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Donald Trump Coronavirus Task Force Briefing April 1 2020
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2020-04-03 07:45:21 UTC
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Donald Trump Coronavirus Task Force Briefing April 1 2020
Rev › Blog › Transcripts › Donald Trump Transcripts › Donald Trump Coronavirus Task Force Briefing Transcripts April 1
Donald Trump and the Coronavirus Task Force held their daily press conference on April 1. Trump said the federal stockpile of protective equipment is “nearly empty” and warned of “horrific” days to come. Read the full transcript of the news briefing here.



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Donald Trump: (00:05)
Thank you very much everybody. Thank you. So America continues to wage all out war to defeat the virus, this horrible, horrible virus. You see how terrible it is, especially when you look at the numbers from yesterday. And we explained why we’re extending our nationwide guidelines to slow the spread for 30 days. Together we have the power to save countless lives. We’re attacking the virus in every front with social distancing, economic support for our workers, rapid medical intervention, and very serious innovation and banning dangerous foreign travel that threatens the health of our people. And we did that early, far earlier than anyone would have thought and way ahead of anybody else. In this time of need, I know that every American will do their patriotic duty and help us to achieve a total victory. As governments and nations focus on the coronavirus, there’s a growing threat that cartels, criminals, terrorists, and other maligned actors will try to exploit the situation for their own gain. And we must not let that happen. We will never let that happen.
Donald Trump: (01:32)
Today, the United States is launching enhanced counter narcotics operations in the Western hemisphere to protect the American people from the deadly scourge of illegal narcotics. We must not let the drug cartels exploit the pandemic to threaten American lives. In cooperation with the 22 partner nations, U.S. Southern Command will increase surveillance, disruption and seizures of drug shipments and provide additional support for eradication efforts which are going on right now at a record pace. We’re deploying additional Navy destroyers, combat ships, aircraft and helicopters, Coast Guard cutters and Air Force surveillance aircraft, doubling our capabilities in the region. Very importantly, our forces are fully equipped with personnel protective equipment and we’ve taken additional safety measures to ensure our troops remain healthy. Secretary Mark Esper, Attorney General Bill Barr, National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien will provide more details. In addition, I’m going to have General Milley, who’s done an incredible job so many ways, say a few words and also with us our Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Gilday, who you know, I think you know and Commandant of the Coast Guard, Admiral Schultz.
Donald Trump: (03:04)
So I’m going to ask Mark to start and then we can go and after that we’re going to take questions as it pertains to this and then we’ll go on to phase two, which is the virus itself. Okay, thank you, please, Mark.
Mark Esper: (03:21)
Well, thank you Mr. President and good afternoon everyone. I appreciate the opportunity to be here today as we make this a very important announcement. At a time when the nation and the Department of Defense are focused on protecting the American people from the spread of the coronavirus, we also remain vigilant to the many other threats our country faces. Today, at the President’s direction, the Department of Defense in close cooperation with our inter-agency partners began enhanced counter-narcotics operations in Eastern Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. This initiative is part of the administration’s whole of government approach to combating the flow of illicit drugs into the United States and protecting the American people from their scourge.
Mark Esper: (04:03)
I want to thank all of our partners in this effort to include the United States Coast Guard, the Department of Homeland Security, the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Department of Justice, and members of the intelligence community for the tremendous support and cooperation. To conduct these enhanced operations, the President has directed the deployment of additional ships, aircraft, and security forces to the United States Southern Command area of responsibility. Included in this force package are Navy destroyers and littoral combat ships, Coast Guard Cutters, P.A. patrol aircraft, and elements of an Army security force assistance brigade. These additional forces will nearly double our capacity to conduct counter-narcotics operations in the region. Additionally, 22 partner nations have joined us in this fight, bring with them a variety of intelligence and operations capabilities needed to defeat these criminal organizations. Last year alone, United States Southern Command’s operations resulted in the seizure of over 280 metric tons of drugs, much of which was designated for shipment to America.
Mark Esper: (05:03)
While this was an incredible achievement, there’s much more work to be done. Transnational criminal organizations continue to threaten our security by smuggling cocaine, fentanyl, methamphetamines and other narcotics across our borders. These drug traffickers put our communities at risk and destroy lives. Every year, tens of thousands of Americans die from drug overdose and thousands more suffer the harmful effects of addiction. Furthermore, corrupt actors like the illegitimate Maduro regime in Venezuela, rely on the profits derived from the sell of narcotics to maintain their oppressive hold on power. The Venezuelan people continue to suffer tremendously due to Maduro’s criminal control over the country. Drug traffickers are seizing on this lawlessness by increasing their illicit activities. We must do more to prevent these drugs from arriving at our shores. These enhanced counter-narcotics operations that are now underway will further disrupt the flow of illicit drugs to America, deny our adversaries the financial resources they depend on and build the capacity of our partner nations throughout the region.
Mark Esper: (06:08)
I want to thank President Trump for his leadership and support to this critical mission. This is particularly important time for this operation to begin. As nations around the world shift their focus inward to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, many criminal organizations are attempting to capitalize on this crisis. The enhanced operations we are announcing today will keep the pressure on these criminal groups and protect the American people from the devastation caused by the flow of illegal drugs into our country. Mr. President, thank you for your leadership as we begin this important operation. While the men and women of the United States military work hard here at home to fight the coronavirus, we continue to take action around the world to defend our great country. Thank you and I’d like to invite General Milley.
General Milley: (06:54)
Thank you Secretary for those words and thank you Mr. President for your leadership and I want to publicly thank Admiral Craig Fowler, the commander of U.S. Southern Command out of Miami for leading this operation, which is underway effective today. And also at Admiral Gilday, the Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Schultz for their contributions to this from their services. There’s thousands of sailors, Coast Guardsman, soldiers, airmen, Marines involved in this operation. We came upon some intelligence sometime ago that the drug cartels as a result of COVID-19 were going to try to take advantage of the situation and try to infiltrate additional drugs into our country. As we know that 70,000 Americans die on an average annual basis to drugs, that’s unacceptable. We’re at war with COVID-19, we’re at war with terrorists and we are at war with the drug cartels as well. This was the United States military, you will not penetrate this country. You will not get past jump street. You’re not going to come in here and kill additional Americans.
General Milley: (07:51)
And we will marshal whatever assets are required to prevent your entry into this country to kill Americans. So right now the Navy has marshaled additional grey hull ships from both PACOM and EUCOM and for the Naval fleet at Norfolk. And they are set sail already and they’re in the Caribbean right now. In addition to that, there’s 10 Coast Guard Cutters and there’s special operations forces and security force assistance brigades along with Air Force reconnaissance aircraft. The bottom line is you’re not going to get through. Now is not the time to try to penetrate the United States with illegal drugs to kill Americans. We’re the United States military and we will defend our country, regardless of the cost. Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, Secretary.
Donald Trump: (08:28)
Thank you General, thank you.
Bill Barr: (08:31)
Thank you, Mr. President, thanks for your decisive leadership as we confront this unprecedented challenge posed by coronavirus. And I’d like to thank you for your support for this important initiative and thank all of the, Secretary of Defense and all the services for taking on this important initiative. Obviously during this crisis, we’re all focused above all else on COVID-19 but at the same time, our law enforcement and national security work must go forward protecting the American people from the full array of threats. For the Department of Justice, one of our highest priorities must remain destroying the Mexican cartels. Their trafficking is largely responsible for the deaths, as we all know now, of 70,000 Americans a year. And also the cost of this don’t count the destroyed families, the destroyed lives, the draining of our national treasure as state budgets are crushed by the burden that this narcotic trafficking causes.
Bill Barr: (09:45)
The President has made clear that we are in this fight against the cartels to win and that we are not interested in half-measures. And that the threat posed by the cartel is not just a law enforcement threat, but a national security threat as well. And in December, building on your success with the Mexican president and forging a cooperative relationship in the area of immigration, you asked me to go down and meet with the President Lopez Obrador and our Mexican counterparts to see if we could also establish a more comprehensive and coordinated effort with the Mexicans in confronting the cartels. And we’ve had some successful visits and discussions and currently have an array of activities underway against the cartels and we anticipate along with the Mexicans that these are going to bear fruit in the months ahead.
Bill Barr: (10:45)
But it quickly became clear that we can obtain the most immediate results, the best bang for the buck, where we increase the assets involved in interdiction on both the Pacific and Atlantic side of Mexico in the Central American countries. For years, the cartels have been using these sea routes to take the cocaine up from principally Columbia, now also out of Venezuela. And these sea routes on both coasts have become the primary means of bringing cocaine up to the United States. Because of the superb work done by the Defense Department and our intelligence community, we know exactly most of the time where these traffickers are at sea. But we’re significantly have been up til now, significantly limited in our ability to interdict because of the numbers of the assets we have deployed.
Bill Barr: (11:45)
Prior today, this limitation meant we could only intercept the fraction of the traffickers and the various boats that were detected. This will now double our capacity and we are talking about hundreds of tons of cocaine we’re now in a position to seize. So this is going to radically improve our interdiction efforts and put tremendous pressure we think on the cartels. And the effort that SOUTHCOM is undertaking is going to save lives by taking drugs off the street. Last week, I announced the unsealing of charges of narco terrorism drug trafficking and other crimes against the former Maduro regime, 16 members of that regime and their involvement in trafficking of 250 metric tons a year. A lot of that comes by sea, as I discussed at that time, but also because of the pressure we’re applying by our sea interdiction. They are trying to establish an air route out of Venezuela up into Central America, which is one of the reasons we’re trying to move firmly against that corrupt regime.
Bill Barr: (12:59)
You know, this drug war has gone on for many decades and at times in the past we’ve had great success and great results and at times we’ve taken our eye off the ball. Fortunately not in this administration, and I’m grateful that you, Mr. President, have brought focus to this fight and the determination to use whatever tools are necessary to win the fight. The cartels have to be defeated both for the people of this country and for the people of Mexico and Venezuela. So I’d like to thank you again, Mr. President, Secretary Esper for providing the wherewithal required to help win this war against the cartels and others who seek to send elicit drugs into our country. And with that, I’d like to introduce Ambassador O’Brien.
Robert O’Brien: (13:50)
Thank you, General, thank you, Mr. President. Today’s action is another example of the bold leadership of President Trump and his commitment to protecting the homeland against threats that seek to destabilize the United States and our Western hemisphere. The uncontrolled flow of illegal drugs into the United States poisons our communities, fuels the dangerous epidemic, an epidemic of addiction and threatens the safety and security of all Americans. The impressive U.S. Navy Coast Guard, Army, Marine Corps, Air Force and inter-agency operation will address a range of threats to our national security posed by narco traffickers and narco terrorists. It will reduce list financial support for drug trafficking that provides the corrupt Maduro regime in Venezuela and other bad actors with the funds necessary to conduct their malign activities. Under President Trump’s leadership, we will continue to execute our maximum pressure policy to counter the Maduro regimes, malign activities including drug trafficking. And this operation will help to choke off the funds that go to that corrupt regime.
Robert O’Brien: (14:55)
Maduro, narco terrorists and criminals should make no mistake that even as we are working around the clock to fight the spread of coronavirus, we will continue to execute the President’s counter narcotic strategy. We’re working on a number of important national security priorities as we face this public health crisis. The United States will continue to combat disinformation and fake news about this virus. We will work with the world’s largest oil producers to address volatility in global oil markets. We will always protect our servicemen and servicewomen around the world, including in Iraq and Afghanistan. I want the American people to know that President Trump and Vice President Pence and their administration are working tirelessly every day to protect the health and wellbeing of Americans and respond to the coronavirus. Our adversaries should take note however, this President has a clear-eyed focus on America’s national security interest. And let me be clear, it would be a mistake, a mistake with terrible consequences for any adversary to attempt to do us harm during this health crisis or ever for that matter. Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. President.
Donald Trump: (16:07)
So do we have any questions on this? Because this group is going to go back to work, they’re going to leave.
Speaker 1: (16:13)
A question either for you, Mr. President or Secretary Esper, what has changed that is allowing these assets to be deployed now, whereas General Barr said in the past they were not [inaudible 00:16:23] ?
Donald Trump: (16:24)
Well, for a long time we’ve had a lot of drugs coming into our country and it’s not that it’s increased, we’ve probably got it down a little bit, but it’s still a tremendous number of families are being ruined, lives are being ruined. It’s an incredible thing, especially as you’re at this position, you would never believe it. I see things that nobody would believe. I see reports that nobody would believe. So I met with the group behind me, all of them, and we said, what do you think we can do? And they think they can interdict, they that think we can stop it before it gets to the shores and they’re coming from all over the place and we have incredibly talented people. So I think I’m going to let Mark just give him a little bit of an answer to that. But we just want to see if we can stop a good percentage of the drugs coming into our country.
Mark Esper: (17:14)
Sure thing, thanks Mr. President. So first of all, it’s simply a matter of prioritization. The President’s giving us very clear guidance on what’s important to him in protecting the American people. And as some of you know, I began to review months ago looking at all of our different geographic combatant commands and looking at where we can free up time, money, and resources to put into other endeavors. In this case, we had scrutinized our inventory fairly closely, that Chairman Milley did a great deal of work on this with Admiral Gilday and we felt that there was no risk to the fleet, to our operations to free up, in this case Naval ships. We also freed up aircraft and other assets to apply them to this presidential priority. And of course, the Coast Guard did the same, so it was a very good operation. We feel this is very important to the American people and completely in line with the President’s direction.
Speaker 1: (18:00)
And how long will you be able to keep up this operational tempo?
Mark Esper: (18:03)
Well, it depends. What we’re going to do is we’re going to run it for some matter of time. I’m not going to disclose how long that will be and then we will assess it and then we’ll make adjustments from there. We may increase, we may decrease, we may sustain as is, but this will be an assessment we will do as an inter-agency team. We will report back to the President and we’ll take further guidance from there.
Donald Trump: (18:22)
[inaudible 00:18:22] didn’t do it for this reason, but it’ll also have an impact on the virus because we have people trying to get in, so not only drugs, but now we have a new phenomena. And that’s at least for the next hopefully short period of time, the virus, so we’ll be able to have an impact on that too. Please.
Speaker 2: (18:36)
Yeah, Mr. President, could you expand on that a little bit because you tie it to COVID-19, saying that these drug cartels were taking advantage of the situation of this pandemic. How exactly-
Donald Trump: (18:47)
Well, because we’re focused on so many other parts of the country and even parts of the world. And all of a sudden, areas where we had it clamped down pretty tight, in all fairness, the wall is up to about 160 miles already. And any areas where we have that wall, it’s for the most part contiguous, we have fill-ins but we’re up to 161 miles exactly. And any place where you have that wall, other than walking around it on the edges, it’s stopping everybody cold. I mean, we’re stopping … Nobody’s seen anything like it, that’s how good it works. And the other side knew had worked that well. Everybody, because everybody was for it five years ago, all of a sudden they changed.
Donald Trump: (19:27)
It’s having a tremendous impact. But we are now focused on so many different things because of what’s happened, because of this horrible, I say it’s a horrible phenomena that now we’ve got to focus on drugs and the drugs come in from different methods and we have the best people at sea anywhere in the world. So we’ll have a tremendous impact on drugs. But one of the other things, we’ll also have an impact we think on the virus. Yeah, please.
Speaker 4: (19:54)
Ambassador O’Brien, did a China under report, both the number of cases and the death toll from the coronavirus. And if that’s the case, Mr. President, what does that mean for our relationship with China and your relationship with President Xi?
Robert O’Brien: (20:09)
Well number one, I think the President has a great relationship with President Xi, and we’d like to have a great relationship with China. Unfortunately, we’re just not in a position to confirm any of the numbers that are coming out of China. There is no way to confirm any of those numbers. There’s lots of public reporting on whether the numbers are too low. You’ve got access to those reports that are coming out of the Chinese social media and some of the few reporters that are left in China. We just have no way to confirm any of those numbers. Thank you.
Donald Trump: (20:34)
We really don’t know, how do we know whether they under reported or reported however they report. But we had a great call the other night. We’re working together on a lot of different things including trade. They’re buying a lot, they’re spending a lot of money and they’re giving it to our farmers. They’re paying our farmers for the product. So we’re going to continue that along. John, yeah.
Speaker 1: (20:55)
I have another one, sir. You tweeted earlier today that you have uncovered intelligence that there is a sneak attack being planned against American troops, America assets in Iraq. Are we talking about Kataib Hezbollah again? I’ll also-
Donald Trump: (21:10)
I know what you’re saying, but we just have information that they were planning something and it’s very good information. It was led by Iran, not necessarily Iran, but by groups supported by Iran, but that to me is Iran. And we’re just saying, don’t do it, don’t do it, it would be a very bad thing for them if they did it.
Speaker 1: (21:31)
The last time they did do it in early March at Camp Taji, there was a response from the military against Kataib Hezbollah alone, your tweets-
Donald Trump: (21:41)
I had a very powerful response by the way, that response knocked out five different places, but it also took out a lot of very bad people.
Speaker 1: (21:48)
Your tweets seem to suggest though that if it happens again, it may go up the food chain.
Donald Trump: (21:52)
Well, that was a very big response, we knocked out a lot. We looked at … they had one side, we hit five big ones and ammunition sites. You saw what happened, and I won’t say how many people were killed, but some bad people were killed and a lot of them. That was a big response. But this response will be bigger, if they do something. Yeah and you had one, please.
