The best bits from Donald Trump's Wall Street Journal interview, including his views on Brexit, the European Union, Janet Yellen and golf

 
Catherine Neilan
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During his discussion on Brexit, the US president talked a lot about golf (Source: Getty)

The transcript for Donald Trump's recent interview with the Wall Street Journal has just been published by Politico, and as usual it makes for interesting - if confusing - reading.

There was scant detail on deals he is trying to secure, but plenty of discussion about golf and why you never hear the word "Britain" anymore.

The US President confirmed that Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen is in the running to retain her position, but threw the door open pretty wide to other candidates, including his adviser Gary Cohn.

He also told Wall Street Journal editor-in-chief Gerard Baker that his son-in-law Jared Kushner was a "good boy" and said "there’s nobody on the campaign that saw anybody from Russia".

Here's a selection of Trump's best bits

Trump on Brexit:

WSJ: You tweeted this morning about trade talks with Britain.

TRUMP: Yes.

WSJ: Can you tell us more about what’s going on?

TRUMP: No, but I can say that we’re going to be very involved with the UK I mean, you don’t hear the word Britain anymore. It’s very interesting. It’s like, nope [...] Is Scotland going to go for the vote, by the way? You don’t see it. It would be terrible. They just went through hell [...] One little thing, what would they do with the British Open if they ever got out? They’d no longer have the British Open.

TRUMP: Scotland. Keep it in Scotland.

BAKER: We just had a – (inaudible).

TRUMP: By the way, are you a member there?

BAKER: No. I’ve played there, but I –

TRUMP: I thought that course showed well.

WSJ: It’s a gorgeous, gorgeous course.

BAKER: Did you see Jordan Spieth’s amazing –

TRUMP: I – well, I saw his first four holes. And I said, man, that’s the end of that, because – you know?

WSJ: Yeah.

BAKER: Yeah.

TRUMP: So for a guy to go – you know, to me, that’s almost worse than, like, a triple bogey, because – but for a guy to go through these horrible holes, hit a bad drive like I’ve never seen – I mean, he was 150 yards right. I don’t know what that –

WSJ: Come on, you and I have hit worse drives. You and I have hit –

TRUMP: No, no, but for – I know, but for a tour pro it was very unusual. But for a guy to then go birdie, eagle, birdie, birdie, that’s a special –

BAKER: He could – he could be a career major – he could be the youngest guy to do the career major –

TRUMP: Well, he’s actually sort of – he’s in with Tiger and Jack. He’s essentially even, you know, with a number of terms and a number of majors.

BAKER: Anyway, are you looking forward to doing a trade deal with the UK?

TRUMP: Yeah. I have a great relationship –

WSJ: It would be after, right? They have a time frame.

BAKER: Yeah.

TRUMP: Yeah.

WSJ: The one thing is there’s a – the one thing is there’s a ticking clock with Brexit, so.

WSJ: Well, yeah. Your tweet made it sound like you’re really talking and so you have -

TRUMP: We have a very good relationship. I have a very good relationship with the prime minister. And we are absolutely looking to do a major trade deal.

WSJ: Would the idea be that the trade deal will kick in pretty much as soon as Brexit happens?

TRUMP: As soon as it’s appropriate to have it kick in, absolutely. And it’ll be a big trade deal – much, much more business than we do right now, many, many times.

Trump on Europe:

TRUMP: I have a very good relationship with the EU people and all, but they are very, very protectionist. You know, our farmers and others can’t even deal with – you know, you can’t sell in. It’s very unfair. And that’s what I’ve been talking about for a long time. It’s so stacked against the United States. Now, the EU was conceived to the point that they wanted to do something to compete with the United States. Well, you know, you could say that’s a friendly act or an unfriendly act. But it’s very protectionist. Among the most, we have farm products that you just can’t get into the EU. And we don’t do that to them.

BAKER: So you’d include an agriculture deal with the UK?

