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H. R. McMaster Archive
  White House Briefing  CSPAN  November 2, 2017 1:40pm-2:08pm EDT

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they would not be available, and that includes the drugs that have come across the border. you know, it's the same thing. we don't need a wall down in mexico between there and texas. we need better laws. and there isn't any politicians around that are talking about the law and how it pertains to illegal drugs. that's my question. >> congressman. >> well, there are laws on the books now. i'm working with tom rooney, a republican out of florida, on making it easier for us to bust people who are pushing fentanyl, which a lot of that is coming in from china, so we of got to work with the mexican government -- >> good afternoon. i know you guys are probably very sad since we're not going to get a lot of days like this together over the next couple weeks since we'll be traveling. but for those of you on the trip, i look forward to seeing
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you. for those that aren't, we're certainly going to miss all of you and your questions. it's a busy day here at the white house like most days here. as you all saw, the president was excited to announce the broadcom limited is coming back to the united states, moving their company back here from singapore. their ceo celted the president's economic agenda for once again making the united states the best place in the world to grow a business. he also noted that the tax reform plan, which was rolled out this morning, will make it easier for them and other companies to do exactly what the president has promised, bring back our jobs, bring back our wealth, and bring back our great american dreams. this morning the president aplaulded the house ways and means committee for introducing the tax cuts and jobs act, which is another important step toward providing massive tax relief for the american people. our entire administration is working tirelessly to make good on our promise to the working people who built our nation to deliver historic tax cuts and reforms. the rocket fuel our economy
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needs to soar higher than ever before. now as you all know the president is preparing to leave the country tomorrow for a five-country, ten-day trim to hawaii and asia. this afternoon we have with us the president's national security adviser, general mcmaster, who will preview the trip and take some of your questions. please chemoyour questions on topic. if up other questions, the press team will be around this afternoon and throughout the next ten days while the rest of us are on the road. thanks so much. general mcmaster. >> thank you. well, good afternoon, everyone. >> good afternoon. >> good to see everybody. tomorrow president trump embarks on his longest foreign trip to date and the longest trip to asia by an american president in more than a quarter century. this trip is a great opportunity to demonstrate america's and the trump administration's commitment to the indo pacific and our efforts to strengthen long-standing american alliances and expand new partnerships.
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the president has actively engage ld leaders in the i believe do pacific this year to address a range of strategic issues including most notably the north korean b nuclear th threat. since taking office, president trump has placed 43 calls to i believe do pacific leaders and conducted bilateral meetings with japan, south korea, china, india, australia, malaysia, vietnam, indonesia, singapore, and thailand. this historic trip will build on that ongoing diplomacy. the president's trip will focus on three goals. first, strengthening international resolve to denuclearize north korea. second, promote a free and open indo pacific region. third, advance american prosperity through fair and reciprocal trade and economic
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practices. the united states remains committed to the complete verifiable and permanent denuclearization of the korean peninsula. president trump will reiterate the plain fact that north korea threatens not just our allies, south korea, and japan and the united states, north korea is a threat to the entire world, so all nations of the world must do more to counter that threat. that is happening, but the president recognizes that we're running out of time and will ask all nations to do more. in particular, the president will continue to call on automatic responsible nations, especially those with the most influence over north korea, to isolate the north korean regime economically and politically, to convince it leaders that the pursuit of nuclear weapons is a dead end, and that it is past time to denuclearize. and he will remind friend and
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foe alike that the united states stands ready to defend itself and our allies using the full range of our capabilities. the president will also use his trip to promote his vision for a free and open indo pacific region. the president will make the case that respect for freedom of navigation and overflight, the rule of law, sovereignty, freedom from coercion, and private enterprise and open markets is the best model to increase prosperity throughout the region and to secure the freedom and independence of all nations. and of course increasing prosperity of the american people is always one of president trump's top priorities. throughout the trip, the president will stress his commitment to free, fair, and reciprocal trade. he looks forward to working with partners across the indo pacific