Speaker 3: (22:13)
Yes, thank you Mr. President. Just going back to your conversation with President Xi, wondering if you received an intelligence report that talked about the discrepancy in the numbers and if you addressed that with-
Donald Trump: (22:25)
We have not received that, but their numbers seem to be a little bit on the light side and I’m being nice when I say that, relative to what we witnessed and what was reported. But we discussed that with him, not so much the numbers, as what they did and how they’re doing. And we’re in constant communication with the … I mean, I would say the biggest communication is myself and President Xi. The relationship’s very good. Look, they will be spending when things even out, this is obviously a little bit of a hurdle what’s happened over the last month, but they’ll be spending $250 billion buying our product. $50 billion to the farmers alone, $200 billion to other things. They never did that before. So we have a great trade deal and we’d like to keep it. They’d like to keep it and the relationship is good. As to whether or not their numbers are accurate, I’m not an accountant from China.
Speaker 3: (23:26)
[inaudible 00:23:26] things at all in terms of the trade deals?
Donald Trump: (23:28)
No, because people just don’t know. People don’t know. Where did it come from? I think we all understand where it came from and President Xi understands that and we don’t have to make a big deal out of it. We didn’t like the fact that they said it came from our soldiers and they haven’t pursued that. And that a mid-level person said that, that was not a high level person. So I will always assume the best. I’ll assume the high level people didn’t know about it. It was a foolish statement. So look, the relationship with China is a good one and my relationship with him is really good. Please.
Speaker 7: (24:03)
Can I follow up just on that point on Chinese propaganda that you mentioned as well as an Ambassador O’Brien. So in the past several weeks, China has been shipping PPEs, masks. They’ve either been selling or donating everywhere, Africa, Europe, Italy, Russia, and really pushing this narrative that they’re taking on a global leadership role in the crisis. So what are your thoughts on that and is there any plan for your administration to take on that role?
Donald Trump: (24:27)
Oh, I don’t mind if they want … Yeah, I feel that is a positive if they’re helping other countries. We have 151 countries right now that are under siege by the virus, under siege. Some are doing really badly, they don’t know about social distancing. These are countries that aren’t highly sophisticated. They don’t have great communication to the rest of the world. I mean, they don’t know the things that we’re doing and that some others are able to do. And if China can help them, I’m all for it. I’m for all of us helping everybody. We’re soon going to have more ventilators than we need. We’re building thousands of ventilators right now. Now, it takes a period of time to build them. And again, nobody could have known a thing like this could happen. We’re building thousands. We will fairly soon be at a point where we have far more than we can use. Even after we stockpile for some future catastrophe, which we hope doesn’t happen. We’re going to be distributed them, the extras around the world. We’ll go to Italy, we’ll go to France, we’ll go to Spain, which is very hard hit.
Speaker 7: (25:29)
On that note, is there any truth on reporting that your administration is stopping shipment of USAID stockpiles of PPEs abroad?
Donald Trump: (25:36)
No, no truth whatsoever.
Speaker 7: (25:38)
So your administration is not-
Donald Trump: (25:38)
I would love China and other countries if they have additional supplies, medical supplies to give to other countries. 151, why would I stop that? Wouldn’t it be terrible to stop it?
Speaker 7: (25:51)
Is the U.S. stopping shipment of our own stockpile through USAID to other countries?
Donald Trump: (25:56)
Whatever we have, whatever we’ve committed to, we commit, but we also need a lot for ourselves, so we’re very focused on that until we get over this. So obviously, we’re not going to be shipping too much until now. We do have excess of certain things and we don’t have enough of others. I just had a great talk today with Doug McMillan from Walmart and I gave him a very, very big order for gowns, for protective gear, for the doctors, for the nurses, for everything. And he’s actually very excited about it. He’s the biggest purchaser of this kind of thing. I mean of anything probably in the world. And he is very excited about it. And he said, what size? I said, it’s almost an unlimited.
Donald Trump: (26:39)
When you look at these hospitals, the amount that they order, you almost say, how could they possibly use so much, whether it’s masks or the protective gear. But we are supplying a tremendous amount and we just ordered a lot from Walmart. And he’s taken this on personally. And I said, let it be shipped not to a warehouse directly to the side of the hospital or wherever they need it because we save a lot of-
Donald Trump: (27:03)
Play to the side of the hospital or wherever they need it because we save a lot of time when we do that. So Walmart, in addition to many other companies and people, is now involved at the highest level. Please.
Speaker 8: (27:14)
The announcements that were made today are aimed at curbing the flow of narcotics into the country. Are you concerned that we’re possibly losing ground on the drug crisis while we’re…
Donald Trump: (27:24)
I don’t think we’re losing ground, but we don’t want to lose ground. That’s why we’re doing it. I don’t want to lose ground. It’s a big fight. I’ve seen many families where they’re wiped out because they lost a son or a daughter or a husband or a wife or whatever. Or all of them and we don’t want to lose ground and we are heavily focused on the virus, very heavily focused. After this goes into effect, which essentially is now, we will never have been so focused on drugs coming into our country as we are right now. And remember, as that wall gets bigger, that really helps us a lot. Really helps us a lot. Yeah, please.
Mark Esper: (27:59)
Is the Mexican government or any other Latin American government working in conjunction with this operation to help with that drug?
Donald Trump: (28:06)
Many of the governments are, and Mexico in particular is. In Mexico right now, we have 27,000 Mexican soldiers on our Southern border keeping people out of our country and very few people are coming into our country right now and as we complete, again the wall, in addition to the 27,000 soldiers, it’s a very tough place to come into.
Donald Trump: (28:30)
When I took over, people were coming in and they were bringing whatever they wanted. They were bringing drugs of any type and now, it’s very hard for them. And it will get harder and harder. But the president of Mexico is a great guy who has really helped us a lot. 27,000 Mexican soldiers. And you remember when I first took over, they had all of the caravans coming up with 10,000, 15,000 people in the caravans. They were marching through Mexico. That’s not happening anymore. Please, in the back?
Speaker 9: (29:02)
Mr President, are narco-militants such as the FARC 57th Front out of Columbia or the Maduro regime, do you know if they’re working in conjunction with the Mexican cartels? Is there any intelligence indicating that?
Donald Trump: (29:16)
I cannot tell you. I know the answer to that, I believe I do, but I cannot tell you that. We have information that would lead us to believe something very powerfully. But I cannot tell you the answer to that. Yeah, please? [inaudible 00:29:33]
Speaker 10: (29:33)
Mr President, have US forces in Iraq taken the precautions because of this particular attack? And have you…
Donald Trump: (29:39)
Sure. They’re taking precautions and we are watching it very closely and if something bad happens, it’s going to be very painful for the other side.
Speaker 10: (29:47)
Have you been in touch with the Iraqi government about this?
Donald Trump: (29:50)
They know about it. Yeah. They know.
Speaker 10: (29:52)
Are they offering additional protection?
Donald Trump: (29:53)
We’ll see. We’ll see what happens, but we’re down to a small force now over the years. Since I got, we’ve been bringing smaller and smaller, and we’re down right now to a small number, but we have very powerful air power there. We have the big base. I mean, nobody can get near it. Nobody can even get near that. But we’ve really largely left, we’ve taken tremendous amounts out and we’ve deployed them elsewhere, including bringing some back home.
Speaker 10: (30:28)
And do you think tweeting about it will help prevent that from happening? Or perhaps [crosstalk 00:30:32]
Donald Trump: (30:34)
It’s social media, it gets out. I have hundreds of millions of people, number one on Facebook. Did you know I was number one on Facebook? I just found out I’m number one on Facebook. I thought that was very nice, for whatever it means. It represents something and when I can explain to people just don’t do it. It’s going to be bad if you do, it’s going to be really bad and they don’t need to do it, they have enough problems. Iran has enough problems without doing that. But we’ve been pulling back very substantially over the last year in Iraq. And so, that’s the way it is.
Speaker 10: (31:08)
You said before, you don’t want to give the enemy, whoever that is in this case, a heads up, do you feel like maybe you did?
Donald Trump: (31:16)
No, I’m just giving them a warning, it’s not a heads up. I’m giving them a warning. There’s a big difference. I’m saying if you do anything to hurt our troops, they’re going to pay a price. Now, as per the question, they did last time. We didn’t make a big deal out of it, but we hit very, very hard five massive major ammunition sites and a lot of people went with it. A lot of bad people. A lot of enemy went with it and we didn’t want to make a big deal out of it, but they paid a big price. They’ll pay a much bigger price this time if they do anything.
Speaker 11: (31:49)
Now that we have Admiral Gilday here, perhaps we could ask a question about what the plans are for the Roosevelt, sir?
