TRANSCRIPT: ABC News anchor David Muir interviews President Trump in Arizona
The exclusive interview with President Trump took place on May 5, 2020.
On Tuesday, May 5, 2020, ABC News' "World News Tonight" anchor David Muir interviewed President Trump in Arizona. The following is a transcript of the interview:
DAVID MUIR: Mr. President, we’ve done a number of these, and we've never had to sit 11 feet apart but these are tough time.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: It’s too bad, actually. Too bad.
DAVID MUIR: But we appreciate you sitting down with us.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you very much.
DAVID MUIR: Thank you.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you, David.
DAVID MUIR: I want to start with reopening the country. I know this is your first trip back out into the country --
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Yes.
DAVID MUIR: -- in quite some time. And you've said that “the decision to open the economy is the biggest decision I've ever had to make.” How do you -- and I suppose this is the central question -- how do you save livelihoods, without risking more lives?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, I think actually the decision to close the country was the biggest decision I've ever had to make, and I've said that very loud and clear. I mean, we had the greatest economy in history, in the history of the world, not only our economy, it was our greatest economy. Best employment numbers, best numbers in every single way. And they said, sir, we have to close the country.
I said, What are you talking about? Close the country? Because nobody's ever heard of such a thing. And we saved millions of lives by doing it and by putting the ban on China very early, it was a big thing.
But the biggest decision I've ever had to make is closing the country, and certainly this is now also a big decision but the people want to go back to work. We have to get our country back and we're going to have an economy in the not too distant future that will be equal to and I hope even greater In a short period of time.
DAVID MUIR: We're going to talk a lot about the economy.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Sure.
DAVID MUIR: I want to ask you about what Dr. Fauci said last night about the reopening of the country. He said, it's the balance of something that's a very difficult choice. How many deaths and how much suffering are you willing to accept to get back where you want to be. Do you see it that way? Do you believe that's the reality we're facing that -- that lives will be lost to reopen the country?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: It's possible there will be some because you won't be locked into an apartment or a house or whatever it is, but at the same time, we're going to practice social distancing, we're going to be washing hands, we're going to be doing a lot of the things that we've learned to do over the last period of time. And we have to get our country back. You know, people are dying the other way too. When you look at what's happened with drugs. It goes up, when you look at suicides, I mean take a look at what's going on. People are losing their jobs. We have to bring it back and that's what we're doing.
Again, we're going to do it safely. And not in all cases but most of the governors are working very much with us on this. We've had a very good relationship pretty much with all the governors because we’ve produced like nobody's ever produced before. What we've done with ventilators, and by the way testing which has been a tremendous success, even though we don't get the proper treatment on it but you take a look at what we've done with supplies and gloves. Millions and millions of gloves. I think they have 1 billion pair. Nobody's ever done -- this is the biggest mobilization since World War Two and it's -- it's been incredible.
DAVID MUIR: Let me ask you about testing.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Yeah.
DAVID MUIR: Right now in America, you know, early on there were hurdles. Dr. Fauci at the time acknowledged it was a failing. But for Americans who do want to go back to work. Should they be able to have access to a test now?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Yeah.
DAVID MUIR: Should they know whether they've been exposed to the virus? Should they know if somebody at the workplace is asymptomatic? And they simply don't know or do they have to go back to work, having faith in their leaders and you Mr. President, that the workplace will be safe?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: No, they don't. They have to test if they want. You know, some people are strong believers in testing. I just got this just literally as I was getting off the plane. This just came out. This Is us, testing, this is testing. This is Germany that everybody has been saying has done such a good job and they have and I've told that to Angela, but she tells me the same thing. She said “How did you ever do this?” South Korea is here. Look at this, one is India. Take a look at these numbers.
This is the United States. We've done more testing than any other country, by far, and again -- just came out. I don't even know who the people are that did it -- just came out. It's also, very importantly, we have the best testing. We have the best testing.
