Remarks by President Trump in Press Briefing | September 16, 2020
September 16, 2020
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
5:17 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you. Good afternoon. Hurricane Sally made landfall, as you know, in Alabama and Florida last night as a Category 2 hurricane, and has caused 35 inches of rainfall in some places. That's a lot.
We have hundreds of FEMA, Coast Guard; we have the National Guard personnel on the ground assisting response to the efforts. And Alabama is in great shape, and every place that we are working with the state governments – really in great shape. We are working very hard on that.
But it looks like it's going to be mostly safe, but just follow the instructions of all of your local and federal people there. We have the best people that you can have. So I want to thank everybody. I want to thank everybody for working so hard in Florida. And they're very good at this. The people in Florida handle it; they know how to handle it. And the people working there know how to handle it.
The governors have all been spoken to, and it's a combination of real spirit. And they have a tremendous esprit de corps. They have a tremendous sense of working on hurricanes; they've gotten very good at it. And we've certainly had plenty, even since I've been here. We've had a lot of them. So that's in good shape – Hurricane Sally.
We're going to talk about Big 10 football, but that's a terrific thing. We'll discuss that at the end. I just want to go into the vaccine distribution.
Today, my administration released our detailed national vaccine distribution plan, and that includes a plan to ensure that we swiftly deliver the vaccine directly to America's senior citizens in nursing homes. And it's all set. We have our military lined up. Everybody is lined up. And we think that's going to go very nicely. We're very close to that vaccine, as you know, and I think closer than most people want to say, or certainly closer than most people understand.
To get the vaccine into the hands of American people, we're fully mobilizing the awesome power of American industry and also our military. This is the largest, fastest, and most advanced vaccine distribution effort in American history, by far. I was reading where Biden was saying that, oh, he's going to have a plan. They did so bad on swine flu, you wouldn't even believe it. Take a look at their record on swine flu. In fact, the person that headed it up said it was a total disaster.
We're on track to deliver and distribute the vaccine in a very, very safe and effective manner. We think we can start sometime in October. So as soon as it is announced, we'll be able to start. That'll be from mid-October on. It may be a little bit later than that, but we'll be all set.
So as soon as it's given the go-ahead – they're doing trials, as you know – and as soon as it's given the go-ahead, we will get it out, defeat the virus.
We've manufactured all of the necessary supplies so that as soon as the FDA approves the vaccine – and, as you know, we're very close to that – we'll be able to distribute at least 100 million vaccine doses by the end of 2020 and a large number much sooner than that.
I'm calling on Biden to stop promoting his anti-vaccine theories because all they're doing is hurting the importance of what we're doing. And I know that if they were in this position, they'd be saying how wonderful it is. They're recklessly endangering lives. You can't do that.
And again, this is really a case that they're only talking – just started talking a little bit negatively, and that's only because they know we have it, or we will soon have it. And the answer to that is very soon.
The case updates – it's very interesting to see what's happening because the test positivity rate is down among all age groups and has fallen below 5 percent for the first time since this whole nightmare of the China virus began. So it's fallen below 5 percent.
The number of hospitalized patients has decreased by 43 percent from mid-July – 43 percent. Nationally, people sick with the China virus now make up only 1.5 percent of all emergency room visits. So we're down to the lowest number we've had. 1.5 percent of emergency room visits is for the China virus.
And thanks to our lifesaving therapies and treatments – I think this is the best of all, in terms of our great percentages and all the progress we've made – the fatality rate has fallen 85 percent since April – 85 percent – fatality rate.
If you look at what we've done and all of the lives that we've saved – and I'm going to ask that a graph be put up, and now it's up. This was right at the beginning. This was our prediction that if we do a really good job, we'll be at about a hundred and – 100,000 to 240,000 deaths. And we're below that substantially, and we'll see what comes out. But that would be if we did the good job. If the not-so-good job was done, you'd be between 1.5 million – I remember these numbers so well – and 2.2 million. That's quite a difference.
So we're down in this territory. And that's despite the fact that the blue states had tremendous death rates. If you take the blue states out, we're at a level that I don't think anybody in the world would be at. We're really at a very low level. But some of the states, they were blue states and blue-state-managed.
And, by the way, we'd recommend they open up their states. I think it's very important that they open up their states, because if you look at certain of them – North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and a couple of others – we have to get those states open. It's hurting people. It's hurting people far more than the disease itself.
So we would recommend that you open them; let your people have freedom. And it's unfair to your people to keep them closed at this stage. We know the vaccine – we know the vaccines are coming, but we know the problem; we understand who the vulnerable are, which is primarily people with medical problems, but in particular, people with medical problems that are older. So open up your states.
To facilitate routine testing of the nursing home residents and staff, we've delivered rapid testing devices to all 1,000 or – excuse me, 13,850 certified nursing homes nationwide. So you have 13,850 certified nursing homes nationwide, and they are being facilitated in terms of testing and testing – testing apparatus. Everything is there.
We also have new tests coming, and we have one in particular that I think I showed last night, which is literally two pieces of very fine cardboard. It's actually a lot of delicate things going on inside that cardboard, but it's an incredible test. It's very quick, it's very accurate, and moves along rapidly. We bought millions of those tests, and they're going to be distributed rapidly.
So the testing process, where – there's nobody in the world that has a testing process like ours. In addition to being a number one – number two, which is India, is close to 50 million tests behind us, I believe, Scott. Fifty million. They have 1.5 billion people.
Tomorrow, Vice President Pence will be announcing the findings of the Nursing Home Commission to continue protecting our most vulnerable, which is our senior citizens. And we're going to take good care of them.
I want to congratulate Big 10 football. It's – it's back. And I want to, in particular – I've been dealing with him – thank Commissioner Kevin Warren for the great job he did. We've been working with him for a while. There was a rumor being spread that I didn't want football back, and it was just the opposite. That was another disinformation rumor put out by the Biden campaign. And it was just the opposite. But it really spurred me into action.
I called the commissioner a couple of weeks ago, and we started really putting a lot of pressure on, frankly, because there was no reason for it not to come back. And Kevin went in and worked very hard. I want to thank the players, the coaches for working along. And they wanted it very badly – the players and coaches, in particular; the parents also. And Big 10 football just announced, as you know, that their schedule – they announced a schedule, and it's going to be great; important to have.
