Full Text Political Transcripts June 8, 2017: President Donald Trump’s lawyer Marc Kasowitz’s statement on James Comey Senate hearing

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

President Donald Trump’s lawyer’s statement on Comey Senate hearing

Source: CNN, 6-8-17

I am Marc Kasowitz, President Trump’s personal lawyer.

Contrary to numerous false press accounts leading up to today’s hearing, Mr. Comey has now finally confirmed publicly what he repeatedly told the President privately: The President was not under investigation as part of any probe into Russian interference. He also admitted that there is no evidence that a single vote changed as a result of any Russian interference.
Mr Comey’s testimony also makes clear that the President never sought to impede the investigation into attempted Russian interference in the 2016 election, and in fact, according to Mr. Comey, the President told Mr. Comey “it would be good to find out” in that investigation if there were “some ‘satellite’ associates of his who did something wrong.” And he did not exclude anyone from that statement.
Consistent with that statement, the President never, in form or substance, directed or suggested that Mr. Comey stop investigating anyone, including suggesting that that Mr. Comey”let Flynn go.” As he publicly stated the next day, he did say to Mr. Comey, “General Flynn is a good guy, he has been through a lot” and also “asked how is General Flynn is doing.” Admiral Rogers testified that the President never “directed [him] to do anything . . . illegal, immoral, unethical or inappropriate” and never “pressured [him] to do so.” Director Coates said the same thing. The President likewise never pressured Mr. Comey. .
The President also never told Mr. Comey, “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty” in form or substance. Of course, the Office of the President is entitled to expect loyalty from those who are serving in an administration, and, from before this President took office to this day, it is overwhelmingly clear that there have been and continue to be those in government who are actively attempting to undermine this administration with selective and illegal leaks of classified information and privileged communications. Mr. Comey has now admitted that he is one of these leakers.
Today, Mr. Comey admitted that he unilaterally and surreptitiously made unauthorized disclosures to the press of privileged communications with the President. The leaks of this privileged information began no later than March 2017 when friends of Mr. Comey have stated he disclosed to them the conversations he had with the President during their January 27, 2017 dinner and February 14, 2017 White House meeting. Today, Mr. Comey admitted that he leaked to friends his purported memos of these privileged conversations, one of which he testified was classified. He also testified that immediately after he was terminated he authorized his friends to leak the contents of these memos to the press in order to “prompt the appointment of a special counsel.” Although Mr. Comey testified he only leaked the memos in response to a tweet, the public record reveals that the New York Times was quoting from these memos the day before the referenced tweet, which belies Mr. Comey’s excuse for this unauthorized disclosure of privileged information and appears to entirely retaliatory. We will leave it the appropriate authorities to determine whether this leaks should be investigated along with all those others being investigated. .
​ In sum, it is now established that there the President was not being investigated for colluding with the or attempting to obstruct that investigation. As the Committee pointed out today, these important facts for the country to know are virtually the only facts that have not leaked during the long course of these events. As he said yesterday, the President feels completely vindicated and is eager to continue moving forward with his agenda with this public cloud removed. Thank you.

Full Text Political Transcripts June 8, 2017: James Comey testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on Trump and Russia

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Full text: James Comey testimony transcript on Trump and Russia

Source: Politico, 6-8-17

A transcript of former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee on June 8.

SEN. RICHARD BURR: I call this hearing to order. Director Comey, I appreciate your willingness to appear before the committee today, and more importantly I thank you for your dedicated service and leadership to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Your appearance today speaks to the trust we have built over the years and I’m looking forward to a very open and candid discussion today. I’d like to remind my colleagues that we will reconvene in closed session at 1:00 P.M. today, and I ask that you reserve for that venue any questions that might get into classified information. The director has been very gracious with his time, the vice chairman and I worked out a very specific timeline for his commitment to be on the hill, so we will do everything we can to meet that agreement.

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence exists to certify for the other 85 members of the United States Senate and the American people that the intelligence community is operating lawfully, and has the necessary authorities and tools to accomplish its mission, and keep America safe. Part of our mission, beyond the oversight we continue to provide to the intelligence community and its activities, is to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections. The committee’s work continues. This hearing represents part of that effort. Jim, allegations have been swirling in the press for the last several weeks and today is your opportunity to set the record straight. Yesterday, I read with interest your statement for the record, and I think it provides some helpful details surrounding your interactions with the president. It clearly lays out your understanding of those discussions, actions you took following each conversation and your state of mind.

I very much appreciate your candor, and I think it provides helpful details surrounding your interactions with the president. It clearly lays out your understanding of those discussions, actions you took following each conversation and your state of mind.

I very much appreciate your candor, and I think it’s helpful as we work through to determine the ultimate truth behind possible Russian interference in the 2016 elections. Your statement also provides texture and context to your interactions with the president, from your vantage point, and outlines a strained relationship. The American people need to hear your side of the story, just as they need to hear the president’s descriptions of events. These interactions also highlight the importance of the committee’s ongoing investigation. Our experienced staff is interviewing all relevant parties and some of the most sensitive intelligence in our country’s possession. We will establish the facts separate from rampant speculation and lay them out for the American people to make their own judgment.

Only then will we as a nation be able to move forward and to put this episode to rest. There are several outstanding issues not addressed in your statement that I hope you’ll clear up for the American people today. Did the president’s request for loyalty, your impression, let the one-on-one dinner of January 27th was and I quote “at least in part” an effort to create some patronage relationship and March 30th phone call asking what you could do to lift the cloud of Russia investigation in any way alter your approach of the FBI’s investigation into general Flynn or the broader investigation into Russia, and possible links to the campaign? In your opinion did potential Russian efforts to establish a link with individuals in the Trump orbit rise to the level we could define as collusion or was it a counter-intelligence concern? There’s been a significant public speculation about your decision-making related to the Clinton email investigation. Why did you decide publicly, to publicly announce, FBI’s recommendations that the Department of Justice not pursue criminal charges? You have described it as a choice between a bad decision and a worse decision. The American people need to understand the facts behind your action. This committee is uniquely suited to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections. We also have a unified bipartisan approach to what is a highly charged partisan issue. Russian activities during 2016 election may have been aimed at one party’s candidate, but as my colleague senator Rubio says frequently, in 2018 and 2020, it could be aimed at anyone, at home or abroad.

My colleague, Senator Warner and I, have worked to stay in lock step on this investigation. We’ve had our differences on approach, at times, but I’ve constantly stressed that we need to be a team, and I think Senator Warner agrees with me. We must keep these questions above politics and partisanship. It’s too important to be tainted by anyone trying to score political points. With that, again, I welcome you director, and I turn to the vice chairman for any comments he might have.

SEN. MARK WARNER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman and let me start by again absolutely thanking all the members of the committee for the seriousness in which they’ve taken on this task. Mr. Comey, thank you for agreeing to come testify as part of this committee’s investigation into Russia. I realize this hearing has been obviously the focus of a lot of Washington, in the last few days. But the truth is, many Americans who may be tuning in today probably haven’t focused on every twist and turn of the investigation. So I’d like to briefly describe, at least from this senator’s standpoint, what we already know, and what we’re still investigating. To be clear, this investigation is not about relitigating the election. It’s not about who won or lost. And it sure as heck is not about Democrats versus Republicans. We are here because a foreign adversary attacked us right here at home, plain and simple. Not by guns or missiles, but by foreign operatives seeking to hijack our most important democratic process, our presidential election. Russian spies engaged in a series of online cyber raids, and a broad campaign of disinformation, all ultimately aimed at sowing chaos to undermine public faith in our process, in our leadership, and ultimately in ourselves.

And that’s not just this senator’s opinion. It is the unanimous determination of the entire U.S. intelligence community. So we must find out the full story, what the Russians did, and candidly as some other colleagues mentioned, why they were so successful, and more importantly we must determine the necessary steps to take to protect our democracy and ensure they can’t do it again. The chairman mentioned elections in 2018 and 2020, in my home state of Virginia, we have elections this year in 2017. Simply put, we cannot let anything or anyone prevent us from getting to the bottom of this. Now Mr. Comey, let me say at the outset, we haven’t always agreed on every issue. In fact I’ve occasionally questioned some of the actions you’ve taken, but I’ve never had any reason to question your integrity, your expertise, or your intelligence. You’ve been a straight shooter with this committee and have been willing to speak truth to power, even at the risk of your own career, which makes the way in which you were fired by the president ultimately shocking. Recall we began this entire process with the president and his staff first denying that the Russians were ever involved and then falsely claiming that no one from his team was ever in touch with any Russians. We know that’s just not the truth. Numerous Trump associates had undisclosed contacts with Russians before and after the election, including the president’s attorney general, his former national security adviser and his current senior adviser, Mr. Kushner. That doesn’t even begin to count the host of additional campaign associates and advisers who have also been caught up in this massive web.

We saw Mr. Trump’s campaign manager, Mr. Manafort, forced to step down over ties to Russian back entities. The national security adviser, General Flynn, had to resign over his lies about engagements with the Russians, and we saw the candidate himself express an odd and unexplained affection for the Russian dictator while calling for the hacking of his opponent. There’s a lot to investigate. Enough, in fact, that director Comey publicly acknowledged that he was leading an investigation into those links between Mr. Trump’s campaign and the Russian government. As the director of the FBI, Mr. Comey was ultimately responsible for conducting that investigation, which might explain why you’re sitting now as a private citizen. What we do know was at the same time that this investigation was proceeding, the president himself appears to have been engaged in an effort to influence or at least co-opt the director of the FBI. The testimony Mr. Comey submitted for today’s hearing is very disturbing. For example, on January 27th, after summoning Director Comey to dinner, the president appears to have threatened director’s job while telling him “I need loyalty. I expect loyalty.” At a later meeting, on February 14th, the president asked the attorney general to leave the Oval Office, so that he could privately ask Director Comey again “To see way clear to letting Flynn go.” That is a statement that Director Comey interpreted as a request that he drop the investigation connected to general Flynn’s false statements.

Think about it. The president of the United States asking the FBI Director to drop an ongoing investigation. And after that, the president called the FBI Director on two additional occasions, March 30th and April 11th and asked him again “To lift the cloud on the Russian investigation.” Now, Director Comey denied each of these improper requests. The loyalty pledge, the admonition to drop the Flynn investigation, the request to lift the cloud on the Russian investigation. Of course, after his refusals, Director Comey was fired. The initial explanation for the firing didn’t pass any smell test. So now Director Comey was fired because he didn’t treat Hillary Clinton appropriately.

Of course that explanation lasted about a day, because the president himself then made very clear that he was thinking about Russia when he decided to fire Director Comey. Shockingly, reports suggest that the president admitted as much in an Oval Office meeting with the Russians the day after director Comey was fired. Disparaging our country’s top law enforcement official as a “nutjob,” the president allegedly suggested that his firing relieved great pressure on his feelings about Russia. This is not happening in isolation. At the same time, the president was engaged in these efforts with Director Comey, he was also at least allegedly asking senior leaders of the intelligence community to downplay the Russia investigation or to intervene with the director. Yesterday we had DNI Director Coats and NSA Director Admiral Rogers, who were offered a number of opportunities to flatly deny those press reports. They expressed their opinions, but they did not take that opportunity to deny those reports. They did not take advantage of that opportunity. My belief, that’s not how the President of the United States should behave. Regardless of the outcome of our investigation into the Russia links, Director Comey’s firing and his testimony raise separate and troubling questions that we must get to the bottom of. Again, as I said at the outset, I’ve seen firsthand how seriously every member of this committee is taking his work. I’m proud of the committee’s efforts so far. Let me be clear. This is not a witch hunt. This is not fake news. It is an effort to protect our I can from a new threat that quite honestly will not go away any time soon.

So Mr. Comey, your testimony here today will help us move towards that goal. I look forward to that testimony. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

BURR: Thank you, vice chairman. Director has discussed when you agreed to appear before the committee it would be under oath. I’d ask you to please stand. Raise your right hand.

Do you solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you god?

FORMER FBI DIRECTOR JAMES COMEY: I do.

BURR: Please be seated. Director Comey you’re now under oath. And I would just note to members, you will be recognized by seniority for a period up to seven minutes, and again, it is the intent to move to a closed session no later than 1:00 P.M. With that director Comey, you are recognized, you have the floor for as long as you might need.

COMEY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, ranking member Warner, members of the committee, thank you for inviting me here to testify today. I’ve submitted my statement for the record, and I’m not going to repeat it here this morning. I thought I would just offer some very brief introductory remarks and I would welcome your questions. When I was appointed FBI Director in 2013, I understood that I served at the pleasure of the president. Even though I was appointed to a 10-year term, which Congress created in order to underscore the importance of the FBI being outside of politics and independent, I understood that I could be fired by a president for any reason or for no reason at all. And on May the ninth, when I learned that I had been fired, for that reason I immediately came home as a private citizen. But then the explanations, the shifting explanations, confused me and increasingly concerned me. They confused me because the president and I had had multiple conversations about my job, both before and after he took office, and he had repeatedly told me I was doing a great job, and he hoped I would stay. And I had repeatedly assured him that I did intend to stay and serve out the years of my term. He told me repeatedly that he had talked to lots of people about me, including our current Attorney General, and had learned that I was doing a great job, and that I was extremely well-liked by the FBI workforce.

So it confused me when I saw on television the president saying that he actually fired me because of the Russia investigation, and learned again from the media that he was telling privately other parties that my firing had relieved great pressure on the Russian investigation. I was also confused by the initial explanation that was offered publicly that I was fired because of the decisions I had made during the election year. That didn’t make sense to me for a whole bunch of reasons, including the time and all the water that had gone under the bridge since those hard decisions that had to be made. That didn’t make any sense to me. And although the law required no reason at all to fire an FBI director, the administration then chose to defame me and more importantly the FBI by saying that the organization was in disarray, that it was poorly led, that the workforce had lost confidence in its leader. Those were lies, plain and simple. And I am so sorry that the FBI workforce had to hear them, and I’m so sorry that the American people were told them.

I worked every day at the FBI to help make that great organization better, and I say help, because I did nothing alone at the FBI. There no indispensable people at the FBI. The organization’s great strength is that its values and abilities run deep and wide. The FBI will be fine without me. The FBI’s mission will be relentlessly pursued by its people, and that mission is to protect the American people and uphold the constitution of the United States. I will deeply miss being part of that mission, but this organization and its mission will go on long beyond me and long beyond any particular administration. I have a message before I close for my former colleagues of the FBI but first I want the American people to know this truth. The FBI is honest. The FBI is strong. And the FBI is and always will be independent. And now to my former colleagues, if I may. I am so sorry that I didn’t get the chance to say goodbye to you properly. It was the nor of my life to serve beside you, to be part of the FBI family, and I will miss it for the rest of my life. Thank you for standing watch. Thank you for doing so much good for this country. Do that good as long as ever you can. And senators, I look forward to your questions.

BURR: Director, thank you for that testimony, both oral and the written testimony that you provided to the committee yesterday and made public to the American people. The chair would recognize himself first for 12 minutes, vice chair for 12 minutes, based upon the agreement we have. Director, did the special counsel’s office review and/or edit your written testimony?

COMEY: No.

BURR: Do you have any doubt that Russia attempted to interfere in the 2016 elections?

COMEY: None.

BURR: Do you have any doubt that the Russian government was behind the intrusions in the D triple C systems and the subsequent leaks of that information?

COMEY: No, no doubt.

BURR: Do you have any doubt the Russian government was behind the cyber intrusion in the state voter files?

COMEY: No.

BURR: Are you confident that no votes cast in the 2016 presidential election were altered?

COMEY: I’m confident. When I left as director I had seen no indication of that whatsoever.

BURR: Director Comey, did the president at any time ask you to stop the FBI investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 U.S. Elections?

COMEY: Not to my understanding, no.

BURR: Did any individual working for this administration, including the justice department, ask you to stop the Russian investigation?

COMEY: No.

BURR: Director, when the president requested that you, and I quote “Let Flynn go,” General Flynn had an unreported contact with the Russians, which is an offense, and if press accounts are right, there might have been discrepancies between facts and his FBI testimony. In your estimation, was general Flynn at that time in serious legal jeopardy, and in addition to that, do you sense that the president was trying to obstruct justice or just seek for a way for Mike Flynn to save face, given that he had already been fired?

COMEY: General Flynn at that point in time was in legal jeopardy. There was an open FBI criminal investigation of his statements in connection with the Russian contacts, and the contacts themselves, and so that was my assessment at the time. I don’t think it’s for me to say whether the conversation I had with the president was an effort to obstruct. I took it as a very disturbing thing, very concerning, but that’s a conclusion I’m sure the special counsel will work towards to try and understand what the intention was there, and whether that’s an offense.

BURR: Director, is it possible that, as part of this FBI investigation, the FBI could find evidence of criminality that is not tied to the 2016 elections, possible collusion, or coordination with Russians?

COMEY: Sure.

BURR: So there could be something that fits a criminal aspect to this that doesn’t have anything to do with the 2016 election cycle?

COMEY: Correct, in any complex investigation, when you start turning over rocks, sometimes you find things that are unrelated to the primary investigation that are criminal in nature.

BURR: Director, Comey, you have been criticized publicly for the decision to present your findings on the email investigation directly to the American people. Have you learned anything since that time that would have changed what you said or how you chose to inform the American people?

COMEY: Honestly, no. It caused a whole lot of personal pain for me but as I look back, given what I knew at the time and even what I’ve learned since, I think it was the best way to try to protect the justice institution, including the FBI.

BURR: In the public domain is this question of the “steel dossier,” a document that has been around out in for over a year. I’m not sure when the FBI first took possession of it, but the media had it before you had it and we had it. At the time of your departure from the FBI, was the FBI able to confirm any criminal allegations contained in the steel document?

COMEY: Mr. Chairman, I don’t think that’s a question I can answer in an open setting because it goes into the details of the investigation.

BURR: Director, the term we hear most often is collusion. When people are describing possible links between Americans and Russian government entities related to the interference in our election, would you say that it’s Normal for foreign governments to reach out to members of an incoming administration?

COMEY: Yes.

BURR: At what point does the normal contact cross the line into an attempt to recruit agents or influence or spies?

COMEY: Difficult to say in the abstract. It depends upon the context, whether there’s an effort to keep it covert, what the nature of the request made of the American by the foreign government are. It’s a judgment call based on a whole lot of facts.

BURR: At what point would that recruitment become a counterintelligence threat to our country?

COMEY: Again, difficult to answer in the abstract, but when a foreign power is using especially coercion, or some sort of pressure to try and co-opt an American, especially a government official, to act on its behalf, that’s a serious concern to the FBI and at the heart of the FBI’s counterintelligence mission.

BURR: So if you’ve got a 36-page document of specific claims that are out there, the FBI would have to for counter intelligence reasons, try to verify anything that might be claimed in there, one, and probably first and foremost, is the counterintelligence concerns that we have about blackmail. Would that be an accurate statement?

COMEY: Yes. If the FBI receives a credible allegation that there is some effort to co-opt, coerce, direct, employee covertly an American on behalf of the foreign power, that’s the basis on which a counterintelligence investigation is opened.

BURR: And when you read the dossier, what was your reaction, given that it was 100% directed at the president-elect?

COMEY: Not a question I can answer in open setting, Mr. Chairman.

BURR: Okay. When did you become aware of the cyber intrusion?

COMEY: The first cyber — there was all kinds of cyber intrusions going on all the time. The first Russian-connected cyber intrusion I became aware of in the late summer of 2015.

BURR: And in that time frame, there were more than the DNC and the D triple C that were targets?

COMEY: Correct, a massive effort to target government and nongovernmental, near governmental agencies like nonprofits.

BURR: What would be the estimate of how many entities out there the Russians specifically targeted in that time frame?

COMEY: It’s hundreds. I suppose it could be more than 1,000, but it’s at least hundreds.

BURR: When did you become aware that data had been exfiltrated?

COMEY: I’m not sure exactly. I think either late ’15 or early ’16.

BURR: And did you, the director of the FBI, have conversations with the last administration about the risk that this posed?

COMEY: Yes.

BURR: And share with us, if you will, what actions they took.

COMEY: Well, the FBI had already undertaken an effort to notify all the victims, and that’s what we consider the entities attacked as part of this massive spear-phishing campaign so we notified them in an effort to disrupt what might be ongoing, and then there was a series of continuing interactions with entities through the rest of ’15 into ’16, and then throughout ’16, the administration was trying to decide how to respond to the intrusion activity that it saw.

BURR: And the FBI in this case, unlike other cases that you might investigate, did you ever have access to the actual hardware that was hacked, or did you have to rely on a third party to provide you the day that that they had collected?

COMEY: In the case of the DNC, and I believe the D triple C, but I’m sure the DNC, we did not have access to the devices themselves. We got relevant forensic information from a private party, a high class entity, that had done the work but we didn’t get direct access.

BURR: But no content.

COMEY: Correct.

BURR: Isn’t content an important part of the forensics from a counter-intelligence standpoint?

COMEY: It is but what was briefed to me by the people who were my folks at the time is that they had gotten the information from the private party that they needed to understand the intrusion by the spring of 2016.

BURR: Let me go back if I can very briefly to the decision to publicly go out with your results on the email. Was your decision influenced by the attorney general’s tarmac meeting with the former president, Bill Clinton?

COMEY: Yes. In ultimately conclusive way that was the thing that capped it for me, that I had to do something separately to protect the credibility of the investigation, which meant both the FBI and the justice department.

BURR: Were there other things that contributed to that, that you can describe in an open session?

COMEY: There were other things that contributed to that. One significant item I can’t but know the committee’s been briefed on, there’s been some public accounts of it which are nonsense but I understand the committee has been briefed on the classified facts. Probably the only other consideration that I guess I can talk about in open setting is that at one point the attorney general had directed me not to call it an investigation, but instead to call it a matter, which confused me and concerned me, but that was one of the bricks in the load that led me to conclude I have to step away from the department if we’re to close this case credibly.

BURR: Director, my last question, you’re not only a seasoned prosecutor. You’ve led the FBI for years. You understand the investigative process. You’ve worked with this committee closely, and we’re grateful to you, because I think we’ve mutually built trust in what your organization does, and what we do. Is there any doubt in your mind that this committee carry out its oversight role in the 2016 Russia involvement with the elections in parallel with the now special counsel set up?

COMEY: No, no doubt. It can be done. Requires lots of conversations but Bob Mueller is one of the this country’s great, great pros and I’m sure you’ll be able to work it out with him to run it in parallel.

BURR: Thank you. I turn it over to the vice chairman.

WARNER: Thank you, director Comey, again, for your service. Your comments to your FBI family, I know were heartfelt. Know that there are some in the administration who tried to smear your reputation. You had Acting Director McCabe in public testimony a few weeks back, and in public testimony yesterday reaffirm that the vast majority in FBI community had great trust in your leadership, and obviously trust in your integrity. I want to go through a number of the meetings that you referenced in your testimony, and let’s start with the January 6th meeting in Trump Tower, where you went up with a series of officials to brief the President-elect on the Russia investigation. My understanding is you remained afterwards to brief him, on again, “Some personally sensitive aspects of the information you relayed.” Now you said after that briefing you felt compelled to document that conversation that you actually started documenting it as soon as you got into the car.

Now you’ve had extensive experience at the department of justice and at the FBI. You’ve worked under presidents of both parties. What was about that meeting that led you to determine that you needed to start putting down a written record?

COMEY: A combination of things. I think the circumstances, the subject matter, and the person I was interacting with. Circumstances, first, I was alone with the president of the United States, or the president-elect, soon to be president. The subject matter I was talking about matters that touch on the FBI’s core responsibility, and that relate to the president, president-elect personally, and then the nature of the person. I was honestly concerned he might lie about the nature of our meeting so I thought it important to document. That combination of things I had never experienced before, but had led me to believe I got to write it down and write it down in a very detailed way.

WARNER: I think that’s a very important statement you just made. Then, unlike your dealings with presidents of either parties in your past experience, in every subsequent meeting or conversation with this president, you created a written record. Did you feel that you needed to create this written record of these memos, because they might need to be relied on at some future date?

COMEY: Sure. I created records after conversations that I think I did it after each of our nine conversations. If I didn’t, I did it for nearly all of them especially the ones that were substantive. I knew there might come a day when I would need a record of what had happened, not just to defend myself, but to defend the FBI and our integrity as an institution and the Independence of our investigative function. That’s what made this so difficult is it was a combination of circumstances, subject matter and the particular person.

WARNER: And so in all your experience, this was the only president that you felt like in every meeting you needed to document because at some point, using your words, he might put out a non-truthful representation of that meeting.

COMEY: That’s right, senator. As I said, as FBI director I interacted with President Obama, I spoke only twice in three years, and didn’t document it. When I was Deputy Attorney General I had a one one-on-one with President Bush been I sent an email to my staff but I didn’t feel with president bush the need to document it in that I way. Again, because of the combination of those factors, just wasn’t present with either President Bush or President Obama.

WARNER: I think that is very significant. I think others will probably question that. Now, the chairman and I have requested those memos. It is our hope that the FBI will get this committee access to those memos so again, we can read that contemporaneous rendition so that we’ve got your side of the story. Now I know members have said and press have said that a great deal has been made whether the president asked and indicated whether the president was the subject of any investigation, and my understanding is prior to your meeting on January 6th, you discussed with your leadership team whether you should be prepared to assure then President-elect Trump that the FBI was not investigating him personally. Now, I understand that your leadership team, agreed with that but was that a unanimous decision? Was there any debate about that?

COMEY: Wasn’t unanimous. One of the members of the leadership team had a view you that although it was technically true we did not have a counter-intelligence file case open on then President-elect Trump. His concern was because we’re looking at the potential, again, that’s the subject of the investigation, coordination between the campaign and Russia, because it was President Trump, President-elect Trump’s campaign, this person’s view was
inevitably his behavior, his conduct will fall within the scope of that work. And so he was reluctant to make the statement. I disagreed. I thought it was fair to say what was literally true. There was not a counterintelligence investigation of Mr. Trump, and I decided in the moment to say it, given the nature of our conversation.

WARNER: At that moment in time, did you ever revisit that as in the subsequent sessions?

COMEY: With the FBI leadership team? Sure. And the leader had that view that didn’t change. His view was still that it was probably although literally true, his concern was it could be misleading, because the nature of the investigation was such that it might well touch, obviously it would touch, the campaign, and the person that headed the campaign would be the candidate, and so that was his view throughout.

WARNER: Let me move to the January 27th dinner, where you said “The president began by asking me whether I wanted to stay on as FBI director.”

He also indicated that “lots of people” again your words, “Wanted the job.” You go on to say the dinner itself was “Seemingly an effort to” to quote have you ask him for your job and create some “patronage” relationship. The president seems from my reading of your memo to be holding your job or your possibility of continuing your job over your head in a fairly direct way. What was your impression, and what did you mean by this notion of a patronage relationship?

COMEY: Well, my impression, and again it’s my impression, I could always be wrong but my common sense told me what was going on is, either he had concluded or someone had told him that you didn’t, you’ve already asked Comey to stay, and you didn’t get anything for it. And that the dinner was an effort to build a relationship, in fact, he asked specifically, of loyalty in the context of asking me to stay. As I said, what was odd about that is we’d already talked twice about it by that point and he said I very much hope you’ll stay. In fact, I just remembered sitting a third, when you’ve seen the. IC tour of me walking across the blue room, and what the president whispered in my ear was “I really look forward to working with you.” So after those encounters —

WARNER: That was a few days before your firing.

COMEY: On the Sunday after the inauguration. The next Friday I have dinner and the president begins by wanting to talk about my job and so I’m sitting there thinking wait a minute three times we’ve already, you’ve already asked me to stay or talked about me staying. My common sense, again I could be wrong but my common sense told me what’s going on here is, he’s looking to get something in exchange for granting my request to stay in the job.

WARNER: Again, we ail understand, I was a governor, I had people work for me but this constant requests and again quoting you, him saying that he, despite you explaining your independence, he said “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.” Have you ever had any of those kind of requests before from anyone else you’ve worked for in the government?

COMEY: No, and what made me uneasy at that point I’m the director of the FBI. The reason that Congress created a t10-year term is so that the director is not feeling as if they’re serving at, with political loyalty owed to any particular person. The statue of justice has a blindfolds on. You’re not supposed to peek out to see there your patron was please pleased with what you’re doing. That’s why I became FBI director to be in of that position. That’s why I was uneasy.

WARNER: February 14th, seems strange, you were in a meeting, and your direct superior the attorney general was in that meeting as well, yet the president asked everyone to leave, including the attorney general to leave, before he brought up the matter of general Flynn. What was your impression of that type of action? Have you ever seen anything like that before?

COMEY: No. My impression was something big is about to happen. I need to remember every single word that is spoken, and again, I could be wrong, I’m 56 years old, I’ve been, seen a few things, my sense was the attorney general knew he shouldn’t be leaving which was why he was leaving and I don’t know Kushner well but I think he picked up on the same thing so I knew something was about to happen that I needed to pay very close attention to.

WARNER: I found it very interesting that, that in the memo that you wrote after this February 14th pull-aside, you made clear that you wrote that memo in a way that was unclassified. If you affirmatively made the decision to write a memo that was unclassified, was that because you felt at some point, the facts of that meeting would have to come clean and come clear, and actually be able to be cleared in a way that could be shared with the American people?

COMEY: Well, I remember thinking, this is a very disturbing development, really important to our work. I need to document it and preserve it in a way, and this committee gets this but sometimes when things are classified, it tangled them up.

WARNER: Amen.

COMEY: It’s hard to share within an investigative team. You have to be careful how you handled it for good reason. If I write it such a way that doesn’t include anything of a classification, that would make it easier for to us discuss within the FBI and the government, and to hold onto it in a way that makes it accessible to us.

WARNER: Well again it’s our hope particularly since you are a pretty knowledgeable guy and wrote this in a way that it was unqualified this committee will get access that unclassified document. I this I it will be important to our investigation. Let me ask you this in closing. How many ongoing investigations at any time does the FBI have?

COMEY: Tens of thousands.

WARNER: Tens of thousands. Did the president ever ask about any other ongoing investigation?

COMEY: No.

WARNER: Did he ever ask about you trying to interfere on any other investigation?

COMEY: No.

WARNER: I think, again, this speaks volumes. This doesn’t even get to the questions around the phone calls about lifting the cloud. I know other members will get to that, but I really appreciate your testimony, and appreciate your service to our nation.

COMEY: Thank you, Senator Warner. I’m sitting here going through my contacts with him. I had one conversation with the president that was classified where he asked about our, an ongoing intelligence investigation, it was brief and entirely professional.

WARNER: He didn’t ask to you take any specific action?

COMEY: No.

WARNER: Unlike what we did vis-à-vis will Flynn and the Russia investigation?

COMEY: Correct.

WARNER: Thank you, sir.

BURR: Senator Risch?

SEN. JAMES RISCH: Thank you very much. Mr. Comey, thank you for your service. America needs more like you and we really appreciate it. Yesterday, I got and everybody got the seven pages of your direct testimony that is now a part of the record here. And the first — I read it, and then I read it again, and all I could think was number one, how much hated the class of legal writing when I was in law school, and you are the guy that probably got the A after reading this. I find it clear. I find it concise, and having been a prosecutor for a number of years and handling hundreds, maybe thousands of cases and read police reports, investigative reports, this is as good as it gets, and I really appreciate that. Not only the conciseness and the clearness of it, but also the fact that you have things that were written down contemporaneously when they happened, and you actually put them in quotes so we know exactly what happened and we’re not getting some rendition of it that’s in your mind.

COMEY: Thank you, sir.

RISCH: You’re to be complimented.

COMEY: I had great parents and great teachers who beat that into me.

RISCH: That’s obvious, sir. The chairman walked you through a number of things that the American people need to know and want to know. Number one, obviously, we all know about the active measures that the Russians have taken. I think a lot of people were surprised at this. Those of us that work in the intelligence community, it didn’t come as a surprise, but now the American people know this, and it’s good they know this, because this is serious and it’s a problem. I think secondly, I gather from all this that you’re willing to say now that, while you were director, the president of the United States was not under investigation. Is that a fair statement?

COMEY: That’s correct.

RISCH: All right, so that’s a fact that we are rely on?

COMEY: Yes, sir.

RISCH: I remember, you talked with us shortly after February 14th, when the “New York Times” wrote an article that suggested that the trump campaign was colluding with the Russians. Do you remember reading that article when it first came out?

COMEY: I do, it was about allegedly extensive electronic surveillance in their communications.

RISCH: Correct. That upset you to the point where you surveyed the intelligence community to see whether you were missing something in that. Is that correct?

COMEY: That’s correct. I want to be careful in open setting, but —

RISCH: I’m not going to go any further than that, so thank you. In addition to that, after that, you sought out both Republican and Democrat senators to tell them that, hey, I don’t know where this is coming from, but this is not the case. This is not factual. Do you recall that?

COMEY: Yes.

RISCH: Okay. So again, so the American people can understand this, that report by the New York Times was not true. Is that a fair statement?

COMEY: In the main, it was not true. And again, all of you know this. Maybe the American people don’t. The challenge, and I’m not picking on reporters about writing stories about classified information, is the people talking about it often don’t really know what’s going on, and going on are not talking about it. We don’t call the press to say, hey, you don’t that thing wrong about the sensitive topic. We have to leave it there.

I mentioned to the chairman the nonsense around what influenced me to make the July 5th statement. Nonsense. But I can’t go explaining how it is nonsense.

RISCH: Thank you. All right. So those three things we now know regarding the active measures, whether the president is under investigation and the collusion between the trump campaign and the Russians. I want to drill right down, as my time is limited, to the most recent dust up regarding allegations that the president of the United States obstructed justice. Boy, you nailed this down on page 5, paragraph 3. You put this in quotes. Words matter. You wrote down the words so we can all have the words in front of us now. There’s 28 words now in quotes. It says, quote, I hope — this is the president speaking — I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is good guy. I hope you can let this go. Now, those are his exact words, is that correct.

COMEY: Correct.

RISCH: You wrote them here and put them in quotes.

COMEY: Correct.

RISCH: Thank you for that. He did not direct you to let it go?

COMEY: Not in his words, no.

RISCH: He did not order you to let it go?

COMEY: Again, those words are not an order.

RISCH: He said, I hope. Now, like me, you probably did hundreds of cases, maybe thousands of cases, charging people with criminal offenses and, of course, you have knowledge of the thousands of cases out there where people have been charged. Do you know of any case where a person has been charged for obstruction of justice or, for that matter, any other criminal offense, where they said or thought they hoped for an outcome?

COMEY: I don’t know well enough to answer. The reason I keep saying his words is I took it as a direction.

RISCH: Right.

COMEY: I mean, this is a president of the United States with me alone saying I hope this. I took it as, this is what he wants me to do. I didn’t obey that, but that’s the way I took it.

RISCH: You may have taken it as a direction but that’s not what he said.

COMEY: Correct.