DAVID MUIR: So right now, for any American worker who's nervous about going back, if they want to get tested to see if they've been exposed to the virus, they can have access to both the antibody test --
PRESIDENT TRUMP: They should have no problem.
DAVID MUIR: and --
PRESIDENT TRUMP: They should have no problem. And as good as this is, we're even getting better. We came up -- don't forget, the cupboard was bare. The other administration -- the last administration left us nothing. We didn't have ventilators,we didn't have medical equipment, we didn't have testing. The tests were broken. You saw that. We had broken tests. They left us nothing. And we've taken it and we have built an incredible stockpile -- a stockpile like we've never had before.
DAVID MUIR: Many people have heard you say that along the way and have wondered though, you know, you're three years into your first term.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Yeah.
DAVID MUIR: You're now applying for the job again. What did you do when you became president to restock those cupboards that you say were bare?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, I'll be honest. I have a lot of things going on. We had a lot of people that refused to allow the country to be successful. They wasted a lot of time on Russia, Russia, Russia. That turned out to be a total hoax. Then they did Ukraine, Ukraine and that was a total hoax, then they impeached the president of the United States for absolutely no reason, and we even had 197-to-nothing vote by the Republicans.
And essentially, the same thing by the -- by the, if you take a look at the Senate and the House, I mean it was the same thing. Look, what they've done and now they continue to do it. Remember this: when you see these numbers and testing, you're probably even surprised because I watch Chuckie Schumer get on television, and they have sound bites.
No matter what you do, it's never good enough. But you don't hear about ventilators anymore. That was a big problem. You don't hear about testing much anymore but the other night I saw him go on a show of a very unfunny comedian, and he looks at the camera, says, “testing testing.” They will complain, no matter how good we did. If we took these numbers -- 7 million. This is 7 million tests.
And if I doubled or tripled it, they’d still say -- because it's a sound bite. Because they want to try and win an election, which hopefully they won't win because they're going to double everybody -- the taxes are going to double. All the problems that are going to have, and you're going to be back into a bad economy. We had the greatest economy ever, and we're going to do it again.
DAVID MUIR: Let me ask you about something Governor Cuomo said today, and this is, this is really the debate I think for a lot of Americans who really do want to go back to work --
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Sure.
DAVID MUIR: -- but who are afraid for their own health. And Governor Cuomo said the question comes down to how much a human life is worth. That you monitor the transmission rate, the hospitalization rate, the death rate. If it goes up, you stop, you turn off the valve, you slow things down. Do you agree with him that that is the way a lot of these governors who are reopening should proceed?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: No, I don't know -- I’d have to see his full statement. But look we've gotten along very well. Don't forget Governor Cuomo last week said the President and the federal government had done -- have done a phenomenal job. He said that.
DAVID MUIR: Yeah --
PRESIDENT TRUMP: A phenomenal job.
DAVID MUIR: He’s saying now you just have to be ready to turn the valve off for a time if you see a spike.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I can only tell you what he said last week. I mean, David, I can only tell you what he said last week. I mean, it wasn't -- two years ago. He said the President and the federal government have done a phenomenal job. That was the word he used and he's right.
We built him 2,900 beds. We moved the ship in. Now, they didn't use it too much, which I'm frankly happy about because they didn't need it because we were right about the numbers. We were actually right about the numbers, but we took the Javits Convention Center and made it into a major hospital in a period of four days. So he's been you know he's been actually very nice, I think.
DAVID MUIR: I'm just curious if the idea of that makes sense to you. That if governors start to see a spike in some of those rates, that perhaps they should slow down or pull back on them?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well what they can do is they can look in little areas. For instance, in New York, we had a place in Westchester County that I know very well, which was where we started. That’s where it all sort of like -- was what you first heard about, New York, and they did a good job. They circled it, they made sure, and it really went down, it was actually quite a good job.
Look. Our country has to go back to being our country again. You have people that are not going to stand for this. And I understand them very well. And we are going to put out little embers and little fires and maybe some big fires, but we still have to go back to work.