TRUMP: Well, I’ll tell you, you know, I did – I did thing that nobody even wrote about – although, you did. (Laughter.) But when I was with President Xi, who I have a very good relationship with, I said: Do me a favor. Would you allow cattle, please, to come in? I was last night in West Virginia, and I had farmers coming up to me and hugging me and kissing me because of the cattle stuff. They actually weren’t from West Virginia; they were from other places. (Laughter.) But, you know, it was the Boy Scouts, so they came from all over the country, but –

BAKER: Could you do a services deal with the UK? Could that include services?

TRUMP: Yeah. It would include everything.

BAKER: Including financial services?

TRUMP: Oh, no, it would be very – it would be – it would be very all-in with –

BAKER: That’s a big deal.

WSJ: Because we have a lot of financial companies already paring back their numbers, moving people to Frankfurt, already clearing out of London some. Do you think that’s a good idea right now, ahead of this?

TRUMP: That’s up to them. But we’re going to have a very good relationship with the UK And we do have to talk to the European Union, because it’s not a reciprocal deal, you know.

Trump on the new UK ambassador:

TRUMP: Woody Johnson. He’s the ambassador to the Court of St. James, which is England, you know, et cetera, et cetera. And I mean, he said what they did to him was unbelievable. The process was so ugly. I’ve had three or four people to be ambassadors, tremendous people, very successful people. They called me and they – their whole life they wanted to do this, and they gave up. It’s, you know –

Trump on tax:

TRUMP: I want to achieve growth. We’re the highest-taxed nation in the world, essentially, you know, of the size. But we’re the highest-taxed nation in the world. We have — nobody knows what the number is. I mean, it used to be, when we talked during the debate, $2.5 trillion, right, when the most elegant person — right? I call him Mr. Elegant. I mean, that was a great debate. We did such a great job. But at that time I was talking $2.5 trillion. I guess it’s $5 trillion now. Whatever it is, it’s a lot more. So we have anywhere from 4 [trillion] to 5 or even more trillions of dollars sitting offshore. We want to get that back, No. One, at a very reasonable cost. And that cost is going to be 10 percent. And right now, it’s so high that, No. One: You would never do it on a business basis. But, No. Two: Bureaucratically it’s impossible. Did you know that? I have friends that try and get their money back. They say they have to go through years of writing out forms and this and that to bring money back into the country. We’re going to make that one — like a half-a-page document. It’s going to be very easy to bring your money back in. And it’s going to be taxed at 10 percent, which is a rate that’s — it’s within reason. And so that’s one of the things we want to do. That’ll be an easy one. That’s one that — you know, it’s — when you talk about a country that’s broken or a system that’s broken, there’s something — the $5 trillion, let’s call it — that the Democrats and the Republicans agree should come back in. It’s been out there for years. Nobody ever did anything about it. I mean, Obama ...

[...]

WSJ: What do you think is a reasonable corporate rate? We’ve heard 20 percent, but —

TRUMP: Well, you know, we’re going for 15 [percent]. We’re going to see, and we’ll see. But, you know, I don’t want to say anything about negotiation. I mean, we are asking for 15 percent, and we think we’re going to grow tremendously.

On the global economy

TRUMP: So I deal with foreign countries, and despite what you may read, I have unbelievable relationships with all of the foreign leaders. They like me. I like them. You know, it’s amazing. So I’ll call, like, major — major countries, and I’ll be dealing with the prime minister or the president. And I’ll say, how are you doing? Oh, don’t know, don’t know, not well, Mr President, not well. I said, well, what’s the problem? Oh, GDP nine per cent, not well. And I’m saying to myself, here we are at like one per cent, dying, and they’re at nine per cent and they’re unhappy. So, you know, and these are like countries, you know, fairly large, like 300 million people. You know, a lot of people say — they say, well, but the United States is large. And then you call places like Malaysia, Indonesia, and you say, you know, how many people do you have? And it’s pretty amazing how many people they have. So China’s going to be at seven [per cent] or eight per cent, and they have a billion-five, right? So we should do really well.