I want to recommend that the Pac-12 also get going, because there's no reason why Pac-12 shouldn't be playing now. And perhaps they'll start with – at least partially – I had recommended today to Kevin and others that maybe you want to start off with 25 percent of the stadium or you maybe want to start off with empty. I don't know. If it's – I think they could have fans go, frankly. But they want to be careful, they want to be safe, and they will be safe. They've got a very good testing process for the players, coaches, families, et cetera.
And so I just want to congratulate Big 10. It's going to be great. We're going to love watching that. And again, I want to recommend Pac-12 – you're the only one now. Open up. Open up, Pac-12. Get going. Said the same thing to Big 10 and they did, and now I'm saying it to Pac-12. You have time. You really have time right now. Get going.
I want to thank all of those wonderful coaches – some of whom I spoke with. And we went through a process over the last couple of weeks. And I want to thank Congressman Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio, who, as you know, was a great football player. Some people know that; I know that. But Anthony was a great player, great receiver. Went to the NFL.
Also, I want to thank Tim Pataki of my staff. He worked very hard on this. And he was up day and night, working with Kevin and everybody else. So I want to thank Tim Pataki. Great job.
So Big 10 is back, and it's going to have hopefully a great season.
The Census recently found that in the second quarter of 2020, Hispanic Americans' homeownership reached a record all-time high. That's all-time in the history of our country. Yesterday, the census reported that median income for Americans increased by an unprecedented $4,400 last year to a record of $68,700.
In 2019, income inequality fell for the second straight year. The income gap widened under the Obama-Biden administration, and it widened fairly substantially, and it narrowed under the Trump administration. So there's a little fact that you didn't know. So it narrowed under us, and it widened under Obama.
Income grew more, last year alone, than over the entire eight years of Obama-Biden. And that's a big statement, but that's the way it is.
In 2019, 4.2 million Americans were lifted out of poverty. That's the largest poverty reduction under any President in history: 4.2 million Americans were lifted out of poverty.
The Hispanic American poverty rate reached the lowest level ever – history of our country. Hispanic American poverty rate – lowest level ever.
I created the greatest and fairest economy in history. The biggest gains went to lower-income Americans, as they measure that kind of thing.
We will be back to full strength very soon. We're going to have a fantastic year next year. It's looking like that. I think you're going to have an incredible third quarter. The numbers are looking very, very strong for the third quarter. We have numbers that we're going to put out tomorrow – some of the individual things. Car production, housing production, housing ownership – so many different things are just at levels that nobody thought possible as we round the turn on the pandemic.
The anti-police crusade from the Democrats and the radical left – and radical-left Democrats also – has to stop. The leftwing war on cops puts our officers in danger and our communities at very grave risk. Can't do this.
Biden described the police as "the enemy." They're not the enemy; they're the friend. They're our friend. They're helping us. And if you go to – I just saw a poll – it just came out or recently came out – where African Americans, by 84 percent, wanted more police. They wanted safe neighborhoods.
In Phoenix last night, a federal officer was gunned down in a drive-by shooting. In LA this weekend – everybody saw that – this horrible human being – or whatever you might want to call him – I think "him." They're looking all over. There trying to find him. We're going to find out. We're going to get him.
But in LA this weekend, two sheriff's deputies were ambushed and viciously shot, and they can never be the same. They're getting better, but they can never be the same.
I'll always stand by our heroes of law enforcement, and we want to stop this horrible rhetoric and stop it fast.
I want to ask Scott Atlas to say a couple of words, because I heard Biden talking today about, "He wants to come up with a distribution plan." A distribution – for the vaccine that we came up with.
A couple of things: We came up with that vaccine – it'll be announced fairly soon – but regardless, this month, next month – in a level of time that nobody thought was possible because of what we did with our FDA in terms of streamlining it. I want to thank Dr. Hahn.
But what we've done with the streamlining has been incredible, and very safely. Number one is safety. Number two is speed. But you can have perfect safety and have much more speed, and that's what we did.
We did this for more than the vaccine, having to do with the China virus. This was also for other things. So many other great drugs are out there that would take 10, 12 years to get them approved, and we've moved those schedules up a lot.
But if this were Obama-Biden, this would have taken two, three years before you were at a stage where we are now at. So we're going to be very soon. And it's sort of funny to watch Joe Biden getting up and reading a teleprompter and saying how – how he would have done this. They had H1N1. He calls it the "N1H1"; it's H1N1. It's called the swine flu, and it was a disaster.
And, as I said, the person that ran it for him said the worst things about it. I mean, just – they didn't know what they were doing, they quit. They had no clue. And that was easy, by comparison to this. This is the most contagious – contagious flu or virus that anybody has seen. This is unbelievable how contagious it is. You found that out.
But I watched Biden quickly as he discussed, without having – without knowing a thing about a distribution plan. And he said that we don't have a distribution plan, but we do indeed. Our military – we have military, we have everybody involved. It's – it's a great plan, and it's a plan like no other.
And we can start doing it, I believe, the day that we come up with the vaccine. When it's done, we'll start. That same day, or the day after. Our military is very much involved, and they deploy troops, they deploy – these are the generals that do logistics and all of those things. And we'll have it all over the county, and then, ultimately, hopefully we'll helping the world with the vaccine. And it's very exciting.
But maybe I'd ask Scott Atlas to come up and describe a little bit about that and the distribution plan, in particular, because Biden acted as though there was no distribution plan, and we've been working on this for months, and it's ready. And Scott has really taken a hold of it and done an incredible job.
And please, Scott. Thank you.
DR. ATLAS: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. President. And I didn't develop the plan, I'm just relaying information here. And – but this is a plan that's a 57-page document that was sent to every state today, and there is a different part of this that was given to Congress today. It was released by HHS. It's on the website. And, in fact, I thought it was covered actually by the media, so I don't think it's a surprise, but it's a comprehensive plan. It's a public-private partnership to get everything done in terms of logistics.
The IT that's necessary to trace the first dose – because some of these vaccines are anticipated to be two doses – there is tailoring, of course, by the states, and there are specifics. And there's an administration of the vaccine plan that will be done in over 51,000 outlets, including for – particular attention to minority areas, over 14,000 Federally Qualified Health Centers.