RISCH: He said, I hope.

COMEY: Those are his exact words, correct.

RISCH: You don’t know of anyone ever being charged for hoping something, is that a fair statement?

COMEY: I don’t as I sit here.

RISCH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

BURR: Senator Feinstein?

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Thanks very much, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Comey, I just want you to know that I have great respect for you. Senator Cornyn and I sit on the judiciary committee and we have the occasion to have you before us. You’re a man of strength and I regret the situations we all find ourselves in. I just want to say that. Let me begin with one overarching question. Why do you believe you were fired?

COMEY: I guess I don’t know for sure. I believe — I think the president, at his word, that I was fired because of the Russia investigation. Something about the way I was conducting it, the president felt created pressure on him that he wanted to relieve. Again, I didn’t know that at the time. I watched his interview. I read the press accounts of his conversations. I take him at his word there. Look, I could be wrong. Maybe he’s saying something that’s not true. I take him at his word, at least based on what I know now.

FEINSTEIN: Talk for a moment about his request that you pledge loyalty and your response to that and what impact you believe that had.

COMEY: I don’t know for sure because I don’t know the president well enough to read him well. I think it was — first of all, relationship didn’t get off to a great start, given the conversation I had to have on January 6th. This didn’t improve the relationship because it was very, very awkward. He was asking for something, and I was refusing to give it. Again, I don’t know him well enough to know how he reacted to that exactly.

FEINSTEIN: Do you believe the Russia investigation played a role?

COMEY: In why I was fired?

FEINSTEIN: Yes.

COMEY: Yes. I’ve seen the president say so.

FEINSTEIN: Let’s go to the Flynn issue. The senator outlined, “I hope you could see your way to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.” But you also said in your written remarks, and I quote, that you “had understood the president to be requesting that we drop any investigation of Flynn in connection with false statements about his conversations with the Russian ambassador in December,”. Please go into that with more detail.

COMEY: Well, the context and the president’s word are what led me to that conclusion. As I said in my statement, I could be wrong, but Flynn had been forced to resign the day before. And the controversy around general Flynn at that point in time was centered on whether he lied to the vice president about his nature of conversations with the Russians, whether he had been candid with others in the course of that. So that happens on the day before. On the 1, the president makes reference to that. I understood what he wanted me to do was drop any investigation connected to Flynn’s account of his conversations with the Russians.

FEINSTEIN: Now, here’s the question, you’re big. You’re strong. I know the oval office, and I know what happens to people when they walk in. There is a certain amount of intimidation. But why didn’t you stop and say, Mr. President, this is wrong. I cannot discuss this with you.

COMEY: It’s a great question. Maybe if I were stronger, I would have. I was so stunned by the conversation that I just took in. The only thing I could think to say, because I was playing in my mind — because I could remember every word he said — I was playing in my mind, what should my response be? That’s why I carefully chose the words. Look, I’ve seen the tweet about tapes. Lordy, I hope there are tapes. I remember saying, “I agree he is a good guy,” as a way of saying, I’m not agreeing with what you asked me to do. Again, maybe other people would be stronger in that circumstance. That’s how Ed myself. I hope I’ll never have another opportunity. Maybe if I did it again, I’d do it better.

FEINSTEIN: You describe two phone calls that you received from president trump. One on March 30th and one on April 11. He, quote, described the Russia investigation as a cloud that was impairing his ability, end quote, as president, and asked you, quote, to lift the cloud, end quote. How did you interpret that? What did you believe he wanted you to do?

COMEY: I interpreted that as he was frustrated that the Russia investigation was taking up so much time and energy. I think he meant of the executive branch, but in the public square in general. It was making it difficult for him to focus on other priorities of his. But what he asked me was actually narrowing than that. I think what he meant by the cloud — and, again, I could be wrong — but the entire investigation is taking up oxygen and making it hard for me to focus on what I want to focus on. The ask was to get it out that I, the president, am not personally under investigation.

FEINSTEIN: After April 11th, did he ask you more ever about the Russia investigation? Did he ask you any questions?

COMEY: We never spoke again after April 11th.

FEINSTEIN: You told the president, I would see what we could do. What did you mean?

COMEY: It was kind of a cowardly way of trying to avoid telling him, we’re not going to do that. That I would see what we could do. It was a way of kind of getting off the phone, frankly, and then I turned and handed it to the acting deputy attorney general.

FEINSTEIN: So I want to go into that. Who did you talk with about that, lifting the cloud, stop the investigation back at the FBI, and what was their response?

COMEY: The FBI, during one of the two conversations — I’m not remembering exactly — I think the first, my chief of staff was sitting in front of me and heard my end of the conversation because the president’s call was a surprise. I discussed the lifting the cloud and the request with the senior leadership team who, typically, and I think in all the circumstances, was the deputy director, my chief of staff, the general counsel, the deputy director’s chief counsel and, I think in a number of circumstances, the number three in the FBI and a few of the conversations included the head of the national security branch. The group of us that lead the FBI when it comes to national security.

FEINSTEIN: You have the president of the United States asking you to stop an investigation that is an important investigation. What was the response of your colleagues?

COMEY: I think they were as shocked and troubled by it as I was. Some said things that led me to believe that. I don’t remember exactly. But the reaction was similar to mine. They’re all experienced people who never experienced such a thing, so they were very concerned. Then the conversation turned to about, so what should we do with this information? That was a struggle for us. Because we are the leaders of the FBI, so it’s been reported to us, and I heard it and now shared it with the leaders of the FBI, our conversation was, should we share this with any senior officials at the justice department? Our primary concern was, we can’t infect the investigative team. We don’t want the agents and analysts working on this to know the president of the united States has asked, and when it comes from the president, I took it as a direction, to get rid of this investigation because we’re not going to follow that request. So we decided, we have to keep it away from our troops.

Is there anyone else we ought to tell at the justice department? We considered whether to tell — the attorney general said we believe rightly he was shortly going to recuse. There was no other senate confirmed leaders in the justice department at that point. The deputy attorney general was Mr. Boente, acting shortly in the seat. We decided the best move would be to hold it, keep it in a box, document it, as we’d already done, and this investigation is going to do on. Figure out what to do with it down the road. Is there a way to corroborate it? It was our word against the president’s. No way to corroborate this. My view of this changed when the prospect of tapes was raised. That’s how we thought about it then.

FEINSTEIN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO: Director Comey, the meeting in the oval office where he made the request about Mike Flynn, was that only time he asked you to hopefully let it go?

COMEY: Yes.

RUBIO: And in that meeting, as you understood it, he was asking not about the general Russia investigation, he was asking specifically about the jeopardy that Flynn was in himself?

COMEY: That’s how I understood it. Yes, sir.

RUBIO: As you perceived it, while he hoped you did away with it, you perceived it as an order, given the setting, the position and some of the circumstances?

COMEY: Yes.

RUBIO: At the time, did you say something to the president about, that is not an appropriate request, or did you tell the white house counsel, it’s not an appropriate request? Someone needs to tell the president he can’t do these things.

COMEY: I didn’t, no.

RUBIO: Why?

COMEY: I don’t know. I think — as I said earlier, I think the circumstances were such that it was — I was a bit stunned and didn’t have the presence of mind. I don’t know. I don’t want to make you sound like I’m captain courageous. I don’t know if I would have said to the president with the presence of mind, sir, that’s wrong. In the moment, it didn’t come to my mind. What came to my mind is be careful what you say. I said, I agree Flynn is a good guy.

RUBIO: On the cloud, we keep talking about this cloud, you perceive the cloud to be the Russian investigation in general?

COMEY: Yes, sir.

RUBIO: His specific ask was you’d tell the American people what you’d told him, told the leaders of Congress, Democrats and Republicans, he was not personally under investigation?

COMEY: Yes, sir.

RUBIO: What he was asking you to do, would you have done here today?

COMEY: Correct. Yes, sir.

RUBIO: Again, at that setting, did you say to the president, it would be inappropriate for you to do so and then talk to the White House counsel or somebody so hopefully they’d talked to him and tell him he couldn’t do this?

COMEY: First time I said, I’ll see what we can do. Second time, I explained how it should work, that the White House counsel should contact the deputy attorney general.

RUBIO: You told him that?

COMEY: The president said, okay. I think that’s what I’ll do.

RUBIO: To be clear, for you to make a public statement that he was not under investigation wouldn’t be illegal but you felt it could potentially create a duty to correct if circumstances changed?

COMEY: Yes, sir. We wrestled with it before my testimony, where I confirmed that there was an investigation. There were two primary concerns. One was it creates a duty to correct, which I’ve lived before, and you want to be very careful about doing that. And second, it is a slippery slope. If we say the president and the vice president aren’t under investigation. What is the principled investigation for stopping? So the leaderrship, at justice, acting attorney general Boente said, you’re not going to do that.

RUBIO: On March 30th during the phone call about general Flynn, you said he abruptly shifted and brought up something that you call, quote, unquote, the McCabe thing. Specifically, the Mccabe thing as you understood it was that Mccabe’s wife had received campaign money from what I assume means Terry McAuliffe?

COMEY: Yes.

RUBIO: Close to the Clintons. Did he say, I don’t like this guy because he got money from someone close to Clinton?

COMEY: He asked me about McCabe and said, how is he going to be with me as president? I was rough on him on the campaign trail.

RUBIO: Rough on Mccabe?

COMEY: By his own account, he said he was rough on McCabe and Mrs. McCabe on the campaign trail. How is he going to be? I shared with the president, Andy is a pro. No issue at all. You have to know people of the FBI. They’re not —

RUBIO: So the president turns to you and says, remember, I never brought up the McCabe thing because you said he was a good guy, did you perceive that to be a statement that, I took care of you. I didn’t do something because you told me he was a good guy. So I’m asking you potentially for something in return. Is that how you perceived it?

COMEY: I wasn’t sure what to make of it. That’s possible. It was so out of context I didn’t have a clear view of what it was.

RUBIO: On a number of occasions here, you bring up — let’s talk about the general Russia investigation, OK? Page 6 of your testimony you say, the first thing you say is, he asked what we could do to, quote, unquote, lift the cloud, the general Russia investigation, you responded, we are investigating the matter as quickly as we could and there would be great benefit if we didn’t find anything for having done the work well. He agreed. He emphasized the problems it was causing him. He agreed it’d be great to have an investigation, all the facts came out and we found nothing. He agreed that would be ideal, but this cloud is still messing up my ability to do the rest of my agenda. Is that an accurate assessment?

COMEY: Yes, sir. He went farther than that. He said, and if some of my satellites did something wrong, it’d be good to find that out.

RUBIO: That is the second part. The satellites, if one of my satellites, I imagine he meant some of the people surrounding his campaign, did something wrong, it’d be great to know that, as well.

COMEY: Yes, sir. That’s what he said.

RUBIO: Are those the only two instances in which that back and forth happened, where the president was basically saying, and I’m paraphrasing here, it’s okay. Do the Russia investigation. I hope it all comes out. I have nothing to do with anything Russia. It’d be great if it all came out, people around me were doing things that were wrong?

COMEY: Yes. As I recorded it accurately there. That was the sentiment he was expressing. Yes, sir.

RUBIO: What it comes down to is the president asked three things of you. Asked for your loyalty. You said you’d be loyally honest.

COMEY: Honestly loyal.

RUBIO: Honestly loyal. He asked you on one occasion to let the Mike Flynn thing go because he was a good guy. By the way, you’re aware he said the same thing in the press the next day. He is a good guy, treated unfairly, etc. I imagine your FBI agents read that.

COMEY: I’m sure they did.

RUBIO: The president’s wishes were known to them, certainly by the next day when he had a press conference with the prime minister. Going back, the three requests were, number one, be loyal. Number two, let the Mike Flynn thing go. He is a good guy, been treated unfairly. Number three, can you please tell the American people what these leaders in congress already know, which you already know and what you told me three times, that I’m not under personally under investigation.

COMEY: That’s right.

RUBIO: We learn more from the newspaper sometimes than the open hearings. Do you ever wonder why, of all the things in the investigation, the only thing never leaked is the fact the president was never personally under investigation, despite the fact that Democrats and Republicans and the leadership of congress have known that for weeks?

COMEY: I don’t know. I find matters that are briefed to the gang of eight are pretty tightly held, in my experience.

RUBIO: Finally, who are those senior leaders at the FBI you share these conversations with?

COMEY: As I said in response to Sen. Feinstein’s question, deputy director, my chief of staff, general counsel, deputy director’s chief counse and then, more often than not, the number three person at the FBI, the associate deputy director. And quite often, head of the national security branch.

BURR: Senator?

SEN. RON WYDEN: Mr. Comey, welcome. You and I have had significant policy differences over the years, particularly protecting Americans access to secure encryption. But I believe the timing of your firing stinks. Yesterday, you put on the record testimony that demonstrates why the odor of presidential abuse of power is so strong. Now, to my questions. In talking to senator Warner about this dinner that you had with the president, I believe January 27th, all in one dinner, the president raised your job prospects, he asked for your loyalty and denied allegations against him. All took place over one supper. Now, you told senator Warner that the president was looking to, quote, get something. Looking back, did that dinner suggest that your job might be contingent on how you handled the investigation?

COMEY: I don’t know that I’d go that far. I got the sense my job would be contingent upon how he felt I — excuse me — how he felt I conducted myself and whether I demonstrated loyalty. But I don’t know whether I’d go so far as to connect it to the investigation.

WYDEN: He said the president was trying to create some sort of patronage. Behaving in a manner consistent with the wishes of the boss?

COMEY: Yes. At least consider how what you’re doing will affect the boss as a significant consideration.

WYDEN: Let me turn to the attorney general. In your statement, you said that you and the FBI leadership team decided not to discuss the president’s actions with Attorney General Sessions, even though he had not recused himself. What was it about the attorney general’s interactions with the Russians or his behavior with regard to the investigation that would have led the entire leadership of the FBI to make this decision?

COMEY: Our judgment, as I recall, is that he was very close to and inevitably going to recuse himself for a variety of reasons. We also were aware of facts that I can’t discuss in an opening setting that would make his continued engagement in a Russia-related investigation problematic. So we were convinced — in fact, I think we’d already heard the career people were recommending that he recuse himself, that he was not going to be in contact with Russia-related matters much longer. That turned out to be the case.

WYDEN: How would you characterize Attorney General Sessions’s adherence to his recusal? In particular, with regard to his involvement in your firing, which the president has acknowledged was because of the Russian investigation.

COMEY: That’s a question I can’t answer. I think it is a reasonable question. If, as the president said, I was fired because of the Russia investigation, why was the attorney general involved in that chain? I don’t know. So I don’t have an answer for the question.

WYDEN: Your testimony was that the president’s request about Flynn could infect investigation. Had the president got what he wanted and what he asked of you, what would have been the effect on the investigation?

COMEY: We would have closed any investigation of general Flynn in connection with his statements and encounters — statements about encounters with Russians in the late part of December. We would have dropped an open criminal investigation.

WYDEN: So in effect, when you talk about infecting the enterprise, you would have dropped something major that would have spoken to the overall ability of the American people to get the facts?

COMEY: Correct. And as good as our people are, our judgment was, we don’t want them hearing that the president of the United States wants this to go away because it might have an effect on their ability to be fair, impartial and aggressive.

WYDEN: Acting Attorney General Yates found out Mike Flynn could be blackmailed by the Russians and went immediately to warn the white house. Flynn is gone, but other individuals with contacts with the Russians are still in extremely important positions of power. Should the American people have the same sense of urgency now with respect to them?

COMEY: I think all I can say, senator, is it’s a — the special counsel’s investigation is very important, understanding what efforts there were or are by Russian government to influence our government is a critical part of the FBI’s mission. And you’ve got the right person in Bob Mueller to lead it, it is a very important piece of work.

WYDEN: Vice president Pence was the head of the transition. To your knowledge, was he aware of the concerns about Michael Flynn prior to or during general Flynn’s tenure as national security adviser?

COMEY: I don’t — you’re asking including up to the time when Flynn was —

WYDEN: Right.

COMEY: Forced to resign? My understanding is that he was. I’m trying to remember where I get that understanding from. I think from acting attorney general Yates.

WYDEN: So former acting attorney general Yates testified concerns about general Flynn were discussed with the intelligence community. Would that have included anyone at the CIA or Dan Coats’ office, the DNI?

COMEY: I would assume, yes.

WYDEN: Michael Flynn resigned four days after attorney general sessions was sworn in. Do you know if the attorney general was aware of the concerns about Michael Flynn during that period?

COMEY: I don’t as I sit here. I don’t recall that he was. I could be wrong, but I don’t remember that he was.

WYDEN: Let’s see if you can give us some sense of who recommended your firing. Besides the letter from the attorney general, the deputy attorney general, do you have any information on who may have recommended or been involved in your firing?

COMEY: I don’t. I don’t.

WYDEN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

BURR: Senator Collins?

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Comey, let me begin by thanking you for your voluntary compliance with our request to appear before this committee and assist us in this very important investigation. I want first to ask you about your conversations with the president, three conversations in which you told him that he was not under investigation. The first was during your January 6th meeting, according to your testimony, in which it appears that you actually volunteered that assurance. Is that correct?

COMEY: That’s correct.

COLLINS: Did you limit that statement to counterintelligence invest — investigations, or were you talking about any FBI investigation?

COMEY: I didn’t use the term counterintelligence. I was briefing him about salacious and unverified material. It was in a context of that that he had a strong and defensive reaction about that not being true. My reading of it was it was important for me to assure him we were not person investigating him. So the context then was actually narrower, focused on what I just talked to him about. It was very important because it was, first, true, and second, I was worried very much about being in kind of a J. Hoover-type situation. I didn’t want him thinking I was briefing him on this to sort of hang it over him in some way. I was briefing him on it because, because we had been told by the media it was about to launch. We didn’t want to be keeping that from him. He needed to know this was being said. I was very keen not to leave him with an impression that the bureau was trying to do something to him. So that’s the context in which I said, sir, we’re not personally investigating you.

COLLINS: Then — and that’s why you volunteered the information?

COMEY: Yes, ma’am.

COLLINS: Then on the January 27th dinner, you told the president that he should be careful about asking you to investigate because, “you might create a narrative that we are investigating him personally, which we weren’t.” Again, were you limiting that statement to counterintelligence investigations, or more broadly, such as a criminal investigation?

COMEY: I didn’t modify the word investigation. It was, again, he was reacting strongly against the unverified material, saying I’m tempted to order you to investigate it. In the context of that, I said, sir, be careful about it. I might create a narrative we’re investigating you personally.

COLLINS: There was the March 30th phone call with the president in which you reminded him that congressional leaders had been briefed that we were no personally — the FBI was not personally investigating president trump. And, again, was that statement to congressional leaders and to the president limited to counterintelligence investigations, or was it a broader statement? I’m trying to understand whether there was any kind of investigation of the president underway.

COMEY: No. I’m sorry. If I misunderstood, I apologize. We briefed the congressional leadership about what Americans we had opened counterintelligence investigation cases on. We specifically said, the president is not one of those Americans. But there was no other investigation of the president that we were not mentioning at that time. The context was, counterintelligence, but I wasn’t trying to hide some criminal investigation of the president.

COLLINS: And was the president under investigation at the time of your dismissal on May 9th?

COMEY: No.

COLLINS: I’d like to now turn to the conversations with the president about Michael Flynn, which had been discussed at great length.

First, let me make very clear that the president never should have cleared the room and he never should have asked you, as you reported, to let it go, to let the investigation go. But I remain puzzled by your response. Michael Flynn is a good guy. You could have said, Mr. President, this meeting is inappropriate. This response could compromise the investigation. You should not be making such a request. It’s fundamental to the operation of our government, the FBI be insulated from this kind of political pressure. You talked a bit today about that you were stunned by the president making the request. But my question to you is later on, upon reflection, did you go to anyone at the department of justice and ask them to call the white house counsel’s office and explain that the president had to have a far better understanding and appreciation of his role vis-à-vis the FBI?

COMEY: In general, I did. I spoke to the attorney general and spoke to the new deputy attorney general, Mr. Rosenstein, when he took office and explained my serious concern about the way in which the president is interacting, especially with the FBI. As I said in my testimony, I told the attorney general, it can’t happen that you get kicked out of the room and the president talks to me. Why didn’t we raise the specific? It was of investigative interest to figure out, what just happened with the president’s request? I wouldn’t want to alert the white house it had happened until we figured out what we were going to do with it investigatively.

COLLINS: Your testimony was that you went to attorney general sessions and said, don’t ever leave me alone with him again. Are you saying that you also told him that he had made a request that you let it go with regard to part of the investigation of Michael Flynn?

COMEY: No. I specifically did not. I did not.

COLLINS: Okay. You mentioned that from your very first meeting with the president, you decided to write a memo memorializing the conversation. What was it about that very first meeting that made you write a memo when you have not done that with two previous presidents?

COMEY: As I said, a combination of things. A gut feeling is an important overlay, but the circumstances, that I was alone, the subject matter and the nature of the person I was interacting with and my read of that person. Yeah, and really just gut feel, laying on top of all of that, that this is going to be important to protect this organization, that I make records of this.

COLLINS: Finally, did you show copies of your memos to anyone outside of the department of justice?

COMEY: Yes.

COLLINS: And to whom did you show copies?

COMEY: I asked — the president tweeted on Friday after I got fired that I better hope there’s not tapes. I woke up in the middle of the night on Monday night because it didn’t dawn on me originally, that there might be corroboration for our conversation. There might a tape. My judgment was, I need to get that out into the public square. I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter. Didn’t do it myself for a variety of reasons. I asked him to because I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel. I asked a close friend to do it.

COLLINS: Was that Mr. Wittes?

COMEY: No.

COLLINS: Who was it?

COMEY: A close friend who is a professor at Columbia law school.

COLLINS: Thank you.

SEN. MARTIN HEINRICH: Mr. Comey, prior to January 27th of this year, have you ever had a one-on-one meeting or a private dinner with a president of the United States?

COMEY: No. Dinner, no. I had two one-on-ones with President Obama. One to talk about law enforcement issues, law enforcement and race, which was an important topic throughout for me and for the president. Then once very briefly for him to say goodbye.

HEINRICH: Were those brief interactions?

COMEY: No. The one about law enforcement and race and policing, we spoke for probably over an hour, just the two of us.

HEINRICH: How unusual is it to have a one-on-one dinner with the president? Did that strike you as odd?

COMEY: Yeah. So much so, I assumed there would be others, that he couldn’t possibly be having dinner with me alone.

HEINRICH: Do you have an impression that if you had found — if you had behaved differently in that dinner, and I am quite pleased that you did not, but if you had found a way to express some sort of expression of loyalty or given some suggestion that the Flynn criminal investigation might be pursued less vigorously, do you think you would have still been fired?

COMEY: I don’t know. It’s impossible to say looking back. I don’t know.

HEINRICH: But you felt like those two things were directly relevant to the kind of relationship that the president was seeking to establish with you?

COMEY: Sure, yes.

HEINRICH: The president has repeatedly talked about the Russian investigation into the U.S. — or Russia’s involvement in the U.S. Election cycle as a hoax and fake news. Can you talk a little bit about what you saw as FBI director and, obviously, only the parts that you can share in this setting that demonstrate how serious this action actually was and why there was an investigation in the first place?

COMEY: Yes, sir. There should be no fuzz on this whatsoever. The Russians interfered in our election during the 2016 cycle. They did with purpose. They did it with sophistication. They did it with overwhelming technical efforts. It was an active measures campaign driven from the top of that government. There is no fuzz on that. It is a high confidence judgment of the entire intelligence community and the members of this committee have seen the intelligence. It’s not a close call. That happened. That’s about as unfake as you can possibly get. It is very, very serious, which is why it’s so refreshing to see a bipartisan focus on that. This is about America, not about a particular party.

HEINRICH: That is a hostile act by the Russian government against this country?

COMEY: Yes, sir.

HEINRICH: Did the president in any of those interactions that you’ve shared with us today ask you what you should be doing or what our government should be doing or the intelligence community to protect America against Russian interference in our election system?

COMEY: I don’t recall a conversation like that.

HEINRICH: Never?

COMEY: No.

HEINRICH: Do you find it —

COMEY: Not with President Trump.

HEINRICH: Right.

COMEY: I attended a fair number of meetings on that with President Obama.

HEINRICH: Do you find it odd that the president seemed unconcerned by Russia’s actions in our election?

COMEY: I can’t answer that because I don’t know what other conversations he had with other advisers or other intelligence community leaders. I just don’t know sitting here.

HEINRICH: Did you have any interactions with the president that suggested he was taking that hostile action seriously.

COMEY: I don’t remember any interactions with the president other than the initial briefing on January the 6th. I don’t remember — could be wrong, but I don’t remember any conversations with him at all about that.

HEINRICH: As you’re very aware, it was only the two of you in the room for that dinner. You told us the president asked you to back off the Flynn investigation. The president told a reporter —

COMEY: Not in that dinner.

HEINRICH: Fair enough. Told the reporter he never did that. You’ve testified that the president asked for your loyalty in that dinner. White house denies that. A lot of this comes down to who should we believe. Do you want to say anything as to why we should believe you?

COMEY: My mother raised me not to say things like this about myself so I’m not going to. I think people should look at the whole body of my testimony. As I used to say to juries, when I talked about a witness, you can’t cherry pick it. You can’t say, I like these things he said but on this, he’s a ten liar. You have to take it together. I’ve tried to be open, fair, transparent and accurate. Of significant fact to me is so why did he kick everybody out of the Oval Office? Why would you kick the attorney general, the president, the chief of staff out to talk to me if it was about something else? So that, to me, as an investigator, is a significant fact.

HEINRICH: As we look at testimony or as communication from both of you, we should probably be looking for consistency?

COMEY: Well, in looking at any witness, you look at consistency, track record, demeanor, record over time, that sort of thing.

HEINRICH: Thank you. So there are reports that the incoming Trump administration, either during the transition and/or after the inauguration, attempted to set up a sort of backdoor communication channel with the Russian government using their infrastructure, their devices, their facilities. What would be the risks, particularly for a transition, someone not actually in the office of the president yet, to setting up unauthorized channels with a hostile foreign government, especially if they were to evade our own American intelligence services?

COMEY: I’m not going to comment on whether that happened in an open setting, but the risk is — primary risk is obvious. You spare the Russians the cost and effort to break into our communications channels by using theirs. You make it a whole lot easier for them to capture all of your conversations. Then to use those to the benefit of Russia against the united States.

HEINRICH: The memos that you wrote, you wrote — did you write all nine of them in a way that was designed to prevent them from needing classification?

COMEY: No. On a few of the occasions, I wrote — I sent emails to my chief of staff on some of the brief phone conversations I had. The first one was a classified briefing. Though it was in a conference room at Trump Tower, it was a classified briefing. I wrote that on a classified device. The one I started typing in the car, that was a classified laptop I started working on.

HEINRICH: Any reason in a classified environment, in a skiff, that this committee, it would not be appropriate to see those communications at least from your perspective as the author?

COMEY: No.

HEINRICH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

BURR: Senator?

SEN. ROY BLUNT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Comey, when you were terminated at the FBI, I said, and still continue to feel, that you have provided years of great service to the country. I also said that I’d had significant questions over the last year about some of the decisions that you made. If the president hadn’t terminated your service, would you still be, in your opinion, the director of the FBI today?

COMEY: Yes, sir.

BLUNT: So you took as a direction from the president something you thought was serious and troublesome but continued to show up for work the next day?

COMEY: Yes, sir.

BLUNT: Six weeks later were still telling the president on March the 30th that he was not personally the target of any investigation?

COMEY: Correct. On March the 30th, and I think again on April 11th, as well, I told him we’re not investigating him personally. That was true.

BLUNT: The point to me, the concern to me there is, all these things are going on. You now in retrospect, or at least to this committee, you had serious concerns about what the president had, you believed, directed you to do, and had taken no action. Hadn’t even reported up the chain of command, assuming you believe there is a chain of command, that these things happened. Do you have a sense looking back that that was a mistake?

COMEY: No. In fact, I think no action was the most important thing I could do.

BLUNT: On the Flynn issue specifically, I believe you said earlier that you believe the president was suggesting you drop any investigation of Flynn’s account of his conversation with the Russian ambassador. Which was essentially misleading the vice president and others?

COMEY: Correct. I’m not going to go into the details but whether there were false statements made to government investigators, as well.

BLUNT: Any suggestion that the — General Flynn had violated the Logan Act, I always find incredible. The Logan Act has been on the books over 200 years. Nobody has ever been prosecuted for violating the Logan Act. My sense would be that the discussion, not the problem, misleading investigators or the vice president might have been?

COMEY: That’s fair. Yes, sir.

BLUNT: Had you previously on February 14th discussed with the president in the previous meeting anything your investigators had learned or their impressions from talking to Flynn?

COMEY: No, sir.

BLUNT: So he said he’s a good guy. You said he is a good guy. That was — no further action taken on that?

COMEY: He said more than that, but there was no — the action was, I wrote it up, briefed our senior team, tried to figure out what to do with it and made a decision. We’re going to hold this and see what we make of it down the road.

BLUNT: Did it mean you had no responsibility to report that to the Justice Department in some way?

COMEY: I think at some point, and I don’t know what Director Mueller is going to do with it, but at some point, I was sure we were going to brief it to the team in charge of the case. But our judgment was in the short term, doesn’t make sense to — no fuzz on the fact I reported to the attorney general. That’s why I stressed he shouldn’t be kicked out of the room. Didn’t make sense to report to him now.

BLUNT: You said the attorney general said, I don’t want to be in the room with him alone again, but you continued to talk to him on the phone. What is the difference in being in the room alone with him and talking to him on the phone alone?

COMEY: I think what I stressed to the attorney general was broader than just the room. I said, I report to you. It is very important you be between me and the white house.

BLUNT: After that discussion with the attorney general, did you take phone calls from the president?

COMEY: Yes, sir.

BLUNT: Why did you just say you need to — why didn’t you say, I’m not taking that call. Talk to the attorney general?

COMEY: I did on the April 11th call. I reported the calls — the March 30th call and the April 11th call to my superior, who was the acting deputy attorney general.

BLUNT: I don’t want to run out of time here. In reading your testimony, January the 3rd, January the 27th and March the 30th, it appears to me on all three of those occasions, you unsolicited by the president, made the point to him he was not a target of an investigation?

COMEY: Correct. Yes, sir.

BLUNT: One, I thought the March 30th, very interesting, you said, well, even though you don’t want — you may not want — that was 27th, where he said, why don’t you look into that more? You said, you may not want that because we couldn’t say with — we couldn’t answer the question about you being a target of the investigation. You didn’t seem to be answering that question anyhow. Senator Rubio pointed out the one unanswered, unleaked question seems to have been that. In this whole period of time. You said something earlier and I don’t want to fail to follow up on, you said after dismissed, you gave information to a friend so that friend could get that information into the public media.

COMEY: Correct.

BLUNT: What kind of information was that? What kind of information did you give to a friend?

COMEY: That the — the Flynn conversation. The president had asked me to let the Flynn — forgetting my exact own words. But the conversation in the Oval Office.

BLUNT: So you didn’t consider your memo or your sense of that conversation to be a government document. You considered it to be, somehow, your own personal document that you could share to the media as you wanted through a friend?

COMEY: Correct. I understood this to be my recollection recorded of my conversation with the president. As a private citizen, I thought it important to get it out.

BLUNT: Were all your memos that you recorded on classified or other memos that might be yours as a private citizen?

COMEY: I’m not following the question.

BLUNT: You said you used classified —

COMEY: Not the classified documents. Unclassified. I don’t have any of them anymore. I gave them to the special counsel. My view was that the content of those unclassified, memorialization of those conversations was my recollection recorded.

BLUNT: So why didn’t you give those to somebody yourself rather than give them through a third party?

COMEY:Because I was weary the media was camping at the end of my driveway at that point. I was actually going out of town with my wife to hide. I worried it would be feeding seagulls at the beach. If it was I who gave it to the media. I asked my friend, make sure this gets out.

BLUNT: It does seem to me what you do there is create a source close to the former director of the FBI as opposed to taking responsibility yourself for saying, here are the records. Like everybody else, I have other things I’d like to get into but I’m out of time.

SEN. ANGUS KING: First, I’d like to acknowledge Senator Blumenthal and Senator Nelson. The principal thing you’ll learn is the chairs there are more uncomfortable than the chairs here. But welcome to the hearing. Mr. Comey, a broad question. Was the Russian activity in the 2016 election a one off proposition, or is this part of a long-term strategy? Will they be back?

COMEY: Oh, it is a long-term practice of theirs. It’s stepped up a notch in a significant way in ’16. They’ll be back.

KING: I think that’s very important for the American people to understand. That this is very much a forward looking investigation in terms of how do we understand what they did and how do we prevent it. Would you agree that is a big part of our role here?

COMEY: Yes, sir. It is not a Republican thing or a democratic thing. It really is an American thing. They’re going to come for whatever party they choose to try and work on behalf of, and they’re not devoted to either, in my experience. They’re just about their own advantage. They will be back.

KING: That’s my observation. I don’t think Putin is a Republican or a Democrat. He’s an opportunist.

COMEY: I think that’s a fair statement.

KING: With regard to the — several of these conversations, in his interview with Lester Holt on NBC, the president said, I had dinner with him. He wanted to have dinner because he wanted to stay on. Is this an accurate statement?

COMEY: No, sir.

KING: Did you in any way initiate that dinner?

COMEY: No. He called me at my desk at lunchtime and asked me, was I free for dinner that night. Called himself. Said, can you come over for dinner tonight? I said, yes, sir. He said, will 6:00 work? I think 6:00 first. Then he said, I was going to invite your whole family but we’ll do it next time. Is that a good time? I said, sir, whatever works for you. He said, how about 6:30? I said, whatever works for you, sir. Then I hung up and had to call my wife and break a date with her. I was supposed to take her to dinner that night.

KING: One of the all-time great excuses for breaking a date.

COMEY: Yeah. In retrospect, I love spending time with my wife and I wish I would have been there that night.

KING: That’s one question I’m not going to follow up on, Mr. Comey. In that same interview, the president said, in one case I called him and in one case, he call me. Is that an accurate statement?

COMEY: No.

KING: Did you ever call the president?

COMEY: No. I might — the only reason I’m hesitating is, I think there was at least one conversation where I was asked to call the White House switchboard to be connected to him. I never initiated a communication with the president.

KING: In his press conference May 18th, the president responded, quote, no, no, when asked about asking you to stop the investigation into general Flynn. Is that a true statement?

COMEY: I don’t believe it is.

KING: In regard to him being personally under investigation, does that mean that the dossier is not being reviewed or investigated or followed up on in any way?

COMEY: I obviously can’t comment either way. I talk in an open setting about the investigation as it was when I was head of the FBI. It is Bob Mueller’s responsibility now. I don’t know.

KING: Clearly, your statements to the president back on the various times when you assured him it wasn’t under investigation, as of that moment, is it correct?