DAVID MUIR: You talk about the embers, and the possible big fires. There were two new studies out in the last 24 hours, I know that the White House has shot down a couple of them saying they weren't vetted through your task force. One was from Johns Hopkins. That said, the death rate could double if we're not careful with this reopening of America by -- by June. The daily death rate. The University of Washington saying we could have 135,000 Americans dead by August. What do you make of those numbers, Mr. President?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: A couple of things. First of all, these models have been so wrong from day one. Both on the low side and the upside. They've been so wrong, they've been so out of whack. And they keep making new models, new models and they’re wrong. Those models that you're mentioning are talking about without mitigation. Well we're mitigating and we've learned to mitigate, but we can be in place, work in place and also mitigate. Number two, if we did 100,000 and it's horrible, there shouldn't be one, you've heard me say 100 times, we shouldn’t have lost anybody.
This was something that could have been stopped in China, and they should have stopped it. But if we lose one life it's too many. But the fact is, the low end, it was 100 to 120,000 to over 200 and 250,000. If we're at 100,000, if we didn't do what we did, we could have lost 2 million people. We could have lost two and a half and 3 million people, but we did something that was courageous, very expensive, but it was the right thing to do.
You know, there's a hospital in Queens right near where I grew up, and a very, very -- Elmhurst -- a very, very sad situation. I saw one day 11 body bags of dead people. Multiply that by 20 if we did it a different way. You know, you talk about herd. We did it a different way, multiply that number times almost minimum -- minimum 20.
We've done it right, but now we have to get back to work. We have to do it. And just one thing, if I could. I think the American people have to consider themselves now -- and I am considering them to be warriors. We are warriors. We are fighting a war against an invisible enemy. We are warriors, and we have to go back to work and that's what they want to do.
DAVID MUIR: But let me ask you because you've responded to those two studies out with these forecasts: your own numbers have shifted over time.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: They have. They have.
DAVID MUIR: You said 60,000 Americans could die. That's what you said last week.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Right.
DAVID MUIR: I watched your town hall over the weekend. You said 75, 80 to 100,000 people could die. Which models are you looking at? And what should --
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Yeah.
DAVID MUIR: -- Americans be prepared for as we reopen the country and head into the fall where we could see a potential second wave?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, the upper number was, as you know, 2.2 million people. And then there are some, some models or charts that showed higher than that. But 2.2 million people. I always felt 60, 65, 70 -- as, as horrible as that is. I mean, you're talking about filling up Yankee Stadium with death. So I thought it was horrible, but it's probably going to be somewhat higher than that.
In the meantime, what we can say is this: other countries aren't producing the correct numbers.
And when you look at mortality rates, we're doing better than almost all countries on mortality rate. We're doing a better job. When you look at the job our hospitals have done, they've done fantastically well. Look, this is a very unpleasant situation. This is a situation -- who would have ever thought a thing like this could happen? Frankly, I've read about and heard about, in 1917, The Great Flu. They call that the Flu, right? The Spanish flu, and it might have killed 100 million people.
Probably stopped the First World War ‘cause all the soldiers were getting sick. I mean, it, you know, was probably a cause of stopping the -- a World War. But that was our worst. This is a different one. Not as lethal, individually, but more contagious. The level of contagion -- the level of its being contagious has never seen before. Nobody's ever seen anything like this before. The people of this country have done a great job. But now I'm looking at them, and I think they're looking at themselves, as being warriors.
We're warriors. We're fighting something that should have never happened but it's an invisible enemy, and it's tough and it's smart. So --
DAVID MUIR: I mean --
PRESIDENT TRUMP: -- will it happen to other people? Yes, it could happen to me and it could happen to you. And I'm prepared for that. But look, we're out and we're distancing. We're far away, and a lot of things are happening. We've changed. But I look forward to the day when we can sit next to each other, when you can interview me from a normal -- where I'm not shouting to reach you, where you're not shouting to reach me, and that will happen again.
