Donald Trump
Donald Trump

When: Tonight, Friday, March 18th at 7pm ET

Where: CNBC’s “The Kudlow Report

Following are excerpts from the unofficial transcript of a CNBC interview with Donald Trump, Chairman Trump Organization, tonight on CNBC’s “The Kudlow Report” (M-F, 7-8pm ET).

All references must be sourced to CNBC.


LARRY KUDLOW, host: Donald Trump, welcome back to “The Kudlow Report.” I appreciate it.

Mr. DONALD TRUMP: Good, Larry.

KUDLOW: All right, we have some extremely serious things going on, as you well know, and I want to begin with this Japanese disaster story. I mean, at least 15,000 now is the victim count, the dead count. It's going to rise. The whole thing is going to be worse. Let me ask you, you do a lot of business with Japanese people who are in Tokyo, New York, back to Tokyo. What are they saying to you, particularly those that have been in Tokyo? What's happening on the ground?

Mr. TRUMP: They're very scared. They don't know what's happening, they've never seen anything like this before. There's never been really anything of this magnitude before. And, you know, you look at some of the maps that you and I are watching on television, it looks like a quarter of the country could be wiped out, I mean, literally wiped out.

KUDLOW: Mm-hmm.

Mr. TRUMP: They're very concerned, they're very scared; and they have a right to be.

KUDLOW: Are they staying in Tokyo? Coming to the US? Are they going to stick it--you know, be tough and stay in Tokyo? How does that work now?

Mr. TRUMP: Well, I probably know that better than anybody because I've sold many units over the years, and I have many buildings where I have Japanese tenants, both tenants and people that purchase condos from me. They're wonderful people, they're great people, and they really are coming to New York.

KUDLOW: Mm-hmm.

Mr. TRUMP: I mean, they are concerned. They are very, very scared.

KUDLOW: So I don't know if you saw this, the New York Post story about the 50 Japanese heroes, and there's actually 180 of these, and these are the workers who actually go into the power plant, they're trying to put the sea water onto the nuclear rods. And the radiation's so bad, Don, according to this Post report, it's almost a suicide mission. And it shows extraordinary honor and valor and loyalty to their country. I want to get your take on that in terms of the Japanese people and your experience, and these heroes that it's like a suicide mission.

Mr. TRUMP: Well, I personally think it's beautiful. I think it's amazing, and I think it's beautiful, and you don't see it often. And they are, I mean, they're going in, whether it's 50 or 100, it's a small group of people that are going into these plants knowing it's probably the end. And even if it's not immediate, it's going to be fairly shortly thereafter. And I think it's a magnificent thing. I think it's a beautiful thing, to see that people have that kind of heart and that kind of spirit for their country.

KUDLOW: Now that leads me to this one. Your personal view: Do Americans have that kind of spirit, loyalty, toughness to do the same kind of thing if, God forbid, it happened here.

Mr. TRUMP: I think they do, Larry. I think it went under the gun. I mean, we've proven that over and over. If you look at the World Trade Center, as an example, that building--those buildings came down, and there was never, ever anything like it. Totally cowardly attack, disgusting, on civilians. And you had these two 110-story buildings come plumping down. And, I mean, New York was--at--these people were unbelievable when they...

KUDLOW: Extraordinary. The dedication was extraordinary. Bravery.

Mr. TRUMP: It really is the same thing, if you think about it. So when we were under the gun, I mean, the--New Yorkers generally, but the people that worked down at the World Trade Center, you had people running into that building, literally there was a good chance the buildings were coming down. So it really is the same thing. When under the gun, there's nobody better than us.

KUDLOW: All right, Question: Is nuclear power worth this kind of risk?

Mr. TRUMP: Well, you know, I'm a big fan of nuclear power, and certainly was, but, you know, when you look at what they're talking about and you look at the kind of areas that they're talking about, where they're actually saying the smog can come over and affect California and parts of the United States, maybe guys like you and I that are all into the nuclear role and to drill, drill, drill, and that we do believe in, and coal, I believe in...