COMEY: Correct.

KING: Now, on the Flynn investigation, is it not true that Mr. Flynn was and is a central figure in this entire investigation of the relationship between the Trump campaign and the Russians?

COMEY: I can’t answer that in an open setting, sir.

KING: Certainly, Mr. Flynn was part of the so-called Russian investigation? Can you answer that question?

COMEY: I have to give you the same answer.

KING: All right. We’ll be having a closed session shortly so we’ll follow up on that. In terms of his comments to you about — I think in response to Senator Risch, he said, I hope you’ll hold back on that, but when you get a — when a president of the United States in the Oval Office says something like, I hope or I suggest or would you, do you take that as a directive?

COMEY: Yes. It rings in my ear as, well, will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest.

KING: I was just going to quote that, in 1179, December 27th, Henry II said, who will rid me of the meddlesome priest, and the next day, he was killed. Exactly the same situation. We’re thinking along the same lines. Several other questions, and these are a little more detailed. What do you know about the Russian bank VEB?

COMEY: Nothing that I can talk about in an open setting. I know —

KING: That takes care of the next three questions.

COMEY: I know it exists.

KING: What is relationship of ambassador — the ambassador from Russia to the United States to the Russian intelligence infrastructure?

COMEY: He’s a diplomat who is the chief of mission at the Russian Embassy, which employs a robust cohort of intelligence officers. So, surely, he is whiting of their aggressive intelligence operations, at least some of it in the United States. I don’t consider him to be an intelligence officer himself. He’s a diplomat.

KING: Did you ever — did the FBI ever brief the Trump administration about the advisability of interacting directly with Ambassador Kislyak?

COMEY: All I can say sits here is there are a variety of defensive briefings given to the incoming administration about the counterintelligence risk.

KING: Back to Mr. Flynn. Would the — would closing out the Flynn investigation have impeded the overall Russian investigation?

COMEY: No. Well, unlikely, except to the extent — there is always a possibility if you have a criminal case against someone and squeeze them, flip them and they give you information about something else. But I saw the two as touching each other but separate.

KING: With regard to your memos, isn’t it true that in a court case when you’re weighing evidence, contemporaneous memos and contemporaneous statements to third parties are considered probative in terms of the validity of testimony?

COMEY: Yes.

KING: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

BURR: Senator Lankford?

LANKFORD: Former Director Comey, good to see you again.

COMEY: You, too.

LANKFORD: Multiple opportunities to visit, as everyone here has. I appreciate you and your service and what you have done for the nation for a long time, what you continue to do. I told you before in the heat of last year, when we had an opportunity to visit personally, that I pray for you and your family because you carry a tremendous amount of stress. That is still true today.

COMEY: Thank you.

LANKFORD: Let me walk through a couple things with you. Your notes are obviously exceptionally important because they give a rapid account of what you wrote down and what you perceived happened in those different meetings. Have you had the opportunity to reference those notes when you were preparing the written statement you put forward today?

COMEY: Yes. I think nearly all of my written recordings of my conversations, I had a chance to review them before filing my statement.

LANKFORD: Do you have a copy of any of the notes personally?

COMEY: I don’t. I turned them over to Bob Mueller’s investigators.

LANKFORD: The individual that you told about your memos, that then were sent on to The New York Times, did you have a copy of the memos or told orally?

COMEY: Had a copy at the time.

LANKFORD: Do they still have a copy of those memos?

COMEY: Good question. I think so. I guess I can’t say for sure sitting here, but — I guess I don’t know. But I think so.

LANKFORD: So the question is, could you ask them to hand that copyright back to you so you can hand them over to this committee?

COMEY: Potentially.

LANKFORD: I would like to move that from potentially to seeing if we can ask that question so we can have a copy of those. Obviously, the notes are really important to us, so we can continue to get to the facts as we see it. The written documents are exceptionally important.

COMEY: Yeah.

LANKFORD: Were there other documents we need to be aware of you used in your preparation for your written statement we should also have that would assist us in helping us with this?

COMEY: Not that I’m aware of, no.

LANKFORD: Past the February 14th meeting, which is an important meeting as we discuss the conversations here about Michael Flynn, when the president asked you about he hopes that you would let this go, and the conversation back and forth about being a good guy, after that time, did the president ever bring up anything about Michael Flynn again to you? Had multiple other conversations you had documents with the president.

COMEY: I don’t remember him bringing it up again.

LANKFORD: Did a member of the white house staff come up to you asking you to drop the Michael Flynn case, anything referring to that?

COMEY: No.

LANKFORD: Did the Director of National Intelligence talk to you about that?

COMEY: No.

LANKFORD: Did anyone from the attorney general’s office, the department of justice ask about that?

COMEY: No.

LANKFORD: Did the head of NSA talk to you about that?

COMEY: No.

LANKFORD: The key aspect here is if this seems to be something the president is trying to get you to drop it, it seems like a light touch to drop it, to bring it up at that point, the day after he had just fired Flynn, to come back here and say, I hope we can let this go, then it never reappears again. Did it slow down your investigation or any investigation that may or may not be occurring with Michael Flynn?

COMEY: No. Although I don’t know there are any manifestations between February 14th and when I was fired. I don’t know that the president had any way of knowing whether it was effective or not.

LANKFORD: Okay. Fair enough. If the president wanted to stop an investigation, how would he do that? Knowing it is an ongoing criminal investigation or counterintelligence investigation, would that be a matter of going to you, you perceive, and say, you make it stop because he doesn’t have the authority to stop it? How would the president make an ongoing investigation stop?

COMEY: I’m not a legal scholar, but as a legal matter, the president is the head of the executive branch and could direct, in theory, we have important norms against this, but could anyone be investigative or not. I think he has the legal authority. All of us ultimately report in the executive branch to the president.

LANKFORD: Would that be to you, or the attorney general or who?

COMEY: I suppose he could if he wanted to issue a direct order could do it anyway. Through the attorney general or issue it directly to me.

LANKFORD: Well, is there any question that the president is not real fond of this investigation? I can think of multiple 140-word character expressions that he’s publicly expressed he’s not fond of the investigation. I heard you refer to before trying to keep the agents away from any comment that the president may have made. Quite frankly, the president has informed around 6 billion people that he’s not real fond of this investigation. Do you think there’s a difference in that?

COMEY: Yes. There’s a big difference in kicking superior officers out of the oval office, looking the FBI director in the eye and saying I hope you let this go. I think if agents as good as they are heard the president of the United States did that, there’s a real risk of a chilling effect on their work. That’s why we kept it so tight.

LANKFORD: OK. You had mentioned before about some news stories and news accounts. Without having to go into all of the names and specific times and to be able to dip into all of that. Have there been news accounts about the Russian investigation or collusion about the whole event or as you read the story you were wrong about how wrong they got the facts?

COMEY: Yes, there have been many, many stories based on — well, lots of stuff but about Russia that are dead wrong.

LANKFORD: I was interested in your comment that you made as well that the president said to you if there were some satellite associates of his that did something wrong, it would be good to find that out. Did the president seem to talk to you specifically on March 30th saying I’m frustrated that the word is not getting out that I’m under investigation. But if there are people in my circle that are, let’s finish the investigation, is that how you took it?

COMEY: Yes, sir. Yes.

LANKFORD: Then you made a comment earlier a the attorney general, the previous attorney general asking you about the investigation on the Clinton e-mails saying you were asked to not call it an investigation anymore. But call it a matter. You said that confused you. You can give us additional details on that?

COMEY: Well, it concerned me because we were at the point where we refused to confirm the existence as we typically do of an investigation for months. And was getting to a place where that looked silly because the campaigns we’re talking about interacting with the FBI in the course of our work. The Clinton campaign at the time was using all kinds of euphemisms, security matters, things like that for what was going on. We were getting to a place where the attorney general and I were both going to testify and talk publicly about it I wanted to know was she going to authorize us to confirm we have an investigation. She said yes, don’t call it that, call it a matter. I said why would I do that? She said, just call it a matter. You look back in hindsight, if I looked back and said this isn’t worth dying on so I just said the press is going to completely ignore it. That’s what happened when I said we opened a matter. They all reported the FBI has an investigation open. So that concerned me because that language tracked the way the campaign was talking about the FBI’s work and that’s concerning.

LANKFORD: You gave impression that the campaign was somehow using the language as the FBI because you were handed the campaign language?

COMEY: I don’t know whether it was intentional or not but it gave the impression that the attorney general was looking to align the way we talked about our work with the way it was describing that. It was inaccurate. We had an investigation open for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, we had an investigation open at the time. That gave me a queasy feeling.

BURR: Senator Manchin.

SEN. JOE MANCHIN: Thank you. I appreciate being here. West Virginia is interested in the hear we’re having today. I’ve had over 600 requests for questions to ask you from my fellow West Virginians. Most of them have been asked and there are some to be asked if the classified hearing. I want to thank you first of all for coming to be here and volunteering to stay in the classified hearing. I don’t know if you had a chance to watch our hearing yesterday —

COMEY: I watched part of it, yes.

MANCHIN: And it was quite troubling. My colleagues had very pointed questions they wanted answers to. And they weren’t classified and could have been answered in the open setting and they refused to. So that makes us much more appreciative of your cooperation. Sir, the seriousness of the Russia investigation and knowing that it can be ongoing as Senator Keegan alluded to. What are your concerns there? American public saying why are we making a big deal of this Russian investigation? Can you tell me about your thoughts?

COMEY: Yes, sir.

MANCHIN: Finally, did the president ever show any concern or interest or curiosity about what the Russians were doing?

COMEY: Thank you, senator. As I said earlier, I don’t remember any conversations with the president about the Russia election interference.

MANCHIN: Did he ever ask you any questions concerning this?

COMEY: Well, there was an initial briefing of our findings. And I think there was conversation there I don’t remember exactly where he asked what I found and what our sources were and what our confidence level was. The reason this is such a big deal. We have this big messy wonderful country where we fight with each other all the time. But nobody tells us what to think, what to fight about, what to vote for except other Americans. And that’s wonderful and often painful. But we’re talking about a foreign government that using technical intrusion, lots of other methods tried to shape the way we think, we vote, we act. That is a big deal. And people need to recognize it. It’s not about Republicans or Democrats. They’re coming after America, which I hope we all love equally. They want to undermine our credibility in the face the world. They think that this great experiment of ours is a threat to them. So they’re going to try to run it down and dirty it up as much as possible. That’s what this is about and they will be back. Because we remain — as difficult as we can be with each other, we remain that shining city on the hill. And they don’t like it.

MANCHIN: It’s extremely important, extremely dangerous what we’re dealing with and it’s needed is what you’re saying.

COMEY: Yes, sir.

MANCHIN: Do you believe there were any tapes or recordings of your conversations with the president?

COMEY: It never occurred to me until the president’s tweet. I’m not being facetious. I hope there are.

MANCHIN: Both of you are in the same here, you both hope there are taping and recordings?

COMEY: Well all I can do is hope. The president surely knows if he taped me. If he did, my feelings aren’t hurt. Release all of the tapes I’m good with you.

MANCHIN: Sir, do you believe that Robert Mueller, our new special versus, on Russia, will be thorough and complete without intervention and would you about confident on his recommendations?

COMEY: Yes, Bob Mueller is one of the finest people and public servants this country has ever produced. He will do it well. He’s a dogged-tough person and you can have high confidence when he’s done, he’s turned over all of the rocks.

MANCHIN: You’ve been asked a wide variety of questions and we’re going to have more in our classified hearing. Something else I like to ask folks when they come here, what details of the saga should we be focused on and recommend that we do differently? To adjust our perspective on this.

COMEY: I don’t know. One of the reasons I’m pleased to be here I think this committee has shown the American people although we have two parties and we disagree on things we can work together when it comes to the country. So I would hope that you would just keep doing what you’re doing. And it’s a good example for kids. That it’s good in and of itself but we are an adult democracy.

MANCHIN: You mentioned six times on the phone with president did you ever allude that you were performing inadequately? —

COMEY: No, quite the contrary. I was about to get on a helicopter one time. The head of the DEA was in the helicopter waiting for me. He called in to check in and tell me I was doing an awesome job. And wanted to see how I was doing. I said I’m doing fine, sir. Then I finished the call and got on the helicopter.

MANCHIN: Mr. Comey, do you believe you would have been fired if Hillary Clinton became president?

COMEY: That’s a great question. I don’t know. I don’t know.

MANCHIN: Have you had any thoughts about it?

COMEY: I might have been. I don’t know. Look, I’ve said before, that was an extraordinarily difficult and painful time. I think I did what I had to do. I knew it was going to be very bad for me personally. And the consequences might have been if Hillary Clinton was elected I might have been terminated. I don’t know. I really don’t.

MANCHIN: My final question, after the February 14th meeting in the oval office you mentioned to Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Did you ever consider why Attorney General Sessions was not asked to stay in the room?

COMEY: Oh, sure. I did. And have. And in that moment, I knew —

MANCHIN: Did you ever talk to him about it?

COMEY: No.

MANCHIN: You never had a discussion with Jeff sessions on this?

COMEY: No, not at all.

MANCHIN: On any of your meetings?

COMEY: No.

MANCHIN: Did he inquire? Did he show any inquiry whatsoever what was that meeting about?

COMEY: No — you’re right. I did say to him. I’d forgotten this, I talked to him and said you have to be between me and the president and that’s incredibly important. I forgot my exact words I passed along my the president’s message about the leaks. I passed that along to the attorney general I think it was the next morning in the meeting. But I did not tell him about the Flynn part.

MANCHIN: Do you believe this rises to obstruction of justice?

COMEY: I don’t know, that’s Bob Mueller’s job to sort that out. .

MANCHIN: Thank you, sir.

SEN. TOM COTTON: Mr. Chairman.

BURR: Senator Cotton.

COTTON: Mr. Comey, you’re encouraged.president will release the tapes will you encourage Mr. Mueller to release your memos?

COMEY: Sure.

COTTON: You said you did not record your conversations with President Obama or President Bush in memos. Did you do so with Attorney General Jeff Sessions or any other senior member of the trump Department of Justice?

COMEY: No. I think — I am sorry.

COTTON: Did you record conversations or memos with the attorney general or any other senior member of the Obama administration?

COMEY: No.

COTTON: Two phone calls, four phone calls are not discussed in your statement, for the record. What happens in those phone calls?

COMEY: The president called me I believe shortly before he was inaugurated as a follow-up to our conversation, private conversation on January the 6th. He just wanted to reiterate his rejection of that allegation and talk about—- he’d thought about it more. And why he thought it wasn’t true. The verified — unverified parts. And during that call, he asked me again, hope you’re going to say. You’re doing a great job. I told him that I intended to. There was another phone call that I mentioned could have the date wrong, March 1st, where he called just to check in with me as I was about to get on the hospital. It was a secure call we had about an operational matter that is not related to any of this. Something that the FBI is working on. He wanted to make sure I understood how important he thought it was. A totally appropriate call. And then the fourth call, probably forgetting — may have been — I may have met the call when he called to invite me to dinner. I’ll think about it as I’m answering other questions but I think I got that right.

COTTON: Let’s turn our attention to the underlying activity at issue here. Russia’s hacking of those e-mails and the allegation of collusion. Do you think Donald Trump colluded with Russia?

COMEY: That’s a question I don’t think I should answer in an opening setting. As I said, when I left, we did not have an investigation focused on president trump. But that’s a question that will be answered by the investigation, I think.

COTTON: Let me turn to a couple statements by one of my colleagues, Senator Feinstein. She was the ranking member on this committee until January, which means that she had access to information that only she and Chairman Burr did. She’s now the senior Democrat on the FBI Committee, which means she had access to information that many of us don’t. On May 3rd on the Wolf Blitzer show she was asked “Do you believe you have evidence that in fact that there was collusion between Trump associates and Russia during the campaign? She answered not at this time. On May 18th, on the same show, Mr. Blitzer said, “The last time you came on this show I I asked if you had seen any evidence that Russia had colluded with the Trump campaign.” You said not at this time. Has anything changed since we last spoke? Senator Feinstein said no, it hasn’t. Do you have any reason to doubt those statements?

COMEY: I don’t doubt that the Senator Feinstein understood what she said. I just don’t want to go down that route anymore because I’m — I want to be fair to President Trump.I am not trying to suggest something nefarious but I don’t want to get into the business of not to this person, not to that person.

COTTON: On February 14th the New York Times published the story, the headline of which was “Trump campaign aides had repeated contacts with Russian intelligence.” You were asked if that as an inaccurate story. Would it be fair to characterize that story as almost entirely wrong?

COMEY: Yes.

COTON: Do you have — at the time the story was published, any indication of any contact between Trump people and Russians, intelligence officers, other government officials or close associates of the Russian government?

COMEY: That’s one I can’t answer sitting here.

COTTON: We can discuss that in the classified setting then. I want to turn your attention now to Mr. Flynn. The allegations of his underlying conduct to be specific. His alleged interactions with the Russian ambassador on the telephone and then what he said to senior Trump administration officials and Department of Justice officials. I understand there are other issues with Mr. Flynn related to his receipt of foreign monies or disclosure ever official advocacy, those are serious allegations that I’m sure will be pursued but I want to speak specifically about his interactions with the Russian ambassador. There’s a story on January 23rd in The Washington Post that says, entitled “FBI reviewed calls with Russian ambassador but found nothing illicit.” Is this story accurate?

COMEY: I don’t want to comment ton that senator. I’m pretty sure the bureau has not confirmed any interception of communications. So, I don’t want to talk about that in an opening setting.

COTTON: Would it be improper for an incoming national security advisor to have a conversation with a foreign ambassador?

COMEY: In my experience, no.

COTTON: But you can’t confirm or deny that the conversation happened and we would need to know the contents of that conversation to know if it in fact was proper.

COMEY: I don’t think I can talk about that opening setting. Again, I’ve been out of government a month. So, I also don’t want to talk about things when it’s now somebody else’s responsibility. But maybe in the classified setting we can talk more about that.

COTTON: You stated earlier that there was an open investigation of Mr. Flynn and the FBI. Did you or any FBI agent ever sense that Mr. Flynn attempted to deceive you or make false states to an FBI agent?

COMEY: I don’t want to go too far. That was the subject of the criminal inquiry.

COTTON: Did you ever come close to closing the investigation on Mr. Flynn?

COMEY: I don’t think I can talk about that in open setting either.

COTTON: We can discuss these more in the closed setting then. Mr. Comey, in 2004, you were a part of a well-publicized event about an intelligence program that had been recertified several times. And you were acting attorney general when Attorney General John Ashcroft was incapacitated due to illness. There was a dramatic showdown at the hospital here. The next day you said you that wrote the letter of resignation, signed it, went to meet with President Bush and explained why you produced to certify it is that accurate?

COMEY: Yes.

COTTON: At anytime during FBI director did you ever write and sign a letter of resignation?

COMEY: Letter of resignation? No, sir.

COTTON: Despite all of off that testified to today you didn’t feel this rose to a level of honest difference of opinion between accomplished and skilled lawyers in that 2004 episode.

COMEY: I wouldn’t characterize the events in 2004 that way but to answer, no, I didn’t find, encounter any circumstance that led me intend to resign, consider to resign. No, sir.

COTTON: Thank you.

BURR: Senator Harris.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS: Director Comey, I want to thank you you are now a private citizen and you’re enduring a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing. Each of us gets seven minutes instead of five to ask you questions, thank you.

COMEY: I’m between opportunities now so —

HARRIS: You are — I’m sure you’ll have future opportunities. You and I are both former prosecutors. I’m not going to require to you answer. I just want to make a statement that in my experience of prosecuting cases when a robber held a gun to somebody’s head and said I hope you will give me your wallet, the word hope was not the operative word at that moment. But you don’t have to respond to that point. I have a series of questions to ask you. And they’re going to start with: Are you aware of any meetings between the trump administration officials and Russia officials during the campaign that have not been acknowledged by those officials in the White House?

COMEY: That’s not — even if I remembered clearly, that’s not a question I can answer in open setting.

HARRIS: Are you aware of any questions by Trump campaign officials or associates of the campaign to hide their communications with Russia officials through encrypted means?

COMEY: I have to give you the same answer.

HARRIS: In the course of the FBI’s investigation did you ever come across anything that suggested that communication, records, documents or other evidence had been destroyed?

COMEY: I think a got to give you the aim answer is because it would touch on investigative matters.

HARRIS: And are you a wear of any potential efforts to conceal between campaign officials and Russian officials?

COMEY: I have to give you the aim answer is.

HARRIS: Thank you. As a former attorney general, I have a series of questions in connection with your connection with the attorney general while you were FBI director. What is your understanding of the parameters of Attorney General Sessions’ recusal from the Russia investigation?

COMEY: I think it’s described in a written release from DOJ which I don’t remember sitting here but the gist is he will be recused from all matters relating to Russia or the campaign. Or the activities of Russia and the ’16 election or something like that.

HARRIS: So, is your knowledge of the extent of the recusal based on the public statements he’s made?

COMEY: Correct.

HARRIS: Is there any kind of memorandum issued from the attorney general to the FBI outlining the parameters of his recusal?

COMEY: Not that I’m aware of.

HARRIS: Do you know if he reviewed any DOJ documents before he was recused?

COMEY: I don’t know.

HARRIS: And after he was recused. I’m assuming same answer?

COMEY: Same answer.

HARRIS: And aside from any notice or memorandum that was not sent or was what process would be to make sure that the attorney general would not have any connection to the investigation torsion your knowledge?

COMEY: I don’t know for sure. I know he had consulted with career ethics officials that know how to run a recusal at DOJ. But I don’t know what mechanism they set up.

HARRIS: And the attorney general recused himself from the investigation, do you believe it was appropriate for him to be involved in the firing of the chief investigator of that case that had Russia interference?

COMEY: It’s something that I can’t answer sitting here. It’s a reasonable question. It would depend on a lot of things I don’t know, like did he know, what was he told, did he realize the investigation, things like that. I just don’t know the answer.

HARRIS: You mentioned in your testimony that the president essentially asked you for a loyalty pledge. Are you aware of him making the same request of any other member the cabinet?

COMEY: I don’t know one way or another. I’ve never heard anything about it.

HARRIS: You mentioned you had the conversation where he hoped that you would let the Flynn matter go on February 14. Or thereabouts. It’s my understanding that Mr. Sessions was recused from any involvement in the investigation, about a full two weeks later. To your knowledge, was the attorney general, did he have access to information about the investigation in those two weeks?

COMEY: In theory, sure. Because he’s the attorney general. I don’t know whether he had any contact with materials related to that.

HARRIS: To your knowledge was there any directive that he should not have any contact with any information about the Russian investigation between the February 14th date and the day he was ultimately recused himself on March 2nd.

COMEY: Not to my knowledge. I don’t know one way or another.

HARRIS: And did you speak to the attorney general about the Russia investigation about his recusal?

COMEY: I don’t think so, no.

HARRIS: Do you know if anyone in the department, in the FBI, forwarded any documents or information on memos of any sort, to the attention of the attorney general before his recusal?

COMEY: I don’t know of any or remember any signaturing here. It’s possible.

HARRIS: Do you know if the attorney general was involved, in fact, involved in any aspect of the Russia investigation after the 2nd of March?

COMEY: I don’t. I would assume not. Let me say this way, I don’t know of any information that would lead me to believe he did something to touch the Russia investigation after recusal.

HARRIS: In your written testimony, you indicate that after you were left alone with the president, you mentioned that it was inappropriate and should never happen again to the attorney general. And apparently, he did not reply. And you wrote that he did not reply. What did he do, if anything? Did he just look at you? Was there a pause for a moment, what happened?

COMEY: I don’t remember real clearly. I have a recollection of him just kind of looking at me. It was a danger I’m projecting on to him so this might be a faulty memory. But I kind of got — his body language gave me a sense like what am I going to do.

HARRIS: Did he shrug?

COMEY: I don’t remember clearly. I think the reason I have that impression is I have some recollection of almost imperceptible like what am I going to do. But I don’t have a clear recollection of that of that. He didn’t say anything.

HARRIS: On that same February 14th meeting you said you understood the president to be requesting that you drop the investigation. After that meeting, however, you received two calls from the president March 30th and April 11th, where the president talked about cloud over his presidency. Has anything you’ve learned in the months since your February 14 meeting changed your understanding of the president’s request — ¶I guess that would be what he said in public documents or public interviews?

COMEY: Correct.

HARRIS: And is there anything about this investigation that you believe is in any way biased or, or is not being informed by a process of seeking the truth?

COMEY: No. The appointment of a special counsel should offer great — especially given who that person is, great comfort to Americans. No matter what your political affiliation is, that this will be done independently, confidently and honestly.

HARRIS: And do you believe he should have full authority, Mr. Mueller, to be able to pursue that investigation?

COMEY: Yes. And knowing him well, over the years, if there’s something that he thinks he needs, he will speak up about it.

HARRIS: Do you believe he should have full independence?

COMEY: Oh, yeah. And he wouldn’t be part of if he wasn’t going to get full Independence.

HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

CORNYN: Mr. Comey I’ll repeat what I said in previous hearings that I believe you’re a good and decent man who has been dealt with a difficult hand starting back with the Clinton e-mail investigation. I appreciate you being here voluntarily to cooperation with the investigation. As a general matter, if an FBI agent has reason to believe that a crime has been committed, do they have a duty to report it?

COMEY: That’s a good question. I don’t know that there’s a legal duty to report it. They certainly have a cultural, ethical duty to report it.

CORNYN: You’re unsure whether they would have a legal duty?

COMEY: That’s a good question. I have not thought about that before. There’s a statute that prohibits the felony, knowing a felony and taking steps to conceal it but that’s a different question. Let me be clear, I would expect any FBI agent who has information about a crime to report it.

CORNYN: Me, too.

COMEY: But where you rest that obligation, I don’t know. It exists.

CORNYN: And let me suggest as a general proposition, if you’re trying to make an investigation go away, is firing an FBI director a good way to make that happen? By that, I mean —

COMEY: It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me but I obviously am hopelessly biased given I was the one fired.

CORNYN: I understand it’s personal.

COMEY: Given the nature of the FBI, I meant what I said. For all the indispensable people in the world, including the FBI, there’s lots of bad things for me not being at the FBI, most of them for me, but the work is going to go on.

CORNYN: Nothing that you testified to as to today, has impeded the investigation of the FBI or director Mueller’s ability to get to the bottom of this?

COMEY: Correct. Especially, Director Mueller is a critical part of that equation.

CORNYN: Let me take you back to the Clinton e-mail investigation. I think you’ve been tanked agency a hero or a villain, depending on whose political ox is being gored at many different times during the court of the Clinton e-mail investigation, and even now perhaps.

But you clearly were troubled by the conduct of the sitting Attorney General Loretta Lynch when it came to the Clinton e-mail investigation. You mentioned the characterization that you’d been asked to accept. That this was a matter. And not a criminal investigation. Which you said it was. There was the matter of President Clinton’s meeting on the tarmac. With the sitting attorney general at the time when his wife was a subject to a criminal investigation. And you suggested that perhaps there are other matters that you may be able to share with us later on in a classified setting. But it seems to me that you clearly believe that Loretta Lynch, the attorney general, had an appearance of a conflict of interest on the Clinton e-mail investigation. Is that correct?

COMEY: That’s fair. I didn’t believe she could credibly decline that investigation. At least not without grievous damage to the Department of Justice and to the FBI.

CORNYN: And under Department of Justice and FBI norms, wouldn’t it have been appropriate for the attorney general, or if she had recused herself which she did not do for the deputy attorney general to appoint a special counsel. That’s essentially what’s happened with director Mueller. Would that have been an appropriate step?

COMEY: Certainly, yes, sir.

CORNYN: And were you aware Ms. Lynch had been requested numerous times to appoint a special counsel and had refused.

COMEY: Yes. From, I think, Congress had — members of congress had repeatedly asked, yes, sir.

CORNYN: Yours truly did on multiple occasions. And that heightened your concerns about the appearance of a conflict of interest with the Department of Justice which caused you to make what you have described as an incorrectly painful decision to basically take the matter up yourself and led to that July press conference?

COMEY: Yes, sir. I ask — after President Clinton, former President Clinton met on the plane with the attorney general, I considered whether I should call for the appointment of a special counsel. And decided that would be an unfair thing to do because I knew there was no case there. We investigated it very, very thoroughly. I know this is a subject of passionate disagreement but I knew there was no case there. And calling for the appointment of special counsel would be brutally unfair because it would send the message, uh-huh, there’s something here. That’s my judgment. Lots of people have different views about it but that’s what I thought about it.

CORNYN: Well if a special counsel had been appointed they could have made that determination there was nothing there and declined to pursue it, right?

COMEY: Sure. But it would have been many months later or a year later.

CORNYN: Let me just you ask to — given the experience of the Clinton e-mail investigation and what happened there. Do you think it’s unreasonable for anyone, any president, who has been assured on multiple occasions that he’s not the subject of an FBI investigation, do you think it’s unreasonable for them to want the FBI director to publicly announce that, so that this cloud over his administration would be removed?

COMEY: I think that’s a reasonable point of view. The concern would be, obviously, because as that boomerang comes back it’s going to be a very big deal because there will be a duty to correct.

CORNYN: Well, we saw that in the Clinton e-mail investigation.

COMEY: Yes, I recall that.

CORNYN: I know you do. So, let me ask you, finally, in the minute we have left. There was this conversation back and forth about loyalty. And I think we all appreciate the fact that an FBI director is an unique public official in the sense he’s not — he’s a political appointee in one sense. But he has a duty of independence to pursue the law pursuant to the Constitution and laws of the United States. And so when the president asked you about loyalty, you got in this back and forth about, well, I’ll pledge you my honesty. Then it looks like from what I’ve read you agreed upon honest loyalty. Is that the characterization?

COMEY: Yes.

CORNYN: Thank you very much.

COMEY: Yes, sir.

