Remarks by President Trump and President Rebelo de Sousa of the Portuguese Republic Before Bilateral Meeting
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you very much. It’s a great honor to have the President — and highly respected, I must say — President of Portugal with us. We have a tremendous relationship with Portugal for a long time, and I would say it’s never been better than it is right now.
So I just want to welcome you and your delegation. It is a country of great beauty and great people. And so thank you.
And if you don’t mind, I’ll just make a quick statement of a man I also have great respect for, Justice Anthony — you know who I’m talking about. Justice Kennedy will be retiring. And he is a man that I’ve known for a long time and a man that I’ve respected for a long time. He’s been a great justice of the Supreme Court. He is a man who is displaying great vision. He’s displayed tremendous vision and tremendous heart. And he will be missed, but he will be retiring.
And we will begin our search for a new justice of the United States Supreme Court. That will begin immediately. And hopefully we’re going to pick somebody who will be as outstanding.
So I just want thank Justice Kennedy for the years of tremendous service. He’s a very spectacular man. Really, a spectacular man. And I know that he will be around, hopefully for a long time, to advise. And I believe he’s going to be teaching and doing other things. So thank you to Justice Kennedy. Okay? Thank you.
Q Who will you pick to replace him, sir?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, we have, obviously, numerous people. We have a list of 25 people that I actually had during my election. I had 20, and as you know, I added 5 a little while ago. We have a very excellent list of great talented, highly educated, highly intelligent — hopefully, tremendous — people. I think the list is very outstanding.
When I was running, I put down a list of 20 people. Because not being a politician, I think people wanted to hear what some of my choices may be, and it was pretty effective. And I think you see the kind of quality that we’re looking at when you look at that list. But I did add — I added five additional people to the list. So it will be somebody from that list. So we have now boiled it down to about 25 people.
Q Mr. President, (inaudible) to the World Cup with President Putin, the final?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes —
Q And who are you supporting in the World Cup?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: No, I will tell you, we fought very hard to get it here. I think they’re doing a fantastic job with the World Cup right now. It’s in Russia, and I will tell you that it’s exciting. My son loves soccer, and he loves watching the World Cup. And they have really done a fantastic job with the World Cup. It’s exciting even if you’re a non-soccer fan. I’m a soccer fan a little bit, but I don’t have much time.
Q Who are you rooting for?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: But — well, I’m rooting for everybody to do well. But I think the venue has been fantastic. They really have shown something very special.
I fought very hard to get it to the United States, Mexico, and Canada, as you probably have heard. And we were honored to be chosen. And this is a great gentleman and a great soccer fan too. But we were very honored to be chosen for the World Cup. So we look forward to that.
Q Mr. President, will you meet with President Putin, sir? And where?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Most likely. John Bolton is over there now. He’s over in Russia right now. I just saw, watching media, that he’s met with President Putin. I haven’t gotten the full report yet. But it would look like we will probably be meeting sometime in the not-too-distant future.
And I’ve said it from day one: Getting along with Russia and with China and with everybody is a very good thing. It’s good for the world, it’s good for us, it’s good for everybody. So we’ll probably be meeting sometime around my trip to Europe.
Q Do you know where?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: No, it hasn’t been determined yet. Probably, I will know within an hour.
Q And what about the injunction on immigration? Will you fight that — the California judge who says reunited families must be put together within a month?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, we’re going to see. But we believe that families should be together also. So there’s not a lot to fight. But we believe families have to be together.
But what we really do is we believe in very strong borders, no crime. And the Democrats believe in open borders and plenty of crime, because that’s what you get with the open borders.
I would like to introduce, however, the President of Portugal. And I’m sorry to bother you, but in our country, the selection of a justice of the United States Supreme Court is considered, I think we can all say, one of the most important events — one of the most important things for our country. I mean, you see the decisions that just came down, how big they are, how vital they are. And they can swing different ways depending on who it might — whom there might be in the courts. So it’s always been considered a tremendous — a tremendously important thing.
Some people think outside of, obviously, war and peace, it’s the most important thing that you could have. But another very important thing is introducing the President — the highly respected, I must say — President of Portugal. Thank you.
