Press Briefing by Press Secretary Sarah Sanders for January 23, 2018 | Eastern North Carolina Now

Press Release:

    MS. SANDERS: Good afternoon. The President - a couple of updates here before we get started. The President has been briefed on the shooting at Marshall County High School in Kentucky. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and families there, and we offer our sincerest appreciation to the heroic Marshall County deputy who apprehended the shooter.

    A few more updates before we bring up a couple of special guests. I'd like to leave no doubt where the White House stands on the Flake, Graham, and Durbin agreement on immigration reform.

    In the bipartisan meeting here at the White House two weeks ago, we outlined a path forward on four issues: serious border security, an end to chain migration, the cancellation of the outdated and unsafe visa lottery, and a permanent solution to DACA.

    Unfortunately, the Flake-Graham-Durbin agreement does not meet these benchmarks. In fact, it would not secure our border, encourage more illegal immigration, increase chain migration, and retain the visa lottery system. In short, it's totally unacceptable to the President and should be declared dead on arrival.

    The President has been extraordinarily consistent on immigration and what his priorities are. His views are shared by the vast majority of the American people, and have bipartisan support in the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives.

    Moving along, we have some incredible economic news to share today. JPMorgan Chase announced this morning that because of the Trump tax cuts, they will raise wages for 22,000 of their employees, create thousands of new jobs, and increase small business by lending $4 billion.

    In total, these moves are part of a $20 billion investment plan, for which JPMorgan Chase directly credits the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, as well as the President's historic efforts to rolling back job-killing regulations.

    Also, Disney announced that over 125,000 employees will receive a $1,000 cash bonus, and the company is investing $50 million into a new employee education program.

    Lastly, Verizon announced today that all of their employees, other than the top management, will receive 50 shares of restricted stock. This amounts to about $2,500 per employee. "Employees will further share in the company's success," Verizon said in a release.

    We're only one year in and the President is just getting started, but we're pleased to see that our great American workers and families are already feeling the positive effects of the President's policies.

    As you know, the President will be traveling to the World Economic Forum later this week. So I've brought in a couple of special guests today to preview that trip. NEC Director Gary Cohn, who played a major role in the tax reform effort, and National Security Advisor General H.R. McMaster will discuss the trip and answer questions specific to that topic. And then I will be up with more information and to take your questions. Thanks.


    MR. COHN: Thanks. I'm not General.

    Q But he is -

    MR. COHN: I might be "general." (Laughter.)

    Q In general.

    MR. COHN: In general. Thank you very much.

    Good to see everyone. Thank you, Sarah. It's great to be here today with General McMaster, my cohort in briefing you guys.

    As Sarah said, we're going to the World Economic Forum to share President Trump's economic story and to tell the world that America is open for business. We want the world to invest in America and to create jobs for hardworking Americans.

    President Trump's economic agenda has unleashed the U.S. economy, and we are growing. His policies have led to a rising stock market, low unemployment, and strong GDP growth. The administration's commitment to deregulation, and our passing of comprehensive tax reform, have helped level the playing field for our businesses and our workers.

    As a direct result of President Trump's tax reform and tax cuts, over 100 companies have announced policies that will create jobs, benefit our workers, and grow our economy. This story will only get better as we continue to invest and rebuild America's infrastructure.

    At the World Economic Forum, we will reiterate America's commitment to domestic and global economic growth and prosperity, strengthen close ties with other world leaders, and catalyze international business support for the President's agenda.

    President Trump will reiterate that a prosperous America benefits the world. When the United States grows, so does the world. The President will continue to promote fair economic competition, and will make it clear that there cannot be free and open trade if countries are not held accountable to the rules.

    As the President has said repeatedly, America and his administration supports free and open trade, but it needs to be fair and reciprocal.

    We will now share a little bit about the President's schedule and the economic agenda, and then I'll hand it over to General McMaster to discuss our national security priorities at the World Economic Forum and the President's meetings with world leaders.

    The President departs tomorrow evening and arrives Thursday morning local time in Switzerland.

    On Thursday, he will have a variety of meetings with world leaders and a quick meeting with Klaus Schwab, the founder of the World Economic Forum.

    On Thursday night, the World Economic Forum will host a reception with world leaders to honor the President.