Full Text Political Transcripts June 7, 2017: Former FBI Director James Comey’s Opening Statement to Senate Intelligence Committee about President Donald Trump

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

James Comey’s prepared testimony

Source: Senate Intelligence Committee, 6-7-17

Statement for the Record

Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
James B. Comey
June 8, 2017
Chairman Burr, Ranking Member Warner, Members of the Committee.
Thank you for inviting me to appear before you today. I was asked to testify today to describe for you my interactions with President-Elect and President Trump on subjects that I understand are of interest to you. I have not included every detail from my conversations with the President, but, to the best of my recollection, I have tried to include information that may be relevant to the Committee.
January 6 Briefing
I first met then-President-Elect Trump on Friday, January 6 in a conference room at Trump Tower in New York. I was there with other Intelligence Community (IC) leaders to brief him and his new national security team on the findings of an IC assessment concerning Russian efforts to interfere in the election. At the conclusion of that briefing,
I remained alone with the President Elect to brief him on some personally sensitive aspects of the information assembled during the assessment.
The IC leadership thought it important, for a variety of reasons, to alert the incoming President to the existence of this material, even though it was salacious and unverified. Among those reasons were: (1) we knew the media was about to publicly report the material and we believed the IC should not keep knowledge of the material and its imminent release from the President-Elect; and (2) to the extent there was some effort to compromise an incoming President, we could blunt any such effort with a defensive briefing.
The Director of National Intelligence asked that I personally do this portion of the briefing because I was staying in my position and because the material implicated the FBI’s counter-intelligence responsibilities. We also agreed I would do it alone to minimize potential embarrassment to the President-Elect. Although we agreed it made sense for me to do the briefing, the FBI’s leadership and I were concerned that the briefing might create a situation where a new President came into office uncertain about whether the FBI was conducting a counter-intelligence investigation of his personal conduct.
It is important to understand that FBI counter-intelligence investigations are different than the more-commonly known criminal investigative work. The Bureau’s goal in a counter-intelligence investigation is to understand the technical and human methods that hostile foreign powers are using to influence the United States or to steal our secrets. The FBI uses that understanding to disrupt those efforts. Sometimes disruption takes the form of alerting a person who is targeted for recruitment or influence by the foreign power. Sometimes it involves hardening a computer system that is being attacked. Sometimes it involves “turning” the recruited person into a double-agent, or publicly calling out the behavior with sanctions or expulsions of embassy-based intelligence officers. On occasion, criminal prosecution is used to disrupt intelligence activities.
Because the nature of the hostile foreign nation is well known, counterintelligence investigations tend to be centered on individuals the FBI suspects to be witting or unwitting agents of that foreign power. When the FBI develops reason to believe an American has been targeted for recruitment by a foreign power or is covertly acting as an agent of the foreign power, the FBI will “open an investigation” on that American and use legal authorities to try to learn more about the nature of any relationship with the foreign power so it can be disrupted.
In that context, prior to the January 6 meeting, I discussed with the FBI’s leadership team whether I should be prepared to assure President-Elect Trump that we were not investigating him personally. That was true; we did not have an open counter-intelligence case on him. We agreed I should do so if circumstances warranted. During our one-on-one meeting at Trump Tower, based on President Elect Trump’s reaction to the briefing and without him directly asking the Intelligence chiefs won’t say if Trump asked them to downplay Russia probe question, I offered that assurance.
I felt compelled to document my first conversation with the President-Elect in a memo. To ensure accuracy, I began to type it on a laptop in an FBI vehicle outside Trump Tower the moment I walked out of the meeting. Creating written records immediately after one-on-one conversations with Mr. Trump was my practice from that point forward. This had not been my practice in the past. I spoke alone with President Obama twice in person (and never on the phone) — once in 2015 to discuss law enforcement policy issues and a second time, briefly, for him to say goodbye in late 2016. In neither of those circumstances did I memorialize the discussions. I can recall nine one-on-one conversations with President Trump in four months — three in person and six on the phone.
January 27 Dinner
The President and I had dinner on Friday, January 27 at 6:30 pm in the Green Room at the White House. He had called me at lunchtime that day and invited me to dinner that night, saying he was going to invite my whole family, but decided to have just me this time, with the whole family coming the next time. It was unclear from the conversation who else would be at the dinner, although I assumed there would be others.
It turned out to be just the two of us, seated at a small oval table in the center of the Green Room. Two Navy stewards waited on us, only entering the room to serve food and drinks.
The President began by asking me whether I wanted to stay on as FBI Director, which I found strange because he had already told me twice in earlier conversations that he hoped I would stay, and I had assured him that I intended to. He said that lots of people wanted my job and, given the abuse I had taken during the previous year, he would understand if I wanted to walk away.
Comey’s opening statement posted online 05:00
My instincts told me that the one-on-one setting, and the pretense that this was our first discussion about my position, meant the dinner was, at least in part, an effort to have me ask for my job and create some sort of patronage relationship. That concerned me greatly, given the FBI’s traditionally independent status in the executive branch.
I replied that I loved my work and intended to stay and serve out my ten-year term as Director. And then, because the set-up made me uneasy, I added that I was not “reliable” in the way politicians use that word, but he could always count on me to tell him the truth. I added that I was not on anybody’s side politically and could not be counted on in the traditional political sense, a stance I said was in his best interest as the President.
A few moments later, the President said, “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.” I didn’t move, speak, or change my facial expression in any way during the awkward silence that followed. We simply looked at each other in silence. The conversation then moved on, but he returned to the subject near the end of our dinner. At one point, I explained why it was so important that the FBI and the Department of Justice be independent of the White House. I said it was a paradox: Throughout history, some Presidents have decided that because “problems” come from Justice, they should try to hold the Department close. But blurring those boundaries ultimately makes the problems worse by undermining public trust in the institutions and their work.
Near the end of our dinner, the President returned to the subject of my job, saying he was very glad I wanted to stay, adding that he had heard great things about me from Jim Mattis, Jeff Sessions, and many others. He then said, “I need loyalty.” I replied, “You will always get honesty from me.” He paused and then said, “That’s what I want, honest loyalty.” I paused, and then said, “You will get that from me.” As I wrote in the memo I created immediately after the dinner, it is possible we understood the phrase “honest loyalty” differently, but I decided it wouldn’t be productive to push it further. The term — honest loyalty — had helped end a very awkward conversation and my explanations had made clear what he should expect.
During the dinner, the President returned to the salacious material I had briefed him about on January 6, and, as he had done previously, expressed his disgust for the allegations and strongly denied them. He said he was considering ordering me to investigate the alleged incident to prove it didn’t happen. I replied that he should give that careful thought because it might create a narrative that we were investigating him personally, which we weren’t, and because it was very difficult to prove a negative. He said he would think about it and asked me to think about it.
As was my practice for conversations with President Trump, I wrote a detailed memo about the dinner immediately afterwards and shared it with the senior leadership team of the FBI.
February 14 Oval Office Meeting
On February 14, I went to the Oval Office for a scheduled counterterrorism briefing of the President. He sat behind the desk and a group of us sat in a semi-circle of about six chairs facing him on the other side of the desk. The Vice President, Deputy Director of the CIA, Director of the National CounterTerrorism Center, Secretary of Homeland Security, the Attorney General, and I were in the semi-circle of chairs. I was directly facing the President, sitting between the Deputy CIA Director and the Director of NCTC. There were quite a few others in the room, sitting behind us on couches and chairs.
The President signaled the end of the briefing by thanking the group and telling them all that he wanted to speak to me alone. I stayed in my chair. As the participants started to leave the Oval Office, the Attorney General lingered by my chair, but the President thanked him and said he wanted to speak only with me. The last person to leave was Jared Kushner, who also stood by my chair and exchanged pleasantries with me. The President then excused him, saying he wanted to speak with me.
How James Comey is preparing for this moment 02:30
When the door by the grandfather clock closed, and we were alone, the President began by saying, “I want to talk about Mike Flynn.” Flynn had resigned the previous day. The President began by saying Flynn hadn’t done anything wrong in speaking with the Russians, but he had to let him go because he had misled the Vice President. He added that he had other concerns about Flynn, which he did not then specify.
The President then made a long series of comments about the problem with leaks of classified information — a concern I shared and still share. After he had spoken for a few minutes about leaks, Reince Priebus leaned in through the door by the grandfather clock and I could see a group of people waiting behind him. The President waved at him to close the door, saying he would be done shortly. The door closed.
The President then returned to the topic of Mike Flynn, saying, “He is a good guy and has been through a lot.” He repeated that Flynn hadn’t done anything wrong on his calls with the Russians, but had misled the Vice President. He then said, “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.” I replied only that “he is a good guy.” (In fact, I had a positive experience dealing with Mike Flynn when he was a colleague as Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency at the beginning of my term at FBI.) I did not say I would “let this go.”
The President returned briefly to the problem of leaks. I then got up and left out the door by the grandfather clock, making my way through the large group of people waiting there, including Mr. Priebus and the Vice President.
I immediately prepared an unclassified memo of the conversation about Flynn and discussed the matter with FBI senior leadership. I had understood the President to be requesting that we drop any investigation of Flynn in connection with false statements about his conversations with the Russian ambassador in December. I did not understand the President to be talking about the broader investigation into Russia or possible links to his campaign. I could be wrong, but I took him to be focusing on what had just happened with Flynn’s departure and the controversy around his account of his phone calls. Regardless, it was very concerning, given the FBI’s role as an independent investigative agency.
The FBI leadership team agreed with me that it was important not to infect the investigative team with the President’s request, which we did not intend to abide. We also concluded that, given that it was a one-on-one conversation, there was nothing available to corroborate my account. We concluded it made little sense to report it to Attorney General Sessions, who we expected would likely recuse himself from involvement in Russia-related investigations. (He did so two weeks later.) The Deputy Attorney General’s role was then filled in an acting capacity by a United States Attorney, who would also not be long in the role. After discussing the matter, we decided to keep it very closely held, resolving to figure out what to do with it down the road as our investigation progressed. The investigation moved ahead at full speed, with none of the investigative team members — or the Department of Justice lawyers supporting them — aware of the President’s request.
Shortly afterwards, I spoke with Attorney General Sessions in person to pass along the President’s concerns about leaks. I took the opportunity to implore the Attorney General to prevent any future direct communication between the President and me. I told the AG that what had just happened — him being asked to leave while the FBI Director, who reports to the AG, remained behind — was inappropriate and should never happen. He did not reply. For the reasons discussed above, I did not mention that the President broached the FBI’s potential investigation of General Flynn.
March 30 Phone Call
On the morning of March 30, the President called me at the FBI. He described the Russia investigation as “a cloud” that was impairing his ability to act on behalf of the country. He said he had nothing to do with Russia, had not been involved with hookers in Russia, and had always assumed he was being recorded when in Russia. He asked what we could do to “lift the cloud.” I responded that we were investigating the matter as quickly as we could, and that there would be great benefit, if we didn’t find anything, to our having done the work well. He agreed, but then re-emphasized the problems this was causing him.
Then the President asked why there had been a congressional hearing about Russia the previous week — at which I had, as the Department of Justice directed, confirmed the investigation into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign. I explained the demands from the leadership of both parties in Congress for more information, and that Senator Grassley had even held up the confirmation of the Deputy Attorney General until we briefed him in detail on the investigation. I explained that we had briefed the leadership of Congress on exactly which individuals we were investigating and that we had told those Congressional leaders that we were not personally investigating President Trump. I reminded him I had previously told him that. He repeatedly told me, “We need to get that fact out.” (I did not tell the President that the FBI and the Department of Justice had been reluctant to make public statements that we did not have an open case on President Trump for a number of reasons, most importantly because it would create a duty to correct, should that change.)
The President went on to say that if there were some “satellite” associates of his who did something wrong, it would be good to find that out, but that he hadn’t done anything wrong and hoped I would find a way to get it out that we weren’t investigating him.
In an abrupt shift, he turned the conversation to FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, saying he hadn’t brought up “the McCabe thing” because I had said McCabe was honorable, although McAuliffe was close to the Clintons and had given him (I think he meant Deputy Director McCabe’s wife) campaign money. Although I didn’t understand why the President was bringing this up, I repeated that Mr. McCabe was an honorable person.
He finished by stressing “the cloud” that was interfering with his ability to make deals for the country and said he hoped I could find a way to get out that he wasn’t being investigated. I told him I would see what we could do, and that we would do our investigative work well and as quickly as we could.
Immediately after that conversation, I called Acting Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente (AG Sessions had by then recused himself on all Russia-related matters), to report the substance of the call from the President, and said I would await his guidance. I did not hear back from him before the President called me again two weeks later.
April 11 Phone Call
On the morning of April 11, the President called me and asked what I had done about his request that I “get out” that he is not personally under investigation. I replied that I had passed his request to the Acting Deputy Attorney General, but I had not heard back. He replied that “the cloud” was getting in the way of his ability to do his job. He said that perhaps he would have his people reach out to the Acting Deputy Attorney General. I said that was the way his request should be handled. I said the White House Counsel should contact the leadership of DOJ to make the request, which was the traditional channel.
He said he would do that and added, “Because I have been very loyal to you, very loyal; we had that thing you know.” I did not reply or ask him what he meant by “that thing.” I said only that the way to handle it was to have the White
House Counsel call the Acting Deputy Attorney General. He said that was what he would do and the call ended.
That was the last time I spoke with President Trump.
###

Full Text Political Transcripts June 7, 2017: President Donald Trump Announces Intent to Nominate Christopher A. Wray to be Director of the FBI

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

President Donald Trump Announces Intent to Nominate Christopher A. Wray to be Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation

Source: WH, 6-7-17

Today, President Donald J. Trump announced his intent to nominate Christopher A. Wray for the position of Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Mr. Wray is currently a partner at King & Spalding, an international law firm.

Mr. Wray has been recognized throughout his career as a leader in the field of white-collar criminal defense and government investigations. As Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Criminal Division at the Department of Justice from 2003 to 2005, Mr. Wray helped address the surge of corporate fraud scandals that plagued our financial markets. Upon his departure from the Department, Mr. Wray received the Edmund J. Randolph Award, the Department’s highest honor for public service and leadership. Mr. Wray graduated cum laude from Yale University in 1989 and received his law degree from Yale Law School in 1992.

“I am proud to announce Christopher as my choice as the Director of the FBI. During his previous service at the Department of Justice, Christopher was the leader of major fraud investigations, and was a key part of the team overseeing the Justice Department’s actions in the war on terrorism following the 9/11 attacks,” said President Trump. “He is an impeccably qualified individual, and I know that he will again serve his country as a fierce guardian of the law and model of integrity once the Senate confirms him to lead the FBI.

“It is a great honor to be selected by the President to return to the Department of Justice as Director of the FBI,” said Mr. Wray. “I look forward to serving the American people with integrity as the leader of what I know firsthand to be an extraordinary group of men and women who have dedicated their careers to protecting this country.”

Full Text Political Transcripts June 1, 2017: President Donald Trump Announces Withdrawal from Paris Climate Accord

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the Vice President Introducing President Trump’s Statement on the Paris Accord

Source: WH, 6-1-17

The Rose Garden
3:29 P.M. EDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon.  Secretary Mnuchin, Secretary Ross, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, members of Congress, distinguished guests, on behalf of the First Family, welcome to the White House.  (Applause.)

It’s the greatest privilege of my life to serve as Vice President to a President who is fighting every day to make America great again.

Since the first day of this administration, President Donald Trump has been working tirelessly to keep the promises that he made to the American people.  President Trump has been reforming healthcare, enforcing our laws, ending illegal immigration, rebuilding our military.  And this President has been rolling back excessive regulations and unfair trade practices that were stifling American jobs.

Thanks to President Trump’s leadership, American businesses are growing again; investing in America again; and they’re creating jobs in this country instead of shipping jobs overseas.  Thanks to President Donald Trump, America is back.  (Applause.)

And just last week we all witnessed the bold leadership of an American President on the world stage, putting America first.  From the Middle East, to Europe, as leader of the free world, President Trump reaffirmed historic alliances, forged new relationships, and called on the wider world to confront the threat of terrorism in new and renewed ways.

And by the action, the President will announce today, the American people and the wider world will see once again our President is choosing to put American jobs and American consumers first.  Our President is choosing to put American energy and American industry first.  And by his action today, President Donald Trump is choosing to put the forgotten men and women of America first.

So with gratitude for his leadership — (applause) — and admiration for his unwavering commitment to the American people, it is now my high honor and distinct privilege to introduce to all of you, the President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump.  (Applause.)

END
3:31 P.M. EDT

Statement by President Trump on the Paris Climate Accord

Rose Garden

3:32 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  I would like to begin by addressing the terrorist attack in Manila.  We’re closely monitoring the situation, and I will continue to give updates if anything happens during this period of time.  But it is really very sad as to what’s going on throughout the world with terror.  Our thoughts and our prayers are with all of those affected.

Before we discuss the Paris Accord, I’d like to begin with an update on our tremendous — absolutely tremendous — economic progress since Election Day on November 8th.  The economy is starting to come back, and very, very rapidly.  We’ve added $3.3 trillion in stock market value to our economy, and more than a million private sector jobs.

I have just returned from a trip overseas where we concluded nearly $350 billion of military and economic development for the United States, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs.  It was a very, very successful trip, believe me.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Thank you.

In my meetings at the G7, we have taken historic steps to demand fair and reciprocal trade that gives Americans a level playing field against other nations.  We’re also working very hard for peace in the Middle East, and perhaps even peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.  Our attacks on terrorism are greatly stepped up — and you see that, you see it all over — from the previous administration, including getting many other countries to make major contributions to the fight against terror.  Big, big contributions are being made by countries that weren’t doing so much in the form of contribution.

One by one, we are keeping the promises I made to the American people during my campaign for President –- whether it’s cutting job-killing regulations; appointing and confirming a tremendous Supreme Court justice; putting in place tough new ethics rules; achieving a record reduction in illegal immigration on our southern border; or bringing jobs, plants, and factories back into the United States at numbers which no one until this point thought even possible.  And believe me, we’ve just begun.  The fruits of our labor will be seen very shortly even more so.

On these issues and so many more, we’re following through on our commitments.  And I don’t want anything to get in our way.  I am fighting every day for the great people of this country.  Therefore, in order to fulfill my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens, the United States will withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord — (applause) — thank you, thank you — but begin negotiations to reenter either the Paris Accord or a really entirely new transaction on terms that are fair to the United States, its businesses, its workers, its people, its taxpayers.  So we’re getting out.  But we will start to negotiate, and we will see if we can make a deal that’s fair.  And if we can, that’s great.  And if we can’t, that’s fine.  (Applause.)

As President, I can put no other consideration before the wellbeing of American citizens.  The Paris Climate Accord is simply the latest example of Washington entering into an agreement that disadvantages the United States to the exclusive benefit of other countries, leaving American workers — who I love — and taxpayers to absorb the cost in terms of lost jobs, lower wages, shuttered factories, and vastly diminished economic production.

Thus, as of today, the United States will cease all implementation of the non-binding Paris Accord and the draconian financial and economic burdens the agreement imposes on our country.  This includes ending the implementation of the nationally determined contribution and, very importantly, the Green Climate Fund which is costing the United States a vast fortune.

Compliance with the terms of the Paris Accord and the onerous energy restrictions it has placed on the United States could cost America as much as 2.7 million lost jobs by 2025 according to the National Economic Research Associates.  This includes 440,000 fewer manufacturing jobs — not what we need — believe me, this is not what we need — including automobile jobs, and the further decimation of vital American industries on which countless communities rely.  They rely for so much, and we would be giving them so little.

According to this same study, by 2040, compliance with the commitments put into place by the previous administration would cut production for the following sectors:  paper down 12 percent; cement down 23 percent; iron and steel down 38 percent; coal — and I happen to love the coal miners — down 86 percent; natural gas down 31 percent.  The cost to the economy at this time would be close to $3 trillion in lost GDP and 6.5 million industrial jobs, while households would have $7,000 less income and, in many cases, much worse than that.

Not only does this deal subject our citizens to harsh economic restrictions, it fails to live up to our environmental ideals.  As someone who cares deeply about the environment, which I do, I cannot in good conscience support a deal that punishes the United States — which is what it does -– the world’s leader in environmental protection, while imposing no meaningful obligations on the world’s leading polluters.

For example, under the agreement, China will be able to increase these emissions by a staggering number of years — 13.  They can do whatever they want for 13 years.  Not us.  India makes its participation contingent on receiving billions and billions and billions of dollars in foreign aid from developed countries.  There are many other examples.  But the bottom line is that the Paris Accord is very unfair, at the highest level, to the United States.

Further, while the current agreement effectively blocks the development of clean coal in America — which it does, and the mines are starting to open up.  We’re having a big opening in two weeks.  Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, so many places.  A big opening of a brand-new mine.  It’s unheard of.  For many, many years, that hasn’t happened.  They asked me if I’d go.  I’m going to try.

China will be allowed to build hundreds of additional coal plants.  So we can’t build the plants, but they can, according to this agreement.  India will be allowed to double its coal production by 2020.  Think of it:  India can double their coal production.  We’re supposed to get rid of ours.  Even Europe is allowed to continue construction of coal plants.

In short, the agreement doesn’t eliminate coal jobs, it just transfers those jobs out of America and the United States, and ships them to foreign countries.

This agreement is less about the climate and more about other countries gaining a financial advantage over the United States.  The rest of the world applauded when we signed the Paris Agreement — they went wild; they were so happy — for the simple reason that it put our country, the United States of America, which we all love, at a very, very big economic disadvantage.  A cynic would say the obvious reason for economic competitors and their wish to see us remain in the agreement is so that we continue to suffer this self-inflicted major economic wound.  We would find it very hard to compete with other countries from other parts of the world.

We have among the most abundant energy reserves on the planet, sufficient to lift millions of America’s poorest workers out of poverty.  Yet, under this agreement, we are effectively putting these reserves under lock and key, taking away the great wealth of our nation — it’s great wealth, it’s phenomenal wealth; not so long ago, we had no idea we had such wealth — and leaving millions and millions of families trapped in poverty and joblessness.

The agreement is a massive redistribution of United States wealth to other countries.  At 1 percent growth, renewable sources of energy can meet some of our domestic demand, but at 3 or 4 percent growth, which I expect, we need all forms of available American energy, or our country — (applause) — will be at grave risk of brownouts and blackouts, our businesses will come to a halt in many cases, and the American family will suffer the consequences in the form of lost jobs and a very diminished quality of life.

Even if the Paris Agreement were implemented in full, with total compliance from all nations, it is estimated it would only produce a two-tenths of one degree — think of that; this much — Celsius reduction in global temperature by the year 2100.  Tiny, tiny amount.  In fact, 14 days of carbon emissions from China alone would wipe out the gains from America — and this is an incredible statistic — would totally wipe out the gains from America’s expected reductions in the year 2030, after we have had to spend billions and billions of dollars, lost jobs, closed factories, and suffered much higher energy costs for our businesses and for our homes.

As the Wall Street Journal wrote this morning:  “The reality is that withdrawing is in America’s economic interest and won’t matter much to the climate.”  The United States, under the Trump administration, will continue to be the cleanest and most environmentally friendly country on Earth.  We’ll be the cleanest.  We’re going to have the cleanest air.  We’re going to have the cleanest water.  We will be environmentally friendly, but we’re not going to put our businesses out of work and we’re not going to lose our jobs.  We’re going to grow; we’re going to grow rapidly.  (Applause.)

And I think you just read — it just came out minutes ago, the small business report — small businesses as of just now are booming, hiring people.  One of the best reports they’ve seen in many years.

I’m willing to immediately work with Democratic leaders to either negotiate our way back into Paris, under the terms that are fair to the United States and its workers, or to negotiate a new deal that protects our country and its taxpayers.  (Applause.)

So if the obstructionists want to get together with me, let’s make them non-obstructionists.  We will all sit down, and we will get back into the deal.  And we’ll make it good, and we won’t be closing up our factories, and we won’t be losing our jobs.  And we’ll sit down with the Democrats and all of the people that represent either the Paris Accord or something that we can do that’s much better than the Paris Accord.  And I think the people of our country will be thrilled, and I think then the people of the world will be thrilled.  But until we do that, we’re out of the agreement.

I will work to ensure that America remains the world’s leader on environmental issues, but under a framework that is fair and where the burdens and responsibilities are equally shared among the many nations all around the world.

No responsible leader can put the workers — and the people — of their country at this debilitating and tremendous disadvantage.  The fact that the Paris deal hamstrings the United States, while empowering some of the world’s top polluting countries, should dispel any doubt as to the real reason why foreign lobbyists wish to keep our magnificent country tied up and bound down by this agreement:  It’s to give their country an economic edge over the United States.  That’s not going to happen while I’m President.  I’m sorry.  (Applause.)

My job as President is to do everything within my power to give America a level playing field and to create the economic, regulatory and tax structures that make America the most prosperous and productive country on Earth, and with the highest standard of living and the highest standard of environmental protection.

Our tax bill is moving along in Congress, and I believe it’s doing very well.  I think a lot of people will be very pleasantly surprised.  The Republicans are working very, very hard.  We’d love to have support from the Democrats, but we may have to go it alone.  But it’s going very well.

The Paris Agreement handicaps the United States economy in order to win praise from the very foreign capitals and global activists that have long sought to gain wealth at our country’s expense.  They don’t put America first.  I do, and I always will.  (Applause.)

The same nations asking us to stay in the agreement are the countries that have collectively cost America trillions of dollars through tough trade practices and, in many cases, lax contributions to our critical military alliance.  You see what’s happening.  It’s pretty obvious to those that want to keep an open mind.

At what point does America get demeaned?  At what point do they start laughing at us as a country?   We want fair treatment for its citizens, and we want fair treatment for our taxpayers.  We don’t want other leaders and other countries laughing at us anymore.  And they won’t be.  They won’t be.

I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.  (Applause.)  I promised I would exit or renegotiate any deal which fails to serve America’s interests.  Many trade deals will soon be under renegotiation.  Very rarely do we have a deal that works for this country, but they’ll soon be under renegotiation.  The process has begun from day one.  But now we’re down to business.

Beyond the severe energy restrictions inflicted by the Paris Accord, it includes yet another scheme to redistribute wealth out of the United States through the so-called Green Climate Fund — nice name — which calls for developed countries to send $100 billion to developing countries all on top of America’s existing and massive foreign aid payments.  So we’re going to be paying billions and billions and billions of dollars, and we’re already way ahead of anybody else.  Many of the other countries haven’t spent anything, and many of them will never pay one dime.

The Green Fund would likely obligate the United States to commit potentially tens of billions of dollars of which the United States has already handed over $1 billion — nobody else is even close; most of them haven’t even paid anything — including funds raided out of America’s budget for the war against terrorism.  That’s where they came.  Believe me, they didn’t come from me.  They came just before I came into office.  Not good.  And not good the way they took the money.

In 2015, the United Nation’s departing top climate officials reportedly described the $100 billion per year as “peanuts,” and stated that “the $100 billion is the tail that wags the dog.”  In 2015, the Green Climate Fund’s executive director reportedly stated that estimated funding needed would increase to $450 billion per year after 2020.  And nobody even knows where the money is going to.  Nobody has been able to say, where is it going to?

Of course, the world’s top polluters have no affirmative obligations under the Green Fund, which we terminated.  America is $20 trillion in debt.  Cash-strapped cities cannot hire enough police officers or fix vital infrastructure.  Millions of our citizens are out of work.  And yet, under the Paris Accord, billions of dollars that ought to be invested right here in America will be sent to the very countries that have taken our factories and our jobs away from us.  So think of that.

There are serious legal and constitutional issues as well.  Foreign leaders in Europe, Asia, and across the world should not have more to say with respect to the U.S. economy than our own citizens and their elected representatives.  Thus, our withdrawal from the agreement represents a reassertion of America’s sovereignty.  (Applause.)  Our Constitution is unique among all the nations of the world, and it is my highest obligation and greatest honor to protect it.  And I will.

Staying in the agreement could also pose serious obstacles for the United States as we begin the process of unlocking the restrictions on America’s abundant energy reserves, which we have started very strongly.  It would once have been unthinkable that an international agreement could prevent the United States from conducting its own domestic economic affairs, but this is the new reality we face if we do not leave the agreement or if we do not negotiate a far better deal.

The risks grow as historically these agreements only tend to become more and more ambitious over time.  In other words, the Paris framework is a starting point — as bad as it is — not an end point.  And exiting the agreement protects the United States from future intrusions on the United States’ sovereignty and massive future legal liability.  Believe me, we have massive legal liability if we stay in.

As President, I have one obligation, and that obligation is to the American people.  The Paris Accord would undermine our economy, hamstring our workers, weaken our sovereignty, impose unacceptable legal risks, and put us at a permanent disadvantage to the other countries of the world.  It is time to exit the Paris Accord — (applause) — and time to pursue a new deal that protects the environment, our companies, our citizens, and our country.

It is time to put Youngstown, Ohio, Detroit, Michigan, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania — along with many, many other locations within our great country — before Paris, France.  It is time to make America great again.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you very much.

Thank you very much.  Very important.  I’d like to ask Scott Pruitt, who most of you know and respect, as I do, just to say a few words.

Scott, please.  (Applause.)

ADMINISTRATOR PRUITT:  Thank you, Mr. President.  Your decision today to exit the Paris Accord reflects your unflinching commitment to put America first.

And by exiting, you’re fulfilling yet one more campaign promise to the American people.  Please know that I am thankful for your fortitude, your courage, and your steadfastness as you serve and lead our country.

America finally has a leader who answers only to the people — not to the special interests who have had their way for way too long.  In everything you do, Mr. President, you’re fighting for the forgotten men and women across this country.  You’re a champion for the hardworking citizens all across this land who just want a government that listens to them and represents their interest.

You have promised to put America First in all that you do, and you’ve done that in any number of ways — from trade, to national security, to protecting our border, to rightsizing Washington, D.C.  And today you’ve put America first with regard to international agreements and the environment.

This is an historic restoration of American economic independence — one that will benefit the working class, the working poor, and working people of all stripes.  With this action, you have declared that the people are rulers of this country once again.  And it should be noted that we as a nation do it better than anyone in the world in striking the balance between growing our economy, growing jobs while also being a good steward of our environment.

We owe no apologies to other nations for our environmental stewardship.  After all, before the Paris Accord was ever signed, America had reduced its CO2 footprint to levels from the early 1990s.  In fact, between the years 2000 and 2014, the United States reduced its carbon emissions by 18-plus percent.  And this was accomplished not through government mandate, but accomplished through innovation and technology of the American private sector.

For that reason, Mr. President, you have corrected a view that was paramount in Paris that somehow the United States should penalize its own economy, be apologetic, lead with our chin, while the rest of world does little.  Other nations talk a good game; we lead with action — not words.  (Applause.)

Our efforts, Mr. President, as you know, should be on exporting our technology, our innovation to nations who seek to reduce their CO2 footprint to learn from us.  That should be our focus versus agreeing to unachievable targets that harm our economy and the American people.

Mr. President, it takes courage, it takes commitment to say no to the plaudits of men while doing what’s right by the American people.  You have that courage, and the American people can take comfort because you have their backs.

Thank you, Mr. President.

END
4:03 P.M. EDT

 

Full Text Political Transcripts May 29, 2017: President Donald Trump’s Memorial Day Speech at Arlington National Cemetery

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Trump at Arlington National Cemetery

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Source: WH, 5-29-17

Arlington, Virginia

11:30 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you so much.  And thank you, General Dunford and Secretary Mattis, for your moving words and for your service to our great nation.  Vice President Pence, Cabinet Secretaries, members of Congress, members of the Armed Forces and veterans — thank you for joining us as we honor the brave warriors who gave their lives for ours, spending their last moments on this Earth in defense of this country and of its people.

Words cannot measure the depth of their devotion, the purity of their love, or the totality of their courage.  We only hope that every day we can prove worthy not only of their sacrifice and service but of the sacrifice made by the families and loved ones they left behind.  Special, special people.

I especially want to extend our gratitude to Secretary John Kelly for joining us today.  Incredible man.  (Applause.)  I always like to call him General.  He understands more than most ever could or ever will the wounds and burdens of war.  Not only did Secretary proudly serve in the military for more than 40 years, enduring many hardships, but he and his incredible wife Karen have borne the single most difficult hardship of them all
— the loss of their son, Robert, in service to our country.  Robert died fighting the enemies of all civilizations in Afghanistan.

To John, Karen, Heather, Kate, Andrea and the entire Kelly family, today 300 million American hearts are joined together with yours.  We grieve with you.  We honor you.  And we pledge to you that we will always remember Robert and what he did for all of us.  Thank you, John.  (Applause.)

The Kelly family represents military families across the country who carry the burden of freedom on their shoulders. Secretary Kelly is joined today by his son-in-law, Jake, a Wounded Warrior.  And the Secretary’s son, Johnnie, will soon leave on his fifth deployment.  It is because of families like yours that all of our families can live in safety and live in peace.

To every Gold Star family who honors us with your presence, you lost sons and daughters, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers.  They each had their own names, their own stories, their own beautiful dreams.  But they were all angels sent to us by God, and they all share one title in common — and that is the title of hero.  (Applause.)  Real heroes.  Though they were here only a brief time before God called them home, their legacy will endure forever.

General Douglas MacArthur once said that “the soldier who is called upon to offer and to give his life for his country is the noblest development of mankind.”  Here at this hallowed shrine, we honor the noblest among us — the men and women who paid the ultimate price for victory and for freedom.  We pay tribute to those brave souls who raced into gunfire, roared into battle, and ran into hell to face down evil.  They made their sacrifice not for fame, or for money, or even for glory — but for country.

We are privileged to be joined today by a man whose life demonstrates the values of service and sacrifice:  Senator Bob Dole, here with his wife, Senator Elizabeth Dole.  (Applause.)   Senator Dole fought bravely in World War II, and was severely wounded by German fire.  In just a few weeks, Bob will be celebrating his 94th birthday.  (Applause.)

And, Bob, I know I speak for millions of grateful Americans when I say thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you, Bob.  We thank you not only for your service, but for helping us to remember your fallen comrades and the countless American patriots who gave their lives in the Second World War.

Since the first volley of gunfire in the Revolution, brave Americans in every generation have answered the call of duty and won victory for freedom in its hour of need.  Today, a new generation of American patriots are fighting to win the battle against terrorism — risking their lives to protect our citizens from an enemy that uses the murder of innocents to wage war on humanity itself.

We are joined today by the wife of Specialist Christopher Horton, who rests on these so beautiful grounds.  As Jane tells us, Chris “was a man who loved his country with every part of his being.”
In 2008, Chris enlisted in the Oklahoma Army National Guard.  He trained as a sniper, becoming known as one of the best shots anywhere at any time.  He was a talented, tough guy.  While Chris was in the National Guard, he was also a volunteer police officer.  In everything he did, he was thinking about how he could serve God, serve his family and serve his country.

In 2011, he deployed for the first time to Afghanistan. Chris knew his job was one of the most dangerous there was, but he was determined to go after the enemy at any cost to himself.  His missions helped target and kill terrorists who sought to destroy innocent people.  Just three months into his first deployment, Chris was near the Pakistan border, trying to eliminate an enemy cell that was doing so much damage and that was planting deadly roadside bombs against his unit and the units of many others.  Standing watch with his comrades, he died in the ensuing gun battle with enemy forces.  Chris sacrificed his life to protect his fellow soldiers — and to protect all Americans.  He was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star for his courage. At only 26 years old, Chris secured his place in our hearts for eternity.

Jane, America, grieves with you.  Our whole entire nation sends you our support, our strength, and our deep, deep love.  You lost your husband, and America lost a hero.  And together, we will preserve his memory — today, tomorrow, and always.  Thank you, Jane.  (Applause.)  Thank you, Jane.  Thank you, Jane.  (Applause.)  Thank you, Jane.

We are also joined today by David and Rose Byers, the parents of Major Andrew Byers.  As a boy, Andrew dreamed of the chance to attend the United States Military Academy at West Point.  He worked hard, he earned that chance, and he graduated at the top of his class.  He became the commander of a Special HALO team, leading his fellow soldiers out of aircraft, hurtling into dangerous and unknown territory.

About this time last year, Andrew was sent on his third combat deployment.  This time he went to Afghanistan.  On November 3rd, he was one of 10 Special Forces operators to land by helicopter near a Taliban safe haven in northern Afghanistan. They trekked through a mile of waist-deep mud and climbed a steep cliff before finally reaching the village that they wanted to reach.  There, a night-long battle ensued.  Andrew and his team fought off wave after wave after wave of enemy fighters.  A grenade detonated, and as the Taliban began to surround the American and Afghan forces, Andrew ran through the smoke and through the hail of bullets to rescue an Afghan soldier.  In the midst of this torrent of gunfire and danger, Andrew worked heroically to open a gateway and get his men to safety — risking his life to save theirs.  And he did it.  Unbelievably, he did.  But in saving those lives, Andrew was killed right then and there by enemy fire.  Andrew has since been awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in battle.

To his parents, David and Rose, we stand in awe of your son and his courageous sacrifice.  On behalf of the American people, I express to you our everlasting gratitude for what your son did for his country, for his comrades, and for all of us.

Andrew’s father has said that he holds on to the promise of Joshua Chapter 1, Verse 9:  “The Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”   Thank you.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  What a man he was.

To every Gold Star family, God is with you, and your loved ones are with Him.  They died in wars so that we could live in peace.  I believe that God has a special place in heaven for those who laid down their lives so that others may live free from fear and this horrible oppression.

Now let us pledge to make the most of that freedom that they so gallantly and brilliantly fought for and they died to protect. Let us also pledge to tell the stories of Robert, Chris, Andrew, and all of America’s fallen warriors today and for the next 1,000 years.  (Applause.)

And while we cannot know the extent of your pain, what we do know is that our gratitude to them and to you is boundless and undying.  Boundless and undying.  We’ll always be there.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Their stories are now woven into the soul of our nation, into the Stars and Stripes on our flag, and into the beating hearts of our great, great people.

Today we also hold a special vigil for heroes whose story we cannot tell because their names are known to God alone — the unknown soldiers.  We do not know where they came from, who they left behind, or what they hoped to be.  But we do know what they did.  They fought and they died in a great and noble act of loyalty and love to their families and to our country.

The letter written that is now famous — one Civil War soldier captured it all and for all time.  He wrote to his wife, “If I do not return, my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, nor that when my last breath escapes me on the battlefield, it will whisper your name.”  That is the love we hear whispering throughout this sacred place and from every tombstone on these hallowed grounds.  It is the love that binds this earth beneath us and it bleeds from the hearts of all of those who died so that we might live free.

We can never replace them.  We can never repay them.  But we can always remember.  And today, that is what we are doing — we remember.  Words cannot wipe away the tears or bring back those smiling faces.  But if Americans just take the time to look into your eyes and tell you how much we thank you and how dearly we pray for you and how truly we love you, then hopefully you can find solace through your pain.  And every time you see the sun rise over this blessed land please know your brave sons and daughters pushed away the night and delivered for us all that great and glorious dawn.

Thank you.  God bless you.  God bless our fallen heroes.  God bless their families.  God bless our military.  And God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)

END
11:50 A.M. EDT

Full Text Political Transcripts May 23, 2017: President Donald Trump’s Speech at the Israel Museum

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Trump at the Israel Museum

Source: WH, 5-23-17

Jerusalem

2:28 P.M. IDT

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Thank you very much.  It’s very nice.   And thank you to Prime Minister Netanyahu.  And I also want to thank Sara for hosting us last night in really a very unforgettable dinner.  We had a great time.  We talked about a lot of very, very important things.  And thank you to Ambassador David Friedman and Mrs. Friedman for joining us, along with a number of very good friends who have come from our country to yours, as we reaffirm the unshakable bond between the United States of America and Israel.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

I’d like to begin my remarks today by sending the thoughts and prayers of the entire American people to the victims of the terrorist attack in Manchester.  You know — you’ve all been watching.  You’ve seen just a horrible thing going on.  I want to send our condolences to the many families who lost their loved ones.  Horrific, horrific injuries.  Terrible.  Dozens of innocent people, beautiful young children savagely murdered in this heinous attack upon humanity.  I repeat again that we must drive out the terrorists and the extremists from our midst, obliterate this evil ideology, and protect and defend our citizens and people of the world.  (Applause.)

