the field that day — many of them friends of Mike and myself.  They are American heroes and we salute them.  (Applause.)  Fantastic.  That is so beautiful.  Thank you.

We also salute the members of Congress who acted with such bravery in the face of danger, shielding each other and caring for the injured.  We honor today the emergency dispatchers who directed the first responders to the scene within seconds.  They really acted quickly.

I especially want to recognize all of the personnel from the Alexandria Fire Department and the U.S. Park Police Aviation Unit for providing life support in a crisis where every second mattered.  Thank you for what you did that day and for what you do every single day.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

We also express our deep appreciation for the paramedics, doctors, nurses, and surgeons from MedStar Washington Hospital and George Washington University Hospital for saving the lives of the wounded.

Joining us today is Congressman Scalise’s medical team: Dr. Jack Sava — where’s Jack?  Dr. Sava.  Stand up, Jack.  Come on.  (Applause.)  That’s beautiful.  MedStar’s Director of Trauma Surgery, and Dr. Robert Golden, the Director of Orthopedic Trauma.  Doctor, doctor — congratulations.  (Applause.)  They were a lot more worried that night at the hospital, weren’t they?  Great job.

You have the gratitude of the entire nation.  Thank you for caring for the victims and for your dear friend Steve — and he is our dear friend.  Steve is a fighter.  We’ve known that for a long time.

This week, he was been discharged from the hospital and is now beginning weeks of intensive rehabilitation at an in-patient facility.  He will recover.  We are praying for him, we are pulling for him, and we are sending his family our support and our love.

Steve’s great wife — who I have gotten to know — Jennifer is here with us today, and we applaud the strength and courage that she has shown throughout this incredible ordeal.  Thank you, Jennifer.  (Applause.)  Thank you, Jennifer.

Other Americans responded to this tragedy in ways that remind us how much stronger we are when we are united.  When the Congressional baseball game was played just one day later, nearly 25,000 people turned out — by far, a record.  They raised more than $1.5 million for charity — also, by far, a record.  The citizens of Steve’s home parish organized a blood drive in his name, and Vice President Pence donated his blood at the Congressional blood drive.  Thank you, Mike.  (Applause.)

Just recently, House Republicans and Democrats introduced a bill to provide support to Capitol Police officers who are injured on duty.  People have been looking at this for a long time.  But Jennifer, you can tell Steve that he pulled it off, okay?  That’s better than being a whip.  I hope it gets to my desk soon.  I will sign it immediately.  (Applause.)

The assault on June 14th reminded us that evil exists in this world.  But it also reminded us that heroes walk in our midst, that love triumphs over tragedy, and that our resolve is stronger than ever.  We praise America’s law enforcement — and I’ve been praising them for a long time, they are unbelievable people — for doing a tough — for doing the tough jobs, the dangerous jobs, and sometimes thankless job with tremendous integrity, devotion, and courage.  So I just want to thank law enforcement generally.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

I can only tell you from the campaign, the people love you, they respect you, and they admire you.  So I know you go through a lot, but they have great admiration.  So just remember that, please.

Today I am deeply honored to present our nation’s highest award for a public safety officer — the Medal of Valor to Special Agent Crystal Griner, Special Agent David Bailey; and Alexandria Police Department Officers Nicole Battaglia, Kevin Jobe, and Alex Jensen.

The Medal of Valor is reserved for those who go above and beyond the call of duty as each of these men and women did on that fateful day.  And they did it with great courage, and they did it with instinct.  When our human instincts tell us to run — there’s danger — our police and first responders run straight at it, standing in the breach, protecting the innocent, and keeping our loved ones safe.

Now I would like the military aide to read the citation, as these American heroes step forward to receive the Medal of Valor.

MILITARY AIDE:  Special Agent Crystal Griner.  Medal of Valor presented to Special Agent Crystal Griner, U.S. Capitol Police District of Columbia, for bravery and composure while engaged in an active shooter incident.  Despite being shot, Special Agent Griner placed herself in mortal danger to save the lives of members of Congress, attending family members, and congressional staff during a charity softball practice at Eugene Simpson Memorial Park in Alexandria, Virginia.  (Applause.)

Special Agent David Bailey.  Medal of Valor presented to Special Agent David Bailey, U.S. Capitol Police District of Columbia, for taking brave and decisive action to subdue an active shooter.  Special Agent Bailey was shot during the exchange of gunfire, but continued to advance the shooter without benefit of cover until the active shooter was subdued, saving the lives of members of Congress, attending family members, and congressional staff.  (Applause.)

Officer Nicole Battaglia.  Medal of Valor presented to Officer Nicole Battaglia, Alexandria Police Department, Virginia, for demonstrating extraordinary courage in saving the lives of two U.S. Capitol Police officers, members of Congress, their families, and congressional staff.  Officer Battaglia engaged the assailant, exchanging gunfire at close range and ultimately neutralizing him.  (Applause.)

Officer Alexander Jensen.  Medal of Valor presented to Officer Alex Jensen, Alexandria Police Department, Virginia, for swift and valiant action in responding to an active shooter.  Officer Jensen put himself in harm’s way during the active shooter incident, moving without cover and drawing fire from the assailant until the assailant was subdued and the safety of the members of Congress, their families, and congressional staff was ensured.  (Applause.)

Officer Kevin Jobe.  Medal of Valor presented to Officer Kevin Jobe, Alexandria Police Department, Virginia, for placing himself in grave danger to protect two U.S. Capitol Police officers, members of Congress, their families, and congressional staff.  Officer Jobe engaged an active shooter, neutralizing a volatile gunman, and preventing further injuries to innocent bystanders in the park.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Very brave people.  Great people.  Congratulations to all of you. We are forever in your debt. Thank you. God bless you. God bless our truly amazing law enforcement. And God Bless America.  Thank you very much.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

END
3:44 P.M. EDT

Full Text Political Transcripts July 24, 2017: President Donald Trump’s Speech to the Boy Scouts of America at the National Jamboree

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Trump at 2017 National Scout Jamboree

Source: WH, 7-24-17

President TrumpSummit Bechtel National Scout Reserve
Glen Jean, West Virginia

6:32 P.M. EDT

AUDIENCE:  USA!  USA!  USA!

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, everybody.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.) I am thrilled to be here.  Thrilled.  (Applause.) And if you think that was an easy trip, you’re wrong, but I am thrilled — 19th Boy Scout Jamboree — wow — and to address such a tremendous group.  Boy, you have a lot of people here.  The press will say it’s about 200 people.  (Laughter.)  It looks like about 45,000 people.  You set a record today.  (Applause.)  You set a record.  That’s a great honor, believe me.

Tonight, we put aside all of the policy fights in Washington, D.C. — you’ve been hearing about with the fake news and all of that.  (Applause.)  We’re going to put that aside.  And instead we’re going to talk about success, about how all of you amazing young Scouts can achieve your dreams.  What to think of — what I’ve been thinking about — you want to achieve your dreams.  I said, who the hell wants to speak about politics when I’m in front of the Boy Scouts?  Right?  (Applause.)

There are many great honors that come with the job of being President of the United States, but looking out at this incredible gathering of mostly young patriots — mostly young — I’m especially proud to speak to you as the honorary President of the Boy Scouts of America.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE:  USA!  USA!  USA!

THE PRESIDENT:  You are the young people of character and integrity who will serve as leaders in our communities, and uphold the sacred values of our nation.

I want to thank Boy Scouts President Randall Stephenson, Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh, Jamboree Chairman Ralph de la Vega, and the thousands of volunteers who have made this a life-changing experience for all of you, and when they asked me to be here I said absolutely, yes.  (Applause.)

Finally, and we can’t forget these people, I especially want to salute the moms and the dads and troop leaders who are here tonight.  (Applause.)  Thank you for making scouting possible.  Thank you, mom and dad — troop leaders.

When you volunteer for the Boy Scouts, you are not only shaping young lives, you are shaping the future of America.  (Applause.)  The United States has no better citizens than its Boy Scouts.  (Applause.)  No better.  The values, traditions, and skills you learn here will serve you throughout your lives, and just as importantly they will serve your families, your cities, and in the future and in the present, will serve your country.  (Applause.)  The Scouts believe in putting America first.  (Applause.)

You know, I go to Washington and I see all these politicians, and I see the swamp.  And it’s not a good place.  In fact today I said we ought to change it from the word swamp to the word cesspool or, perhaps, to the word sewer.  But it’s not good.  Not good.  (Applause.)  And I see what’s going on, and believe me I’d much rather be with you.  That I can tell you.  (Applause.)

I’ll tell you the reason that I love this and the reason that I really wanted to be here is because as President, I rely on former Boy Scouts every single day, and so do the American people.  It’s amazing how many Boy Scouts we have at the highest level of our great government.  Many of my top advisors in the White House were Scouts.  Ten members of my cabinet were Scouts.  Can you believe that?  Ten.  (Applause.)

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is not only a Boy Scout, he’s your former national president.  (Applause.)

The Vice President of the United States, Mike Pence — good guy — was a Scout, and it meant so much to him.  (Applause.)  Some of you here tonight might even have camped out in this yard when Mike was the governor of Indiana, but the scouting was very, very important.  And by the way, where are our Indiana Scouts tonight?  (Applause.)  I wonder if the television cameras will follow you.  They don’t like doing that when they see these massive crowds.  They don’t like doing that.  Hi, folks.  (Applause.) A lot of love in this big, beautiful place.  A lot of love, and a lot of love for our country.  There’s a lot of love for our country.

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke is here tonight.  Come here, Ryan.  (Applause.)  Ryan is an Eagle Scout from Big Sky Country in Montana.  (Applause.)  Pretty good.  And by the way, he is doing a fantastic job.  He makes sure that we leave our national parks and federal lands better than we found them, in the best Scouting tradition.  So thank you very much, Ryan.  (Applause.)

Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, of Texas, an Eagle Scout from the Great State.  (Applause.)  The first time he came to the national jamboree was in 1964.  He was very young then.  And Rick told me just a little while ago, it totally changed his life.  So, Rick, thank you very much for being here.  And we’re doing a lot with energy.  (Applause.)

And very soon, Rick, we will be an energy exporter.  Isn’t that nice — an energy exporter?  (Applause.)  In other words we’ll be selling our energy instead of buying it from everybody all over the globe.  So that’s good.  (Applause.)  We will be energy dominant.  And I’ll tell you what, the folks in West Virginia who were so nice to me, boy, have we kept our promise.  We are going on and on.  So we love West Virginia.  We want to thank you.

Where’s West Virginia by the way?  (Applause.)  Thank you.

Secretary Tom Price is also here.  Today Dr. Price still lives the Scout Oath, helping to keep millions of Americans strong and healthy as our Secretary of Health and Human Services.  And he’s doing a great job.  And hopefully, he’s going to get the votes tomorrow to start our path toward killing this horrible thing known as Obamacare that’s really hurting us, folks.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE:  USA!  USA!  USA!

THE PRESIDENT:  By the way, you going to get the votes?

He better get them.  He better get them.  Oh, he better — otherwise, I’ll say, Tom, you’re fired.  I’ll get somebody.  (Applause.)

He better get Senator Capito to vote for it.  You got to get the other senators to vote for it.  It’s time.  After seven years of saying repeal and replace Obamacare, we have a chance to now do it.  They better do it.  Hopefully they’ll do it.

As we can see just by looking at our government, in America, Scouts lead the way.  And another thing I’ve noticed — and I’ve noticed it all my life — there is a tremendous spirit with being a Scout, more so than almost anything I can think of.  So whatever is going on, keep doing it.  It’s incredible to watch.  Believe me.  (Applause.)

Each of these leaders will tell you that their road to American success — and you have to understand, their American success, and they are a great, great story was paved with the patriotic American values as traditions they learned in the Boy Scouts.  And some day, many years from now, when you look back on all of the adventures in your lives, you will be able to say the same:  I got my start as a Scout just like these incredibly great people that are doing such a good job for our country.  So that’s going to happen.  (Applause.)

Boy Scout values are American values, and great Boy Scouts become great, great Americans.  As the Scout Law says: “A Scout is trustworthy, loyal” — we could use some more loyalty, I will tell you that.

AUDIENCE:  “helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.”  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  That was very impressive.  (Laughter.)  You’ve heard that before.

But here you learn the rewards of hard work and perseverance.  Never ever give up, never quit.  Persevere.  Never, ever quit.

You learn the satisfaction of building a roaring campfire, reaching a mountain summit, or earning a merit badge after mastering a certain skill.  There’s no better feeling than an achievement that you’ve earned with your own sweat, tears, resolve, hard work.  There’s nothing like it.  Do you agree with that?

AUDIENCE:  Yes!

THE PRESIDENT:  I’m waving to people back there so small I can’t even see them.  Man, this is a lot of people.  Turn those cameras back there, please.  That is so incredible.

By the way, what do you think the chances are that this incredible, massive crowd, record-setting is going to be shown on television tonight?  One percent or zero?  (Applause.)

The fake media will say:  President Trump — and you know what this is — President Trump spoke before a small crowd of Boy Scouts today.

That’s some — that is some crowd.  (Applause.)

Fake media.  Fake news.  Thank you.  And I’m honored by that, by the way, all of you people they can’t even see you.  So thank you.  I hope you can hear.

Through scouting you also learn to believe in yourselves — so important — to have confidence in your ability, and to take responsibility for your own life.  When you face down new challenges, and you will have plenty of them, develop talents you never thought possible, and lead your teammates through daring trials, you discover that you can handle anything.  And you learn it by being a scout.  It’s great.  (Applause.)

You can do anything.  You can be anything you want to be.  But in order to succeed, you must find out what you love to do.  You have to find your passion.  No matter what they tell you — if you don’t — I love you, too.  I don’t know.  It’s a nice guy.  (Applause.)  Hey, what am I going to do?  He sounds like a nice person.  He, he, he, he.  Thank you.  I do.  I do love you.

AUDIENCE:  We love Trump!  We love Trump!  We love Trump!

THE PRESIDENT:  By the way, just a question, did President Obama ever come to a jamboree?

AUDIENCE:  No!

THE PRESIDENT:  And we’ll be back.  We’ll be back.  The answer is no, but we’ll be back.

In life, in order to be successful, and you people are well on the road to success, you have to find out what makes you excited.  What makes you want to get up each morning and go to work?  You have to find it.

If you love what you do and dedicate yourself to your work, then you will gain momentum, and look — you have to, you need to.  The word momentum — you will gain that momentum, and each success will create another success.  The word momentum.

I’ll tell you a story that’s very interesting for me when I was young.  There was a man named William Levitt — Levittowns, you have some here, you have some in different states.  Anybody ever hear of Levittown?  (Applause.)  And he was a very successful man.  He was a homebuilder — became an unbelievable success, and got more and more successful.  And he built homes, and at night he’d go to these major sites with teams of people and he’d scour the sites for nails and sawdust and small pieces of wood.  And they’d clean the site so when the workers came in the next morning, the sites would be spotless and clean, and he did it properly.  And he did this for 20 years, and then he was offered a lot of money for his company.

And he sold his company for a tremendous amount of money.  At the time especially — this was a long time ago — sold his company for a tremendous amount of money.  And he went out and bought a big yacht, and he had a very interesting life.  I won’t go any more than that because you’re Boy Scouts, so I’m not going to tell you what he did.

AUDIENCE:  Booo —

THE PRESIDENT:  Should I tell you?  Should I tell you?

AUDIENCE:  Yes!

THE PRESIDENT:  Oh, you’re Boy Scouts, but you know life.  You know life.  So — look at you.  Who would think this is the Boy Scouts, right?

So he had a very, very interesting life, and the company that bought his company was a big conglomerate.  And they didn’t know anything about building homes, and they didn’t know anything about picking up the nails and the sawdust and selling it — and the scraps of wood.  This was a big conglomerate based in New York City, and after about a ten year period they were losing a lot with it.  It didn’t mean anything to them, and they couldn’t sell it.

So they called William Levitt up and they said, would you like to buy back your company, and he said yes, I would.  He so badly wanted it, he got bored with this life of yachts and sailing and all of the things he did in the south of France and other places.  You won’t get bored, right?  You know, truthfully, you’re workers.  You’ll get bored too.  Believe me.  (Applause.)  Of course, having a good few years like that isn’t so bad.  (Applause.)  But what happened is he bought back his company, and he bought back a lot of empty land.  And he worked hard in getting it zoning, and he worked hard on starting to develop.

And in the end he failed, and he failed badly.  Lost all of his money.  He went personally bankrupt, and he was now much older.  And I saw him at a cocktail party, and it was very sad because the hottest people in New York were at this party.  It was the party of Steve Ross who was one of the great people — he came up and discovered — really founded — Time Warner, and he was a great guy.  He had a lot of successful people at the party.

And I was doing well so I got invited to the party.  I was very young, and I go in — but I’m in the real estate business — and I see 100 people, some of whom I recognize and they’re big in the entertainment business.  And I see, sitting in the corner, was a little old man who was all by himself.  Nobody was talking to him.  I immediately recognized that that man was the once great William Levitt of Levittown, and I immediately went over — I wanted to talk to him more than the Hollywood show business communications people.

So I went over and talked to him, and I said, Mr. Levitt, I’m Donald Trump.  He said I know.  I said, Mr. Levitt, how are you doing?  He goes, not well, not well at all.  And I knew that, but he said not well at all.  And he explained what was happening and how bad it has been and how hard it has been.  And I said what exactly happened?  Why did this happen to you?  You’re one of the greats ever in our industry.  Why did this happen to you?  And he said, Donald, I lost my momentum.  I lost my momentum.  A word you never hear when you’re talking about success.  When some of these guys that never made ten cents, they’re on television giving you things about how you’re going to be successful, and the only thing they ever did was a book and a tape.

But I’ll tell you, it was very sad, and I never forgot that moment.  And I thought about it, and it’s exactly true.  He lost his momentum.  Meaning, he took this period of time off long — years — and then when he got back, he didn’t have that same momentum.  In life, I always tell this to people, you have to know whether or not you continue to have the momentum, and if you don’t have it that’s okay.  Because you’re going to go on and you’re going to learn and you’re going to do things that are great.  But you have to know about the word momentum.

But the big thing:  Never quit.  Never give up.  Do something you love.  When you do something you love — as a Scout I see that you love it.  But when you do something that you love you’ll never fail.  What you’re going to do is give it a shot again and again and again.  You’re ultimately going to be successful, and remember this, you’re not working.  Because when you’re doing something that you love like I do — of course I love my business, but this is a little bit different.  Who thought this was going to happen?  We’re having a good time.  We’re doing a good job.  (Applause.)  Doing a good job.  But when you do something that you love, remember this, it’s not work.

So you’ll work 24/7, you’re going to work all the time, and at the end of a year you’re not really working.  You don’t think of it as work.  When you’re not doing something that you like or when you’re forced in to do something that you really don’t like, that’s called work.  And it’s hard work and tedious work.

So as much as you can, do something that you love.  Work hard, and never ever give up, and you’re going to be tremendously successful.  Tremendously successful.  (Applause.)

Now with that, I have to tell you our economy is doing great.  Our stock market has picked up — since the election November 8th.  Do we remember that date?  (Applause.)  Was that a beautiful date?  (Applause.)  What a date.  Do you remember that famous night on television, November 8th, where they said — these dishonest people — where they said there is no path to victory for Donald Trump?  They forgot about the forgotten people.  By the way, they’re not forgetting about the forgotten people anymore.  They’re going crazy trying to figure it out.  But I told them, far too late.  It’s far too late.

But do you remember that incredible night with the maps and the Republicans are red and the Democrats are blue, and that map was so red, it was unbelievable, and they didn’t know what to say?  (Applause.)

And you know we have a tremendous disadvantage in the Electoral College — popular vote is much easier.  Because New York, California, Illinois — you have to practically run the East Coast.  And we did.  We won Florida.  We won South Carolina.  We won North Carolina.  We won Pennsylvania.  (Applause.)

We won and won.  So when they said, there is no way to victory, there is no way to 270.  I went to Maine four times because it’s one vote, and we won.  But we won — one vote.  I went there because I kept hearing we’re at 269.  But then Wisconsin came in.  Many, many years — Michigan came in.

And we worked hard there.  My opponent didn’t work hard there because she was told —

AUDIENCE:  Booo!

THE PRESIDENT:  She was told she was going to win Michigan, and I said, well, wait a minute, the car industry is moving to Mexico.  Why is she going to move — she’s there.  Why are they allowing it to move?

And by the way, do you see those car industry — do you see what’s happening, how they’re coming back to Michigan?  They’re coming back to Ohio.  They’re starting to peel back in.  (Applause.)

And we go to Wisconsin — now, Wisconsin hadn’t been won in many, many years by a Republican.  But we go to Wisconsin, and we had tremendous crowds.  And I’d leave these massive crowds.  I’d say, why are we going to lose this state?

The polls — that’s also fake news.  They’re fake polls.  But the polls are saying — but we won Wisconsin.  (Applause.)  So I have to tell you what we did, in all fairness, is an unbelievable tribute to you and all of the other millions and millions of people that came out and voted for Make America Great Again.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE:  USA!  USA!  USA!

THE PRESIDENT:  And I’ll tell you what, we are, indeed, making America great again.  What’s going on is incredible.  (Applause.)

We had the best jobs report in 16 years.  The stock market on a daily basis is hitting an all-time high.  We’re going to be bringing back very soon trillions of dollars from companies that can’t get their money back into this country, and that money is going to be used to help rebuild America.  We’re doing things that nobody ever thought was possible.

And we’ve just started.  It’s just the beginning.  Believe me.  (Applause.)

In the Boy Scouts you learn right from wrong, correct?

AUDIENCE:  Yes!

THE PRESIDENT:  You learn to contribute to your communities, to take pride in your nation, and to seek out opportunities to serve.  You pledge to help other people at all times.  (Applause.)

In the Scout Oath, you pledge on your honor to do your best and to do your duty to God and your country.  (Applause.)

And by the way, under the Trump administration, you’ll be saying, merry Christmas again when you go shopping.  Believe me.  Merry Christmas.  (Applause.)

They’ve been downplaying that little, beautiful phrase.  You’re going to be saying, merry Christmas again, folks.  (Applause.)

But the words duty, country, and God are beautiful words.  In other words, basically what you’re doing is you’re pledging to be a great American patriot.  (Applause.)

For more than a century that is exactly what our Boy Scouts have been.  Last year you gave more than 15 million hours of service to helping people in your communities.  (Applause.)

Incredible.  That’s an incredible stat.

All of you here tonight will contribute more than 100,000 hours of service by the end of this jamboree — 100,000.  (Applause.)

When natural disaster strikes, when people face hardship, when the beauty and glory of our outdoor spaces must be restored and taken care of, America turns to the Boy Scouts because we know that the Boy Scouts never, ever, ever let us down.  (Applause.)

Just like you know you can count on me, we know we can count on you because we know the values that you live by.  (Applause.)

Your values are the same values that have always kept America strong, proud, and free.  And by the way, do you see the billions and billions and billions of additional money that we’re putting back into our military?  Billions of dollars.  (Applause.)  New planes, new ships, great equipment for our people that are so great to us.  We love our vets.  We love our soldiers.  And we love our police, by the way.  Firemen, police — we love our police.  (Applause.)   Those are all special people.  Uniformed services.

Two days ago, I traveled to Norfolk, Virginia to commission an American aircraft carrier into the fleet of the United States Navy.  (Applause.)  It’s the newest, largest, and most advanced aircraft carrier anywhere in the world, and it’s named for an Eagle Scout, the USS Gerald R. Ford.  (Applause.)  Everywhere it sails, that great Scout’s name will be feared and revered, because that ship will be a symbol of American power, prestige, and strength.  (Applause.)

Our nation honors President Gerald R. Ford today because he lived his life the scouting way.  Boy Scouts celebrate American patriots, especially the brave members of our armed forces.  Thank you very much.  Thank you.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

American hearts are warmed every year when we read about Boy Scouts placing thousands and thousands of flags next to veterans’ gravesites all across the country.  By honoring our heroes, you help to ensure that their memory never, ever dies.  You should take great pride in the example you set for every citizen of our country to follow.  (Applause.)

Generations of American Boy Scouts have sworn the same oath and lived according to same law.  You inherit a noble American tradition, and as you embark on your lives, never cease to be proud of who you are and the principles you hold dear and stand by.  Wear your values as your badge of honor.  What you’ve done, few have done before you.  What you’ve done is incredible.  What you’ve done is admired by all.  So I want to congratulate you, Boy Scouts.  (Applause.)

Let your scouting oath guide your path from this day forward.  Remember your duty.  Honor your history.  Take care of the people God put into your life, and love and cherish your great country.  (Applause.)

You are very special people.  You’re special in the lives of America.  You’re special to me.  But if you do what we say, I promise you that you will live scouting’s adventure every single day of your life, and you will win, win, win and help people in doing so.  (Applause.)

Your lives will have meaning and purpose and joy.  You will become leaders, and you will inspire others to achieve the dreams they once thought were totally impossible, things that you said could never, ever happen are already happening for you.  And if you do these things — and if you refuse to give in to doubt or to fear — then you will help to make America great again.  You will be proud of yourself, be proud of the uniform you wear, and be proud of the country you love.  (Applause.)

AUDIENCE:  USA!  USA!  USA!

THE PRESIDENT:  And never, ever forget, America is proud of you.  (Applause.)

This is a very, very special occasion for me.  I’ve known so many Scouts over the years.  Winners.  I’ve known so many great people.  They’ve been taught so well, and they love their heritage.  But this is very special for me.  And I just want to end by saying very importantly:  God bless you.  God bless the Boy Scouts.  God bless the United States of America.

Go out.  Have a great time in life.  Compete and go out and show me that there is nobody — nobody — like a Boy Scout.

