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Muhammad Ali, LeBron James, Dennis Rodman: Here's A Transcript Of Trump's Wide-Ranging Comments Before The G7 Summit

Trump's comments to reporters before heading to the G7 summit touched on several sports figures, pardons, and the indictment of an alleged leaker of classified information.

Posted on June 8, 2018, at 10:15 a.m. ET

Nicholas Kamm / AFP / Getty Images

President Donald Trump held a question-and-answer session with reporters before he flew to Canada to participate in the G7 summit. With Marine One whirring in the background, Trump commented on Muhammad Ali, Hillary Clinton, and Dennis Rodman's rebounding abilities, and suggested NFL players who kneel can suggest people to be pardoned. He also made some controversial news on Russia. Here are his comments in full.

Reporter: Is the Comey report going to be your birthday present?

Trump: Well, it seems it's coming out on my birthday. Maybe that's appropriate, let’s see [if] it is. Look, he's a very dishonest man. I've been saying it for a long time. I think I did our country a great fire, a really great favor when I fired him. We'll see what happens. We'll see what the report says. But I guess it just got announced it's coming out on June 14th. So that will be maybe a nice birthday present, who knows.

Reporter: Are you glad [inaudible]

We're going to deal with the unfair trade practices. If you look at what Canada and Mexico, the European union, all of them have been doing to us for many, many decades, we have to change it. They understand it's going to happen.

Reporter: What are you going to do if they form an agreement without you?

Trump: We are going to do very well. Now, if we're unable to make a deal, we'll terminate NAFTA. We'll have a better deal. If we're unable to make a deal, we will be better off. Right now, we are not going to live with the deals the way they are. European Union treats us very unfairly. Canada, very unfairly. Mexico, very unfairly. With that being said, I think we'll probably very easily make a deal.

Reporter: Were you serious about really not meeting with [inaudible]

Trump: I didn't say that. I said I've been preparing all my life. I always believe in preparation. But I've been preparing all my life. You know, these one week preparations, they don't work. Just ask Hillary what happened to her in the debates. So, I’ve been preparing for this all my life. Frankly, it's just fake news. If you run, Peter, just a little bit longer the clip you would see I've been preparing all my life. I said that. But, you know, the news doesn't pick that up, because it’s fake news.

Reporter: Are you glad they caught a leaker?

Trump: It's very interesting they caught a leaker in a very important -- it's a very important leaker. So it's very interesting. I'm getting information on it now. Happened last night. It could be a terrific thing. I know I believe strongly in freedom of the press. I'm a big, big believer in freedom of the press. But I'm also a believer in classified information, has to remain classified. That includes Comey and his band of thieves who leaked classified information all over the place. So I'm a very big believer in freedom of the press, but I'm also a believer that you cannot leak classified information.

Reporter: Do you have a reaction to Anthony Bourdain’s death?

Trump: Yeah, I think it's very sad. In fact, I want to extend to his family my heartfelt condolences. That was very shocking. When I woke up this morning, Anthony Bourdain is dead. I enjoyed his show. He was quite a character, I will say. So I want to extend my condolences. And, also, to the family of Kate Spade.

Reporter: [inaudible]

Trump: Maybe. You can call it anything you want. It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter what you call it. It used to be the G-8 because Russia was in it. Now Russia's not in it. Now, I love our country. I have been Russia's worst nightmare. If Hillary got in, I think Putin is probably going, ‘man, I wish Hillary won’. Because you see what I do. But with that being said, Russia should be in this meeting. Why are we having a meeting without Russia being in the meeting? And I would recommend — and it's up to them — but Russia should be in the meeting, should be a part of it it. Whether you like it or not, and it may not be politically correct, but we have a world to run. And in the G7, which used to be the G8, they threw Russia out. They should let Russia come back in. Because we should have Russia at the negotiating table.

Reporter: You’re leaving a little early from the summit, why did you decide to do that?

Trump: I may leave a little bit early, it depends on the timing. I may leave a little bit early. And it depends what happens here. Look, all of these countries have been taking advantage of the United States on trade. You saw where Canada charges our dairy farmers 270% tariffs. We don't charge them, or if we do, it's like, a tiny percentage. So we have to straighten it out.

We have massive trade deficits with almost every country. We will straighten that out. And I'll tell you what, it's what I do. It won't even be hard. And in the end, we'll all get along. But they understand. You know, they're trying to act like, well, we fought with you in the war. They don't mention the fact that they have trade barriers against our farmers. They don't mention the fact that they're charging almost 300% tariffs. When it all straightens out, we'll all be in love again.

Reporter: Will there be more pardons?