And as the President just said, within the first 24 hours of FDA's approval under an emergency use, we will have vaccines being delivered within the first 24 hours, and it will be done at virtually no cost to Americans.
And the terms of the dosage: There will be – is it anticipated that no later than January all the top priority people will have received the vaccine or be able to receive the vaccine. And so that kind of prioritization, which is the general prioritization done for all vaccines that are developed, particularly in a pandemic setting, goes to the high-risk people, the people with other underlying conditions, as well as first responders and people working directly in healthcare. And so that's going to be done very rapidly.
THE PRESIDENT: Good, thank you.
DR. ATLAS: Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Thank you.
Q Mr. President –
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah. Go ahead.
Q Mr. President, earlier today, Dr. Redfield confirmed that it looked like November, December the first doses would be able to be distributed. But then he said that the vaccine for the general public likely would not be available until probably next summer, maybe even early fall. Are you comfortable with that timeline?
THE PRESIDENT: No, I think he made a mistake when he said that. It's just incorrect information. And I called him, and he didn't tell me that, and I think he got the message maybe confused. Maybe it was stated incorrectly. No, we're ready to go immediately as the vaccine is announced, and it could be announced in October. It could be announced a little bit after October. But once we go, we're ready.
As you know, Pfizer is making this. They're taking a tremendous financial risk, and they're spending billions of dollars on actually making this vaccine. They're at a stage where they're actually making it because they feel very confident as to the results. They'll be announcing their results fairly soon. And, no, he's – that's incorrect information.
Q But he was pretty clear in the way he said it.
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah, well, I think so, but I don't think he means that. I don't think he – when he said it, I believe he was confused. I'm just telling you: We're ready to go as soon as the vaccine happens.
Q So when do you want to see it available? What would be a timeline that you would be happy with?
THE PRESIDENT: I would say that – yeah, we will start distributing it immediately.
Q But to the general public.
THE PRESIDENT: To the general public, very shortly there- – I mean, really, to the general public: immediately. When we go, we go. We're not looking to say, "Gee, in six months, we're going to start giving it to the general public." No, we want to go immediately. No, it was an incorrect statement. I saw the statement. I called him, and I said, "What did you mean by that?" And I think he just made a mistake. He just made a mistake. I think he misunderstood the question, probably.
Q So if you were to put a timeline on when every person in America will be able to get a vaccine, what would that date be?
THE PRESIDENT: I think it would be very soon. I think our distribution process is going to go very quickly. I told you, we've engaged the military. We have a general who's in charge of all logistics, who delivers soldiers. He's a fantastic guy. He's supposed to be fantastic at what he does. And we figure that's better than any company you're going to hire. You can't hire a company like that.
And we look to the distribution immediately after we get the word that it's good. And I think they're having tremendous success with the vaccine itself. I think the results will be early and strong. The safety has to be 100 percent, and we're going to insist on that. And, obviously, the companies are going to insist on that also.
Q So could you put an actual date to it – January, February, March?
THE PRESIDENT: Scott, what would you think?
DR. ATLAS: Yeah. As I said, the high-priority people will have –
DR. ATLAS: – in sometime no later than January. I mean, of course, it depends on when things are approved and the emergency use is given.
Q But what about – I'm talking though about the low-priority people.
DR. ATLAS: I understand. Yeah. I can finish.
DR. ATLAS: And then it is anticipated there will be 700 million doses by end of Q1. That's 700 million doses.
Q So, by the end of March?
DR. ATLAS: That's end of Q1.
Q Dr. Atlas, do you mind if I ask you a question?
THE PRESIDENT: Q1, he said.
Q And that's the end of March, right?
Q It's one thing to have the doses, but we've talked to a lot of public health experts who say if this is happening in the winter and you have to socially distance, you can't have the packed lines that we saw during H1N1. You can't have packed auditoriums. You have to space it out. So that's one thing.
Another thing they're worried about is storing these vaccines. And since we don't know which one is the winner, you know, doctors' offices may not have dry ice to handle negative 80 degrees. So these are challenges. Are you prepared to say that you can overcome all those in three months?
DR. ATLAS: Yes, because, at least, I've been briefed on the vaccine, okay? And so all the refrigerators that are necessary – everything is going to be in a place for this.
There is a very detailed logistical plan that was started months ago, and, you know, you're welcome to read it on the web, but basically, yeah, all those things are not a problem really. I mean, if people know how to shop for groceries or go into a store or sit in the restaurants that are open, and use social distancing, I think they can do it for vaccines too.
THE PRESIDENT: And you also have more than one company. You have Johnson & Johnson. You have Pfizer. You have Moderna. You have others. So we could conceivably have vaccines being given out by numerous companies, and they're all world-class companies. They're fantastic companies. That could happen also. Okay?
Yeah, please. Go ahead.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. Are you prepared to sign off on the Oracle and TikTok deal, even though the Treasury isn't getting paid? And also, does the deal meet your requirements in terms of national security concerns?
THE PRESIDENT: Okay, they're giving me studies on the deal. It has to be 100 percent as far as national security is concerned. And, no, I'm not prepared to sign off on anything. I have to see the deal.
We need security, especially after what we've seen with respect to China and what's going on. We want security. So I'll let you know. They're going to be reporting to me tomorrow morning, and I will let you know.
Q And what about the payment?
THE PRESIDENT: The what?
Q What about the payment to the Treasury?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we're going to see about that. Amazingly, I find that you're not allowed to do that. You're not allowed to accept – and I said, "What kind of a gov- – what kind of a thing is? If they're willing to make big payments to the government, they're not allowed, because there's no – there's no way of doing that from a – there's no legal path to doing that. And I'm saying, "Wait a minute. They're willing to make a big payment to the government and we're not allowed to take the money? When does this happen? How foolish can we be?" So we're going to – we're looking into that right now. You understand that.
In other words, I said, "No, I want a big chunk of that money to go to the United States government because we made it possible. And the lawyers come back to me and they say, "Well, there's no way of doing that." You know why? Because nobody has ever heard of that before. Nobody has ever said that before. Nobody has ever said, "Well, we'll approve the deal, but we want a lot of money to go to the government because by approving the deal, we're making the deal valuable." They've never heard of that before. Okay? Can you believe that? Right? Hard to believe.