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region to ensure that governments do not unfairly substance diidize their industr discriminate girns foreign business or restrict foreign investment. this will hem increase trade, reduce unsustainable deficits, and promote prosz per ti for american people and the people of the indo pacific region. a final point and a point that's often overlooked, this trip like all the president's engagements with foreign leaders builds on previous accomplishments and our previous diplomatic efforts. one example i'll provide is that in riyadh in may president trump delivered a historic speech to the leaders of more than 50 muslim majority nations. the president will interact with many of those same leaders at apec or asean, both of those conversations. he will reiterate three key u.s. counterterrorism pillars that he unveiled in that speech in
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riyadh. first, deny terrorists safe havens and support bases. second, cut off their funding. and third, discredit their wicked ideology. i think it's time for us to recognize that there's been significant progress on all three fronts. raqqah and mosul have been liberated and will soon no longer control territory and populations as the united states has worked very hard with allies and partners to deny that safe haven and support base, in this case to isis. second, we should recognize that there's been considerable progress on terrorist financing. as you saw secretary mnuchin eelsz visit to the region last week during which he opened a terrorist financing targeting center. and then also you've heard a lot of leaders across the world and the president foremost among them discrediting this ideology,
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this islamist or salafi jihadist ideology. and last week i think it's worth reading, saudi crown prince's speech during which he called for a return to moderate islam. at the aseen 50th birthday party in manila, the president will discuss how to strengthen partnerships across the indo pacific to further efforts against transnational terrorist organizations, so this trim is an opportunity to build momentum towards shared prosperity and security. and i'm happy to take your questions. thank you. yes. toward the back here. >> general, as you look at the tools in your tool kit for confronting north korea, how much are you giving to putting that country back on the american list of state sponsors of terrorism? >> that is an option that's under consideration. so the president's cabinet is
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looking at this as part of the overall strategy on north korea. but a regime who murders someone in a public airport using nerve agent and a despotic leader who murders his brother in that manner, that's clearly an act of terrorism that fits in with a range of other actions. so this is something that's under consideration and you'll hear more about that soon, i think. yes in the front and center. >> will the president be using the fire and fury rhetoric in his speech about north korea when he's that close to the border? will he be meeting with putin on the sidelines? and will he be bringing up human rights? >> so the president will use whatever language he wants to use, obviously, and what the president has done is clarified in all of his discussions, his statements on north korea our determination to ensure that north korea's unable to threaten our allies and our partners and
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certainly the united states. so he's done that with a great deal of clarity in the past and i'm sure he'll do that during the trip as well. that's been a great reassurance to our to our allies, partners and others in the region who are under the -- literally under the gone. >> we shouldn't expect any modulation of the language? >> i don't think he mod lates his language. he's been very clear about it. let me just talk about this quickly. i've been aware of the discussions about is this inflammatory? what's inflammatory is the north korean regime and what they're doing to threaten the world. i think there would be a grave danger if that regime didn't understand our resolve, the president's resolve to counter their aggression. the president's made it very clear. >> is this a likelihood during the course of this trip that
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additional multi-lateral sanctions will be announced pertaining to north korea and the second question i ask has to do with china. in your view, general, are they doing enough to apply pressure on the north korean government? >> on those questions, what you've seen is a concerted effort to isolate north korea economically. that's been combined with a major diplomatic effort that asks all countries to do more. there's tremendous momentum behind that now. we've seen countries across the indo pacific region doing more to expel in effect north korean slave leaders who are a big source of income for the regime, to shut down a lot of illicit trafficking and also to shut down a lot of the money making enterprises of this regime often times run out of their embassy. you've seen a lot of expulsion of ambassadors, a restriction on
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this kind of activity and the president welcomes that and appreciate its, but we will also be asking others to do even more there. so it is both diplomacy and sanctions working together. china is definitely doing more. but obviously it's not enough. until all of us achieve denuclearization. i think what's really essential to remember about china's approach to this is china recognizes this isn't the united states or anyone else asking china to do us a favor. china recognizes it is clearly in china's interests and all nation's interests to denuclearize the peninsula. that's because of the direct threat from a regime like this with a nuclear weapon, but it's also because of the specter of the breakdown of the regime. what if others conclude they have to arm with nuclear weapons? that's not good for anybody. so i think china will, as it always does, act in its interests, but i think this is an area where our interests are