Trump on tax:

TRUMP: You know, I was with Bob Kraft the other night. He came to have dinner with me. He’s a friend of mine. And as he left, he said, Donald, don’t worry about the rich people. Tax the rich people. You got to take care of the people in the country. It was a very interesting statement. I feel the same way.

WSJ: There was some focus – Steve Bannon was saying that maybe you want a higher income tax than the 40 per cent, you know, that you might be –

TRUMP: No, that was not right. That was not a correct statement, no… We want – look, the job producers we’re going to take great care of, but we have to take care of middle-income people in this country. They built the country, they started this whole beautiful thing that we have, and we have to take care of them. And people have not taken care of them, and we’re going to.

And I mean, I have wealthy friends that say to me I don’t mind paying more tax. And I’ll tell you what I sort of don’t like, is when they – you know, you’ll do your charts in The Wall Street Journal and they’ll be brilliantly done, very nice, and they’ll show that a rich guy who made, you know, $25m last year is going to pay less than he was. In a certain way, I don’t like that. I’d rather take that difference and put it into the middle-income and put it into corporate.

Trump on the US economy:

TRUMP: Look, we’re losing companies. People don’t even realize how bad it is, but we’re losing companies every single day where they’re leaving because the taxes are too high. When we do this, we’ll have companies – I know companies that have left. They go to Ireland, they go to other – I own a lot of property in Ireland. They go to Ireland because of these incredible tax rates, and other places, right? We’ll have companies pouring back into our nation. I mean, it’s going to be – you know, it’s going to be beautiful. I hope we can – I hope we can do the 15 per cent, actually. By the way, 15 per cent is not by any means the lowest, but at least we would go from the highest to one of the lower, lower taxes.

Trump on attracting business:

TRUMP: We’re going to have a lot of companies that are coming in. Foxconn’s coming in with a big plan. We have Tim Cook I spoke to, and he’s promised me three big plants – big, big, big. I said, you know, Tim, unless –

WSJ: Really? Where?

TRUMP: We’ll have to see. You can call him. But I said, Tim, unless you start building your plants in this country, I won’t consider my administration an economic success, OK? And he’s called me and he says, you know, they’re going forward, three big, beautiful plants. You’ll have to call him. I mean, maybe he won’t tell you what he tells me, but I believe he will do that. I really believe it.

But I said to Gary, I said, you know, Gary, you go to certain sections and you’re going to need people to work in these massive plants that we’re getting, that are moving in. Where do we have the people? You know where we have the people? In New York state that can’t get jobs, in many other places that can’t get jobs. And people are going to have to start moving. They’re going to move to Colorado and they’re going to move to Iowa and Wisconsin and places where – like if Foxconn goes to Wisconsin, which is one of the places they’re very strongly considering – but if Foxconn goes to Wisconsin and they have a very low rate and the governor’s done an excellent job, you’re going to have a situation where you got to get the people. But they’re going to start moving. And I’m going to start explaining to people when you have an area that just isn’t working – like upper New York state, where people are getting very badly hurt – and then you’ll have another area 500 miles away where you can’t – you can’t get people, I’m going to explain you can leave, it’s OK, don’t worry about your house.

You know, a lot of them don’t leave because of their house. Because they say, gee, my house, I thought it was worth 70,000 (dollars) and now it’s worth nothing. It’s OK. Go, cut your losses, right?

Trump on Janet Yellen

TRUMP: I have a lot of respect for her, and I like her. I’ve met her just a couple of times, but I like her. It’s early to make the decision. She doesn’t come up until February/March?

MR. : End of June.

WSJ: February. February 1st is –

WSJ: Yeah, yeah.

TRUMP: No, I have a lot of respect for her. I like her. She is –

BAKER: Does that mean it’s possible you would keep her?

TRUMP: I do like low interest rates. I mean, you know, I’m not making that a big secret. I think low interest rates are good. I like a dollar that’s not too strong. I mean, I’ve seen strong dollars. And frankly, other than the fact that it sounds good, lots of bad things happen with a strong dollar.