Yeah, please. Go ahead.
Q Just a quick follow-up on TikTok. You had said earlier that it was really important to you that a U.S. company buy TikTok. And according to the proposal submitted by ByteDance, ByteDance would keep a majority stake and Oracle would have a minority stake.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we're going to find out about that. We're looking into that from the standpoint of ByteDance. We don't like that. I mean, just conceptually, I can tell you I don't like that. That has not been told to me yet. That has been reported, but it hasn't been told to me. It could be very accurate reporting for a change. So if that's the case, I'm not going to be happy with that – assuming that ByteDance is China, which I think it probably is.
Yeah. Yeah, in the back, please.
Q Thanks, Mr. President. Bill Barr told prosecutors that he wants to charge violent demonstrators with sedition. And you told Judge Jeanine that if there's violent demonstrations on Election Night, "We'll put them down very quickly if they do that. Look, it's called the Insurrection." So I'm wondering why you want to use that kind of rhetoric when there's such a volatile (inaudible).
THE PRESIDENT: Well, the question was asked to me about if you have violent demonstrations: Yes, we will put it down very, very quickly if there is. Absolutely.
Q Are you making plans –
THE PRESIDENT: And I think the American public wants to see that.
Yeah. OAN, please.
Q What preparations are you making for violence on Election Night?
THE PRESIDENT: OAN. Yeah, please. Go ahead.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. With regards –
THE PRESIDENT: No, just to finish – look, if there's any kind of demonstration or violence, there will be nothing that interferes with this project – product – this – this vote. There's going to be nothing.
The biggest problem we have right now are the ballots. Millions of ballots going out; that's the biggest problem. When you talk about other countries, whether it's China, Russia, or many others that get mentioned, they're in a much better position with these paper ballots to do something than they would ever be under the old system. And that's our biggest problem.
Our biggest threat to this election is governors from opposing parties controlling ballots, millions of ballots. To me, that's a much bigger threat than foreign countries, because much of the stuff coming out about foreign countries turned out to be untrue.
What is – what is true is that many elections have taken place over the last year and a half, using this ballot system. They've been off by 5 percent, 10 percent, 15 percent; I think I read one at 40 percent – 40 percent. And these are small, easy-to-control elections.
This whole ballot system where you can send it in, and it's not even requested – we're not talking about it solicited; they're unsolicited ballots, and they're sent in – is very dangerous for our country. And you know who knows that better than anybody? The Democrats. Look at what happened in Manhattan, where they had this kind of an election, and it was so fraudulent that it should never have been allowed to be called.
We could have 5, 10, 15, 20 percent off; we could have more than that. The ballots will be stolen. Who knows where they're going. Who knows where they're coming from. It's not just the counting of the ballots, which – by the way, which will take forever. It'll take forever. You think November 3rd? You might not have – I guess, at a certain point, it goes to Congress. You know, at a certain point, it goes to Congress. You know that.
This is a disgrace. This is being done on purpose. They know it's no good. They know it's – it's going to be fraudulent. It's going to be fraud all over the place. Who's getting the ballots? Who's sending the ballots? They have people saying you don't need a verified signature. This is a serious threat to our democracy, and the Democrats know that.
All we're asking: If you solicit the ballot – you go through a process – you ask for a ballot because you can't be there for a large number of reasons, for whatever re- – I'm doing it myself. I won't be able to be in Florida. You solicit and they send it back. You do it, and you send it back. That's a process that you go through. And it's pretty secure. I use the word "pretty" secure. I guess nothing is foolproof.
But what's pretty close to what – the most foolproof thing, the thing that really works is you go to the ballot box. It's going to be very safe. I think by that time, COVID will be even lower. It's going to be very low. It's going to be a very safe process. We did it during World War One. We did it during World War Two.
The biggest threat to this election is these unsolicited ballots sent out by the millions, controlled by governors like in Nevada, who is a political person – very political, far beyond being governor – where they tried to stop you from making a speech, unsuccessfully, but we had to move around a lot, had to move quickly.
So the same guy that tried to stop you from making free speech outside – outside, not inside; outside – they forced us inside because of what they did – but outside. This is the guy that's controlling ballots.
Then you look at Pennsylvania. You look at other places. It is a big threat. And as far as China is concerned and Russia and they say North Korea, they say Iran, they say places. Who knows? Who knows? But they say all these different places.
They can make forgeries of these ballots. They can do things that will blow your mind. And the Democrats know it's wrong. They know it's going to end up being a disaster. Just take a look at what's happened. Take a look at what's happened over the last year with this same kind of thing, except in a very small setting with very few ballots going out, so that's much easier; not 53 to 80 million going out. A very small number.
And you know what's happened? Fraud like you've never seen. Missing ballots. Ballots that never showed up. Ballots with bad signatures. Ballots with no signatures. And in the case of Nevada, they don't even want verification of the signature. It's a disgrace.
Now, the hope for our nation is: It's before judges. In Pennsylvania, it's before judges. In Nevada, it's before judges. In other places it's before federal judges. And hopefully they'll do what they did the other day in Pennsylvania where we had a great victory.
Open up your state. It's unconstitutional to close it. Because what they were doing is closing it, and they're closing it for political reasons. It'll open on November 4th. It'll open up right after the election. But they want people to – they want our numbers to be as bad as possible, but the problem is our numbers are so good with or without various states opening up. With or without.
But we had a big legal victory, as you know, three days ago. A federal judge told them to open up their state. "It's unconstitutional what you're doing." That's in the case of Pennsylvania.
Now the big cases are going to be the cases on these unsolicited ballots. And we'll see what happens.
All right. OAN, please.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. On the grounds that the Chinese Communist Party has been using slave labor in Xinjiang, your administration has imposed a limited ban on certain products coming out of Xinjiang, stopping short of a full region ban. What is your response to the Chinese Communist Party's spokespeople who are saying that this is an outright lie. Xinjiang does not have forced labor.
And number two, have allies expressed interest in standing with this administration in taking action against forced labor imposed by the Communist Party?
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah, we don't want to see that. We've been very strong on that. We're getting reports in. Over the next two or three days, we'll know very accurately what the story is, and we'll then take action one way or the other.