Trump: There will be more pardons. I thought Alice yesterday was beautiful. I thought Jack Johnson which was recommended by Sylvester Stallone and some great boxers, I thought Jack Johnson was a great one. I'm thinking about somebody that you all know very well, and he went through a lot. And he wasn't very popular then —

Reporter: Is it OJ?

Trump: He wasn't very popular then — No, I’m not thinking about OJ. But he's not — only you could say OJ. But he was, look, he was not very popular then. His memory is very popular now. I'm thinking about Muhammad Ali. I'm thinking about that very seriously. And some others and some folks that have sentences that aren't fair. But I am thinking about Muhammad Ali.

Reporter: Who would it take for you to fire Mueller?

Trump: In fact, we're doing right now recommendations on, you know, frankly we’re doing recommendations on Muhammad Ali.

Reporter: [inaudible] you said you are above the law...

Trump: No. No. No, I’m not above the law. I never want anybody to be above the law. But the pardons are a very positive thing for a president. I think you see the way I'm using them. And yes, I do have an absolute right to pardon myself. But I'll never have to do it because I didn't do anything wrong. And everybody knows it. There's been no collusion. There's been no obstruction. It's all a made-up fantasy. It's a witch hunt. No collusion, no obstruction, no nothing. Now, the Democrats have had massive collusion, massive obstruction, and they should be investigated. We'll see what's happening.

Reporter: [inaudible]

Trump: I haven't even thought about it. I haven't even thought, I haven’t thought about any of it. It certainly far too early to be thinking about that.

Reporters: [inaudible]

Trump: They haven't been convicted of anything. There's nothing to pardon. It's far too early to be thinking about it.

Reporter: Mr. President, what will it take for you to get sick of Scott Pruitt...

Trump: Scott Pruitt is doing a great job within the walls of the EPA. We're setting records. Outside he's being attacked very viciously by the press. I'm not saying that he's blameless, but we'll see what happens.

Reporter: But he’s an embarrassment, are you not tired of it?

Another reporter: [inaudible]

Trump: That's what I want to do. We have 3,000 names. We're looking at them. Of the 3,000 names, many of those names really have been treated unfairly. You know, this is a group of 3,000 that we've assembled. I would get more thrill out of pardoning people that nobody knows. Like Alice yesterday. I thought Kim Kardashian was great because she brought Alice to my attention. Alice was so great. The way she left that jail and the tears and the love that she has with our family, to me that was better than any celebrity that I can pardon. So we're looking at it. But we're looking at literally thousands of names of people that have come to our attention that have been treated unfairly or where their sentence is far too long.

Reporter: ...LeBron James and Steph Curry they’re saying they’re not coming to the White House.

Trump: I didn't invite 'em. I didn't invite LeBron James. And I didn't invite Steph Curry. We're not going to invite either team. But we have other teams that are coming.

You know, if you look we had Alabama, national champion. We had Clemson, national champion. We had the New England Patriots. We had the Pittsburgh Penguins last year.

Reporter: What about the Caps?

Trump: I think we'll have the Caps, we'll see. My attitude, if they want to be here, it's the greatest place on Earth, I'm here. If they don't want to be here, I don't want them.

Reporter: [inaudible]

Trump: If you like at what Paul Ryan is saying, it didn't come out that way. The fact is, they had people in our campaign. They had people doing things that have never been done in the history of this country. And it really is a disgrace. Frankly, that stuff is just starting to come out.

Reporter: [Inaudible]

Trump: Fire who?

Reporter: [inaudible]

Trump: We'll see what happens, we’ll see what happens.

Reporter: What do you think about Mitt Romney saying you’re a shoo-in to win again?

Trump: Mitt Romney said what?

Reporter: Mitt Romney said you’re going to find it easy to win again.

Trump: Well, we're doing well. Look, Mitt's a straight shooter. Whether people love him or don't love him.

Reporter: Well he called you a con man last time.

Trump: Mitt Romney is a straight shooter. Yeah, he had some very nice things to say, I appreciate that. That's good.

Reporter: What do you have to say to Canada?

Trump: I love Canada, but they treat us very unfairly on trade. Very, very unfairly. You see the numbers. Almost 300% on dairy. So they treat us very unfairly. Are you all guys going? You better get going, Peter, we'll leave without you.

Reporter: [Inaudible]

Trump: I would only do a deal if I get it through Congress. I wouldn't do like Obama did. Fortunately he wasn't able to get it through. He tried to get it through, the Iran deal. He tried to get it through Congress, failed, so he just did it without. Which is why I was able to break it up so easy. And Iran is now a different country. They're not looking to the mediterranean anymore. Iran is now a much different country, since I signed that out, Iran is a much different country.

Reporter: Do you support Senator Gardner’s marijuana [inaudible] bill?