Thank you very much, everybody.  Thank you very much.  Thank you.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

END
7:10 P.M. EDT

 

 

Full Text Political Transcripts July 4, 2017: President Donald Trump’s Remarks at 4th of July Military Appreciation Event

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Trump at 4th of July Military Appreciation Event

Source: WH, 7-4-17

South Lawn

5:16 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Welcome, everyone.  The rain stopped just as we came out.  I don’t know what that means, but it’s not bad.  (Laughter.)  And Happy Fourth of July.  Great honor to have you with us.  (Applause.)  Melania and I truly appreciate and celebrate America’s independence with those who courageously defend our country — the men, women and families of the United States military.

It is because of you that well over 300 million American citizens can live in freedom.  There is one military family here today I am especially excited to recognize:  Our great Vice President, Mike Pence, and our Second Lady — never heard that term before, but that’s what they say — and she is some lady, that I can tell you — of the United States, Karen Pence, are here along with their son, Marine First Lieutenant Michael Pence.  Where is Michael?  (Applause.)  Great.  It’s great, Michael.  Michael, not only are your parents proud of you, not only am I proud of you, but America, Michael, is very proud of you.  Thank you.

And America is proud of all of the brave men and women who serve in every branch of our great military.  We have outstanding representatives of each service, each branch.  They’re with us today. We have Army.  We have Navy.  We have Air Force.  (Applause.)  We have Marines.  (Applause.)  We have the Coast Guard.  (Laughter.)  We love our Coast Guard.

Representing the United States Army is Captain Jean Gwon.  She served 14 years, and today she is Company Commander in support of Old Guard, where she oversees the 120 soldiers who protect the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  It’s beautiful.  Captain Gwon is joined today by her husband, Captain James Folwell.  Thank you both for your service, and thank you to every soldier here with us today and serving our nation, and serving us all around the world.  You are truly the army of the free.

From the Marines we have Marine Sergeant Yannick Tumukunde.  He’s with Marine Helicopter Squadron One, an outfit I’ve come to know and admire very much since arriving at the White House.  Sergeant Tumukunde is a senior technician and is the sole chief martial arts instructor and trainer for the entire squadron.  Thank you, and thank you for being here.  And also, we lay claim to a very special title.  You are a United States Marine.  That is a special title.  Thank you, Sergeant.

From the Navy we have Lieutenant Commander Allison Maybrey, a Navy oceanographer.  Her leadership has improved the atmosphere.  And really what she’s done is so incredible, having to do with sensing, modeling, and predicting the electromagnetic warfare capabilities of various countries that hopefully we won’t be thinking about too much.  But she’s there, and she’s got the information like nobody has.  We thank Allison and her husband, Lieutenant Commander Michael Maybrey, here with their children, Emma, Lily, and Amelia.  Our incredible sailors embody the Navy credo: “Not for self, but for country.”  Thank you.

From the Air Force we have Technical Sergeant Ralph Bunnell.  Sergeant Bunnell is responsible for leading 50 security forces personnel that protect the President, the Vice President, and visiting foreign heads of state.  A big job, a very important job.  We want to thank you — to Ralph and to your wife, Patricia.  And thank you to every member of the Air Force who gives our nation total superiority in the air, striking fear into the hearts of our enemies, and inspiring hope in the hearts of our friends all around the world.

Finally, representing the Coast Guard we have Petty Officer First Class Tony Franklin.  Tony is a Gunner’s Mate and is directly responsible for the armament of 17 units.  He has led countless gunnery and pyrotechnic demonstrations — so I don’t think the fireworks are going to impress him very much, but I will tell you they’re going to impress you.  (Laughter.)  Thank you, Tony.

I want to thank everyone in the Coast Guard.  I was at the Coast Guard Academy this year — gave the commencement address — and it was an amazing, incredible group of people and a really great day.  Thank you, Tony, very much.

Each of you here today represents that rare combination of patriotism, virtue, and courage that our citizens have always — and I mean always — admired and that our enemies have always feared.  At this moment, your brothers and sisters in arms are posted around the globe, fighting our enemies and standing watch to protect our nation.  They’re fighting for us.  We are thanking them, praying for them, and saluting them for their selfless sacrifice.

There could be no greater privilege than to serve as your Commander-in-Chief.  I pledge my unwavering support for you, for your families, and your missions.  I will always have your back.  I will always, under all circumstances — you’ll be coming back here, and I will always have your back.

And I want to just tell you that our country is doing really, really well.  No matter where you look, the economy is blazing.  And on every front we’re doing well.  And we do have challenges, but we will handle those challenges — believe me.

You’re part of a new, and a truly great generation.  Two days ago I spoke with Lieutenant Colonel Dick Cole, who served as the co-pilot of the lead B-25 bomber pilot — and piloted by Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Doolittle during the daring 1942 raid, after the attack on Pearl Harbor.  Lieutenant Colonel Cole and the rest of the Doolittle Raiders launched their aircraft into the sky knowing that they would not have enough fuel to return to friendly territory.  That’s not a good feeling.  That’s a lot of courage.

Our servicemen and women are preserving the legacy of courage and selfless service that they inherited from Lieutenant Colonel Dick Cole and so many others.

May God bless you all.  May God bless our military.  May God bless forever the United States of America.

Thank you very much for being here.  Happy Fourth of July.  (Applause.)  Thank you very much.  Thank you.  Happy Fourth of July, everybody.  Thank you very much.

END
5:24 P.M. EDT

Full Text Political Transcripts April 17, 2017: President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump’s Remarks at the 2017 White House Easter Egg Roll

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump at the 2017 White House Easter Egg Roll

Source: WH, 4-17-17

South Lawn

10:27 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  What a great voice.  Thank you very much.  Great job.  I want to thank everybody.  This is the 139th Easter Egg Roll.  Think of it — 139.  It began a long time ago — 1878.  And we will be stronger and bigger and better as a nation than ever before.  We’re right on track.  You see what’s happening, and we’re right on track.  So thank you, everybody, for being here.

We’re going to do cards for soldiers in a little bit, Melania and Barron and myself.  We’re going downstairs, we’re going to sign some cards to our great troops — they’re cards for troops — and we look forward to that.  And then we’re going to come out and join you, and enjoy your company for a roll, a great Easter Egg Roll.  And I don’t know if we’re going to be successful, but I know a lot of people down there are going to be successful.  I’ve seen those kids, and they’re highly, highly competitive.  (Laughter.)  That I can tell you.

I just want to thank First Lady Melania Trump.  She’s really worked hard on this.  (Applause.)  She has been working on this for a long time to make it perfect, and we wanted to keep it just right.  So I want to just ask her to speak.  But before she speaks, I want to congratulate her on this wonderful, wonderful day.  We’re going to have a lot of people — a lot of people — and they’re going to have a great time.

So, Melania, thank you very much.  And, Barron, thank you very much for being here.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

Honey — First Lady, Melania Trump.  Thank you, everybody.

MRS. TRUMP:  Thank you.  Welcome to the White House.  This is the first time that my husband and I are hosting this wonderful tradition, and it’s great that you are all with us today.  I hope you have a great time, with many activities.

I want to thank the military band, all the staff and volunteers who worked tirelessly to ensure that you have a memorable experience.  I want to thank all the military with us today — (applause) — and all military in this great nation, and servicemen and servicewomen all around the world keeping us safe.

As we renew this tradition, thank you for joining us.  On behalf of the President and Barron, we wish you great fun and beautiful days coming ahead of us.  And Happy Easter.  Thank you.  God bless you.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Happy Easter.  And have a great, great time.  Have a great day.  Thank you, folks.  Thank you very much.  I’m coming down.  I’m going to be joining you.  Thank you very much.  My whole family is here.  Thank you.

END
10:31 A.M. EDT

Full Text Political Transcripts April 10, 2017: President Trump and Justice Gorsuch’s Remarks at Swearing-in of Justice Gorsuch to the Supreme Court

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Trump and Justice Gorsuch at Swearing-in of Justice Gorsuch to the Supreme Court

Source: WH, 4-10-17

Rose Garden

11:04 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  Friends and distinguished guests, welcome to the White House.  We are gathered here today for a truly momentous occasion in our democracy — the swearing-in of a United States Supreme Court justice.

In particular, I’m greatly honored to welcome to these grounds every sitting justice of the United States Supreme Court. Welcome.  (Applause.)  Thank you.

Mr. Chief Justice, and fellow justices, it’s a privilege to have you here, to join in this historic moment on this very  beautiful spring day in the Rose Garden.  Spring is really the perfect backdrop for this joyful gathering of friends, because, together, we are in a process of reviewing and renewing, and also rebuilding, our country.  A new optimism is sweeping across our land, and a new faith in America is filling our hearts and lifting our sights.

I’d also like to recognize Senator Cory Gardner, Mike Lee — where’s Mike?  He’s around here someplace — thank you.  And Mike Crapo.  Good.  Hi, Mike.   Thank you very much, and for all your work.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  And although he could not be here today, I especially want to express our gratitude to Senator Mitch McConnell for all that he did to make this achievement possible.  So, thank you, Mitch.  (Applause.)

I’d also like to give my appreciation to Chairman Grassley for conducting such a fair and professional confirmation.  Senator Grassley.  Where is Senator Grassley?  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Thank you, Senator.  Finally, a profound thank you to Louise Gorsuch, and to all of the Gorsuch family.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  And, Louise, I’ve heard it firsthand, I know what a total inspiration you are to your husband and to your entire family.  So thank you very much.  Fantastic.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

We are here to celebrate history — the taking of the judicial oath by the newest member of the United States Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch.  Justice Gorsuch, I just want to congratulate you and your entire family.  It’s something so special.  In fact, I’ve always heard that the most important thing that a President of the United States does is appoint people — hopefully great people like this appointment — to the United States Supreme Court.  And I can say this is a great honor.  (Applause.)  And I got it done in the first 100 days — that’s even nice.  (Laughter.)  You think that’s easy?

This ceremony has special meaning as Justice Gorsuch is filling the seat of one of the greatest Supreme Court judges in American history, and that’s Antonin Scalia, who is a terrific — was a terrific judge and a terrific person.  Justice Scalia was a patriot who revered our Constitution.  He was beloved by many, very many, who are here today, and he is deeply missed by all of us.

I want to at this time recognize his incredible wife, Maureen, who I got to know very well over the last short period of time.  And, Maureen, please stand up.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)  Thank you and your family.  Thank you.  Thank you, Maureen.

Americans are blessed to have in Neil Gorsuch a man who will, likewise, be a devoted servant of the law.  Over the past two months, the American people have gotten to know, respect and truly admire our newest member of the United States Supreme Court.  In Justice Gorsuch, they see a man of great and unquestioned integrity.  They see a man of unmatched qualifications.  And most of all, and most importantly, they see a man who is deeply faithful to the Constitution of the United States.  He will decide cases based not on his personal preferences, but based on a fair and objective reading of the law.

Today, we have all three branches of government represented at this event.  It is a very special thing — and a very special happening.  And it’s worth taking just a minute to remember what it all means.

In our Founders’ incredible wisdom, they gave each branch of government a different role in our Great Republic.  We have a Congress to write the laws on behalf of the people.  We have a President to enforce those laws and defend our nation.  And we have a Supreme Court to apply and interpret the law, in a fair and impartial manner, when disagreements arise.  The Founders separated power because they knew it was the best way to protect our citizens and keep our Constitution secure.

Justice Gorsuch, you are now entrusted with the sacred duty of defending our Constitution.  Our country is counting on you to be wise, impartial and fair — to serve under our laws, not over them, and to safegaurd the right of the people to govern their own affairs.  I have no doubt you will rise to the occasion and that the decisions you will make will not only protect our Constitution today, but for many generations of Americans to come.

In just a moment, Justice Gorsuch will be sworn in by Justice Kennedy, a great man of outstanding accomplishment.  Throughout his nearly 30 years on the Supreme Court, Justice Kennedy has been praised by all for his dedicated and dignified service.  We owe him an enormous debt of gratitude, and I am honored that he is with us today.  (Applause.)

This is a very, very special moment, because many years ago a young Neil Gorsuch started his legal career as a law clerk to Justice Kennedy.  You remember that, right?  (Laughter.)  It is a fitting testament to Justice Kennedy’s impact that, upon giving the oath to Justice Gorsuch, he will become the first ever Supreme Court justice to serve with one of his former law clerks. It’s sort of a big deal, isn’t it?  (Applause.)  Sort of like that.  That’s sort of good.  It has never happened before.  That’s pretty good.   Also shows you have a lot of respect for this man.  Very good.

We’re thrilled to share this historic moment with Justice Kennedy, with all of you here today, and with all Americans watching us at home.

Justice Gorsuch, I again congratulate you and your entire family, and I wish God’s blessings on your amazing journey ahead. I have no doubt you will go down as one of the truly great justices in the history of the United States Supreme Court.

I now invite Justice Kennedy to say a few words.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

JUSTICE KENNEDY:  Thank you, Mr. President.  Mr. Chief Justice, Justice Gorsuch, and my fellow adherents to the idea and the reality of the rule of law:  As many of you know, there are two oaths that a member of the federal judiciary must take.  The first is the constitutional oath that so many of you are familiar with that applies to all three branches of the government.  The second oath is one that applies just to federal judges.

Both of the oaths date from the founding of the Republic; the judicial oath dates from 1789.  And both of these oaths remind us that we as a people are bound together, we as a people find our self-definition, our respect, our heritage, and our destiny in the Constitution.

And so, Justice Gorsuch, there is one oath remaining for you to take — the judicial oath — before you may receive and accept your commission from the President of the United States.

Are you ready, Justice Gorsuch, to take the oath?

(The oath is administered.)

JUDGE GORSUCH:  I see before me so many to whom I owe so much.  I know I would not be here today without your friendship and support.  Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

I want to thank the President for nominating me and for the great confidence and trust he’s reposed in me.  I want to thank the Vice President for his constant encouragement and friendship throughout this process.

It’s not possible to mention here everyone I should mention, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank the President’s counsel, Don McGahn, and Mark Paoletta, the Vice President’s counsel, and every single person in the White House Counsel’s Office for their tremendous and tireless support.

I want thank Kelly Ayotte and my day-to-day team for their humor, for their sage advice, for their faith, as we spent months and so many miles trooping together through the Senate complex.  I want to thank every single person — and there are so many — in the White House and the Department of Justice who worked through so many late nights and long weeks on my behalf.

I want to thank, too, Senator McConnell and Senator Grassley and their excellent teams for their support and leadership.  And I must thank my former law clerks and my dear friends who gave so much of themselves so selflessly through these last three months. You are dear to me.  This is truly your doing, and this is your day.

I wish I could mention each of you by name, but you know who you are and you know your names are etched in my heart forever.

This process has reminded me just how outrageously blessed I am in my law clerks, and my family, and my friends.  And I hope that I may continue to rely on each of you as I face this new challenge.

To my former colleagues and the wonderful staff of the 10th Circuit, I thank you for your faithful service and your friendship over so many years.  To my new the very warm welcome. I look forward to many happy years together.

And I cannot tell you how honored I am to have here today my mentor, Justice Kennedy, administer the judicial oath, a beautiful oath, as he did for me 11 years ago when I became a Circuit judge.

To the Scalia family, I won’t ever forget that the seat I inherit today is that of a very, very great man.

To my wife, Louise, and my daughters, Emma and Bindi, thank you for your perseverance and your patience, your courage and your love.  I simply could not have attempted this without you.

And to the American people, I am humbled by the trust placed in me today.  I will never forget that to whom much is given, much will be expected.  And I promise you that I will do all my powers permit to be a faithful servant of the Constitution and laws of this great nation.

Thank you.  (Applause.)

END
11:21 A.M. EDT

Full Text Political Transcripts February 27, 2017: President Donald Trump’s Speech at Meeting with the National Governors Association

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Trump in Meeting with the National Governors Association

Source: WH, 2-27-17

State Dining Room

9:45 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)  That is pretty good, I’ll tell you.  Coming from governors, I can’t really — I can’t even believe it.  That’s so impressive.  And I very much appreciate you being here.  And thank you to Vice President Pence.  He has been so wonderful to work with.  He’s a real talent, a real guy.  And he is central casting, do we agree?  Central casting.  He’s been great.  (Applause.)

Good morning, everybody, and welcome back to the White House.  The First Lady and I were very, very happy last night to host you.  We saw some real talent, military talent, musicians who were fantastic.  And everybody enjoyed it.  (Applause.)

I’m very proud to have so many former governors in my Cabinet.  Vice President Pence, as you know, big governor from a very great state — I state I like very much — Indiana.  Nikki Haley at the U.N. — is Nikki here someplace?  I think so — yes.  We have Rick Perry — is going before.  We’re trying to get people approved, we can’t get them out.  But Rick is going to do a fantastic job.  Sonny Purdue will be joining the Cabinet very soon.  Terry Branstad will be our ambassador to China.  And an interesting story on Terry — every time I spoke in Iowa, he’d say, please don’t say anything bad about China. (Laughter.)  I said, what do you mean?  What do you mean?  He said, I like China and we do a lot of business with China.  “And really, just don’t” — and I said, “hmm.”  So when it came down to picking an ambassador, I called him up, I said, you like China.  And I can tell you, China is very, very happy with our choice.  So we made everybody happy.  (Applause.)  Right?  These governors — thank you.  And thank you, Terry.

These governors have been bold reformers, and their success shows why we need to make states the laboratories of democracy once again.  Many of you have shared past frustrations with waiting for permission from the federal government and agencies — and I understand that, and I’ve had many people tell me about it, and it’s been catastrophic for some of your states.  You know your citizens and you know they want things done.  But they don’t get things done and it’s not your fault.  Sometimes it’s your fault, but they understand that.  But sometimes it’s not your fault.  We’re going to speed it up.

Because that’s not how a partnership is supposed to work.  The government should not stand in your way in delivering needed reforms and services — and it won’t.  We’re going to move very, very quickly, environmentally, with Scott and so many others that are involved in the process of regulation.  We are going to be cutting — we’re going to be doing the right thing.  We’re going to be protecting people environmentally and safety-wise, but we’re going to be moving it quickly, very quickly.  (Applause.)

And speaking of that, I know many of you — and I’ve spoken to some of you last night about it — have many projects that are — I mean, just literally tied up because of environmental concerns, and it’s been in for years and years and years the project your state wants, great for employment — everybody wants them — and they couldn’t get them out of environmental protection.  And we will get them out.  Now, that doesn’t mean they’re going to be approved, but they’ll be rejected quickly one way or the other.  They’ll be either rejected quickly or they’re going to get approved.  I would say most will be approved, but you’re going to know you’re not going to wait nine years or eleven years — some of the horror stories that I’ve heard.

Under my administration, we’re going to have a true partnership of collaboration and cooperation.  We will get to the answers and we will get them quickly, and the flexibility you need to implement the reforms that you are going to have in order to make decision-making proper and decision-making fast.  So we’re going to do both those things — proper and fast.

One of the most important responsibilities for the federal government is the budget of the United States.  My first budget will be submitted to the Congress next month.  This budget will be a public safety and national security budget, very much based on those two with plenty of other things, but very strong.  And it will include a historic increase in defense spending to rebuild the depleted military of the United States of America at a time we most need it.  (Applause.)

And you’ll be hearing about that tomorrow night in great detail.  This is a landmark event, a message to the world, in these dangerous times, of American strength, security and resolve.  We must ensure that our courageous servicemen and women have the tools they need to deter war, and when called upon to fight in our name only do one thing:  Win.  We have to win.  We have to start winning wars again.

I have to say, when I was young, in high school and college, everybody used to say “we haven’t lost a war” — we never lost a war — you remember.  Some of you were right there with me, and you remember we never lost a war.  America never lost.  And now we never win a war.  We never win.  And we don’t fight to win.  We don’t fight to win.  So we either got to win, or don’t fight it at all.  But where we are — 17 years — almost 17 years of fighting in the Middle East.  I saw a chart the other day — as of about a month ago, $6 trillion we’ve spent in the Middle East — $6 trillion.  And I want to tell you, that’s just unacceptable.  And we’re nowhere.  Actually, if you think about it, we’re less than nowhere.  The Middle East is far worse than it was 16, 17 years ago.  There’s not even a contest.  So we’ve spent $6 trillion.  We have a hornet’s nest.  It’s a mess like you’ve never seen before.  We’re nowhere.  So we’re going to straighten it out.

This defense spending increase will be offset and paid for by finding greater savings and efficiencies across the federal government.  We’re going to do more with less.  I got involved in an airplane contract, I got involved in some other contracts, and we cut the hell out of the prices.  I mean, we saved a lot of money, tremendous amount of money, beyond anything that the generals that were involved — they said they’d never seen anything like this before.

On one plane, on a small order of one plane, I saved $725 million.  And I would say I devoted about, if I added it up, all those calls, probably about an hour.  So I think that might be my highest and best use.  (Laughter.)  Because if we can do that, our budget will be — might be my highest and best.  (Applause.)

And there are many other places; it’s all the same.  And in one way, that’s a good thing because we have an answer.  And David is going to do a fantastic job at the VA.  I see David is sitting there, shaking his head.  Stand up, David.  (Applause.)  So we can’t get our people through Cabinet, but he went through — was it 95 to nothing?

SECRETARY SHULKIN:  A hundred to zero.

THE PRESIDENT:  How the hell did you do that?  (Laughter.)  Boy, oh boy.  He must be good.  You were the one.  One hundred to zero, wow.  Chose you — hey, we can do it.  But we do — we have still quite a few Cabinet members, and they’re just in limbo waiting and waiting.  It’s like obstruction.  It’s obstruction.  But eventually we’ll get them, and they’ll put their people in, and we’ll get those agencies, et cetera, to work.

We’re going to do more with less and make the government lean and accountable to the people.  We can do so much more with the money we spend.  With $20 trillion in debt — can you imagine that — the government must learn to tighten its belt, something families all across the country have had to learn to do, unfortunately.  But they’ve had to learn to do it, and they’ve done it well.

My budget increases spending, and the increase in all spending, for federal law enforcement also.  And activities having to do with law enforcement will be substantially increased.  And we will fight violent crime.  If you look at what’s happening in our cities, you look at what’s happening in Chicago, what’s going on in Chicago — we will fight violent crime, and we will win.  And we’ll win that one fairly quickly.  Once we give the local police, the local law enforcement the right to go in and fight it, and we back them monetarily and also otherwise, we’re going to win that one.  We’re going to win it fairly quickly, I believe.

My budget also puts America first by keeping tax dollars in America to help veterans and first responders.  So important.  This budget follows through on my promise to focus on keeping Americans safe, keeping out terrorists, keeping out criminals, and putting violent offenders behind bars, or removing them from our country altogether.  And I must say that we’ve been treated very well — very, very well — on the job that General Kelly has done at the border.  It’s tough, it’s strong.

I was talking last night to Terry McAuliffe, and he said, you have to mention this — because he met with — where is Terry?  He’s around here someplace.  Terry — he met with General Kelly, and I think I can say you were impressed with General Kelly.  And he said, you have to get the point out that they’re removing the bad ones.  And that’s where our focus is — it’s the bad ones.  We’re getting some very, very bad players out of this country — drug lords, gang members, heads of gangs, killers, murderers — we’re getting them out.  That’s what we’re focused on.

The press isn’t covering that, unfortunately, but it’s something that is very important.  We’re getting the bad ones out.  And that’s always where I said I was going to start.  I was going to start with these bad players.  And they are bad.  They are rough and tough, and we’re getting them the hell out of our country, and we’re bringing them to where they started out.  Let their country do what they have to do with them.

So the budget, which is going to be a very big part of tomorrow night’s speech, it’s going to be I think a budget of great rationality.  But it’s going to have to do with military, safety, economic development, and things such as that.  Great detail tomorrow night.

We’re also going to do whatever we can to restore the authority of the states when that is the appropriate thing to do.  We’re going to give you back a lot of the powers that have been taken away from states and great people and great governors.  And you can control it better than the federal government because you’re right on top of it.  You have something that’s controllable.  So I think that’s going to be very important.  You see that already taking effect.

We have to let the states compete and to see who has the best solutions.  They know the best how to spend their dollars and how to take care of the people within each state.  And the states are different, and people are different.  So the governors are going to have a lot more decision-making ability than they have right now.

All states will benefit from our economic agenda.  We will reduce taxes very, very substantially, and simplify the tax code.  We’re also going to make taxes between countries much more fair.  We’re one of the only countries in the world that people can sell their product into us and have no tax, no nothing, and they get rich.  And yet if you want to do business with them, you’ll have taxes, I’ve seen, as high as 100 percent.  So they sell into us, no problem; we sell into them — because we don’t sell them because the tax is so high that they don’t want us to sell into them.

So I know that’s always been a point of contention, but to me it’s just fair.  It’s just fair.  It’s reciprocal.  It’s fair.  And so we’re going to be doing a lot of work on that, and that’s becoming a very, very important factor — fairness.  Because I believe in free trade.  I want so much trade — somebody said, oh, maybe he’s a total nationalist — which I am, in a true sense — but I want trade.  I want great trade between countries.

But the word “free” is very deceiving, because it’s good for them, it’s not good for us.  I want fair trade.  And if we’re going to be taxed, they should be taxed at the same amount, the other countries.  And one of two things is going to happen:  We’re going to make a lot of money or the other country is going to get rid of its tax.  And that’s good, too, because now the product, like Harley-Davidson — I was talking to them — the product will now flow into other countries where right now they can’t do it.

So we’re going to make it easier for states to invest in infrastructure, and I’m going to have a big statement tomorrow night on infrastructure.  We spent $6 trillion in the Middle East, and we have potholes all over our highways and our roads.  I have a friend who is in the trucking business.  He said, my trucks are destroyed going from New York to Los Angeles.  They’re destroyed.  He said, I’m not going to get the good trucks.  He always prided himself on buying the best equipment.  He said, the roads are so bad that, by the time we make the journey from New York to Los Angeles or back, he said the equipment is just beat to hell.  I said, when has it been like that before?  He said, it’s never — he’s been in the business for 40 years — he said it’s never been like that.  Forty years — never been like that.  So we’re going to take care of that.