Donald Trump: (31:55)
Sure.
Admiral Gilday: (31:59)
In terms of Roosevelt, we’re making great progress in terms of testing and also moving people off the ship. So, in the past day or so, we’ve moved over a thousand. That number will increase to more than 2,700 by Friday, as we continue to increase the testing as well and fly those samples off. So again, pretty quickly.
Speaker 11: (32:19)
And will the ship remain fully operational?
Admiral Gilday: (32:21)
It is fully operational now.
Speaker 11: (32:23)
And will remain so?
Admiral Gilday: (32:24)
It will remain so.
Speaker 12: (32:26)
Just a followup to that, what protocols are you putting in place to help mitigate the spread of coronavirus among service men and women who live [crosstalk 00:32:33].
Admiral Gilday: (32:33)
Across the fleet, before we have any ships getting underway for training exercises, for deployments, those sailors are spending 14 days in quarantine before they get underway. We’ve increased the amount of testing equipment as well as physicians on board our ships at sea. So, we’ve taken additional steps since the beginning of the COVID crisis.
Donald Trump: (32:52)
Not too many people are going to be getting off at various ports anymore. Right? I think we-
Admiral Gilday: (32:59)
Correct.
Donald Trump: (32:59)
We probably have decided on that.
Speaker 12: (33:03)
You mean civilians?
Donald Trump: (33:04)
Thank you. No, military people, on ships.
Mark Esper: (33:09)
I’d like to add one thing to that. There seems to be this narrative out there that we should just shut down the entire United States military and address the problem that way. That’s not feasible. We have a mission. Our mission is to protect the United States of America and our people. And so, we live and work in cramped quarters, whether it’s an aircraft carrier, a submarine, a tank, a bomber, it’s the nature of our business. But the chain of command has very clear guidance and I’m confident between the commanding officers and the senior non-commissioned officers, they’re taking every reasonable precaution to make sure we practice as best we can, social distancing, sanitizing environments, et cetera, consistent with that mission. And that’s what I trust Admiral Gilday, acting Secretary Modly and all the other service chiefs and service leaders to do. And I’m confident we’ll do that, because keep in mind, we have a job to do and we will continue to do it. Defend the United States of America.
Speaker 13: (33:57)
Mr President, you mentioned the stockpile earlier, the Washington Post reported today that the US stockpile is nearly depleted of PPE. Is that the case? And if so, how are you planning to mitigate?
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Donald Trump Coronavirus Task Force Briefing April 1 2020
Rev › Blog › Transcripts › Donald Trump Transcripts › Donald Trump Coronavirus Task Force Briefing Transcripts April 1
Donald Trump and the Coronavirus Task Force held their daily press conference on April 1. Trump said the federal stockpile of protective equipment is “nearly empty” and warned of “horrific” days to come. Read the full transcript of the news briefing here.
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Donald Trump: (00:05)
Thank you very much everybody. Thank you. So America continues to wage all out war to defeat the virus, this horrible, horrible virus. You see how terrible it is, especially when you look at the numbers from yesterday. And we explained why we’re extending our nationwide guidelines to slow the spread for 30 days. Together we have the power to save countless lives. We’re attacking the virus in every front with social distancing, economic support for our workers, rapid medical intervention, and very serious innovation and banning dangerous foreign travel that threatens the health of our people. And we did that early, far earlier than anyone would have thought and way ahead of anybody else. In this time of need, I know that every American will do their patriotic duty and help us to achieve a total victory. As governments and nations focus on the coronavirus, there’s a growing threat that cartels, criminals, terrorists, and other maligned actors will try to exploit the situation for their own gain. And we must not let that happen. We will never let that happen.
Donald Trump: (01:32)
Today, the United States is launching enhanced counter narcotics operations in the Western hemisphere to protect the American people from the deadly scourge of illegal narcotics. We must not let the drug cartels exploit the pandemic to threaten American lives. In cooperation with the 22 partner nations, U.S. Southern Command will increase surveillance, disruption and seizures of drug shipments and provide additional support for eradication efforts which are going on right now at a record pace. We’re deploying additional Navy destroyers, combat ships, aircraft and helicopters, Coast Guard cutters and Air Force surveillance aircraft, doubling our capabilities in the region. Very importantly, our forces are fully equipped with personnel protective equipment and we’ve taken additional safety measures to ensure our troops remain healthy. Secretary Mark Esper, Attorney General Bill Barr, National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien will provide more details. In addition, I’m going to have General Milley, who’s done an incredible job so many ways, say a few words and also with us our Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Gilday, who you know, I think you know and Commandant of the Coast Guard, Admiral Schultz.
Donald Trump: (03:04)
So I’m going to ask Mark to start and then we can go and after that we’re going to take questions as it pertains to this and then we’ll go on to phase two, which is the virus itself. Okay, thank you, please, Mark.
Mark Esper: (03:21)
Well, thank you Mr. President and good afternoon everyone. I appreciate the opportunity to be here today as we make this a very important announcement. At a time when the nation and the Department of Defense are focused on protecting the American people from the spread of the coronavirus, we also remain vigilant to the many other threats our country faces. Today, at the President’s direction, the Department of Defense in close cooperation with our inter-agency partners began enhanced counter-narcotics operations in Eastern Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. This initiative is part of the administration’s whole of government approach to combating the flow of illicit drugs into the United States and protecting the American people from their scourge.
Mark Esper: (04:03)
I want to thank all of our partners in this effort to include the United States Coast Guard, the Department of Homeland Security, the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Department of Justice, and members of the intelligence community for the tremendous support and cooperation. To conduct these enhanced operations, the President has directed the deployment of additional ships, aircraft, and security forces to the United States Southern Command area of responsibility. Included in this force package are Navy destroyers and littoral combat ships, Coast Guard Cutters, P.A. patrol aircraft, and elements of an Army security force assistance brigade. These additional forces will nearly double our capacity to conduct counter-narcotics operations in the region. Additionally, 22 partner nations have joined us in this fight, bring with them a variety of intelligence and operations capabilities needed to defeat these criminal organizations. Last year alone, United States Southern Command’s operations resulted in the seizure of over 280 metric tons of drugs, much of which was designated for shipment to America.
Mark Esper: (05:03)
While this was an incredible achievement, there’s much more work to be done. Transnational criminal organizations continue to threaten our security by smuggling cocaine, fentanyl, methamphetamines and other narcotics across our borders. These drug traffickers put our communities at risk and destroy lives. Every year, tens of thousands of Americans die from drug overdose and thousands more suffer the harmful effects of addiction. Furthermore, corrupt actors like the illegitimate Maduro regime in Venezuela, rely on the profits derived from the sell of narcotics to maintain their oppressive hold on power. The Venezuelan people continue to suffer tremendously due to Maduro’s criminal control over the country. Drug traffickers are seizing on this lawlessness by increasing their illicit activities. We must do more to prevent these drugs from arriving at our shores. These enhanced counter-narcotics operations that are now underway will further disrupt the flow of illicit drugs to America, deny our adversaries the financial resources they depend on and build the capacity of our partner nations throughout the region.
Mark Esper: (06:08)
I want to thank President Trump for his leadership and support to this critical mission. This is particularly important time for this operation to begin. As nations around the world shift their focus inward to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, many criminal organizations are attempting to capitalize on this crisis. The enhanced operations we are announcing today will keep the pressure on these criminal groups and protect the American people from the devastation caused by the flow of illegal drugs into our country. Mr. President, thank you for your leadership as we begin this important operation. While the men and women of the United States military work hard here at home to fight the coronavirus, we continue to take action around the world to defend our great country. Thank you and I’d like to invite General Milley.
General Milley: (06:54)
Thank you Secretary for those words and thank you Mr. President for your leadership and I want to publicly thank Admiral Craig Fowler, the commander of U.S. Southern Command out of Miami for leading this operation, which is underway effective today. And also at Admiral Gilday, the Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Schultz for their contributions to this from their services. There’s thousands of sailors, Coast Guardsman, soldiers, airmen, Marines involved in this operation. We came upon some intelligence sometime ago that the drug cartels as a result of COVID-19 were going to try to take advantage of the situation and try to infiltrate additional drugs into our country. As we know that 70,000 Americans die on an average annual basis to drugs, that’s unacceptable. We’re at war with COVID-19, we’re at war with terrorists and we are at war with the drug cartels as well. This was the United States military, you will not penetrate this country. You will not get past jump street. You’re not going to come in here and kill additional Americans.
General Milley: (07:51)
And we will marshal whatever assets are required to prevent your entry into this country to kill Americans. So right now the Navy has marshaled additional grey hull ships from both PACOM and EUCOM and for the Naval fleet at Norfolk. And they are set sail already and they’re in the Caribbean right now. In addition to that, there’s 10 Coast Guard Cutters and there’s special operations forces and security force assistance brigades along with Air Force reconnaissance aircraft. The bottom line is you’re not going to get through. Now is not the time to try to penetrate the United States with illegal drugs to kill Americans. We’re the United States military and we will defend our country, regardless of the cost. Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, Secretary.
