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President Trump's interview in the Oval Office: Full Transcript

Trump on "bigness" of presidency
President Trump talks "bigness" of the presidency 09:01

On President Donald Trump's 100th day as president, he spoke with "Face the Nation" host and Chief Washington correspondent John Dickerson in a wide-ranging interview about the changes he's made to the Oval Office, lessons he's learned, the "bigness" of the decisions he makes and where he wants to go from here. Below is a full transcript of their conversation.


JOHN DICKERSON: What about infrastructure? When is that going happen?

DONALD TRUMP: We're going to do infrastructure very quickly. We've got the plan largely completed, and we'll be filing over the next two or three weeks, maybe sooner.
JOHN DICKERSON: You said you were disappointed in the Republicans in Congress. Why?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, disappointed. They're friends of mine, they're really special people, whether it's Freedom Caucus or Tuesday orThursday or let's go have a drink, that group. They're great people, I know them all. And I can honestly say, a lot of them, I can honestly say I don't dislike any of them. I like almost all of them a lot.
And you know, we have some votes that have never voted positively. But now we're the governing party. Before it didn't matter. They could vote no. It wouldn't matter because President Obama was going veto everything and they didn't have the Senate. Now we have the Senate, the House, and the White House. But these are great people. And I think you're going to see the Republican Party really come together.
JOHN DICKERSON: So they're kind of learning what it's like to be in charge.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, they're governing now. They've never governed. You know, they haven't governed. Now they're governing. So now it's just not like saying no. Before they could say no, it didn't matter, because it wasn't going to get approved anyway, so what difference does it make? Now we're governing.
And I'll tell you what, the Republican Party, they're great people. And frankly, a lot of the Democrats are great. They have bad leadership. Schumer's not a leader, he doesn't know how to lead. I know him for a long time, he has no leadership ability. And he's bringing them so far left they're never going to win another election, believe me.
JOHN DICKERSON: What's the difference between negotiating in Washington versus negotiating in business?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, I think the big difference is, for what we're doing here, Washington, you really need heart, because you're talking about a lot of people. Whereas business, you don't need so much heart. You want to make a good deal.


