President Trump arriving in Florida last week.
SCHMIDT: Explain your North Korea tweet to me today.
TRUMP: Which one?
SCHMIDT: You said about the oil, that China. …
SCHMIDT: What’s going on there. Tell me about that.
TRUMP: Yeah, China. … China’s been. … I like very much President Xi. He treated me better than anybody’s ever been treated in the history of China. You know that. The presentations. … One of the great two days of anybody’s life and memory having to do with China. He’s a friend of mine, he likes me, I like him, we have a great chemistry together. He’s [inaudible] of the United States. …[Inaudible.] China’s hurting us very badly on trade, but I have been soft on China because the only thing more important to me than trade is war. O.K.?
[Cross talk with guests.]
SCHMIDT: Can you finish your thought on North Korea. What’s going on with China?
TRUMP: I’m disappointed. You know that they found oil going into. …
SCHMIDT: But how recently?
TRUMP: It was very recently. In fact, I hate to say, it was reported this morning, and it was reported on Fox. Oil is going into North Korea. That wasn’t my deal!
SCHMIDT: What was the deal?
TRUMP: My deal was that, we’ve got to treat them rough. They’re a nuclear menace so we have to be very tough.
RUDDY: Mr. President, was that a picture from recent or was that months ago? I don’t know. …
TRUMP: Oil is going into North Korea, I know. Oil is going into North Korea. So I’m not happy about it.
SCHMIDT: So what are you going to do?
TRUMP: We’ll see. That I can’t tell you, Michael. But we’ll see. I can tell you one thing: This is a problem that should have been handled for the last 25 years. This is a problem, North Korea. That should have been handled for 25, 30 years, not by me. This should have been handled long before me. Long before this guy has whatever he has.
SCHMIDT: Do you think we’ve been too soft on China on North Korea?
TRUMP: No, look, I like China, and I like him a lot. But, as you know, when I campaigned, I was very tough on China in terms of trade. They made — last year, we had a trade deficit with China of $350 billion, minimum. That doesn’t include the theft of intellectual property, O.K., which is another $300 billion. So, China — and you know, somebody said, oh, currency manipulation. If they’re helping me with North Korea, I can look at trade a little bit differently, at least for a period of time. And that’s what I’ve been doing. But when oil is going in, I’m not happy about that. I think I expressed that in probably [inaudible].
TRUMP, as aides walk by: And, by the way, it’s not a tweet. It’s social media, and it gets out in the world, and the reason I do well is that I can be treated unfairly and very dishonestly by CNN, and, you know, I have — what do have now, John, 158 million, including Facebook, including Twitter, including Instagram, including every form, I have a 158 million people. Reporting just this morning, they said 158 million. So if they a do a story that’s false, I can do something — otherwise, Andy, otherwise you just sort of walk around saying what can I do? What, am I going to have a press conference every time somebody, every time Michael writes something wrong?
So, China on trade has ripped off this country more than any other element of the world in history has ripped off anything. But I can be different if they’re helping us with North Korea. If they don’t help us with North Korea, then I do what I’ve always said I want to do. China can help us much more, and they have to help us much more. And they have to help us much more. We have a nuclear menace out there, which is no good for China, and it’s not good for Russia. It’s no good for anybody. Does that make sense?
SCHMIDT: Yeah, yeah, it makes a lot of sense.
TRUMP: The only thing that supersedes trade to me — because I’m the big trade guy, I got elected to a certain extent on trade. You see, I’m renegotiating Nafta, or I’ll terminate it. If I don’t make the right deal, I’ll terminate Nafta in two seconds. But we’re doing pretty good. You know, it’s easier to renegotiate it if we make it a fair deal because Nafta was a terrible deal for us. We lost $71 billion a year with Mexico, can you believe it? $17 billion with Canada — Canada says we broke even. But they don’t include lumber and they don’t include oil. Oh, that’s not. … [Inaudible,] … My friend Justin he says, “No, no, we break even.” I said, ‘Yeah, but you’re not including oil, and you’re not including lumber.” When you do, you lose $17 billion, and with the other one, we’re losing $71 billion. So the only thing that supersedes trade to me is war. If we can solve the North Korea problem. China cannot. …
SCHMIDT: You still think there’s a diplomatic solution?
TRUMP: China has a tremendous power over North Korea. Far greater than anyone knows.
SCHMIDT: Why haven’t they stood up?
TRUMP: I hope they do, but as of this moment, they haven’t. They could be much stronger.
SCHMIDT: But why not?
TRUMP: China can solve the North Korea problem, and they’re helping us, and they’re even helping us a lot, but they’re not helping us enough. [New York Times]