Donald Trump: (08:28)
Thank you General, thank you.
Bill Barr: (08:31)
Thank you, Mr. President, thanks for your decisive leadership as we confront this unprecedented challenge posed by coronavirus. And I’d like to thank you for your support for this important initiative and thank all of the, Secretary of Defense and all the services for taking on this important initiative. Obviously during this crisis, we’re all focused above all else on COVID-19 but at the same time, our law enforcement and national security work must go forward protecting the American people from the full array of threats. For the Department of Justice, one of our highest priorities must remain destroying the Mexican cartels. Their trafficking is largely responsible for the deaths, as we all know now, of 70,000 Americans a year. And also the cost of this don’t count the destroyed families, the destroyed lives, the draining of our national treasure as state budgets are crushed by the burden that this narcotic trafficking causes.
Bill Barr: (09:45)
The President has made clear that we are in this fight against the cartels to win and that we are not interested in half-measures. And that the threat posed by the cartel is not just a law enforcement threat, but a national security threat as well. And in December, building on your success with the Mexican president and forging a cooperative relationship in the area of immigration, you asked me to go down and meet with the President Lopez Obrador and our Mexican counterparts to see if we could also establish a more comprehensive and coordinated effort with the Mexicans in confronting the cartels. And we’ve had some successful visits and discussions and currently have an array of activities underway against the cartels and we anticipate along with the Mexicans that these are going to bear fruit in the months ahead.
Bill Barr: (10:45)
But it quickly became clear that we can obtain the most immediate results, the best bang for the buck, where we increase the assets involved in interdiction on both the Pacific and Atlantic side of Mexico in the Central American countries. For years, the cartels have been using these sea routes to take the cocaine up from principally Columbia, now also out of Venezuela. And these sea routes on both coasts have become the primary means of bringing cocaine up to the United States. Because of the superb work done by the Defense Department and our intelligence community, we know exactly most of the time where these traffickers are at sea. But we’re significantly have been up til now, significantly limited in our ability to interdict because of the numbers of the assets we have deployed.
Bill Barr: (11:45)
Prior today, this limitation meant we could only intercept the fraction of the traffickers and the various boats that were detected. This will now double our capacity and we are talking about hundreds of tons of cocaine we’re now in a position to seize. So this is going to radically improve our interdiction efforts and put tremendous pressure we think on the cartels. And the effort that SOUTHCOM is undertaking is going to save lives by taking drugs off the street. Last week, I announced the unsealing of charges of narco terrorism drug trafficking and other crimes against the former Maduro regime, 16 members of that regime and their involvement in trafficking of 250 metric tons a year. A lot of that comes by sea, as I discussed at that time, but also because of the pressure we’re applying by our sea interdiction. They are trying to establish an air route out of Venezuela up into Central America, which is one of the reasons we’re trying to move firmly against that corrupt regime.
Bill Barr: (12:59)
You know, this drug war has gone on for many decades and at times in the past we’ve had great success and great results and at times we’ve taken our eye off the ball. Fortunately not in this administration, and I’m grateful that you, Mr. President, have brought focus to this fight and the determination to use whatever tools are necessary to win the fight. The cartels have to be defeated both for the people of this country and for the people of Mexico and Venezuela. So I’d like to thank you again, Mr. President, Secretary Esper for providing the wherewithal required to help win this war against the cartels and others who seek to send elicit drugs into our country. And with that, I’d like to introduce Ambassador O’Brien.
Robert O’Brien: (13:50)
Thank you, General, thank you, Mr. President. Today’s action is another example of the bold leadership of President Trump and his commitment to protecting the homeland against threats that seek to destabilize the United States and our Western hemisphere. The uncontrolled flow of illegal drugs into the United States poisons our communities, fuels the dangerous epidemic, an epidemic of addiction and threatens the safety and security of all Americans. The impressive U.S. Navy Coast Guard, Army, Marine Corps, Air Force and inter-agency operation will address a range of threats to our national security posed by narco traffickers and narco terrorists. It will reduce list financial support for drug trafficking that provides the corrupt Maduro regime in Venezuela and other bad actors with the funds necessary to conduct their malign activities. Under President Trump’s leadership, we will continue to execute our maximum pressure policy to counter the Maduro regimes, malign activities including drug trafficking. And this operation will help to choke off the funds that go to that corrupt regime.
Robert O’Brien: (14:55)
Maduro, narco terrorists and criminals should make no mistake that even as we are working around the clock to fight the spread of coronavirus, we will continue to execute the President’s counter narcotic strategy. We’re working on a number of important national security priorities as we face this public health crisis. The United States will continue to combat disinformation and fake news about this virus. We will work with the world’s largest oil producers to address volatility in global oil markets. We will always protect our servicemen and servicewomen around the world, including in Iraq and Afghanistan. I want the American people to know that President Trump and Vice President Pence and their administration are working tirelessly every day to protect the health and wellbeing of Americans and respond to the coronavirus. Our adversaries should take note however, this President has a clear-eyed focus on America’s national security interest. And let me be clear, it would be a mistake, a mistake with terrible consequences for any adversary to attempt to do us harm during this health crisis or ever for that matter. Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. President.
Donald Trump: (16:07)
So do we have any questions on this? Because this group is going to go back to work, they’re going to leave.
Speaker 1: (16:13)
A question either for you, Mr. President or Secretary Esper, what has changed that is allowing these assets to be deployed now, whereas General Barr said in the past they were not [inaudible 00:16:23] ?
Donald Trump: (16:24)
Well, for a long time we’ve had a lot of drugs coming into our country and it’s not that it’s increased, we’ve probably got it down a little bit, but it’s still a tremendous number of families are being ruined, lives are being ruined. It’s an incredible thing, especially as you’re at this position, you would never believe it. I see things that nobody would believe. I see reports that nobody would believe. So I met with the group behind me, all of them, and we said, what do you think we can do? And they think they can interdict, they that think we can stop it before it gets to the shores and they’re coming from all over the place and we have incredibly talented people. So I think I’m going to let Mark just give him a little bit of an answer to that. But we just want to see if we can stop a good percentage of the drugs coming into our country.
Mark Esper: (17:14)
Sure thing, thanks Mr. President. So first of all, it’s simply a matter of prioritization. The President’s giving us very clear guidance on what’s important to him in protecting the American people. And as some of you know, I began to review months ago looking at all of our different geographic combatant commands and looking at where we can free up time, money, and resources to put into other endeavors. In this case, we had scrutinized our inventory fairly closely, that Chairman Milley did a great deal of work on this with Admiral Gilday and we felt that there was no risk to the fleet, to our operations to free up, in this case Naval ships. We also freed up aircraft and other assets to apply them to this presidential priority. And of course, the Coast Guard did the same, so it was a very good operation. We feel this is very important to the American people and completely in line with the President’s direction.
Speaker 1: (18:00)
And how long will you be able to keep up this operational tempo?
Mark Esper: (18:03)
Well, it depends. What we’re going to do is we’re going to run it for some matter of time. I’m not going to disclose how long that will be and then we will assess it and then we’ll make adjustments from there. We may increase, we may decrease, we may sustain as is, but this will be an assessment we will do as an inter-agency team. We will report back to the President and we’ll take further guidance from there.
Donald Trump: (18:22)
[inaudible 00:18:22] didn’t do it for this reason, but it’ll also have an impact on the virus because we have people trying to get in, so not only drugs, but now we have a new phenomena. And that’s at least for the next hopefully short period of time, the virus, so we’ll be able to have an impact on that too. Please.
Speaker 2: (18:36)
Yeah, Mr. President, could you expand on that a little bit because you tie it to COVID-19, saying that these drug cartels were taking advantage of the situation of this pandemic. How exactly-
Donald Trump: (18:47)
Well, because we’re focused on so many other parts of the country and even parts of the world. And all of a sudden, areas where we had it clamped down pretty tight, in all fairness, the wall is up to about 160 miles already. And any areas where we have that wall, it’s for the most part contiguous, we have fill-ins but we’re up to 161 miles exactly. And any place where you have that wall, other than walking around it on the edges, it’s stopping everybody cold. I mean, we’re stopping … Nobody’s seen anything like it, that’s how good it works. And the other side knew had worked that well. Everybody, because everybody was for it five years ago, all of a sudden they changed.
Donald Trump: (19:27)
It’s having a tremendous impact. But we are now focused on so many different things because of what’s happened, because of this horrible, I say it’s a horrible phenomena that now we’ve got to focus on drugs and the drugs come in from different methods and we have the best people at sea anywhere in the world. So we’ll have a tremendous impact on drugs. But one of the other things, we’ll also have an impact we think on the virus. Yeah, please.
