On his 100th day in office, President Trump sat down with CBS’ “Face the Nation” for a wide-ranging interview that aired on Sunday. And Trump was asked by host John Dickerson to reflect on what he wished he had known about the job before entering the Oval Office.
“One of the things that I’ve learned is how dishonest the media is, really,” Trump said. “I’ve done things that are I think very good.”
The president pointed to what he said was unfair coverage of his decision not to terminate the North American Free Trade Agreement as he had promised during the campaign.
“I was going to terminate it, but I got a very nice call from a man I like, the president of Mexico,” Trump explained. “I got a very nice call from Justin Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada. … I was all set to do it. In fact, I was going to do it today. I was going to do as we’re sitting here. I would’ve had to delay you. I was going to do it today. I was going to terminate NAFTA. But they called up and they said, ‘Would you negotiate?’ And I said, ‘Yes, I will negotiate.'”
Trump, who last week referred to the show as “Deface the Nation,” complained to host Dickerson that he wasn’t given credit for his trade negotiations with China — a country he had previously called a “currency manipulator.”
“I love your show,” Trump told Dickerson. “I call it ‘Deface the Nation.’ But, you know, your show is sometimes not exactly correct. But when they talk about currency manipulation, and I did say I would call China, if they were, a currency manipulator, early in my tenure. And then I get there. No. 1, they — as soon as I got elected, they stopped. They’re not — it’s not going down anymore, their currency.”
Trump said he would’ve been criticized for sticking with that line while attempting to get Chinese President Xi Jinping to work with the United States on its response to North Korea’s nuclear provocations.
“Can you imagine if I say, ‘Hey, by the way, how are you doing with North Korea? Also, we’re going to announce that you’re a currency manipulator tomorrow,'” Trump said. “So the mainstream media never talks about that. They never say that. And that’s, you know, unfortunate.”
Trump said getting North Korea to cease its ballistic missile tests outweighs the importance of a trade deal with China.
“I think that, frankly, North Korea is maybe more important than trade,” he said. “Trade is very important. But massive warfare with millions, potentially millions of people being killed? That, as we would say, trumps trade.”
Trump continued, “If China can help us with North Korea and can solve that problem, that’s worth making not as good a trade deal for the United States, excuse me, right?”
The president then reiterated some of his eye-opening comments about North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
“A lot of people don’t like when I say it, but he was a young man of 26 or 27 when he took over from his father, when his father died,” Trump said. “He’s dealing with obviously very tough people, in particular the generals and others. And at a very young age, he was able to assume power. A lot of people, I’m sure, tried to take that power away, whether it was his uncle or anybody else. And he was able to do it. So obviously, he’s a pretty smart cookie.”
But Trump also would not rule anything out when it comes to military action in North Korea.
“If [North Korea] does a nuclear test, I will not be happy,” the president said. “And I can tell you also, I don’t believe that the president of China, who is a very respected man, will be happy either.”
“Not happy mean military action?” Dickerson asked.
“I don’t know,” Trump replied. “I mean, we’ll see.”
When asked about the investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election, Trump floated the idea that China could have been behind the hacking of emails that U.S. intelligence officials have concluded was the work of the Kremlin.
“If you don’t catch a hacker, okay, in the act, it’s very hard to say who did the hacking,” Trump said. “Could have been China, could have been a lot of different groups.”
During a long exchange about the Republican bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, Trump reluctantly said the GOP health care plan would have “a clause that guarantees” coverage for those with preexisting conditions — something previous iterations did not.
The president also said he will make a decision on releasing his tax returns after he’s no longer under audit, which he claimed “could happen soon.”
Trump was also asked about his assertion in a recent Reuters interview that he thought the job of being president would be easier.
“Well, it’s a tough job,” he said. “But I’ve had a lot of tough jobs. I’ve had things that were tougher, although I’ll let you know that better at the end of eight years. Perhaps eight years. Hopefully, eight years. But I’ll let you know later on.”
Still, Trump insisted he loves being president.
“I love doing it,” he said. “I’m, you know, thoroughly enjoying it. It’s always a challenge, like life itself is a challenge. But it’s something that I really love, and I think I’ve done a very good job at it.”
Read more from Yahoo News’ coverage of Trump’s first 100 days:
- Trump approaches 100 days with lowest job approval rating in more than 70 years
- Trump’s chaotic first 100 days — as seen through his tweets
- What Trump has done for, and to, the environment in his first 100 days
- The Ever-Trumpers: Revisiting his backers from 2016, we find they still like him
- Fact check: The White House’s claims about Trump’s first 100 days
- The contrarians: They didn’t vote for Trump, but they would now
- Trump foreign policy at 100 days: The downside of unpredictability
- Twitter, Mar-a-Lago and Obama-bashing: The 45th president’s 100 days
- Photos: From inauguration to 100th day — President Trump’s rocky ride in pictures
- Photos: From crude to creative — 100 days of Trump signs wielded by fans and foes
- Trump doesn’t talk like other presidents. Would he be a better president if he did?