I said the other day, when Alabama has a football game against LSU, I don't want 20,000 people in the stands with seven empty seats in between everybody. I want 110,000 people like they got. And they get even more than that -- that’s what I want.
DAVID MUIR: When do you think that’ll happen?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: We’re gonna get back to our normal life.
DAVID MUIR: When do you think that’s a real possibility?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I hope it’s gonna be soon.
DAVID MUIR: What does “soon” mean?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Somebody said to me, like, everybody’s longing for the rallies. We all have a lot of fun at my rallies. And --
DAVID MUIR: Do you think that’s a possibility, before the election?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I hope we can do that soon. I mean, I hope we can do that. I can’t have a rally with, you know, 7 seats in between everybody. And I hope we can do that soon. The rallies are the least of it, but you know, people are asking me all the time. Just last night, I got three calls -- “When are we gonna do a rally?” I said, “Just relax. Take it easy.” But we’re gonna do -- I hope before the election.
I mean, you know, for -- for our people, for this country, we need sporting events. We need stadiums. We don't need stadiums one-third full. third. A -- a owner, in a call actually, told me -- he said, “Well, we expect to have half crowds by a certain --. “ I said, “Do you expect ever to have full crowds?” “Well, I didn't think about it.” I said, “You better start thinking about it because I want these arenas full.” You know, the virus will pass.
There'll be more death, that the virus will pass, with or without a vaccine. And I think we're doing very well on the vaccines but, with or without a vaccine, it's going to pass, and we're going to be back to normal. But it's been a rough process. There is no question about it.
DAVID MUIR: Are you still convinced we'll have a vaccine by year's end, and 300 million doses which you've had spoke of?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Yeah. You can never be convinced -- when you're saying, “am I convinced?” -- I could say this: we're doing really great. Oxford, Johnson and Johnson -- these companies, and I get reports every single day, they're doing really great. Am I convinced? I can't be convinced of anything. But I think that we have a really good shot of having something very, very substantial. Look at Gilead with Remdesivir [Trump pronounces as Rem-dem-severe] which just came out.
And that -- that is a big impact. You know, I've been watching a lot of people where their lives were saved. There's a lot of great things happening.
DAVID MUIR: I think there's a lot of hope that there'll be even more therapeutics, come the fall.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I like therapeutics even more because it solves a current problem. The vaccines are great, but you know the vaccines take longer because of the testing and because of what they have to do. The therapeutics -- we're making tremendous progress on therapeutics.
DAVID MUIR: Let me ask you about the tremendous hurt in this country. There are 30 million Americans who are unemployed -- you don't need me to tell you that. We're expecting the new unemployment rate this week. There have been forecasts -- 15, 16 17%. One of your advisors projected an unemployment rate of 19%. That's nearly one in five Americans without a job. How bad is this going to get?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, that is what it is. And you know, it's very interesting. Even the Democrats aren't blaming me for that. We had to close it up and we saved millions of lives and we did the right thing. Now we're getting back to work. The third quarter, I think, is going to be -- I call it a transition quarter. A lot of people -- you see it. I’ll tell you what. I got on the plane today, there was such spirit. People are starting to feel -- we land in Arizona, I leave from DC, I get calls from everybody, all over the country. I just spoke to the governor of Florida. Florida is really active.
I mean, a lot of these states are really getting back into gear. There's a spirit out there right now that's pretty incredible. But even the Democrats, they're not hitting me with “Oh gee, it's your fault” from that standpoint. Nobody's blaming me. What I want to do is, we have a transition period coming. I think the fourth quarter will be very good. And I think next year is going to be one of the best years we've ever had, economically. There is a pent up demand that's incredible. The oils going back up.
We're going to start saving some energy jobs. I really think next year is going to be one of the best years we've ever had.
DAVID MUIR: I think --
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Watch it happen.