Speaker 4: (19:54)
Ambassador O’Brien, did a China under report, both the number of cases and the death toll from the coronavirus. And if that’s the case, Mr. President, what does that mean for our relationship with China and your relationship with President Xi?
Robert O’Brien: (20:09)
Well number one, I think the President has a great relationship with President Xi, and we’d like to have a great relationship with China. Unfortunately, we’re just not in a position to confirm any of the numbers that are coming out of China. There is no way to confirm any of those numbers. There’s lots of public reporting on whether the numbers are too low. You’ve got access to those reports that are coming out of the Chinese social media and some of the few reporters that are left in China. We just have no way to confirm any of those numbers. Thank you.
Donald Trump: (20:34)
We really don’t know, how do we know whether they under reported or reported however they report. But we had a great call the other night. We’re working together on a lot of different things including trade. They’re buying a lot, they’re spending a lot of money and they’re giving it to our farmers. They’re paying our farmers for the product. So we’re going to continue that along. John, yeah.
Speaker 1: (20:55)
I have another one, sir. You tweeted earlier today that you have uncovered intelligence that there is a sneak attack being planned against American troops, America assets in Iraq. Are we talking about Kataib Hezbollah again? I’ll also-
Donald Trump: (21:10)
I know what you’re saying, but we just have information that they were planning something and it’s very good information. It was led by Iran, not necessarily Iran, but by groups supported by Iran, but that to me is Iran. And we’re just saying, don’t do it, don’t do it, it would be a very bad thing for them if they did it.
Speaker 1: (21:31)
The last time they did do it in early March at Camp Taji, there was a response from the military against Kataib Hezbollah alone, your tweets-
Donald Trump: (21:41)
I had a very powerful response by the way, that response knocked out five different places, but it also took out a lot of very bad people.
Speaker 1: (21:48)
Your tweets seem to suggest though that if it happens again, it may go up the food chain.
Donald Trump: (21:52)
Well, that was a very big response, we knocked out a lot. We looked at … they had one side, we hit five big ones and ammunition sites. You saw what happened, and I won’t say how many people were killed, but some bad people were killed and a lot of them. That was a big response. But this response will be bigger, if they do something. Yeah and you had one, please.
Speaker 3: (22:13)
Yes, thank you Mr. President. Just going back to your conversation with President Xi, wondering if you received an intelligence report that talked about the discrepancy in the numbers and if you addressed that with-
Donald Trump: (22:25)
We have not received that, but their numbers seem to be a little bit on the light side and I’m being nice when I say that, relative to what we witnessed and what was reported. But we discussed that with him, not so much the numbers, as what they did and how they’re doing. And we’re in constant communication with the … I mean, I would say the biggest communication is myself and President Xi. The relationship’s very good. Look, they will be spending when things even out, this is obviously a little bit of a hurdle what’s happened over the last month, but they’ll be spending $250 billion buying our product. $50 billion to the farmers alone, $200 billion to other things. They never did that before. So we have a great trade deal and we’d like to keep it. They’d like to keep it and the relationship is good. As to whether or not their numbers are accurate, I’m not an accountant from China.
Speaker 3: (23:26)
[inaudible 00:23:26] things at all in terms of the trade deals?
Donald Trump: (23:28)
No, because people just don’t know. People don’t know. Where did it come from? I think we all understand where it came from and President Xi understands that and we don’t have to make a big deal out of it. We didn’t like the fact that they said it came from our soldiers and they haven’t pursued that. And that a mid-level person said that, that was not a high level person. So I will always assume the best. I’ll assume the high level people didn’t know about it. It was a foolish statement. So look, the relationship with China is a good one and my relationship with him is really good. Please.
Speaker 7: (24:03)
Can I follow up just on that point on Chinese propaganda that you mentioned as well as an Ambassador O’Brien. So in the past several weeks, China has been shipping PPEs, masks. They’ve either been selling or donating everywhere, Africa, Europe, Italy, Russia, and really pushing this narrative that they’re taking on a global leadership role in the crisis. So what are your thoughts on that and is there any plan for your administration to take on that role?
Donald Trump: (24:27)
Oh, I don’t mind if they want … Yeah, I feel that is a positive if they’re helping other countries. We have 151 countries right now that are under siege by the virus, under siege. Some are doing really badly, they don’t know about social distancing. These are countries that aren’t highly sophisticated. They don’t have great communication to the rest of the world. I mean, they don’t know the things that we’re doing and that some others are able to do. And if China can help them, I’m all for it. I’m for all of us helping everybody. We’re soon going to have more ventilators than we need. We’re building thousands of ventilators right now. Now, it takes a period of time to build them. And again, nobody could have known a thing like this could happen. We’re building thousands. We will fairly soon be at a point where we have far more than we can use. Even after we stockpile for some future catastrophe, which we hope doesn’t happen. We’re going to be distributed them, the extras around the world. We’ll go to Italy, we’ll go to France, we’ll go to Spain, which is very hard hit.
Speaker 7: (25:29)
On that note, is there any truth on reporting that your administration is stopping shipment of USAID stockpiles of PPEs abroad?
Donald Trump: (25:36)
No, no truth whatsoever.
Speaker 7: (25:38)
So your administration is not-
Donald Trump: (25:38)
I would love China and other countries if they have additional supplies, medical supplies to give to other countries. 151, why would I stop that? Wouldn’t it be terrible to stop it?
Speaker 7: (25:51)
Is the U.S. stopping shipment of our own stockpile through USAID to other countries?
Donald Trump: (25:56)
Whatever we have, whatever we’ve committed to, we commit, but we also need a lot for ourselves, so we’re very focused on that until we get over this. So obviously, we’re not going to be shipping too much until now. We do have excess of certain things and we don’t have enough of others. I just had a great talk today with Doug McMillan from Walmart and I gave him a very, very big order for gowns, for protective gear, for the doctors, for the nurses, for everything. And he’s actually very excited about it. He’s the biggest purchaser of this kind of thing. I mean of anything probably in the world. And he is very excited about it. And he said, what size? I said, it’s almost an unlimited.
Donald Trump: (26:39)
When you look at these hospitals, the amount that they order, you almost say, how could they possibly use so much, whether it’s masks or the protective gear. But we are supplying a tremendous amount and we just ordered a lot from Walmart. And he’s taken this on personally. And I said, let it be shipped not to a warehouse directly to the side of the hospital or wherever they need it because we save a lot of-
Donald Trump: (27:03)
Play to the side of the hospital or wherever they need it because we save a lot of time when we do that. So Walmart, in addition to many other companies and people, is now involved at the highest level. Please.
Speaker 8: (27:14)
The announcements that were made today are aimed at curbing the flow of narcotics into the country. Are you concerned that we’re possibly losing ground on the drug crisis while we’re…
Donald Trump: (27:24)
I don’t think we’re losing ground, but we don’t want to lose ground. That’s why we’re doing it. I don’t want to lose ground. It’s a big fight. I’ve seen many families where they’re wiped out because they lost a son or a daughter or a husband or a wife or whatever. Or all of them and we don’t want to lose ground and we are heavily focused on the virus, very heavily focused. After this goes into effect, which essentially is now, we will never have been so focused on drugs coming into our country as we are right now. And remember, as that wall gets bigger, that really helps us a lot. Really helps us a lot. Yeah, please.
Mark Esper: (27:59)
Is the Mexican government or any other Latin American government working in conjunction with this operation to help with that drug?
Donald Trump: (28:06)
Many of the governments are, and Mexico in particular is. In Mexico right now, we have 27,000 Mexican soldiers on our Southern border keeping people out of our country and very few people are coming into our country right now and as we complete, again the wall, in addition to the 27,000 soldiers, it’s a very tough place to come into.
Donald Trump: (28:30)
When I took over, people were coming in and they were bringing whatever they wanted. They were bringing drugs of any type and now, it’s very hard for them. And it will get harder and harder. But the president of Mexico is a great guy who has really helped us a lot. 27,000 Mexican soldiers. And you remember when I first took over, they had all of the caravans coming up with 10,000, 15,000 people in the caravans. They were marching through Mexico. That’s not happening anymore. Please, in the back?
Speaker 9: (29:02)
Mr President, are narco-militants such as the FARC 57th Front out of Columbia or the Maduro regime, do you know if they’re working in conjunction with the Mexican cartels? Is there any intelligence indicating that?
Donald Trump: (29:16)
I cannot tell you. I know the answer to that, I believe I do, but I cannot tell you that. We have information that would lead us to believe something very powerfully. But I cannot tell you the answer to that. Yeah, please? [inaudible 00:29:33]
Speaker 10: (29:33)
Mr President, have US forces in Iraq taken the precautions because of this particular attack? And have you…
Donald Trump: (29:39)
Sure. They’re taking precautions and we are watching it very closely and if something bad happens, it’s going to be very painful for the other side.