Q Yes, I just wanted to ask you about the WTO's recent ruling against the United States over $200 billion in tariffs on China. Should the U.S. remain part of the WTO?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I have real questions about it. Look, the U.S. – we just won a seven-and-a-half-billion-dollar lawsuit, which – nobody used to sue before I came along, you know – or they used to lose them every single time. Now they haven't been losing them.
But we're getting reports on the WTO. It's – it's not good. Never been good to us. The WTO, as far as I'm concerned, was created to suck money and jobs out of the United States to the benefit of China and other countries – that's what my opinion is – whether it was created or it just turned out to be that way.
But the World Trade Organization has been not good for the United States. It's been good for everybody else, but it's not been good. It was a method, in my opinion, of taking advantage of the United States. So we're looking into what happened, and we'll let – we'll get back to you fast.
Q Two questions. One, you said you spoke with Dr. Redfield earlier, and you said that he made a mistake. Did –
THE PRESIDENT: I think he made a mistake. Yeah, but we didn't – I didn't go into any great dif- – I was – I was very surprised to hear it. It doesn't really matter.
Here's what does matter: We're all set to distribute immediately. As soon as that vaccine comes out that's safe and good and works – whether it's Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, or anybody else – we are ready to distribute it very rapidly. As Scott said and as our team knows – and they're ready. And that could be on – it could be in October, sometime in October or November. I don't think it's going to be much later than that. But I think it could be sometime in October. We're ready to move, and it'll be a very full distribution.
Q So you all had the call. You said that you told him that he had made a mistake. What was his response and did he acknowledge that?
THE PRESIDENT: No, I didn't tell him anything. I said, "What happened?" And I got the impression that he didn't realize he said what he might have said. I didn't see him say it. But if that's what he said, it's a mistake because here's – so, ready? We're ready to distribute immediately to a vast section of our country – and then beyond, because we want to help other countries also. But we're ready to distribute immediately.
Q But the timeline that he gave, saying that it wouldn't be ready for the general public until the middle of next year, sounds very like the one that you, kind of, just offered.
DR. ATLAS: No. No, I said that there'll be 700 million doses by end of Q1, and everyone in high risk will have it some- – no later than January.
Q Yeah, he was talking – he said the general public –
DR. ATLAS: That's what I said.
Q – for next year.
THE PRESIDENT: No – we are focused, as you know –
Q He wasn't talking about high-risk or the healthcare (inaudible) workers –
THE PRESIDENT: Kaitlan, we're focused on high-risk, but we're going to focus also on general public very much. But we are – our immediate aim is elderly people, and especially elderly people with heart, diabetes problems. But we will have it – this is – we're not looking at a small distribution program; we're looking at distributing to the whole United States with an immediate focus of the elderly.
Now, under no circumstance, will it be as late as the doctor said. But I think that, frankly, if he analyzes – you know, they hit him with that question. He said that. We are ready at a much faster level than what he said. We will have rapid distribution. We're set up – our military and others are set up to do it, and we think it could even start taking place in October, but certainly during November, December would be the latest. Because, based on what we're hearing, results are – based on what I'm hearing, results are very good. So we'll see what happens.
Q Okay. So my last question is: You told Bob Woodward the problem with a vaccine is a vaccine will take 13 to 14 months once you have because you have to test a vaccine. So do you want to clarify what you told Bob Woodward?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, what I was – what I was saying to him – no, that was a long time ago when I said that. I didn't – we weren't set up at that time.
Q It wasn't that long ago.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, how many months ago? When was the statement made?
Q He doesn't say in the book when it was made.
THE PRESIDENT: You know, his book is, sort of, obsolete because the book comes out –
Q But he only started interviewing you in December.
THE PRESIDENT: By the way, I read the book last night – very rapidly because it was very boring. I read it. And if you see what I said, I said a lot of really good things. I mean, for the most part, people like to turn it around, but I said really good things in that book.
And as an example, he doesn't cover – I told him what we're doing in the Middle East, and we're doing it in an entirely different way. And that's not covered in his book. The whole thing isn't covered in his book.
And one thing I will say – and I respect the press for this one, which was interesting – almost universally, we've been praised for the deal that we made yesterday with Israel and with, you know, the two very important countries in the Middle East. And UAE, in particular, where it's a very powerful group. It's a warrior country. It's led by a great warrior and a man who's highly respected. And if you take a look at that and Bahrain and Israel making a deal – and I will tell you, we have at least four or five others that want to come in. They would've come in yesterday. I talked to two of them yesterday, and they're ready to trot.
And I think you're going to have a whole level of peace without blood all over the sand. Nobody was shot. Nobody was killed. We killed hundreds of thousands of people in the Middle East. It's all – it's been – it's – I always say, it's – it's the bloodiest sand anywhere in the world, and it didn't have to be that way. The single-worst decision our country ever made was to go into the Middle East. Not only the millions of people killed – and I include people on both sides. You know, some people say, "Oh, you shouldn't say that." I'll say it: "on both sides." Such a horrible thing was done. Such a horrible mistake was made.
We're doing this a different way. So we have those two countries. We have at least five that we're negotiating with right now. And, you know, you can only negotiate with so many. I think they're all going to come in.
I think, ultimately, the Palestinians are going to come in. These are all the people that are funding them. You know, I stopped funding the Palestinians fairly early on, because they were saying bad things about our country. I said, "Well, you mean we're giving them $750 million a year, and they're saying all bad things about our country?" So I stopped funding them very early on. But they get funded by other very rich countries. To them, it's like a speck; it's nothing. But they get funded.
And – but I think now that these countries – these very rich countries are part of the deal, and they're going – you'll see, over the next fairly short period of time, other countries will come in. I think Saudi Arabia, ultimately, will come in too. I think getting Saudi Arabia will be great. But I think Saudi Arabia – this is my feeling; it's not based on knowledge, other than a couple of conversations I had with the king. But Saudi Arabia, I think, will be coming in too.
And you'll end up with peace in the Middle East. And nobody thought it could be done, and nobody thought it could be done this way.