DAVID MUIR: I think a lot of people share that hope, Mr President, but the reality for so many of the families that we've reported on is they can't afford to wait for the next quarter. They're just trying to get through next week, or the next dinner they put on the table.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, we've done a lot for that. We've done our small business, as you know, our PPP, paycheck, if you want to call it that, where small businesses are given billions of dollars, so that they can take care of their employees. We've done a lot of other -- look, we've done $2 trillion. And it's actually close to three if you really add it up but $2 trillion has been approved, and we'll probably do more. It's a stimulus. It's to keep people employed, to keep small businesses open.
We just saved the airlines. We just put up 25 billion and 25 billion we're saving the airlines. They are paying a price for it, but we're saving the airlines. The airlines were doing the best business they've ever done, Daivd, the best. And then one day, boom, they have no business left. I mean it's gone. So we just saved the airlines. A big thing is Boeing just went out to the market, you saw that. They didn't need us to save them. They went out, they floated a bond issue for $25 billion at a very decent rate. That means the markets are working. It's a beautiful thing.
Look, I think that you're gonna have a very, very terrific transition third quarter. I see it happening. The spirit I see now. People are calling. It's an incredible spirit that's going on, and I'm a person that believes in spirit because you need spirit for success.
DAVID MUIR: You speak of saving the airlines and the hope for what the third quarter, the fourth quarter will bring next year will bring but again, what would you say to the moms and dads at home right now who are still waiting, not only for their stimulus checks. Some have said they're still waiting to hear back on their unemployment benefits, and who are really struggling waiting in these food lines?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: So we've funded the unemployment, as you know, and the problem is and I didn't want to do -- I wanted it to go directly to people -- the Democrats wanted it to go through the system. The system is based on, in many states, not -- here I think was very good in Arizona, but many states have 45 year old computers, and they can't handle it and I said that's what's going to happen. The money's coming but they have to see the state. The state, some of the states are not adjusted for this kind of money. They have old equipment. They have old worn out equipment. You know, you have really well managed states in this country, and you have some that aren't so well managed, but they have the money.
They have to get the money out. Again, I would have rather sent the money directly. They wanted it to go through the unemployment, through the system and exactly what I said. I told you, I told you a lot of people exactly what I said has happened in some cases, where the equipment can’t handle the money. But it's going to get out. That's the state's problem.
DAVID MUIR: I do sense your --
PRESIDENT TRUMP: But we’ll take over that problem if they don't get the money out soon.
DAVID MUIR: I do sense your optimism here in Arizona today in trying to reopen the country, and it brings me to a question about leadership and being president in this time. How difficult has it been to balance the need to project optimism and hope, while at the same time the duty to be honest with the American people about how dire this would be?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: It's a very good question and it's a very difficult situation, and I have a media that's extremely hostile. And they have been from before I got elected, you know that, that's why it was called a miracle because I had a hostile media, which republicans do but I had more than any other -- you know, I even had a you know group of Republicans that have lost to me so badly they formed committees. They're a dying breed, but I've had tremendous lack of support from Democrats. They should -- we should all be in this together.
I thought the one thing this is different at -- and what I really thought much different. I thought the Democrats -- because this is a crisis. I thought the Democrats would come together and work with us. They really don't. I see Schumer, you know, the guy is a loser from New York. Schumer’s up there the other day. He doesn't know anything about testing, and he's on a show, and he's going testing, testing, testing. He didn't see charts like this, he doesn't see that. He probably knows. I'm sure he knows, but it's a soundbite. It's a political soundbite.
They don't use the ventilators anymore now they use the testing but now we've solved testing better than any country in the world. And they should be saying, Great job, not use it as a sound bite when they know it's not true. It's not good. So the one thing I'm most disappointed with, I never expected much from the media and I have to say this, you are included in this group. I know some great journalists, you’ve been very fair to me.
I know some great journalists, but I know the vast majority. I've seen things that are so bad and so corrupt and so dishonest. It's a shame, especially when it comes to something like this, because our country needs spirit. And they should be given them the facts as to the positive. They can report the positive, there is positive also. There’s horrible death that should have never happened. It should have never have been let out of China. It should have been stopped. It could have been stopped right there, when I talk about putting out the fires. They should have stopped it.