All civilized nations much be united in this effort.  This trip is focused on that goal:  bringing nations together around the goal of defeating the terrorism that threatens the world, and crushing the hateful ideology that drives it so hard and seems to be driving it so fast.

It is a privilege to stand here in this national museum, in the ancient city of Jerusalem, to address the Israeli people and all people in the Middle East who yearn for security, prosperity and peace.

Jerusalem is a sacred city.  Its beauty, splendor, and heritage are like no other place on Earth.  (Applause.)  What a heritage.  What a heritage.  The ties of the Jewish people to this Holy Land are ancient and eternal.  (Applause.)  They date back thousands of years, including the reign of King David whose star now flies proudly on Israel’s white and blue flag.

Yesterday, I visited the Western Wall, and marveled at the monument to God’s presence and man’s perseverance.  I was humbled to place my hand upon the wall and to pray in that holy space for wisdom from God.  I also visited and prayed at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, a site revered by Christians throughout the world.  I laid a wreath at Yad Vashem, honoring, remembering, and mourning the six million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust.  I pledged right then and there what I pledge again today:  the words “never again.”  (Applause.)

Israel is a testament to the unbreakable spirit of the Jewish people.  From all parts of this great country, one message resounds, and that is the message of hope.  Down through the ages, the Jewish people have suffered persecution, oppression, and even those who have sought their destruction.  But, through it all, they have endured and, in fact, they have thrived.  I stand in awe of the accomplishments of the Jewish people, and I make this promise to you:  My administration will always stand with Israel.  (Applause.)  Thank you very much.

Through your hardships, you have created one of the most abundant lands anywhere in the world — a land that is rich not only in history, culture, and opportunity, but especially in spirit.  This museum where we are gathered today tells the story of that spirit.  From the two Holy Temples, to the glorious heights of Masada, we see an incredible story of faith and perseverance.  That faith is what inspired Jews to believe in their destiny, to overcome their despair, and to build here — right here — a future that others dared not even to dream.

In Israel, not only are Jews free to till the soil, teach their children, and pray to God in the ancient land of their fathers — and they love this land, and they love God — but Muslims, Christians, and people of all faiths are free to live and worship according to their conscience, and to follow their dreams, right here.

Today, gathered with friends, I call upon all people — Jews, Christians, Muslims, and every faith, every tribe, every creed — to draw inspiration from this ancient city, to set aside our sectarian differences, to overcome oppression and hatred, and to give all children the freedom and hope and dignity written into our souls.

Earlier this week, I spoke at a very historic summit in Saudi Arabia.  I was hosted by King Salman — a very wise man.  There, I urged our friends in the Muslim world to join us in creating stability, safety and security.  And I was deeply encouraged by the desire of many leaders to join us in cooperation toward these shared and vital goals.

Conflict cannot continue forever.  The only question is when nations will decide that they have had enough — enough bloodshed, enough killing.  That historic summit represents a new opportunity for people throughout the Middle East to overcome sectarian and religious divisions, to extinguish the fires of extremism, and to find common ground and shared responsibility in making the future of this region so much better than it is right now.

Change must come from within.   It can only come from within.  No mother or father wants their children to grow up in a world where terrorists roam free, schoolchildren are murdered, and their loved ones are taken.  No child is born with prejudice in their heart.  No one should teach young boys and girls to hate and to kill.  No civilized nation can tolerate the massacre of innocents with chemical weapons.

My message to that summit was the same message I have for you:  We must build a coalition of partners who share the aim of stamping out extremists and violence, and providing our children a peaceful and hopeful future.  But a hopeful future for children in the Middle East requires the world to fully recognize the vital role of the State of Israel.  (Applause.)  And, on behalf of the United States, we pledge to stand by you and defend our shared values so that together we can defeat terrorism and create safety for all of God’s children.  (Applause.)

Israelis have experienced firsthand the hatred and terror of radical violence.  Israelis are murdered by terrorists wielding knives and bombs.  Hamas and Hezbollah launch rockets into Israeli communities where schoolchildren have to be trained to hear the sirens and run to the bomb shelters — with fear, but with speed.  ISIS targets Jewish neighborhoods, synagogues, and storefronts.  And Iran’s leaders routinely call for Israel’s destruction.  Not with Donald J. Trump, believe me.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  I like you too.  (Laughter.)

Despite these challenges, Israel is thriving as a sovereign nation, and no international body should question the contributions Israel makes to the region and, indeed, the world.  Today, let us pray for that peace and for a more hopeful future across the Middle East.

There are those who present a false choice.  They say that we must choose between supporting Israel and supporting Arab and Muslim nations in the region.  That is completely wrong.  All decent people want to live in peace, and all humanity is threatened by the evils of terrorism.  Diverse nations can unite around the goal of protecting innocent life, upholding human dignity, and promoting peace and stability in the region.

My administration is committed to pursuing such a coalition, and we have already made substantial progress during this trip.  We know, for instance, that both Israelis and Palestinians seek lives of hope for their children.  And we know that peace is possible if we put aside the pain and disagreements of the past and commit together to finally resolving this crisis, which has dragged on for nearly half a century or more.

As I have repeatedly said, I am personally committed to helping Israelis and Palestinians achieve a peace agreement, and I had a meeting this morning with President Abbas and can tell you that the Palestinians are ready to reach for peace.  I know you’ve heard it before.  I am telling you — that’s what I do.  They are ready to reach for peace.

In my meeting with my very good friend, Benjamin, I can tell you also that he is reaching for peace.  He wants peace.  He loves people.  He especially loves the Israeli people.  Benjamin Netanyahu wants peace.

Making peace, however, will not be easy.  We all know that.  Both sides will face tough decisions.  But with determination, compromise, and the belief that peace is possible, Israelis and Palestinians can make a deal.

But even as we work toward peace, we will build strength to defend our nations.  The United States is firmly committed to keep Iran from developing a nuclear weapon and halting their support of terrorists and militias.  (Applause.)  So we are telling you right now that Iran will not have nuclear weapons.  (Applause.)

America’s security partnership with Israel is stronger than ever.  Under my administration, you see the difference — big, big beautiful difference — (laughter and applause) — including the Iron Dome missile defense program, which has been keeping the Israeli people safe from short-range rockets launched by Hezbollah and Hamas, and David’s Sling, which guards against long range missiles.  It is my hope that someday, very soon, Israeli children will never need to rush towards shelters again as sirens ring out loud and clear.

Finally, the United States is proud that Israeli Air Force pilots are flying the incredible, new American F-35 planes.  (Applause.)  There is nothing in the world like them to defend their nation, and it was wonderful to see these mighty aircraft in the skies over Israel recently as you celebrated the 69th anniversary of Israel’s independence.

But even as we strengthen our partnership in practice, let us always remember our highest ideals.  Let us never forget that the bond between our two nations is woven together in the hearts of our people, and their love of freedom, hope, and dignity for every man and every woman.  Let us dream of a future where Jewish, Muslim, and Christian children can grow up together and live together in trust, harmony, tolerance, and respect.

The values that are practiced in Israel have inspired millions and millions of people all across the world.  The conviction of Theodor Herzl rings true today:  “Whatever we attempt there for our own benefit will rebound mightily and beneficially to the good of all mankind.”

As we stand in Jerusalem, we see pilgrims of all faiths coming to this land to walk on this hallowed ground.  Jews place the prayers from their hearts in the stone blocks of the beautiful Western Wall.  Christians pray in the pews of an ancient church.  Muslims answer the call to prayer at their holy sites.  This city, like no other place in the world, reveals the longing of human hearts to know and to worship God.

Jerusalem stands as a reminder that life can flourish against any odds.  When we look around this city — so beautiful — and we see people of all faiths engaged in reverent worship, and schoolchildren learning side-by-side, and men and women lifting up the needy and forgotten, we see that God’s promise of healing has brought goodness to so many lives.  We see that the people of this land had the courage to overcome the oppression and injustice of the past and to live in the freedom God intends for every person on this Earth.

Today, in Jerusalem, we pray and we hope that children around the world will be able to live without fear, to dream without limits, and to prosper without violence.  I ask this land of promise to join me to fight our common enemies, to pursue our shared values, and to protect the dignity of every child of God.

Thank you.  God bless you.  God bless the State of Israel.  And God bless the United States.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

END
2:48 P.M. IDT

Full Text Political Transcripts May 23, 2017: President Donald Trump’s Speech at Yad Vashem

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Trump at Yad Vashem

Source: WH, 5-23-17

Jerusalem

1:27 P.M. IDT

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Thank you, Prime Minister Netanyahu, Sara Netanyahu, Chairman Avner Shalev, and Rabbi Israel Meir Lau for hosting us for this moving wreath-laying ceremony.

We are here at Yad Vashem to honor the memory of six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust.  Two-thirds of the Jews in Europe were sent to their deaths.  Words can never describe the bottomless depths of that evil, or the scope of the anguish and destruction.

It was history’s darkest hour.  Millions of innocent, wonderful and beautiful lives — men, women and children — were extinguished as part of a systematic attempt to eliminate the Jewish people.  It was the most savage crime against God and his children.  And it is our solemn duty to remember, to mourn, to grieve and to honor every single life that was so cruelly and viciously taken.

As Elie Wiesel said: “For the dead and the living, we must bear witness.”  These words should be carved into the conscience of humanity forever.  Only when we remember the families who were torn apart from everyone they loved, who suffered that terrible darkness and evil, who endured the unbearable horror of the Holocaust — only then can we prevent this agony from ever repeating.

This place, and this entire nation, are a testament to the unbreakable spirit of the Jewish people — and the hope that light can shine the path beyond the darkness.  Through persecution, oppression, death, and destruction, the Jewish people have persevered.  They have thrived.  They’ve become so successful in so many places.  And they have enlightened the world.  The State of Israel is a strong and soaring monument to the solemn pledge we repeat and affirm:  Never again.

From the depths of the suffering, the Jewish people have built a mighty nation — and the Star of David waves proudly above this cherished land.

As long as we refuse to be silent in the face of evil, as long as we refuse to dim the light of truth in the midst of darkness, as long as we refuse to become bystanders to barbarity, then we know that goodness, peace and justice will ultimately prevail.

With sadness for the lives and dreams that were stolen from this Earth, with determination to always keep the memories of the victims alive, and with resolve to confront evil wherever it threatens, we ask God to give us the strength, wisdom and courage to chart the righteous path.

Thank you.  God bless the memory of the perished.  God bless the survivors.  God bless the Jewish people.  And God bless the State of Israel.  Thank you for having me.  Thank you.

END
1:34 P.M. IDT

Full Text Political Transcripts May 22, 2017: President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Joint Statement Remarks

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu in Joint Statement

Source: WH, 5-22-17

President Trump meets with Prime Minister Netanyahu

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Prime Minister’s Residence
Jerusalem

8:17 P.M. SAST

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  President Trump, Donald, Sara and I are absolutely delighted to welcome you and Melania to the Prime Minister’s residence in Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Jewish people, the united capital of the Jewish state.

We’ve known each other for many years, and it’s always good to see you.  But it’s also wonderful to see the blossoming friendship between our two beautiful wives, Sara and Melania.  You’re so welcome here, and we’re so pleased to see you.  We’re honored to have you in our home.

You’ve been today, Mr. President, to the Western Wall, one of the holiest sites of Judaism.  You have been to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, one of the holiest sites of Christianity.  We protect the Christian sites as no one else does anywhere in this region.  We protect Christian sites, Muslim sites, obviously Jewish sites.  We’re committed to the freedom of all faiths and to the rights of all.

Mr. President, I appreciate the fact that you went to the Western Wall and you’re the first acting President who’s done that.  The people of Israel applaud you for it.  (Applause.)

We had a terrific discussion today.  And when I say terrific, it encompasses everything.  We can talk about deregulation, we can talk about economics.  I think we quote each other.  We understand each other and so much of the things that we wish to accomplish for both our countries.

But I want to thank you especially today for your deep commitment to Israel’s security, its wellbeing, and its future.  I have no doubt that, as we work together, you and I, the alliance between our countries will grow ever stronger.  I want you to know how much we appreciate the change in American policy on Iran, which you enunciated so clearly just an hour ago.

I want you to know how much we appreciate your bold decision to act against the use of chemical weapons in Syria.  And I want to tell you also how much we appreciate the reassertion of American leadership in the Middle East.

I look forward to working closely with you to confront the dangers we face together in this violent and volatile Middle East.  I believe that together we can roll back Iran’s march of aggression and terror in this region, and we can thwart Iran’s unbridled ambition to become a nuclear weapon state.

I also look forward to working closely with you to advance peace in our region, because you have noted so succinctly that common dangers are turning former enemies into partners.  And that’s where we see something new and potentially something very promising.  It won’t be simple.  But for the first time in many years — and, Mr. President, for the first time in my lifetime — I see a real hope for change.

The Arab leaders who you met yesterday could help change the atmosphere, and they could help create the conditions for a realistic peace.  These are all great signs on your historic visit.  It’s a visit that I think has echoed down the ages, because the great Abraham Lincoln is reported to have said that there was no city on Earth he so much desired to see as Jerusalem.

Well, Mr. President, Donald, there’s no city on Earth where you are more welcome than right here with us in Jerusalem.  Welcome to Jerusalem.  Welcome to Israel.  (Applause.)

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Thank you very much.  And it’s a great honor to be with my good friend, Prime Minister Netanyahu, and, of course, Sara.  Thank you.  And also thank you for that beautiful tour.  Melania is still talking about it.  Thank you very much.

You honored me and Melania by being one of the first world leaders to visit the White House, as you know.  And we had a very good and sound discussion.  And now you honor us again by welcoming us to your home on my first trip abroad as the President of the United States.

This is a land filled with beauty, wonder, and the spirit of God.  I’ve been amazed by the glorious and beautiful monuments and holy sites, and the generosity of your incredible people.  Because it’s all about the people.  I was deeply moved by my visit today to the Western Wall.  Words fail to capture the experience.  It will leave an impression on me forever.

Today, we reaffirmed the unbreakable bond of friendship between Israel and the United States — a friendship built on our shared love of freedom, our shared belief in human dignity, and our shared hope for an Israel at lasting peace.  We want Israel to have peace.

But we are more than friends.  We are great allies.  We have so many opportunities in front of us.  But we must seize them together.  We must take advantage of the situation, and there are many, many things that can happen now that would never have been able to happen before.  And we understand that very well.  That includes advancing prosperity, defeating the evils of terrorism, and facing the threat of an Iranian regime that is threatening the region and causing so much violence and suffering.

During my travels, I have seen many hopeful signs that lead me to believe that we can truly achieve a more peaceful future for this region and for people of all faiths and all beliefs and, frankly, all over the world.

In my visit to Saudi Arabia, I met with many leaders of the Arab and Muslim world, including King Salman, who treated us so beautifully and really wants to see great things happen for the world.  He really does.  I got to know him well, and he really does.

These leaders voiced concerns we all share — about ISIS, about Iran’s rising ambitions and rolling back its gains, and about the menace of extremism that has spread through too many parts of the Muslim world.  I’m encouraged that they pledge cooperation to confront terrorism and the hateful ideology that drives it so hard.  America welcomes the action and support of any nation willing to do the hard but vital work in eradicating the violent ideologies that have caused so much needless bloodshed and killing here and all over the world.

We are willing to work together.  I believe that a new level of partnership is possible and will happen — one that will bring greater safety to this region, greater security to the United States, and greater prosperity to the world.  This includes a renewed effort at peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and I thank the Prime Minister for his commitment to pursuing the peace process.  He’s working very hard at it.  It’s not easy.  I’ve heard it’s one of the toughest deals of all, but I have a feeling that we’re going to get there eventually, I hope.

I’m certain we will have very productive discussions.  And we’re going to have very productive discussions, in my opinion, with the leaders of other nations also.  And I feel strongly about that, because there’s a lot of love out there.  And people from all nations, even nations that you would be surprised to hear, they want to stop the killing.  They’ve had enough.

America stands ready to assist in every way we can.  Our deep and lasting friendship will only grow deeper and stronger as we work together in the days ahead.  I thank you again for hosting us in this beautiful and ancient land.  Truly, it’s a land of wonders.  And it’s my honor to be here with you.

Sara, thank you.  Bibi, thank you.  I appreciate it very much.  Great honor.  Thank you.

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU:  Thank you.  (Applause.)

END
8:28 P.M. SAST

Readout of Meeting Between President Donald J. Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Source: WH, 5-22-17

Yesterday, President Donald J. Trump met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on President Trump’s first official visit to Israel as President.  The two leaders reaffirmed the special bond between the United States and Israel.  President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu discussed their joint plan to further improve relations by focusing on increased cooperation across a range of issues, including regional and cyber security, trade, technology, innovation, and research.  President Trump underscored the United States’ ironclad commitment to Israel’s security, including to the maintenance of Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge.  The two leaders also agreed on the need to counter Iran and its proxies, including by building strong military capabilities to protect Israel and the region from Iranian aggression.  The two leaders commended the Riyadh summit’s condemnation of terrorism and extremism and pledged to work together to defeat terrorist organizations.   President Trump observed that common interests between Israel and Arab states have made new partnerships possible.  Prime Minister Netanyahu discussed his desire for better relations with Arab states.  The two leaders agreed on the need to end the violence in Syria and move toward a political solution that will allow the Syrian people to return to secure environments and rebuild their lives.

President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu discussed how to move forward with Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.  President Trump reaffirmed his belief that peace is possible, not only between Israelis and Palestinians, but throughout large parts of the Middle East.  President Trump welcomed the steps that Prime Minister Netanyahu’s security cabinet have taken to improve the Palestinian economy, noting that greater economic opportunity for Palestinians would enhance the prospects for peace.

Full Text Political Transcripts May 22, 2017: President Donald Trump and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin’s Joint Remarks

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Meeting Between President Donald J. Trump and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin

Source: WH, 5-22-17

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President Donald J. Trump was warmly welcomed by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin yesterday at the Presidential Residence in Jerusalem. The two Presidents spoke about the unbreakable bond between the United States and Israel, and they committed to strengthening that bond. President Trump also reaffirmed the United States’ unwavering commitment to Israel’s security. The two Presidents discussed the opportunities and challenges facing the region, and President Trump shared conclusions from the extremely successful Arab Islamic American Summit held in Riyadh yesterday. At the conclusion of their meeting, President Rivlin took President Trump to view the tree that had been planted in the garden of the Presidential Residence in honor of President Trump’s historic visit.

President Trump Participates in a Bilateral Meeting with President Reuven Rivlin of Israel

Full Text Political Transcripts May 21, 2017: President Donald Trump’s Speech to the Arab Islamic American Summit Riyadh Saudia Arabia on Terrorism

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

President Trump’s Speech to the Arab Islamic American Summit

Source: WH, 5-21-17

Remarks as prepared for delivery

Thank You.

I want to thank King Salman for his extraordinary words, and the magnificent Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for hosting today’s summit. I am honored to be received by such gracious hosts. I have always heard about the splendor of your country and the kindness of your citizens, but words do not do justice to the grandeur of this remarkable place and the incredible hospitality you have shown us from the moment we arrived.

You also hosted me in the treasured home of King Abdulaziz, the founder of the Kingdom who united your great people. Working alongside another beloved leader – American President Franklin Roosevelt – King Abdulaziz began the enduring partnership between our two countries. King Salman: your father would be so proud to see that you are continuing his legacy – and just as he opened the first chapter in our partnership, today we begin a new chapter that will bring lasting benefits to our citizens.

Let me now also extend my deep and heartfelt gratitude to each and every one of the distinguished heads of state who made this journey here today. You greatly honor us with your presence, and I send the warmest regards from my country to yours. I know that our time together will bring many blessings to both your people and mine.

I stand before you as a representative of the American People, to deliver a message of friendship and hope. That is why I chose to make my first foreign visit a trip to the heart of the Muslim world, to the nation that serves as custodian of the two holiest sites in the Islamic Faith.

In my inaugural address to the American People, I pledged to strengthen America’s oldest friendships, and to build new partnerships in pursuit of peace. I also promised that America will not seek to impose our way of life on others, but to outstretch our hands in the spirit of cooperation and trust.

Our vision is one of peace, security, and prosperity—in this region, and in the world.

Our goal is a coalition of nations who share the aim of stamping out extremism and providing our children a hopeful future that does honor to God.

And so this historic and unprecedented gathering of leaders—unique in the history of nations—is a symbol to the world of our shared resolve and our mutual respect. To the leaders and citizens of every country assembled here today, I want you to know that the United States is eager to form closer bonds of friendship, security, culture and commerce.

For Americans, this is an exciting time. A new spirit of optimism is sweeping our country: in just a few months, we have created almost a million new jobs, added over 3 trillion dollars of new value, lifted the burdens on American industry, and made record investments in our military that will protect the safety of our people and enhance the security of our wonderful friends and allies – many of whom are here today.

Now, there is even more blessed news I am pleased to share with you. My meetings with King Salman, the Crown Prince, and the Deputy Crown Prince, have been filled with great warmth, good will, and tremendous cooperation.

Yesterday, we signed historic agreements with the Kingdom that will invest almost $400 billion in our two countries and create many thousands of jobs in America and Saudi Arabia.

This landmark agreement includes the announcement of a $110 billion Saudi-funded defense purchase – and we will be sure to help our Saudi friends to get a good deal from our great American defense companies. This agreement will help the Saudi military to take a greater role in security operations.

We have also started discussions with many of the countries present today on strengthening partnerships, and forming new ones, to advance security and stability across the Middle East and beyond.

Later today, we will make history again with the opening of a new Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology – located right here, in this central part of the Islamic World. This groundbreaking new center represents a clear declaration that Muslim-majority countries must take the lead in combatting radicalization, and I want to express our gratitude to King Salman for this strong demonstration of leadership.

I have had the pleasure of welcoming several of the leaders present today to the White House, and I look forward to working with all of you.

America is a sovereign nation and our first priority is always the safety and security of our citizens. We are not here to lecture—we are not here to tell other people how to live, what to do, who to be, or how to worship. Instead, we are here to offer partnership – based on shared interests and values – to pursue a better future for us all.

Here at this summit we will discuss many interests we share together. But above all we must be united in pursuing the one goal that transcends every other consideration. That goal is to meet history’s great test—to conquer extremism and vanquish the forces of terrorism.

Young Muslim boys and girls should be able to grow up free from fear, safe from violence, and innocent of hatred.

And young Muslim men and women should have the chance to build a new era of prosperity for themselves and their peoples.

God’s help, this summit will mark the beginning of the end for those who practice terror and spread its vile creed. At the same time, we pray this special gathering may someday be remembered as the beginning of peace in the Middle East – and maybe, even all over the world.

But this future can only be achieved through defeating terrorism and the ideology that drives it.

Few nations have been spared its violent reach.

America has suffered repeated barbaric attacks – from the atrocities of September 11th to the devastation of the Boston Bombing, to the horrible killings in San Bernardino and Orlando.

The nations of Europe have also endured unspeakable horror. So too have the nations of Africa and even South America. India, Russia, China and Australia have been victims.

But, in sheer numbers, the deadliest toll has been exacted on the innocent people of Arab, Muslim and Middle Eastern nations. They have borne the brunt of the killings and the worst of the destruction in this wave of fanatical violence.

Some estimates hold that more than 95 percent of the victims of terrorism are themselves Muslim.

We now face a humanitarian and security disaster in this region that is spreading across the planet. It is a tragedy of epic proportions. No description of the suffering and depravity can begin to capture its full measure.

The true toll of ISIS, Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, and so many others, must be counted not only in the number of dead. It must also be counted in generations of vanished dreams.

The Middle East is rich with natural beauty, vibrant cultures, and massive amounts of historic treasures. It should increasingly become one of the great global centers of commerce and opportunity.

This region should not be a place from which refugees flee, but to which newcomers flock.

Saudi Arabia is home to the holiest sites in one of the world’s great faiths. Each year millions of Muslims come from around the world to Saudi Arabia to take part in the Hajj. In addition to ancient wonders, this country is also home to modern ones—including soaring achievements in architecture.

Egypt was a thriving center of learning and achievement thousands of years before other parts of the world. The wonders of Giza, Luxor and Alexandria are proud monuments to that ancient heritage.

All over the world, people dream of walking through the ruins of Petra in Jordan. Iraq was the cradle of civilization and is a land of natural beauty. And the United Arab Emirates has reached incredible heights with glass and steel, and turned earth and water into spectacular works of art.

The entire region is at the center of the key shipping lanes of the Suez Canal, the Red Sea, and the Straits of Hormuz.

The potential of this region has never been greater. 65 percent of its population is under the age of 30. Like all young men and women, they seek great futures to build, great national projects to join, and a place for their families to call home.

But this untapped potential, this tremendous cause for optimism, is held at bay by bloodshed and terror. There can be no coexistence with this violence.

There can be no tolerating it, no accepting it, no excusing it, and no ignoring it.

Every time a terrorist murders an innocent person, and falsely invokes the name of God, it should be an insult to every person of faith.

Terrorists do not worship God, they worship death.

If we do not act against this organized terror, then we know what will happen. Terrorism’s devastation of life will continue to spread. Peaceful societies will become engulfed by violence. And the futures of many generations will be sadly squandered.

If we do not stand in uniform condemnation of this killing—then not only will we be judged by our people, not only will we be judged by history, but we will be judged by God.

This is not a battle between different faiths, different sects, or different civilizations.

This is a battle between barbaric criminals who seek to obliterate human life, and decent people of all religions who seek to protect it.

This is a battle between Good and Evil.

When we see the scenes of destruction in the wake of terror, we see no signs that those murdered were Jewish or Christian, Shia or Sunni. When we look upon the streams of innocent blood soaked into the ancient ground, we cannot see the faith or sect or tribe of the victims – we see only that they were Children of God whose deaths are an insult to all that is holy.

But we can only overcome this evil if the forces of good are united and strong – and if everyone in this room does their fair share and fulfills their part of the burden.

Terrorism has spread across the world. But the path to peace begins right here, on this ancient soil, in this sacred land.

America is prepared to stand with you – in pursuit of shared interests and common security.

But the nations of the Middle East cannot wait for American power to crush this enemy for them. The nations of the Middle East will have to decide what kind of future they want for themselves, for their countries, and for their children.

It is a choice between two futures – and it is a choice America CANNOT make for you.

A better future is only possible if your nations drive out the terrorists and extremists. Drive. Them. Out. DRIVE THEM OUT of your places of worship. DRIVE THEM OUT of your communities. DRIVE THEM OUT of your holy land, and DRIVE THEM OUT OF THIS EARTH.

For our part, America is committed to adjusting our strategies to meet evolving threats and new facts. We will discard those strategies that have not worked—and will apply new approaches informed by experience and judgment. We are adopting a Principled Realism, rooted in common values and shared interests.

Our friends will never question our support, and our enemies will never doubt our determination. Our partnerships will advance security through stability, not through radical disruption. We will make decisions based on real-world outcomes – not inflexible ideology. We will be guided by the lessons of experience, not the confines of rigid thinking. And, wherever possible, we will seek gradual reforms – not sudden intervention.

We must seek partners, not perfection—and to make allies of all who share our goals.

Above all, America seeks peace – not war.

Muslim nations must be willing to take on the burden, if we are going to defeat terrorism and send its wicked ideology into oblivion.

The first task in this joint effort is for your nations to deny all territory to the foot soldiers of evil. Every country in the region has an absolute duty to ensure that terrorists find no sanctuary on their soil.

Many are already making significant contributions to regional security: Jordanian pilots are crucial partners against ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Saudi Arabia and a regional coalition have taken strong action against Houthi militants in Yemen. The Lebanese Army is hunting ISIS operatives who try to infiltrate their territory. Emirati troops are supporting our Afghan partners. In Mosul, American troops are supporting Kurds, Sunnis and Shias fighting together for their homeland. Qatar, which hosts the U.S. Central Command, is a crucial strategic partner. Our longstanding partnership with Kuwait and Bahrain continue to enhance security in the region. And courageous Afghan soldiers are making tremendous sacrifices in the fight against the Taliban, and others, in the fight for their country.

As we deny terrorist organizations control of territory and populations, we must also strip them of their access to funds. We must cut off the financial channels that let ISIS sell oil, let extremists pay their fighters, and help terrorists smuggle their reinforcements.

I am proud to announce that the nations here today will be signing an agreement to prevent the financing of terrorism, called the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center – co-chaired by the United States and Saudi Arabia, and joined by every member of the Gulf Cooperation Council. It is another historic step in a day that will be long remembered.

I also applaud the Gulf Cooperation Council for blocking funders from using their countries as a financial base for terror, and designating Hezbollah as a terrorist organization last year. Saudi Arabia also joined us this week in placing sanctions on one of the most senior leaders of Hezbollah.

Of course, there is still much work to do.

That means honestly confronting the crisis of Islamist extremism and the Islamist terror groups it inspires. And it means standing together against the murder of innocent Muslims, the oppression of women, the persecution of Jews, and the slaughter of Christians.

Religious leaders must make this absolutely clear: Barbarism will deliver you no glory – piety to evil will bring you no dignity. If you choose the path of terror, your life will be empty, your life will be brief, and YOUR SOUL WILL BE CONDEMNED.

And political leaders must speak out to affirm the same idea: heroes don’t kill innocents; they save them. Many nations here today have taken important steps to raise up that message. Saudi Arabia’s Vision for 2030 is an important and encouraging statement of tolerance, respect, empowering women, and economic development.

The United Arab Emirates has also engaged in the battle for hearts and souls—and with the U.S., launched a center to counter the online spread of hate. Bahrain too is working to undermine recruitment and radicalism.

I also applaud Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon for their role in hosting refugees. The surge of migrants and refugees leaving the Middle East depletes the human capital needed to build stable societies and economies. Instead of depriving this region of so much human potential, Middle Eastern countries can give young people hope for a brighter future in their home nations and regions.

That means promoting the aspirations and dreams of all citizens who seek a better life – including women, children, and followers of all faiths. Numerous Arab and Islamic scholars have eloquently argued that protecting equality strengthens Arab and Muslim communities.

For many centuries the Middle East has been home to Christians, Muslims and Jews living side-by-side. We must practice tolerance and respect for each other once again—and make this region a place where every man and woman, no matter their faith or ethnicity, can enjoy a life of dignity and hope.

In that spirit, after concluding my visit in Riyadh, I will travel to Jerusalem and Bethlehem, and then to the Vatican – visiting many of the holiest places in the three Abrahamic Faiths. If these three faiths can join together in cooperation, then peace in this world is possible – including peace between Israelis and Palestinians. I will be meeting with both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Starving terrorists of their territory, their funding, and the false allure of their craven ideology, will be the basis for defeating them.

But no discussion of stamping out this threat would be complete without mentioning the government that gives terrorists all three—safe harbor, financial backing, and the social standing needed for recruitment. It is a regime that is responsible for so much instability in the region. I am speaking of course of Iran.

From Lebanon to Iraq to Yemen, Iran funds, arms, and trains terrorists, militias, and other extremist groups that spread destruction and chaos across the region. For decades, Iran has fueled the fires of sectarian conflict and terror.

It is a government that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing the destruction of Israel, death to America, and ruin for many leaders and nations in this room.

Among Iran’s most tragic and destabilizing interventions have been in Syria. Bolstered by Iran, Assad has committed unspeakable crimes, and the United States has taken firm action in response to the use of banned chemical weapons by the Assad Regime – launching 59 tomahawk missiles at the Syrian air base from where that murderous attack originated.

Responsible nations must work together to end the humanitarian crisis in Syria, eradicate ISIS, and restore stability to the region.

The Iranian regime’s longest-suffering victims are its own people. Iran has a rich history and culture, but the people of Iran have endured hardship and despair under their leaders’ reckless pursuit of conflict and terror.

Until the Iranian regime is willing to be a partner for peace, all nations of conscience must work together to isolate Iran, deny it funding for terrorism, and pray for the day when the Iranian people have the just and righteous government they deserve.

The decisions we make will affect countless lives.

King Salman, I thank you for the creation of this great moment in history, and for your massive investment in America, its industry and its jobs. I also thank you for investing in the future of this part of the world.

This fertile region has all the ingredients for extraordinary success – a rich history and culture, a young and vibrant people, a thriving spirit of enterprise. But you can only unlock this future if the citizens of the Middle East are freed from extremism, terror and violence.

We in this room are the leaders of our peoples. They look to us for answers, and for action. And when we look back at their faces, behind every pair of eyes is a soul that yearns for justice.

Today, billions of faces are now looking at us, waiting for us to act on the great question of our time.

Will we be indifferent in the presence of evil? Will we protect our citizens from its violent ideology? Will we let its venom spread through our societies? Will we let it destroy the most holy sites on earth?

If we do not confront this deadly terror, we know what the future will bring—more suffering and despair.

But if we act—if we leave this magnificent room unified and determined to do what it takes to destroy the terror that threatens the world—then there is no limit to the great future our citizens will have.

The birthplace of civilization is waiting to begin a new renaissance. Just imagine what tomorrow could bring.

Glorious wonders of science, art, medicine and commerce to inspire humankind. Great cities built on the ruins of shattered towns. New jobs and industries that will lift up millions of people. Parents who no longer worry for their children, families who no longer mourn for their loved ones, and the faithful who finally worship without fear.

These are the blessings of prosperity and peace. These are the desires that burn with a righteous flame in every human heart. And these are the just demands of our beloved peoples.

I ask you to join me, to join together, to work together, and to FIGHT together— BECAUSE UNITED, WE WILL NOT FAIL.

Thank you. God Bless You. God Bless Your Countries. And God Bless the United States of America.

Full Text Political Transcripts May 17, 2017: President Donald Trump’s Speech at United States Coast Guard Academy Commencement Ceremony

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Trump at United States Coast Guard Academy Commencement Ceremony

Source: WH, 5-17-17

Coast Guard Academy
New London, Connecticut

11:50 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  Thank you, John.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Thank you, and congratulations to the Class of 2017.  Great job.

And, General Kelly, I want to thank you for your leadership as the Coast Guard’s Service Secretary.  You’ve really been something very, very special to us as a country, and to me and our administration.  You’ve done throughout your entire life an incredible job defending your country.  Thank you very much, John.  (Applause.)

And John and all of his folks are also doing an incredible job protecting our homeland and our border.  And I’m thrilled that my first address to the Service Academy is the graduation ceremony for the United States Coast Guard.  Believe me, it’s a great honor.  (Applause.)  I’ve been here before and it’s a very, very special place.  Every cadet graduating today, as your Commander-in-Chief, it is truly my honor to welcome you aboard.  (Applause.)  And you should take a moment to celebrate this incredible achievement.