I went to some very smart people. I went to some people in the Middle East, and they said, "You'll never be able to do it. It's not possible to make peace." Well, now they're saying to me, "Nobody ever thought of doing this." They all thought you make the deal first with the Palestinians; it had to be that way.
And I will say the resistance was: Some countries didn't want to do it unless the Palestinians were there first. That was just a psychological thing more than anything else, but they were wrong. Those coun- – the people – our great representatives that have been doing this for 35 years that were telling me how to do it – but they all failed. They were Clinton's administration, they were in Bush, they were in Obama – all these great, brilliant people. They're all telling me how to do it, and I said, "They're wrong." And I guess I was right. And –
Q Okay, but on this vaccine (inaudible) –
THE PRESIDENT: And when you see – let me ju- – well, let's talk – finish this. When you see the countries that will be coming – a very short period of time; not talking in a long period of time – all of the countries that will be coming in, just like you saw – Bahrain yesterday, and UAE, and I can think of, I mean, at least five that are going to be quick and easy. Others will be quick and easy also, once the five comes – come in.
So you're going to have something; you're going to peace in the Middle East. And we want to get out, you know. We want to – our soldiers are largely coming home. I said they're – the endless wars; the ridiculous, endless wars.
And I will say this: If I didn't withdraw our country from that horrible Iran nuclear deal – that horrible, stupid deal, where President Obama paid $150 billion for nothing and gave $1.8 billion in cash – $1.8 billion. You know what that is? $1.8 billion in cash. That's more impressive than the $150 billion paid normally.
But he gave all this money, all of this – all of these chips that we had. We had these chips, and he gave them all away. And we got nothing. And, you know, it was a short-term deal. It would be practically expiring now. It would be practically – it starts to expire, actually, right now. But it would practically be –
And there is no way we will let Iran have a nuclear weapon. Just remember that. There's no way that's going to happen.
Q Are you reversing the statement? You never answered about the statement. Just – I'll just let you go after this, but do you want to reverse what you told Woodward about the 13- to 14-month timeline for a vaccine?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, the vaccine – at the time, I thought it might take that period of time, but we've stepped it up very substantially.
And now – I mean, I'm just telling you the – this is just what it is. We've been able to step it up very, very rapidly. I never thought we could have a vaccine as quickly as we did, but I freed it up. I freed up the FDA. Dr. Hahn has done a great job. And they're ready to approve something when they come in.
The other thing that's happening that's very different is – you look at a company like Pfizer, a great company – really, one of the great companies of the world. Johnson & Johnson. They're all great companies. They're doing a lot of testing at a very rapid rate that nobody has ever seen anything like it. You know, they're out in third – they're in the third level of trial. And I think that you're going to see things that are amazing.
When I made statements like that – that's an old statement. When I made statements like that, I had no idea that we could produce as well as we're producing. But only because of what I've done with the FDA and other things can we come up with numbers like that. We're lucky that we don't have to, because that was considered fast.
If this were a – an administration from the past – and I think I can say "far beyond Obama," if – it was other administrations also – you wouldn't have a vaccine for two and a half, three years. And we're going to have a vaccine within, at most, a couple of months.
Q Mr. President, if I could ask you about coronavirus relief: Do you support the Problem Solvers Caucus proposal that was put forward?
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah –
Q Are you comfortable with the –
THE PRESIDENT: – something like that.
Q – $500 billion for the states?
THE PRESIDENT: Something like that. Yeah, I like the larger amount. I've said that, you know. Some of the Republicans disagree, but I think I can convince them to go along with it because I like the larger number.
I want to see people get money. I want to see – it wasn't their fault that this happened. It was China's fault, you know? People say, "Oh, maybe you shouldn't say that. That's not nice." It was China's fault.
So I'd like to see the larger number. Yeah, I would like to see it. There are some things I disagree with, but I'm sure they can be negotiated.
Q On that point –
THE PRESIDENT: Now, I heard Nancy Pelosi said she doesn't want to leave until we have an agreement. She's come a long way. That's great. If she said that, she's come a long way.
I agree with her. We should have an agreement. People should be helped, and they should be helped as rapidly as possible. And I think it's going to happen. I think it's very important.
So the Problem Solvers came up with – it's a group of people in Congress, as you know. You know them all. I know them all. They're very good people. I guess you'd consider them dead center. But in many cases, they're not. They're left. They're right. But they came up with this idea, and I think they're well on their way to suggesting some pretty good things.
Q So in terms of things –
THE PRESIDENT: I agree with a lot of it.
Q In terms of things that you don't agree, are you comfortable with the $500 billion?
THE PRESIDENT: I think the things I don't agree we can probably negotiate. But I think we've made some progress over the last week, and I think it was positive that they came out with that report.
Q So, just to button this up, would you endorse that proposal?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, not that proposal, but we're getting closer. We're getting closer.
I do like a lot of money getting sent to people that really were – really were hurt unnecessarily by China, because they could have stopped it. They stopped it from going into their country. They could have stopped it from coming to our country and from going to Europe and from going to the rest of the world – 188 different countries from all over the world.
Q Mr. President, the director of the CDC also testified today that a mask, in his estimation, is guaran- –
THE PRESIDENT: The mask.
Q – is guaranteed to protect the American public more from the coronavirus than a vaccine. You have, as detailed, poured a lot of resources into a vaccine development. Why not devote your energy –
THE PRESIDENT: And to masks.
Q Then why not devote your energy now to a campaign to have all Americans wear a mask – something that if – if more effective than a vaccine, would also help schools and the economy?
THE PRESIDENT: Okay, number one, it's not more effective, by any means, than a vaccine. And I called him about that. Those were the two things I ta- – I discussed with him. And I believe that if you ask him, he would probably say that he didn't understand the question. Because I said to him – I asked him those two questions: the one question which we covered and the mask question.
And – and I was inaccurately covered, because I was on with George last night – George Stephanopoulos. And I enjoyed it. I think people enjoyed it. I got – you know, a lot of people said very good things about the show. I hope they did well. But they said a lot of good things about the show, but they always cut my sentences off. You know, they cut it off.
On masks – masks have problems, too. And I talked about the masks about to be handled very gently, very carefully. I see that, in restaurants, they have people with masks and they're playing around with their mask, and they have it – their fingers are in their mask and then they're serving with plates. I mean, I think there's a lot of problems with masks.