Infrastructure — we’re going to start spending on infrastructure big.  And it’s not like we have a choice.  It’s not like, oh, gee, let’s hold it off.  Our highways, our bridges are unsafe.  Our tunnels — I mean, we have tunnels in New York where the tiles are on the ceiling, and you see many tiles missing.  And you wonder, you know, you’re driving at 40 miles an hour, 50 miles an hour through a tunnel.  Take a look at the Lincoln Tunnel and the Queens-Midtown Tunnel, and you’re driving, and you see all this loose material that’s heavy.  And it was made many years ago, so it’s heavy.  Today, it’s light.  It used to be better.  The problem is, you got to hold it up.  And I say to myself — every time I drive through, I say, I wonder how many people are hurt or injured when they are driving at 40, 50 miles an hour through a tunnel, and the tile falls off.  And there are so many missing tiles and such loose concrete.  So we have to fix our infrastructure.  It’s not like we have a choice.  We have no choice, and we’re going to do it, and it also happens to mean jobs, which is a good thing.

We’re going to repeal and replace Obamacare, and get states the flexibility that they need to make the end result really, really good for them.  A very complicated issue.  We have Tom Price, just got confirmed — sitting here.  (Applause.)  Stand up, Tom.  And I spent a lot of time with Governor Walker and Governor Rick Scott the other day — we were talking about it.  They’re really very expert on the subject, and I want to thank them.  They spent a lot of time with me.  Governor Christie who’s here someplace.  Where’s Chris?  Governor Christie, thank you.  And so we have a lot of talent and a lot of expertise here, I will tell you.  And we have come up with a solution that’s really, really, I think, very good.

Now, I have to tell you, it’s an unbelievably complex subject.  Nobody knew that healthcare could be so complicated.  And statutorily and for budget purposes, as you know, we have to do healthcare before we do the tax cut.  The tax cut is going to be major, it’s going to be simple, and the whole tax plan is wonderful.  But I can’t do it until we do healthcare because we have to know what the healthcare is going to cost.  And, statutorily, that’s the way it is.  So for those people that say, oh, gee, I wish we could do the tax first — it just doesn’t work that way.  I would like to do that first.  It’s actually — tax cutting has never been that easy, but it’s a tiny, little ant compared to what we’re talking about with Obamacare.

And you have to remember — and I say this to Democrats in the room — of which we have many — Obamacare has failed.  If you go to Minnesota, where they had a 66-percent increase, and the governor of Minnesota, who is with us today, said, Obamacare — the Affordable Care Act — is no longer affordable — something to that effect.  I think that might be it exactly.  But the Affordable Care Act is no longer affordable.  Obamacare has failed.

I say to the Republicans, if you really want to do politically something good, don’t do anything.  Sit back for a period of two years, because ’17 is going to be a disaster — a disaster — for Obamacare if we don’t do something.  Let it be a disaster because we can blame that on the Dems that are in our room, and we can blame that on the Democrats and President Obama.  Let it implode, and then let it implode in ’18 even worse.  Don’t do anything, and they will come begging for us to do something.  But that’s not the fair thing to do for the people.  It’s not the fair thing.

Politically, I think it would be a great solution, because as soon as we touch it, if we do the most minute thing — just a tiny, little change — what’s going to happen?  They’re going to say, it’s the Republicans’ problem.  That’s the way it is.  But we have to do what’s right because Obamacare is a failed disaster.

And it’s interesting, it’s sort of like, when you see — you see it with politicians, you see it with President Obama — when you know he’s getting out of office and the clock is ticking, and he’s not going to be there, his approval rating goes way up, even though, you know, not that active in the last period of time.  The approval rating goes up.  That’s not him; that’s like almost everybody.  I see it happening with Obamacare.  People hate it, but now they see that the end is coming, and they’re saying, oh, maybe we love it.  There’s nothing to love.  It’s a disaster, folks, okay?  So you have to remember that.

And, very importantly, we are going to work to restore local control to our nation’s education system.  Betsy is here someplace, and she is going to be, I think, fantastic.  (Applause.)  I think she’s going to be fantastic.  Stand up, Betsy.  Betsy feels so strongly, and she has had such support from so many people.  You know, you don’t see that too much because you see the anti, you never see the positive.  But I can tell you, I’ve had so many calls while she was going through that horrible process.  That was a tough, tough, nasty process.  And she hung in, she was as strong as you get.  But so many people were calling Betsy, saying you will do such a fantastic job once you get it.

It’s like sometimes I’d say, it’s much tougher to get into Harvard than it is to stay there.  Does that make sense?  It’s tougher to get into the Wharton School of Finance — you can’t get in.  But if you get in, it’s fine, you get through, right?  I think you’re going to do a fantastic job, and we’re very proud of you.  And you took a lot of heat, but you’re going to do great.  So she wants to bring decision-making powers back to parents, back to the families and back to the states, where they can really control education.

And just finally, I’m looking forward to working with you on these projects and so much more.  We’re going to do these projects and so many more.  And I thank you all again for being here.  It’s going to be a really productive discussion — so productive that I’m going to ask the press to start leaving because I wouldn’t want them to see any great, productive session.  (Laughter.)  But they’ll be seeing it and hearing about it.

Again, thank you very much all for being at the White House.  We’ll do this many times.  I want the opinions of the governors of the states of the United States.  So I want to just thank you all for being here, and let’s take some questions, okay?  (Applause.)  Thank you.

END
10:05 A.M. EST

Full Text Political Transcripts February 26, 2017: President Donald Trump’s Speech at the 2017 Governors Ball

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Trump at the 2017 Governors Ball

Source: WH, 2-26-17

State Dining Room

7:29 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much, everybody.  I want to just congratulate the First Lady on having done a really beautiful job.  The room, they say, has never looked better, but who knows.  I’m sure it’s looked very good many times.  So, Melania, congratulations.  (Applause.)

I also want to congratulate and thank a truly great Vice President of the United States, and his wonderful wife, Karen.  And wherever you are, Mike, stand up just for a second.  Mike Pence.  (Applause.)

So I can say that after four weeks — they were a lot of fun — but we’ve accomplished almost everything we’ve started out to accomplish.  The borders are stricter, tighter.  We’re going a really good job.  General Kelly has does a fantastic job militarily.  As you know, we have a fantastic team.  We have an A team.  And I’m getting some good reports.  There are some big problems in the world — you know that very well — but we’re very happy with the way things are working.  And again, we’ve made a lot of promises over the last two years, and many of those promises already are kept.  So we’re very honored by that.  And I — (applause) — thank you, thank you.

I just want to salute and toast the governors — the great governors of the United States.  They have done an amazing job.  Such an easy job you have.  (Laughter.)  So easy.  But you have done a fantastic job, and your families and wives and — well, everybody is here.  I mean, I’ve seen daughters come tonight.  I’ve seen wives.  I’ve seen — all I know is, everybody is lovely, and we’re going to have a wonderful evening.

And tomorrow, we’re going to meet, and we’re going to discuss things, like perhaps healthcare will come up.  Perhaps.  (Laughter.)  And I think we’ve made a lot of progress on that.  And we’re going to have a speech on Tuesday night, and we’re going to be speaking very specifically about a very complicated subject.  Everybody is different, every state is different, and different requirements, but I think we have something that’s going to really be excellent.

And as most of you know, the Obamacare has had tremendous problems.  I won’t say in front of the Democrats, I’ll just say it to the Republicans — (laughter) — it doesn’t work.  But we’re going to have it fixed, and we’re going to repeal and replace.  And I think you’re going to see something very, very special.

And for all of you, and even tonight, because we have Tom Price with us — if you see something or want to discuss it, we don’t have to discuss all friendly stuff.  We can discuss a little bit of the healthcare.  We might as well start.  But tomorrow morning, we’re going to meet and have some pretty big sessions on healthcare and other things — whatever is on your mind.

So I hear this is a record number of governors — 46.  And that’s the highest number that have ever shown up for this evening.  (Applause.)  So, with that, I would like to toast the great, great governors of the United States.  Thank you.

(A toast is offered.)

Now, I know it’s inappropriate, but I’d like to ask a friend of mine — I’ve just destroyed his political career — (laughter) — from the other side, a man from Virginia — I’ve known him a long time, and he’s a very good guy — Governor Terry McAuliffe to come up and also, perhaps, make a toast.  Thank you.  Terry, where are you?  Come on up, Terry.  (Applause.)

GOVERNOR MCAULIFFE:  Well, good evening.  Let me, first of all, on behalf of our nation’s governors, I want to thank the President and the First Lady.  We have found out this is the first big social dinner of the calendar, and I think they did that out of respect to our nation’s governors.  So if we give a great round of applause to the President and the First Lady.  (Applause.)

Now, Mr. President, as you know, I am chairman of the National Governors Association, so I’m not sure if the 46 — the largest crowd ever — is due to my chairmanship or your presidency.  (Laughter.)  But tonight, in the spirit of bipartisanship, sir, we will both take credit for the greatest NGA meeting in the history of NGA meetings.  (Applause.)

I also want to thank the Vice President of the United States and Mrs. Pence.  On Friday, for the first time ever, they opened the Vice Presidential Mansion — the Naval Observatory — to host the governors for lunch.  That had never been done before.  So if we could give a great round of applause to the Vice President and Karen Pence.  (Applause.)

And let me just say, tomorrow we’re all going to meet, we’re going to discuss the issues tomorrow, but the one thing we all agree on — all of us governors and this administration, what every governor wants — we want good jobs.  We want a good economy.  We want the world-class education system in our respective states.  We want a healthcare delivery system that works, with great, quality healthcare, efficiently at a low cost.  We want people to get on our roads and our rail, and be able to ride around efficiently, and then go see their kids play a ballgame.  That’s what we all want.

And, Mr. President, I thank you for having us here tonight.  We have a common goal:  We are the greatest nation in the globe.  And I want to toast to you, Mr. President, and just say, we want to work with you to build on those ideals that have instilled and brought all of us governors together, that we can respectively grow our states and grow our nation to be truly the great destiny that we are.  So I would like to offer a toast to the President of the United States of America.

(A toast is offered.)

END
7:35 P.M. EST

Full Text Political Transcripts February 7, 2017: President Donald Trump’s Remarks in Roundtable with County Sheriffs

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Trump in Roundtable with County Sheriffs

Source: WH, 2-7-17

Roosevelt Room

9:49 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Oh, the sheriffs are great people.  Well, thank you very much.  Law enforcement was a big subject in the campaign and a subject that was very well received.  You have no idea how respected you are, sheriffs and, generally speaking, the leaders of law enforcement.  Anybody involved in law enforcement, you have no idea how respected you are — you don’t get the honest facts from the press — if you don’t know how respected you are.  So I just want to say that upfront.

I’m honored to welcome the National Sheriffs’ Association.  Your leadership is here, and I know the great job you do.  I’ve known you and followed you for a long period of time.  Your efforts and your officers are outstanding.  I know so many sheriffs from my area — some in particular — and they’re great friends and great people.

I just want to let you know that our job is to help you in law enforcement, and we’re going to help you do your job.  We’re going to expand access to abuse-deterring drugs, which a lot of you have been talking about.  They’re out, and they’re very hard to get.  Stop the opioid epidemic.  We’ve got to do it.  It’s a new thing.  And, honestly, people aren’t talking about it enough.  It’s a new thing, and it’s a new problem for you folks.  It’s probably a vast majority of your crimes — or at least a very big portion of your crimes are caused by drugs.

We’re going to stop the border.  We’re going to stop — we’re not going to have the drugs pouring from the border like they have been.  We will work with you on supporting your longstanding efforts to strengthen the bonds between the communities and the police, which is very important.  And it’s sort a new phenomenon to a certain extent, and it’s happening more and more.  And some great results out when you can strengthen the bonds.

We’re committed to securing our borders to reduce crime, illegal drugs, human trafficking, especially in border counties.  We have a lot of the border counties represented.

We’re also committed to working with law enforcement to stop terrorist attacks.  You’ve been reading about that, been seeing about that — they want to take a lot of our powers away.  There are some people with a lot of the wrong intentions, and it’s — we’ve got a lot of bad people out there.

And, Dana, I just want to thank you on behalf of the government, on behalf of our country for leading a strong, strong effort in the courts.  We really appreciate it, believe me.  Because as you know, we don’t have an attorney general.  We have somebody who’s phenomenal — Jeff Sessions.  He’s going to be there hopefully soon.  But I believe it’s about a record for the length of time that they’ve delayed the Cabinet.  These are Cabinet members that are phenomenal people.  And we haven’t had representation, and now we have excellent representation, fortunately, in Dana.  And Jeff will be with you very shortly, hopefully.  But we’re having a hard time getting approvals.  And it’s only a delay tactic — it’s all politics.

One person came up to me, a senator, a Democratic senator who came up to me the other day and said, Jeff Sessions is a fantastic man.  He’s fabulous.  He’s a friend of mine.  He’s a great, great man and a great talent.  And we’re lucky to have him.  I said, oh, great, I guess that means you’re voting for him?  No, I won’t be voting that.  (Laughter.)  He said, politics doesn’t allow me to do that.

I thought it was a disgrace.  If the press talks loud and hard enough, I’ll have to tell you who said that to me.  You don’t want to hear it.  You don’t want to hear who said that?  (Laughter.)  I didn’t think you’d care.  I didn’t think you’d care.  I’ll probably tell you, actually.  Anyway.

So we’re going to be very tough on crime.  So we’re going to be very tough on the drugs pouring in, and that’s a big part of the crime.  We’re going to be very strong at the border.  We have no choice.  And we’re going to be building a wall.   We’re starting very soon.  General Kelly will be working with a lot of you.  And he’s fantastic.  He was the one who got approved very quickly along with General Mattis.  He’s very, very outstanding.  And I very much appreciate that you’re here today.

And, Sheriff, I really thank you for leading the effort.  Your reputation is fantastic, and it’s a great honor to know you.  Maybe we can go around — we’ll let the press stay for a little while, unless you’d rather leave.  Would the press rather stay?  Just so you understand.  This is a new phenomenon.  You’re on live television all over the world right now, so don’t get nervous when you speak, okay?  (Laughter.)

But I don’t think these things have ever taken place before.  But you are on live television, so if you don’t want to say anything, you don’t have to.  But if you do, I think it’s a good thing to say.  So maybe we’ll just go around the room.

SHERIFF WELSH:  Well, Mr. President, thank you so much for having us here.  I’m Sheriff Carolyn Welsh from Chester County, Pennsylvania, and proud to say Pennsylvania, the commonwealth, that put you over the top November 8th.

THE PRESIDENT:  It’s true.  (Laughter.)

SHERIFF WELSH:  We’re very proud of that.  We don’t stop bragging about that.

THE PRESIDENT:  You were a great support.

SHERIFF WELSH:  Thank you.  And I just want to thank you for, during the campaign and since the campaign, being such a strong, courageous supporter of law enforcement on the national — on the federal level with the Border Patrol, on the state level, and the counties, municipalities, boroughs, and particularly with the elected sheriffs of the counties — because we are the sheriff, we are the people’s representative, and we are elected by the people, and we greatly appreciate your strong and continued support.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, Carolyn.  There’s a new sheriff in town.

SHERIFF WELSH:  That’s right.

THE PRESIDENT:  I hear this so much.  (Laughter.)  I hear this so much, Dana.  They always use, “there’s a new sheriff in town.”  So anyway.

SHERIFF EAVANSON:  Sheriff Harold Eavanson from Rockwall County, Texas.  We appreciate your support very much.  Our county is probably about 85 percent Republican.  So it was pretty easy for you —

THE PRESIDENT:  They were very nice.  I agree.  They were very nice.

SHERIFF EAVANSON:  And being in a border state, I have been to the border in Texas any number of times, been to the border in Arizona.  I clearly understand the problem we have.  And previously when we’d go to the border and hear what the ranchers and sheriffs have to say — those border sheriffs and border ranchers, it was a 180 degrees from what we heard from the previous administration.

THE PRESIDENT:  So you’re seeing a big difference?

SHERIFF EAVANSON:  We’re very proud to have you as President.

THE PRESIDENT:  And that’s only two weeks.  Okay?  It’s a very short period of time.  I’m hearing it from a lot of people.  People are calling in and they’re — and people I know that are in the area, they’re saying it’s like day and night.  Because we’re not playing games.  We’re not playing games.  We’re stopping the drugs from pouring into our country and poisoning our youth.  So thank you very much.  I appreciate it.

SHERIFF EAVANSON:  You’re welcome.

MR. THOMPSON:  Mr. President, I’m Jonathan Thompson, the executive director and CEO of the National Sheriffs’ Association.  Let me tell you the difference of six months.  I sat in this room, in this chair, and I was pleading — I was begging for help.  Today, you’ve invited us here to your home.  You’re offering help.  You’re delivering on that offer.  And on behalf of our members across the country, thank you.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  It’s so nice.  I appreciate that.

SHERIFF STANEK:  Mr. President, Rich Stanek from Hennepin County, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

First off, thank you very much.  As Ms. Conway said, next time, up by three points in my state — over the top.

THE PRESIDENT:  Boy, we almost won your state.  You know we weren’t supposed to do very well in your state, and we won — lost by one point.  I say, if I went there one more visit we would have won.  (Laughter.)  We would have won Minnesota.  But it was very close.

SHERIFF STANEK:  Many of us have your back, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, I know.

SHERIFF STANEK:  And I just want to say that you hit on two topics that are near and dear to my heart.  The first is opioids — 144 people that died last year as a result of opioid overdose; 31 percent increase over the year before.  We need help.  Eighty-plus percent of the drugs come from south of the border.  Everybody knows it.  I know you will do something about it.

THE PRESIDENT:  I will.  It’s already being done, believe me.  It’s a big, big difference.  And we will do that, and you do have a big problem, and you have a big problem with the refugees pouring in, don’t you?

SHERIFF STANEK:  Yes, we do, sir.  And we all asking if what you’re doing, which is let the courts decide, do what we’ve been doing.  Rule of law is strong and the proper vetting of individuals is really important to us.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, you know, the vetting is much, much tougher now.  And we need this court case.  It will be very helpful to keeping the wrong people out of our country.  You understand that better than anybody.  So I think we’re going to have some good results.

SHERIFF STANEK:  I do, sir.

THE PRESIDENT:  It may take a little while.  And you know, this is a very dangerous period of time because while everybody is talking and dealing, a lot of bad people are thinking about, hey, let’s go in right now.  But we’re being very, very tough with the vetting — tougher than ever before.

SHERIFF STANEK:  Sir, I chaired the Homeland Security Committee for the National Sheriffs’ Association.  We heard from General Kelly yesterday, his message was right on the mark about carrying out your directives, and we appreciate that.

THE PRESIDENT:  That used to be a political position, you know, what General Kelly is doing here right now.  Homeland Security, if you remember — it’s like a political position.  Not anymore.  Now it’s, in my opinion, one of truly most important positions.  So he’s doing a great job.  Thank you very much.

SHERIFF STANEK:  Thank you, sir.

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes, sir.

SHERIFF GLICK:  Mr. President, thank you.  It’s such an honor to be here.  I’m Danny Glick, sheriff of Laramie County, Wyoming.  You know, there are so many issues that you’ll hear going around this table.  One of the ones that probably isn’t — that people don’t realize is EPA decisions that have affected our coal industry, our oil industry in the West.  But beyond that, it increases the number of people that are jobless and thus increases our crime statistics.  And it’s starting to overwhelm us.  We’re very small out there for the most part, and we don’t have the numbers of deputies, officers and law enforcement that can sometimes keep up with this.  I appreciate what you’ve done and what you’re planning in the future.  I think it was very well publicized, and I just appreciate being here today.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, Sheriff.  And I will tell you that the EPA — you’re right.  I call it — it’s clogged the bloodstream of our country.  People can’t do anything.  People are looking to get approvals for factories for 15 years, and then after the 15th year they get voted down after having spent a fortune.  So that’s going to end.  We have one of our really great people — as you know, Scott is looking to be approved by the Senate.  We’re still waiting for that one, too.  It’s a disgrace what’s going on.  But as soon as he gets involved, we’re going to unclog the system.

And, by the way, people are going to get rejected, but they’re going to get rejected quickly.  But for the most part, they’re going to be accepted when they want to do.  We’re going to bring the jobs back.  And your state was very, very good to me, as you know.  I mean, they were very, very good to me and I appreciate that.  And just tell the people we’re going to get the system unclogged and we’re going to get it up.

As you know, I approved two pipelines that were stuck in limbo forever.  I don’t even think it was controversial.  You know, I approved them — I haven’t even heard — I haven’t had one call from anybody saying, oh, that was a terrible thing you did.  I haven’t had one call.  You know, usually, if I do something it’s like bedlam, right?  I haven’t had one call from anybody.  And a lot of jobs — in the Keystone case, we have potentially 32,000 jobs almost immediately.  And then, as you know, I did the Dakota pipeline and nobody called up to complain.  Because it was unfair.  Years of getting approvals, nobody showed up to fight it.  This company spends a tremendous — hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars, and then all of a sudden, people show up to fight it.  It’s not fair to our companies.  And I think everyone is going to be happy in the end, okay?

So I appreciate it very much, Sheriff.  It’s a great honor to have you here.  Thank you.  And say hello to your people.

Yes, sir.

SHERIFF LAYTON:  Good morning, Mr. President.  I’m John Layton.  I’m the sheriff of Marion County, Indiana, which is — (laughter) —

THE PRESIDENT:  You never met our great Vice President.  (Laughter.)

SHERIFF LAYTON:  I’m very proud of this man.  And we as sheriffs — this is, to me, it seems like it’s unprecedented.  I look back into the history of the NSA, long before myself, and I never have — I could never find where — not only did the President and now the Vice President, as well, has invited us into your house to share some concerns of ours —

THE PRESIDENT:  And in about 10 minutes, you’re going to see the Oval Office, too, which is — that’s the other thing, you know, people have had meetings here.  I had the car companies, the biggest companies — Ford, General Motors, Fiat — and they were in this room often.  And I said, oh, so you’ve seen the Oval Office?  “No, we’ve never been invited to see the Oval Office.”  You know where the Oval Office is?  Ten feet in that direction — 10 feet.

SHERIFF LAYTON:  Looking forward to it.  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Look, these are the biggest people that were going there — these are the biggest people.  So they were never invited to the Oval Office and they were only 10 feet away.  You would think they would be invited.  But you’re going to see the Oval Office, okay?

SHERIFF LAYTON:  Thank you, Mr. President.  One of the main concerns was not just my office as sheriff, but across the nation — the mentally ill in the jails, and the people that they’re being really, for lack of a better term, warehoused in our jails across America because we don’t have the facilities necessary to take care of them on the outside.  And it ends up a lot of these people go to jail because the public or the police officer happens to be mad at them at the time, instead of they need to be in the jail for a very good reason.  So we just appreciate you having the back of law enforcement.  We do all feel that, as everyone with a badge knows, that you do have our backs and that we’re looking forward to years of harmony and taking care of business with the people we serve.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I appreciate it.  And I will say that, in the recent election, law enforcement is with me.  I mean, the numbers were staggering — staggering.  It wasn’t like, gee, it’s 51-49.  Believe me, it was through the roof.  Law enforcement and military also.

SHERIFF LAYTON:  Absolutely.

THE PRESIDENT:  I think, generally, people in uniform tend to like me.  (Laughter.)  Explain that to me.  Dana, explain that to me.  (Laughter.)  So, Sheriff, thank you very much.  And do you miss your former governor?

SHERIFF LAYTON:  We do, we do.

THE PRESIDENT:  You have a good new governor.

SHERIFF LAYTON:  Holcomb is holding down the fort for us, though, but big shoes for him to fill.

THE PRESIDENT:  Mike Pence has been fantastic.

SHERIFF LAYTON:  Yes, he has.

THE PRESIDENT:  Dana, I want to thank you for your service.  Amazing the way you just stepped into the breach and have done such a good job.  And let’s see what happens with the court case.

MR. BOENTE:  Well, Mr. President, thank you for the privilege to serve you and the Department of Justice and the American people.  I’m very honored by it.  And I want to thank all the sheriffs here, but I guess our local and state partners — it’s very important to federal law enforcement and all the agencies.  And I know that Senator Sessions — we’re looking forward to him getting to the Department — will make that an important priority.  And he wants to strengthen that bond that we have with them because it’s very, very important to law enforcement.

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes, well, thank you very much.  And, you know, one of the things that you know better than anybody is that we had a very good victory in Boston.  So I said to everybody, why don’t we use the Boston case?  Why aren’t we using the Boston case?  Because the Boston victory was great, but it’s statutorily —

MR. BOENTE:  Judge Gordon, who wrote that decision, had a very good analysis where he referred to immigration law, and I thought it was a terrific opinion.  And I think it’s the right opinion.

THE PRESIDENT:  And a highly respected judge, too.  So I appreciate it.  Thank you, Dana, very much.  Appreciate it.

SHERIFF PAGE:  Mr. President, I’m Sheriff Page from Rockingham County, North Carolina.  And you did very well in North Carolina.  (Laughter.)  And I just want to —

THE PRESIDENT:  Go North Carolina.

SHERIFF PAGE:  Hey!  (Laughter.)  And I just want to say that we appreciate you being where you’re at.  The first responsibility of government is protecting its people.  As we as elected by the people and you’re elected by the people, we got that.  When you say there’s a new sheriff in town, we relate to that.  You’re about the rule of law.  We haven’t seen that in many years, and we appreciate that.

And I want to tell you something — when General Kelly was speaking yesterday for the sheriffs, he made — he was telling us about — he went — I saw something that I haven’t seen before. He went to the border, he looked at the assets, and he asked the law enforcement down there, what’s going on and what can we do to help fix the situation down here.

So you’ve got a good team.  You’re putting together a good team.  You’ve got the support of sheriffs from across the country, and we appreciate what you’re doing.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, thank you.  And a funny story — so when General Kelly was just sworn in, now Secretary Kelly, and I said, you want to have dinner tonight and we’ll talk?  “Sir, I’m heading to the border.”  I said, I like that better.  (Laughter.)  We don’t need to eat.  I said, I like that better.  So he’s right on the ball, he’s going to be fantastic.  Because everybody has said the same thing.

Thank you.  That’s very nice.

SHERIFF PAGE:  Thank you, sir.

SHERIFF MAHONEY:  Good morning, Mr. President.  Dave Mahoney, I’m the sheriff in Dane County, which is Madison, Wisconsin.  I want to thank you for inviting our nation’s sheriffs into the White House.  You know, as the only elected law enforcement leaders in our community, we are the most engaged in our community’s issues and concerns.  And I think it’s important.  I think there’s a strong message when the President of the United States invites our nation’s sheriffs in to talk about those issues that are of importance in our community.

THE PRESIDENT:  Has this ever happened before with the sheriffs?

PARTICIPANT:  No, sir.

PARTICIPANT:  No, sir.

THE PRESIDENT:  It never happened?

PARTICIPANT:  Never.

THE PRESIDENT:  And yet the murder rate in our country is the highest it’s been in 47 years, right?  Did you know that?  Forty-seven years.  I used to use that — I’d say that in a speech and everybody was surprised, because the press doesn’t tell it like it is.  It wasn’t to their advantage to say that.  But the murder rate is the highest it’s been in, I guess, from 45 to 47 years.  And you would think that you would be invited here, and you would think that you people would be able to solve — had you — if you ran Chicago, you would solve that nightmare, I tell you.  I’ll bet everybody in that room, especially Carolyn, right, would raise their hand.  Because to allow — I mean, literally — hundreds of shootings a month, it’s worse than some of the places that we read about in the Middle East, where you have wars going on.  It’s so sad.  Chicago has become so sad a situation.

SHERIFF MAHONEY:  I’m only three hours from downtown Chicago, and as Sheriff Stanek mentioned, the issues of heroin and opiate addiction — I’m averaging 12, 15 overdoses a week in my community.  And we need help from DEA, FBI, and our task forces.  We need them to be adequately funded and led by leaders who want to work collectively with our nation’s sheriffs.

THE PRESIDENT:  How much of your crime is caused, do you think, by drugs generally?

SHERIFF MAHONEY:  Eighty percent?

THE PRESIDENT:  Eighty percent.  So without drugs, you would have a whole different ballgame.

SHERIFF MAHONEY:  I have a jail, over 1,000 beds.  Eighty percent suffer from chronic drug and alcohol addiction.

THE PRESIDENT:  And when did it start, big league?  Or has it been going on for many years?

SHERIFF MAHONEY:  Well, I think heroin and opiates have overshadowed cocaine, which of course has been, since the eighties, our number-one drug of choice.  Now it’s prescription painkillers and —

THE PRESIDENT:  And at a much higher level?

SHERIFF MAHONEY:  At a higher level.

THE PRESIDENT:  Much higher.

SHERIFF MAHONEY:  The overdoses are at a much higher level.

THE PRESIDENT:  Right, right.

PARTICIPANT:  Mr. President, I hate to interrupt — it used to take 90 days to take a load of heroin from the border to get it into the (inaudible) mainstream.  Now it’s taking 14 days.

THE PRESIDENT:  Okay, well, we’ll have it take infinity, okay?  (Laughter.)

SHERIFF MAHONEY:  I want to thank you too for seeking the input and guidance of our nation’s sheriffs on issues like immigration.  My community is looking for immigration reform, an expedited way for a good immigrant to obtain citizenship in this great country.  And I appreciate the invitation today to join you, and look forward to working with you on many of these issues.  Some we’ll disagree on, but far more we’re going to agree on.

THE PRESIDENT:  Absolutely, you’re right.  I actually can’t believe that we’re having to fight to protect the security — in a court system to protect the security of our nation.  I can’t even believe it.  And a lot of people agree with us, believe me.  There’s a group of people out there — and I mean much more than half of our country — much, much more.  You’re not allowed to use the term “silent majority” anymore.  You’re not allowed, because they make that into a whole big deal.

But there’s a group of people out there — massive, massive numbers, far bigger than what you see protesting.  And if those people ever protested, you would see a real protest.  But they want to see our borders secure and our country secure, and they want to see people that can love our country come in, not people that are looking to destroy our country.

So anyway, thank you, Sheriff.

SHERIFF AUBREY:  Sheriff John Aubrey, fifth-term sheriff, Jefferson County, Kentucky.  Past president of National Sheriffs’ Association.  And my fellow sheriffs have brought up a number of points, and I’d like to add two to it that I know are on your plate and the administration’s plate.  The 1033 program, where we were sharing Department of Defense surplus material that helps us in our war.  They were used in the war, and they helped us in our war.  That got severely curtailed.

And the other thing is asset forfeiture.  People want to say we’re taking money and without due process.  That’s not true.  We take money from dope dealers —

THE PRESIDENT:  So you’re saying — okay, so you’re saying the asset-taking you used to do, and it had an impact, right?  And you’re not allowed to do it now?

SHERIFF AUBREY:  No, they have curtailed it a little bit.  And I’m sure the folks are —

THE PRESIDENT:  And that’s for legal reasons?  Or just political reasons?

SHERIFF AUBREY:  They make it political and they make it — they make up stories.  All you’ve got to do —

THE PRESIDENT:  I’d like to look into that, okay?  There’s no reason for that.  Dana, do you think there’s any reason for that?  Are you aware of this?

MR. BOENTE:  I am aware of that, Mr. President.  And we have gotten a great deal of criticism for the asset forfeiture, which, as the sheriff said, frequently was taking narcotics proceeds and other proceeds of crime.  But there has been a lot of pressure on the department to curtail some of that.

THE PRESIDENT:  So what do you do?  So in other words, they have a huge stash of drugs.  So in the old days, you take it.  Now we’re criticized if we take it.  So who gets it?  What happens to it?  Tell them to keep it?

MR. BOENTE:  Well, we have what is called equitable sharing, where we usually share it with the local police departments for whatever portion that they worked on the case.  And it was a very successful program, very popular with the law enforcement community.

THE PRESIDENT:  And now what happens?

MR. BOENTE:  Well, now we’ve just been given — there’s been a lot of pressure not to forfeit, in some cases.

THE PRESIDENT:  Who would want that pressure, other than, like, bad people, right?  But who would want that pressure?  You would think they’d want this stuff taken away.

SHERIFF AUBREY:  You have to be careful how you speak, I guess.  But a lot of pressure is coming out of — was coming out of Congress.  I don’t know that that will continue now or not.

THE PRESIDENT:  I think less so.  I think Congress is going to get beat up really badly by the voters because they’ve let this happen.  And I think badly.  I think you’ll be back in shape.  So, asset forfeiture, we’re going to go back on, okay?

SHERIFF AUBREY:  Thank you, sir.

THE PRESIDENT:  I mean, how simple can anything be?  You all agree with that, I assume, right?

PARTICIPANT:  Absolutely, yeah.

THE PRESIDENT:  Do you even understand the other side of it?

PARTICIPANT:  No.

THE PRESIDENT:  It’s like some things —

PARTICIPANT:  No sense.

THE PRESIDENT:  Sort of like the Iran deal.  Nobody even understands how a thing like that could have happened.  It does nothing.

PARTICIPANT:  You shouldn’t be allowed to profit from the illegal proceeds.  So if you’re going to sell narcotics and sell illegal drugs in our country, you also cannot profit from that.  And so we seize those profits.

THE PRESIDENT:  So do we need any legislation or any executive orders for that, would you say, Dana — to put that back in business?

MR. BOENTE:  I don’t think we need any executive orders.  We just need kind of some encouragement to move in that direction.

THE PRESIDENT:  Okay.  Good.  You’re in charge.  (Laughter.)  I love that answer, because it’s better than signing executive orders and then these people take it and they make it look so terrible — “oh, it’s so terrible.”  I love it.  You’re encouraged.

PARTICIPANT:  Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT:  Good.  Asset forfeiture.  You’re encouraged.  Okay.  Yes, sir.

MR. BITTICK:  Mr. President, we appreciate you having us here today at the White House.  My name is John Cary Bittick, and I’m a sheriff in Monroe County, Georgia.  And I’m a past president of the National Sheriffs Association, as well.  And I currently chair our governmental affairs committee.  And I just want to thank you for the administration working actually on pieces of legislation and on political ideas with us.  It’s refreshing, and we are thoroughly enjoying it.  We are currently working with Senator Grassley on some criminal justice reform issues.  And the administration has been supporting us.  And asset forfeiture is a big thing.

THE PRESIDENT:  Okay, go for it.  Just go for it.  Dana will tell me if I can’t or if — (laughter) —

MR. BITTICK:  Yes, sir.  I think they got that message.

THE PRESIDENT:  Okay, that’s great.

MR. BITTICK:  But we appreciate it, and we appreciate your ear.  And we appreciate you taking the time to sit down and at least talk to us.

THE PRESIDENT:  I appreciate it too.  Thank you, John.

MR. BITTICK:  Thanks for your support.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.

SHERIFF CHAMPAGNE:  Thank you, Mr. President, Mr. Vice President.  Greg Champagne, I am sheriff in St. Charles Parish, Louisiana, basically a suburban community outside of New Orleans.  I have the honor of representing 3,088 sheriffs around the country.  And you see the leadership of our organization.  These are the leadership of past presidents and the future presidents of our agency.  But more importantly than that, we all represent and oversee literally a few hundred thousand deputy sheriffs who are truly the backbone of law enforcement in this country.  We have a bumper sticker the NSA puts out that says, “Sheriffs and deputies:  The original homeland security.”  And so that is a force-multiplier.

Those men and women out there are the tip of the spear, and we stand ready to help and keep this community safe, because that’s what we’re all elected to do.  So we thank you so much for having us.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  You’re a great group of people.

We’re going to go into the Oval Office.  Does anybody have anything to — not even a question, a statement, as to how we can bring about law enforcement in a very good, civil, lovely way, but we have to stop crime — right?  Would anybody like to make a statement?

PARTICIPANT:  Mr. President, on asset forfeiture, we got a state senator in Texas who was talking about introducing legislation to require conviction before we can receive their forfeiture.

THE PRESIDENT:  Can you believe that?

PARTICIPANT:  And I told him that the cartel would build a monument to him in Mexico if he could get that legislation.

THE PRESIDENT:  Who is the state senator?  Want to give his name?  We’ll destroy his career.  (Laughter.)  Okay, thank you.

PARTICIPANT:  Mr. President, we have been invited to the White House before.  We’ve sat at this table with the former administration.  This is totally different.  Not once did the President go around the room and ask the sheriffs what were issues that were important to us, he or she, in our parts of the country, but rather it was an outgoing message about gun control, about other things.  You asked us what is important to us, whether it’s mental health in the jails, opioid addiction.  You hit it right off the bat.  The border, immigration, vetting.  We appreciate that.  That has not happened before.  We’ve been here before, but we’ve never had a President sit down and listen to what it is that we’re facing representing our constituents and public safety across this country.  And that’s why we appreciate it.  That’s why we’re here today.

THE PRESIDENT:  You know, Bill Belichick, is a great guy, a friend of mine.  And he was telling me — somebody told me that he’ll oftentimes, wanting to get a player, he’ll go to the other players on the team — he’ll say, what do you think of this guy?  You know, they all the different people.  And he’ll listen to them.  And he’s done very well, right?  He’s done very well.  And essentially what they’re — we’re talking to the people that know — I’m not telling you, you’re telling me.  That came up this morning.  I mean, that was a big statement.  And I didn’t realize it was all clogged.  The system is all clogged.  So we’re going to unclog the system, and we’re going to go right now into the Oval Office.

Would you like the press to come in with you, Mr. Vice President?  Should we let them come in?  Otherwise they’re going turn around, waiting for the next meeting for six hours.  They don’t have such an easy job, I’ll tell you.  They don’t have such an easy job.

Q    Mr. President, how far are you willing to take your travel ban fight?

THE PRESIDENT:  Oh, we’re going to take it through the system.  It’s very important.  It’s very important for the country, regardless of me or whoever succeeds at a later date.  I mean, we have to have security in our country.  We have to have the ability.  When you take some place like Syria, when you take all of the different people pouring — and if you remember, ISIS said, we are going to infiltrate the United States and other countries through the migration.  And then we’re not allowed to be tough on the people coming in?  Explain that one.

So we’ll see what happens.  We have big court case.  We’re well-represented.  And we’re going to see what happens.

Q    Is it going to go to the Supreme Court, you think?

THE PRESIDENT:  It could.  We will see.  Hopefully it doesn’t have to.  It’s common sense.  You know, some things are law, and I’m all in favor of that.  And some things are common sense.  This is common sense.

Q    Mr. President, if it’s unreported or under-reported — “unreported” is the phrase you used yesterday — but if it’s under-reported, why do you think the media is not reporting, or America is not caring about this type of —

THE PRESIDENT:  I have to know, because I’m reported on possibly more than anybody in the world — I don’t think you have anything to say about that.  I happen to know how dishonest the media is.  I happen to know stories about me that should be good — or bad — you know, I don’t mind a bad story if it’s true.  But I don’t like bad stories that — stories that should be a positive story when they make them totally negative.  I understand the total dishonesty of the media better than anybody.  And I let people know it.  I mean, the media is a very, very dishonest arm, and we’ll see what happens.  Not everybody.  And I have to say that.  I always preface it by saying, not everybody.  But there’s tremendous dishonest — pure, outright dishonesty from the media.

Let’s go into the Oval Office.

(Meeting moves to Oval Office.)

THE PRESIDENT:  So they said this is the first President they’ve ever seen with all the papers on their desk.  (Inaudible) cutting the price of the F-35 fighters.  We have a lot of papers.

Okay, go ahead, folks.

PARTICIPANT:  Mr. President, on behalf of 3,088 sheriffs in America, there is a new sheriff in town, and it’s only fitting that we provide you with our sculpture.  The first time the NSA has provided a sculpture to a non-law enforcement person.  And there is a new sheriff in town — for you.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you so much.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  It’s beautiful.

END
10:21 A.M. EST

Full Text Political Transcripts January 31, 2017: President Donald Trump’s Speech Nominatng Judge Neil Gorsuch to the United States Supreme Court

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

President Donald J. Trump Nominates Judge Neil Gorsuch to the United States Supreme Court

Source: WH, 1-31-17

Today, President Donald J. Trump nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia. The nomination of Judge Gorsuch comes after a selection process marked by an unprecedented level of transparency and involvement by the American voters.

“I am proud to announce the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch for Justice of the Supreme Court,” President Trump said. “This has been the most transparent and most important Supreme Court selection process in the history of our country and I wanted the American people to have a voice in this nomination. Judge Gorsuch has a superb intellect, an unparalleled legal education, and a commitment to interpreting the Constitution according to its text. He will make an incredible Justice as soon as the Senate confirms him.”

Judge Gorsuch was born and raised in Colorado. He attended Columbia University and Harvard Law School. After graduating with honors, he received his doctorate from Oxford University as a Marshall Scholar. Judge Gorsuch clerked for Judge David Sentelle of the D.C. Circuit and both Justices Byron White and Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court. Following a successful career in private practice, Judge Gorsuch joined the Department of Justice as the Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General. In 2006, President George W. Bush nominated him for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, and he was confirmed by voice vote without objection. He has served with distinction, earning a reputation as a brilliant jurist with an outstanding intellect and a clear, incisive writing style, and he is universally respected for his integrity and fairness to all parties.

“I am honored and humbled to receive this nomination,” said Judge Gorsuch. “I look forward to meeting with Senators over the coming weeks as we begin this process.”

Background

Simple Bio

Full Text Political Transcripts January 16, 2017: President Barack Obama’s Remarks Honoring the World Series Champion Chicago Cubs

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President Honoring the World Series Champion Chicago Cubs

Source: WH, 1-16-17

East Room

1:40 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  They said this day would never come.  (Laughter and applause.)  Here is something none of my predecessors ever got a chance to say:  Welcome to the White House the World Series Champion, Chicago Cubs!  (Applause.)

Now, I know you guys would prefer to stand the whole time, but sit down.

I will say to the Cubs:  It took you long enough.  I mean, I’ve only got four days left.  You’re just making it under the wire.  (Laughter.)

Now, listen, I made a lot of promises in 2008.  We’ve managed to fulfill a large number of them.  But even I was not crazy enough to suggest that during these eight years we would see the Cubs win the World Series.  But I did say that there’s never been anything false about hope.  (Laughter and applause.)  Hope — the audacity of hope.

PARTICIPANT:  Yes, we can!

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes, we can.

Now, listen, for those of you from Chicago who have known me a long time, it is no secret that there’s a certain South Side team that has my loyalty.  For me, the drought hasn’t been as long.  We had the ’85 Bears; we had the the Bulls’ run in the ‘90s.  I’ve hosted the Blackhawks a number of times.  The White Sox did win just 11 years ago with Ozzie and Konerko and Buerhle.  So I can’t claim that I have the same visceral joy of some in this White House.  (Laughter.)

But FLOTUS is a lifelong Cubs fan.  (Applause.)  And I will tell you, she had to go to another event, but in eight years that I’ve been here — I told the team this — in the eight years that I’ve been here, we’ve hosted at least 50 teams — football, basketball, baseball, soccer, you name it — Michelle has never come to a single event celebrating a champion until today.  (Applause.)  And she came and shook hands, and met with every one of these members of the Cubs organization, and told a story about what it meant for her to be able to see them win, because she remembers coming home from school and her dad would be watching a Cubs game, and the bond and the family, the meaning that the Cubs had for her in terms of connecting with her father and why it meant so much for her.  And I almost choked up listening to it.  And it spoke, I think, to how people feel about this organization, and that it’s been passed on generation after generation, and it’s more than sports.

And that is not just true for FLOTUS.  My longest-serving aide, Anita, is a Cubs fan.  (Applause.)  “Fan” is not enough.  When they won, the next day she said, this is the best day of my life.  ((Laughter.)  And I said, what about me winning the presidency?  What about your wedding day?  She’s like, “No, this is the best.”  My chief speechwriter, Cody Keenan — (applause) — Cubs fan.  In fact, there were a lot of sick days during the playoffs.  (Laughter.)  One of my staff members was caught being interviewed at a bar outside of Wrigley — (laughter) — and we’re watching him being interviewed.  You remember?  And he’s looking kind of sheepish about it.  It’s like, why aren’t you in the office?  (Laughter.)

But, look, the truth is, there was a reason not just that people felt good about the Cubs winning.  There was something about this particular Cubs team winning that people felt good about.  For example, David Ross and I have something in common — we’ve both been on a “year-long retirement party.”  (Laughter and applause.)  But unlike Grandpa, my team has not yet bought me a scooter with a motorized golf caddy.  But there are four days left — maybe I’ll get that.

The last time the Cubs won the World Series, Teddy Roosevelt was President.  Albert Einstein — or was it Thomas Edison was still alive.  The first Cubs radio broadcast wouldn’t be for almost two decades.  We’ve been through World Wars, a Cold War, a Depression, space race, all manner of social and technological change.  But during that time, those decades were also marked by Phil Cavarretta and Ernie Banks; Billy Williams, who’s here today — (applause) — Ron Santo; Ferg, Ryne Sandberg, Dawson, Maddux, Grace.  Those decades were punctuated by Lee Elia’s rants and Harry Caray’s exuberance; “Hey Hey,” and “Holy Cow,” and capped off by “Go Cubs Go.”

So the first thing that made this championship so special for so many is, is that the Cubs know what it’s like to be loyal, and to persevere and to hope, and to suffer, and then keep on hoping.  And it’s a generational thing.  That’s what you heard Michelle describing.  People all across the city remember the first time a parent took them to Wrigley, where memories of climbing into dad’s lap to watch games on WGN — and that’s part of the reason, by the way, why Michelle had invited — made sure that José Cardenal was here, because that was her favorite player.  (Applause.)  And she was describing — back then he had a big afro, and she was describing how she used to wear her hat over her afro the same way José did.

You could see all that love this season in the fans who traveled to their dads’ gravesites to listen to games on the radio; who wore their moms’ old jerseys to games; who covered the brick walls of Wrigley with love notes in chalk to departed fans whose lifelong faith was finally fulfilled.

None of this, of course, would have happened without the extraordinary contributions of the Ricketts family.  Tom met his wife, Cece, in the bleachers of Wrigley about 30 years ago — which is about 30 years longer than most of relationships that begin there last.  (Laughter and applause.)  Our dear friend Laura Ricketts met her wife, Brooke, in the ballpark, as well.

Brothers and sisters — they turned this team around by hiring what has to be one of the greatest, if not — I mean, he’s still pretty young, so we’ll see how long he keeps on going — the greatest general managers of all time, Theo Epstein — (applause) — and along with Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod.  They did just an unbelievable job.  Theo, as you know — his job is to quench droughts.  86 years in Boston; 108 in Chicago.  He takes the reins of an organization that’s wandering in the wilderness, he delivers them to the Promised Land.  I’ve talked to him about being DNC chair.  (Laughter and applause.)  But he decided wisely to stick to baseball.

That brings me to the other thing that was so special about this championship — and that’s just the guys behind me, the team.  They steamrolled the majors this year with a 103-win record.  All you had to know about this team was encapsulated in that one moment in Game 5, down three games to one, do or die, in front of the home fans when David Ross and Jon Lester turned to each other and said, “I love you, man.”  And he said, “I love you, too.”  It was sort of like an Obama-Biden moment.  (Laughter.)

And then you’ve got the manager, Joe Maddon, who — (applause) — let’s face it, there are not a lot of coaches or managers who are as cool as this guy.  Look how he looks right now.  (Applause.)  That’s cool.  That’s cool.  He used costume parties and his “Shaggin’ Wagon.”  (Laughter.)  So he’s got — just saying — he’s got a lot of tricks to motivate.  But he’s also a master of tactics, and makes the right move at the right time:  when to pinch hit, when to pinch run, when to make it rain — (laughter) — in Game 7 of the World Series.  It was masterful.  So he set the tone, but also some of the amazing players here set the tone.

My fellow “44” — Anthony Rizzo, the heart of this team.  (Applause.)  Five years ago, he was a part of the squad that lost 101 games.  He stuck at it, and led the National League in All-Star votes this year.

His business partner in the “Bryzzo Souvenir Company,” which delivers baseballs to fans in all parts of the bleachers — Kris Bryant.  (Applause.)  This guy had a good year.  (Laughter.)  You go from Rookie of the Year to being the MVP.  You win the World Series.  And then, like me, he marries up and comes to the White House.  And he did all this just in 10 days — (laughter) — when it took me a long time.  So, congratulations to the newlyweds, Jessica and Kris Bryant.  (Applause.)

And then you got these young guys like Baez and Russell.  (Applause.)   Baez turning tagging into an art form.  Russell becoming the youngest player to hit a World Series Grand Slam since Mickey Mantle.  (Applause.)  And you mix these amazing young talents with somebody like David Ross who, for example, helped Anthony out of his “glass case of emotions” in Game 7.  (Applause.)  But think about what Ross did in his final season:  Caught a no-hitter, surpassed 100 home runs for his career, including one in his last game ever.  If there was ever a way to go out, this was it.

And then you got Ben Zobrist, who didn’t get to come to the White House last year after winning it all with the Royals, but then hits .357 in the World Series, go-ahead RBI in the 10th inning of Game 7, World Series MVP.  I think he’s earned his way here.  (Applause.)  And is apparently a good guy, because I asked his wife — she was in line before he was — and I said, has he gotten a big head since he got the whole MVP thing?  “No, he’s so sweet, he’s so humble.”  You owe her dinner tonight.  (Laughter.)

Extraordinary pitching staff, including Kyle Hendricks, the first Cub to lead the majors in ERA since 1938.  (Applause.)  Kyle, in turn, was the only pitcher this year with a better ERA than Jon Lester, who racked up 19 wins.  (Applause.)  Good job. Jake Arrieta, 2015 Cy Young Award winner, stretched a 20-game win streak featuring two no-hitters across the past two seasons, then hit a home run in the NLDS, and won two games in the World Series.  So, apparently Pilates works.  Michelle says it does.  (Applause.)

And then, finally, the game itself and the Series itself.  To come back from a 3-1 deficit against a great Cleveland Indians team forced what is widely considered the Game 7 of all time.  Dexter Fowler becomes the first player to hit a leadoff home run in Game 7.  (Applause.)  Javy Baez hits another leadoff the fifth.  David Ross becomes the oldest player to knock one out in a Game 7, as well.  Kyle Schwarber, who’s been hurt and hobbled, then suddenly he comes in and gets seven hits in the Series — three in Game 7 alone.  (Applause.)

And then you’ve got the 10th inning, you’ve got the rain.  God finally feeling mercy on Cubs fans.  An entire game, an entire season, an entire century of hope and heartbreak all coming down to a one-inning sprint.  And then Zobrist knocked in one, Montero knocked in another.  Carl Edwards, Jr. and Mike Montgomery teamed up to shut the Indians down.

And then, at 12:47 a.m. Eastern Time, Bryant — it looks like he’s going to slip; everybody is getting a little stressed — tosses a grounder to Rizzo; Rizzo gets the ball, slips it in his back pocket — (laughter) — which shows excellent situational awareness.  (Laughter and applause.)  And suddenly everything is changed.  No more black cats, billy goats, ghosts, flubbed grounders.  The Chicago Cubs are the champs.  And on ESPN, you’ve got Van Pelt saying, “one of the all-time great nights.”  You’ve got Tim Kurkjian calling it “the greatest night of baseball in the history of the game.”  Two days later, millions of people — the largest gathering of Americans that I know of in Chicago.  And for a moment, our hometown becomes the very definition of joy.  So, in Chicago, I think it’s fair to say you guys will be popular for a while.  (Laughter.)

But, in addition, they’re also doing a lot of good work. Anthony Rizzo and Jon Lester raised money to help others beat cancer like they did.  (Applause.)  Under the Ricketts Family’s leadership, last year alone, Cubs Charities supported charitable grants and donations of nearly $4 million that reached nearly 120,000 children and young adults across Chicagoland.  (Applause.)  Under their “Let’s Give” initiative, Cubs staff, coaches, players, and spouses donated more than 1,500 hours of service last year to the community.  And after their visit here today, they will head to Walter Reed to visit with some of our brave wounded warriors.  (Applause.)