    Later on that night, the President will host a small dinner with select European companies to share our economic success story and to encourage them to continue to invest in America. The attendees run companies that have sizable footprints in the United States. They have invested in our economy, and we want them to continue to do so and encourage others to join them.

    The President looks forward to hearing from these CEOs on how his administration can help them continue to grow their businesses in the United States.

    On Friday, he will have more meetings with world leaders, and then he will deliver his speech that will emphasize everything we have talked about today.

    Now I'll hand it over to General McMaster to talk about the meetings.

    GENERAL MCMASTER: Good afternoon, everyone.

    Q Good afternoon.

    GENERAL MCMASTER: The President will use this travel to the World Economic Forum to reiterate his commitment to mutually beneficial partnerships, and, as Gary said, to fair and reciprocal international economic systems.

    As the President has repeatedly said and has made clear in the National Security Strategy, economic security is national security.

    The President will also use his time in Davos to discuss other national security issues, including the international effort to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, our coalition to defeat ISIS, our efforts to counter Iran's destructive agenda to perpetuate violence across the greater Middle East, as well as Iran's ballistic missile activity, and the fundamental flaws in the Iran nuclear deal.

    On Thursday, the President will meet with Prime Minister May of the United Kingdom to discuss the conflict in Syria, Iran's destabilizing behavior, ways to address shortcomings in that Iran nuclear deal, and our shared goal of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.

    He will also meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel to reiterate America's strong commitment to Israel and efforts to reduce Iran's influence in the Middle East, and ways to achieve lasting peace.

    On Friday, the President will meet with President Kagame of Rwanda, who is currently the chairman of the African Union, to reaffirm the U.S.-Africa relationship and discuss shared priorities, including trade and security.

    He will also meet with President Berset of Switzerland, the host nation for the World Economic Forum, to discuss bilateral investment, economic growth, and innovation.

    In all of his meetings, the President hopes to increase economic opportunities for the American people, to build partnership to address common security goals, and to find new ways of reforming international and regional organizations to make them more effective and more accountable.

    The President looks forward to a very productive trip on behalf of the American people. Thank you.

    MR. COHN: He outranks me so he said I had to come up here first. (Laughter.) All right. Go ahead.

    Q I guess the first question - your economic - as far as economic growth. We just had a litany of businesses that are going to give back to the American people, but isn't it unfair to give the President credit for that? They already had that money in their coffers, right? I mean, what we're saying - they would have not turned it loose otherwise? And then I had a second question for him, hopefully.

    MR. COHN: Well, I would disagree with your premise completely. You know, look, if they had their money in their coffers, they could have done it last year, the year before, the year before, the year before. It seems like - it's not "seems like." Since we have passed the tax reform plan, all of these announcements have been made.

    And if you look specifically at the words in most of these press releases, all of them are talking about the regulatory relief, which we saw in the JPMorgan announcement. And we've seen the tax plan mentioned directly that companies now feel more comfortable about the economic position they're in, they feel better about the U.S. economy, they feel more confident about their earnings, and they feel like the lower tax rate allows them to share more of their potential earnings with their employees.

    So I think there's a hundred-percent correlation between what we've seen these almost close to 200 companies do and what we have done from a regulatory standpoint and more on a tax policy standpoint.

    Q And my follow-up question to you, General McMaster. As you mentioned, North Korea - they have said that they are in talks with South Korea. Has the President's policy led to where we are now? And how big of a threat is North Korea now compared to even three weeks ago?

    GENERAL MCMASTER: Well, as President Moon has said, it is the President's policy - his ability to rally international support behind the campaign of maximum pressure - that has made a significant difference.

    And what you see that's fundamentally different from a year ago is the common commitment across all nations that denuclearization is the only acceptable outcome on the Peninsula.

    Second, that the international community, and China in particular, does have a great deal of coercive economic power to be able to bring to bear to this.

    And the third element is that everyone recognizes that we can't repeat the mistakes of the past; really, to fall for what in the past has been the North Korean ploy to create the illusion of success in talks, and to use that lock in the status quo as the new normal while they continue to pursue these programs with undiminished vigor.

    So the danger is growing. And I think it's important for all of to recognize the North Korean regime for what it is and how grave a threat this is to the world.

    MR. COHN: One other thing - let me follow up - is, on the wage increases, the hourly wages going up, that's obviously coming out of future earnings. And the stock grants are obviously companies making an investment in their future.

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