WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald Trump surprised reporters by walking out onto the White House’s North Lawn, first speaking with Fox News, then with the entire press corps, on a series of topics including immigration, the investigation into the FBI’s actions during the 2016 presidential election, tariffs on Chinese imports and his relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
ABC News streamed the event, known as a “gaggle,” live on Facebook.
Among other things, Trump explained his decision to announce a 25 percent tariff on as much as $50 billion in Chinese imports.
“You know we have the great brain power in Silicon Valley, and China and others steal those secrets. And we’re going to protect those secrets. Those are crown jewels for this country,” Trump said.
“‘There is no trade war. They’ve taken so much,” Trump said in an interview with “Fox & Friends,” also delivered on the North Lawn.
On North Korea, the president addressed a question about whether that country’s leader could someday visit the White House, describing Kim as a powerful man who should not be underestimated.
“Hey, he’s the head of a country, and I mean he is a strong head. Don’t let anyone think any different,” Trump said, adding that when Kim speaks, “his people sit up at attention. I want my people to do the same.”
Later, he told a reporter who asked about the comment that he was “kidding” and that the reporter didn’t “understand sarcasm.”
Trump surprised many Republicans by saying he would not sign a “moderate” immigration bill written by House GOP members. Republicans, including Utah Rep. Mia Love, had championed the legislation as a compromise that would offer a path to citizenship for young people who were brought into the U.S. illegally as children, commonly known as Dreamers. The more moderate version is one of two bills currently under consideration. Both would include stringent border security provisions, but only the compromise measure provides the chance of citizenship for Dreamers.
Trump told reporters he would look at both, but added, “I certainly wouldn’t sign the more moderate one.”
GOP leaders have said Trump backed the compromise before the Friday news conferences.
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