So just to wrap up, today is, I think, our last official event — isn’t it? — at the White House, under my presidency.  And it also happens to be a day that we celebrate one of the great Americans of all time, Martin Luther King, Jr.  And later, as soon as we’re done here, Michelle and I are going to go over and do a service project, which is what we do every year to honor Dr. King.  And it is worth remembering — because sometimes people wonder, well why are you spending time on sports, there’s other stuff going on — that throughout our history, sports has had this power to bring us together, even when the country is divided.  Sports has changed attitudes and culture in ways that seem subtle but that ultimately made us think differently about ourselves and who we were.  It is a game and it is celebration, but there’s a direct line between Jackie Robinson and me standing here.  There’s a direct line between people loving Ernie Banks, and then the city being able to come together and work together in one spirit.

I was in my hometown of Chicago on Tuesday, for my farewell address, and I said, sometimes it’s not enough just to change the laws, you got to change hearts.  And sports has a way, sometimes, of changing hearts in a way that politics or business doesn’t.  And sometimes it’s just a matter of us being able to escape and relax from the difficulties of our days, but sometimes it also speaks to something better in us.  And when you see this group of folks of different shades and different backgrounds, and coming from different communities and neighborhoods all across the country, and then playing as one team and playing the right way, and celebrating each other and being joyous in that, that tells us a little something about what America is and what America can be.

So it is entirely appropriate that we celebrate the Cubs today, here in this White House, on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday because it helps direct us in terms of what this country has been and what it can be in the future.

With that, one more time, let’s congratulate the 2016 World Champion, Chicago Cubs!  (Applause.)

MR. EPSTEIN:  Talk about a tough act to follow.  Thank you, Mr. President, and thank you for inviting us.  We’re all honored to be here today, and we appreciate you taking the time on such an important day, Martin Luther King Day, and during such a historic week, the last week of your distinguished presidency.

As told on my way in here, actually, by our club historian, it’s actually not the first time this franchise has visited the White House.  It was 1888.  (Laughter.)  And we were known as the “Chicago White Stockings,” and we stopped in here to visit President Grover Cleveland.  And apparently, the team demanded for a proclamation to be named the best baseball team in the country.  The President refused, and the team went on their way.  (Laughter.)  Here we are, we’re going to make no such demands today.  (Laughter.)  But we appreciate those kind words.

The President was so kind to recognize our three Hall-of-Famers here with us today who are so synonymous with what it means to be a Cub — Billy Williams, Fergie Jenkins, Ryne Sandberg.  (Applause.)  And, of course, José Cardenal, who got the longest hug from the First Lady we’ve ever seen — her favorite player of all time, you’re the MVP today.  (Laughter.)

And I want to, one more time, recognize all of the Ricketts family who are here today.  Tom, who’s been such an ideal leader for our organization.  Laura, who’s been such a strong supporter of this President.  And, Todd, who will embark on his journey in public service with a significant role in the new administration next week.  And, Pete, who’s busy governing Nebraska, couldn’t be here, but sends his best.

Finally, we’d like to recognize all of our wives and significant others who do so much to support us behind the scenes, our great “Front Office,” who have worked so hard.  (Applause.)

So, Mr. President, as you alluded to in Cleveland on November 2nd, and into the early morning of November 3rd, this special group of players behind me, in one of the greatest World Series games in history, ended the longest championship drought in American sports.  And when Kris Bryant’s throw settled into Anthony Rizzo’s glove for the final out of Game 7, the victory brought pride, joy, relief and redemption to Cub fans everywhere, including many in the White House.  (Applause.)

So, many of you were there, but the city of Chicago erupted, unified into celebration that continues to this day.  It was a thrilling, emotional time, and we think we even saw some White Sox fans smiling — (laughter) — which, Mr. President, brings us to you.

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes.

MR. EPSTEIN:  We know you may have a certain allegiance to another team on the other side of town, but we know you’re a very proud Chicagoan, and we know your better, wiser half, the First Lady — (laughter) — has been a life-long and very loyal Cub fan, which we appreciate very much.  And, of course, we have great faith in your intelligence, your common sense, your pragmatism, your ability to recognize a good thing when you see one.  (Laughter.)

So, Mr. President, with only a few days remaining in your tremendous presidency, we have taken the liberty here today of offering you a midnight pardon — (laughter and applause) — for all your indiscretions as a baseball fan.  And so we welcome you with open arms today into the Cubs family.  (Applause.)

To recognize this terrific conversion and this great day, we have some gifts for you and your family.  First, Anthony Rizzo has graciously agreed to share his number 44 with “The 44.”  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  There we go!

MR. EPSTEIN:  And if you’re still not comfortable putting a Cubs jersey on, this one just says Chicago, so you’re good with that one.  (Applause.)

Second, we have — at historic Wrigley Field, we have a centerfield scoreboard that’s actually a historic landmark, and so we hope the National Park Service won’t mind, but we took down a tile for you, number 44.  (Applause.)  Very few people have one of those.

THE PRESIDENT:  Oh, that’s very cool.

MR. EPSTEIN:  We also wanted you to know that, as a new fan, you have some catching up to do.  (Laughter.)  And you’ve been busy the last eight years, and your family as well, so Laura Ricketts is here to present you with a lifetime pass to Wrigley Field for you and your family.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  I love how it says, “Non-transferrable.”  (Laughter.)

MR. EPSTEIN:  It’s strictly — it’s just an emolument.

THE PRESIDENT:  Can you imagine if somebody walks up and is like — (laughter) —

MS. RICKETTS:  You don’t have to bring it with you.

MR. EPSTEIN:  And finally, every time we win a game in Chicago, we fly the “W” flag, as you know.  So we brought one for you, signed by the entire team, and we’d love for you to fly it at your new library, which we plan to do our very best to support.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  This is nice swag.  Thank you so much.  This is great.

MR. JENKINS:  You got to get him to put the uniform on.  (Laughter.)

MR. EPSTEIN:  It’s just day one.  It’s just day one.

THE PRESIDENT:  Fergie, we’re doing okay so far.  (Laughter.)

MR. EPSTEIN:  So, Mr. President, thank you for the dignity and integrity with which you’ve served this country for the last eight years, for your tremendous service to Chicago and Illinois before that, and for hosting us here today.  We wish you all the best and look forward to seeing you on Wrigley Field.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, everybody, thank you so much.  Let me say, first of all, best swag I’ve gotten as President represented right here.  (Laughter.)  And let me also say on behalf of a lot of folks here in the White House, you brought a lot of joy to a lot of people here, and we’re grateful.  I know my former Chief of Staff, now mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel; folks like Dick Durbin, and we got a whole congressional delegation here; I see Lisa Madigan, my dear friend — just a lot of people have been rooting for you for a long time.

So even though it will be hard for me, Fergie, to wear a jersey, do know that among Sox fans, I’m the Cubs number-one fan.  (Laughter and applause.)

END
2:12 P.M. EST

Full Text Political Transcripts January 12, 2017: President Barack Obama’s Remarks at Presentation of the Medal of Freedom to Vice President Joe Biden

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President and the Vice President in Presentation of the Medal of Freedom to Vice President Joe Biden

Source: WH, 1-12-17

State Dining Room

3:50 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Hey!  All right, that’s enough.  Don’t want to embarrass the guy.  (Laughter.)

Welcome to the White House, everybody.  As I have already delivered my farewell address, I will try to be relatively brief.  But I just wanted to get some folks together to pay tribute to somebody who has not only been by my side for the duration of this amazing journey, but somebody who has devoted his entire professional life to service to this country, the best Vice President America has ever had, Mr. Joe Biden.  (Applause.)

This also gives the Internet one last chance to talk about our bromance.  (Laughter.)  This has been quite a ride.  It was eight and a half years ago that I chose Joe to be my Vice President.  There has not been a single moment since that time that I’ve doubted the wisdom of that decision.  He was the best possible choice, not just for me, but for the American people.  This is an extraordinary man with an extraordinary career in public service.  This is somebody the people of Delaware sent to the Senate as quickly as they possibly could.  (Laughter.)

Elected at age 29, for more than a dozen years apiece he served as chair or ranking member of the Judiciary and Foreign Relation Committees.  Domestically, he championed landmark legislation to make our communities safer, to protect our women from violence.  Internationally, his wisdom and capacity to build relationships that shaped our nation’s response to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain, to counterterrorism, Iraq, Afghanistan.

And for the past eight years, he could not have been a more devoted or effective partner in the progress that we’ve made.  He fought to make college more affordable and revitalize American manufacturing as the head of our Middle Class Task Force.  He suited up for our Cancer Moonshot, giving hope to millions of Americans touched by this disease.

He led our efforts to combat gun violence, and he rooted out any possible misappropriations that might have occurred.  And as a consequence, the Recovery Act worked as well as just about any largescale stimulus project has ever worked in this country.  He visited college after college — and made friends with Lady Gaga (laughter) — for our “It’s On Us” campaign against campus sexual assault.  And when the Pope visited, Joe was even kind enough to let me talk to His Holiness, as well.  (Laughter.)

Behind the scenes, Joe’s candid, honest counsel has made me a better President and a better Commander-in-Chief.  From the Situation Room to our weekly lunches, to our huddles after everybody else has cleared out of the room, he’s been unafraid to give it to me straight, even if we disagree — in fact, especially if we disagree.

And all of this makes him, I believe, the finest Vice President we have ever seen.  And I also think he has been a lion of American history.  The best part is he’s nowhere close to finished.  In the years ahead, as a citizen, he will continue to build on that legacy, internationally and domestically.  He’s got a voice of vision and reason and optimism, and a love for people.  And we’re going to need that spirit and that vision as we continue to try to make our world safer and to make sure that everybody has got a fair shot in this country.

So, all told, that’s a pretty remarkable legacy.  An amazing career in public service.  It is, as Joe once said, a big deal. (Laughter and applause.)  It is.

But we all know that, on its own, his work — this list of accomplishments, the amazing résumé — does not capture the full measure of Joe Biden.  I have not mentioned Amtrak yet or aviators.  (Laughter.)  Literally.  (Laughter.)

Folks don’t just feel like they know Joe the politician, they feel like they know the person — what makes him laugh, what he believes, what he cares about, and where he came from.  Pretty much every time he speaks, he treats us to some wisdom from the nuns who taught him in grade school — (laughter) — or from an old Senate colleague.

But, of course, more frequently cited — Catherine and Joseph, Sr., his mom and dad:  “No one’s better than you, but you’re better than nobody.” (Laughter.)  “Bravery resides in every heart, and yours is fierce and clear.”  “And when you get knocked down, Joey, get up — get up.”  (Laughter.)  “Get up.”  (Applause.)

That’s where he got those broad shoulders.  That’s where he got that Biden heart.  And through his life, through trial after trial, he has never once forgotten the values and the moral fiber that made him who he is.  That’s what steels his faith in God, and in America, and in his friends, and in all of us.

When Joe talks to autoworkers whose livelihoods he helped save, we hear the son of a man who once knew the pain of having to tell his kids that he had lost his job.

When Joe talks about hope and opportunity for our children, we hear the father who rode the rails home every night so that he could be there to tuck his kids into bed.

When Joe sticks up for the little guy, we hear the young boy who used to stand in front of the mirror, reciting Yeats or Emerson, studying the muscles in his face, determined to vanquish a debilitating stutter.

And when Joe talks to Gold Star families who have lost a hero, we hear a kindred spirit; another father of an American veteran; somebody whose faith has been tested, and who has been forced to wander through the darkness himself, and who knows who to lean on to find the light.

So that’s Joe Biden — a resilient, and loyal, and humble servant, and a patriot.  But most of all, a family man.  Starts with Jill, “Captain of the Vice Squad.”  (Laughter.)  Only the Second Lady in our history to keep her regular day job.  (Applause.)  Jill says, teaching isn’t what she does, it’s who she is.  A few days after Joe and I were inaugurated in 2009, she was back in the classroom teaching.  That’s why when our administration worked to strengthen community colleges, we looked to Jill to lead the way.

She’s also traveled the world to boost education and empowerment for women.  And as a Blue Star mom, her work with Michelle to honor our military families will go down in history as one of the most lasting and powerful efforts of this administration.

Of course, like Joe, Jill’s work is only part of the story.  She just seems to walk this Earth so lightly, spreads her joy so freely.  And she reminds us that although we’re in a serious business, we don’t have to take ourselves too seriously.  She’s quick with a laugh or a practical joke, disguising herself as a server at a party she once hosted — (laughter) –to liven the mood.  She once hid in the overhead compartment of Air Force 2 to scare the senior staff.  (Laughter.)  Because why not?  She seems to have a sixth sense of when to send a note of encouragement to a friend or a staffer, a simple thank you or a box of macaroons.
She is one of the best, most genuine people that I’ve met not just in politics, but in my entire life.  She is grounded, and caring, and generous, and funny, and that’s why Joe is proud to introduce himself as “Jill Biden’s husband.”  (Laughter.)

And to see them together is to see what real love looks like — through thick and thin, good times and bad.  It’s an all-American love story.  Jill once surprised Joe by painting hearts on his office windows for Valentine’s Day.

And then there are these Biden kids and grandkids.  They’re everywhere.  (Laughter.)  They’re all good-looking.  (Laughter.)  Hunter and Ashley, who lived out that family creed of raising good families and looking out for the least of our brothers and sisters.  Beau, who is watching over us with those broad shoulders and mighty heart himself — a man who left a beautiful legacy and inspired an entire nation.  Naomi, and Finn, and Maisy, and Natalie, and little Hunter — grandchildren who are the light of Joe’s eyes, and gives him an excuse to bust out the squirt gun around the pool.  (Laughter.)  This is the kind of family that built this country.

That’s why my family is so proud to call ourselves honorary Bidens.  (Laughter.)  As Yeats put it — because I had to quote an Irish poet, and Seamus Heaney was taken — (laughter) — “Think where man’s glory most begins and ends, and say my glory was I had such friends.”

Away from the camera, Jill and Michelle have each other’s backs just as much as when they’re out championing our troops.  Our girls are close, best friends at school, inviting each other for vacations and sleepovers.  Even though our terms are nearly over, one of the greatest gifts of these past eight years is that we’re forever bonded as a family.

But, of course, I know that the Obamas are not the only ones who feel like they’re part of the Biden clan because Joe’s heart has radiated around this room.  You see it in the enduring friendships he’s forged with folks of every stripe and background up on Capitol Hill.  You see it in the way that his eyes light up when he finds somebody in a rope line from Scranton.  (Laughter.)  Or just the tiniest towns in Delaware.  (Laughter.)  You see it in the incredible loyalty of his staff, the team who knows that family always comes before work because Joe tells them so every day, the team that reflects their boss’s humble service.  Here in this building where there have been no turf wars between our staffs because everybody here has understood that we were all on the same mission and shared the same values, there has just been cooperation and camaraderie.  And that is rare.  It’s a testament to Joe and the tone that he’s set.

And finally, you see Joe’s heart in the way he consoles families, dealing with cancer, backstage after an event; when he meets kids fighting through a stutter of their own, he gives them his private phone number and keeps in touch with them long after.  To know Joe Biden is to know love without pretense, service without self-regard, and to live life fully.

As one of his long-time colleagues in the Senate, who happened to be a Republican, once said, “If you can’t admire Joe Biden as a person, you got a problem.  He’s as good a man as God ever created.”

So, Joe, for your faith in your fellow Americans, for your love of country, and for your lifetime of service that will endure through the generations, I’d like to ask the military aide to join us on stage.

For the final time as President, I am pleased to award our nation’s highest civilian honor — the Presidential Medal of Freedom.   (Applause.)

And for the first and only time in my presidency, I will bestow this medal with an additional level of veneration, an honor my three most recent successors reserved for only three others:  Pope John Paul II, President Ronald Reagan, and General Colin Powell.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom with Distinction to my brother, Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr.

Will the aide please read the citation.

MILITARY AIDE:  Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr.  In a career of public service spanning nearly half a century, Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., has left his mark on almost every part of our nation, fighting for a stronger middle class, a fairer judicial system and a smarter foreign policy; providing unyielding support for our troops; combatting crime and violence against women; leading our quest to cure cancer; and safeguarding the landmark American Recovery and Reinvestment Act from corruption.

With his charm, candor, unabashed optimism, and deep and abiding patriotism, Joe Biden has garnered the respect and esteem of colleagues of both parties, and the friendship of people across the nation and around the world.  While summoning the strength, faith and grace to overcome great personal tragedy, this son of Scranton, Claymont, and Wilmington has become one of the most consequential Vice Presidents in American history, an accolade that nonetheless rests firmly behind his legacy as husband, father, and grandfather.

A grateful nation thanks Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. for his lifetime of service on behalf of the United States of America.

(The Medal of Freedom is presented.)  (Applause.)

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Mr. President.  (Applause.)  Please, please, thank you.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Please.  Thank you.

Ricchetti, you’re fired.  (Laughter.)  For the press, Ricchetti is my chief of staff.  (Laughter.)

I had no inkling.  I thought we were coming over, Michelle, to — for you, Jill, and Barack and I and a couple of senior staff to toast one another and say what an incredible journey it’s been.

Mr. President, you got right the part about my leaning on Jill.  But I’ve also leaned on you and a lot of people in this room.  I look around the room, and I see great friends like Ted Kaufman, who has been — has so much wisdom.  Guys like Mel Monzack.  I look around here and I’m startled.  I keep seeing people I don’t expect.  Madam President, how are you?  Mr. President, look at my new boss over there.  (Laughter.)

But you know, I get a lot of credit I don’t deserve, to state the obvious and — because I’ve always had somebody to lean on.  From back that time in 1972, when the accident happened, I leaned on — and I mean this in literal sense; Chris knows this — Dodd knows this, and Mel knows this, and Ted knows this — I leaned on my sons Beau and Hunter.  And I continue to lean on Hunter who continues to in a bizarre kind of way raise me.  I mean I’ve leaned on them.

And, Mr. President, you observed early on that when either one of my boys would walk in the room, they’d walk up and say, Dad, what can I get you?  Dad, what do you need?

And then Jill came along, and she saved our lives.  She — no man deserves one great love, let alone two.  And — but everybody knows here, I am Jill’s husband.  Everybody knows that I love her more than she loves me.  (Laughter.)  With good reason.  (Laughter.)  And she gave me the most precious gift, the love of my life, the life of my love, my daughter, Ashley.

And I continue to lean on the family.  Mr. President, you kidded me once.  You heard that the preparation for the two debates — vice presidential debates that I had — I only had two that Beau and Hunt would be the last people in the room.  And Beau would say, look at me, Dad.  Look at me.  Remember, remember home base.  Remember.

And the Secret Service can tell you, Mr. President, that Beau and Hunt and Ashley continue to have to corral me.  We were at one of the national parks, and I was climbing up on top of a bridge to jump off the bridge with a bunch of young kids.  And I hear my sons yelling, Dad, get down.  Now!  (Laughter.)  And I just started laughing so hard I couldn’t stop.  And I said, I was just going to do a flip — a full gainer off here.

He said, Dad, the Secret Service doesn’t want you up there.  Dad.  Look at me, Dad.  (Laughter.)

So we’ve never figured out who the father is in this family.  (Laughter.)

And, Mr. President, you know that with good reason there is no power in the vice presidency.  Matter of fact I just did for Nancy Pelosi’s daughter a reading of the Constitution.  You probably did one for her.  And they had me read the provisions relating to the vice presidency in the Constitution.  And there is no inherent power, nor should there be.

But, Mr. President, you have more than kept your commitment to me by saying that you wanted me to help govern.  The President’s line often — other people don’t hear it that often, but when someone would say, can you get Joe to do such and such.  He says, I don’t do his schedule.  He doesn’t do mine.

Every single thing you’ve asked me to do, Mr. President, you have trusted me to do.  And that is — that’s a remarkable thing.  I don’t think according to — I see the President of Georgetown here, as well.  I don’t think according to the presidential, vice presidential scholars that kind of relationship has existed. I mean, for real.  It’s all you, Mr. President.  It’s all you.

The reason why when you send me around the world, nothing gets — as my mom would say, gets missed between the cup and the lip, it’s because they know when I speak, I speak for you.

And it’s been easy, Mr. President, because we not only have the same political philosophy and ideology, I tell everybody — and I’ve told them from the beginning.  And I’m not saying this to reciprocate.  I’ve never known a President and few people I’ve ever met my whole life — I can count on less than one hand — who have had the integrity and the decency and the sense of other people’s needs like you do.

I know you were upset when I told the story about when Hunt and I were worried that Beau would have to — that he would, as a matter of honor, decide he had to step down as attorney general while he was fighting his battle because he had aphasia.  He was losing his ability to speak, and he didn’t want to ever be in a position where to him everything was about duty and honor.

And I said, and he may resign.  I don’t know I just have the feeling he may.  And Hunt and I had talked about this.  And I said, he doesn’t have any other income, but we’re all right because Hunt’s there, and I can sell the house.

We were having a private lunch like we do once a week.  And this man got up, came over, grabbed me by the shoulders, looked me in the eye, and said, don’t you sell that house.  You love that house.

I said, it’s no big deal, Mr. President.  He said, I’ll give you the money.  We’ll give you the money.  Promise me, promise me you won’t sell that house.

I remember when Ashley, Mr. President, we were in the Oval, and Ashley was in an elevator, and the elevator plummeted to the — she was with a group of people — I forget which building in Philadelphia, and it plummeted to the ground.  And immediately the Service was worried that she may have been badly hurt.  And I got up to take the call, and you didn’t let up until you made sure your service followed through and made sure everything was all right.

But you know, Mr. President, we kid about both about marrying up.  We both did, that kind of thing.  But the truth of the matter is — I said this to Michelle last night.  Michelle is the finest First Lady in my view that has ever served in the office.  There’s been other great First Ladies, but I really genuinely mean it.  (Applause.)

When I got to meet Michelle’s brother, and he told me about how you guys were raised, and I got to know and love your mom, if your mom — were your mom 15 years older, she could have been my mom.  Literally, the way you were raised, the way we were raised, there wasn’t any difference.  And I knew that this decision to join you, which was the greatest honor of my life, was the right decision on the night we had to go and accept the nomination, the formal — we’d be nominated at the convention.  And Finnegan, who is now 18 years old, was then 10 years old.  And she came to me, and she said, Pop, is it okay if the room that we’re in — Finnegan, Maisy, and Naomi — that we have the beds taken out.  And I said, why?  She said, maybe the Obama girls and your brothers’ children, maybe they would come down, all sleep together in sleeping bags.  (Laughter.)  And I give you my word as a Biden, I knew when I left to go to the convention, open that door, and saw them cuddled together, I knew this was the right decision.  I knew it was the right decision.  I really did.  Because, Mr. President, the same values set — the same values set.

Folks, you know, I joke with my staff that I don’t know why they pay them anything, because they get to advise me.  (Laughter.)  Let me explain what I mean by that.  As the President of the University of Delaware, where my heart resides, and my home campus of Delaware, as he can tell you, it’s — I get to give you advice.  I get to be the last guy in the room and give you advice on the most difficult decisions anyone has to make in the whole world.  But I get to walk out, and you make it all by yourself.  All by yourself.

Harry Truman was right about the buck stopping at the desk.  And I’ve never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never once doubted, on these life and death decisions, I never once doubted that your judgement was flawed — not once.  Not once.

And we’ve disagreed, and we’ve argued, and we’ve raised our voices, one of which we made a deal we’d be completely open like brothers with one another.  But, Mr. President, I watched you under intense fire.  I will venture to say that no President in history has had as many novel crises land on his desk in all of history.  The Civil War was worse, the World War Two was worse, but, Mr. President, almost every one of the crises you faced was a case of first instance — a case of first instance.  And I watched that prodigious mind and that heart as big as your head — I’ve watched you.  I’ve watched how you’ve acted.

When you see a woman or man under intense pressure, you get a measure — and you know that, Michelle, and your daughters know it, as well.  This is a remarkable man.  And I just hope that the asterisk in history that is attached to my name when they talk about this presidency is that I can say I was part of the journey of a remarkable man who did remarkable things for this country.  (Applause.)

You know, I can’t let a comment go by without quoting an Irish poet.  (Laughter.)  Jill and I talk about why you were able to develop the way you developed and with the heart you have.  Michelle and I have talked about it.  I’ve confided in Michelle, I’ve gone to her for advice.  We’ve talked about this man.  You give me insight.  And I think it’s because — Mr. President, you gave me credit for having understanding other people’s misery and suffering.  Mr. President, there is not one single, solitary ounce of entitlement in you, or Michelle, or your beautiful daughters — and you girls are incredible, you really are.  That’s not hyperbole, you really are.  Not one ounce of entitlement.

And Seamus Heaney in one of his poems said — (laughter) — when you can find someone who says it better, use it.  He said, you carried your own burden and very soon, your symptoms of creeping privilege disappeared.  You carried your own burdens, and very soon, the creeping symptoms of privilege disappeared.

Mr. President, you have sometimes been like a lone wolf, but you carried yourself in a way that’s pretty remarkable.  The history of the journey — your journey — is something people are going to write about a long time, and I’m not being solicitous when I say this.  And you’re so fortunate, both of you, to have found each other because all that grounding, all that you have, made this guy totally whole.  And it’s pretty amazing.

Mr. President, this honor is not only well beyond what I deserve, but it’s a reflection on the extent and generosity of your spirit.  I don’t deserve this, but I know it came from the President’s heart.  There is a Talmudic saying that says, what comes from the heart, enters the heart.  Mr. President, you have creeped into our heart — you and your whole family, including Mom — and you occupy it.  It’s an amazing thing that happened.  I knew how smart you were.  I knew how honorable you were.  I knew how decent you were from the couple years we worked in the Senate, and I knew what you were capable of.  But I never fully expected that you’d occupy the Bidens’ heart, from Hunter, to Ashley, my sister, all of us.  All of us.