Speaker 10: (29:47)
Have you been in touch with the Iraqi government about this?
Donald Trump: (29:50)
They know about it. Yeah. They know.
Speaker 10: (29:52)
Are they offering additional protection?
Donald Trump: (29:53)
We’ll see. We’ll see what happens, but we’re down to a small force now over the years. Since I got, we’ve been bringing smaller and smaller, and we’re down right now to a small number, but we have very powerful air power there. We have the big base. I mean, nobody can get near it. Nobody can even get near that. But we’ve really largely left, we’ve taken tremendous amounts out and we’ve deployed them elsewhere, including bringing some back home.
Speaker 10: (30:28)
And do you think tweeting about it will help prevent that from happening? Or perhaps [crosstalk 00:30:32]
Donald Trump: (30:34)
It’s social media, it gets out. I have hundreds of millions of people, number one on Facebook. Did you know I was number one on Facebook? I just found out I’m number one on Facebook. I thought that was very nice, for whatever it means. It represents something and when I can explain to people just don’t do it. It’s going to be bad if you do, it’s going to be really bad and they don’t need to do it, they have enough problems. Iran has enough problems without doing that. But we’ve been pulling back very substantially over the last year in Iraq. And so, that’s the way it is.
Speaker 10: (31:08)
You said before, you don’t want to give the enemy, whoever that is in this case, a heads up, do you feel like maybe you did?
Donald Trump: (31:16)
No, I’m just giving them a warning, it’s not a heads up. I’m giving them a warning. There’s a big difference. I’m saying if you do anything to hurt our troops, they’re going to pay a price. Now, as per the question, they did last time. We didn’t make a big deal out of it, but we hit very, very hard five massive major ammunition sites and a lot of people went with it. A lot of bad people. A lot of enemy went with it and we didn’t want to make a big deal out of it, but they paid a big price. They’ll pay a much bigger price this time if they do anything.
Speaker 11: (31:49)
Now that we have Admiral Gilday here, perhaps we could ask a question about what the plans are for the Roosevelt, sir?
Donald Trump: (31:55)
Sure.
Admiral Gilday: (31:59)
In terms of Roosevelt, we’re making great progress in terms of testing and also moving people off the ship. So, in the past day or so, we’ve moved over a thousand. That number will increase to more than 2,700 by Friday, as we continue to increase the testing as well and fly those samples off. So again, pretty quickly.
Speaker 11: (32:19)
And will the ship remain fully operational?
Admiral Gilday: (32:21)
It is fully operational now.
Speaker 11: (32:23)
And will remain so?
Admiral Gilday: (32:24)
It will remain so.
Speaker 12: (32:26)
Just a followup to that, what protocols are you putting in place to help mitigate the spread of coronavirus among service men and women who live [crosstalk 00:32:33].
Admiral Gilday: (32:33)
Across the fleet, before we have any ships getting underway for training exercises, for deployments, those sailors are spending 14 days in quarantine before they get underway. We’ve increased the amount of testing equipment as well as physicians on board our ships at sea. So, we’ve taken additional steps since the beginning of the COVID crisis.
Donald Trump: (32:52)
Not too many people are going to be getting off at various ports anymore. Right? I think we-
Admiral Gilday: (32:59)
Correct.
Donald Trump: (32:59)
We probably have decided on that.
Speaker 12: (33:03)
You mean civilians?
Donald Trump: (33:04)
Thank you. No, military people, on ships.
Mark Esper: (33:09)
I’d like to add one thing to that. There seems to be this narrative out there that we should just shut down the entire United States military and address the problem that way. That’s not feasible. We have a mission. Our mission is to protect the United States of America and our people. And so, we live and work in cramped quarters, whether it’s an aircraft carrier, a submarine, a tank, a bomber, it’s the nature of our business. But the chain of command has very clear guidance and I’m confident between the commanding officers and the senior non-commissioned officers, they’re taking every reasonable precaution to make sure we practice as best we can, social distancing, sanitizing environments, et cetera, consistent with that mission. And that’s what I trust Admiral Gilday, acting Secretary Modly and all the other service chiefs and service leaders to do. And I’m confident we’ll do that, because keep in mind, we have a job to do and we will continue to do it. Defend the United States of America.
Speaker 13: (33:57)
Mr President, you mentioned the stockpile earlier, the Washington Post reported today that the US stockpile is nearly depleted of PPE. Is that the case? And if so, how are you planning to mitigate?
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-46282173
Joaquín 'El Chapo' Guzmán's trial: From shocking to bizarre
Published4 February 2019
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Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Liskamm points at the accused Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman (R) while delivering rebuttal during the trial of Guzman in this courtroom sketch in Brooklyn federal court in New York City
IMAGE COPYRIGHTREUTERS
image captionThe trial of accused druglord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is nearing its end after eight weeks of evidence from the prosecution
The trial of Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán has provided shocking revelations about the Mexican drug lord's life.
Below are some of the most disturbing testimonies by witnesses in the high-profile trial in New York as well as some allegations which are plain bizarre.
Hi-tech murder room
A trusted hitman for El Chapo kept a "murder room" in his mansion on the US border, which featured a drain on the floor to more easily clean up after slayings.
Edgar Galvan testified in January that Antonio "Jaguar" Marrufo had a room with white tiles that was sound-proofed "so no noise comes out".
"In that house, no-one comes out," Galvan told jurors.
Galvan said his role in the organisation was to smuggle weapons into the US, so that Marrufo could use them to "clear" the region of rivals.
At the time, he was living in El Paso, Texas, while Marrufo was living in Ciudad Juarez, just across the US-Mexico border.
But both men are now in jail on firearms and gun charges.
Raping young girls 'gave him life'
Documents unsealed just two days before jury deliberations offered disturbing new accusations against El Chapo from Alex Cifuentes, a Colombian drug lord who has described himself as El Chapo's "right-hand man".
Cifuentes, who prosecutors say spent two years hiding from authorities with El Chapo in the Mexican mountains, claims that El Chapo would drug and rape girls as young as 13 years old, according to the New York Times.
A woman named Comadre Maria would routinely send El Chapo photographs of young girls that he and his associates could pick from.
This same woman was involved as an intermediary for El Chapo's dealings with Mexico's president, Cifuentes alleged during the trial.
For $5,000 (£3,800), Cifuentes claims Comadre Maria would send the selected girls up to Mr Guzman's mountain camps, where they would be drugged with "a powdery substance" and raped.
The documents allege that El Chapo called the youngest girls "his vitamins" and said raping them gave him "life".
Mr Guzman's lawyer said his client denies these allegations and added that the claims had been "too prejudicial and unreliable to be admitted at trial".
Emma Coronel
IMAGE COPYRIGHTGETTY IMAGES
image captionEl Chapo's wife, Emma Coronel, sat quietly through a session where the FBI shared her husband's texts to his lovers
A $100m presidential pay-off
A bombshell allegation came during Cifunetes' in-court testimony.
Cifuentes claims former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, who served from 2012-18, accepted a $100m (£77m) bribe from El Chapo.
He alleges Mr Pena Nieto contacted El Chapo after taking office in 2012, asking for $250m in return for ending a manhunt for the drug cartel kingpin. El Chapo instead offered him $100m, which the new president allegedly accepted.
Mr Pena Nieto has not publicly commented on the allegations.
Narco-mistresses
"El Chapo" used his slew of mistresses to help further his narcotics operation - and his text history proves it, the FBI alleges.
Thanks to the Flexi-spy software Guzmán used to spy on his wife, Emma Coronel, and the women with whom he had affairs, the FBI was able to present his texts in court.
Guzmán and Ms Coronel fawned over their daughters in many texts, as parents do, but some had a distinctly "El Chapo" sensibility.
In one sent on the twins' six-month birthday, the New York Daily News reported, he said: "Our [daughter] is fearless, I'm going to give her an AK-47 so she can hang with me."
Another damaging series of texts relayed how El Chapo fled a villa during a raid by US and Mexican officials.
"I had to run out at three in the afternoon," Guzmán told his wife. "I saw them pounding on the door next door, but I was able to jump out."
The life of 'El Chapo'
Who is 'El Chapo' Guzmán?
He then reportedly asked her to bring him new clothes, shoes and black moustache dye.
Guzmán tracked around 50 people through phones and computers, according to the drug lord's ex-techie, Cristian Rodriguez.
Mr Rodriguez told the court "El Chapo" frequently turned on his lovers' microphones after ending calls with them "to see what they would say about him", the Daily News reported.