JOHN DICKERSON: Every president makes the Oval Office theirs. What have you done to make this yours?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, a lot of things. We had these incredible flags including the American flags.  And they were in different rooms.  And they were always being pushed around because they didn't have enough room.  And I said, "How beautiful, the base, the flags, Army, Navy, Marine Corps.  I mean, just so beautiful.  Just so beautiful."  The Coast Guard flag over here.
And I said, "Well, let's see how they look in the Oval Office." So the flags were up. The picture of Thomas Jefferson I put up. The picture of Andrew Jackson I put up because they said his campaign and my campaign tended to mirror each other. So we did a lot of-- actually we did a lot of work. It's--it's a much--it's a much different -- look than it was previously.
JOHN DICKERSON: What would Fred-- that's a picture of Fred Trump over there.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I have -- one coming of my mother.  A beautiful--
JOHN DICKERSON: What would he think?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, he'd be very proud. He was a Brooklyn builder. I learned a lot from him. He's a great guy, good heart. Tough guy, but a good heart, great heart. And he'd be very proud.
JOHN DICKERSON: You said the White House was like a cocoon sometimes. Tell me about that.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, I was very well known as you understand prior to this. But that was a different type of -- that was a different world. This is something you are really in your own little world. Secret Service, they're phenomenal. But they are all over the place. I mean, they are the real deal. They're all over the place.
If I wanted to get out, drive my car to a certain location, and go do something, you can't do that anymore. Haven't been able to do that for a long period of time. But all of that I understand. I guess I assumed that that would happen if you won. And most importantly I think we're doing a very good job. And I enjoy it.
JOHN DICKERSON: Tell me about-- what-- you--you do a lot of your work in here, right?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I do. I'm here a lot actually.
JOHN DICKERSON: Why in here and not other places?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I feel very warm toward the Oval Office. It's a great symbol. Also when I have certain people that we want to negotiate-- for instance, I was negotiating to reduce the price of the big fighter jet contract, the F-35, which was totally out of control. I will save billions and billions and billions of dollars. And calling from here and meeting here and having meetings on that contract, I think gives you great additional power, if you want to know the truth.
JOHN DICKERSON: So what's your--
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Other people have come in. Big people from big companies have been to the White House 50 times. In one case, I won't say who, somebody you know very well, the head of a major major company. I said, "Have you been to the White House before?" "Yes, 51 times."
I said, "Oh good, so you've been to the Oval Office." "No, I was never brought to the Oval Office." I said, "Come on, I'll bring you to the Oval Office." The person came into the Oval Office and started to cry. This is a tough person by the way. Came into the Oval Office and started to cry. Now, this-- a person with a magnificent office with beautiful glass walls and everything else. You understand. You've seen those offices before. But there is something very special about this space.
JOHN DICKERSON: If somebody's going to behave like that in front of you in here, how do you know that people aren't always just telling you what you want to hear?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: You mean, with the tears?  Is it?
JOHN DICKERSON: No, just, you know, they see the power of the White House and the Oval Office and they think, "Yes, Mr. President." Who tells you no?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Oh, I think when it comes to the Oval Office, I think everybody means that. You know, when I have foreign leaders here, no matter what country, no matter how big. We had -- Chancellor Merkel. We had-- we have them all. They all come here. They still take notice at the Oval Office.
JOHN DICKERSON: But that's what I mean. One of the worries about a presidency is that everybody tells you yes. Nobody helps you figure out where your blind spots are. So how do you -- how do --
JOHN DICKERSON: -- you find that?  How do you get?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: --that's, I guess, it's one of those things in life you have to be able to figure it out. Maybe I've been figuring that out anyway long before I got here.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: But some things you have to be able to figure out. But this is a special place. The White House is special. The Oval Office, very special.
JOHN DICKERSON: Any other gadgets you've gotten installed here since you came?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, everyone thinks that this is very ominous right here. See this? These are phones. These are very, you know, secure phones. But this is a -- very ominous looking because of the red button.
JOHN DICKERSON: What does that get you--              
JOHN DICKERSON: -- when you press the red button?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: -- it gets you a Coke or gets you a Pepsi. One or the other, it'd have to be. Any other cola companies I should mention?  Right?  But it gets you something. But every time I press that, people--
JOHN DICKERSON: Worry you're--
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: In fact I have fun with people. They'll be sitting down. I changed the-- the way it works. I'll have people sitting here. Used to be they never had chairs that anybody can remember in front of the desk. But I've always done it this way where I'm at the desk and I have people here.
But usually they would sit on the sofas. But this is the Resolute desk. It's a great desk with a phenomenal history. Many great presidents were behind this desk. And then some choose other desks. They have about seven desks that you can actually choose. But I like this. This was FDR. It was Ronald Reagan. It was Kennedy. And there's some great presidents behind this desk.
JOHN DICKERSON: George W. Bush said the reason the Oval Office is round is there are no corners you can hide in.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, there's truth to that. There is truth to that. There are certainly no corners. And you look, there's a certain openness. But there's nobody out there. You know, there is an openness, but I've never seen anybody out there actually, as you could imagine.
JOHN DICKERSON: But he-- what he meant was it's-- all comes --
JOHN DICKERSON: --back to you.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Sure. It does. But I think that's true anyway. But it does, there's no question.
JOHN DICKERSON: When did that hit you, that you're-- the magnitude of that-- of the office? And that idea that you were-- regardless of what happened, your name-- the buck stopped with you?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: It's the bigness of the office. It's the bigness of the transactions. It's the bigness of the deals. You look at-- the order of planes. It's bigger than any order of planes. You look at aircraft carriers that cost 10 billion and 12 billion dollars to build and submarines that cost 5 billion to build. It's the magnitude.
But most importantly, you know, the decisions. Like, when I make the decision to go with Syria, the 59 Tomahawk missiles. Unbelievable technology. We have unbelievable talent. But those are tough decisions. Those aren't, like, decisions that I'm going to buy a building--
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Because it's human lives.
Killing people.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: You're killing people. And you can kill the wrong people, too. You know, those things go off and they end up in a town or they end up in a city. And you have another tragedy on your hands. So, these decisions are unbelievable -- you know, in terms of the importance because it's human-- it's--it's--it's killing. I hate it. But things have to be done.
JOHN DICKERSON: How do you learn that skill? Who do you call to say what's it like to --
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: There's nobody you can call.
JOHN DICKERSON: Did President Obama give you any advice that was helpful? That you think, wow, he really was--
DONALD TRUMP:  -- Well, he was very nice to me. But after that, we've had some difficulties. So it doesn't matter. You know, words are less important to me than deeds. And you-- you saw what happened with surveillance. And everybody saw what happened with surveillance--
JOHN DICKERSON: Difficulties how?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: -- and I thought that -- well, you saw what happened with surveillance. And I think that was inappropriate, but that's the way--
JOHN DICKERSON: What does that mean, sir?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: You can figure that out yourself.
JOHN DICKERSON: Well, I-- the reason I ask is you said he was-- you called him "sick and bad".
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Look, you can figure it out yourself. He was very nice to me with words, but-- and when I was with him -- but after that, there has been no relationship.
JOHN DICKERSON: But you stand by that claim about him?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I don't stand by anything. I just-- you can take it the way you want. I think our side's been proven very strongly. And everybody's talking about it. And frankly it should be discussed. I think that is a very big surveillance of our citizens. I think it's a very big topic. And it's a topic that should be number one. And we should find out what the hell is going on.
JOHN DICKERSON: I just wanted to find out, though. You're-- you're the president of the United States. You said he was "sick and bad" because he had tapped you-- I'm just--
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: You can take-- any way. You can take it any way you want.
JOHN DICKERSON: But I'm asking you. Because you don't want it to be--
JOHN DICKERSON: --fake news. I want to hear it from--
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: You don't have to--
JOHN DICKERSON: --President Trump.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: --ask me.  You don't have to ask me.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Because I have my own opinions. You can have your own opinions.
JOHN DICKERSON: But I want to know your opinions. You're the president of the United States.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Okay, it's enough. Thank you. Thank you very much.

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