They didn't. They didn't know how. They probably made a big mistake. Maybe it was in confidence, maybe it was they made a mistake. Whatever it was, it wasn't good. It was very unfortunate. And you got to understand, I had just made a tremendous trade deal months before with China, where they're paying us billions and billions of dollars a month. And I made that, but to me, this supersede trade deals.
DAVID MUIR: Let me ask you because people will look back, and we have an election six months from now, they're gonna look back to the beginning of this, and they’re gonna wonder what you knew and when you knew it and, and I have no interest in going back over everything you said. But there was one thing you said that perhaps you could clarify. You said this, this was at the end of February, a full month have gone by you'd stop travel from China, and you said up the cases here in the US: “When you have 15 people and when the 15 within a couple of days is going to go down to zero. That's a pretty good job we've done.” Help me understand that moment. Did you really think we were going to have 15 cases in the US?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: So let me, let me -- So I -- You would say, worse than that I said one person, one time. And it's true. There was a time when we had one person in this country. We knew about it. We worked on it. But we have one person, it mushroomed, thee 15 people, mushroomed. Other people were coming in, also from Europe. Don't forget --
DAVID MUIR: But we're at more than a million cases now.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: But don’t forget, in January -- Okay, let's talk about cases. You know why we’re at a million cases? Because we have more testing than anybody else. If we tested as much as these countries down here, okay, who don't do very much testing at all. Look at Japan: very little testing. They're at the bottom of the rung.
Look at South Korea, it gets so much publicity. The president of South Korea is a friend of mine. President moon. He called up, he said “what you're doing with testing is amazing.” If I tested this number of people instead of this number of people, I'd have far fewer -- if I -- see this line? It goes all the way up over 7 million tests. If I tested down here at 1 million tests, I would have a lot fewer cases too.
The know -- the news knows it. They said the other day -- In other words, the better I do with testing, the more I get beat up by saying, “but you have more cases.” I have more cases because I --
DAVID MUIR: I understand. I understand the argument you're making --
PRESIDENT TRUMP: No, no. But look at look at your question,
DAVID MUIR: No, but you understand there's a huge disparity between 15 and more than a million cases. What -- was it an intelligence failure? Where was the breakdown that we --
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I, I don’t --
DAVID MUIR: -- didn't know the scope of this?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Look, let me, let me tell you this. I closed the border. If you want to use that term. I banned people from coming into China. There were approximately 40,000 Americans. If you were in my position, you you would -- you would let them come in. You could ask Ron Desantis, great governor of Florida. Those people went through quarantine, they went through tests, went through everything, but they were American citizens. I had to let them come back in.
But I came in, and what I did is, I said, against many people, including Anthony Fauci, who I like very much, including Deborah, who I like very much, the doctors, and many other people. They said “Don't ban China, it's gonna blow over.” And they said this at the end of February, you know, they were saying this at the end of February. In January, at the end of January, I banned people from China coming into the United States except for American citizens coming back, which you have to let them back but we let them back very carefully. Nobody ever did that before. Do you know it's the first time it's ever been done. And I had a room of 20 people, approximately in the Oval Office.
I was the only one that wanted to do it. And we had professionals, we had doctors, David, I was the only one that wanted to do it. And if I didn't do that Dr. Fauci said this, we would have lost thousands and thousands, tens of thousands more lives, but I banned China which is the primary source from coming in. Then, not too long after that, I banned Europe because we saw what was going over--what was happening in Europe.
It's, it's, I think we did a phenomenal job. Nancy Pelosi was out there at the end of February, talking about let's go dancing in Chinatown in San Francisco, because she wanted to prove that there was no problem. But there was a problem. Schumer was talking in March, about there’s no problem. I banned people from coming in, in January.