No, vaccine is much more effective than the masks. And if we get the vaccine, we have – added to the fact that our numbers are going way down. You know, you see the numbers. I'm just reading you statistics that are from wherever they get them. But they're very highly qualified statistics.
But no, the mask is not as important as the vaccine. The va- – the mask, perhaps, helps. Don't forget: A lot of people didn't like the concept of masks initially. Dr. Fauci didn't like them, and a lot of people didn't. And I'm not knocking anybody, because I understand both sides of the argument.
But when I called up Robert today, I said to him, "What's with the masks?" He said, "I think I answered that question incorrectly." I think maybe he misunderstood it. I mean, you know, you have two questions; maybe he misunderstood both of them. But the answer to the one is it's going to be a much faster distribution than he said. Maybe he's not aware of the distribution process. It's not really his thing as much as it would be, let's say, mine. But the distribution is going to be much faster.
As far as the mask is concerned, I hope that the vaccine is going to be a lot more beneficial than the masks because people have used the masks. But when I looked at that chart that we put up, if you look, you know, we write – if you do the good job – they had, I guess, 240,000. But if you do the good – if it worked out well – now, look, one death is too much. One death is too much; should have never happened. But the lower level was at that 240,000 – between a hundred and something and 240,000.
As far as the mask is concerned, he made a mistake.
Q But on the masks, I mean, perhaps they are a part of the role for the decrease in cases because they are effective, as you just said. So I know you've worn it a few –
THE PRESIDENT: No, they may be effective.
Q Right, sure.
THE PRESIDENT: And I wear them when I'm in a hospital or when I'm in a setting with a lot of –
Q But my question is: Why not wear it more often or have the White House staff wear it more often to set an example for the country?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I'm tested, and I'm sometimes surprised when I see somebody sitting and – like, with Joe. Joe feels very safe in a mask. I don't know, maybe he doesn't want to expose his face. I don't know what's going on. He'll be way away from people, nowhere near people – there will be nobody with him. He doesn't draw any crowds. He'll have circles. These big circles. They'll be way far away. There's no reason for him to have masks on.
We get tested – I'm tested; I have people tested. When people come into the Oval Office, it's like a big deal. No matter who they are – if they're heads of countries, they all get tested. So I'm in sort of a different position. And maybe if I wasn't in that position, I'd be wearing it more. But I've worn masks. And especially I like to wear them when I'm in hospital. Not for me so much as for other people. Okay? Thanks.
Q I have two questions, Mr. President. One is for Dr. Atlas. Dr. Atlas, you mentioned minorities would be the first focus of the distribution. How would that exactly work in practice when it's being distributed specifically to minorities?
And then, secondly, for you, Mr. –
THE PRESIDENT: Well, he didn't say "minorities"; he said "minorities and senior citizens."
Q Well, he said the focus –
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah.
Q Sure. Sure. But can you talk us through a bit more on the focus on distributing to minorities and how that would work?
And then for you, Mr. President, you mentioned the drop in the poverty rate. Specifically, we noticed at – just the news that the poverty rate for African Americans hit historic lows, that the household wealth increased historically for African Americans. What was driving that increase in wealth for African Americans?
And now, in 2020, with the coronavirus, with unemployment spiking, what would be your plan for the second term to improve lives for African Americans?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I'll go first, because of your question – I appreciate your question. And yeah, we've had a tremendous drop in poverty for all people in our nation, but in particular for African Americans. And that statistic came in. And it's because the African American community, the black community has had the lowest – the best employment numbers that we've ever had – both employment and unemployment, depending on how you want to define it.
But we've had the best employment numbers we've ever had. Now, we had the greatest employment in the country ever – almost 160 million people. We've never been close to that number, but we were just six months ago.
And yeah, the – I'm very proud of the numbers. African Americans, Hispanic Americans – they had the best numbers they've ever had, by far – both employment and unemployment, depending on definition.
Thank you very much for that question. Scott, do you want to answer that too?
DR. ATLAS: Okay. Yeah, so what I – to clarify, I said that the first prioritization is the high-risk people and frontline healthcare workers.
But just to reiterate, what I said, there are 51,000 outlets for distribution for vaccination, and there's over 14,000 federally qualified health centers that are particularly targeted to minority and low-income areas. So that's a focus.
And I want to point out two other things. We're also prioritizing testing historically black colleges and universities and we're in the process of getting that finalized because we know that there's high – there's a higher morbidity with – in certain ethnic groups.
And last thing I would say is it's particularly heinous – an egregious abuse of the media to instill fear into people about taking a vaccine, because there is no shortcut here. Everything is safe. Everything is effective. And for people who have particularly an influence on minority communities to instill fear and doubt is a particularly, you know, outrageous abuse of public policy and of leadership. These are people that have higher risk.
And so I implore everyone who is in a high-risk category that when we get a safe, effective vaccine, they should take the vaccine.
THE PRESIDENT: I will say, this is a phenomena that only happened when they realized that we may very well have the vaccine prior to a certain very important date, namely November 3rd. Once they heard that, the Democrats started – just to show you how bad the intention is, they started knocking the vaccine. Had nothing to do with a vaccine, it was totally made up. It's all disinformation.
Just like they put an ad in about football. Just like they put – with respect to me. I'm the one that got football back. And I was always against them going out. It was ridiculous that Big 10 and now, hopefully, Pac-10 [sic] goes back.
And I say that, just like – even worse, they put out a totally fake ad, totally made-up story. It was a made-up story by a third-rate magazine, where the head guy – I guess, the head person – I have no idea who he is; I don't know him, but he's friends with Obama and Clinton. So they made up this horrible story, and then they did ads. Well, they made up this story too.
This story is very simple: They started knocking the vaccine as soon as they heard that this actually may come out prior to election. Now, it may or may not, but it'll be within a matter of weeks. It will be within a matter of weeks from November. It's ready to go and it's ready to – for massive distribution to everybody – with a focus, again, on seniors.
And I will say, also, the historically black colleges and universities, we are doing, at my suggestion – because they have had a difficult problem there – we are doing more testing there and finer testing. We have our – our great apparatus there.