Governor Malloy, thank you for being here.  Governor, thank you.  We’re glad you could join us.  And I know how busy the governors are nowadays, and they’re out there fighting.  It’s never easy.  Budgets are a little tight, but we’re doing a job, all of us are doing a job, working together.

I want to also thank Admiral Zookunft and his leadership.  His leadership has been amazing.  Today’s graduates will be fortunate to serve under such capable and experienced Commandant. He really is fantastic.

Thanks also to Admiral Rendon, the Academy Superintendent.  Admiral, I understand you come from a true Coast Guard family.  Two brothers, a nephew, a cousin have all passed through these halls.  That’s very impressive.  I guess you like the place, right?  (Applause.)  Somebody in your family has been doing something right, I can tell you that.  I’m sure they all are very proud, just as we are very proud of the fine young officers who are graduating today, Admiral, on your watch.

I would also like to take this opportunity to express our appreciation to all of the parents and the grandparents and family members who have supported these amazing graduates.  Give your parents and everyone a hand.  Come on.  (Applause.)  Because America has families like yours, and we’ll keep all of those families safe and very, very secure.  You’re keeping your families safe now.

If you are not already, you’re about to become military families.  So, starting today, I hope you feel the full gratitude of our nation.  These fine young cadets are about to take their rightful place on the front line of defense for the United States of America.  Cadets, you deserve not only the congratulations but the gratitude of each and every American, and we all salute you. (Applause.)  A proud nation.  And you’re a part of a very, very proud nation which salutes the 195 199 cadets of the Coast Guard Academy Class of 2017.  Good job.  (Applause.)

And I understand from the admirals that this has been a very special class.  You’ve been trained here to handle the toughest of situations, the hardest of moments really that you can experience, and the hardest in people’s lives, and to help the weak in their hour of need.  But even for the Coast Guard, this class has been exceptionally dedicated to public service.

You served breakfast at the local food bank every single weekday.  You rebuilt a home with Habitat for Humanity.  Last year, you led cadets in donating a total of 24,000 hours — a lot of time — to community service.  You’ve done amazing work.  And in the true Coast Guard fashion, you had fewer people and fewer resources, but you accomplished the objectives, and you did it with skill and with pride — and, I’d like to say, under budget and ahead of schedule.  We’re doing a lot of that now in the United States government.  (Applause.)  We’re doing a lot of that.

I won’t talk about how much I saved you on the F-35 fighter jet.  I won’t even talk about it.  Or how much we’re about to save you on the Gerald Ford, the aircraft carrier.  That had a little bit of an overrun problem before I got here, you know that.  Still going to have an overrun problem.  We came in when it was finished.  But we’re going to save some good money.  And when we build the new aircraft carriers they’re going to be built under budget and ahead of schedule, just remember that.  (Applause.)  That will allow us to build more.

Now, of course, there are always a few slip-ups from time to time — you know that.  For example, I understand that once or twice, First Class Cadet Bruce Kim — where’s Bruce?  (Applause.) Where’s Bruce?  Oh, Bruce, how do you do this to yourself, Bruce? (Laughter.)  As Regimental Parking Officer, might have accidentally caused a few tickets to be issued or a few of your cars to be booted.  Bruce, what’s going on with you?  (Laughter.)

But, Cadets, from this day forward, we want everyone to have a clean slate in life.  That includes Bruce, right? (Laughter.) And so, for any oversights or small violations that might have occurred this year, as tradition demands, I hereby absolve every cadet serving restrictions for minor offenses.

Now, Bruce — stand up once again, Bruce.  (Laughter.)  They saved you, Bruce, because they all wanted me to do that, okay?  Thank you, Bruce.  Congratulations, Bruce.  (Applause.)  Good job.  By the way, Bruce, don’t worry about it.  That’s the tradition.  I was forced to do that.  You know that.  Don’t worry.  (Laughter.)

This is truly an amazing group of cadets that are here today for commission.  You could have gone to school anywhere you wanted — and with very, very few responsibilities by comparison. Instead, you chose the path of service.  You chose hard work, high standards, and a very noble mission — to save lives, defend the homeland, and protect America’s interests around the world.  You chose the Coast Guard.  Good choice.  Good choice.  (Applause.)

You’ve learned skills they don’t teach at other schools right here on the grounds of this academy and also on your larger campus — the open sea.  That is a large, large campus, isn’t it? A beautiful campus.  But the greatest lesson you’ve learned at this proud institution is the knowledge you’ve learned about yourself.  It’s the knowledge that each and every one of you is something very special — you are leaders.

From the first stormy days of your Swab Summer to your final weeks as a first class cadet, you have been expected to take responsibility, to make decisions, and to act.  And I — like all leaders, that’s exactly what you have to do.  You have to act, and you have to act properly.  And you have to learn how to act under great, great pressure.  You’re all going to be under great pressure.  You have to learn how to respond and to act under great pressure.

Just days from now, you will put this vital skill into the service of your ships, your sectors, and your country.  You’ll serve as deck watch officers on our amazing Coast Guard cutters. You’ll bring law and order to the dangerous waters as boating officers.  You will block illegal shipments of cash, weapons and drugs.  You will battle the scourge of human trafficking — something that people haven’t been talking about.  One of the big, big plagues of the world.  Not our country only — the world.  Human trafficking.

Americans will place their trust in your leadership, just as they have trusted in generations of Coast Guard men and women, with respect for your skill, with awe at your courage, and with the knowledge that you will always be ready.  You are Always Ready.

Not only will our citizens trust in your leadership, your commanders will trust you as well.  The Coast Guard is the gold standard in delegating decision-making down to chain command.  So just as your instructors have at the academy, your Coast Guard commanders will explain their vision, and then they will trust you to get the job done.  Just like I, as your President, will also trust you to get the job done.

It’s amazing to think of the adventures that are about to begin for you.  Across the country this month, millions of other students are graduating high school, college.  Many others are wondering, just what am I going to do.  They’re saying to themselves, what are they going to do.  You know what you’re going to do.  Many, many students are graduating from college right now.  They’re saying, what am I going to do?  Where am I going to go to work?  You know it.  You picked a good one, by the way.  You picked a beautiful one, a good one, and we’re really proud to have you, I can tell you.  (Applause.)

Years from now, some of them may look back and ask themselves whether they’ve made the right choice, whether they’ve made the most of the opportunities they’ve been given.  In the Coast Guard, you will face many challenges and many threats, but one thing you will never have to face is that question of what will I do.  When you look back, you won’t doubt.  You know exactly how you spent your time — saving lives.

I look at your admirals, I look at General Kelly, I look at some of the great people in service, and I want to tell you, they’re excited about life.  They love what they do.  They love the country.  They love protecting our country, and they love what they do.  Is that right?  Good.  I didn’t think anyone was going to say no.  (Laughter.)  That would have ruined our speech, right?  (Laughter.)  They’re great people.

You always know just what you’ll be:  the leaders and officers of the United States Coast Guard.  (Applause.)

And when they see your uniform, everyone in the world will know exactly what that means.  What standard — and really if you think of it, when you talk about the great sailors, and the great sailors of the world, we have them.  But what stranded sailor doesn’t feel relief when those red racing stripes break the horizon?  What drifting soul at sea, with only a short time left to live, doesn’t rejoice at the sound of those chopper blades overhead, coming back and coming down to rescue them from death? What poison-peddling drug runner, the scourge of our country, doesn’t tremble with fear when the might of the Coast Guard comes bearing down on them?  In each case, we know the reason –America’s lifesaving service is on the way.  The Coast Guard is truly vital to the United States Armed Forces and truly vital to our great country.  (Applause.)

Out of the five branches of our Armed Services, it’s only the Coast Guard that has the power to break through 21 feet of rock-solid Arctic ice, right?  You’re the only ones.  And I’m proud to say that under my administration, as you just heard, we will be building the first new heavy icebreakers the United States has seen in over 40 years.  We’re going to build many of them.  (Applause.)  We need them.  We need them.

The Coast Guard stands watch at our ports, patrols our waterways, and protects our infrastructure.  You defend America in a world of massive and very grave threats.  Soon, some of you will be leading boardings of suspicious vessels, searching for the most deadly weapons, and detaining criminals to keep our people safe.  Others of you will work with partners in scores of countries around the globe, bringing in the full power of the United States Coast Guard right up to those distant shores.  And some of those shores are very far away.

To secure our borders from drug cartels, human smugglers, and terrorist threats, Coast Guard Cutters patrol more than 1,500 miles below our southern border.  A lot of people didn’t know that.  When enormous pride hits your heart, you realize that it’s with this great skill and tremendous speed, our Coast Guard men and women interdict dangerous criminals and billions and billions of dollars’ worth of illegal narcotics every single year.  Your helicopters launch from the decks of world-class national security cutters, and they chase drug smugglers at speeds far in excess of 50 knots.

In rough seas, at high speeds, our incredible Coast Guard snipers take their aim at the smugglers’ engines.  And time after time, they take out the motors on the first shot.  They don’t like wasting the bullets, right?  (Applause.)  They actually don’t.  Your slice through roaring storms, and through pouring rain and crashing waves is a place where few other people will ever venture — exciting.  Exciting.  But you have to have it in your heart.  You have to love it.  You love it.

In the Coast Guard, you don’t run from danger, you chase it. And you are deployed in support of operations in theaters of conflict all around the world.  But not only do you defend American security, you also protect American prosperity.  It’s a mission that goes back to the earliest days of the Revenue Cutter Service.  You’ve read about that and studied that.

Today, the Coast Guard helps keep our waters open for Americans to do business.  It keeps our rivers flowing with commerce.  And it keeps our ports churning with American exports. You help billions and billions of dollars in goods to navigate our country every day.  You are the only federal presence on our inland waterways.  You police the arteries we need to rebuild this country and to bring prosperity back to our heartland.  And we are becoming very, very prosperous again.  You can see that.

Think of the glorious mission that awaits.  You will secure our harbors, our waterways, and our borders.  You will partner with our allies to advance our security interests at home and abroad.  And you will pursue the terrorists, you will stop the drug smugglers, and you will seek to keep out all who would do harm to our country — all who can never, ever love our country. Together, we have the same mission, and your devotion and dedication makes me truly proud to be your Commander-in-Chief.  (Applause.)  Thank you.

Now, I want to take this opportunity to give you some advice.  Over the course of your life, you will find that things are not always fair.  You will find that things happen to you that you do not deserve and that are not always warranted.  But you have to put your head down and fight, fight, fight.  Never, ever, ever give up.  Things will work out just fine.

Look at the way I’ve been treated lately — (laughter) — especially by the media.  No politician in history — and I say this with great surety — has been treated worse or more unfairly.  You can’t let them get you down.  You can’t let the critics and the naysayers get in the way of your dreams.  (Applause.)  I guess that’s why I — thank you.  I guess that’s why we won.

Adversity makes you stronger.  Don’t give in.  Don’t back down.  And never stop doing what you know is right.  Nothing worth doing ever, ever, ever came easy.  And the more righteous your right, the more opposition that you will face.

I’ve accomplished a tremendous amount in a very short time as President.  Jobs pouring back in to our country.  A brand-new Supreme Court justice — who’s going to be fantastic for 45 years — (applause) — a historic investment in our military.  Border crossings — thank you to our General — are down more than 70 percent in just a short period of time — a total record, by the way, by a lot.  (Applause.)  We’ve saved the Second Amendment, expanded service for our veterans — we are going to take care of our veterans like they’ve never been taken care of before.  (Applause.)

I’ve loosened up the strangling environmental chains wrapped around our country and our economy, chains so tight that you couldn’t do anything — that jobs were going down.  We were losing business.  We’re loosening it up.  We’ve begun plans and preparations for the border wall, which is going along very, very well.  We’re working on major tax cuts for all.  We are going to give you the largest tax cut in the history of our country if we get it the way we want it, and we’re going to give you major tax reform.  (Applause.)  And we’re also getting closer and closer, day by day, to great healthcare for our citizens.  (Applause.)

And we are setting the stage right now for many, many more things to come.  And the people understand what I’m doing, and that’s the most important thing.  I didn’t get elected to serve the Washington media or special interests.  I got elected to serve the forgotten men and women of our country, and that’s what I’m doing.  (Applause.)  I will never stop fighting for you, and I will never stop fighting for the American people.

As you leave this academy to embark on your exciting new voyage, I am heading on a very crucial journey as well.  In a few days, I will make my first trip abroad as President.  With the safety, security, and interests of the American people as my priority, I will strengthen old friendships and will seek new partners — but partners who also help us.  Not partners who take and take and take, partners who help, and partners who help pay for whatever we are doing and all of the good we’re doing for them — which is something that a lot of people have not gotten used to and they just can’t get used to it.  I say, get used to it, folks.  (Applause.)  I’ll ask them to unite for a future of peace and opposition opportunity for our peoples and the peoples of the world.

First, in Saudi Arabia, where I’ll speak with Muslim leaders and challenge them to fight hatred and extremism, and embrace a peaceful future for their faith.  And they’re looking very much forward to hearing what we — as your representative — we have to say.  We have to stop radical Islamic terrorism.  (Applause.)

Then in Israel, I’ll reaffirm our unbreakable alliance with the Jewish state.  In Rome, I will talk with Pope Francis about the contributions of Christian teachings to the world.  Finally, I’ll attend the NATO Summit in Brussels and the G7 in Sicily — to promote security, prosperity and peace all over the world.

I’ll meet scores of leader, and honor the holiest sites of these three great religions.  And everywhere I go, I will carry the inspiration I take from you each day, from your courage and determination to do whatever is required save and protect American lives.  Save and protect American lives.  We want security.  You’re going to give us security.  (Applause.)

In just one example, we see how priceless that gift of life is to the people you touch every day.  A few years ago, a Coast Guard helicopter and rescue swimmer took off in the direction of three terrified fishermen who clung to their sinking and burning vessel.  That day, our Coast Guard heroes did their jobs well.  They flew over the sea, despite tremendous danger, and extended a helping hand at the moment it was most urgently needed.  There was very little time left.

But that’s not the most remarkable part of that story.  As one Coast Guard swimmer put it, you do that stuff all the time.  You do it every hour of the day.  Something is happening all the time with the United States Coast Guard.  You do an amazing job. A remarkable thing happened with that rescue, but when you think of it, you do those rescues all the time.  There, the Vietnamese fishing captain grabbed the swimmer’s hand.  He looked his Coast Guard rescuer in the eye, and said: “I was asking God to please let me live….I need to see my kids. Please, God, please, let me live so that I can see my kids.  Then God sent me you.”  That’s what he said.  (Applause.)

To every new officer, and to every new Coast Guard member here today, or out protecting life around the world on some of the roughest waters anywhere, you truly are doing God’s work.  What a grateful heart you must all have.  Because it is with my very grateful heart, and America’s cheers for the Coast Guard — and America cheers for you often — but we wish you good luck.

As your Commander-in-Chief, I thank you.  I salute you.  And I, once again, congratulate the Coast Guard Class of 2017.  (Applause.)  God bless you.  God bless the Coast Guard.  And God bless the United States of America.  Thank you very much.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you very much.  Thank you, everybody.  Great honor.  Good luck.  Enjoy your life.  (Applause.)

END
12:18 P.M. EDT

Full Text Political Transcripts May 15, 2017: President Donald Trump’s Speech at the 36th Annual National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

May 15, 2017

Remarks by President Trump at the 36th Annual National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service

Source: WH, 5-15-17

U.S. Capitol
Washington, D.C.

12:02 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, everybody.  (Applause.)  Wow, what a beautiful introduction.  Thank you, Chuck.  That was above and beyond.  That’s the way I’m going to be with you, too.  And it’s a great honor — thank you very much — it’s a great honor to address America’s heroes on this most solemn occasion.

Words cannot express the depths of our gratitude, but I hope that our actions will show you how deeply we care and how strongly we feel about protecting those who protect us.  America stands strong with our men and women in blue.  Believe me, we stand strong together.

I want to recognize Jim Pasco, Linda Hennie, Chaplain Wiggins, and everyone at the Fraternal Order of Police for all that you do to protect the law enforcement of this country and all of our communities.  Thank you very much.  Thank you.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)  As long as I’m President, you will always find an open door to the White House.  And you’ve already found it, believe me.

Mr. Vice President, Cabinet Secretaries, and members of Congress, we are gathered here today at the U.S. Capitol to pay tribute to those brave law enforcement officers who gave their lives in the line of duty.  On this Peace Officers’ Memorial Day, we thank God for having blessed so many of us with such incredible heroes — and we pledge our solidarity with their families and loved ones.  And many of those great families and survivors are here with us today, and I’d love you to stand up.  Families and survivors — what great, incredible people.  (Applause.)  And your loved ones are looking down on you right now, believe me, and they’re very proud.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Thank you very much for being here.  Whatever you need, we are here for you, and we are praying for you.

As I look out today at this amazing assembly of police, detectives, marshals and sheriffs, I want to make all of you remember and heed this promise:  I will always support the incredible men and women of law enforcement as much as you have always supported me.  And you did, big league.  (Applause.)

Your presence here reminds us all of what is at stake on this sacred day of remembrance.  Each May, during Police Week, new names of fallen police officers are added to the National Law Enforcement Memorial.  This year, 394 brave souls join the over 20,000 men and women who gave up their lives in the line of duty to protect us.

The names of these heroes are not only carved into that wall, but carved into the hearts of the American people.  And by the way, the American people love you, more than you will ever know.  I can tell you that.  (Applause.)

Though your loved ones left us much too soon, the memory of their courage will live on forever.  To see so many names together is to gain only a small glimpse of the debt America owes to those who protect our cities and police on our streets.

We are privileged this morning to be joined by families of the fallen, to whom we owe that ultimate loyalty.  So many people — even back here.  Please know that you do not grieve alone.  Though we cannot fathom the depths of your loss, nor fully appreciate the bond that forms in the precinct and between partners on the beat, your sadness is left and felt by all of us.  Every drop of blood spilled from our heroes in blue is a wound inflicted upon the whole country.  And every heartache known by your families in law enforcement is a sorrow shared by the entire family of the American nation.

No one asked these selfless men and women to enlist in this righteous cause, or to enroll as foot soldiers in the eternal struggle against crime and violence.  They joined the cause because their hearts were big and full of amazing courage.  They joined because they cared so deeply for the innocent and helpless and forgotten.  They put on the uniform because they believed to the very core of their souls, that it was their mission in life to serve and to protect.

As the Bible tells us, there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.  The names and stories on that wall are each a testament to this pure and unselfish love.  And that’s what it is — pure and unselfish love.  And it is our duty as a people and as a nation to prove worthy of their sacrifice.  And that begins with showing our police the appreciation they have earned a thousand times over.  (Applause.)

Living in New York, I gained a deep appreciation and lasting admiration for law enforcement.  Thousands of people are living and enjoying life today in New York who otherwise would be gone because our great police fought to bring safety to our streets and our communities.  The entire world witnessed the heroism of New York’s finest when they gave their lives on 9/11 — I was there — and sacrificed so much in that brutal, horrible aftermath.

Now, as President, my highest duty is to keep America safe.  We will keep America safe.  (Applause.)  And included in safe means safe from crimes, safe from terrorism, and safe from all enemies, foreign and domestic.  At the center of that duty is the requirement to ensure that our law enforcement personnel are given the tools and resources they need to do their jobs and to come home to their families safely.  (Applause.)

You are the Thin Blue Line between civilization and chaos.  You come from every community and all walks of life.  You are mothers and fathers and sons and daughters.  You rush into unknown danger, risking your lives for people you have never met, people you don’t know, performing your duty under the most difficult conditions — and often without any thanks at all.

Because you do not hear nearly enough, I want you to know that patriotic Americans of all backgrounds truly support and love our police.  (Applause.)

And a very sad thing is that many of today’s politicians don’t want to say that, don’t want to talk about that because it’s not politically correct or they think it might hurt them with the voters.  I will say it and I will talk about it proudly.  (Applause.)  I will make it the personal priority of my administration to ensure that our police are finally treated fairly, with honor and respect that they deserve.  (Applause.)

To all Americans watching this event today, next time you see a cop on the beat, take a moment to say two wonderful words, which they so readily deserve:  Thank you.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

As you all know much too well, we are living through an era in which our police have been subject to unfair defamation and vilification, and, even worse — really, I mean, you see what’s going on, you see what’s going — even worse, hostility and violence.  More officers were slain last year in ambushes than in any year in more than two decades, including — and that’s so incredible to even have to be speaking about this — the beloved officers killed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in yet another murderous attack of law enforcement.  And we have some of those incredible families and survivors with us.  (Applause.)  Thank you.

The attacks on our police are a stain on the very fabric of our society, and you are entitled to leadership at the highest level that will draw a bright line in the sand — not a red line in the sand that isn’t gone over — but a bright line in the sand.  And we will protect you.  That I can tell you.  And we will say, “Enough is enough.”  (Applause.)  The attacks on our police must end, and they must end right now.  (Applause.)

And just to show you, by the way, how much I love our police, I said, oh, I’m going to need a hat because it’s so windy today.  (Laughter.)  I said, when I got out of here, there’s no way I’m going to put on this hat.  So we’ll leave off the hat.   And this is for you, Micah.  That’s for our beautiful Micah down there.  (Applause.)

We must also end the reckless words of incitement that give rise to danger and give rise to violence.  It is time to work with our cops, not against them, but to support them in making our streets safe; not to obstruct them — which we’re doing, we obstruct them.

It is time for all Americans, from all parties and beliefs, to join together in a simple goal to ensure that every child in America has the right to grow up in safety, security and peace.  True social justice means a future where every child, in every neighborhood, can play outside without fear, can walk home safely from school, and can live out the beautiful dreams that fill their heart — like you, Mica.  (Applause.)

Freedom includes the right to be free — and I mean totally free — from crime and from violence.  MS-13 is going to be gone from our streets very soon, believe me.  (Applause.)

When policing is reduced, it’s often the poorest and most vulnerable Americans who are the first to suffer.  We have all seen the tragic rise in violence and crimes in many of our disadvantaged communities.  We’ve seen the unbearable horror of the shortcomings in Baltimore and Chicago that have cut short so many lives and so many beautiful, beautiful dreams.

We cannot stand for such violence.  We cannot tolerate such pain.  We cannot, under any circumstances, any longer turn a blind eye to this suffering that’s going on any longer.  And we won’t.  (Applause.)

It’s time for a grateful nation to join hands with our police and with our sheriffs to build the bridges of cooperation and trust, and to make our streets safer for every man, woman and child in America.  And someday, many of the young children you are protecting will decide that they, too, want to be police officers, that they, too, want to be sheriffs, they want to be cops — they want to be cops.   They want to protect people because they love people.  And that’s what they’re going to do, and they’re going to do it well.  They’re going to be great at it.

As we seek this better and brighter future, we do so in the memory of these brave but gentle souls who were stolen from this world when they had so much left to share and to give not only to us but to their incredible families.

Among them were Patrolman Justin Martin and Sergeant Tony Beminio, who were murdered last November.  Patrolman Martin was on the beat for less than a year, and leaves a beautiful, loving mom and dad, Randy and Jayne.  And thank you, Randy and Jayne.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Sergeant Beminio was a veteran of 11 years, and leaves behind his wife Zoe, and his wonderful children, Cameron, Haley and Maddox.

Ashley Guindon of the Prince William County Police fell in the line of duty on her very first day on the beat.  She swore the oath to protect and serve only a day prior to her death.  One day.  Officer Gwin-Don was dedicated to serving our nation
— she also served in the Marines.  And today, our thoughts are with her and her incredible mother, Sharon.  Thank you, Sharon.  Thank you.  Thank you, Sharon.  (Applause.)  Thank you.

I also had the privilege to meet at the White House just a little while ago with representatives from the Phoenix Police Department, New Jersey State Troopers, and the Ulster County Sheriff’s Department, who are mourning the deaths of State Trooper Frankie Williams and Sergeant Kerry Winters.

I had the chance to spend time with Officer Glasser’s beautiful family, his wife, Kristen, and his six-year-old son Micah — who has my hat and he’s now with us.  Micah, stand up.  Kristen, please stand up.  Great people.  (Applause.)

Kristen and Micah, I know your beloved husband and father is looking down on you right now from heaven, and he is so proud of you both.  And thank you very much.  Thank you.

We also remember those incredible heroes who were so cruelly targeted for execution in Dallas, Texas — rushing into a hail of gunfire, never to return.  Dallas Police Sergeant Michael Smith was a 27-year veteran of the Dallas Police.  He was decorated a law enforcement officer at the highest level, and even paid his own way to attend advanced training sessions.  He leaves behind his cherished wife, Heidi, and his loving daughters, Victoria and Caroline.  Thank you.  Thank you very much.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

Last Friday, in Kirkersville, Ohio, a gunman shot and killed Steven Eric Disario.  He was the Chief of the Kirkersville Police Department.  He died responding to a hostage situation at a local nursing home.  Chief Disario leaves behind six children and his wife, who is expecting another child.  Our hearts break for the Chief’s family.  We love you all.  We love you all.  (Applause.)  Thank you.

To every child in America who has lost a mom or a dad in the line of duty, I want you to know your parents are American heroes — American heroes.  They died keeping us safe.  They are the pride of our nation.  And we will hold them in our hearts always and forever.  (Applause.)  Their sacrifice will never, ever be forgotten.

To everyone in the audience here today, I want you to know that my administration is determined — totally determined — to restore law and order and justice for all Americans, and we’re going to do it quickly.  (Applause.)

And that is why I’m so proud to be here today with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Director John Kelly, two men who are deeply committed to the rule of law, to the rank-and-file officers who enforce it, and to bringing the violent criminals, drug dealers, and gang members to justice.  And I mean bring them to justice quickly.  Thank you very much for being here.  (Applause.)

All of you at this ceremony, the men and women who police the streets, or who send our loved ones to work with a really very, very, sometimes worried or heavy heart — every single day you do that — you’ve seen and you’ve heard things that no one else should ever have to see or hear.  You bear this burden on our behalf.  You have witnessed the evil of those who derive pleasure from inflicting pain on the innocent.  You’ve seen a lot of that more recently than maybe ever before.  It’s going to stop.  And you’ve watched great, great people suffer unthinkable harm and unthinkable death.

America as a nation must always have the clarity to know the difference between good and evil, between right and wrong, and between those who uphold our laws and those who so easily break them.  We owe it to the fallen to act according to our best and highest ideals.  We owe it to their memory to put truth before politics, justice before agendas, and to put the safety and security of the American people above everything else.  (Applause.)  And we owe it to them to build a better future for all of America’s wonderful children.

May today be the beginning of a new era of respect and appreciation for law enforcement.  May this ceremony bring new hope to those in search of healing, harmony and peace.  May Americans learn from the example of the heroes we have lost, and always remember to trust each other, work with each other, and love each other.

And finally, and so importantly, may God bless you.  May God bless our police.  And may God bless the United States of America.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

END
12:27 P.M. EDT

Full Text Political Transcripts May 7, 2017: Former President Barack Obama’s 2017 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award Acceptance Speech

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA POST-PRESIDENCY:

Former President Barack Obama’s 2017 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award Acceptance Speech

Source: Time, 5-7-17

Hello, everybody. Thank you so much. Thank you very much. Thank you. Please, everybody have a seat. Thank you. Thank you very much.

Well, first of all, thank you so much, Jack, for that really kind introduction. And I like the socks.

I also want to thank you and Rose and Tatiana and your dad for sharing Caroline with us the past few years as America’s ambassador to Japan.

Caroline, you, true to form, did your country proud, and I’m sure your father and mom would have been proudest of all. I sure was proud, and I’m grateful for your friendship.

I want to thank Ken Feinberg for his service as chairman of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation these past 12 years. He also rendered outstanding service to my administration when we were dealing with the BP oil spill, 9/11. He has rendered public service again and again and again. We’re very grateful for him.

It is wonderful — it is wonderful to see Senators Markey and Senator Warren; my dear friend and former governor, Deval Patrick, and his lovely wife Diane; governors and members of Congress; Cardinal O’Malley; one of the finest secretary of states ever to represent America around the world, John Kerry, and Theresa; and the best vice president this country has ever known, Mr. Joe Biden.

I also want to thank Michelle Obama for after the presidency sticking with me because I think she felt an obligation to the country to stay on. But once her official duties were over, it wasn’t clear. I love my wife. And I’m grateful for her. And I do believe that it was America’s great good fortune to have her as first lady.

So I am humbled by this evening and to be honored by a family that has given this country so much, a family that’s challenged us to ask what we can do for our country, to dream and say why not, a secret cause that endures and to sail against the wind in its pursuit.

That’s what this family has done for America. And to all the members of the Kennedy family that are here tonight, thank you.

I could not be more grateful to the Profile in Courage Award Committee for this honor. I’m also grateful that, unlike the Nobel Prize Committee, you waited until I was out of office.

How fitting that we gather here this month, the 100th anniversary of President Kennedy’s birth. I was born the year he took office, which makes me 55 years old. Had he lived to finish two terms, he would have been just 51. And he remarked on that possibility once. “It has been suggested,” he said, “that whether I serve one or two terms in the presidency, I will find myself at the end of that period at what might be called the awkward age, too old to begin a career and too young to write my memoirs.”

Now, I hadn’t seen this quote when I wrote my first memoir at 33. I’m now in the middle of my second. Moreover, I expect to be busy if not with a second career then at least a second act. But it is true that I’m at the age, at that turn in the road, where one looks back as well as forward to remember one — where one has been, so it’s better to chart where one is going.

And one thing I’m certain is that I was lucky to be born into that new frontier, a new world, and a new generation of Americans. My life in many ways would not have been possible without the vision that John F. Kennedy etched into the character and hearts of America.

To those of us of a certain age, the Kennedys symbolized a set of values and attitudes about civic life that made it such an attractive calling. The idea that politics in fact could be a noble and worthwhile pursuit. The notion that our problems, while significant, are never insurmountable.

The belief that America’s promise might embrace those who had once been locked out or left behind and that opportunity and dignity would no longer be restricted to the few but extended to the many.

The responsibility that each of us have to play a part in our nation’s destiny, and by virtue of being Americans, play a part in the destiny of the world.
I can see truthfully that the example of Jack and Bobby Kennedy helped guide me into politics and that the guidance of Teddy Kennedy made me a better public servant once I arrived in Washington.

I have to imagine it would give them great pride to see a new generation of Kennedys, like Joe, carving their own proud paths in public service.

For whatever reasons I receive this award, whatever the scale, the challenges that we overcame, and the scope of progress we made over my presidency, it is worth pointing out that in many ways the times that President Kennedy confronted were far more perilous than the ones that we confront today.

He entered the Oval Office at just 43, only a few years after Khrushchev had threatened to bury America. Wars raged around the world. Large swaths of the country knew poverty far deeper and more widespread than we see today. A young preacher’s cause was just gaining traction against a land segregated not only by custom but by law.

And yet in that volatile tinderbox of a time, President Kennedy led with a steady hand, diffusing the most perilous moment of the cold war without firing a single shot and forcing the rights of young black men and women to study at the university of their choice. Unleashing a corps of young volunteers as ambassadors for peace in distant corners of the globe. Setting America’s sights on the moon precisely because it was hard, unwilling to consider the possibility that we might not win the space race because he had an unwavering faith in the character of the people that he led: resilient, optimistic, innovative, and courageous.

It’s worth remembering this, the times in which President Kennedy led us, because for many Americans I know that this feels like an uncertain and even perilous time. The forces of globalization and technology have upended many of our established assumptions about the economy. It provided a great opportunity and also a great inequality and uncertainty for far too many. Our politics remains filled with division and discord, and everywhere we see the risk of falling into the refuge of tribe and clan and anger at those who don’t look like us or have the same surnames or pray the way we do.

And at such moments, courage is necessary. At such moments, we need courage to stand up to hate not just in others but in ourselves. At such moments, we need the courage to stand up to dogma not just in others but in ourselves. At such moments, we need courage to believe that together we can tackle big challenges like inequality and climate change. At such moments, it’s necessary for us to show courage in challenging the status quo and in fighting the good fight but also show the courage to listen to one another and seek common ground and embrace principled compromise

Courage, President Kennedy knew, requires something more than just the absence of fear. Any fool can be fearless. Courage, true courage, derives from that sense of who we are, what are our best selves, what are our most important commitments, and the belief that we can dig deep and do hard things for the enduring benefit of others.

And that’s why JFK’s first inaugural still rings true. That’s why Bobby’s campaign still means so much. That’s why Teddy’s cause endures and we still love him so much.

Because of the tragedies that befell each of them, sometimes we forget how fundamentally the story they told us about ourselves changed the trajectory of America. And that’s often where courage begins, with the story we tell ourselves about who we are and what’s important and about our own capacity to make a difference.

We live in a time of great cynicism about our institutions. That’s one of the few things that Democrats and Republicans can agree on. It’s a cynicism that’s most corrosive when it comes to our system of self-government, that clouds our history of jagged, sometimes tentative but ultimately forward progress, that impedes our children’s ability to see in the noisy and often too trivial pursuits of politics the possibility of our democracy doing big things.

Of course, disdain for elected officials is not new, as many of you in the room can tell others. 60 years ago President Kennedy quoted a columnist in “Profiles in Courage” who had written, “People don’t give a damn what the average senator or congressman says. The reason they don’t care is that they know what you hear in Congress is 99 percent tripe, ignorance, and demagoguery and not to be relied upon.”

Which is perhaps a little harsh. 99 percent seems high. 85?

But President Kennedy also wrote that “the complication of public business and the competition for the public’s attention have obscured innumerable acts of political courage, large and small, performed almost daily.”

Innumerable acts of political courage large and small performed almost daily. And that is true. I’ve seen it. I’ve witnessed it.

I’ve been thinking on this notion of political courage this weekend, in particular about some of the men and women who were elected to Congress the same year I was elected to the White House. Many of them were new to Washington, their entire careers ahead of them. And in that very first term, they had to take tough vote after tough vote because we were in crisis.

They took votes to save the financial system and the economy, even when it was highly unpopular. They took votes to save the auto industry when even in Michigan people didn’t want to see bailouts. They took votes to crack down on abuses on Wall Street, despite pressure from lobbyists and sometimes their donors.

And they found themselves in the midst of a great debate, a debate that had been going on for decades, a debate that the Kennedy family had participated in and helped lead: a debate about whether a nation as wealthy as the United States of America would finally make healthcare not a privilege but a right for all Americans.

And there was a reason why healthcare reform had not been accomplished before. It was hard. It involved a sixth of the economy and all manner of stakeholders and interests. It was easily subject to misinformation and fearmongering.

And so by the time the vote came up to pass the Affordable Care Act, these freshmen congressmen and women knew that they had to make a choice. That they had a chance to insure millions and prevent untold worry and suffering and bankruptcy, and even death, but that this same vote would likely cost them their new seats, perhaps end their political careers.

And these men and women did the right thing. They did the hard thing. Theirs was a profile in courage. Because of that vote, 20 million people got health insurance who didn’t have it before.