Trump: I really do. I support Senator Gardner. I think exactly what he's doing. We're looking at it. I probably will end up supporting that, yes.

Reporter: [inaudible]

Trump: First lady is great. Right there [points up]. She has to. She wanted to go. Can't fly for one month. The doctors say. She had a big operation. That was close to a four-hour operation. And she's doing great. Right there. And you know what? She is a great first lady.

Reporter: [inaudible] ...sonic device

Trump: Terrible. We'll be talking to them. But that's terrible. Any other questions?

Reporter: [inaudible question about Michael Cohen]

Trump: Was one of my lawyers — incredible you can break into a lawyer's office. That's one thing I can say. I think that was unfortunate that they broke into a lawyer's office. It’s not a good practice.

Reporter: [inaudible]

Trump: Well the Democrats — this is a Democrat bill. The Democrats can end that very quickly. All they have to do is sit down with us and negotiate the real bill that allows us to keep criminals out of this country. It's very easy.

You know, Schumer is a guy, he complains but he doesn't do anything. Schumer's a guy who is an obstructer. He can't do anything, all he can do is obstruct. All they have to do is call us and we'll draw a bill that gives us great border safety and security and is fair. Because I don't like the children being separated from the parents. I don't like it. I hate it. But that's a Democrat bill that we're enforcing. We can change it in one day. All they have to do is come and see us.

Reporter: [Inaudible]

Trump: I can't hear your question darling, too much competition. You go. You're not prepared. I can't believe she's not prepared. See, they're shocked, right?

Reporter: [inaudible]

Trump: We'll bring it up, yeah. We'll bring it up.

Reporter: What are you going to do for five hours on the plane?

Trump: I have work. I have about 15 boxes of work. I will be able to work without being bothered by phone calls where you people are writing fake stories about me and we have to respond. Now, seriously, I have a lot of work that's on the plane.

Reporter: Are you worried at all about the things that Rudy is saying in Israel, is he giving you any headaches?

Trump: Look, Rudy is great. But Rudy is Rudy. But Rudy is doing a very good job, actually. Doing a very good job.

Reporter: Is being a porn star respectable work?

Trump: He said what?

Reporter: He said being a porn star is not respectable work.

Trump: I'm not going to disagree with him on that.

Reporter: [inaudible]

Trump: I can't hear a word he's saying.

Reporter: Is Dennis invited to North Korea?

Trump: He wasn't, but I like Dennis. A great rebounder. When you think Dennis was a great rebounder and he wasn't relatively speaking that tall. So that tells you, you know, there's a rebounding, there's a genius for that. Dennis Rodman was a great rebounder. One thing we are thinking about — speaking of sports stars — the power to pardon is a beautiful thing. You got to get it right. You've got to get the right people. I am looking at Muhammad Ali. Those are the famous people. And in one way it's easier and people find it fascinating. But I want to do people that are unfairly treated, like an Alice where she comes out — it's something beautiful.

What I'm thinking to do, you have a lot of people in the NFL in particular, but in sports leagues, they're not proud enough to stand for our national anthem. I don't like that. What I'm going to do is I'm going to say to them instead of talk, it's all talk, talk, talk. We have a great country, you should stand for our national anthem. You shouldn't go in a locker room when our national anthem is played. I am going to ask all of those people to recommend to me — because that's what they’re protesting — people that they think were unfairly treated by the justice system. I understand that. I'm going to ask them to recommend to me people that were unfairly treated. Friends of theirs or people they know about and I'm going to take a look at those applications. If I find — if my committee finds they're unfairly treated, then we will pardon them or at least let them out.

Reporter: Are you going to invite them to the White House for a roundtable about

Trump: You know, I don't have to do that. I'm not looking to grandstand. We’ve got enough grandstanders in this town. I'm just saying for the leagues, if the players, if the athletes have friends of theirs or people they know about that have been unfairly treated by the system, let me know.

Reporter: So you need a celebrity advocate to get a pardon?

Trump: You know, if you think about it, that's really — that becomes celebrity advocates. But you know a lot of things that we're not going to know, they've seen a lot of abuse and they've seen a lot of unfairness. If they have, how do you like that idea, David?

Reporter: [inaudible]

Trump: No, I have the absolute right. I don't have to do it. Never did anything wrong. You know that better than anybody.

Reporter: Are you concerned about reporters leaking their sources?

Trump: I think you have a double edge. Reporters can't leak. You cannot leak classified information. At the same time, we need freedom of the press. You cannot leak. Like Hillary Clinton did, like Comey did. You cannot leak classified information. If you look at the young sailor, Saucier, he went to jail over not classified. It's very unfair that he goes to jail and that Comey is allowed to do it. Very unfair. Thank you much, I'll see you in Canada.


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