One of those lovers was Agustina Cabanillas Acosta, who allegedly helped "El Chapo" make deals across the region.
In between sweet nothings, they discussed drug shipments and "non-stop" sales.
The alleged kingpin also reportedly paid for Ms Acosta's liposuction.
Ms Acosta, meanwhile, was well aware of her lover's snooping - "I'm way smarter than him," she reportedly texted her friends.
Lucero Guadalupe Sanchez Lopez, girlfriend (2nd L) of accused Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman (2nd R), testifies as Guzman"s wife Emma Coronel (R) looks on from the gallery
IMAGE COPYRIGHTREUTERS
image captionLucero Guadalupe Sanchez Lopez, girlfriend (2nd left) of accused Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman (2nd right), testifies as his wife Emma Coronel (right) looks on
Enemy buried alive
In the most gruesome testimony to date, witness Isaias Valdez Rios described seeing "El Chapo" brutally beat at least three men before shooting them.
In one incident, Mr Valdez Rios said two people originally from Sinaloa who had joined the rival Los Zetas cartel were deemed traitors and rounded up by Guzmán's hitmen.
For more than three hours the drug lord brutally beat them, Guzmán's former bodyguard said.
"They were completely like rag dolls - their bones were totally broken. They could not move. And Joaquin was still hitting them with the branch and his weapon too," Mr Valdez Rios said.
The two men were later driven to an area where they could see a large bonfire.
There, the jury was told, "El Chapo" cursed each one before shooting them in the head with his rifle.
The leader of the Sinaloa cartel ordered that they be thrown in the bonfire, telling his men that he did not want any bones to remain, Mr Valdez Rios said.
He said the third man murdered by "El Chapo" was a member of the rival Arellano Felix cartel.
"He had burns made with an iron on his back, his shirt was stuck to his skin. He had burns made with a car lighter all over his body. His feet were burned," Mr Valdez Rios told the court.
The man was then locked in a wooden structure for days. Then he was brought blindfolded to a graveyard, his hands and legs bound.
"El Chapo" started to interrogate him, and while he was responding, shot him with his handgun.
The man was still gasping for air - but he was dumped in a hole and buried alive, Mr Valdez Rios said.
Prison escape
The secrets of the drug lord's daring escape from a Mexican maximum security prison in 2015 were revealed by a former cartel associate.
Testifying in court, Damaso Lopez said his boss' wife and sons had been involved from the start to get El Chapo out of Altiplano prison.
He mentioned secret meetings in 2014, where Emma Coronel delivered detailed instructions from her husband to the plotters.
"A tunnel had to be built and they [plotters] should start to work," Ms Coronel said.
The motorcycle adapted to a rail used by "El Chapo" to escape the Altiplano prison
IMAGE COPYRIGHTGETTY IMAGES
image caption"El Chapo" used a specially adapted motorcycle to ride through the tunnel
The kingpin's sons later bought a property near the prison, and the digging started.
A GPS watch was smuggled into the prison, giving the plotters exact co-ordinates where the drug lord's prison cell was.
The one-mile (1.6km) tunnel took months to complete, and "El Chapo" had complained that digging was too loud and he could hear the "noise" from his cell, Mr Lopez said.
He added that the concrete below his boss' cell "had been very difficult to break through".
Despite all the problems, "El Chapo" escaped in July 2015, riding on a specially adapted small motorcycle through the tunnel.
Naked escapades
Yet another mistress, Lucero Guadalupe Sanchez Lopez, revealed to the court details of the drug lord's 2014 escape from Mexican marines.
When the marines burst into his safehouse, Ms Lopez said the alleged drug lord took off running - stark naked.
They used an escape tunnel under a bathtub to flee, trudging through mud for an hour before surfacing, according to the New York Post.
As the mistress began to cry while testifying, the drug lord's wife, Ms Coronel, reportedly cackled in the gallery.
Just days after his affair with Ms Lopez, "El Chapo" would be captured by authorities - once again naked - in bed with Ms Coronel.
She and her husband were both in matching burgundy-coloured jackets during Ms Lopez's testimony, in an attempt to show their solidarity, reports the BBC's Tara McKelvey from court.
Blinged-out weaponry
The drug lord's reputed extravagance extended even to his extensive collection of weaponry, the trial has heard.
Among his prized possessions were a diamond-encrusted, monogrammed pistol and a gold-plated AK-47.
A diamond-encrusted pistol that government witness Jesús Zambada said belonged to the accused Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman
IMAGE COPYRIGHTREUTERS
image captionA diamond-encrusted pistol that allegedly belonged to Mr Guzmán
Fatal handshake snub
Much of the evidence against the suspected narco chief has come from the prosecution's star witness, Jesús Zambada.
Mr Zambada testified that the alleged drug kingpin had the brother of another cartel leader killed because he did not shake Guzmán's hand.
Rodolfo Fuentes had met Guzmán to make peace in a cartel and gang war, the court heard.
"When [Rodolfo] left, Chapo gave him his hand and said, 'See you later, friend,' and Rodolfo just left him standing there with his hand extended," Mr Zambada said.
Mr Fuentes and his wife were shot and killed outside a cinema soon afterwards.
Mexico president rejects 'El Chapo' claims
'El Chapo' fan rejected from his jury
Former Sinaloa lieutenant Miguel Angel Martinez also testified for the government, telling the jury he once asked "El Chapo" why he killed people.
"And he answered me: 'Either your mom's going to cry or their mom's going to cry.'"
Death for lying
A former cartel leader told the court how "El Chapo" once had his own cousin killed after the man lied about being out of town.
Juan Guzman had told the drug boss he would be travelling, only to be spotted at a park in the city.
"My compadre became angry, because he had lied to him," ex-cartel capo Damaso Lopez Nunez said.
To make an example out of Juan, "El Chapo" allegedly ordered him to be interrogated and assassinated. Juan's secretary, who was with him at the time, was also killed.
The drug boss' mistress Ms Lopez later told the court she remembered being with him when the news of Juan's death arrived.
"He said from that point on, whoever betrayed him, they would die," Ms Lopez said. "Whether they were family or women, they were going to die."
328 million lines of coke
Assistant US Attorney Adam Fels said in his opening argument that "El Chapo" had sent "more than a line of cocaine for every single person in the United States" - in just four of his shipments.
That amounts to over 328 million lines of cocaine, said the prosecutor.
Mr Zambada said that once, in 1994, Guzmán gave the order to sink a boat carrying 20 tonnes of cocaine to evade authorities.
Drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is escorted into a helicopter at Mexico City"s airport following his recapture during an intense military operation in Los Mochis, in Sinaloa State
IMAGE COPYRIGHTAFP
image captionDrug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzmán is escorted into a helicopter at Mexico City"s airport following his recapture during an intense military operation in Los Mochis, in Sinaloa State
Bazooka target practice
The court also heard that Guzmán once used a bazooka for target practice - to relax on a family holiday.
Mr Zambada said "El Chapo" took the anti-tank rocket launcher with him on a trip with relatives in 2005.
He decided to "test out" the weapon after the group had finished target practice with assault rifles, according to the witness.
A $50m bribe fund
Some of the biggest news from testimony was how the Sinaloa cartel allegedly paid off a host of top Mexican officials to ensure their drug business ran smoothly.
Mr Zambada said the traffickers had $50m (£39m) in protection money for former Mexican Secretary of Public Security García Luna, so that corrupt officers would be appointed to head police operations.
Mr Zambada said he gave the money to Mr Luna in briefcases full of cash. Mr Luna has denied the allegations.
When former Mexico City Mayor Gabriel Regino was in line to become the next secretary of security, Mr Zambada says the cartel bribed him, too.
Mr Regino, who is now a professor, has also denied the claims.
Drawing showing courtroom with witness Jesus Zambada and Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman
IMAGE COPYRIGHTREUTERS
image caption"El Chapo" (right) is the highest-ranking alleged drug lord to face trial in the US so far
'Narco-saint' at court
A 6in (15cm) figurine of a folk hero dubbed the narco-saint has been spotted on a shelf in a conference room used by the defendant's lawyers at the court, the New York Post reported.
The statue of Jesús Malverde, which has him seated on a purple throne with bags of cash, appeared on Wednesday, one of Guzmán's lawyers told the newspaper.
Jesús Malverde has been celebrated as a Robin Hood-type hero who, legend says, stole from the rich and gave to the poor in the early 1900s.
A private zoo
Mr Martinez told the court Guzmán was so wealthy, he had a private zoo on top of his numerous properties - including a $10m (£8) beach house as well as a yacht he named after himself ("Chapito").
Built in the early '90s, El Chapo's zoo reportedly had lions, tigers, and crocodiles, as well as a little train to ferry guests through it.
The property also had a house, pool and tennis courts nearby, Mr Martinez said.
Related Topics
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El Chapo trial
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