CNBC Transcript: President Donald Trump Speaks with CNBC’s Joe Kernen on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” Today
WHEN: Today, Monday, June 10, 2019
WHERE: CNBC’s “Squawk Box”
Talk of inflation has been swirling for some time amid all the stimulus that's been pouring into the market and the soaring debt levels in the U.S. The Federal Reserve has said that any inflation that does occur will be temporary, but one hedge fund macro trader says there are plenty of reasons not to Read More
The following are excerpts from the unofficial transcript of a CNBC interview with President Donald Trump and CNBC’s Joe Kernen on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” (M-F 6AM – 9AM) today, Monday, June 10th. The following is a link to video of the interview on CNBC.com:
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JOE KERNEN: Very good. All right. Thank you. We appreciate it. Joining us now on the "squawk" news line -- what day is it?
BECKY QUICK: June 10th.
JOE KERNEN: It’s a Monday. It used to be Trump Tuesdays. It’s going to be a Trump Monday. Mr. President, are you with us?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I am with you. Hi, Joe.
JOE KERNEN: Hi. Great to have you on thank you for calling in I guess Mr. Brilliant, who was on from the chamber of commerce, you got to see a part of that interview, Mr. President what did you make of it? Or what was the points that you had a problem with that he was trying to make there?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, I guess he’s not so brilliant. Look, without tariffs, we would be captive to every country, and we have been for many years. That’s why we have an $800 billion trading deficit for years. We lose a fortune with virtually every country. They take advantage of us in every way possible, and the U.S. Chamber is right there with them, and I assume, and I’m a member of the U.S. Chamber -- maybe I’ll have to rethink that, because when you look at it, the chamber is probably more for the companies and the people that are members than they are for our country. Because without tariffs, we would be absolutely, outside of something that I won’t even mention, we would be absolutely in a competitive disadvantage, the likes of which you’ve never seen. Now, people haven’t used tariffs, but tariffs are a beautiful thing when you’re the piggy bank, when you have all the money. Everyone’s trying to get our money, China -- and the China deal’s going to work out you know why. Because of tariffs. Because right now China is getting absolutely decimated by companies that are leaving China, going to other countries, including our own, because they don’t want to pay the tariffs. And China will, in my opinion, based on a lot of facts and a lot of knowledge, China’s going to make a deal because they’re going to have to make a deal.
JOE KERNEN: Mr. President, the deal that you arrived at on Friday with Mexico -- there’s something you’ve alluded to that you haven’t made clear that you’re going to make it clear later on something that was also included and you heard some of the criticism that you then levied some criticism at "The New York Times" for them saying that this was all in the works and nothing happened from the tariffs. Can you go into exactly what else was part of that deal that you haven’t really outlined yet?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, I’m going to tell you that most people understand that the people having to do with borders and illegal immigration and immigration of any kind, they understand exactly what that is. But we purposely said we wouldn’t mention it for a little while. It’s going to be brought up because it has to be brought by their legislative body. It’s got to be taken to a vote. So we didn’t bring it up, but most people know that answer, Joe. And it’s another very powerful tool in addition to the very powerful tools we got. We had none of these tools – or virtually none, or they were just being talked about. They’ve been talked about for 20 years with Mexico, until I said -- and it wasn’t a threat. I thought we would be receiving billions of dollars, frankly and you know what happens with tariffs, companies will move out of Mexico and they’ll move out of china, and they’ll come into the United States or other countries also. But in the case of Mexico, I say we’d get virtually 100% of the companies. They make a product and they sell it into our country. We lose a tremendous amount of money every year with Mexico for years, we’ve lost over $100 billion a year on trade with Mexico and of course, then we get into the second problem we have with Mexico, which maybe frankly is the first, and that’s drugs and drugs coming across the border. So, we want to have very, very powerful borders, and you can’t do it unless you have these deals with Mexico. And "The New York Times" wrote a story, like I already made the deal. It’s nonsense. We talked about it for months and months and months, and they wouldn’t get there, and we just said, hey, look, if you don’t get there, we’re just going to have to charge you hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes and we would have been just fine, because what would have happened -- you know, all these babies, these – I don’t know if they can honestly believe it -- you got it, Joe. I noticed you were just about 80% there. Not quite 100%, but you were 80% there. But what will happen is the companies will move into the United States, back where they came from. They took 30% of our automobile companies, of our carry companies. They moved into Mexico. All of the people got fired. They would all move back if they had to pay a 25% tax or tariff.