BAKER: So she’s definitely – she’s definitely in the running to be replaced this time?

TRUMP: I would say – you mean to stay?

BAKER: To stay.

TRUMP: I would say yes, she is in the running to stay.

[…]

WSJ: Are there other candidates?

TRUMP: Yeah, there are two or three. But she is – she is in the running, absolutely. I like her. I like her demeanor. I think she’s done a good job. I’d like to see rates stay low. She’s always been – you know, she’s historically been a low-interest-rate person, a believer.

WSJ: Do you have a time frame for announcing a decision?

TRUMP: I would say sometime by the end of year, probably.

WSJ: So you’re going to wait till it’s pretty –

TRUMP: I think so.

WSJ: So you’re not –

BAKER: It would need a confirmation process, which will take time.

[…]

WSJ: Are there other names you might offer who are in the mix for the Fed?

TRUMP: I’d rather not do that.

BAKER: Kevin Warsh has been mentioned. Can we – [inaudible] –

TRUMP: I haven’t – I’d rather not get involved. But I would say she is, certainly. And Gary is somebody that I’ve gained great – I’ve known Gary for a long time – but I’ve gained great respect for Gary working with him. So Gary certainly would be in the mix. I just don’t know if he’d like – this is off the record – if he wants to sit down. Interest rates will be moving up one-eighth of a point –

BAKER: That’s the exciting stuff. (Laughter.) That’s the exciting stuff.

TRUMP: Right? Yeah, exactly. And then you leave. By the way, then the market crashes and it goes through the roof. You know, what you say. And then he goes off and he’ll play golf and relax for the next 30 or –

BAKER: So, Gary, Yellen, and there are other contenders you’re thinking of?

TRUMP: Yeah, there are people that are highly respected that I would certainly think about. I don’t know that Gary would want it. I think Gary loves what he’s doing, you know, and he’s doing a very good job.

WSJ: Who else –

WSJ: (Inaudible.)

WSJ: Sometimes needs to get a comment from Gary. (Laughter.)

TRUMP: You want to comment? (Laughs.)

WSJ: On the record. On the record.

MR. : This is an interview with the president. This is an interview with the president.

WSJ: We’ll call your office.

Trump on tariffs

TRUMP: Well it’s extremely unfair. But we like to keep it as simple as – we like to keep very complicated subjects as simple as possible. So we’re waiting till we get everything finished up between health care and taxes and maybe even infrastructure. But we’re going to be addressing the steel dumping at a very – fairly soon.

Trump on Russia:

TRUMP: I’m disappointed in Jeff Sessions, yes.

WSJ: Do you want him to leave?

TRUMP: Number one, they should go after the leakers in intelligence. I don’t mean the White House stuff where they’re fighting over who loves me the most, OK? (Laughter.) It’s just stupid people doing that.

BAKER: Anthony’s already taken care of that. (Laughter.)

TRUMP: I know, that’s just – and Anthony will handle that. [laughter.] I can – Anthony can do that out of his back pocket, OK? I’m talking about intelligence leaks… I’m very disappointed in the fact that the Justice Department has not gone after the leakers. And they’re the ones that have the great power to go after the leakers, you understand. So – and I’m very disappointed in Jeff Sessions.

WSJ: You can fire him.

TRUMP: Look, Jeff – I could. But we’ll see what happens. But I was – I appointed a man to a position. And then shortly after he gets the position, he recused himself. I said, what’s that all about? Why didn’t you tell me that you were going to do that, and I wouldn’t have appointed you? But I appointed him. And shortly thereafter, he recused himself. So I think that is a –

BAKER: You also suggested in Cleveland today they should be going – or, yesterday – they should be going after Hillary Clinton. Is that –

TRUMP: Well, I didn’t – I wouldn’t have wanted to. But I see the way they go after us on a witch hunt, you know? The Russian – the Russian story’s all an excuse for the Democrats losing. In fact, if you read the book, “Shattered,” they have a whole chapter where they sat the day after the election and they said: Yeah, Russia. It was Russia. And, you know, Trump was involved. OK, the one thing interesting, you never heard me even associated with anybody. But, no, that’s a total witch hunt, the whole Russia story. It’s a hoax. It’s a hoax. We had no collusion with Russia. We never dealt with Russia.