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really clearly aligned. >> you mentioned in your opening comments that the world is running out of time with north korea. if you could expand on that. earlier this week before the senate general matt tis was ask about the process which the president might use nuclear weapons. he said if we detect a launch from north korea that is where we might act. >> so on the first -- on out of time, we're out of time because approaches in the past have not delivered, have not delivered on halting and then reversing north korea's very dangerous nuclear and missile programs. and the approach of the past has been that we'll be happy with something that some people call a freeze for freeze or suspension for suspension. and that's the beginning then of
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a long drawn out negotiation processor talks during which the north korean regime has in the past continued to develop its nuclear capability, continued to develop its weapons. then upon delivery of a weak nonenforceable agreement, the agreed framework, for example, in '94, what that does -- what that agreement does is it locks in the status quo as the new normal. then of course north korea breaks the agreement and continues with the programs. so we're out of time to do that because of how these programs have been advanced over time. so what's time for is a really concerted effort to do everything, everything all of us can to resolve this short of military action. in terms of scenarios, the president's always very clear. he doesn't draw red lines. he doesn't forecast directly or say directly what he's going to do. but what he'll do is we'll do whatever it takes to protect the
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american people and our allies. and so what is clear is that the united states will respond with all capabilities available to north korean aggression. and they're appropriate to that scenario. >> detecting something that might be happening? >> gentleman in the center in the back. >> thank you, general. there have been stories coming out of north korea and certainly parts of that part of the world that the north koreans have targeted the president in different ways and are you confident about his security and have you heard any of the rumors about his targeting of him by pyongyang? >> you know, whenever the president travels, our team does an assessment and will secure the president. and we have really capable forces in the region. so that's routine for us is to take all that into
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consideration. >> now that president xi has consolidated his power, does it make it easier to deal with him or harder? >> i think the president will build on what was already a strong personal relationship that they developed at mar-a-lago and build on a substantive policy dialogue we had especially on the security side in mar-a-lago and in meetings since then. at the g20 and in multiple phone calls. i would highlight three elements of that foundation for the u.s., chinese, really the multi-national approach to north korea. the first of these is a recognition that north korea is not just a threat to the united states. remember the old -- in the old days you'd hear this is really a problem between -- you know, between north korea and the united states. everyone acknowledges, china especially, that this is a problem between north korea and the world. the second thing that's really
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critical is the universal acknowledgement that denuclearization of the peninsula is the only acceptable outcome. no more freeze for freeze suspension for suspension. and the third thing is china's acknowledgement that its acting in its interests, obviously, but that china has a great deal of course of economic power. 90% of the trade at least flows through china. so the implementation enforcement of the u.n. resolution holds promise, but there's more that can be done beyond that. i think it's time maybe for nations to do more beyond what even has been called for in u.s. security council resolutions. >> two questions. one just to follow-up on the previous question. have you guys determined whether there will be a formal bilateral meeting with russian president vladimir putin during this trip? >> that's not been determined yet but we'll announce it if it's determined. >> i know we're focused on the asia trip but i wanted to talk
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for a second weighing in on the man who's been charged with mowing down pedestrians in new york city. he called for the death penalty. have there been any in the white house to help the defense claim that this person can get a fair trial? >> what the president wants is to secure the american people from this threat. and from mass murderers like this. murderers like this. and so what he's asked is for options to take a look to assess if our tremendous law enforcement teams and our judicial system has all the tools they need to be able to combat this threat to the american people. what we owe them now is options to take a look at to see if this is the time to reassess, change our capabilities in this area and the area of law enforcement in particular. >> your opening statement you spoke about a lot of different freedoms, but i did not hear
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anything on freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of religion, and self-determination, democratic values. and what i want to know is are these things no longer as important to the united states under president trump? is he comfortable with authoritarian regimes consolidating power moving away from democracy as long as they can help us accomplish larger goals such as north korea and on any other subject? >> what you'll hear is when he talks about the sovereign nations, protecting the rights of their citizens. you heard in just the preview and you'll hear much more in the speeches and statements the president makes abroad about the importance of adhering to rule of law, to promoting freedom, individual rights. so this is extremely important to the president. what we ought to do is just look at the president's record.