JOE KERNEN: Right.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: They would all move back. It’s a very simple formula. Now, that would leave Mexico in an unbelievably bad position. We don’t want that either. And I spoke with the President of Mexico. I get along with him very well, and we made this deal. But this is something the U.S. Has been trying to get for over 20 years with Mexico. They’ve never been able to do it. As soon as I put tariffs on the table, it was done. It took two days.
JOE KERNEN: A lot of times I just -- you know what devil’s advocate is, and with Myron, he just made it -- he was so dogmatic about never use tariffs, so I was kind of kidding around with him and pushing back. But 80% is good. That’s a good grade for me. I’ll take it.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Joe, he’s protecting companies who are members -- he’s got most of them –
JOE KERNEN: They’re worried about their quarterly results.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: He’s not protecting our country. He’s doing a very big disservice and frankly, I’ve never had support from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce because they know where I stand on these things. I don’t need money. I don’t care how things are. The only thing I care about is our country. And he’s protecting all of those companies that are members that like it just the way they are. And they have companies in Mexico and they have companies in China. I mean, if you look at what General Motors did, they moved so much into China. Well, they can’t be happy about paying tariffs like we’re charging, 25% for cars. General Motors was charging 45%. If you look at what was going on, they built -- they built massive car factories, automobile plants in China. So, what happened is China has a tariff for 45%. We have a tariff of basically zero. It’s 2.5%, but basically it’s zero. So, they sell us a car, it comes right into our country, no problem. We sell them a car, we have to pay 45%. It doesn’t work that way, and it’s not working that way anymore. And a lot of companies -- and I will say this -- companies and countries, but a lot of countries have changed their habits because they know they’re next. Without the power of tariffs by the richest, most successful country -- you know, we’ve picked up trillions of dollars in worth since I’ve been elected. China has lost many, many trillions of dollars. They’re way behind. They were going to catch us. Had a democrat gotten in, namely, the one we’re talking about, China would have caught us by the end of her term. They’re nowhere close. They’ll never catch us. Not with what I’m doing. They’ll never catch us.
JOE KERNEN: Mr. President, most economists, and I know you’ve heard this, I don’t know how you’ve responded, but most economists say it’s a tax on U.S. consumers. Tariffs are simply a tax on U.S. consumers. They hurt U.S. consumers. How do you respond? And even, I think one of your guys and one of our guys, Larry Kudlow, kind of conceded that at least a major part of it could be on the U.S. consumer. How do you respond to that? Because I know you’ve heard the economists say that.
President Donald Trump: Sure. I hear it all the time and I hear the other also. But I hear it all the time. And with Larry, in all fairness to Larry, they didn’t let him finish his answer. He had further to go and nobody put that on. He put some of it on, but they didn’t put it on the way that they should have. So, you know, that was a little bit of the media. Look, it depends on what country you’re talking about. If you’re talking about China, it’s different than Mexico. China will subsidize their product because they want to keep people working. So, China is going to pay a lot. We have put 25% on $250 billion of Chinese goods coming into our country, including $50 billion of high-technology equipment and things. You haven’t seen any, or virtually any price increase, because what China does – it’s basically their companies – they subsidize their companies because they want to keep people working, they want to stay competitive. We have another $300 billion to go with China. I haven’t done that because it’s a very big thing for them, not for us. For us, it’s not going to matter because we’ll be able to buy the product in other countries that don’t have the tariffs. So it’s not going to have an effect. With Mexico, what’s going to happen is all the companies would immediately move into the United States. You’d have car plants going up all over our country, and there would be no tariff. So from my standpoint, it’s a no-brainer, and it’s only the Chamber of Commerce who’s representing many of these companies, like General Motors I’m sure is a member, and most of these companies that we would talk about, they’d be members of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Well, General Motors does not want to see us put a 25% tariff on China, and now they send their cars in before – when they built those plants, there was no tariff. So they build a car in China and they send it into the United States. Same with Ford, same with others. Now with a 25% wall, those plants don’t work anymore. They made a bad investment. So, they’re going to say, “Oh, Trump’s a bad guy, he doesn’t know what he’s doing about tariffs.” No, what’s going to happen is they’re going to have to come to the United States to build their plant. And the same with European Union at the right time, they’re going to come in. They’ve been a very, very difficult negotiator. I would say maybe more difficult than China in certain ways and nobody understands that.