PRESIDENT REBELO DE SOUSA: Thank you. Thank you, President. Well, as a constitutional law professor —
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Oh, very good.
PRESIDENT REBELO DE SOUSA: — I know how important it is when a justice in your Supreme Court retires, because it’s a key institution for your country. So I just heard the news, and I imagine how important it is for you and for any United States President.
Anyway, I’d like to tell you that we have a very long-lasting friendship and partnership —
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Yes.
PRESIDENT REBELO DE SOUSA: — that started the moment we recognized you. We were the first neutral country to recognize the United States of America’s independence, although we had as our oldest ally, England.
So it was courageous at that time.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: That’s right.
PRESIDENT REBELO DE SOUSA: And, I don’t know if you know it, but your Founding Fathers celebrated independence with our wine — with Madeira wine. They made a toast —
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Good taste.
PRESIDENT REBELO DE SOUSA: — with our wine, Madeira wine. It’s a long, long story, this one, of our friendship and partnership based on common values, democracy and freedom and rule of law and human rights, but also of a very strong community, of fellow citizens that are both American and Portuguese and they love United States of America and they love Portugal.
There are around 1,500,000 Portuguese Luso-Americans living here. They’re very important. So it’s not just a military, a political, and an economic alliance. It’s more than that. It’s something very human, because we’re speaking of a 1,400,000 people that they live their love for two countries at the same time.
As you spoke of soccer, let me then ask you something — well, make you a suggestion.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Go ahead.
PRESIDENT REBELO DE SOUSA: If you’re going to meet Mr. Putin — well, I was with him last week.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Good.
PRESIDENT REBELO DE SOUSA: Yes. And he asked me to greet you. So, of course, he was expecting your visit.
But anyway, don’t forget that Portugal has the best player in the world that is called Cristiano Ronaldo.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Oh, okay.
PRESIDENT REBELO DE SOUSA: I’m sure your son knows it and —
PRESIDENT TRUMP: He knows all about him.
PRESIDENT REBELO DE SOUSA: And so — and so, don’t forget if you ever go to Russia during the championship, don’t forget Portugal is still there and wanting to win the championship.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: That’s right. They’re doing very well.
PRESIDENT REBELO DE SOUSA: Yes.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: And they say he is doing —
PRESIDENT REBELO DE SOUSA: — and doing very, very, very well.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: That’s very good. And so tell me, how good a player is he? Are you impressed?
PRESIDENT REBELO DE SOUSA: I’m very much impressed. He’s the best player in the world, Cristiano Ronaldo. So in a sense — well, I think, has been a success. I do agree with you — the championship Yeah.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Yeah, great. No. No. I think — I think (inaudible) —
PRESIDENT REBELO DE SOUSA: No doubt about it for the world — for the world.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: So will Cristian ever run for President against you? (Laughter.) He wouldn’t win. You know he won’t
PRESIDENT REBELO DE SOUSA: President, you know — you know something — I must tell you, Portugal is not just United States.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: That’s right. That’s right.
PRESIDENT REBELO DE SOUSA: It’s a little different.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Yes, go ahead.
Q Mr. President, when did you learn that Justice Kennedy would be retiring?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: About a half hour ago.
Q Were you surprised?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: He came to the White House. We had a wonderful discussion just prior to meeting the President and really had a very deep discussion. I got his ideas on things, including — I asked him if he had certain people that he had great respect for that potentially could take his seat — which is a very hard seat to fill.
So we talked about different things. And he was here for about a half an hour. I don’t think you folks saw him come in and out, did you? I’m shocked. Boy, they’ve done a great job. That’s a shocker. That’s a shocker.
But, yeah, we had a — he just left a little while ago, just prior to meeting the President.
Q Will you tell us who he recommended? Will you give us any sense of —
PRESIDENT TRUMP: No, I won’t do that. But he has — you know, there are certain names that are just outstanding — names that you already know, to be honest with you. I mean, there are names that you know that are outstanding, highly respected — names that you would know, President. And we’ll be looking at them; we’ll be looking at some others. But they will come from the list of 25 people. Okay?