And Mr. President, I’m indebted to you.  I’m indebted to your friendship, I’m indebted to your family, and as I’ll tell you — I’ll end on a humorous note.  We’re having a lunch — lunches, and mostly it’s what’s ever in either one of our minds.  We’ll talk about family an awful lot.  And about six months in, President looks at me, he said, you know, Joe, you know what surprised me?  How we’ve become such good friends.  (Laughter.)  And I said, surprised you?  (Laughter.)

But that is candid Obama, and it’s real, and, Mr. President, you know as long as there’s a breath in me, I’ll be there for you, my whole family will be, and I know, I know it is reciprocal.  And I want to thank you all so very, very, very much.  All of you in here.  (Applause.)

END
4:27 P.M. EST

Full Text Political Transcripts December 14, 2016: President Barack Obama’s Remarks at Evening Hanukkah Reception

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President at Evening Hanukkah Reception

Source: WH, 12-14-16

East Room

7:40 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, hello, hello!  (Applause.)  HelloGood evening, everybody!  Welcome to the White House, and Happy Hanukkah!  (Applause.)  It so happens we’re a little early this year.  (Laughter.)  But Michelle and I are going to be in Hawaii when Hanukkah begins, and we agreed that it’s never too soon to enjoy some latkes and jelly donuts.  (Laughter.)  This is our second Hanukkah party today, but in the spirit of the holiday, the White House kitchen has not run out of oil.  (Laughter.)  Dad jokes for every occasion.  (Laughter.)

I want to recognize some special guests that are with us today.  There are a number of members of Congress here who obviously are so supportive of the values that are represented by this holiday and extraordinarily strong friends of Israel.  We’ve got Justice Breyer and Justice Ginsburg in the house.  (Applause.)  We’ve got one of the country’s finest jurists, who I happened to have nominated to the Supreme Court and who’s going to continue to serve our country with distinction as the chief judge on the D.C. circuit, Merrick Garland is here.  (Applause.)

Our wonderful and outstanding and tireless Secretary of the Treasury, Jack Lew, is here.  (Applause.)  As is our U.S. Trade Representative and former B-B-Y-O president, Mike Froman.  (Applause.)  And I want to give it up for our outstanding musical guests, Six-Thirteen, who just did a amazing performance for Michelle and I of a “Hamilton” remix talking about the Maccabees, and the President, and menorahs, and —

MRS. OBAMA:  It was good.

THE PRESIDENT:  If you ever have a chance to get the mix-tape, you should buy it.  (Laughter.)

Now, this is the eighth year that Michelle and I have hosted this little gathering.  And over the years, we’ve welcomed Jewish Supreme Court justices, Cabinet secretaries, members of Congress.  We celebrated Alan Gross’s return from captivity in Cuba.  (Applause.)  We got to celebrate a once-in-70,000-year event, Thanksgivvikuh — (laughter) — where we lit the “Menurkey.”  (Laughter.)  That was a turkey-shaped menorah, in case you forgot.  (Laughter.)

MRS. OBAMA:  We got it.

THE PRESIDENT:  So this is a White House tradition that we are proud to carry on.  It gives us a lot of nakhas.  (Laughter.)  If I pronounced that right, then that was a Hanukkah miracle.  (Laughter.)

Tonight, we come together for the final time to tell a familiar story — so familiar that even we Gentiles know it.  But as many times as we tell it, this 2,000-year-old tale never gets old.  In every generation, we take heart from the Maccabees’ struggle against tyranny, their fight to live in peace and practice their religion in peace.  We teach our children that even in our darkest moments, a stubborn flame of hope flickers and miracles are possible.  (Applause.)

That spirit from two millennia ago inspired America’s founders two centuries ago.  They proclaimed a new nation where citizens could speak and assemble, and worship as they wished.  George Washington himself was said to have been stirred by the lights of Hanukkah after seeing a soldier seek the warmth of a menorah in the snows of Valley Forge.  And years later, Washington wrote that timeless letter we have on display today in the White House — I hope you saw it when you walked in.  Washington assured the Jews of Newport, Rhode Island, that the United States “gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.”  (Applause.)  He went on to write that all that is required of those “who live under [the nation’s] protection” is that they be “good citizens.”

It’s easy, sometimes, to take these fundamental freedoms for granted.  But they, too, are miraculous.  They, too, have to be nurtured and safeguarded.  And it’s in defense of these ideals — precisely because the Jewish people have known oppression — that throughout our history, this community has been at the forefront of every fight for freedom.  It’s why Jews marched in Selma, why they mobilized after Stonewall, why synagogues have opened their doors to refugees, why Jewish leaders have spoken out against all forms of hatred.

And in my last months in office, I want to thank you for all your courage, and your conviction, and your outspokenness.  (Applause.)  The story of this community and the work you continue to do to repair the world forever reminds us to have faith that there are brighter days ahead.  (Laughter.)

MRS. OBAMA:  They’re a little cynical.  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  No, no, no, they’re not cynical.

MRS. OBAMA:  Little doubtful.

THE PRESIDENT:  The menorah we light today is a testament such resilient optimism.  It belonged to Rina and Joseph Walden, a young Polish couple who acquired it in the early 1900s.  When the Second World War came, the Waldens fled to France and took shelter on a farm.  And they hid their Jewishness, including their magnificent menorah, entrusting it to a courageous neighbor.  But one Hanukkah, they retrieved their menorah and lit it behind locked doors and covered windows.  That same week, the Nazis raided their neighbor’s house and burned it to the ground.  Of all the Walden family’s treasures, only this menorah survived.

A few years later, the Waldens moved to Israel, where their son Raphael met a young woman named Zvia Peres — the only daughter of one of Israel’s founding fathers and greatest statesmen.  And I had the honor to go to Jerusalem earlier this year to bid farewell to my dear friend Shimon Peres and reaffirm the commitment of the United States to the State of Israel.  We could not be more honored to have Shimon’s son, Chemi, his grandson, Guy, and his granddaughter, Mika, here with us tonight.  (Applause.)

The Walden-Peres family lit these lights when the State of Israel was new.  They’ve blazed it in the months after the Yom Kippur War and the Camp David Accords.  And tonight, Chemi and Mika will light this amazing heirloom in the White House.  And as they do, we hope all of you draw strength from the divine spark in Shimon Peres, whose miraculous life taught us that “faith and moral vision can triumph over all adversity.”  I hope it inspires us to rededicate ourselves to upholding the freedoms we hold dear at home and around the world — that we are able to see those who are not like us and recognize their dignity, not just those who are similar to us.  I hope it inspires us to continue to work for peace, even when it is hard — perhaps especially when it is hard.  (Applause.)

And, as Washington wrote to the Jews of Newport more than 200 years ago, “May the father of all mercies scatter light, and not darkness, in our paths.”

I’d now like to invite Rabbi Rachel Isaacs from Colby College and Temple Beth Israel in Waterville, Maine — which I said sounds cold — (laughter) — to say a few words and lead us in blessings.  But first, I have to get a box, because she’s a little shorter than I am.  (Laughter.)

(A prayer is offered.)

Well, we hope that you enjoy this celebration here at the White House.  On behalf of Michelle and myself, we could not be more grateful for your friendship and your prayers.  And we want to emphasize that although we will be leaving here on January 20th —

AUDIENCE:  No!

THE PRESIDENT:  — we will meet you on the other side.  (Laughter.)  And we’ve still got a lot of work to do.  We look forward to doing that work with you, because it’s not something that we can do alone, and you’ve always been such an extraordinary group of friends that strengthen us in so many different ways.

I should also note that your singing was outstanding.  (Laughter.)  I think this was an exceptional group of voices here.  (Laughter.)

Thank you very much, everybody.  God bless you.  (Applause.)

END
7:57 P.M. EST

Full Text Political Transcripts December 31, 2016: President Barack Obama’s Remarks at My Brother’s Keeper National Summit

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President at My Brother’s Keeper National Summit

Source: WH, 12-14-16

South Court Auditorium

5:03 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everybody!  (Applause.)  Hello!  Everybody, please have a seat.  Welcome to the White House.

Thank you, Malachi, for the great introduction and being a great role model for the young people coming up behind you.  I was watching the introduction on the screen — he’s very telegenic.  (Laughter.)  We might have to run him for something at some point.  (Laughter.)  We’re so proud of you.

And I want to make sure that we introduce the other young men who are behind me, as well, because they’ve got equally compelling stories.  Devin Edwards, coming out of MBK Boston.  Devin, wave.  There you go.  (Applause.)  And as well as Bunker Hill Community College in Greater Boston.  Jerron Hawkins, Howard University.  (Applause.)  White House Mentorship and Leadership Program.  You already met Malachi.  Noah McQueen, Morehouse College.  (Applause.)  One of our mentors.  Luis Ramirez, MBK Oakland Career and Opportunity Fair.  (Applause.)  And Quamiir Trice, MBK Philadelphia.  Howard University.  (Applause.)

These young people behind me are proof that a little love, a little support allows them to achieve anything they can dream, anything they can conceive.  Since day one, my administration has been focused on creating opportunities for all people.  And by almost every measure, this country is better off than it was when I started.  (Applause.)  But what we’ve also long understood is that some communities have consistently had the odds stacked against them — and that’s especially true for boys and young men of color.

All of you know the statistics and the stories of young people who had the intelligence, the potential to do amazing things, but somehow slipped through the cracks.  And I’ve said this before — I see myself in these young people.  I grew up without a father.  There were times where I made poor choices, times where I was adrift.  The only difference between me and a lot of other young men is that I grew up in a more forgiving environment.  I had people who encouraged me and gave me a second chance.

That’s why Michelle and I have dedicated so much of our time to creating opportunities for young people.  We know this is not just an urban problem; it’s not just a people of color problem.  This is a national challenge — because if we’re going to stay ahead as a nation, we’re going to need the talent of every single American.  And even more than that, this is about who we are as a country, what our values are, whether we’re going to continue to be a place where if you work hard you can succeed, or whether we continue to see stagnation and diminishing mobility and the ladders of opportunity cut off for too many people.  The only way we live up to America‘s promise is if we value every single child, not just our own, and invest in every single child as if they’re our own.

It’s almost three years ago, we launched the My Brother’s Keeper initiative to give more of our young people the tools and the support that they need to stay on track for a bright future.  We knew this couldn’t just be a government initiative.  We knew that our concerns couldn’t be sporadic, just inflamed by the latest high-profile shooting or some other disturbance.  It has to be sustained, thought through.  Progress had to be measurable.

So we put out a call for action across the country.  And I’ve just got to say, the response was incredible.  Hundreds of you — mayors, tribal leaders, county executives have created MBK communities in all 50 states, as well as D.C. and Puerto Rico.  Businesses and foundations, many of whom are represented here today, are working across sectors and investing more than a billion dollars in proven pathways for young people.

In just a few years, the progress we’ve made is remarkable. So I just wanted to come by and say thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Thank you for stepping up to the challenge.  Thank you for being great partners in this work.  Thank you for believing in our young people.

I also want to say thank you to the young men who are here and who came in from across the country, and many of whom are watching or may be listening, who’ve been part of this initiative.  I’ve had a chance to meet many of these young people.  Everybody on this stage, I’ve had significant conversations with.  I’ve heard their stories and I’ve seen young men like this grow into confident, capable, responsible men.  Many of you have overcome unbelievable obstacles — obstacles that most people never have to face.  It hasn’t always been easy, but look at the progress that you’ve inspired.  I could not be prouder of these young people and so many who are participating around the country.

And this is just the beginning.  We are going to keep these efforts going to invest in our young people, to break down barriers that keep them from getting ahead, and to make sure that they’ve got a chance to contribute.  And we’re going to need more of you to be mentors and role models and supporters for this next generation.  As they keep moving up in the world, then we’re going to call on them to reach back and invest in the folks who are coming behind them.

And that’s the final point I want to make.  My Brother’s Keeper was not about me, it was not about my presidency.  It’s not even just about Malachi and all these amazing young men behind me.  It’s about all of us working together.  Because ensuring that our young people can go as far as their dreams and hard work will take them is the single most important task that we have as a nation.  It is the single most important thing we can do for our country’s future.  This is something I will be invested in for the rest of my life, and I look forward to continuing the journey with you.  (Applause.)

So to the young people who are here, thank you.  To folks who are investing and supporting this effort, thank you.  But we are just scratching the surface.

For every one of these young men, there are tens of thousands — hundreds of thousands who are not currently being reached.  And although it is important for us to poke and prod and push government at every level to make the investments that are necessary — to ensure our schools are properly funded and are teaching the kids what they need to learn, that we are investing and making sure that there are jobs available in communities so that people can see that there is a right path to go down that will result in them having a bright future; although there’s infrastructure that has to be built by the government to ensure that our young people can succeed and prosper in this 21st century economy — we can’t wait for government to do it for us.

We’ve got to make sure that we’re out there showing what works.  We’ve got to put our own time and energy and effort and money into the effort.  We have to be rigorous in measuring what works.  We can’t hang onto programs just because they’ve been around a long time.  We can’t be protective of programs that have not produced results for young people, even if they’ve produced some jobs for some folks running them.  (Laughter.)  And we have to make sure that we’re casting a wide net so that we’re not just cherry-picking some kids who probably have so much drive they’d make it anyway.  We’ve also got to go deep, including in the places like juvenile facilities and our prisons to make sure that some very still-young people are reachable.

So this is going to be a big project.  It is as a consequence of neglect over generations that so many of these challenges exist.  We shouldn’t expect that we’re going to solve these problems overnight, but we’ve got proof about what happens when, as Malachi said, you just give folks a little love and you act on that love.  And I’m looking forward to working with you to do that.

Thank you, everybody.  God bless.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

END
5:13 P.M. EST

Full Text Political Transcripts December 14, 2016: President Barack Obama’s Remarks at Afternoon Hanukkah Reception

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President at Afternoon Hanukkah Reception

Source: WH, 12-14-16

East Room

4:04 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everybody!  (Applause.)  Hello, everybody.  Welcome to the White House.  Michelle and I want to be the first to wish all of you a happy Hanukkah.  I figure we’ve got to be first because we’re about 10 days early.  (Laughter.)

We have some very special guests in the house to share some latkes with, so I want to call them out.  We are, first of all, honored to be joined by Rabbi Steven Exler, the outstanding senior rabbi of the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale.  (Applause.)  He also happens to be Secretary Jack Lew’s rabbi.  (Laughter.)   He taught my Director of Jewish Outreach, Chanan Weissman.  So he obviously is doing something right.  Also, let’s give it up for Koleinu, whose sound might be the most beautiful thing to come out of Princeton since the woman standing next to me.  (Applause.)  That was a good one, right?

MRS. OBAMA:  That was a good one.  (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Today in the White House, as you will soon do in your homes, we recall Hanukkah’s many lessons:  How a small group can make a big difference.  That’s the story of the Maccabees’ unlikely military victory, and of great moral movements around the globe and across time.  How a little bit can go a long way, like the small measure of oil that outlasted every expectation.  It reminds us that even when our resources seem limited, our faith can help us make the most of what little we have.  The small State of Israel and the relatively small Jewish population of this country have punched far above their weight in their contributions to the world.  So the Festival of Lights is also a reminder of how Isaiah saw the Jewish people, as a light unto the nations.

This is the season that we appreciate the many miracles, large and small, that have graced our lives throughout generations, and to recognize that the most meaningful among them is our freedom.  The first chapter of the Hanukkah story was written 22 centuries ago, when rulers banned religious rituals and persecuted Jews who dared to observe their faith.  Which is why today we are asked not only to light the menorah, but to proudly display it — to publicize the mitzvah.  And that’s why we’ve invited all these reporters who are here.  (Laughter.)

Everybody in America can understand the spirit of this tradition.  Proudly practicing our religion, whatever it might be — and defending the rights of others to do the same — that’s our common creed.  That’s what families from coast to coast confirm when they place their menorah in the window — not to share the candles’ glow with just your family, but also with your community and with your neighbors.

The story of Hanukkah, the story of the Jewish people, the story of perseverance — these are one and the same.  Elie Wiesel taught us that lesson probably better than just about anybody.  In one of his memories of the Holocaust, Elie watched a fellow prisoner trade his daily ration of bread for some simple materials with which to piece together a makeshift menorah.  And he wrote that he couldn’t believe the sacrifices this man was making to observe the holidays.  A stunned Elie asked him, “Hanukkah in Auschwitz?”  And the man replied, “Especially in Auschwitz.”

The world lost my friend, Elie Wiesel, this year.  We lost a keeper of our collective conscience.  But we could not be more honored today to be joined by his beloved family.  (Applause.)  His wife, Marion, is here.  (Applause.)  His wife, Marion, is here, beautiful as always.  His son, Elisha, is here.  His daughter-in-law, Lynn.  And his grandchildren, Elijah and Shira.  (Applause.)  So today we’re going to light a menorah that Shira made a few years ago when she was in kindergarten.  (Laughter.)  And as is appropriate to the spirit of the season, it’s made of simple materials.  It’s got bolts and tiles and glue.  (Laughter.)  And it looks like some balsa wood.

SHIRA WIESEL:  It’s actually melted wax.

THE PRESIDENT:  What is it?

SHIRA WIESEL:  It’s actually melted wax.

THE PRESIDENT:  Melted wax.  (Laughter.)  Just saying.

Over the years, your grandfather also corrected me several times.  (Laughter.)  And it was always very helpful.  (Laughter.)

We’ve lit a number of beautiful menorahs here at the White House.  Some that weathered storms like Katrina and Sandy; others that were crafted by spectacular artists from Israel and the United States.  But I’ve just got to say, this is my favorite.  (Laughter.)  I think this is the most beautiful one that we’ve ever lit.  (Laughter and applause.)  And it’s a reminder that a menorah is not valuable because it’s forged in silver or gold.  It’s treasured because it was shaped by the hands of a young girl who proves with her presence that the Jewish people survive.  (Applause.)  Through centuries of exile and persecution, and even the genocide of families like the Wiesels endured, the Hanukkah candles have been kindled.  Each wick an answer to the wicked.  Each light a signal to the world that yours is an inextinguishable faith.

Jewish leaders from the Maccabees to the Wiesels, to the college students who proudly sing Hebrew songs on campus, reaffirm our belief that light still drives out darkness, and freedom still needs fighters.

So let me close by saying I want to say how much Michelle and I appreciate the opportunities to have celebrated so many Hanukkahs with you in the White House.  You know, at the beginning of my presidency, some critics thought it would last for only a year.  (Laughter.)  But — miracle of miracles — (applause) — it has lasted eight years.  It’s lasted eight whole years.  (Laughter.)  Nes Gadol Haya Po.  (Applause.)

As many of you know, the name “Hanukkah” comes from the Hebrew word for “dedication.”  So we want to thank you again for your dedication to our country, to the historic progress that we’ve made, to the defense of religious freedom in the United States and around the world.  (Applause.)

And with that, let me invite Rabbi Exler to say a few words before Elijah and Shira light the candles and get this party started.

Mr. Rabbi.  (Applause.)

END
4:13 P.M. EST

Full Text Political Transcripts December 6, 2016: President Barack Obama’s Remarks to Thank Service Members

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President to Thank Service Members

Source: WH, 12-6-16

MacDill Air Force Base
Tampa, Florida

3:34 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, MacDill!  Thank you so much!

Well, first of all, you notice this coincidence — on the scoreboard it says “44” — (applause.)  That happens to be — oh.
AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We love you!

THE PRESIDENT:  I love you, too.  I do.  (Applause.)

To General Votel, General Thomas, and most importantly, to all of you — I am here for a very simple reason, and that is just to say thank you, on behalf of the American people.  We have been so reliant on the outstanding work that has been done by SOCOM and CENTCOM, the extraordinary leadership from the highest general down to the person who’s just started.  I have been consistently in awe of your performance and the way that you’ve carried out your mission.

As some of you remember, I was here two years ago.  I want to thank, in addition to some of the outstanding leadership team, a couple of special folks to mention — Colonel April Vogel, Chief Master Sergeant Melanie Noel, all your senior enlisted leaders.  Give them a big round of applause.  (Applause.)

I know that, obviously, we’ve got a lot of Air Force here.  (Applause.)  And we’ve got Central Command.  (Applause.)  We got Special Operations Command.  (Applause.)  We got Army.  (Applause.)  Navy.  (Applause.)  Marines.  (Applause.)  We got our DOD civilians.  (Applause.)  And we’ve got spouses, partners, sons, daughters —

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Family!

THE PRESIDENT:  What’s that?

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Family.

THE PRESIDENT:  I was just mentioning them.  (Laughter.)  You guys, I was getting to that.  (Laughter.)  We’ve got amazing military families here who are sacrificing alongside of you every single day.  Give them a big round of applause.  (Applause.)

So I just had the chance to meet with General Thomas and some of the extraordinary personnel from across U.S. Special Operations Command.  I’m going to go give a big policy speech right after I talk to you.  The main thing I want to do is just shake your hands.  And I’m going to try to shake as many hands as I can.  (Applause.)

I know you’re marking an important anniversary.  For 75 years — from World War II through Korea, the Cuban Missile Crisis, Vietnam, the Gulf War, the Afghan and Iraq wars — the men and women of this base have always stepped up when we needed them most.  So, on behalf of the entire country, I want to wish you a happy 75th anniversary.  (Applause.)

For Michelle and myself, the lease is running out on our apartment.  (Laughter.)

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Renew it!

THE PRESIDENT:  I can’t.  (Laughter.)  So I just want to get my security deposit back.  (Laughter.)  But it has been the privilege and honor of a lifetime to be your Commander-in-Chief
— the Commander-in-Chief of the finest fighting force the world has ever known.  You are the best.  Because we have the best people.

You and your families have inspired us.  We’ve been inspired by your patriotism, for stepping forward, for volunteering, for dedicating yourself to a life of service.  We’ve been inspired by your devotion, your willingness to sacrifice for all of us.  We’ve been inspired by your example.  At a time when sometimes the country seems so divided, you remind us that, as Americans, we’re all part of one team.  We take care of each other.  And you remind us of what patriotism really means.

So I just want to say thank you to all of you.  You are going to continue with your mission, but I will tell you that Michelle and I, having had the experience and the honor of working with you, are going to make it one of our missions as civilians to support you in every way that we can.

God bless you.  God bless our troops.  God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

END
3:40 P.M. EST

Full Text Political Transcripts December 4, 2016: President Barack Obama’s Remarks at the Kennedy Center Honors Reception

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President at the Kennedy Center Honors Reception

Source: WH, 12-4-16

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you so much, everybody.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Thank you very much.  Everybody please have a seat.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

Well, good evening, everybody.  On behalf of Michelle and myself, welcome to the White House.  Over the past eight years, this has always been one of our favorite nights.  And this year, I was especially looking forward to seeing how Joe Walsh cleans up — pretty good.  (Laughter.)

I want to begin by once again thanking everybody who makes this wonderful evening possible, including David Rubenstein, the Kennedy Center Trustees — I’m getting a big echo back there — and the Kennedy Center President, Deborah Rutter.  Give them a big round of applause.  (Applause.)

We have some outstanding members of Congress here tonight.  And we are honored also to have Vicki Kennedy and three of President Kennedy’s grandchildren with us here -– Rose, Tatiana, and Jack.  (Applause.)

So the arts have always been part of life at the White House, because the arts are always central to American life.  And that’s why, over the past eight years, Michelle and I have invited some of the best writers and musicians, actors, dancers to share their gifts with the American people, and to help tell the story of who we are, and to inspire what’s best in all of us.  Along the way, we’ve enjoyed some unbelievable performances -– this is one of the perks of the job that I will miss.

Thanks to Michelle’s efforts, we’ve brought the arts to more young people -– from hosting workshops where they learn firsthand from accomplished artists, to bringing “Hamilton” to students who wouldn’t normally get a ticket to Broadway.  And on behalf of all of us, I want to say thanks to my wife for having done simply — (applause) — yes.  (Applause.)  And she’s always looked really good doing it.  (Laughter.)  She does.  (Laughter.)

This is part of how we’ve tried to honor the legacy of President and Mrs. Kennedy.  They understood just how vital art is to our democracy — that we need song and cinema and paintings and performance to help us challenge our assumptions, to question the way things are, and maybe inspire us to think about how things might be.  The arts help us celebrate our triumphs, but also holds up a mirror to our flaws.  And all of that deepens our understanding of the human condition.  It helps us to see ourselves in each other.  It helps to bind us together as a people.

As President Kennedy once said, “In serving his vision of the truth, the artist best serves his nation.”  Tonight, we honor five amazing artists who have dedicated their lives to telling their truth, and helping us to see our own.

At eight years old, Mavis Staples climbed onto a chair in church, leaned into the microphone, raised her eyes upwards and belted out the gospel.  When people heard that deep, old soul coming out of that little girl, they wept — which, understandably, concerned her.  (Laughter.)  But her mother told her, “Mavis, they’re happy.  Your singing makes them cry happy tears.”

It was those early appearances on the South Side of Chicago -– South Side!  — (laughter and applause) — with Mavis, her siblings, their father, Roebuck “Pops” Staples that launched the legendary Staple Singers.  Theirs was gospel with just a touch of country, a twist of the blues, little bit of funk.  There was a little bit of sin with the salvation.  (Laughter.)  And driven by Pops’ reverbed guitar, Mavis’ powerhouse vocals and the harmonies that only family can make, the Staple Singers broke new ground with songs like “Uncloudy Day.”  They had some truths to tell.  Inspired by Dr. King, Pops would tell his kids, “If he can preach it, we can sing it.”  And so they wrote anthems like “Freedom Highway,” and “When Will We Be Paid” — which became the soundtrack of the Civil Rights movement.

As a solo artist, Mavis has done it all and worked with just about everybody from Bob Dylan to Prince to Jeff Tweedy.  On albums like “We’ll Never Turn Back,” and “One True Vine,” she still is singing for justice and equality, and influencing a new generation of musicians and fans.  And each soulful note — even in heartbreak and even in despair -– is grounded in faith, and in hope, and the belief that there are better days yet to come.  “These aren’t just songs I’m singing to be moving my lips,” she says.  “I mean this.”  And we mean it too.  Six decades on, nobody makes us feel “the weight” like Mavis Staples.  Give her a big round of applause.  (Applause.)