JOE KERNEN: We decided not to call –
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: A lot of it comes from Europe.
JOE KERNEN: We decided not to include China as a country that devalues or manipulates its currency.
President Donald Trump: Totally.
JOE KERNEN: But now in response to the tariffs, there are some that say China has tried to offset the tariffs from letting the yuan fall. Do you think that that has been something China has done that needs to be addressed?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Absolutely. They devalue their currency. They have for years. It’s put them at a tremendous competitive advantage and we don’t have that advantage because we have a Fed that doesn’t lower interest rates. We have a Fed that raises interest rates the day before a bond issue goes out, so we have to pay more money. You tell me about that thinking, okay. We should be entitled to have a fair playing field, but even without a fair playing field – because our Fed is very, very destructive to us – even without a fair playing field, we’re winning, because the tariffs are putting us at a tremendous competitive advantage –
JOE KERNEN: Let’s talk about the Fed just –
President Donald Trump: People want our goods – they want our money. We’re the piggy bank. We’re the bank.
JOE KERNEN: Let’s talk about the Fed for a second. Do you think they should cut in June? Have they come around to your thinking, or has the stock market volatility or the economy? Do you think they’ve listened to you or they’ve arrived at the decision themselves maybe to cut rates? And when do you think they should?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: No, they haven’t listened to me. And you know, we have people – it’s more than just Jay Powell. We have people on the Fed that really weren’t, you know, they’re not my people, but they certainly didn’t listen to me because they made a big mistake. They raised interest rates far too fast. That’s number one. Number two, they did quantitative tightening. They were taking in $50 billion a month, $50 billion a month and they’ve now eased that, but it’s still $25 billion a month, which is ridiculous. Now, China’s doing just the opposite. They’re pumping money in. So, I’m not – I’m winning, but I’m not winning on a level table. If I had a table – don’t forget, the head of the Fed in China is President Xi. He’s the president of China. He also is the head of the Fed. He can do whatever he wants. They devalue, they loosen, or you would just say they pump a lot of money into China, and it nullifies to an extent, not fully – it nullifies the tariffs. But I will say this, they’re also devaluing their currency to a point. Makes it better up to a point. It’s very hard for them to buy oil. Oil becomes very expensive. They have to buy a lot of things outside of China. So, that’s where the devaluation is bad for them. But it’s good for them in terms of selling product and it’s good for them in terms of sort of negating to a certain extent the tariffs. But with China, if we don’t make a deal, you’ll see a tariff increase of, you know, we have three – they do $100 billion with us. We’re doing close to $600 billion with them. So, we have the big, big advantage. Plus, we’re the one that everybody is so used to taking advantage of as a country because we had, frankly, presidents that either didn’t understand it or they were bored by it or they weren’t smart enough to get what’s going on. But those days are over, and we’re doing great as a country. We’re doing – but I just want to say to the United States Chamber of Commerce, if we didn’t have tariffs, we wouldn’t have made a deal with Mexico. We got everything we wanted. And we’re going to be a great partner to Mexico now because now they respect us. They didn’t even respect us. They couldn’t believe how stupid we were with what’s going on, where somebody comes in from Mexico and just walks right into our country and we’re powerless to do anything. Whereas they had very strong immigration laws. They don’t have to take anybody. They can say, out, you get. So, we’re going to be essentially using to a large extent the very powerful immigration laws of Mexico. And Mexico wants to do a good job. They’re moving 6,000 soldiers to their southern border. Do you think they agreed to do that before? And they’re paying them. They’re moving 6,000 soldiers to their southern border. That means the people from Guatemala, the people from Honduras and El Salvador, in theory, if they do it right, they’re not going to be able to get through. Nobody’s going to be able to get through. And then they’re also going to protect our southern border. So, it should have a big impact. Now, with all of that being said, the Democrats refuse to do anything on illegal immigration. They want open borders and they don’t mind crime, they don’t mind human trafficking, they don’t mind drugs. You tell me if that’s a good campaign issue, because i think they get clobbered on that issue.
