Continuing his Davos media blitz, President Trump sat down for a lengthy, wide-ranging interview with CNBC host Joe Kernen where he discussed the impeachment hoax, his underappreciated economic successes, the successes and failures of Tesla and Boeing, and the American effort to suppress the spread of the mysterious new Chinese coronavirus.
During the opening minutes of the interview, after a brief preamble, Kernen jumped into questions about the coronavirus, asking Trump whether he is worried about a global pandemic.
Trump replied that the situation is completely under control.
"No. Not at all. And - we're - we have it totally under control. It's one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It's - going to be just fine."
Trump added that he trusts President Xi, and that the US can trust that the Chinese health officials are on top of the situation, and are no longer dissembling about the true severity of the virus.
"I do. I do. I have a great relationship with President Xi. We just signed probably the biggest deal ever made. It certainly has the potential to be the biggest deal ever made. And - it was a very interesting period of time time."
When it comes to impeachment, Trump told Kernen that he didn't have much time yesterday to pay attention to proceedings. But based on what he saw, Trump felt his team did "really good" while once again denouncing the Democrats' impeachment push as a "total hoax."
"I got - I had a busy day yesterday, as you know. You were there. And we had the speech and we had lots of meetings with different leaders, including Pakistan and others. Other countries. In addition to businessmen all over the place. But I did get to see some of it. It's a hoax. It's a total hoax. It's a perfect conversation."
“I think the team was really good. And - the facts are all on our side. The Republican party has never been this unified. You saw that. 195 to nothing. I guess twice. In fact we got three Democrats voting for us. That was with the House. I think - "
On the subject of whether the Dems will succeed in calling witnesses, something that doesn't look likely after Republicans managed to shut out most of the Democratic amendments from yesterday's rules resolution, Trump said he "really [doesn't] know."
"--I really don't know. I think that-- if everybody tells the truth, it's perfect. All you have to do is read the transcript. Read-- if you take a look at the transcript-- and it's really two transcripts. It's-- you know, I had a first call which was perfect, and I had a second call which was perfect. You notice they don't mention the calls, though. They never mention the calls. They talk about everything but the calls. All they have to do is read the transcripts. I put it out all the time. The other thing is speak to the president of Ukraine. He's been great, I have to tell you. And his foreign minister's been great."
For somebody who spent most of his campaign bashing the global elites like his one-time rival Hillary Clinton, Trump acknowledged that, although many of the power players in attendance might not admit it, they're fans of his economic policies, including his dedication to global stimulus. Kernen pointed out that all the CEOs who appeared on CNBC yesterday directly from Davos seemed to fixate on the strength of the US economy, instead of the impeachment fracas.
Trump happily took credit for the robust economy, claiming - in spite of some cracks in the facade that emerged earlier this month - that the American consumer has "never been so rich."
Well, I appreciate that very much. We do. We have an incredible economy. The consumer has never been so rich. They-- you know, they're-- between the tax cuts and the regulation cuts-- people forget about regulation. I think it might have been more important than the tax cuts. But we have-- a consumer in the United States that has never done so well. And I think we're really poised to have I think we have tremendous potential. You know, we're at a point where we've done so well, I think we're going do much better. We have tremendous potential.
Interviewers can't discuss the American economy with Trump without the president going on a tangent about the Fed, and all Kernen had to do was ask whether Trump believes the Fed's balance sheet expansion is correlated to stocks' 50% rally since inauguration day for the president to launch into a tirade about the Powell Fed.
When the Fed raised interest rates, it did so "too fast," Trump said. And when it came time to cut once again, the central bank didn't do it "fast enough."
"Well, I think it's the opposite, actually. The Fed raised too fast interest. They brought up the rate too fast, and they didn't drop it fast enough. And that was very-- you know, that was a lot of increases, and it was a lot of increase. And I think it's really the opposite of what you're saying. Now they've dropped it, but it was very late. And you look at other countries where they actually have negative interest rates, negative in a positive way. I mean they're actually getting paid-- they make a loan and they end up--"
Additionally, Trump cited the strength of the dollar as evidence that interest rates are still too high - even as most market participants expect the Fed to stay on hold this year - while arguing that if Powell would continue cutting rates, "many good things would happen."
No, because I think the dollar's very, very strong. And I think the rate should go down. We have a very strong dollar, and that sounds good, and it is good in many ways, but it's very bad in terms of manufacturing. I've created almost 700,000 manufacturing jobs. The past administration said manufacturing is dead, which I said, "Tell me about that. How do you-- you can't do that." And we have had a tremendous success, but it's harder with a strong dollar. And-- I want this dollar to be strong. I want it to be so powerful. I want it to be great. But if you lower the interest rates, so many good things would happen.
The next batch of questions pertained to several of the most influential American corporations who have been in the headlines lately, starting with Tesla, which saw its shares vaunt above a critical threshold for CEO Elon Musk, who appears to be on track to receive a massive payday thanks to a pay package that was totally reliant on Tesla stock performance.
The president said that he admires Elon and that he's "one of our very smart people." However, Tesla must build another "very big plant" in the US, Trump said, to pay back America for all it has done for the company.
"He likes rockets. And - he does good at rockets too," President Trump tells CNBC about Elon Musk. "He’s one of our very smart people. He’s going to be building a very big plant in the United States. He has to, because we help him, so he has to help us."
Trump was also asked to weigh in on Apple's refusal to unlock the iPhone of the Pensacola shooter. The president angrily answered that Apple "has to help us."
"We should start finding some of the bad people out there that we can do with Apple...Apple has to help us. And I’m very strong on it."
"They have the keys to so many criminals and criminal minds, and we can do things."
As calls for Boeing to change the name of its tainted 737 MAX 8 intensify, President Trump has once again been proven right, as he suggested last year that Boeing should rebrand the Max.
But with the vague timeline for the MAX returning to service, Trump said he's "so disappointed" in Boeing, and exclaimed that the company's struggles could wipe more than half a percentage point off of GDP.
"I am so disappointed in Boeing - had a tremendous impact," President Trump says about the planemaker that said Max plan won’t be cleared until the middle of the year. "You know, when you talk about growth, it’s so big that some people say it’s more than a half a point of GDP. So Boeing - big, big disappointment to me. Big disappointment."
Trump was busy on Wednesday, giving interviews and a press conference to the press assembled at Davos, During a separate interview with Fox Business's Maria Bartiromo, Trump said a Middle Class tax cut would be coming if Republicans take back the House in November.
"I'm going to make a tax cut, and we're probably going to make the other permanent," Trump said, adding that his administration would be announcing the new tax initiative in the next 90 days. The president also delivered a press conference that largely echoed the themes from his opening keynote speech yesterday after arriving in Switzerland.
Watch the full interview below: