President Trump appeared to suggest that Dr. Ronny Jackson, his pick to take over the Department of Veterans Affairs, might want to withdraw his nomination, amid allegations being investigated by the Veterans' Affairs Committee. While Mr. Trump told reporters he hadn't heard of any particular allegations leveled against Jackson and said he would "always stand behind him," he said he also asked Jackson, "What do you need this for?" "I don't want to put a man through a process like this. It's too ugly and too disgusting, so we'll see what happens," Mr. Trump said at a joint press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron.
"If I were him...I wouldn't do it," the president added. Jackson was the president's choice to take over the role from Secretary David Shulkin, whom he fired last month. Mr. Trump said Jackson was "too fine a person" but added that it was ultimately Jackson's decision if he wants to remain the nominee.
On Tuesday, Senators Johnny Isakson, R-Georgia, and Jon Tester, D-Mont. announced that Jackson's confirmation hearing on Capitol hill would be postponed in light of allegations that include fostering a "hostile work environment and "excessive drinking on the job."
The president also acknowledged concerns of Jackson's lack of experience to lead the VA, but said "nobody has the experience" to lead as large a hospital system as the VA.
Meanwhile, both Macron and Mr. Trump highlighted their differences on the Iran nuclear deal, but Macron expressed interest in working on a "new deal with Iran."
He said the current pact was not a "sufficient deal" but said the two leaders were able to have "frank discussions" on the issue.
However, Macron embraced aspects of the current deal -- for instance, the restriction of Iran's nuclear activity until 2025. He favors a new deal that blocks Iran's nuclear activity through 2025 and also contains Iran's activities in the region. Macron also suggested adding limitations on Iran's ballistic missile program.
"It's about respecting the sovereignty of the states in the region," added Macron. "It's not about tearing apart an agreement but building something new that will cover all of our concerns."
But Mr. Trump was quick to slam the deal again, deriding it as bad for the U.S. He issued a stern warning to Iran's leadership: "We're going to see what happens on the 12th, but Iran threatens us in any way, they will pay a price like few countries have ever paid."
"It will be possible to do a new deal with solid foundations because this is a deal with decayed foundations. It's a bad deal, it's a bad structure, it's falling down and it should have never ever been made," said Mr. Trump.
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Trump defends Ronny Jackson to lead VA
Mr. Trump told reporters he hadn't heard of any particular allegations leveled against White House doctor Ronny Jackson who is nominated to be the next Veterans Affairs secretary. He said, however, he would "always stand behind him."
The president acnkowledged concerns of Jackson's lack of experience to lead the VA, but said "nobody has the experience" to lead as large a hospital system as the VA.
He said he even asked Jackson himself "what do you need this for" despite tapping him to take over the role from former secretary David Shulkin. Mr. Trump said Jackson was "too fine a person" but said it was ultimately Jackson's decision to see if he wants to remain as a nominee.
"I don't want to put a man through a process like this, it's too ugly and too disgusting, so we'll see what happens," Mr. Trump added.
Trump issues warning to Iran
"We're going to see what happens on the 12th but Iran threatens us in any way they will pay a price like few countries have ever paid," he warned.
"It will be possible to do a new deal with solid foundations because this is a deal with decayed foundations, it's a bad deal, it's a bad structure, it's falling down and it should have never ever been made," said Mr. Trump on the Iran deal.
He added, "I blame congress, I blame a lot of people for it. But it should have never been made."
Macron on "Plan B" for iran
"I always said there is the JCPOA but we needed to add three pillars post 2025. I don't know what President Trump will decide on the JCPOA and it is his responsibility," said Macron when asked again on the Iran deal.
"I'm not saying we're moving from one deal to another, I'm saying its one aspect of the problem," Macron said. He added, "I've never been critical [of the JCPOA] because I think we can usefully add to it."
Macron again urged adding limitations on Iran's ballistic missile program and limiting Iran's regional influence to a potential new deal.
"It's about respecting the sovereignty of the states in the region, added Macron. "It's not about tearing apart an agreement but building something new that will cover all of our concerns."
President Trump meanwhile while said the U.S. will not continue to pay for help in the Middle East. He said that too often the U.S. pays the brunt of the cost for issues in the region.
Trump on Syria
Mr. Trump said he'd "love to get out" of Syria but would not provide an updated timeline for withdrawing troops after the coalition strike in the region.
He touted the military's response in the region in driving out terrorist, saying "we've obliterated ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
Trump on "honorable" Kim Jong Un comments
"I hope that we will be able to deal in a very open and honorable fashion with North Korea, I started a process and when i did everyone thought I was doing it absolutely wrong," said Mr. Trump when asked about calling North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un "honorable."
"A lot is happening and I think it's going to be very positive and I hope its going to be very positive for North Korea and South Korea and Japan
Mr. Trump once again blamed his predecessors for not handling the North Korean crisis, saying "This should've been worked out many years ago." He added, "This should have been resolved by other presidents."
The president also disputed reports that he has made concessions in talks with the North Koreans. As for what total and complete denuclearization means to him, he replied: "It means they get rid of their nukes."
"Maybe good things will happen, and maybe we're all wasting our time," Mr. Trump added.
Macron on Syria
"Together in the long run we can find a solution to the Syrian situation," Macron vowed. He said international partners need to "win peace" in the region.
Macron on Iran deal
Macron said while it's not a mystery the two disagree on the Iran nuclear deal, he said France wishes to "work on a new deal with Iran."
He called the current pact not a "sufficient deal" but said the two leaders were able to have "frank discussions" on the issue.
Macron embraced aspects of the current deal such as controls on some of Iran's nuclear activity until 2025. He said he wishes to work on a new deal that blocks all of Iran's nuke activity through 2025 and also contains Iran's activities in the region.
Trump on immigration
Mr. Trump said both the U.S. and France share a common challenge of "uncontrolled migration." He commended Macron for handling the immigration issue in France honestly even when others didn't agree with his viewpoint.
He added, "both our elections owe much of the success to the desire of every day citizens to be heard to be listened to and to have control over their own nations and their own futures."
Trump on Syria strike, North Korea
Trump acknlowedged the help France played in the coalition strike in Syria in response to a chemical attack in the region. "I thank you for your leadership int his effort and it was a well executed effort at that," Mr. Trump said to Macron.
Mr. Trump said the coalition strike on Syrian chemical weapon targets established a "strong deterrent" to their future use.
He added that the U.S. is grateful to France for its "key partnership of maximum pressure on North Korean regime.
"We will not the past mistakes of past administrations," Mr. Trump warned.
The president also explicitly called out Iran for its role in developing nuclear weapons. "No matter where you go in the Middle East, you see the fingerprints of Iran behind problems."
Trump on first official visit
Trump calls Macron a "great friend" and ally to the U.S. and thanks him for participating in his very first state visit of his administration.
The president recalls his visit to France to mark Bastille day and the hospitality of the "incredible" people of France.
Trump, Macron arrive for press conference
The leaders arrive for their joint press conference in the East Room after the event was pushed back an hour.
Trump talks North Korea in Cabinet Room
During a brief meeting with Macron after their Oval Office remarks, Mr. Trump called North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un "very open and very honorable."
Looking ahead to the eventual meeting between the U.S. and North Korea, Mr. Trump said the North Koreans have said they want the summit to happen "very soon."
"Maybe it will be wonderful. And maybe it won't....Unlike past administrations, I will walk away from the table," he added.
Mr. Trump also touted the economy, low unemployment and trade during his second meeting with Macron. He said the two had engaged in "substantive" talks on Iran. Mr. Trump teased they "may have an agreement [on Iran] between the two of us soon."
What will Trump and Macron discuss?
Macron aims to discuss issues like threats that the U.S. could leave the Iran nuclear deal and its withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement. Macron is an ardent supporter of both pacts and is expected to raise both issues in discussions with the president.
Following their official business, the French delegation will return to the White House later Tuesday evening for the administration's first formal State dinner. On Monday, first Lady Melania Trump revealed details into the gala including the table settings (a combination of both Clinton and Bush china) as well as the menu which features "a showcase of the best of America's cuisines and traditions, with nuances of French influences" according to the White House.