JOE KERNEN: Mr. President, my co-anchor, Becky has question, you know Becky Quick.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Hi, Beck. I know Becky for a long time. Hi, Becky.
BECKY QUICK: Hi, Mr. President. Mr. President, just on China, we had our correspondent from Beijing telling us today that the Chinese ministry won’t confirm that you are going to be meeting with President Xi at the G20. If they don’t come, if President Xi doesn’t come, will that mean that the tariffs on China for the additional $300 billion in goods go on immediately?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Yes, it would. And I think he will go and I think we are scheduled to have a meeting. I think he’ll go. I have a great relationship with him. He’s actually an incredible guy, a great man. He’s very strong and very smart but he’s for China and I am for the United States. It’s a very simple – it is a simple stat. He’s for China, I am for the U.S., so we are going to have our differences. But I think the differences can be worked out very easily. I would be surprised if he didn’t go. I think he is going, I haven’t heard that he’s not. We are expected to meet. If we do, that’s fine and if we don’t, that’s fine. Look, from our standpoint, the best deal we can have is 25% on $600 billion, okay? And then those companies are going to move into other locations and they are going to send – and there won’t be a tariff. You know, our business people in this country are very sophisticated. They are very good. If a product goes up in price, they go to Vietnam or they go to one of many other countries or they make the product in the United States, which is my favorite. But that’s what will happen. No, if we don’t have a deal – if we don’t make a deal, then we will be raising the tariffs, meaning putting the tariffs on more than – you know, we’ve only taxed 35% to 40% of what they send in. They have another 60% and that’ll be taxed absolutely.
JOE KERNEN: And Mr. President, I just – on an aside, and it’s just -- we’re the envy of the world, as you know, in terms of innovation and technology. And I guess the worry is we certainly don’t want to kill the goose that lays a golden egg. Do you think Facebook and Google and Amazon, are these companies are too big now? Do you think the antitrust company is warranted and do you think they should be broken up?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, I can tell you they discriminate against me. You know, people talk about collusion. The real conclusion is between the Democrats and these companies. Because they were so against me during my election run. Everybody said, ‘If you don’t have them, you can’t win.’ Well, I won, you know, and I’ll win again because we are doing well. We are not fools anymore. We are not the foolish country that does so badly. You look at India, a very good friend of mine, Prime Minister Modi, you take a look at what they have done, 100% tax on a motorcycle. We charge them nothing. So, when Harley sends it over there, they have 100% tax. When they send it, they make a tremendous number of motorcycles. When they send them, no tax. I called him. I said it’s unacceptable. He reduced it by 50% with one phone call. I said it’s still unacceptable because it is 50% verses nothing. It’s still unacceptable. And they’re working on it. But if I didn’t -- if we did not have the power of what we have, and if we weren’t the bank – well, if we weren’t the bank, we wouldn’t even be talking about it because nobody would care. But we’re the bank that everybody wants to rob. And that’s what they’ve been doing for a long period of time. $800 billion we have in trade deficits with other countries. So, you tell me who made those deals.
