Key moments from Trump's comments to reporters

The president answered questions on two occasions Thursday.

ByABC News
August 10, 2017, 5:39 PM

— -- President Donald Trump took questions from reporters on two occasions Thursday, taking the opportunity at his second briefing to again warn North Korea about its threats against the United States and to express disappointment in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's failure to pass a health care bill before the August recess.

Here's a look at the highlights from Trump's second series of responses to reporters at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey:


"I'd like to de-nuke the world," said Trump, the same afternoon in which he claimed his prior threat to bring "fire and fury" upon North Korea "wasn't tough enough."

The president said that until such a day, the U.S. "will be most powerful nuclear power by far" with the "biggest, finest" nuclear arsenal.

"Nobody is going to be threatening us with anything," said Trump.

    Trump thanks Vladimir Putin

    Trump thanked the Russian president for expelling hundreds of U.S. diplomatic employees from Russia, appearing to suggest it will save the U.S. money.

    “As far as I'm concerned I'm very thankful that he let go of a large number of people because now we have a smaller payroll,” Trump said. It was unclear whether he was joking.

    Putin's move was in response to new sanctions against Russia, among other countries, signed into law by Trump earlier this month.


    A decision on whether to send additional members of the military to Afghanistan is "getting close," according to Trump, who characterized the situation in that country as "a mess."

    "It's a very big decision for me," said Trump. "I took over a mess and we're going to make it a lot less messy."

    Transgender service members

    Following up on a series of tweets two weeks ago in which he wrote that "the United States Government will not accept or allow ... transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military," Trump expressed his belief that he would be "doing the military a great favor" by instituting such a ban.

    The president said he believed he was "doing a lot of people a favor by coming out and just saying it," with reference to his proposed rule and revealed that "the military was working on it."

    Paul Manafort

    Trump said he was "surprised" to learn of the pre-dawn FBI search of his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort's Virginia home in July.

    "I thought it was a very, very strong signal," said Trump, elaborating that he believed such an act to be rare. He further noted that he hadn't spoken to Manafort "in a long time," but that he always found him "to be a very decent man."

    The president also said that he had not spoken to new FBI Director Christopher Wray about the search warrant.

    Special counsel Robert Mueller

    The president's vocal displeasure with the investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller will not result in Mueller's firing, he said.

    "I'm not dismissing anybody," revealed Trump, who expressed interest in the findings of similar inquiries on Russian election interference being led by committees in the House and Senate.

    Trump also responded to a USA Today report that said he has had contact with Mueller since the investigation started, signalling his cooperation, but that "no notes" were being passed.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

    Trump elaborated on his previous comments about McConnell and a series of tweets in which he seemed to criticize the senate majority leader's efforts on health care, including one earlier Thursday in which he told the senator to "get back to work."

    "I'm very disappointed in Mitch," said Trump. "But if he gets [health care, tax reform and an infrastructure bill] passed, I'll be very happy with him. I'll be the first to admit it."

    "[The repeal and replace of Obamacare] should have been on my desk the first week or the first day I was there," continued Trump. "I've been hearing about it for seven years."

    Other than to say she was doing a "very good job" and that he was "very proud" of her, the president provided no additional comment when asked if McConnell's wife, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao could mediate the apparent tensions.

    ABC News' Katherine Faulders contributed to this report.

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