Now, at the same time, I want to be optimistic. I don't want to be Mr. Gloom and Doom. It's a very bad subject. I'm not looking to tell the American people when nobody really knows what's happening yet, Oh, this is going to be so tragic. I want to be -- aside from everything else, and I'm going to use a term, and some people love it. and some people hate it, but I love it. I want to be a cheerleader for our country. I don't want to be Mr. Doom and Gloom. So, here I am in January banning, at the same time, I want to be optimistic, but they have a thing -- for instance they do false ads.
They said I called it a hoax. No, I called the Democrats a hoax because of what they were saying because when I did the ban they're out there saying -- they call me a racist because I did the ban. They called me xenophobic. Sleepy Joe Biden. He said he's xenophobic. He doesn't know what the word means. He’s xenophobic. That's a terrible thing to call somebody. Then four or five weeks later, he sent out a statement that he agreed with what I did, but nobody picked up the statement. Look, we have handled a very bad situation very well.
We started off with very few medical supplies. By the way, in the military. We started off with a depleted military with no ammunition. My first week in the office I was told we have no ammunition. Now we have the greatest military we've ever built. $1.5 trillion, you know because you reported on it. Same thing with medical. The shelves were bare, the cupboards were bare. We built unbelievable ventilate -- the ventilators now are being built by the thousands. You know we're doing with ventilators now? We're helping Italy, France, Spain, Nigeria, various countries all over the world.
They're calling us for ventilators, and we have so many now that we're able to give them or do whatever deal we make, but I would say it's a great -- it's a great thing to help people in distress. They can't make ventilators. You know, it's a very complicated process. It’s a big machine, and a complex machine. We're giving these ventilators to people and countries all over the world. We've got more than we can use. Governor Cuomo said he needed 40,000 ventilators. I said you don't need that much, Dr. Birx said you don't need that much.
We gave him the amount that he needed which was about 4,000 and he actually gave some recently to Massachusetts where they needed a --We have so many ventilators now. And it was a bad word for -- Two months ago nobody thought a thing like this could happen. And it's companies like Honeywell and General Motors and General Electric and a lot of our greatest companies. 3M really came through in the end. 3M with the face masks and other things they’ve done. We have mobilized -- this is the greatest mobilization since World War Two.
And I’ll tell you what, I don't need the credit. I should get credit, but I don't need the credit. Who should get the credit is FEMA, the Army Corps of Engineers, and all of the millions of people that worked to get this done. You know, when we sailed the ship in, the comfort, we have the comfort and the mercy. The Mercy is in California, and they were very -- the governor there has been very gracious about it and other things too. But when we had the comfort come into New York harbor, we had a lot of doctors, they weren't expecting this. They were not set up for COVID-19.
They were set up for regular things like car accidents and appendix and a lot of other things. We converted the ship over. When they didn't use it that much because frankly the numbers fortunately never hit a point where we needed it that much, those doctors and the doctors from the Javits Center went all over New York and parts of New Jersey, and they worked with other professionals. And the other professionals have told me to a T. Governor Cuomo told me, Mayor De Blasio told me.
Your great governor of New Jersey who's done a -- Phil has done a fantastic job, told me, he said these people were so professional it was un -- they'd walk into a room and everybody stood up. These are the medical professionals from the military. They walked into a room and everybody stood up and he said they gave them spirit when they saw these people walk in and these are dangerous rooms. These are warriors. And just to finish.
I watch and I see people walking into hospitals, and people from buildings, many, many different locations singing, and in some cases you have people from Lincoln Center and from, you know, great musicians playing the horns and instruments. And I watch police and firemen applauding as they walk in, but I see things that I've never quite seen before I would imagine, other than actual warfare.
Young men and women and some older and some doctors rushing through doors into a very dangerous building, a hospital, putting on outfits as the doors are opening and trying to get everything set. They're not outside taking their time. I'll tell you what, it's a beautiful thing to watch, David. I've never seen anything like it.
DAVID MUIR: They are the real heroes.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: They are warriors.