JOE KERNEN: We also had a big— I know you’d like a strong defense and it would be nice to get prices down for those things. So, do you think United Technology Raytheon merger accomplishes that? Is that something that makes sense and is good for the country?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, I am the one – I’m a budget cutter and I have cut the budget. But on defense, I don’t want to do any cutting. Because President Obama, and President Bush – you know, he was fighting the wars in the Middle East-- I was left a very depleted military. And I feel just the opposite. I am very much of a cost cutter. I want to have a great budget. But before a budget, I have to have a great military. So, as long as I am here, we are going to have a great military and they’re not going to have to worry. We’ve rebuilt, we’ve ordered many F-35s, we’ve ordered ships and planes and missiles and we are ordering the best stuff in the world. Plus, I am a sales man for the country. I’m getting other country to buy tremendous amount of our military. You know, you could ask any of the folks run our military companies--the different companies what they are doing because of me. I get nothing. I’m sitting there in the oval office, saying, ‘You’ve got to buy our helicopters. If you don’t, we are not going to be happy with you,’ and they end up going out to buy our helicopters and our F-35s. Look at how many F-35s Japan and other companies are buying. So, you know, it’s good as long as I’m there. I am a little concerned about United Technologies and Raytheon because one of the things that I bring up all of the time, we used to have many plane companies. We used to have many, many. They’ve all merged. Now we have very few. We have the two main ones, as you know, and you have Lockheed and Boeing and you have a little bit some others, just a little bit. But they’re all merged in, so it is hard to negotiate when you have two companies and sometimes you get one bid. When we had 10 and 12 companies, now that may not be sustainable because they all go bust. And so, that’s the purpose of what they did. But never the less, I can tell you because I get involved in negotiations. I got the plane cost down a lot. So, when I hear United Technologies, which is a great company, I know it well because I bought many an Otis Elevator over my lifetime. It is a great company but when I hear United, and I bought a lot of carrier too, by the way—when I hear United and when I hear Raytheon, which is another incredible company, the missile systems they make are incredible, when I hear they’re merging, does that take away more competition? It becomes one big fat, beautiful company. But I have to negotiate. Meaning the United States has to buy things and does that make it less competitive? Because it is already so very less – it’s already not competitive. You look at the budgets of other major countries: take a look at Russia, they spend $68 billion a year on military. Take a look at China, they’re $200-$250 billion a year. Well, we are many times that. And part of it because we spend so much money and part of it is we have no competition. We really don’t. We don’t have competition.
JOE KERNEN: Mr. President, the treatment of you, set aside with Google and Facebook, just in terms of market size and market dominance, do you think that there is a monopoly antitrust problems with those big companies? Setting your personal feelings aside with them that needs to be address or an update on competition, competitor laws or monopoly laws. What do you think?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, there’s something going on, Joe. And I will tell you this: the European Union, which is a fantastic group of negotiators, actually a very, very prominent person who you know well, who’s on your show a lot, said the person at the European Union that’s in charge of taxation hates the United States more than any person anywhere in the world. And I really believe that’s true. Every week you see them going after Facebook and Apple and all of these companies, that are, you know, great companies but something is going on. But I will say the European Union is suing them all the time. We are going to be looking at them differently. We have a great Attorney General, we are going to look at it differently. When they give European Union $7 billion and $5 billion and $2 billion, and you know, Apple gets sued for $10 billion. And you know, right now, it is going on but they’ll end up settling. They get all this money. We should be doing that – they’re our companies, so they’re actually attacking our companies. But we should be doing what they’re doing. They think there is a monopoly. But I am not sure if they think that. They just figure this is easy money, we’ll sue Apple for $7 billion and we’ll make a settlement or we’ll win the case. So, I think it is a bad situation. But, obviously, there is something going on in terms of monopoly.