People that were on the campaign, like Corey, came in yesterday. It was very interesting. He was being interviewed. He said – I was watching, Corey Lewandowski – he says: I was here from the beginning. And I must be honest with you, I never dealt with any Russians. He was only the campaign manager. I can even look at Hope. She was here from virtually the same day that Corey started, those two. Hope, how many Russians have you seen involved in the campaign, OK?

HOPE HICKS: None. (Laughs.)

TRUMP: OK? You know, I mean, it’s sad. So they do that. And I say, that’s fine. But then we should really look at real crimes, because real crimes are what Hillary did with 33,000 emails, where she deleted them and bleached them after getting a subpoena. Real crimes are what’s happening and what happened with the uranium deal. And also – I mean, you can say the speeches made while she was secretary of state where they paid her a fortune, Podesta owning a big company in Russia – they talk about me. I have nothing to do with Russia.

You know, I put out a letter from a very – from the biggest law firm saying Trump has no involvement with Russia. I don’t. I have no involvement. I mean, I had Ms. Universe there, like, nine years ago, eight years ago, something like that. But I have nothing to do with Russia. So – and it’s very funny, because all of these people that have been on the campaign, some of them right from the beginning – Anthony’s another example. You’ve been there. You know –

[...]

WSJ: I mean, but, Bob Mueller is also really the one leading this investigation. It’s his job to see –

TRUMP: Well, we’re going to see.

BAKER: And he’s investigating Russia – your Russian connection –

WSJ: He’s the Russian guy. So Sessions has recused himself, but is Bob Mueller’s job safe? There is speculation –

TRUMP: No, we’re going to see. I mean, I have no comment yet, because it’s too early. But we’ll see. We’re going to see. Here’s the good news: I was never involved with Russia. There was nobody in the campaign. I’ve got 200 people that will say that they’ve never seen anybody on the campaign. Here’s another – he was involved early. There’s nobody on the campaign that saw anybody from Russia. We had nothing to do with Russia. They lost an election and they came up with this as an excuse. And the only ones that are laughing are the Democrats and the Russians. They’re the only ones that are laughing. And if Jeff Sessions didn’t recuse himself, we wouldn’t even be talking about this subject.

[...]

TRUMP: I think it’s disloyal to the office of the presidency, not necessarily me. I think it’s very disloyal to the office of the presidency. And if he didn’t do that, you wouldn’t have all this stuff. You know, you wouldn’t have it.

[...]

BAKER: You going to veto the Russian sanctions legislation?

TRUMP: Well, I haven’t seen them yet. I haven’t seen them in final form. I will say this, Congress, if they’re going to negotiate, they make the worst deals I’ve ever seen. They made NAFTA. They made – you know, they allowed the Iran deal to go through.

WSJ: You said you’re opposed –

TRUMP: I make good deals. I don’t make bad deals. I make good deals. So, but, I haven’t made my – I have not seen them. I have to see.

Trump on his presidency so far

TRUMP: So a lot of times I’ll turn on television or I’ll read in The Wall Street Journal, right –

WSJ: Thank you.

TRUMP: – what’s Trump doing? He hasn’t produced health care. I’m not even six months yet, right? So these guys went eight years – Hillary Clinton, eight years, got nothing. Obama went a year and a half, almost two years, and they had to sell their soul. They had to give away the state of Nebraska in order to buy that vote. And that was two years. I’m six months. They got to give me a little break, OK? And today we’re having a big vote, and we’ll see what happens. But today’s vote is big, because once you get in – once you’re allowed to talk a lot of –

BAKER: But we can’t expect any more staff changes in the immediate – in the immediate future?

TRUMP: No, I don’t think so.

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