Sharyl: On Russia, nobody admitted it during the campaign that we now know it was the Hillary Clinton campaign that funded that so-called dossier that had all the negative information that's unproven about you apparently in an attempt to affect the election. It was given to the FBI. What do you make of that?
President Trump: Well I think it's terrible I think it's despicable the amount of money that I hear being thrown around is ridiculous. Somebody said that this guy Steele that wrote it and we'll figure that out eventually that he paid money to the Russians. And frankly, if that was, in fact, Russia involved they don't like me very much just the opposite of what people were saying. And you know I have said over the last period of time the last person they want is me because I want a strong, strong military which I've proven in many ways and that was part of my campaign. And I also want lower oil prices and lots of oil which is not good for Russia. So I would think I would be the last one. But when you look at that horrible dossier which is a total phony fake deal like so much of the news that I read when you look at that and take a look at what's gone on with that and the kind of money we're talking about it is a disgrace.
Sharyl: The origins of the dossier supposedly is conservative funding. What does that tell you?
President Trump: Well I heard the other day that it might be and then I heard that basically they started something but the Democrats really took it up and started it and then the question is did the FBI get involved with it. And did the FBI use it. Because if they did that's a real problem for them. So we'll find out. But I have a feeling that the Democrats started it I'm sure the conservatives started something else but it was a much more mellow situation and they did say they didn't hire Steele and the phony people that worked on it.
Sharyl: Do you think Mueller is doing a good job?
President Trump: But we're going to see. Look all I can say is that I have nothing to do with Russian collusion nothing whatsoever and everybody knows it and nobody really has even been able to find you know with all of these committee meetings. They walk out even the other side they say well there's been no collusion yet but we continue to look. I've been watching this for how long has it been a year? It's very unfair. It's very bad for our country. But with all of the work that the Democrats are trying to do to obstruct and to you know false charges every time I see them walking out they're saying even Dianne Feinstein that no collusion and I respect her for saying it. I'll be honest with no collusion. But there are at these meetings and they go through documents and there is no collusion. Russia wouldn't help me. And I think the last one Russia would want to be president is me because of my attitude on oil and because of my attitude on the military and strength.
Sharyl: Do you think you would ever consider trying to have Mueller removed are you planning to stay out of that?
President Trump: Well I hope he's treating everything fairly and if he is I'm going to be very happy because when you talk about innocent I am truly not involved in any form of collusion with Russia. Believe me. But the last thing I can think of to be involved in.
Sharyl: Who wasn't you remember who convinced you to take Paul Manafort on as the campaign manager?
President Trump: Well it was a friend of mine who was a businessman very successful businessman and a good person. And you know Paul was not there very long. What people don't mention Paul was not there for a very long period of time.
Sharyl: What was it that convinced him that he had to be let go?
President Trump: Well I think we found out something about him may be involved with or with certain nations and I don't even know exactly what it was in particular but there was a point at which we just felt Paul would be better off because we don't want to have any potential conflicts. And if there was a conflict I don't want to be involved in any conflicts even though it was I could have kept them longer. I don't think anybody would have complained. But we don't want to have any potential conflicts of interest at all.
Sharyl: Have you questioned why the businessman who brought you his name do you want to say that that is.
President Trump: I don't want to get him involved he's a private person.
Sharyl: Have you questioned why he brought him to the campaign or you think that was just it just happened in a way.
President Trump: Look people don't realize Paul Manfort worked for Ronald Reagan. He worked for Bob Dole. I think the firm was involved with many people I don't have to mention names but I heard they were involved with John McCain who's an honorable guy. They were involved with many people I mean many many people. I certainly wasn't the first. This was a firm that was well known in Washington for years and represented many many big people politically speaking. And Ronald Reagan being number one. So the reputation I always felt was very good and I had him for a very short period of time you know he was only in there for a very finite period of time. But you know I feel badly for him because I was going to be really a very nice person.
Sharyl: Last question on this topic have you been told to expect to be questioned by the special counsel. Are you prepared for that?
President Trump: No. Nobody's told me. As far as I'm concerned I have been told that we were under investigation. I'm not under investigation. You know when it comes to Russia collusion. They're looking at the wrong person absolutely the wrong person. So I don't even to the best of my knowledge my lawyers told me I'm not even under investigation. I have not been told that at all.
Sharyl: On Terrorism. You've just called for an end to the diversity lottery visa that allows Sayfullo Saipov into the U.S. what would replace it what's your idea in a nutshell?
President Trump: Why don't think replace it. I think that the whole element. Are you talking about the lottery system. It's a ridiculous thing. We do we take it like a lottery like who knows who they put in there. And I guarantee you these countries they don't put their finest in the lottery system. They put people probably in many cases that they don't want. Why is this country doing it. The lottery system has to end. And what we want Sharyl we want it very badly and we want it you know as far as immigration is concerned we've been treated so badly and we've handled immigration prior to me because we have been very tough on it but we've handled immigration in the United States so poorly. We want a merit-based system
Sharyl: When it comes to Islamic extremist terrorism. Do you think Americans are safer today than they were a year ago two years ago?
President Trump: I think we are. I think that we have a much tougher vetting process. I call it extreme vetting. We are very strong with our vetting. But people can slip through. But I say as strong as we are we have to get stronger. This person came in through a lottery and not only came in through a lottery but you have this whole system where you can bring people with you chain migration it's horrible it's horrible. Somebody had mentioned he may have brought. And he only had a green card. But twenty three people may have come in indirectly or directly through him. Now I don't want those people and family members whoever they may be I don't want them and you saw what he did and you saw his evilness because they go back to the town or they go back to the area where he grew up not where he's lived even you go back to the country as I understand it. I mean this is not the kind of people we want in the United States so we have to get rid of chain migration.
Sharyl: I feel like ordinary Americans every time there's another terrorist attack or a similar pathology they start to feel helpless now that there's been tough talk for years and yet nothing concrete they can point to that will prevent another one. I think some people are actually adjusting their expectations and thinking this is our new way of life.
President Trump: I know they are in a lot of people do that. And frankly the Democrats have been absolutely terrible on immigration because they want anybody to come in. You know they obstruct make it very tough and they want on immigration and crime. I mean they want people to just pour in over the border. That's not going to happen. And we're stopping it. Now we want a merit-based system. I don't want people to come into our country but it's got to be a merit-based system and we can take that for the norm. What you just said we cannot just say oh well it's going to happen let's get used to it. We cannot allow it to happen. And we're getting I can tell you the Trump administration is getting tougher and tougher and tougher and we are now as you know looking at different forms of the wall. The wall is going to happen. The vetting is now at a point that is the toughest it's ever been and we're now going to make it even tougher. But this person this animal that did what he did in the West Side of Manhattan we just can't allow this to continue.