And most of them — and most of them did lose their seats, but they were true to what President Kennedy defined in his book as a congressional profile in courage: the desire to maintain a reputation for integrity that is stronger than the desire to maintain office, the desire to maintain a reputation for integrity that is stronger than a desire to maintain office, a conscience, personal standard of ethics, integrity, morality that is stronger than the pressures of public disapproval or party disapproval, a faith that the right course would ultimately be vindicated, a faith that overcame fear of public reprisal.

It was a personal sacrifice. But I know, because I’ve spoken to many of them, that they thought and still think it was worth it.

As everyone here now knows, this great debate is not settled but continues. And it is my fervent hope and the hope of millions that regardless of party, such courage is still possible, that today’s members of Congress, regardless of party, are willing to look at the facts and speak the truth even when it contradicts party positions.

I hope that current members of Congress recall that it actually doesn’t take a lot of courage to aid those who are already powerful, already comfortable, already influential. But it does require some courage to champion the vulnerable and the sick and the infirm, those who often have no access to the corridors of power.

I hope they understand that courage means not simply doing what is politically expedient but doing what they believe deep in their hearts is right. And this kind of courage is required from all of us. Those of us who consider ourselves progressives, those of us who are Democrats, we’ve got some soul-searching to do to see what kind of coverage we show. We have our own dogmas.
Those of us not in elected office have to show some courage. And we’re prone to bestow the mantel of courage too easily on the prominent and the powerful and then too eager to wrap ourselves in cynicism when they let us down because they weren’t perfect.

We lose sight sometimes of our own obligations, each of ours, all the quiet acts of courage that unfold around us every single day, ordinary Americans who give something of themselves not for personal gain but for the enduring benefit of another. The courage of a single mom who is working two jobs to make sure her kid can go to college. The courage of a small business owner who’s keeping folks on the payroll because he knows the family relies on it, even if it’s not always the right thing to do bottom line. The courage of somebody who volunteers to help some kids who need help.

When we recognize these acts of courage, we then necessarily recognize our own responsibility as citizens and as part of the human family to get involved and to get engaged and to take a stand, to vote, to pay attention.

I’m reminded of a story that Teddy once told me about his experiences many years ago when Teddy, Junior, now state Senator Ted Kennedy, Junior, was sleeping after one of his cancer treatments.

And Ted would wander the halls of the hospital and talk with other parents, keeping vigil over their own children. These parents lived in constant fear of what might happen if they couldn’t afford the next treatment. Some calculating in their own minds what they might have to sell or borrow just to make it for a few more months, some bargaining with God for whatever they could get.

And right there in the quiet of night, working people of modest means and one of the most powerful men in America shared the same intimate and immediate sense of helplessness.

And Ted could, of course, afford his son’s treatment. But it was that quiet dignified courage of others to endure the most frightening thing imaginable and to do what it takes on behalf of their loved ones that compelled Teddy to make those parents his cause, not out of self-interest but out of a selfless concern for those who suffer.

That’s what the ordinary courage of everyday people can inspire when you’re paying attention, the quiet sturdy courage of ordinary people doing the right thing day in and day out. They don’t get attention for it. They don’t seek it. They don’t get awards for it. But that’s what’s defined America.

I think of women like my grandmother and so many like her who worked their way up from a secretarial pool to management and in the process pushed the glass ceiling just a little bit higher.

I think about people like Michelle’s dad who, despite MS, got up every single morning. Had to wake up an hour early to button his shirt up and put on his clothes and take those two canes he used and go to work every single day to make sure that he was supporting his family, not missing a dance recital or a basketball game.

I think of the troops and the cops and the first responders that I’ve met who have put themselves at risk for strangers they will never know. And business owners who make every kind of sacrifice they can to make sure that their workers have a shot. And workers who take the risk of starting a new career, retraining at my age. Kids in the Peace Corps working to build bridges of understanding in other nations and spread the same values that helped bring down an iron curtain, banish the scourge of apartheid, expand the boundaries of human freedom.

I think of dreamers who suppress their fears to keep working and striving in the only country they’ve ever called home. And every American who stands up for immigrants because they know that their parents or grandparents or great grandparents were immigrants too, and they know that America is an idea that only grows stronger with each new person who adopts our common creed.

I think of every young activist who answers the injustices still embedded in our criminal justice system not with violence, not with despair, but with peaceful protests and analysis and constructive recommendations for change.

I think of the powerless who crossed a bridge in Selma and discovered they had power. Those who gathered at Stonewall and discovered they had a voice. Those who marched on Washington because they believed that they, without an army, without great wealth, could somehow change the very fabric of the greatest power on earth and kept on until they stretched the lofty ideals of our founding to encircle everyone.

Every citizen inspired by that history who dips their toes in the water of active democracy for the first time and musters up the determination to try and fail and try again, and sometimes fail again and still try again, knowing their efforts aren’t always rewarded right away, because they believe in that upward trajectory of the American story, a story that nobody told better than John F. Kennedy.

That very Kennedyesque idea that America is not the project of any one person and that each of us can make a difference and all of us ought to try. That quiet sturdy citizenship that I see all across the country and that I especially see in young people like Jack and Rose and Tatiana, Malia and Sasha, and your kids.

I don’t know whether President Kennedy’s aide and friend, historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., was right when he wrote that history unfolds in cycles, but I do know that it doesn’t move in a straight line.

I know that the values and the progress that we cherish are not inevitable, that they are fragile, in need of constant renewal.

I’ve said before that I believe what
Dr. King said, that “the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice,” but I’ve also said it does not bend on its own. It bends because we bend it, because we put our hand on that arch, and we move it in the direction of justice and freedom and equality and kindness and generosity. It doesn’t happen on its own.

And so we are constantly having to make a choice because progress is fragile. And it’s precisely that fragility, that impermanence, that is a precondition of the quality of character that we celebrate tonight.

If the vitality of our democracy, if the gains of our long journey to freedom were assured, none of us would ever have to be courageous. None of us would have to risk anything to protect them. But it’s in its very precariousness that courage becomes possible and absolutely necessary.

John F. Kennedy knew that our best hope and our most powerful answer to our doubts and to our fears lies inside each of us, in our willingness to joyfully embrace our responsibility as citizens, to stay true to our allegiance, to our highest and best ideals, to maintain our regard and concern for the poor and the aging and the marginalized, to put our personal or party interest aside when duty to our country calls or when conscience demands.

That’s the spirit that has brought America so far and that’s the spirit that will always carry us to better days.

And I take this honor that you have bestowed on me here tonight as a reminder that, even out of office, I must do all that I can to advance the spirit of service that John F. Kennedy represents.

Thank you all very much. May God bless you. May he bless these United States of America.

Thank you.

Full Text Political Transcripts May 4, 2017: President Donald Trump’s Remarks on Healthcare Vote in the House of Representatives

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Trump on Healthcare Vote in the House of Representatives

Source: WH, 5-4-17

Rose Garden

3:18 P.M. EDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Speaker Ryan, Majority Leader McCarthy, Majority Whip Scalise, Chairwoman McMorris Rodgers, Chairman Brady, Chairman Walden, Chairwoman Black, Congressman McArthur, Congressman Meadows, and all the principled members of Congress who are standing with us here today, on behalf of President Donald Trump and the first family, welcome to the White House.  (Applause.)  And thanks to the leadership of President Donald Trump, welcome to the beginning of the end of Obamacare.  (Applause.)

It was March, 2010, seven years ago, Democrats passed a government takeover of healthcare.  And at that time, Republicans in Congress promised the American people that law would not stand.  Today, thanks to the perseverance, the determination, and the leadership of President Donald Trump, and all the support of those gathered here, we’ve taken a historic first step to repeal and replace Obamacare and finally give the American people the kind of healthcare they deserve.  (Applause.)

So, today, with heartfelt gratitude for all he has done to keep his word to the American people, and for all he will do to continue to make America great again, it is my high honor and distinct privilege to introduce to you the President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you, Mike.  (Applause.)  That’s the group.  Thank you.

Thank you very much.  This really is the group.  What a great group of people.  and they’re not even doing it for the party, they’re doing it for this country — because we suffered with Obamacare.  I went through two years of campaigning, and I’m telling you, no matter where I went, people were suffering so badly with the ravages of Obamacare.

And I will say this, that as far as I’m concerned, your premiums, they’re going to start to come down.  We’re going to get this passed through the Senate.  I feel so confident.  Your deductibles, when it comes to deductibles, they were so ridiculous that nobody got to use their current plan — this nonexistent plan that I heard so many wonderful things about over the last three or four days.  After that, I mean, it’s — I don’t think you’re going to hear so much.  Right now, the insurance companies are fleeing.  It’s been a catastrophe.  And this is a great plan.  I actually think it will get even better.  And this is, make no mistake, this is a repeal and replace of Obamacare.  Make no mistake about it.  Make no mistake.  (Applause.)

And I think, most importantly, yes, premiums will be coming down.  Yes, deductibles will be coming down.  But very importantly, it’s a great plan.  And ultimately, that’s what it’s all about.

We knew that wasn’t going to work.  I predicted it a long time ago.  I said, it’s failing.  And now, it’s obvious that it’s failing.  It’s dead.  It’s essentially dead.  If we don’t pay lots of ransom money over to the insurance companies it would die immediately.

So what we have is something very, very incredibly well-crafted.  Tell you what, there is a lot of talent standing behind me.  An unbelievable amount of talent, that I can tell you.  I mean it.  (Applause.)  And coming from a different world and only being a politician for a short period of time — how am I doing?  Am I doing okay?  I’m President.  Hey, I’m President.  Can you believe it?  Right?  (Applause.)  I don’t know, it’s — I thought you needed a little bit more time.  They always told me, more time.  But we didn’t.

But we have an amazing group of people standing behind me.  They worked so hard and they worked so long.  And when I said, let’s do this, let’s go out, just short little shots for each one of us and let’s say how good this plan is — we don’t have to talk about this unbelievable victory — wasn’t it unbelievable?  So we don’t have to say it again.  But it’s going to be an unbelievable victory, actually, when we get it through the Senate.

And there’s so much spirit there.  But I said, let’s go out — we have a little list of some of the people — and I think after that list goes, if they don’t talk too long, our first list, we’re going to let some of the other folks just come up and say whatever you want.

But we want to brag about the plan, because this plan really — uh oh.  (Laughter.)  Well, we may.  (Laughter.)  But we’re just going to talk a little bit about the plan, how good it is, some of the great features.

I want to thank Paul Ryan.  (Applause.)  He has worked so hard.  I was joking, I said, you know, Paul, for the last week I’ve been hearing “Paul Ryan doesn’t have it.  It’s not working with Paul Ryan.  He’s going to get rid of Paul Ryan.”  And then today I heard, “Paul Ryan is a genius, he’s come a long way.”  (Laughter.)  Right?

SPEAKER RYAN:  I’ll take whatever.

THE PRESIDENT:  The groups have all come together.  We have the Tuesday Group — we have so many groups.  We have the Freedom Caucus.  We have — and they’re all great people.  But we have a lot of groups.  But they all came together.  Really, Paul, I’d say in the last three, four days — especially in the last day.  I see Mark and I see Kevin, I see so many people — Jim.

We just have developed a bond.  This has really brought the Republican Party together, as much as we’ve come up with a really incredible healthcare plan.  This has brought the Republican Party together.  We’re going to get this finished, and then we’re going — as you know we put our tax plan in, it’s a massive tax cut, the biggest tax cut in the history of our country.  I used to say the biggest since Ronald Reagan.  Now, it’s bigger than that.  Also, pure tax reform.  So we’re going to get that done next.

And this really helps it.  A lot of people said, how come you kept pushing healthcare, knowing how tough it is?  Don’t forget, Obamacare took 17 months.  Hillary Clinton tried so hard — really valiantly, in all fairness, to get healthcare through.  Didn’t happen.  We’ve really been doing this for eight weeks, if you think about it.  And this is a real plan.  This is a great plan.  And we had no support from the other party.

So I just want to introduce somebody to say a few words who really has been I think treated very unfairly, but it no longer matters because we won and we’re going to finish it off.  And we’re going to go on with a lot of other things, and we are going to have a tremendous four years and maybe, even more importantly, we’re going to have a tremendous eight years.  But we’re going to start off with just a great first year.

And, Paul Ryan, come up and say a few words.  Congratulations on a job well done.  (Applause.)

END
3:26 P.M. EDT

Full Text Political Transcripts April 28, 2017: President Donald Trump’s Speech at the National Rifle Association Leadership Forum

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Trump at the National Rifle Association Leadership

Forum

Source: WH, 4-28-17

Georgia World Congress Center
Atlanta, Georgia

2:06 P.M. EDT

Thank you, Chris, for that kind introduction and for your tremendous work on behalf of our Second Amendment.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)  I want to also thank Wayne LaPierre for his unflinching leadership in the fight for freedom.  Wayne, thank you very much.  Great.  (Applause.)

I’d also like to congratulate Karen Handel on her incredible fight in Georgia 6.  (Applause.)  The election takes place on June 20th.  And, by the way, on primaries, let’s not have 11 Republicans running for the same position, okay?  (Laughter.)  It’s too nerve-shattering.  She’s totally for the NRA and she’s totally for the Second Amendment.  So get out and vote.  She’s running against someone who’s going to raise your taxes to the sky, destroy your healthcare, and he’s for open borders — lots of crime, and he’s not even able to vote in the district that he’s running in.  Other than that, I think he’s doing a fantastic job, right?  (Laughter.)  So get out and vote for Karen.

Also, my friend — he’s become a friend, because there’s nobody that does it like Lee Greenwood.  Wow.  (Applause.)  Lee’s anthem is the perfect description of the renewed spirit sweeping across our country.  And it really is, indeed, sweeping across our country.  So, Lee, I know I speak for everyone in this arena when I say, we are all very proud indeed to be an American.  Thank you very much, Lee.  (Applause.)

No one was more proud to be American than the beloved patriot — and you know who I’m talking about — we remember on gatherings like today, your former five-term President, the late Charlton Heston.  How good was Charlton?  (Applause.)  And I remember Charlton, he was out there fighting when maybe a lot of people didn’t want to be fighting.  He was out there for a long time.  He was a great guy.

And it’s truly wonderful to be back in Atlanta, and back with my friends at the NRA.  You are my friends, believe me.  (Applause.)  Perhaps some of you remember the last time we were all together.  Remember that?  We had a big crowd then, too.  So we knew something was happening.  But it was in the middle of a historic political year, and in the middle of a truly historic election.  What fun that was — November 8.  Wasn’t that a great evening?  Do you remember that evening?  (Applause.)  Remember that?  (Applause.)

Remember they were saying, “We have breaking news: Donald Trump has won the state of Michigan.”  They go, “Michigan?  How did that” — “Donald Trump has won the state of Wisconsin, whoa.”  But earlier in the evening, remember, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, all the way up — we ran up the East Coast.  And, you know, the Republicans have a tremendous disadvantage in the Electoral College, you know that.  Tremendous disadvantage.  And to run the whole East Coast, and then you go with Iowa and Ohio, and all of the different states.  It was a great evening, one that a lot people will never forget — a lot of people.  (Applause.)  Not going to forget that evening.

And remember they said, “There is no path to 270.”  For months I was hearing that.  You know, they’re trying to suppress the vote.  So they keep saying it, so people say, you know, I really like Trump, he loves the Second Amendment, he loves the NRA; I love him, but let’s go to the movie because he can’t win.  Because they’re trying to suppress the vote.

But they’d say — I mean, hundreds of times I heard, there is no — there’s no route.  They’d say it, “There is no route to 270.”  And we ended up with 306.  So they were right:  Not 270, 306.  (Applause.)  That was some evening.  Big sports fans said that was the single-most exciting event they’ve ever seen.  That includes Super Bowls and World Series and boxing matches.  That was an exciting evening for all of us, and it meant a lot.

Only one candidate in the General Election came to speak to you, and that candidate is now the President of the United States, standing before you again.  (Applause.)  I have a feeling that in the next election you’re going to be swamped with candidates, but you’re not going to be wasting your time.  You’ll have plenty of those Democrats coming over and you’re going to say, no, sir, no thank you — no, ma’am.  Perhaps ma’am.  It may be Pocahontas, remember that.  (Laughter and applause.)  And she is not big for the NRA, that I can tell you.

But you came through for me, and I am going to come through for you.  (Applause.)  I was proud to receive the NRA’s earliest endorsement in the history of the organization.  And today, I am also proud to be the first sitting President to address the NRA Leadership Forum since our wonderful Ronald Reagan in 1983.  (Applause.)  And I want to thank each and every one of you not only for your help electing true friends of the Second Amendment, but for everything you do to defend our flag and our freedom.

With your activism, you helped to safeguard the freedoms of our soldiers who have bled and died for us on the battlefields.  And I know we have many veterans in the audience today, and we want to give them a big, big beautiful round of applause.  (Applause.)

And, like I promised, we are doing a really top job already — 99 days — but already with the Veterans Administration, people are seeing a big difference.  We are working really hard at the VA, and you’re going to see it, and you’re already seeing it.  And it’s my honor.  I’ve been telling you we’re going to do it, and we’re doing it.  (Applause.)  Thank you.

The NRA protects in our capitols and legislative houses the freedoms that our servicemembers have won for us on those incredible battlefields.  And it’s been a tough fight against those who would go so far as to ban private gun ownership entirely.   But I am here to deliver you good news.  And I can tell you that Wayne and Chris have been fighting with me long and hard to make sure that we were with you today, not somebody else with an empty podium.  Because believe me, the podium would have been empty.  They fought long and hard, and I think you folks cannot thank them enough.  They were with us all the way, right from the beginning.  (Applause.)

But we have news that you’ve been waiting for for a long time:  The eight-year assault on your Second Amendment freedoms has come to a crashing end.  (Applause.)  You have a true friend and champion in the White House.  No longer will federal agencies be coming after law-abiding gun owners.  (Applause.)  No longer will the government be trying to undermine your rights and your freedoms as Americans.  Instead, we will work with you, by your side.  We will work with the NRA to promote responsible gun ownership, to protect our wonderful hunters and their access to the very beautiful outdoors.  You met my son — I can tell you, both sons, they love the outdoors.  Frankly, I think they love the outdoors more than they love, by a long shot, Fifth Avenue.  But that’s okay.  And we want to ensure you of the sacred right of self-defense for all of our citizens.  (Applause.)

When I spoke to this forum last year, our nation was still mourning the loss of a giant, a great defender of the Constitution:  Justice Antonin Scalia.  (Applause.)  I promised that if elected, I would nominate a justice who would be faithful and loyal to the Constitution.  I even went one step further and publicly presented a list of 20 judges from which I would make my selection, and that’s exactly what we did.
And, by the way, I want to thank, really, Heritage.  And I want to thank also all of the people that worked with us.  Where’s Leo?  Is Leo around here?  Where is he?  He’s got to be here.  Where is he?  He has been so good.  And also from Heritage, Jim DeMint.  It’s been amazing.  I mean, those people have been fantastic.  They’ve been real friends.  (Applause.)  The Federalist people — where are they?  Are they around here someplace?  They really helped us out.

I kept my promise, and now, with your help, our brand-new Justice — and he is really something very special — Neil Gorsuch, sits on the bench of the United States Supreme Court.  (Applause.)  For the first time in the modern political era, we have confirmed a new justice in the first 100 days.  (Applause.)  The last time that happened was 136 years ago, in 1881.  Now, we won’t get any credit for this, but don’t worry about it, the credit is in the audience, right?  The credit is in the audience.  (Applause.)  All of those people.  They won’t give us credit, but it’s been a long time, and we’re very honored.

We’ve also taken action to stand up for America’s sportsmen.  On their very last full day in office, the previous administration issued an 11th-hour rule to restrict the use of lead ammunition on certain federal lands.  Have you heard about that, folks?  I’m shocked to hear that.  You’ve all heard about that.  You’ve heard about that.  On his first day as Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke eliminated the previous administration’s ammunition ban.  (Applause.)  He’s going to be great.  Ryan is going to be great.

We’ve also moved very quickly to restore something gun owners care about very, very much.  It’s called the rule of law.  (Applause.)  We have made clear that our administration will always stand with the incredible men and women of law enforcement.  (Applause.)  In fact, countless members of law enforcement are also members of the NRA, because our police know that responsible gun ownership saves lives, and that the right of self-defense is essential to public safety.  Do we all agree with that?  (Applause.)

Our police and sheriffs also know that when you ban guns, only the criminals will be armed.  (Applause.)  For too long, Washington has gone after law-abiding gun owners while making life easier for criminals, drug dealers, traffickers and gang members.  MS-13 — you know about MS-13?  It’s not pleasant for them anymore, folks.  It’s not pleasant for them anymore.  That’s a bad group.  (Applause.)  Not pleasant for MS-13.  Get them the hell out of here, right?  Get them out.  (Applause.)

We are protecting the freedoms of law-abiding Americans, and we are going after the criminal gangs and cartels that prey on our innocent citizens.  And we are really going after them.  (Applause.)

As members of the NRA know well, some of the most important decisions a President can make are appointments — and I’ve appointed people who believe in law, order, and justice.  (Applause.)

That is why I have selected as your Attorney General, number one, a really fine person, a really good man, a man who has spent his career fighting crime, supporting the police, and defending the Second Amendment.  For the first time in a long time, you now have a pro-Second-Amendment, tough-on-crime Attorney General, and his name is Jeff Sessions.  (Applause.)

And Attorney General Sessions is putting our priorities into action.  He’s going after the drug dealers who are peddling their poison all over our streets and destroying our youth.  He’s going after the gang members who threaten our children.  And he’s fully enforcing our immigration laws in all 50 states.  And you know what?  It’s about time.  (Applause.)

Heading up the effort to secure America’s borders is a great military general, a man of action:  Homeland Security Director [sic], John Kelly.  (Applause.)

Secretary Kelly, who used to be General Kelly, is following through on my pledge to protect the borders, remove criminal aliens, and stop the drugs from pouring into our country.  We’ve already seen — listen to this; it never happened before, people can’t even believe it.  And, by the way, we will build the wall no matter how low this number gets or how this goes.  Don’t even think about it.  Don’t even think about it.  (Applause.)

You know, they’re trying to use this number against us because we’ve done so unbelievably at the borders already.  They’re trying to use it against us.  But you need that wall to stop the human trafficking, to stop the drugs, to stop the wrong people.  You need the wall.  But listen to this:  We’ve already seen a 73 percent decrease — never happened before — in illegal immigration on the southern border since my election — 73 percent.  (Applause.)

You see what they’re doing, right?  So why do you need a wall?  We need a wall.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Build the wall!

THE PRESIDENT:  We’ll build the wall.  Don’t even think about it.  Don’t even think about it.  Don’t even think about it.  That’s an easy one.  We’re going to build the wall.  We need the wall.

I said to General Kelly, how important is it?  He said, very important.  It’s that final element.  We need the wall.  And it’s a wall in certain areas.  Obviously, where you have these massive physical structures you don’t need, and we have certain big rivers and all.  But we need a wall, and we’re going to get that wall.  (Applause.)

And the world is getting the message.  They know that our border is no longer open to illegal immigration, and that if you try to break in, you’ll be caught and you’ll be returned to your home.  You’re not staying any longer.  And if you keep coming back illegally after deportation, you will be arrested, prosecuted, and you will put behind bars.  Otherwise it will never end.  (Applause.)

Let’s also remember that immigration security is national security.  We’ve seen the attacks from 9/11 to Boston to San Bernardino.  Hundreds of individuals from other countries have been charged with terrorism-related offenses in the United States.

We spend billions and billions of dollars on security all over the world, but then we allow radical Islamic terrorists to enter right through our front door.  That’s not going to happen anymore.  (Applause.)  It’s time to get tough.  It’s time we finally got smart.  And yes, it’s also time to put America first.  (Applause.)

And perhaps — I see all of those beautiful red and white hats — but we will never forget our favorite slogan of them all:  Make America Great Again.  All right?  (Applause.)

Keeping our communities safe and protecting our freedoms also requires the cooperation of our state leaders.  We have some incredible pro-Second Amendment governors here at the NRA conference, including Governor Scott of Florida.  Where is Governor Scott?  Great guy doing a great job.  Governor Bryant of Mississippi.  What a wonderful place.  Governor Bryant is here.  Thank you.  Governor Deal of Georgia.  (Applause.)  And we’re also joined by two people that — well, one I loved right from the beginning; the other one I really liked, didn’t like, and now like a lot again.  (Laughter.)  Does that make sense?  Senator David Perdue — he was from the beginning — and Senator Ted Cruz — like, dislike, like.  (Applause.)  Where are they?  Good guys.  Good guys.  Smart cookies.

Each of these leaders knows that public officials must serve under the Constitution, not above it.  We all took an oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States — and that means defending the Second Amendment.  (Applause.)

So let me make a simple promise to every one of the freedom-loving Americans in the audience today:  As your President, I will never, ever infringe on the right of the people to keep and bear arms.  Never ever.  (Applause.)  Freedom is not a gift from government.  Freedom is a gift from God.  (Applause.)

It was this conviction that stirred the heart of a great American patriot on that day, April, 242 years ago. It was the day that Paul Revere spread his Lexington alarm — the famous warning that “the British are coming, the British are coming.” Right?  You’ve all heard that, right?  The British are coming.

Now we have other people trying to come, but believe me, they’re not going to be successful.  That I can tell you.  (Applause.)  Nothing changes, right, folks?  Nothing changes.  They are not going to be successful.  There will be serious hurt on them, not on us.

Next, came the shot heard around the world, and then a rag-tag army of God-fearing farmers, frontiersmen, shopkeepers, merchants that stood up to the most powerful army at that time on Earth.  The most powerful army on Earth.  But we sometimes forget what inspired those everyday farmers and workers in that great war for independence.

Many years after the war, a young man asked Captain Levi Preston, aged 91, why he’d fought alongside his neighbors at Concord.  Was it the Stamp Act?  Was it the Tea Tax?  Was it a work of philosophy?  “No,” the old veteran replied. “Then why?” he was asked.  “Young man,” the Captain said, “what we meant in going for those Redcoats was this:  We always had governed ourselves, and we always meant to” govern ourselves.  (Applause.)

Captain Preston’s words are a reminder of what this organization and my administration are all about:  the right of a sovereign people to govern their own affairs, and govern them properly.  (Applause.)  We don’t want any longer to be ruled by the bureaucrats in Washington, or in any other country for that matter.  In America, we are ruled by our citizens.  We are ruled by each and every one of you.

But we can’t be complacent.  These are dangerous times.  These are horrible times for certain obvious reasons.  But we’re going to make them great times again.  Every day, we are up against those who would take away our freedoms, restrict our liberties, and even those who want to abolish the Second Amendment.  We must be vigilant.  And I know you are all up to the task.

Since the first generation of Americans stood strong at Concord, each generation to follow has answered the call to defend freedom in their time.  That is why we are here today:  To defend freedom for our children.  To defend the liberty of all Americans.  And to defend the right of a free and sovereign people to keep and bear arms.

I greatly appreciated your support on November 8th, in what will hopefully be one of the most important and positive elections for the United States of all time.  And to the NRA, I can proudly say I will never, ever let you down.

Thank you.  God Bless you.  God Bless our Constitution, and God bless America.  Thank you very much.  Thank you.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

END
2:35 P.M. EDT

Full Text Political Transcripts April 25, 2017: President Donald Trump’s Speech at United States Holocaust Memorial Museum National Days of Remembrance

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Trump at United States Holocaust Memorial Museum National Days of Remembrance

Source: WH, 4-25-17

United States Capitol
Washington, D.C.

11:30 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  Thank you.  Friends, members of Congress, ambassadors, veterans, and, most especially, to the survivors here with us today, it’s an honor to join you on this very, very solemn occasion.  I am deeply moved to stand before those who survived history’s darkest hour.  Your cherished presence transforms this place into a sacred gathering.

Thank you, Tom Bernstein, Alan Holt, Sara Bloomfield, and everyone at the Holocaust Memorial Council and Museum for your vital work and tireless contributions.

We are privileged to be joined by Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, friend of mine — he’s done a great job and said some wonderful words — Ron Dermer.  The State of Israel is an eternal monument to the undying strength of the Jewish people.  The fervent dream that burned in the hearts of the oppressed is now filled with the breath of life, and the Star of David waves atop a great nation arisen from the desert.

To those in the audience who have served America in uniform, our country eternally thanks you.  We are proud and grateful to be joined today by veterans of the Second World War who liberated survivors from the camps.  Your sacrifice helped save freedom for the world — for the entire world.  (Applause.)

Sadly, this year marks the first Day of Remembrance since the passing of Elie Wiesel, a great person, a great man.  His absence leaves an empty space in our hearts, but his spirit fills this room.  It is the kind of gentle spirit of an angel who lived through hell, and whose courage still lights the path from darkness.  Though Elie’s story is well known by so many people, it’s always worth repeating.  He suffered the unthinkable horrors of the Holocaust.  His mother and sister perished in Auschwitz.  He watched his father slowly dying before his own young eyes in Buchenwald.  He lived through an endless nightmare of murder and death, and he inscribed on our collective conscience the duty we have to remember that long, dark night so as never to again repeat it.

The survivors in this hall, through their testimony, fulfill the righteous duty to never forget, and engrave into the world’s memory the Nazi genocide of the Jewish people.  You witnessed evil, and what you saw is beyond description, beyond any description.  Many of you lost your entire family, everything and everyone you loved, gone.  You saw mothers and children led to mass slaughter.  You saw the starvation and the torture.  You saw the organized attempt at the extermination of an entire people — and great people, I must add.  You survived the ghettos, the concentration camps and the death camps.  And you persevered to tell your stories.  You tell of these living nightmares because, despite your great pain, you believe in Elie’s famous plea, that “For the dead and the living, we must bear witness.”

That is why we are here today — to remember and to bear witness.  To make sure that humanity never, ever forgets.
The Nazis massacred 6 million Jews.  Two out of every three Jews in Europe were murdered in the genocide.  Millions more innocent people were imprisoned and executed by the Nazis without mercy, without even a sign of mercy.

Yet, even today, there are those who want to forget the past.  Worse still, there are even those filled with such hate, total hate, that they want to erase the Holocaust from history.  Those who deny the Holocaust are an accomplice to this horrible evil.  And we’ll never be silent — we just won’t — we will never, ever be silent in the face of evil again.  (Applause.)

Denying the Holocaust is only one of many forms of dangerous anti-Semitism that continues all around the world.  We’ve seen anti-Semitism on university campuses, in the public square, and in threats against Jewish citizens.  Even worse, it’s been on display in the most sinister manner when terrorists attack Jewish communities, or when aggressors threaten Israel with total and complete destruction.

This is my pledge to you:  We will confront anti-Semitism (Applause.)  We will stamp out prejudice.  We will condemn hatred.  We will bear witness.  And we will act.  As President of the United States, I will always stand with the Jewish people — and I will always stand with our great friend and partner, the State of Israel.

So today, we remember the 6 million Jewish men, women and children whose lives and dreams were stolen from this Earth.
We remember the millions of other innocent victims the Nazis so brutally targeted and so brutally killed.  We remember the survivors who bore more than we can imagine.  We remember the hatred and evil that sought to extinguish human life, dignity, and freedom.

But we also remember the light that shone through the darkness.  We remember sisters and brothers who gave everything to those they loved — survivors like Steven Springfield, who, in the long death march, carried his brother on his back.  As he said, “I just couldn’t give in.”

We remember the brave souls who banded together to save the lives of their neighbors — even at the risk of their own life.  And we remember those first hopeful moments of liberation, when at long last the American soldiers arrived in camps and cities throughout occupied Europe, waving the same beautiful flags before us today, speaking those three glorious words:  “You are free.”

It is this love of freedom, this embrace of human dignity, this call to courage in the face of evil that the survivors here today have helped to write onto our hearts.  The Jewish people have endured oppression, persecution, and those who have sought and planned their destruction.  Yet, through the suffering, they have persevered.  They have thrived.  And they have enlightened the world.  We stand in awe of the unbreakable spirit of the Jewish people.

I want to close with a story enshrined in the Museum that captures the moment of liberation in the final days of the war.
It is the story of Gerda Klein, a young Jewish woman from Poland. Some of you know her.  Gerda’s family was murdered by the Nazis. She spent three years imprisoned in labor camps, and the last four months of the war on a terrible death march.  She assumed it was over.  At the end, on the eve of her 21st birthday, her hair had lost all of its color, and she weighed a mere 68 pounds.  Yet she had the will to live another day.  It was tough.

Gerda later recalled the moment she realized that her long-awaited deliverance had arrived.  She saw a car coming towards her.  Many cars had driven up before, but this one was different.  On its hood, in place of that wretched swastika, was a bright, beautiful, gleaming white star.  Two American soldiers got out. One walked up to her.  The first thing Gerda said was what she had been trained to say:  “We are Jewish, you know.”  “We are Jewish.”  And then he said, “So am I.”  It was a beautiful moment after so much darkness, after so much evil.

As Gerda took this solider to see the other prisoners, the American did something she had long forgotten to even expect — he opened the door for her.  In Gerda’s words, “that was the moment of restoration of humanity, of humanness, of dignity, and of freedom.”

But the story does not end there.  Because, as some of you know, that young American soldier who liberated her and who showed her such decency would soon become her husband.  A year later, they were married.  In her words, “He opened not only the door for me, but the door to my life and to my future.”

Gerda has since spent her life telling the world of what she witnessed.  She, like those survivors who are among us today, has dedicated her life to shining a light of hope through the dark of night.

Your courage strengthens us.  Your voices inspire us.  And your stories remind us that we must never, ever shrink away from telling the truth about evil in our time.  Evil is always seeking to wage war against the innocent and to destroy all that is good and beautiful about our common humanity.  But evil can only thrive in darkness.  And what you have brought us today is so much more powerful than evil.  You have brought us hope — hope that love will conquer hatred, that right will defeat wrong, and that peace will rise from the ashes of war.

Each survivor here today is a beacon of light, and it only takes one light to illuminate even the darkest space.  Just like it takes only one truth to crush a thousand lies and one hero to change the course of history.  We know that in the end, good will triumph over evil, and that as long as we refuse to close our eyes or to silence our voices, we know that justice will ultimately prevail.

So today we mourn.  We remember.  We pray.  And we pledge:  Never again.

Thank you.  God bless you, and God bless America.  Thank you very much.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

END
11:45 A.M. EDT

 

Full Text Political Transcripts April 24 2017: Former President Barack Obama’s First Post-Presidential Speech at the University of Chicago

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA POST-PRESIDENCY:

Former President Barack Obama’s First Post-Presidential Remarks at the University of Chicago

Source: Time, 4-24-17

Thank you. Hey! Thank you. Everybody have a seat. Have a seat. So what’s been going on while I’ve been gone?