But we – when you look at what we've done on testing, in terms of the technology and the amount, it's been really amazing. In fact, I think we're going to crack 100 million tests very soon, in the very near future. We're going to be cracking 100 million tests.
Now what that does do is it shows up more cases. If we didn't test, we wouldn't have cases. You would have no cases. Other countries, they don't test; they don't have cases. And then they say, "Oh, the United States…" Well – but we're proud of it because it shows where there may be a problem, and it helps people. But we're doing tremendous testing at the historically black colleges and universities. And that was a suggestion I made, and I think it's a good – I think it's a good suggestion.
Yeah, please, go ahead.
Q Yes, thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Go ahead.
Q The core of Vice President Biden's argument is that you don't trust the scientists; you don't listen to them. And here, up on the podium today, you're twice contradicting the director of your own CDC on the science, who testified before Congress today.
THE PRESIDENT: No, he's contradicting himself.
Q Why should the American people –
THE PRESIDENT: I think he misunderstood the questions.
Q Well, he was testifying under oath. Why should –
THE PRESIDENT: You know what I think?
Q – the American people –
THE PRESIDENT: I think he misunderstood – I told you, I don't have to go through this. I think he misunderstood the questions. But I'm telling you, here's the bottom line: Distribution is going to be very rapid. He may not know that. Maybe he's not aware of that, and maybe he's not dealing with the military, et cetera, like I do. Distribution is going to be very rapid. And the vaccine is going to be very powerful. It's going to solve a tremendous problem. It's going to be very powerful.
Q But how – the broader question is: How can the American people trust you on the pandemic when you're contradicting the head of the CDC in your own administration?
THE PRESIDENT: Because of the great job we've done. Because of the great things we've done in other fields, also.
Because of the fact that we created ventilators. We built ventilators by the thousands and now we're supplying to the world.
Because of all of the incredible work we've done for governors, who are, on every call, saying, "This is incredible. This is great. This is great." Sometimes they're not quite as friendly at a news conference when you have people covering it.
But we have done a phenomenal job on COVID-19, as they like to call it; I call it other things. But we have done a phenomenal job.
I get calls from other people in other countries. They can't believe the job we've done. And then they'll say, "Is there any way that you could get us ventilators?" I say, "How many do you need?" "One thousand ventilators." I said, "We'll be able to take care of it."
We're making thousands of ventilators – very complex, very expensive, very difficult thing to make. We're making thousands a month. The cupboard was bare when I got here.
And I will tell you, our distribution is going to be very rapid and very – it's going to be all-encompassing. We are going to have a focus on certain groups that have problems – senior citizens, et cetera – but it's a very powerful – it's a – it's going to be very powerful distribution. It's going to cover everybody, and it's going to cover them rapidly.
I don't know whether or not the doctor knows that, how much he covers. But I called him because I said, "Why did you say that long?" He wasn't that aware of it. And the other one was the mask. The vaccine is going to have tremendous power. It's going to be extremely strong. It's going to be extremely successful. We're not going to have a problem.
And the mask may help, and I hope it helps, and I think it probably does. But again, the mask is a mixed bag. There are some people – professionals – Scott, you would know a lot of them – but there are some people that don't like the mask, because of the touchiness and the touching and then you're touching everything else. They have – they feel that masks have problems.
So anyway, go ahead, in the back, please.
Q Mr. President, do you have confidence – Mr. President, do you have confidence in Dr. Redfield? Having listening to you –
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah, I – I do. I do. I do.
Q Well, you've just said he keeps getting the answers wrong –
THE PRESIDENT: Well, he gave you some answers –
Q – he misunderstands questions.
THE PRESIDENT: He, sort of, I think, maybe misunderstood a question. But we're beyond that now. We're really in final stages of vaccines. We're getting ready to go phase one on distribution. And I think it may come out even sooner than you think.
I think the vaccine is going to be even better than people thought originally. I think people are going to be really surprised at the success of the vaccine. I think it's going to be a tremendous success. And we're fighting a very powerful party – with a poor candidate, in my opinion – but we're fighting a very, very powerful party, and they're partners with the media, and – because they're working together very closely.
And they only started hitting on the vaccine – when they hit on the vaccine, they only hit on it when they realized that, "Wow, this is amazing. They may have it even before the election." All of a sudden, they didn't like the vaccine so much.
Q Mr. President, one other thing –
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah, in the back, please. Go ahead.
Q Thank you so much, Mr. President. Were you informed about positive coronavirus cases in the White House today?
THE PRESIDENT: You're going to – I cannot hear you, I'm sorry.
Q Were you informed about coronavirus cases – positive cases – in the White House today?
THE PRESIDENT: About today?
Q On your staff.
Q Just – any positive cases today, sir?
THE PRESIDENT: Say it.
Q Are there cases at the White House?
Q Were there positives cases today, sir?
Q There are reports of White House staff members testing positive for coronavirus today.
THE PRESIDENT: Oh, I see. About staff? You mean about –
THE PRESIDENT: I heard about it this morning, at a very small level. Yes. I heard about this morning.
Q How many people?
Q How many?
THE PRESIDENT: I don't know. We can have a report to you if you feel it's necessary.
Q Were they yesterday at the event?
THE PRESIDENT: But it's a small – it's – last night, I heard about it for the first time. And it's a small number of cases. Maybe it's not even cases.
Do you know if – do you have any idea if there's –
MS. MCENANY: Yeah.
THE PRESIDENT: What is it?
MS. MCENANY: There – yes, but we're not going to confirm the identities of the individuals.
THE PRESIDENT: Yeah, that's okay.
MS. MCENANY: Yes, but it did not affect the event and press was not around the individual.
Q How many?
THE PRESIDENT: And it's not anybody that was near me.
Q How many?
Q Mr. President, how many people?
Q Was it at the event last night?
THE PRESIDENT: A very – from what I heard, a very small number. I think you can probably give the number out later on when you find out what it might be.
MS. MCENANY: Yeah, it's one person.
THE PRESIDENT: One person?
Q One person?
THE PRESIDENT: It was one person. Okay.
Q In Philadelphia? In Philadelphia? Was the –
THE PRESIDENT: It was one person. That's – I mean, so not too much. Not a person that I was associated with.
Thank you very much everybody. Thank you. Thank you very much.
6:16 P.M. EDT
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