BECKY QUICK: Mr. Trump, Mr. President, you mentioned UTX and Raytheon, that it’s tougher to negotiate with them when you have fewer companies. Most of the analysts we talked to today said they don’t think there will be a problem with regulators with UTX and Raytheon to merge. Do you think there is a problem there?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, only if they have the same products. They have some overlap, from what I understand. But only if they have the same products. That would be the thing that bothers me most. I mean, I can tell you from the airplanes, you want to buy a plane and you will have one bid. You don’t have the people that make them. The companies that make them are incredible. They make them incredibly and they are great companies. But you don’t have any competition. It is crazy. We have given up making like the F-22 fighter jets and that was a joint venture between Lockheed and Boeing. It was the greatest fighter jet, in my opinion, it was the greatest ever. And we gave it up because it was costing so much. You have the two companies in a joint venture, and from what I hear, I wasn’t here then, that was a while ago, but from what I hear, you could not negotiate with them. This is what we want them, and the government says we’ll take it. Okay. So, I just want to see competition, the two great companies, I love them both. But I want to see that we don’t hurt our competition.
JOE KERNEN: Mr. President, do you see—while we have you, do you see Huawei as a national security threat or a moving chest piece in the overall trade negotiations with China? What is in your view?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, I do see it as a threat. At the same time, it could be very well that we do something with respect to Huawei as part of our trade negotiations with China. China very much wants to make a deal. They want to make a deal much more than I do. But we’ll see what happens. Look, I don’t mind taking in billion of dollars. You know, the 3.2 we had in the first quarter, a lot of people said we picked up one point because of all the tariffs that we are taking in from China. Just remember, they’re charging us tariffs. You know, some of the folks that I really like but some of the senators come to me, ‘Well sir, it’s not really good because it is not free market.’ Like, you take India where they are charging 100%-- and by the way 100% is nothing compares to what some companies charge. You know, France charges us a lot for the wine and yet we charge them little for French wine. So the wineries come to me and they say—the California guys, they come to me: Sir, we are paying a lot of money to put our products into France and you’re letting – meaning, this country is allowing this French wine which is great, we have great wine, too, allowing it to come in for nothing. It is not fair. And you know what, it’s not fair. We’ll do something about it.
JOE KERNEN: While I have you, I just feel like there is so many things going on. T-Mobile and Sprint, do you have a feeling on telecom and 5G, are we behind in 5G? Will the actions against Huawei, will that set us back? Can we do it here?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I made a priority for 5G, before I got here, we were way behind. Now we are actually going to be leading very shortly. We are leading in everything. We are-- if you look at China, China, as great as they are and they are great, they are near the capability of our geniuses in Silicon Valley that walk around in under shirts and they were not $2 billion a piece. Okay. They don’t have nearly the genius these people have. And they practically admit it. They don’t want to exactly and say that. They try to go out and buy the company. Now we have restrictions on that, too, which we put in under my administration very recently. Because they were buying all of our companies. They could not do it. But we have the most brilliant people. We have the most brilliant. Huawei is very powerful and very strong, don’t forget ZTE, I did something with them where I closed them up and they paid me – they paid us as a country, $1.2 billion fee and we changed their board, changed their management, we allowed them to open, but ZTE is a much smaller – that was $1.2 billion done in one week. That was you know a good deal. And you know I don’t want to put their companies out of business. I want China to do well. I don’t want them to do as well as us, I have to be honest with you. You know when they say China, 25 years, you don’t see them anymore. It says China 25. And what they mean is that in 25 they’re going to be much bigger and they’re going to be dominant in 25. I told President Xi, listen, that’s very insulting to me. Can’t do that. They took it off – they don’t use China 25 anymore because he understood exactly what we meant. Look, I said it before, we picked up $10 trillion more than that in value. And they’ve lost $15 to $20 trillion in value since the day I was elected. We are doing great. I hope the Raytheon deal – I hope it can happen. But I don’t want to see where we have one less person that can compete for an order. I don’t want to see that. It’s no good. And as far as the U.S. Chambers of Commerce, they have to start representing the United States and not just the companies that are members of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
JOE KERNEN: Mr. President, that seems like a good note to end on. We appreciate it. I am glad that we booked that gentleman from Chairman from Chambers of Commerce, and I am glad you got to catch part of that interview and respond to it. And I think that everyone benefits from it. But thank you very much. We appreciate all of the time you gave us.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Thank you Joe. And thank you Becky. Thank you very much.
JOE KERNEN: President Donald Trump. Thank you.