DAVID MUIR: They are.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: But you know what, the people of our country are warriors too. And that's what I'm saying, they have to think of themselves as warriors. We can't sit in a house for the next three years. We can't do it.
DAVID MUIR: I would be remiss if I didn't ask you one more question about the nearly 70,000 Americans whose lives have been lost -- grandparents, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Right.
DAVID MUIR: We've lost more people now than we lost in the Vietnam War. What do you want to say to those families tonight?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I want to say: “I love you.” I want to say that we're doing everything we can. I also want to say that we're trying to project people over 60 years old. We're trying so hard and -- everything I've said today -- I'd like to preface it by saying, if you're 60 years old and especially if you're 60 or even less than that and you've had a heart condition or you've had diabetes or a problem of any kind -- it seeks out problems. This is a vicious -- it seeks out weakness, in terms of medical --
If somebody has any form of a heart problem or diabetes -- anything -- it seeks it out. It's a vicious ,vicious virus. But I want to just say to the people that have lost family and have lost loved ones, and the people that have just suffered so badly, and just made it -- and just made it -- that we love you. We're with you. We're working with you. We're supplying vast amounts of money, like never before. We want that money to get to the people. and we want ‘em to get better.
And we want them -- you can never really come close to replacing, when you've lost some -- no matter how well we do next year, I think our economy is going to be raging. It's going to be so good. No matter how well, those people can never ever replace somebody they love. But we're going to have something that they're going to be very proud of. And to the people that have lost someone, there's nobody -- I don't sleep at night thinking about it. There's nobody that's taken it harder than me. But at the same time I have to get this enemy defeated. And that's what we're doing, David. That's what we're doing.
DAVID MUIR: And if November becomes a referendum on your handling of the pandemic, are you comfortable with that?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, I am and I'm not. You know, it's a very, it’s a very interesting thought. You know I’ve built the greatest economy and then it was turned off for good reason. We saved millions of lives by doing it. I think people are going to remember that. I think they're going to remember that I rebuilt the military, I think they're going to remember that I gave them the biggest tax cuts in history. I gave them the greatest regulation cuts by far in history. I've given them the best job numbers in history. I’ve rebuilt our military to a level it's never been built, I mean, look, I got for the veterans, I got Choice. They’ve been trying to get Choice for 50 years.
Meaning a veteran is sick and can't get to a doctor, you go outside and we pay the bill. Nobody has ever done these things, and I've saved their second amendment. You wouldn't have a second amendment right now if it wasn't for me. And one other thing, I've always heard judges are the most important thing that a president can do. I set a record on judges. 252 judges. It's unthinkable. Every judge is so important.
252 judges, two Supreme Court justices. Nobody's ever done things like this. So, I hope it's not solely on what I've done here because this is a very, this is like rubber. It's very very amorphous. But you know what, I think in a certain way, and I hope I can say this to you in a couple of months. I think in a certain way maybe our best work has been on what we've done with COVID-19, but, but we haven't gotten-- We haven't been treated properly.
Not me, the Army Corps of Engineers, FEMA, the medical people, the police, the nurses, -- everybody, even the doctors, they haven't been treated properly. The job they've done is a miracle. We're low in morbidity, we're number one on testing, we’re number one -- again -- on ventilators and everything. Not number one, we're number one -- there is no number two through ten. We're way ahead of every other country in the world, and very important -- it's so important.
I think we're doing very well in vaccines, and we're doing very well therapeutically. I think we're gonna have some great answers and, hopefully by the next time we meet, we'll have some of those answers.
DAVID MUIR: You'll let me know.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you very much.
DAVID MUIR: Mr. President, thank you for your time.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Appreciate it.
DAVID MUIR: Thank you.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Very much.
DAVID MUIR: I would shake your hand but --
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I'd love to shake your hand.
DAVID MUIR: Next time, we will. Thank you very much.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you, thank you, David. Great job.
END OF TRANSCRIPT
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