Al Pacino calls the theater his “flashlight.”  It’s how he finds himself, where he sees truth.  And since Al first hit Broadway in 1969, his singular talent has been the gold standard for acting.

A great playwright once compared the way Al inhabits his characters to the way Louis Armstrong played jazz.  One director said that while “some actors play characters, Al Pacino becomes them.”  And we’ve all seen it.  In the span of five years — you think about it — he became Serpico, became Sonny Wortzik, twice became Michael Corleone for, let’s face it, what have got to be the two best movies of all time — (laughter) — became Tony Montana on screen, then became the owner of a couple of Tonys on stage.  And he’s always been this way.

At 13, Al committed so profoundly to a role in the school play that when his character was supposed to get sick on stage, Al actually got sick on stage.  (Laughter.)  I’m not sure how audiences felt about that.  (Laughter.)  Later, when he played Richard III and Jackie Kennedy visited him backstage, the actor playing the self-absorbed king didn’t even stand up to greet actual American royalty, which he says he still regrets.  (Laughter.)

Through it all, Al has always cared more for his “flashlight” than the spotlight.  He says he’s still getting used to the idea of being an icon.  But his gift, for all the inspiration and intensity that he brings to his roles, is that he lets us into what his characters are feeling.  And for that, we are extraordinarily grateful.  Al Pacino.  (Applause.)

In the late sixties, James Taylor got the chance to audition in front of Paul McCartney and George Harrison.  Ringo, I don’t know if you were there — but this is a true story.  (Laughter.)  “I was as nervous as a Chihuahua on methamphetamines” — (laughter) — is what James Taylor says.  Which is exactly the kind of metaphor that makes him such a brilliant songwriter.  (Laughter.)

But if James has a defining gift, it is empathy.  It’s why he’s been such a great friend to and Michelle and myself.  We’re so grateful to him and Kim for their friendship over the years. It’s why everybody from Carole King to Garth Brooks to Taylor Swift collaborates with him.  It’s what makes him among the most prolific and admired musicians of our time.  In fact, James recently went through all his songs and kept coming across the same stories — songs about fathers and traffic jams; love songs, recovery songs.  I really love this phrase:  “Hymns for agnostics.”  (Laughter.)  He says that in making music, “There’s the idea of comforting yourself.  There’s also the idea of taking something that’s untenable and internal and communicating it.”  And that’s why it feels like James is singing only to you when he sings.  It feels like he’s singing about your life.  The stories he tells and retells dwell on our most enduring and shared experiences.  “Carolina on My Mind” is about where you grew up, even if you didn’t grow up in Carolina.  “Mean Old Man” is probably somebody you know.  “Angels of Fenway” — well, actually, that’s just about the Red Sox.  So — (laughter) — if you’re a White Sox fan you don’t love that song, but it’s okay.  (Applause.)

James is the consummate truth-teller about a life that can leave us with more unresolved questions than satisfying answers, but holds so much beauty that you don’t mind.  And from his honesty about his own struggles with substance abuse to his decades of progressive activism, James Taylor has inspired people all over the world and helped America live up to our highest ideals.  Thank you, James Taylor.  (Applause.)

Without a preschool rivalry, we might not be honoring Martha Argerich.  The story goes that when Martha was two years old, a little boy taunted her, saying, “I bet you can’t play the piano!”  (Laughter.)  So she sat down at the keys, remembered a piece her teacher had played, and played it flawlessly.  By eight years old, she had made her concert debut.  By the time she was a teenager, she left her native Argentina to study in Vienna and won two major international competitions, launching one of the most storied and influential careers in classical music.  That little boy lost his bet.

Martha combines unparalleled technical prowess with passion and glittering musicianship.  From Bach to Schumann, she doesn’t just play the piano, she possesses it.  Martha can charge through a passage with astonishing power and speed and accuracy, and, in the same performance, uncover the delicate beauty in each note.  As a critic once wrote, “She is an unaffected interpreter whose native language is music.”

But what truly sets her apart and has cemented her place as one of the greatest pianists in modern history is her dogged commitment to her craft.  In an age of often superficial connections, where people too often seek fame and recognition, Martha has been guided by one passion, and that is fidelity to the music.  She can only be herself.  And that is the truest mark of an artist.  And the result is timeless, transcendent music for which we thank Martha Argerich.  (Applause.)

And finally, there have been some interesting things said about this next group, including being called “one of rock’s most contentiously dysfunctional families.”  (Laughter.)  So, yeah, it was unlikely that they’d ever get back together and that they called their reunion tour “Hell Freezes Over.”  (Laughter.)  I love that.  But here’s the thing — when you listen to the Eagles, you hear the exact opposite story, and that is perfect harmony.

You hear it in the crisp, overpowering a capella chords of “Seven Bridges Road”; dueling guitar solos in “Hotel California”; complex, funky riffs opening “Life in the Fast Lane.”  It’s the sound not just of a California band, but one of America’s signature bands — a supergroup whose greatest hits sold more copies in the United States than any other record in the 20th century.  And the 20th Century had some pretty good music.  (Laughter.)

So, here tonight, we have three of the Eagles:  Don Henley, the meticulous, introspective songwriter with an unmistakable voice that soars above his drum set.  Timothy Schmit, the bass player and topline of many of those harmonies.  And Joe Walsh, who’s as rowdy with a guitar lick as I’m told he once was in a hotel room.  (Laughter.)  Twice.  (Laughter.)  This is the White House, though.  (Laughter.)  And Michelle and I are about to leave.  As I’ve said before, we want to get our security deposit back.  (Laughter and applause.)

But, of course, the Eagles are also the one and only Glenn Frey.  And we all wish Glenn was still here with us.  We are deeply honored to be joined by his beautiful wife, Cindy, and their gorgeous children.  Because the truth is that these awards aren’t just about this reception or even the show we have this evening, which will be spectacular.  The Kennedy Center Honors are about folks who spent their lives calling on us to think a little harder, and feel a little deeper, and express ourselves a little more bravely, and maybe “take it easy” once in a while.  And that is Glenn Frey — the driving force behind a band that owned a decade, and did not stop there.  We are all familiar with his legacy.  And the music of the Eagles will always be woven into the fabric of our nation.

So we are extraordinarily honored to be able to give thanks for the Eagles.  And what’s true for them is true for all of tonight’s honorees:  remarkable individuals who have created the soundtrack to our own lives — on road trips, in jukebox diners; folks who have mesmerized us on a Saturday night out at the movies or at a concert hall.

Mavis Staples.  Al Pacino.  James Taylor.  Martha Argerich The Eagles.  Their legacies are measured not just in works of art, but the lives they’ve touched, and creating a stronger and more beautiful America.  They’re artists who have served our nation by serving their truth.  And we’re all better off for it.

So before we transport ourselves to what I’m sure will be a spectacular evening, please join me in saluting our extraordinary 2016 Kennedy Center Honorees.  (Applause.)

 

END                  5:44 P.M. EST

Full Text Political Transcripts December 1, 2016: Obamas Attend Last National Christmas Tree Lighting

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 114TH CONGRESS:

Full Text Political Transcripts November 29, 2016: First Lady Michelle Obama at the Annual Holiday Press Preview

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the First Lady at Annual Holiday Press Preview

Source: WH, 11-29-16

This year’s theme: The gift of service and sacrifice

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East Room

1:35 P.M. EST

MRS. OBAMA:  Hi, everybody!  Look how good you guys look.  You ready for some action?

AUDIENCE:  Yes.

MRS. OBAMA:  Are you sure?  I don’t know, you sound like you don’t want cookies or anything like that.  (Laughter.)  You think you want some cookies?  You think so?  Okay, well, we’re going to get to it, but first I want to welcome everyone to the White House.

I want to start by thanking Hazel for that wonderful introduction and for all of her service and hard work in helping to make this home so beautiful.  I want to give a huge thank you to all of the volunteers, as Hazel mentioned, who traveled here from 33 states, D.C., and Puerto Rico to come here and put up these beautiful decorations and transform this White House into this holiday wonderland.  So I’m so grateful to you all.

And as we celebrate my family’s last holiday season in the White House, I’m thinking back to when we first came here to Washington and we promised to open up this house to as many people from as many backgrounds as possible.  And we truly wanted to make the White House the “People’s House,” particularly during the holiday seasons.  And over the past eight years, through the seasons, we’ve worked hard to achieve that goal by welcoming almost a half million guests to this house during the season.  And thanks to our amazing volunteers, we’ve adorned the White House with about a half million ornaments for our guests to enjoy, and we’ve brought smiles to the faces of all those who enjoyed the 200,000 holiday cookies prepared by our outstanding pastry chefs.  And you all will get to have some more of those today.  That will make 200,020 or so.

So, looking back, I am proud to say that we did our very best during the holidays to make Americans of all backgrounds and walks of life feel comfortable and welcome here in our nation’s house.  Now, we do all of this with the help of our extraordinary staff.  I mean, yes, we have wonderful volunteers, but we have folks who, each year, take a very limited budget and very little resources, and they make miracles happen in this house.

So, for our final holiday preview, I just want to take a moment to highlight just a few of the amazing folks who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes.  And I don’t know if they know I’m calling them out — I don’t even know if they’re in the room.  But I want to start with Deesha Dyer, who is the office — our Social Secretary.

MS. DYER:  I’m here.  (Laughter.)

MRS. OBAMA:  Deesha, there you are.  There’s Deesha.  (Applause.)  Thank you, Deesha.  And you’re going to see Cris Comerford and Susie Morrison.  Cris is our Executive Chef and Susie is our Executive Pastry Chef.  I want to thank them both, as well as all of the chefs, all of the staff in the kitchen who worked so hard to do everything possible to make these holidays terrific.

I want to thank all of our ushers who never get credit.  I know they’re around here working away, but they’re the people who greet you, and they make sure that things are moving like they should in this house — our florists, who are tremendous.  And I rarely get to thank our electricians, our carpenters, because they make sure that chandeliers are moved and structures are built so that we can put things on, and they do this in a matter of days.  They turn this house upside down.  And to our calligraphers — you’ll see all their handiwork throughout the ornaments.  And I also always want to thank our incredible Marine Band, who you hear from throughout the season.  My husband’s favorite musical crew are his own Marine Band.

This is all possible because of all of these people.  And on behalf of the entire Obama family — me, Barack, Malia, Sasha, Grandma, Bo and Sunny — (laughter) — we are so proud of this team here, so proud of the time that we spent with you.  We’re grateful for everything you’ve done for us over the years.  So let’s give them a round of applause.  (Applause.)

So before I get choked up, let me officially kick off our final White House holiday season.  And as always, today, we are celebrating with our extraordinary military community, our military families.  We have our servicemembers.  We have veterans here today.  We have wounded warriors.  We have our military spouses!  (Applause.)  You go, spouses.  And of course, we have our outstanding, handsome, beautiful, smart, talented, engaging military kids.  Are there any here?  Oh here they are.  (Laughter.)  Let’s give them all a round of applause.  (Applause.)

For the past eight years, celebrating the holidays and having you all be the first that see the decorations, this has been one of our favorite White House traditions.  It reminds us that between all the shopping lists and the travel plans and all those big meals, that we cannot forget what the holidays are really about, and you all help us.  Our military families like all of you remind us of what matters.  Because even as you serve this country in uniform, or you hold everything together here at home as a military spouse, or you prepare to attend another new school as a military kid —

(A baby in the audience interrupts.)

MRS. OBAMA:  — and there’s that one back there talking about I don’t know what, but there’s a little one back there who has a lot to say.  (Laughter.)  But you all still find time to contribute even more to your communities and to this country.

You do it all.  You volunteer at local food banks.  You coach your kids’ sports teams on the weekends.  Many of you have even cut your Thanksgiving holiday short to come here and decorate the White House.

Just another example — we have Hazel up here — but one of our volunteers, her name is Jacqueline James.  She’s from Redlands, California.  Is Jacqueline here so we can really embarrass her?  She’s probably still working.  We’re going to do another reception for our volunteers later.  But let me tell you a little bit about Jacqueline.

During her husband’s 22 years in the Army, her family — she and her family, they spent the holidays in five different states and even on a base overseas.  During that time they managed to raise seven kids.  And just two weeks ago, they celebrated the birth of their fifteenth grandchild.  But their family’s service to this country did not end when Jacqueline’s husband retired, as they watched two of their sons do tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan.  And even though Jacqueline doesn’t consider herself the most artistic decorator, she volunteered at the White House this year because — and this is what she said — she said, “If patriotism is an art,” she said, “then I am a master.”

It’s that kind of commitment to serving others, that’s what the holidays are truly about and that’s what we honor with our holiday decorations every year at the White House.  And this year’s holiday theme is “The Gift of the Holidays.”  And as usual, we’re going to be celebrating our country’s greatest gifts with special decorations celebrating our military families.

Down in the Booksellers, when you walk in, the visitors that come will see a tree and a flag display composed of pictures of military families who my husband and I have met on bases and in communities around the world over the course of our time here.  The tree is hung with gold ornaments honoring America’s greatest heroes, the men and women who have given their lives for our country.  And right next to those displays is an iPad station that allows guests to send holiday wishes to our servicemembers, and we are hoping that each of the 68,000 guests that are going to visit during the holiday season will take a moment to pause and send a message to express their gratitude.

After that, they’ll move on to see a number of other decorations that celebrate the gifts we share as a nation.  For example, in the Library, we’re honoring the gift of a great education — which is important, right, school, college, all of that.  And we have trees in the Library made out of crayons and pencils, so you have to check that out if you haven’t already.  And to raise awareness about the millions of adolescent girls around the world who are not able to attend school, we’ve got two trees that are decorated with special ornaments, each of which has the word “girl” written in one of a dozen different languages.

So when guests head upstairs to this floor, they’re going to see that, in the Green Room, it’s filled with decorations representing the gifts provided by our White House Kitchen Garden with trees hung with ornaments in the shape of bees and fruit.  And of course, right next door, we have our 19-foot-tall White House Christmas tree.  It’s really big.  They have to take out the chandeliers and rearrange everything just to get the tree in the house.  And that’s in our Blue Room.  And in the State Dining Room, you’re going to spot the official White House gingerbread house.  So when you see it, guys, it’s made of all — everything on it is something you can eat.  And our pastry chefs have worked very hard to make this house possible.  It is beautiful.  They’ve got the replica of the new White House garden, and Bo and Sunny, and lots of cool stuff.

Now, the trees in that room — there are 56 LEGO gingerbread houses representing every state and territory in America.  And then somewhere around the house, we have supersize replicas of Bo and Sunny guarding their presents, because we don’t let them have their presents.  (Laughter.)  I’m just kidding, they get presents.  They’re fine.

Altogether, the folks who come through these halls over the next few weeks will see about — how many ornaments do you think are in this house?

CHILD:  Six.

MRS. OBAMA:  Six?  (Laughter.)  Ten?

CHILD:  A hundred.

MRS. OBAMA:  A hundred?  Getting closer.

CHILD:  Nine thousand.

MRS. OBAMA:  Nine thousand?

CHILD:  Two hundred.

MRS. OBAMA:  Let me tell you, it’s 70,000 ornaments.  I was pretty shocked at that.

So we can’t wait — that’s a lot of ornaments.  But we can’t wait to start welcoming people into their White House this holiday season.  And to everyone who created these stunning displays, all our volunteers, all our — all the folks who help make this happen, I want to once again say thank you.  You all did a phenomenal job once again in turning this house into a magical place.

And to all the military families, those of you who are here today and all those around the world, I want to once again honor you for your service and your sacrifice and your love of this nation.  It’s a lot that my family and I share along with you.  It has been such a complete pleasure to support you in this time.

So I want to wish everyone a happy, healthy holiday season, all right?  And with that, we get to have some fun, okay?  Are you guys ready — I’m just talking to the kids here.  (Laughter.)  You guys don’t get to have fun, but here’s what you get:  We will take your children from you for a moment.  (Laughter and applause.)  Don’t applaud too loudly.  They’re still here.  They can hear you.  (Laughter.)  And you can enjoy some cider and some cookies.

And you guys want to come with me?  We’ve got some surprises in the back, and your parents will be here.  We’ll try to bring them back in one piece.  I can’t guarantee that they will be neat.  (Laughter.)  There is dye and food color — sorry.  (Laughter.)  All of it is washable!

All right, you guys ready to come and join me?  You all, thank you all so much.  Come to the White House.  It’s really cool.  Take care.

END
1:47 P.M. EST

Politics November 25, 2016: First Lady Michelle Obama welcomes last Christmas tree of administration

HEADLINE NEWS

Headline_News

POLITICS

By Bonnie K. Goodman

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 25: U.S. first lady Michelle Obama, accompanied by her nephews Austin and Aaron Robinson and her dogs Bo and Sunny, receives the official White House Christmas tree at the North Portico of the White House November 25, 2016 in Washington, DC. The tree, a 19 feet tall Balsam fir, arrived at the White House on Friday and will be on display in the Blue Room during the holiday season. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – NOVEMBER 25: U.S. first lady Michelle Obama, accompanied by her nephews Austin and Aaron Robinson and her dogs Bo and Sunny, receives the official White House Christmas tree at the North Portico of the White House November 25, 2016 in Washington, DC. The tree, a 19 feet tall Balsam fir, arrived at the White House on Friday and will be on display in the Blue Room during the holiday season. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

It is Christmastime at the White House. First Lady Michelle Obama received the day after Thanks giving Friday, Nov. 25, 2016, the last Christmas tree she will decorate at the White House of her husband President Barack Obama’s administration. Unlike the last seven years, Mrs. Obama was not joined by her daughters Malia and Sasha, who also skipped this year’s pardoning of the National Thanksgiving Turkey on Wednesday, Nov. 23. Instead, the Obamas are being joined this holiday season by their youngest nephews Austin and Aaron Robinson. Along with her nephews the Obamas dogs, Bo and Sunny tagged along.

This year’s winning White House Christmas tree is “a 19-foot Balsam-Veitch fir cross. The tree’s growers are Dave and Mary Vander Velden of the Whispering Pines Tree Farm in Oconto, Wisconsin the winners of this year’s National Christmas Tree Association contest. The Association has picked the tree since 1966.

CNN reported that the Vander Veldens’s tree did not grow as large as the official tree needs to be and will be placed somewhere else within the White House decorations, and instead a tree donated from a Pennsylvania farm will be used as the official tree adorning the Blue Room of the White House. The Vander Veldens presented the tree to the First Lady at the White House’s north portico after it arrived in the traditional horse-drawn carriage. The carriage had jingle bells, while “a four-piece military band played “O Christmas Tree.”

When Mrs. Obama received the tree, she asked her nephews, “What do you think?” and then joked about her holiday substitutes, “These are our replacement kids. This is what happens when you get teenagers. One is asleep – these two are up.” The First Lady enthusiastically concluded, “Christmas begins. The holiday starts! We’re ready – our last one. We’re excited about it.”

As the First Lady looked over the tree, she said, “This is the easiest part of the holiday season.” For the entire weekend the White House staff will be decorating the executive mansion for the holidays, on Tuesday, Nov. 29 Michelle presents the finished product to the press and public. Then Thursday, Dec. 1, the Obama’s will light the National Christmas Tree in the Ellipse.

Full Text Political Transcripts November 23, 2016: President Barack Obama’s Final Pardoning of the National Thanksgiving Turkey

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President at Pardoning of the National Thanksgiving Turkey

Source: WH, 11-22-16

President Barack Obama and nephews Austin and Aaron Robinson watch National Thanksgiving Turkey Tater flap during the pardon of the National Thanksgiving Turkey ceremony in the Rose Garden of the White House, Nov. 23, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

President Barack Obama and nephews Austin and Aaron Robinson watch National Thanksgiving Turkey Tater flap during the pardon of the National Thanksgiving Turkey ceremony in the Rose Garden of the White House, Nov. 23, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

2:42 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  (Applause.)  Thank you so much, everybody.  Please have a seat.  Have a seat.

For generations, Presidents have faithfully executed two great American traditions:  issuing a proclamation that sets aside a Thursday in November for us to express gratitude, and granting pardons that reflect our beliefs in second chances.  And this week, we do both.  (Laughter.)

Of course, Thanksgiving is a family holiday as much as a national one.  So for the past seven years, I’ve established another tradition:  embarrassing my daughters with a “corny-copia” of dad jokes about turkeys.  (Laughter.)  This year, they had a scheduling conflict.  (Laughter.)  Actually, they just couldn’t take my jokes anymore.  (Laughter.)  They were fed up.

AUDIENCE:  Oooooh —

THE PRESIDENT:  Fortunately, I have by my side here today two of my nephews — Austin and Aaron Robinson — who, unlike Malia and Sasha, have not yet been turned cynical by Washington. (Laughter.)  They still believe in bad puns.  They still appreciate the grandeur of this occasion.  They still have hope. (Laughter.)

Malia and Sasha, by the way, are thankful that this is my final presidential turkey pardon.  What I haven’t told them yet is that we are going to do this every year from now on.  (Laughter.)  No cameras.  Just us.  Every year.  No way I’m cutting this habit cold turkey.  (Laughter and applause.)

Good one.  That was pretty funny.  (Laughter.)

Thanksgiving is a chance — (laughter) — to gather with loved ones, reflect on our many blessings, and, after a long campaign season, finally turn our attention from polls to poultry.  This year, we’re honored to be joined by two of the lucky ones, who were raised by the Domino family in Iowa:  Tater and Tot.

Now, Tater is here in a backup role, just in case Tot can’t fulfill his duties.  So he’s sort of like the Vice Turkey.  We’re working on getting him a pair of aviator glasses.  (Laughter.)

And it is my great privilege — well, it’s my privilege –actually, let’s just say it’s my job — (laughter) — to grant them clemency this afternoon.  As I do, I want to take a moment to recognize the brave turkeys who weren’t so lucky, who didn’t get to ride the gravy train to freedom — (laughter) — who met their fate with courage and sacrifice — and proved that they weren’t chicken.  (Laughter.)

(Baby cries.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Oh, it’s not that bad.  Now, come one.  (Laughter.)

Of course, we have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.  Six straight years of job creation — the longest streak ever.  Low unemployment.  Wages are rising again.  Inequality is narrowing.  The housing market is healing.  The stock market has nearly tripled.  Our high school graduation rate is at an all-time high.  And our uninsured rate is at an all-time low, thanks to the 20 million more Americans, including millions of children, who finally know the security of health insurance.  (Applause.)   That’s worth gobbling about.  (Laughter.)

Proud families across the country are finally complete now that marriage equality is the law of the land.  And there are many families of servicemembers who had empty chairs at the table in recent years but who on this Thanksgiving can celebrate with our brave troops and veterans who we’ve welcomed home.

Thanksgiving is also a reminder of the source of our national strength — that out of many, we are one; that we’re bound not by any one race or religion, but rather by an adherence to a common creed, that all of us are created equal.  And while accepting our differences and building a diverse society has never been easy, it has never been more important.  We are a people that look out for one another and get each other’s backs. We keep moving forward, defined by values and ideals that have been a light to all humanity.

We have to see ourselves in each other because we’ve all got families we love, and we all have hopes for their better future. And we lose sight of that sometimes, and Thanksgiving is a good time for us to remember that.  We have a lot more in common than divides us.

The holidays are also a time when it’s even more important to reach out to those who need a helping hand.  I believe we’re judged by how we care for the poor and the vulnerable, the sick and the elderly, the immigrant, the refugee, everybody who’s trying to get a second chance.  I believe that in order to truly live up to those ideals we have to continually fight discrimination in all its forms and always show the world that America is a generous and giving country.

We should also make sure everyone has something to eat on Thanksgiving — of course, except the turkeys, because they’re already stuffed.  (Laughter.)

AUDIENCE:  Ooooh —

THE PRESIDENT:  (Laughter.)  So, later today, the Obama family will participate in our traditional Thanksgiving service project.  And when somebody at your table tells you that you’ve been hogging all the side dishes and you can’t have any more, I hope you respond with a creed that sums up the spirit of a hungry people:  Yes, We Cran.  (Laughter.)  That was good.  (Laughter.) You don’t think that’s funny?  Look, I know there are some bad ones in here, but this is the last time I’m doing this, so we’re not leaving any room for leftovers.  (Laughter.)

Let me just say — how am I doing?  Good?  Thumbs up?

Let me just say one last thing before I spare these turkeys’ lives.  On this Thanksgiving, I want to express my sincere gratitude to the American people for the trust that you’ve placed in me over these last eight years and the incredible kindness that you’ve shown my family.  On behalf of Michelle, and my mother-in-law, and our girls, we want to thank you so very, very much.

And now, from the Rose Garden, Tater and Tot will go to their new home at Virginia Tech — which is admittedly a bit Hokie.  (Laughter.)  They’ll get to live out their natural lives at a new facility called Gobblers Rest, where students and veterinarians will care for them.  And so let’s get on with the pardoning because it’s Wednesday afternoon and everyone knows that Thanksgiving traffic can put people in a “fowl” mood.

AUDIENCE:  Ooooh —

THE PRESIDENT:  Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.  Let’s go pardon these turkeys.  (Applause.)

END
2:51 P.M. EST

Full Text Political Transcripts November 14, 2016: First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden at Joining Forces Capstone Reception

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the First Lady and Dr. Jill Biden at Joining Forces Capstone Reception

Source: WH, 11-14-17

East Room

5:17 P.M. EDT

DR. BIDEN:  So good afternoon.  It’s so wonderful to be here with all of you today.  And let me start by thanking Sheila Casey, a true friend and champion for all military families, including mine.  Thank you, Sheila, for your kind words and support over the years.  It’s been a pleasure working with you and your husband, General Casey.