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so in syria you have a regime that is a big human rights offender, obviously, in a number of areas. the murder, the torture, the displacement of six million people internally, five million refugees. mass order of their own people with chemical weapons. who stood up against assad to prevent even further murder of chemical weapons? the president did. i mean, if you look at the policy toward venezuela, a regime that is consolidating its grip on power and denying their citizens their rights, the president has taken a very strong stance along with our american partners on venezuela. so i would say look at the actions. look at the cuba policy. look at the shift from is the old cuba policy that enabled an autocratic regime and a new cuba policy which incentivizes human rights and the development of
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free enterprise. >> i've asked you in this room several times and i'll bring it up again since you mentioned venezuela. they're condemned what's gone on but has not done the same thing with other leaders in philippines and turkey and russia. the president seems to have no problem with some authoritarian regimes and with others. why is venezuela different from turkey or russia? >> i think what the president is focused on is being effective on advancing and protecting human rights. you've seen him do that in his relationship with -- we've seen him do it quietly in every relationship. and so how much does it help to yell about these problems? it hasn't really delivered in recent history anyway. and so i don't think that you should assume anything because you're not in the meetings.
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you're not in the phone calls. and the president has done quite a bit and will continue to do more to advance and protect human rights across all of our relationships. >> with the president in the region s there any concern that it could cause the north korean to ratchet up their aggression and are we doing anything to prepare for some sort of acceleration in tensions? >> the only thing that is ratcheting ratcheting up north korea yeah aggression is the north korean regime itself. what's important is for us to have the capabilities necessary and have them in the right locations to deter conflict and then if necessary to be able to respond to north korean aggression. we're doing that really with our allies and partners in the region. primarily our great south korean allies who live literally under the gun of that regime and have since the armistice in 1953.
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and so we are working together with our south korean allies every day to make sure we have the highest degree of readiness. of course, you've seen the most recent -- some of the most recent provocations involving missile launches over japan. and north korea posed a great threat to our ally in japan as well. as i mentioned, this is a global threat that requires a global response. improving our military readiness, ensuring that we have the right assets, including strategic assets in the region is immensely important to prevent any conflict and then making sure that we're prepared to respond. >> general, there is some form policy experts, some intelligence experts who believe the only route to a negotiated settlement between the united states and north korea would be a very strong pledge from the united states not to seek regime change in north korea and also to remove u.s. forces from the korean peninsula and provide
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other methods for south korea's defense. is that something that this white house would even entertain? >> well, we're always assessing our strategies and policies based on the degree to which we think they're effective. right now we've said that the goal is denuclearization of the peninsula, period. what you've seen is just the very beginning, maybe the end of the beginning of the president's strategy in the form of new sanctions in place now. much more work to do to isolate the regime diplomatically and economically. and i think we have to be a little patient here for at least a few months to see what more we and others can do, including china as some of you have mentioned at the beginning. so i don't think we need to reassess our strategy now. i think we have to give it a couple month, a few months, and then see what adjustments we might need to make. >> if i can ask you about
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bilateral trade, you obviously made that a point of this visit. can you tell me who is going to be leading the u.s. conversations about trade since we know secretary mnuchin is not going. we don't have confirmation of whether it's ivanka or jared. can you talk about who's going to be leading those conversations? >> certainly our ustr is going to be leading the discussions on trade. in terms of trade, economic development, economic practices, it will be our usdr and then at times will be reinforced by other members of the president's team. really it is the president's trip, so the president is actually going to be leading the discussions on trade and on security and the rest of us are there to support really his engagements and to make the most out of the visit as we can. thanks, everybody. thanks, everybody.
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we heard national security adviser h.r. mask a preview of the president's trip to asia. the president will leave tomorrow stopping first in hawaii. he'll visit pearl harbor. then president trump heads to japan. from there he'll go to south
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korea where he'll visit u.s. troops at camp humphreys and address south korea's national assembly. then on to vietnam where the president will attend the asia pacific economic cooperation meeting in hanoi and after that to the philippines where he'll attend a meeting of the southeast asian nations. house republicans today unveiled their tax proposal that would reduce the number of tax brackets, cut tax rates on corporations and limit some tax deductions. if you would like to read the republican's bill go to and that will take to our congressional congress page. congressional democrats have a news conference scheduled for this afternoon about the republican's tax plan. it's set for 2:30 eastern. you'll be able to watch it live here on cspan3. and right now here on cspan3, white house economic council director gary