With Donald Trump's 100th day in office fast approaching and set to coincide with the April 28th deadline when the Continuing Resolution is set to expire, potentially resulting in a government shutdown, the FT sat down with the president for an interview that covers some of the more pertinent aspects of Trump's presidency to date. As the FT notes, halfway through the interview in the Oval Office, Trump is asked if he regrets any of his abrasive tweets about allies, political opponents and the state of the world. Trump pauses, momentarily, and responds: “I don’t regret anything, because there is nothing you can do about it. You know if you issue hundreds of tweets, and every once in a while you have a clinker, that’s not so bad.” To which the FT responds, "there are tentative signs that there is more method behind the madness than critics suspect." In addition to the previously noted warning that the US is prepared to engage North Korea unilaterally should China fail to intervene (even though it already has to an extent), here are some of the highlights:
# On whether Trump will bring up tariffs and "equalization" during his meeting with Xi:
I don’t want to talk about tariffs yet, perhaps the next time we meet. So I don’t want to talk about tariffs yet. But you used the word equalise. That is a very good word because they are not equalised. If you used a word other than tariff, it is not an equal. You know when you talk about, when you talk about currency manipulation, when you talk about devaluations, they are world champions. And our country hasn’t had a clue, they haven’t had a clue. The past administration hasn’t had and many administrations, I don’t want to say only Obama; this has gone on for many years, They haven’t had a clue. But I do.
Does Trump regret any of his tweets:
I don’t regret anything, because there is nothing you can do about it. You know if you issue hundreds of tweets, and every once in a while you have a clinker, that’s not so bad. Now my last tweet, you know the one that you are talking about perhaps, was the one about being in quotes wire tapped, meaning surveilled. Guess what, it is turning out to be true . . . I predicted Brexit.
# On Trump's use of "abrasive language", and whether he is proud of that:
Well it hasn’t worked for our predecessors. Look where we are. We have an $800bn trade deficit. The Middle East is a mess. They shouldn’t have gone in. And I was totally opposed to the war in the Middle East which I think finally has been proven, people tried very hard to say I wasn’t but you’ve seen that it is now improving.
# Does Trump want to change the postwar liberal order:
This isn’t an exercise. This is a very, very serious problem that we have in the world today. And we have more than one but this is no exercise. This is not just talk. The United States has talked long enough and you see where it gets us, it gets us nowhere.
# On "frightened" members of US alliances"; Alliances have not always worked out very well for us. But I do believe in alliances. I believe in relationships. And I believe in partnerships. But alliances have not always worked out very well for us. OK?
# On what US Tax reform will look like and when it will take place, and also on the recent healthcare vote failure, which Trump is now saying he didn't want in the first place:
Well, I don’t want to talk about when and I don’t want to talk about timing. We will have a very massive and very strong tax reform. But I am not going to talk about when. Right now I am working very much on the, you know that we didn’t take a vote but with healthcare. I didn’t want to take a vote. It was my idea. I said why should I take a vote.
# On potentially losing the healthcare vote:
Yeah, I don’t lose. I don’t like to lose. But that wasn’t a definitive day. They are negotiating as we speak. I don’t know if you know. They are negotiating right now. There was no reason to take a vote. I said, ‘Don’t take a vote,’ and we will see what happens. But one way or the other, I promised the people great healthcare. We are going to have great healthcare in this country. Now, it will be in one form or another. It will be a repeal and replace of Obamacare which is the deal that is being negotiated now. And if we don’t get the. Freedom Caucus there that would be fine. They’re friends of mine. Many of them have already left, and many of them as you know have already given us their vote. But when you have zero Democrats, zero, you need close to 100 per cent of the Republicans.
# On whether Europe falls apart and Marine Le Pen's chances of winning:
I think Brexit is very good for the UK, it is going to be very good for UK. I would have thought when it happened that more would follow, but I really think the European Union is getting their act together. It could be a very good thing for both. I don’t know what is going to happen [in France]. I know that some outside distractions have taken place which have changed that race. That’s going to be an interesting race. I really don’t know and I don’t know her. I have never met her.
# On whether Trump still enjoys his job:
I am really liking it. I’ve enjoyed it. I’ve enjoyed it. We have done a lot. We’re doing great. The jobs: Ford just announced they are doing three major plants, three major expansions, thousands of jobs; General Motors, Fiat, a couple of them off the record because ‘Why do I need this for?’ But a couple of them were going to build in Mexico, now they are building in Michigan. Now they are building in Ohio. We got it going.
*) Much more in the full interview found after the jump....