Q Mr. President, it’s an election year. Would you give consideration to holding that spot open until the makeup of Congress is determined come November?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I haven’t really thought about that. I think you want to go as quickly as possible. It’s a process, but haven’t really thought of that. But we had a big day yesterday, very big. We had a great decision today, in terms of what was just released by the Supreme Court. Yesterday, obviously, with the travel ban was extremely big.
And we had some tremendous elections. South Carolina, from my own standpoint, South Carolina — the governor, McMaster — It was a big win. And as you know, I was very much involved in New York with the Congressman, Donovan.
So we’re very happy. We’re — this was a good few days, and now I get to cap it off by meeting with the President of Portugal. And Portugal has been actually very important to our nation. And you’re right, we have about a million and a half people from Portugal here. So that’s very important.
Q Do you have a message to House Republicans who have failed to pass the immigration bill earlier?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: No, I want them to do what they wanted. You know, the problem we have — and I told them this morning, I said, “Hey, pass it, if you can.” But I also want them to do what they want. We have a big immigration bill, like everybody does — like you’re talking and everybody talks about immigration now, I think, more than ever before.
I told them — a few hours ago, I said, “Look, pass something or come back with something that would be a derivation, but get something you want.” The problem we have is we need Democratic votes in the Senate, and that’s why I don’t get overly excited with the House bill right now, because it’s not going to pass in the Senate. You’re not going to get the Democrats to vote for anything. If we gave them 100 percent of what they wanted, and then doubled it, they still wouldn’t pass it because they think it’s a good election point.
I think it’s good for us because I think strong borders — I don’t even know how you feel about that, but I think strong borders and no crime is — that’s us. And I think that’s going to be a great election point for us.
So I told them two hours ago, I said, “You know, do what you want, and ultimately we’ll come to something.” And perhaps it’ll be after the election, maybe it’ll be before. But as of this moment, Democrats are not going to vote for anything, because they really are resisting or obstructing.
Okay? Thank you very much.
Q John Bolton said he doesn’t expect a specific outcome from your meeting with President Putin. Do you expect an outcome?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, I think we’ll be talking about Syria. I think we’ll be talking about Ukraine. I think we’ll be talking about many other subjects. And we’ll see what happens. So you never know.
Q Election meddling?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: You never know about meetings, what happens. Right? But I think a lot of good things can come with meetings with people. We had great meetings with President Xi of China. We have — every place I’ve been, we have had great meetings. So maybe something positive will come out of it.
Q Mr. President, what about the progressive challenger that beat Joe Crowley, that young woman from New York? Are you worried about a blue wave? Does that —
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, that was a shocker. Losing — for Crowley to lose that election, that was a shocker. I was surprised. Everybody was surprised. We had somebody that’s been in there for many years, Mr. President, and I think he probably took it for granted. And I can’t say that I’m disappointed because I was never a big fan, but he lost his election. Probably shouldn’t have lost his election. Maybe you get a little complacent, you know? That does happen; you get complacent. And he lost. That’s a big loss. I tell you what, that’s an amazing — that was a shocking loss. But it is what it is. Thank you all very much. Thank you.
Q Sir, Mr. President, are you worried your tariffs are backfiring?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: No, they’re doing great. By the way, the steel industry is absolutely doing great. The tariffs have been incredible. And the steel industry is doing great, and our country is doing great. You’re seeing the results. The numbers coming out from the companies are far beyond what anybody ever thought possible. We’re doing really good.
But we have to have fair trade deals, and we working on really fair trade deals. We’re working with your representatives on fair trade deals. So —
PRESIDENT REBELO DE SOUSA: Oh, I heard you’re going to receive President (inaudible). That’s good news.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Yes. Yes. Yes.
PRESIDENT REBELO DE SOUSA: That’s good news. Must speak with (inaudible).
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you everybody.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: They’re working — it’s going to be very good. It’s going be good.
Q And, Mr. President, as far as when you might meet with Putin, will it be after NATO?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Probably after.
Q Right after NATO, you think?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Probably after.
Q Thank you, sir.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you everybody. Thank you very much.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Could be. Or Vienna.
Q Or Vienna?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: It’ll be announced very soon.