Well, it’s hard to believe that after five years, this is our last Joining Forces event.  I remember the moment eight years ago, backstage in Springfield, Illinois, when Michelle and I decided we wanted to focus on this important issue together.  It was that exciting day when then-Senator Obama announced that my husband Joe would be his running mate.  Michelle turned to me and asked what would I like to work on if we won.  And I told her that I wanted to tackle the issues that our military families were facing, and she said, “Me too!”  (Laughter.)  For me, I couldn’t think of anything more fulfilling than serving those who have sacrificed so much for our country.

One thing we say in the Biden family — and I know you all feel it in your hearts — is that our country has one sacred obligation — to equip those we send to war, and to care for them and their families during deployments and when they return.  (Applause.)

Back in 2008, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were going strong.  Hundreds of thousands of our troops were deployed.  So I called the National Guard and said I wanted to help the families of military families whose loved ones were serving overseas.  They connected me with Delaware Boots on the Ground, which was helping to match the everyday needs of our military — they’re here, that’s why it’s making me so emotional — to match the everyday needs of military families with folks who could provide the service.  If you need a tire changed, Boots was there for you.  If you had a leaky roof, Boots was there.  If you needed diapers or a new crib, Boots was there again.

Delaware Boots on the Ground made such a big difference for military families in Delaware that Governor Ruth Ann Minner declared on July 4th, 2007, Delaware Boots on the Ground Day.  Remember guys?  And after we were elected to the White House, I wanted to keep going.  I wanted to keep doing all the things that I could for military families — not just in Delaware, but all across our nation.  Because, like Michelle, I had been so inspired by the military families, the incredible military families I had met and gotten to know over the years.

That’s why, when we called upon you to help us shine a light on our military families, we wanted to raise awareness of the challenges that they confront and still confront that most Americans never have to face or can even imagine.  Sending loved ones into harm’s way.  Enduring countless separations during training.  Starting over on different bases in different towns again and again.

All of you in this room, from the veterans and military spouses we met eight years ago on the campaign trail to the nonprofits, schools, foundations, businesses, associations, civil servants and Americans of every stripe, have been with us every step of the way since we launched Joining Forces.  You have been our lifeline to our military families.  You’ve helped us better understand the unique challenges that they face.  You’ve been critical in helping us find solutions to better support those amazing families.  You’ve helped us remind folks that we can all make a difference, not just in word on Veterans Day or Memorial Day, but with good deeds and best efforts each and every day of the year, by doing what we do best.

As a lifelong educator and as a military mom, the way we reach out to our military children in our classrooms is especially close to my heart.  That’s why I’ve been so proud to work with organizations like the Military Child Education Coalition.  Together, we launched Operation Educate the Educators to encourage teaching colleges to recognize military children in their curriculum.  To date, more than 100 colleges and universities have signed up to train thousands of future teachers so that they are prepared to identify the challenges military kids face.  (Applause.)

And one of the first groups that Michelle and I partnered with to launch Joining Forces five years ago was the National Math and Science initiative.  Thanks to NMSI’s college readiness program, we’re helping to ensure that students at 200 military-connected schools in 33 states across the country are prepared for the rigors of college and a career.

I’d also like to thank the media, who has helped us share the story of the military family.  And that includes everyone from Elmo and “Sesame Street,” to “Reading Rainbow” with LeVar Burton, who have shined a light on military-connected children, as well as the History Channel, which has lifted up our veterans, servicemembers, and their families.  And I’d especially like to thank CEO of History Channel, Nancy Dubuc, for being here today.

All of you have stepped up for our military and their families in your own unique ways.  That’s what you do.  And that’s why you’re here today.  Because Michelle and I want you to know just how much we appreciate everything that you’ve done and everything that you will continue to do to support those who serve our country.

And we all need to keep doing this work, because our military families will continue to serve and sacrifice.  Our men and women in uniform will continue to deploy.  Their spouses and children will continue to move from base to base, and eventually they will transition to civilian life.  That’s why this work matters.  And we have to show them that we have their backs.

You know, I believe we couldn’t have asked for a better champion for our military families than Michelle Obama.  (Applause.)  I know you all feel this.  She is a woman like no other.  (Applause.)  Whip smart.  Passionate.  Loyal.  For our nation, she’s been a true role model, especially for young girls.  She’s raised two amazing girls on her — of her own whose potential has no bounds.  And she’s shown the same warmth and care for her girls that she has with our grandchildren.

And from day one, Michelle was determined to make a real and lasting difference in the lives of our military and their families — measurable action, not just words.  She has had the courage to take on veteran homelessness, making the seemingly impossible possible.  (Applause.)  Naturally, freely, warmly she brings joy and hope often simply through a hug to the deployed caregivers and wounded warriors.

As a military mom, I am grateful for her service.  I love her.  We’re family.  Our First Lady, Michelle Obama.  (Applause.)

MRS. OBAMA:  Oh, my goodness.  (Laughter.)  This wasn’t supposed to be tearful.  (Laughter.)  Oh, wow, look at you all.  What an evening, what a day.

First of all, let me thank —

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  I love you!

MRS. OBAMA:  We love you all.  We love you all more than you can know.  (Applause.)  This community has kept us going through a lot.  So let me just start by, of course, recognizing my partner in crime, Jill Biden, for that introduction.  Oh, my goodness.  (Applause.)  Jill has been, by far, the best partner I could have ever imagined, not just for the work on Joining Forces, but our families have joined forces in so many ways.  I’m just grateful to have her by my side.  She’s been a devoted advocate for our military community long before she ever came to the White House.  This is her cause, as you can hear from her words.  This is her mission.  And her passion has really been at the heart and soul of Joining Forces from the beginning.

But Jill is much more than a partner.  She is one of my dearest friends.  And, as Jill said, we’re family.  This is my girl right here.  (Applause.)  We have laughed together.  We have been silly together.  We have cried a lot.  (Laughter.)   We’ve been there for each other as much as we can throughout this amazing journey.  And Jill is not just brilliant, but she is kind.  She is very funny.  And she is one of the strongest people I know.  I love and admire her with all my heart.  So thank you, Jill.  (Applause.)

And of course, thanks to all of you — my goodness — folks from every sector of our society who’ve come together through Joining Forces — CEOs and government officials, medical professionals and educators.  And most of all, our extraordinary servicemembers, our amazing veterans, oh, and our military families.  (Applause.)

Just looking out over this room, so many of you have been with us right from the very beginning, way back in those early days when Jill and I were just starting to figure out what Joining Forces would look like.  And back then, we’d get together with military spouses, and Blue and Gold Star families.  We’d talk to veterans, and of course we talked to troops.  And we’d ask the simple questions:  How are things going?  Do you have the support that you need?  What can we do to help?

And, as Jill said, we continue to be blown away by your honesty and your courage, your sacrifice, your service, moving your families across the country, across the globe every few years, enduring deployment after deployment, struggling to maintain your careers and care for your family — I could go on and on.  You keep us from complaining about anything.  And I know that some of you were probably a little skeptical of us at first.  Some may have wondered, how are these two with almost no budget going to make a difference?  (Laughter.)  And rightfully so, wondering would this just be another PR campaign?  Because you had seen plenty of tributes and parades and memorials, all of which are very important, but nowhere near enough.

As I said earlier today, talk simply is not enough.  So Jill and I knew it was time to act, and that’s why we decided that the only measure of our success would be whether you all could see and feel a concrete difference in your lives.  That was the only thing we cared about.

So in 2011, we issued a call to all Americans to step up and serve our military community as well as you all have served this country -– not just with kind words, but with real resources, with real support.  And as we told you, people answered that call time and again.  And that’s what you should know about this country.  Just when you wonder whether we’re crazy — (laughter) — we’re not.  We’re good people, all over the place.  Know that about this country.  (Applause.)  We are made up of good people.

Folks from every industry, every corner of this country, they raised their hand every time and they said, yeah, I can help.  And just think for a minute about everything we’ve achieved together.  I mean, you heard it in that beautiful video.  In just five and a half years — let’s just stop there — five and a half years, our businesses and companies have hired or trained more than 1.5 million veterans and military spouses, and the unemployment rate for our veterans has been cut in half.  (Applause.)  That’s because of you.  (Applause.)

Governors and legislatures in 50 states, all 50 states, took action to help military spouses transfer their licenses and continue their careers as they move from state to state — simple ask.  I think there were only two when we first started.  And we were like, hey, can we get this done?  Folks were like, yeah!

We provided new training and tools for thousands of healthcare providers.  New networks and support for our caregivers.  New resources and educational opportunities for our amazing military kids who, by the way, really blow us away.  Those kids are some of the most amazing, poised — (applause) — those are our next leaders.  So another thing to know about this country, we’re in good hands, because our young people — we’ve got some good young people.  We do.  (Applause.)

And working with mayors and local officials, as we celebrated earlier today, we have ended veteran homelessness in cities and states across this country, housing 354,000 homeless veterans and their families.  (Applause.)  We did that.  We did that.  Through wonderful VA programs, we’ve worked to cut veterans’ homelessness nearly in half.  And we did that in just a couple of years.

That’s just some of what Joining Forces has been able to accomplish, and it’s because of you.  Jill and I, we just ask, and then we wait for the press conference.  We come in and we go, look what we did!  (Laughter.)  But we are so incredibly proud of you.  You want the country to see this.  This is America.  And Jill and I, we are so grateful for everything you all have done.
But what we do not feel is satisfied, because —

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  That’s right!

MRS. OBAMA:  That’s my hype man back there.  (Laughter.)  Because for everything we’ve accomplished, we also know that every day, people across America thankfully are signing up to put on our country’s uniform, and so many others hang it up for good and join the ranks of our veterans.

So our work is nowhere near finished.  And it never will be.  So my main message to all of you today is let’s just keep this going.  Let’s keep it going.  (Applause.)  Plain and simple.  (Applause.)  We don’t get all of this done in such a short period of time and just not keep pushing.

And to our servicemembers, our veterans, and to our military families, I urge you to never settle for anything less.  This effort, it hasn’t been perfect.  We haven’t achieved every goal.  We haven’t righted every wrong.  But believe me, from now on, this should be the baseline.  This should be the minimum level of support our military should feel from their White House all the way down to every community in this country.  (Applause.)  They should feel it from the President and the Vice President, from the First and Second spouses on down to the VA, to VSOs, to schools, to hospitals, to congregations, to citizens.  That’s true regardless of who is in charge or what party they belong to.

Because this issue has nothing to do with whether you are a Democrat, a Republican or an independent.  It is so much bigger than that.  It’s about supporting our American heroes.  (Applause.)  And it’s about standing up for who we are as a nation.  And that’s something we can all agree on.  There should never ever be any daylight between any of us when it comes to that.

So you all need to work with the next administration to continue these efforts.  Whatever it is that you’re working on, I want you to find new partners in the next administration.  I want you to work with them just like you worked with us on the issues that matter most to our military community.  And I want you all to know that while today might be our last time together here as First Lady — and I hate to say Second Lady, because there’s nothing second about Jill — (laughter and applause) — but we are not saying goodbye.  This is not the end.

Jill and I intend to keep working on this issue for the rest of our lives.  (Applause.)  We will figure out a way to use whatever platforms we have next.  And with your help, we know that the spirit of this movement will live on.  We will continue to find ways to be supportive long after we leave the White House.

This movement will live on.  It will live on in every military spouse who steps up and says, I’m tough, but even I can’t do this alone, and every Governor who responds, you don’t have to.  It will live on in every veteran looking to bring their skills and their training to our workforce, and every CEO who gives them that chance.  It will live on in every servicemember who knows their spouse is being supported during their deployment, and every teacher who goes that extra mile to make sure their kids feel welcome in a new school.

This effort is going to live on because it belongs to each of us and to every American who joins forces to support America’s heroes.  So instead of saying goodbye, I want to end as I started — by once again saying thank you.  (Applause.)  This has been one of the greatest pleasures of my life, getting to know this community.  We are grateful.  We are grateful.  And we have so much to feel grateful for in this country.  Let us never forget that.

Let’s get to work.  Thank you all.  God bless.  (Applause.)

END
5:48 P.M. EST

Full Text Political Transcripts October 31, 2016: President Barack Obama’s Remarks at Halloween Event

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President at Halloween Event

Source: WH, 10-31-17

East Room

4:36 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Happy Halloween, everybody! (Applause.) Trick or treat. Well, it is great to see all of you guys. Your costumes are outstanding. Young man, no selfies in the middle of me talking. (Laughter.) And, Darth Vader, back up a little bit. I’m getting spooked. (Laughter.)

So we just want to say to all the families, all the kids, it is great to see you guys and we hope you have a great time today. You guys all look scary, or cool, or whatever you’re trying to be. (Laughter.) Awesome. Many of you look awesome. And we hope you have a great time. We hope, parents, that on this day at least, you don’t have to pay attention to Michelle and healthy eating. (Laughter.)

MRS. OBAMA: Candy for everybody. (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: And in fact, the more candy, the later you eat the candy, the better. (Laughter.) Because I think that you being up all night with a sugar rush is exactly what your parents are looking for. (Laughter.)

All right. So we hope you guys have a great time. And to the staff who are here, thank you, guys. I’m glad you guys took a little break from all the outstanding work. (Applause.)

And now, my understanding is, is that we’ve been working on a little dance. We don’t know how it’s going to go, but we think we should all just try it anyway. What do you think?

AUDIENCE: Yes!

THE PRESIDENT: Yes — don’t you think? All right. So who’s got the music? Let’s cue it up. Everybody get ready. (Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” is played.)

END
4:37 P.M. EDT

Politics August 7, 2016: Obama celebrates 55th birthday at star-studded bash

HEADLINE NEWS

Headline_News

POLITICS

Obama celebrates 55th birthday at star-studded bash

By Bonnie K. Goodman

President Barack Obama commenced his annual vacation in Martha’s Vineyard after partying the evening before on Aug. 5, 2016, at his 55th birthday bash. The star-studded party held at the White House included a bevy of celebrities and politicians deemed Obama’s closest friends.

On Friday evening, Obama celebrated his milestone and last birthday as president at a party paid for by the Obamas at the White House. Although the official guest list has not been made public, the news media has been able to piece together some of the attendees from social media post from party guests.

Among the celebrities in attendance were “Alfre Woodard, movie executive Harvey Weinstein and former basketball star Grant Hill,” “Ellen DeGeneres, Sarah Jessica Parker and husband actor Matthew Broderick, “Star Wars” producer George Lucas” and basketball star Magic Johnson and wife Cookie. Usher and Stevie Wonder provided the evening’s entertainment. It is believed that singer and rappers Beyoncé, Jay Z, and Kendrick Lamar also attended.

The party also included political friends “Interim Chair of the Democratic National Committee Donna Brazile, former Obama senior advisor David Axelrod and Reverend Al Sharpton. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who was Obama’s former chief of staff and National Security Adviser Susan Rice. Some news media personalities attended including, “Good Morning America” anchor Robin Roberts and ABC News correspondent Deborah Roberts and husband Al Roker.

A White House official said, “The guest list includes a large number of family members and friends to mark the occasion. The private event will be paid for with the family’s personal funds.” While a party attendee described it as “A real birthday bash with lots of old friends, cabinet officials, members of Congress, celebrities.” The party lasted past midnight.

Obama turned 55 on Thursday, Aug. 4. The president celebrated Thursday evening with his wife and children at a smaller intimidate dinner at the White House. The last time the Obamas celebrated with a big bash was Michelle’s 50th birthday party in January 2014. Michelle also gave a birthday shout out to her husband on Instagram writing, “55 years young and that smile still gets me every single day. Happy birthday, Barack. I love you. -mo”

Full Text Political Transcripts May 16, 2016: President barack Obama’s Remarks at Presentation of the Medal of Valor

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President at Presentation of the Medal of Valor

Source: WH, 5-16-16

East Room

11:30 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  And good morning.  Welcome to the White House.  Thank you, Attorney General Lynch, for your words and your leadership.  We’ve got a couple members of Congress here — Frederica Wilson and Chris Collins we want to acknowledge.  And I also want to recognize Director Comey, members of the Fraternal Order of Police, and all the outstanding law enforcement officials who are here from around the country.  I’m proud to stand with you as we celebrate Police Week.  And most of all, I’m proud to be with the heroes on the front row, and with the families who have supported them — and the family of one who made the ultimate sacrifice.

It’s been said that perfect valor is doing without witnesses what you would do if the whole world were watching.  The public safety officers we recognize today with the Medal of Valor found courage not in search of recognition, they did it instinctively. This is an award that none of them sought.  And if they could go back in time, I suspect they’d prefer none of this had happened.

As one of today’s honorees said about his actions, “I could have very well gone my whole career and not dealt with this situation and been very happy with that.”  If they had their way, none of them would have to be here, and so we’re grateful that they are and our entire nation expresses its profound gratitude. More important, we’re so grateful that they were there — some on duty, others off duty, all rising above and beyond the call of duty.  All saving the lives of people they didn’t know.

That distinction — that these 13 officers of valor saved the lives of strangers — is the first of several qualities that they share.  But their bravery, if it had not been for their bravery, we likely would have lost a lot of people — mothers,  fathers, sons, daughters, friends and loved ones.  Thankfully, they are still with their families today because these officers were where they needed to be most, at a critical time:  At a gas station during a routine patrol.  In the middle of a busy hospital.  In a grocery store.  On the campus of a community college.  Near an elementary school where a sheriff’s deputy’s own children were students and his wife taught.  In all of these places, in each of these moments, these officers were true to their oaths.

To a person, each of these honorees acted without regard for their own safety.  They stood up to dangerous individuals brandishing assault rifles, handguns, and knives.  One officer sustained multiple stab wounds while fighting off an assailant.  Another endured first-degree burns to his arms and face while pulling an unconscious driver from a burning car on a freeway.

Each of them will tell you, very humbly, the same thing — they were just doing their jobs.  They were doing what they had to do, what they were trained to do, like on any other day.  The officer who suffered those terrible burns — he left urgent care and went straight to work.  He had to finish his shift.  That sense of duty and purpose is what these Americans embody.

The truth is, it’s because of your courage, sometimes seen, but sometimes unseen, that the rest of us can go about living our lives like it’s any other day.  Going to work, going to school, spending time with our families, getting home safely.  We so appreciate our public safety officers around the country, from our rookie cadets to our role model of an Attorney General.  Not everyone will wear the medal that we give today, but every day, so many of our public safety officers wear a badge of honor.

The men and women who run toward danger remind us with your courage and humility what the highest form of citizenship looks like.  When you see students and commuters and shoppers at risk, you don’t see these civilians as strangers.  You see them as part of your own family, your own community.  The Scripture teaches us, you love your neighbor as yourself.  And you put others’ safety before your own.  In your proud example of public service, you remind us that loving our country means loving one another.

Today, we also want to acknowledge the profound sacrifices made by your families.  And I had the chance to meet some of them and they were all clearly so proud of you, but we’re very proud of them.  We know that you wait up late, and you’re worried and you’re counting down the minutes until your loved one walks through the door, safe, after a long shift.  We know it never gets easier, and we thank you for that.  And of course, we honor those who didn’t come home, including one hero we honor posthumously today — Sergeant Robert Wilson III.

He gave his life when two men opened fire at a video game store where Sergeant Wilson was buying a son a birthday present. To his family who’s here — his grandmother, Constance, his brother and sister — please know how deeply sorry we are for your loss, how grateful we are for Sergeant Wilson’s service.

We also honor the more than 35 who’ve given their lives in the line of duty so far this year.  One of them, an officer in Virginia named Ashley Marie Guindon, was taken from us on her very first shift.

I’ve seen this sacrifice when I’ve joined some of you at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial not far from here.  We read the names carved on these walls, and we grieve with the families who carry the fallen in their hearts forever.  We’ve been moved, deeply, by their anguish — but also by their pride in the lives their loved ones lived.  And in those moments, we’re reminded of our enduring obligation as citizens — that they sacrificed so much for — that we do right by them and their families.

And medals and ceremonies like today are important, but these aren’t enough to convey the true depth of our gratitude.  Our words will be hollow if they’re not matched by deeds.  So our nation has a responsibility to support those who serve and protect us and keep our streets safe.  We can show our respect by listening to you, learning from you, giving you the resources that you need to do the jobs.  That’s the mission of our police task force, which brought together local law enforcement, civil rights and faith leaders, and community members to open dialogue and build trust and find concrete solutions that make your jobs safer.  Our country needs that right now.

We’re going to keep pushing Congress to move forward [in] a bipartisan way to make our criminal justice system fairer and smarter and more cost-effective, and enhance public safety and ensure the men and women in this room have the ability to enforce the law and keep their communities safe.

A few minutes ago, I signed into law a package of bills to protect and honor our law enforcement officers, including one that will help state and local departments buy more bulletproof vests.

Emerson once said, “there is always safety in valor.”  The public safety officers we honor today give those words new meaning, for it’s your courage and quick thinking that gave us our safety.

So we want to thank you for your service.  We want to thank your families for your sacrifice.  I had a chance before I came out here to meet with the recipients, and I told them that, although this particular moment for which you are being honored is remarkable, we also know that every day you go out there you’ve got a tough job.  And we could not be prouder of not only moments like the ones we recognize here today, but just the day-to-day grind — you’re doing your jobs professionally; you’re doing your jobs with character.  We want you to know we could not be prouder of you, and we couldn’t be prouder of your families for all the contributions that you make.

So may God bless you and your families.  May God bless our fallen heroes.  <ay God bless the United States of America.

And it’s now my honor to award these medals as the citations are read.

MILITARY AIDE:  Officer Mario Gutierrez.  Medal of Valor presented to Officer Mario Gutierrez, Miami-Dade Police Department, Florida, for bravery and composure while enduring a violent attack.  Officer Gutierrez sustained multiple stab wounds while subduing a knife-wielding assailant who attempted to set off a massive gas explosion that could have resulted in multiple fatalities.

(The medal is awarded.)  (Applause.)

MILITARY AIDE:  Patrolman Lewis Cioci.  Medal of Valor presented to Patrolmen Lewis Ciochi, Johnson City Police Department, New York, for courageously resolving a volatile encounter with a gunman.  After witnessing the murder of his fellow officer, Patrolman Cioci pursued and apprehended the gunman at a crowded hospital, thereby saving the lives of employees, patients, and visitors.

(The medal is awarded.)  (Applause.)

MILITARY AIDE:  Officer Jason Salas, Officer Robert Sparks, and Captain Raymond Bottenfield.  Medal of Valor presented to Officer Jason Salas, Officer Robert Sparks, and Captain Raymond Bottenfield, Santa Monica Police Department, California, for courage and composure in ending a deadly rampage.  Officer Salas, Officer Sparks, and Captain Bottenfield placed themselves in mortal danger to save the lives of students and staff during a school shooting on the busy campus of Santa Monica College.

(The medals are awarded.)  (Applause.)

MILITARY AIDE:  Major David Huff.  Medal of Valor presented to Major David Huff, Midwest City Police Department, Oklahoma, for uncommon poise in resolving a dangerous hostage situation.  Major Huff saved the life of a two-year-old girl after negotiations deteriorated with a man holding the child captive at knifepoint.

(The medal is awarded.)  (Applause.)

MILITARY AIDE:  Officer Donald Thompson.  Medal of Valor presented to Officer Donald Thompson, Los Angeles Police Department, California, for courageous action to save an accident victim.  While off duty, Officer Thompson traversed two freeway dividers and endured first- and second-degree burns while pulling an unconscious man to safety from a car moments before it became engulfed in flames.

(The medal is awarded.)  (Applause.)

MILITARY AIDE:  Officer Coral Walker.  Medal of Valor presented to Officer Coral Walker, Omaha Police Department, Nebraska, for taking brave and decisive action to subdue an active shooter.  After exchanging gunfire, Officer Walker singlehandedly incapacitated a man who had killed an injured multiple victims on a shooting spree.

(The medal is awarded.)  (Applause.)

MILITARY AIDE:  Officer Gregory Stevens.  Medal of Valor presented to Officer Gregory Stevens, Garland Police Department, Texas, for demonstrating extraordinary courage to save lives.  Officer Stevens exchanged gunfire at close range and subdued two heavily armed assailants, preventing a deadly act of terrorism.

(The medal is awarded.)  (Applause.)

MILITARY AIDE:  Mrs. Constance Wilson, accepting on behalf of Sergeant Wilson, III.  Medal of Valor presented to fallen Sergeant Robert Wilson, III, Philadelphia Police Department, Pennsylvania, for giving his life to protect innocent civilians. Sergeant Wilson put himself in harm’s way during an armed robbery, drawing fire from the assailants and suffering a mortal wound as he kept store employees and customers safe.

(The medal is awarded.)  (Applause.)

MILITARY AIDE:  Officer Niel Johnson.  Medal of Valor presented to Officer Niel Johnson, North Miami Police Department, Florida, for swift and valorous action to end a violent crime spree.  Officer Johnson pursued a man who had shot a Miami police officer and two other innocent bystanders, withstanding fire from an assault weapon and apprehended the assailant.

(The medal is awarded.)  (Applause.)

MILITARY AIDE:  Special Agent Tyler Call.  Medal of Valor presented to Special Agent Tyler Call, Federal Bureau of Investigation, for his heroic actions to save a hostage.  Special Agent Cull, who was off duty with his family, helped rescue a woman from her ex-husband, who had violated a restraining order and held the victim at gunpoint.

(The medal is awarded.)  (Applause.)

MILITARY AIDE:  Deputy Joey Tortorella.  Medal of Valor presented to Deputy Joey Tortorella, Niagara County, Sheriff’s Office, New York, for placing himself in grave danger to protect his community.  Deputy Tortorella confronted and subdued a violent gunman who had shot and wounded his parents inside their home, and by doing so, prevented the gunmen from threatening the safety of students at a nearby elementary school.

(The medal is awarded.)  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Let’s give one last big round of applause to the recipients of the Medal of Valor.  (Applause.)

Thank you all.  Thank you for your dedication.  Thanks for your service.  You are continuously in our thoughts and prayers, and we are continuously giving thanks for all that you and your families do.

Thank you, everybody.  (Applause.)

END
11:57 A.M. EDT

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