It is wonderful to be home. It is wonderful to be at the University of Chicago. It is wonderful to be on the south side of Chicago. And it is wonderful to be with these young people here. And what I want to do is just maybe speak very briefly at the top about why we’re here and then I want to spend most of the time that we’re together hearing from these remarkable young people who are I think representative of some amazing young people who are in the audience as well.

I was telling these guys that it was a little over 30 years ago that I came to Chicago. I was 25 years old. I had gotten out of college filled with idealism and absolutely certain that somehow I was going to change the world. But I had no idea how or where or what I was going to be doing. And so I worked first to pay off some student loans. And then I went to work at the City Colleges of New York on their Harlem campus with some student organizing.

And then there were a group of churches out on the south side who had come together to try to deal with the steel plants that had closed in the area and the economic devastation that had been taking place, but also the racial tensions and turnover that was happening. They formed an organization and hired me as a community organizer. I did not really know what that meant or how to do it. But I accepted the job.

And for the next three years I lived right here in Hyde Park but I worked in communities like Roseland and Pullman. Working class neighborhoods. Many of which had changed rapidly from white to black in the late ’60s, ’70s. And full of wonderful people who were proud of their communities, proud of the steps they had taken to try to move into the middle class, but were also worried about their futures, because in some cases their kids weren’t doing as well as they had. In some cases these communities have been badly neglected for a very long time. The distribution of city services were unequal. Schools were underfunded. There was a lack of opportunity. And for three years I tried to do something about it. And I am the first to acknowledge that I did not set the world on fire. Nor did I transform these communities in any significant way, although we did some good things. But it did change me.

This community gave me a lot more than I was able to give in return, because this community taught me that ordinary people, when working together, can do extraordinary things. This community taught me that everybody has a story to tell. That is important. This experience taught me that beneath the surface differences of people that there were common hopes and common dreams and common aspirations. Common values. That stitched us together as Americans. And so even though I, after three years, left for law school, the lessons that had been taught to me here as an organizer are ones that stayed with me. And effectively gave me the foundation for my subsequent political career and the themes that I would talk about as a state legislator and as a U.S. Senator and ultimately as president of the United States.

Now, I tell you that history because on the back end now of my presidency, now that it’s completed, I’m spending a lot of time thinking about what is the most important thing I can do for my next job? And what I’m convinced of is that although there are all kinds of issues that I care about and all kinds of issues that I intend to work on, the single most important thing I can do is to help in any way I can prepare the next generation of leadership to take up the baton and to take their own crack at changing the world. Because the one thing that I’m absolutely convinced of is that yes, we confront a whole range of challenges from economic inequality and lack of opportunity to a criminal justice system that too often is skewed in ways that are unproductive to climate change to, you know, issues related to violence. All those problems are serious. They’re daunting. But they’re not insolvable.

What is preventing us from tackling them and making more progress really has to do with our politics and our civic life. It has to do with the fact that because of things like political gerrymandering our parties have moved further and further apart and it’s harder and harder to find common ground. Because of money and politics.

Special interests dominate the debates in Washington in ways that don’t match up with what the broad majority of Americans feel. Because of changes in the media, we now have a situation in which everybody’s listening to people who already agree with them and are further and further reinforcing their own realities to the neglect of a common reality that allows us to have a healthy debate and then try to find common ground and actually move solutions forward.

And so when I said in 2004 that red states or blue states, they’re the United States of America, that was aspirational comment, but I think it’s―and it’s one that I still believe, that when you talk to individuals one-on-one, people, there’s a lot more people that have in common than divides them. But honestly it’s not true when it comes to our politics and civic life.

Maybe more pernicious is people are not involved and they give up. As a consequence, we have some of the lowest voting rates of any democracy and low participation rates than translate into a further gap between who’s governing us and what we believe.

The only folks who are going to be able to solve that problem are going to be young people, the next generation. And I have been encouraged everywhere I go in the United States, but also everywhere around the world to see how sharp and astute and tolerant and thoughtful and entrepreneurial our young people are. A lot more sophisticated than I was at their age. And so the question then becomes what are the ways in which we can create pathways for them to take leadership, for them to get involved? Are there ways in which we can knock down some of the barriers that are discouraging young people about a life of service? And if there are, I want to work with them to knock down those barriers. And to get this next generation and to accelerate their move towards leadership. Because if that happens, I think we’re going to be just fine.

Full Text Political Transcripts April 24, 2017: President Donald Trump’s Remarks to the World Jewish Congress Plenary Assembly

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

President Trump’s Remarks to the World Jewish Congress Plenary Assembly

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 April 6, 2017: President Donald Trump’s Statement on Syria Military Action

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Statement by President Trump on Syria

Source: WH, 4-6-17

Mar-a-Lago, Florida

9:40 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  My fellow Americans:  On Tuesday, Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad launched a horrible chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians.  Using a deadly nerve agent, Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women, and children.  It was a slow and brutal death for so many.  Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack.  No child of God should ever suffer such horror.

Tonight, I ordered a targeted military strike on the airfield in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched.  It is in this vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons.  There can be no dispute that Syria used banned chemical weapons, violated its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention, and ignored the urging of the U.N. Security Council.

Years of previous attempts at changing Assad’s behavior have all failed, and failed very dramatically.  As a result, the refugee crisis continues to deepen and the region continues to destabilize, threatening the United States and its allies.

Tonight, I call on all civilized nations to join us in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria, and also to end terrorism of all kinds and all types.  We ask for God’s wisdom as we face the challenge of our very troubled world.  We pray for the lives of the wounded and for the souls of those who have passed.  And we hope that as long as America stands for justice, then peace and harmony will, in the end, prevail.

Goodnight.  And God bless America and the entire world.  Thank you.

END
9:43 P.M. EDT

Full Text Political Transcripts April 5, 2017: President Donald Trump and His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan Remarks at Joint Press Conference

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Trump and His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan in Joint Press Conference

Rose Garden

1:10 P.M. EDT

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Thank you very much.  Your Majesty, thank you for being with us today.  Very much appreciate it.  This is our second meeting since my inauguration, but our first at the White House.  A very special place, I can tell you that.  I’ve gotten to know it well.  Long hours.  Very special.

It’s really an honor to welcome you here today. But before we begin, let me say a few words about recent events.

Yesterday, a chemical attack — a chemical attack that was so horrific, in Syria, against innocent people, including women, small children, and even beautiful little babies.  Their deaths was an affront to humanity.  These heinous actions by the Assad regime cannot be tolerate.

The United States stands with our allies across the globe to condemn this horrific attack and all other horrific attacks, for that matter.

Your Majesty, Jordanians are known for their legendary hospitality, and we will do our very best to be equally gracious hosts.  They’re also known, however — I have to say this — for their fighting ability.  And you are a great warrior, and we appreciate it.  Thank you.

The historical ties and close friendship between our two countries dates back three-quarters of a century.  In that time, the Middle East has faced many periods of crisis and unrest, perhaps never like it is today, however.  Through them all, America has looked to Jordan as a valued partner, an advocate for the values of civilization, and a source of stability and hope.

I am deeply committed to preserving our strong relationship — which I will — and to strengthening America’s longstanding support for Jordan.  And you do have tremendous support within our country, I can tell you that.

As we know, the Middle East — and the entire world — is faced with one of its gravest threats in many, many years.  Since the earliest days of the campaign against ISIS, Jordan has been a staunch ally and partner, and we thank you for that.  Jordanian servicemembers have made tremendous sacrifices in this battle against the enemies of civilization, and I want to thank all of them for their, really, just incredible courage.  So many have been lost, and we pay homage.  So many.

In King Abdullah, America is blessed with a thoughtful and determined partner.  He is a man who has spent years commanding his country’s special forces.  He really knows what being a soldier is, that I can tell you.  And he knows how to fight. The King has been a leader in calling for a plan to defeat ISIS once and for all.  And I’m with you on that.  We’re both leaders on that, believe me.  That’s what we speak about today, and that is what we are going to do.  And it will be a shorter fight than a lot of people are thinking about, believe me.  We’ve made tremendous strides as we discussed.

As you know, we had a very, very fine delegation come over from Egypt and also from Iraq, and they said more has been done in the last six weeks than has been done in years with the previous administration.  And believe me, we’re going to keep it that way.

We will destroy ISIS and we will protect civilization.  We have no choice — we will protect civilization.  King Abdullah and I also discussed measures to combat the evil ideology that inspires ISIS and plagues our planet.  In addition, we also acknowledge the vital role that Jordan has played in hosting refugees from the conflict in Syria.  We have just announced that the United States will contribute additional funds to Jordan for humanitarian assistance.  This aid will help countries like Jordan host refugees until it is safe for them to return home.  The refugees want to return home.  I know that from so many other instances.  They want to return back to their home.  And that’s a goal of any responsible refugee policy.

Finally, we discussed to advance the cause of peace in the Middle East, including peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.  And I’m working very, very hard on trying to finally create peace between the Palestinians and Israel, and I think we’ll be successful.  I hope to be successful, I can tell you that.

The King has been a really tireless advocate for a solution, and he’s going to help me with that and help me at the highest level.  And we will be consulting with him closely in the days ahead.

King Abdullah, I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your partnership.  Working together, the United States and Jordan can help bring peace and stability to the Middle East and, in fact, the entire world.  And we will do that.

Thank you very, very much for being with us.  (Applause.)

KING ABDULLAH:  Thank you.  Mr. President, thank you for such a kind and warm welcome to the White House.  I fondly remember the meetings we’ve had many years ago and, more recently, several months ago.  You’ve always been a generous host and have always looked after us.  We are very delighted with the way the discussions have gone so far, and we’re delighted to be here in such a wonderful setting on such a beautiful day, which I think is a tremendous mark of how we are going to move into the future.

We’ve had a very good round of talks today, and I’m looking forward to continuing these discussions later on in our meetings after the press conference.  What I do want to say is how much we deeply appreciate the close relations we have with the United States, with you, Mr. President, and with the American people.  This is a strategic partnership that we keep very close to our hearts, and it is a partnership on so many levels that we will continue, I think, with the frank discussions that we had today to improve on as we face the challenges of the future.  And I am very delighted for your vision, your holistic approach to all the challenges in our region, and to the dedication of your team in being able to translate your policies into action successfully, hopefully, as we move forward.

The challenges we face today are many and are not exclusive to my region, as I’ve just mentioned.  They are global, and particularly the threats to global security.  Terrorism has no borders, no nationality, no religion, and, therefore, joint action with a holistic approach, as I had just mentioned, Mr. President, is crucial.  I am very delighted that you have the vision to be able to move in that direction, and I think that the world will be in a very good place as we move with all these challenges ahead.

No doubt, with all the challenges that we face in the world, the role of the U.S. is key to all the issues that we have around the world, but it’s not just the fact that we should expect the United States to do all the heavy lifting.  The heavy lifting has to be done by all of us in the international community to support the United States in being able to translate that vision into the right direction.  So there’s a lot of responsibility for all of us in the international community to support the President, the administration, and the American people to bring brighter days to all of us.

We are very encouraged with the President’s determination to support Arab and Muslim states in their fight against terrorism.  But it is not only the fight of terrorism inside of our societies, but we, as Arab-Muslim states standing behind the international community in being able to defeat this international scourge.

In Syria, we need a political solution that ends the conflict in the country and preserve its unity and territorial integrity.

As the President mentioned, the issue we discussed was the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is essentially the core conflict in our region.  And the President’s early engagement as beginning in bringing the Palestinians and Israelis together has been a very encouraging sign for all of us.  And I think, sir, it was that initiative that allowed us at the Arab Summit last week to extend through the Arab Peace Initiative the message of peace to Israel, which we all hopefully will work together to make that come about.

All Arab countries — we launched the Arab Peace Initiative, as I said, last week.  It offers a historic reconciliation between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as all member states of the Arab League.  It is the most comprehensive framework for lasting peace and it ensures statehood for the Palestinians, but also security, acceptance and normal ties for Israel with all Arab countries and hopefully all Islamic countries.

So we appreciate your commitment in all these issues where others have failed.  You will find a strong ally in Jordan in supporting you in all your policies.  And if I may just say, as you have, on Syria and the gas attack — unfortunately, as you and I both agree, this is another testament to the failure of the international diplomacy to find the solutions to this crisis.  But I believe under your leadership we will be able to unravel this very complicated situation.

This has been ongoing for seven years now, has descended into proxy wars from different parties with dubious agendas.  But at the end of the day, as you pointed out, Mr. President, it is the civilians — women and children — that are paying the heaviest price.  This is happening on our watch, on our conscience, as well as the global community.  And I know the passion and the emotion that the President has expressed and how this should not be tolerated whatsoever.  And this threshold of inhumanity and savagery that are being crossed every day is something that I know the President will not allow to happen, wherever it may be.  And I fully support and endorse the President in this issue.

So I want to thank you, sir, because you have the outlook of looking not just at the Syrian challenges but that of Iraq, Israel, Palestine, Libya, and everything that is in our region.  So I think your message to all of us is a message of hope, and that’s what I take away from this conference.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Thank you very much.

KING ABDULLAH:  And I thank you for all that you have done so far and all that you will do, sir.  (Applause.)

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  We’ll take a few questions.  Julie Pace.

Q    Thank you, sir.  I have questions on Syria for both leaders.  But if I could start with you, Mr. President.  You’ve condemned the chemical attacks in Syria, but you also appeared in your statement yesterday to pin some of the blame on the Obama administration.  You are the President now.  Do you feel like you bear responsibility for responding to the chemical attack?  And does the chemical attack cross a red line for you?

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Well, I think the Obama administration had a great opportunity to solve this crisis a long time ago when he said the red line in the sand.  And when he didn’t cross that line after making the threat, I think that set us back a long ways, not only in Syria, but in many other parts of the world, because it was a blank threat.  I think it was something that was not one of our better days as a country.

So I do feel that, Julie.  I feel it very strongly.

Q    So you feel like you now have the responsibility to respond to the chemical attack?

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  I now have responsibility, and I will have that responsibility and carry it very proudly, I will tell you that.  It is now my responsibility.  It was a great opportunity missed.  As you know, I’ll be meeting with the President of China very soon, in Florida, and that’s another responsibility we have — and that’s called the country of North Korea.  We have a big problem.  We have somebody that is not doing the right thing.  And that’s going to be my responsibility.  But I’ll tell you, that responsibility could have been made a lot easier if it was handled years ago.

Q    Before I move on to the King, could I just quickly ask you if the chemical attack crosses a red line for you?

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  It crossed a lot of lines for me.  When you kill innocent children, innocent babies — babies, little babies — with a chemical gas that is so lethal — people were shocked to hear what gas it was — that crosses many, many lines, beyond a red line.  Many, many lines.

Thank you very much.

Q    And, Your Majesty, if I could ask about refugees.  Your country has really borne the brunt of the refugee crisis in Syria.  The President has signed travel bans that would block Syrians from coming to the U.S.  If that goes into effect, what would the impact on your country and across the region be?

KING ABDULLAH:  Well, I think as the President pointed out, most, if not all, Syrian refugees actually want to go back to Syria.  And what we’re working with the United States and the international community is to be able to stabilize the refugees in our country, give them the tools so that, as we’re working with the solutions in Syria, we have the ability to be able to send them back as a positive influence into their economies.

And again, the President and the Europeans are being very forward-leaning in being able look after our host community — tremendous burden on our country, but again, tremendous appreciation to the United States and the Western countries for being able to help us deliver that.

Q    Your Majesty, how does the outcome of the recent Arab Summit help the U.S. in its policy to advance Palestinian-Israeli negotiations?

KING ABDULLAH:  Well, as I said, our peace initiative came out with a resounding resolution to offer peace to the Israelis, to make them feel that they’re accepted into the neighborhood, and to be able to support the President as he brings both parties together.

And again, I have to remind people that very early on there was an early engagement by the President and his team to the Israelis and the Palestinians to be able to see what he can do to bring them together.  It is the core conflict for a lot of us in the region.  The President knows this.  He has his instincts in the right place.  And working with his team, our job, as I said, is to do the heavy lifting.  The Arabs are prepared to do whatever they can to bring Israelis and Palestinians together under the leadership of the President.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Thank you.  John Yang (ph).

Q    Thank you, Mr. President.  I’d like to follow up on Julie’s question and press you a little more on Syria.  How will you distinguish your policy and your actions on Syria from the inaction that you criticized of the previous administration?  You say it’s now your responsibility.  What should we see or what should we look for that will be different?

And, Your Majesty, I’d like to ask you, what gives you — this is now your second meeting with the President — what gives you the optimism that Mr. Trump will succeed in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict where so many others have failed before him to be a broker for peace?

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  I like to think of myself as a very flexible person.  I don’t have to have one specific way, and if the world changes, I go the same way, I don’t change.  Well, I do change and I am flexible, and I’m proud of that flexibility.  And I will tell you, that attack on children yesterday had a big impact on me — big impact.  That was a horrible, horrible thing.  And I’ve been watching it and seeing it, and it doesn’t get any worse than that.

And I have that flexibility, and it’s very, very possible — and I will tell you, it’s already happened that my attitude toward Syria and Assad has changed very much.  And if you look back over the last few weeks, there were other attacks using gas.  You’re now talking about a whole different level.

And so, as you know, I would love to have never been in the Middle East.  I would love to have never seen that whole big situation start.  But once it started, we got out the wrong way, and ISIS formed in the vacuum, and lots of bad things happened.  I will tell you, what happened yesterday is unacceptable to me.

Q    Can I follow up, sir?  Last year, you seemed to be reluctant to get involved — or to intervene in Syria directly.  Is that one thing that’s changed after yesterday?

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Well, one of the things I think you’ve noticed about me is, militarily, I don’t like to say where I’m going and what I doing.  And I watched past administrations say, we will attack at such and such a day at such and such an hour.  And you, being a warrior — you would say, why are they saying that?  And I’m sure you sat back in Jordan, and you said, why are they saying that?

I watched Mosul, where the past administration was saying, we will be attacking in four months.  And I said, why are they doing that?  Then a month goes by, and they say, we will be attacking in three months, and then two months, and then we will be attacking next week.  And I’m saying, why are they doing that?  And as you know, Mosul turned out to be a much harder fight than anyone thought, and a lot of people have been lost in that fight.

I’m not saying I’m doing anything one way or the other, but I’m certainly not going to be telling you, as much as I respect you, John.  Thank you.

KING ABDULLAH:  Sir, I think, on behalf of the President, what I saw was an early engagement by the President and his team, with all of us in the region, about the challenges between the Israelis and Palestinians.  I had the honor of seeing the President and his team again in January where this was discussed.  The President understands the nuances and the challenges.  I think he has the courage and the dedication to be able to do this.  Like I said before, all of us have a responsibility to help the President push us over the finish line.

And so, his team had been in the region, they’ve been talking to all the partners, and it is our job to facilitate the atmospherics between Israelis and Palestinians to move together, and give the support to the President to be able to smooth the edges over between Israelis and Palestinians to achieve this.  And the President understands that if we don’t solve this problem, how are we going to win the global fight against terrorism, which is his number-one priority?  So this is a core issue that he understands, and I think he has the commitment and he has my full support for this, as he does from many, many countries in our region.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  And I have to just say that the world is a mess.  I inherited a mess.  Whether it’s the Middle East, whether it’s North Korea, whether it’s so many other things, whether it’s in our country — horrible trade deals — I inherited a mess.  We’re going to fix it.  We’re going to fix it.

Okay.

Q    Thank you, Your Majesty.  You touch upon the subject now, but if I ask you to look forward, how do you see the future of fighting terrorism post-Raqqa and Mosul, especially the role that Jordan will play in the eastern part of Iraq?  And do you believe the real battle will start then?

And if I may, Mr. President, you know very well that the Iranian militias and Hezbollah has been propping the Syrian regime for a while — over a few years now.  Will you go after them?  What message will you give them today?  And will you work with the Russians to ground the Syrian air force and to establish safe zones?  Thank you.

KING ABDULLAH:  Well, the first part is that we are seeing, very recently, tremendous gains on the ground in Raqqa and Mosul.  Again, I think, as the President alluded to, it’s very difficult to put timelines on this issue because the battle space is always very fluid.  But I think that the war is being won on the ground.

Having said that, terrorists are on the move.  They’ll be on the move inside of Iraq and inside of Syria, so that we have to make sure that we adapt our plans accordingly.  And they move beyond borders, beyond our region and elsewhere.  So as we and the administration have discussed, it’s this holistic approach:   How do we fight them wherever they are?  And I think that is the understanding.

Terrorists have no respect for borders and religions and people.  So it’s the seriousness of how we do this holistic approach that I’ve mentioned several times.  And what I am really delighted is that the understanding by the President and the administration in how to deal with this globally.

And I think you’re seeing a move in the right direction because the policy now is being charted out, and my discussions with the Defense Secretary and the Foreign Secretary allows us to be then able to decide how we adapt ourselves in the region to be able to come in line with international diplomacy.

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  The Iran deal made by the previous administration is one of the worst deals I have ever witnessed — and I’ve witnessed some beauties.  It’s one of the worst deals I’ve ever witnessed.  It should never have been made.  It was totally one-sided against the United States, and, frankly, against much of the Middle East.

I will do whatever I have to do.  They have a deal.  It was, some people say, not done properly even in the form of its finalization.  There was no vote from Congress.  There was no real ratification.  But I will do what I have to do with respect to the Iran deal.  As far as ISIS is concerned, the United States will work with whoever it’s appropriate to work with to totally eradicate ISIS and other terrorists.  And, by the way, ISIS is one group, but others have formed.  Frankly, they’re all over the place.  We will do what we have to do to eradicate terrorism.

Q    But, sir, I’m talking about the Iranian militias in Syria supporting the Syrian regime separate of the nuclear deal.  What message do you have for them today?

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  You will see.  They will have a message.  You will see what the message will be.  Okay?  Thank you.

Thank you all very much.  Thank you.  Thank you.

END
1:35 P.M. EDT

Full Text Political Transcripts March 28, 2017: Hillary Clinton’s Speech at the Professional BusinessWomen of California Conference

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

POLITICAL SPEECHES:

Former Secretary of State and 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s Speech at the Professional BusinessWomen of California Conference

Source: Time, 3-28-17

 

Hello! Thank you, thank you all so much. It is great to be back in San Francisco, a place that has a big big spot in my heart and to be able to speak with all of you this afternoon.

Please be seated and you can jump up and down its been a wonderful but long day I hear.

I want to thank Anne not just for her kind introduction but for exemplifying the kind of creative entrepreneurial leadership that she has demonstrated and that so many of you are also part of. I want to thank Alexandr Roddy for her leadership and all she’s done and to make this event such a success.

I am thrilled to be out of the woods and in the company of so many inspiring women and there is no place I’d rather be than here with you other than the White House. (Cheers)

But lets remember what brought all of us here for the 28th convening of this event. Back in the 1980s my friend Congresswoman Jackie Speier started bringing together groups of women for networking and professional development, for support. Now that might not seem radical at all today but at the time it was pretty revolutionary and Jackie Speier herself exemplifies a life of commitment and service. She has to be in Congress for votes but lets show our appreciation for her visionary leadership with a round of applause she can hear all the way back in D.C.

Because just look at what you represent. The Professional Businesswomen of California is now the largest women’s organization in the state which probably means its the biggest in the country — I don’t know that but it seems reasonable to assume if you’re the biggest in California.

But your members are transforming the way we do things, the way we deliver healthcare. You’re running cities and Fortune 500 companies. You’re making Oscar-nominated films and leading in every industry from finance to fitness, empowering the next generation of women and girls and taking on some of the toughest problems that we face. That’s why I was thrilled that the theme for this year’s conference is “inclusion now” because that is spot on.

There’s never been a more important woman than the woman who stands up and says not just for herself but for everybody else, “we want diversity and inclusion in everything we do in our country.”

And in fact, its not only the right thing to do, its the smart thing. You understand this. These are not just buzzwords to throw around or boxes to check. The best way to solve problems is to bring together a wide range of people to crowdsource solutions. And guess what? Bringing different perspectives and experiences into professional offices brings not only fresh ideas but higher revenues. And I’ve been saying for a long time, as many of you have, that advancing the rights and opportunities of women and girls is the great unfinished business of the 21st century. (Cheers)

And some days, I admit, it seems like it may be even more unfinished than we hoped. Because while we women have made strides in education and careers, there’s still a woeful lack of women in the upper reaches of science and technology, business and education, not to mention politics and government. Women’s representation in the current administration in Washington, for example, is the lowest its been in a generation. But even in a state like California, that is ahead of the curve in so many ways, the number of women serving in the state legislature is at a twenty year low. And women in the private sector, particularly women of color, still struggle for representation in the c-suite and boardroom.

But I am here today to urge us not to grow tired, not to be discouraged and disappointed, not to throw up our hands because change isn’t happening fast enough. Or to even take a pass because we think we’ve done our part. We need more women at any table, on any conference call or email chain where decisions are made. And a big part of that is encouraging more women to run for office and pushing the private sector to do a lot better than it currently is.

But even that’s not enough. We can’t stop there. We need to reset the table so women are no longer required to accept or adapt to discrimination or sexism at work. We need to think beyond corporate boardrooms, beyond corridors of companies or elected bodies, beyond our own lives and experiences to lift up women of all incomes, experiences and backgrounds in every corner of our country. And a crucial part of solving these problems is recognizing that as important as it is, corporate feminism is no substitute for inclusive concrete solutions that improve life for women everywhere. Because as challenging as it is to climb the career ladder, its even harder for women at the margins unable to get on or stay on even the lowest rung. And for too many women, especially low-wage workers, basic things, like a livable wage or a predictable work schedules or affordable childcare are still way out of reach.

We know from decades of data that encouraging women’s full participation is both right and smart. This data comes not just from our own country but from across the world. When I was Secretary of State I made it part of my mission to try to educate governments that including women in the economy was not only good for them and their families but poverty went down and gross domestic product of the entire county went up. And companies with more women in upper management do achieve higher profits.

Yet we also know, many of us from our own lives, that women still face barriers that hold us back. I meet talented women everywhere I go who are squeezing every minute out of their 24 hour day. They love their jobs but they can’t escape the nagging feeling that its a lot harder than it should be to get ahead. I bet just about everyone in this room has had the experience of saying something in a meeting that gets ignored. Ten, twenty minutes later a man says the same thing and everyone thinks its genius. And I think we should pool our respective reactions so that you have right at your fingertips exactly what to say. Nice thought. Little slow on the uptake but good idea.

And where everyday sexism and structural barriers were once blatant, today they’re sometimes harder to spot but make no mistake, they’re still with us. Just look at all thats happened in the last few days to women that simply were doing their jobs. April Ryan, a respected journalist with unrivaled integrity, was doing her job just this afternoon in the White House press room when she was patronized and cut off trying to ask a question. One of your own California congresswoman, Maxine Waters, was taunted with a racist joke about her hair. Now too many women, especially women of color, have had a lifetime of practice taking precisely these kinds of indignities in stride. But why should we have to? And any woman who thinks this couldn’t be directed at her is living in a dream world. (Applause)

I mean, its not like I didn’t know all the nasty things they were saying about me. Some of them were actually quite creative, ones I hadn’t heard before. But you just have to keep going. And even when sexism and exclusion are out in the open, its sometimes hard to believe they could possibly be deliberate. Recently, photos have been making the rounds on social media showing groups of men in Washington making decisions about women’s health. Decisions to rip away coverage for pregnancy and maternity care, or limit access to reproductive healthcare around the globe. We shake our heads and think, how could they not have invited any women to the table? Well, a provocative opinion piece in the New York Times this week argues that it may not be an oversight at all but an intentional signal: don’t worry, the men are in charge of everything.

My favorite sort of take on these pictures, maybe you saw it, was the one of dogs sitting around an oval table and the caption was discussing feline care, I liked that. But it is a cruel irony that stereotypes and bias run rampant even at companies that pride themselves as being forward thinking. More and more women have been sharing stories of their experiences in Silicon Valley. Stories of consistently being asked to take notes in meetings or get the coffee, of being undermined, interrupted and criticized in a way that never seems to happen to their male colleagues. Those may seem like small things, but over time they take a toll, don’t they?

And for some women, the hostility is even more direct, like the Uber engineer who spoke out about her experiences with sexual harassment and spurred the company to publicly admit to addressing this problem. It is disheartening to hear women at the highest level of their profession say things are no better for the young women beginning their careers today. Women hold just a quarter of computing jobs in the U.S. and that number has gone down instead of up. Women are hired at lower numbers in the tech industry and leave at more than twice the rate men do. And for women of color, the situation is even worse.

Beyond issues of bias and discrimination, the game is often still rigged against working women in major ways. What kind of message does it send the world that the United States is the advanced economy with no national paid family leave policy? And less than 15% of workers have access to paid family leave, and those benefits are concentrated among the highest-income workers. You know, it was actually a little better before people knew what was going on. I remember I was a young law partner when I was pregnant and that was a long time ago and my partners just didn’t want to talk about it. I’d walk down the hall, getting bigger and bigger, they’d turn their heads (laughter), and Chelsea came early.

You know, I kept raising the idea of well what kind of time off do I get? Well it never happened before, so nobody was talking about it. So Chelsea comes early, I have her late one night, next morning, early morning, my phone rings and its our managing partner. He doesn’t say congratulations. He doesn’t say hope you and the baby are fine, he says when are you coming back to work? I said, well I don’t know and just out of the air I said I don’t know, maybe four months. Well he had no idea, because he had never talked about it with anybody before. I said, you know, I can probably, you know, pick up some work and do some things in a couple months, but lets say 4 months. That was the beginning of our paid leave policy. (Cheers).

But then I was discouraged to read a recent survey that despite the progress in some industries, companies on the whole are actually offering less paid time off then they were a decade ago. And for too many companies that do offer family leave, it doesn’t apply to fathers or LGBT couples or adoptive parents, and thats kind of strange for people in California because you’ve had more than a decade of evidence that offering paid family leave doesn’t hurt business; in fact, it helps companies compete for top talent and to retain employees. The benefits outweigh the costs. So why is it that companies still aren’t doing all they can to support working parents? As a candidate for President, I put out a comprehensive plan, I don’t expect you to remember that, in fact there was a recent study showing none of my plans were really publicized or talked about, so that gives me something for speeches for at least a decade. (Applause).

Obviously the outcome of the election wasn’t the one I hoped for, worked for, but I will never stop speaking out for common sense benefits that allow mom and dads to stay on the job. After all, I think its fair to say no good idea has ever become a reality overnight. As our friends in startups know, it takes time and hard work. And I’m heartened by the fact that even as we struggle at the federal level, cities and states across the country are looking to California and a few other places to pass paid family leave.

There are a growing number of businesses in the country that are leading by examples. Companies from Salesforce to Gap are making real commitments to their employees by guaranteeing equal pay and paid family leave, respectively. And we’re seeing exciting initiatives across industries like the EDGE certification program, which was designed to help companies measure and hold themselves accountable for creating a more equal workplace. Google it, EDGE, and see what you can do to advocate for it within your own company.

The private sector can and must be an engine of change on these issues, especially in a place like Silicon Valley. Because when you’re on the cutting edge of how people work and learn you have both an opportunity and an obligation to institute workplace policies that help employees meet their responsibilities at home and on the job. And then leaders in other industries will take notice and try to match what you do. After all, you’re the people who figured out how to put computers in the palms of our hands and you have the tools and the creativity to take on big problems like implicit bias and make the case for those in elected office to follow suit.

So despite our stumbles and our setbacks, we’ve never been better positioned to take on this vital work. In fact, I don’t think our country has ever been better positioned to take on the challenges of the future. Where some see a dark vision of carnage, I see a light shining on creativity and opportunity. (Cheers)

Now, we saw that in real time the day after the inauguration when millions of women and men from all walks of life marched for women’s equality, visibility and inclusion. It was the biggest march in our country’s history and I delighted at every sign I saw quoting my 1995 speech that human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights once and for all.

Now, afterwards, there were plenty of people as you might expect, who wondeed whether that level of energy and enthusiasm could be sustained and whether it would make any difference. Well I am here to tell you. Last week we saw the first indication that the answer to both of those questions is yes. When Congress and the administration tried to jam through a bill that would have kicked 24 million people off their health insurance, defunded Planned Parenthood, jeopardize access to affordable birth control, deprive people with disabilities and the elderly and nursing homes of essential care, they were met with a wave of resistance. People who had never been active in politics told their stories at town hall meetings, flooded the congressional switchboard with calls speaking out for affordable health care. These were not only activists and advocates, they were people who had something to say and were determined to be heard. Yes, some were new to the fight and others, like Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi have been on the front lines for years. And when this disastrous bill failed it was a victory for all Americans. (Cheers)

But let me let you in on a little secret. The other side never quits. Sooner or later, they’ll try again. We will need to fight back twice as hard, not for the sake of politics but because these are bad policies that will hurt people and take our country in the wrong direction. You know, there’s a little mantra I’ve been repeating to myself lately, a little silly, the kind of thing that pops into your heads when you take a lot of long walks in the woods. But as I think about the outpouring of activism we’re seeing, despite all the noise and the nonsense, four words keep coming back to me: resist, insist, persist, enlist.

We need to resist actions that go against our values as Americans, whether that’s attacking immigrants and refugees, denying climate change or passing bogus laws that make it harder for people to vote in elections. We need to resist bias and bullying, we need to resist hate and fear. And we need to insist on putting people first, including by working together to make healthcare more affordable, to build on what works, to create better and more upwardly mobile education and employment ladders. To insist that we can do better. That’s who we are. We’re always pushing towards that more perfect union. And then we need to persist, as we saw so dramatically in the Senate when Mitch McConnell went after Senator Elizabeth Warren and said, nevertheless she persisted, in being told she could not read a letter from Coretta Scott King. So we need to persist to approach future challenges with the passion we’ve seen these last few months and then bring that to the voting booth in 2018. To tell yourself, to tell your friends and your colleagues, no matter how you vote, show up and vote for goodness sake. Be there. Make sure your voice and your vote count.

And we need to enlist, enlist in this effort, get in the arena. Now that can mean many things. Running for office, which I hope some of you will actively consider. Starting and running a business, which many of you have done and are doing. But a business that takes care of its employees. Mentoring and championing other women and girls, giving time to volunteer outside of work. Standing up and speaking out. There’s not just one way to do this, there are so many – there’s something for everybody here to become involved in. So sure, the last few months haven’t been exactly what I envisioned, although I do know what I’m still fighting for. I’m fighting for a fairer, big hearted, inclusive America. The unfinished business of the 21st century can’t wait any longer. Now is the time to demand the progress we want to see and to work together to make it real in our own lives, in our businesses, in our government, in our families, our country and the world. And I’ll be right there with you every step of the way. Thank you all very much.

Full Text Political Transcripts March 16, 2017: President Donald Trump’s First Budget 2018 FY

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

America First – A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again

Estimate #1—FY 2017 Appropriations Request:  Department of Defense to rebuild the U.S. Armed Forces and accelerate the campaign to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, and Department of Homeland Security for urgent border protection activities.

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