Mr. TRUMP: ...and lots of other things I believe in. But maybe we have to start reassessing just a little bit this whole attitude on nuclear. The power is so vast, and the disruption and the lives and anything else that are going under, we're witnessing firsthand in Japan. And, don't forget, Japan's a place that's well-managed. They have great technicians, all of these things, and who would've known the tsunami was going to be the culprit, I guess more so than even the earthquake. It was the earthquake that caused the tsunami. I mean, who would ever think a thing like this could happen? We have nuclear plants in California, and I've been in California when there was some rumbling, and it wasn't a pretty picture. So maybe guys like you and I, just in terms of nuclear, have to think about it just a little bit more.

KUDLOW: I ask you, from your own experience and your own instincts, what's the hit going to be to the American economy?

Mr. TRUMP: What is going on today, I've never seen anything like it. The Middle East is exploding--treating us horribly, by the way, but exploding. It's very interesting to see. In some cases you love to see it, in other cases you don't. But the Middle East is a mess. Our country is a mess when you look at trillion. You know, four or five years ago I was explaining this to somebody, telling this to somebody. The word trillion, you never heard it, I never heard it. You had to say, what exactly is a trillion? Now it's like common knowledge. But when you're--when we're down this year 1.3 trillion in terms of the deficit, these are words we never even heard before. So our country is a mess. Now on top of it, you have a nuclear problem that could be one of the great problems in the history of the world. I mean, hopefully it's going to be cut short of that. But, you know, you look at...commentators...

KUDLOW: We don't--we don't know.

Mr. TRUMP: The problem is they don't know.

KUDLOW: We don't know.

Mr. TRUMP: Right. That's the biggest problem. Nobody knows. And when you see they're leaving Tokyo and they're leaving by the thousands and by the hundreds of thousands, so there's--because I've got to assume a situation like this, and the United States is not leading. The United States--look, I'm all for golf. I'm a good golfer, I play a lot of golf, I win plum championships, I know a lot about the game. I own 12 courses that are top of the line. I don't want to see Obama--and I'm speaking against myself--I don't want to see Obama playing golf when Japan is in this kind of trouble.

KUDLOW: What would you like to see him do right now?

Mr. TRUMP: I'd like to...

KUDLOW: What would you like to see him do?

Mr. TRUMP: You know, I'd like to see...

KUDLOW: What can he do?

Mr. TRUMP: I'd like to see him be in the White House at all time, be available at all time. And maybe, maybe even make a trip over to a certain part, just as a sort of a signal.

KUDLOW: To Tokyo?

Mr. TRUMP: Yeah.

KUDLOW: To Tokyo?

Mr. TRUMP: Wouldn't that be brilliant? Go over there and tell them, `We're here to help. We're here to do something.' Not be on the golf course.

KUDLOW: He's going to Brazil. Is that the wrong choice?

Mr. TRUMP: Well, I don't think it's the right choice now. You can't have the president of the United States working on his nine iron shots when Japan is potentially, I mean, one of the great problems ever. So I think maybe the concept-- you're asking what should he do.


Mr. TRUMP: The concept of him getting on that plane and flying over for a two-hour visit would be brilliant, in my opinion.



KUDLOW: I want to ask you about China because I'm hearing on CNBC, a lot of analysts are saying one of the beneficiaries of the Japanese disaster-- and you hate to hear this kind of talk, but one of the beneficiaries in terms of manufacturing and so forth is China. What do you think about that?

Mr. TRUMP: Well, I'm not surprised to hear that, and China knows how to play the game a lot better than our leaders know how to play the game. I mean, they have--they have people that negotiated some of the great deals. They manipulate their currency. And I'm sure that China's just licking their chops. They're looking to taking a lot of share away from Japan. Japan was, you know, having a lot of problems anyway in that regard. And now, in fact, I hear a lot of the Japanese products--I heard that the other day on CNBC, where many of the Japanese products are actually made in China.

KUDLOW: Yep. Yep.

Mr. TRUMP: Which is somewhat sad and somewhat surprising, but we have a much bigger case of that. This year we'll lose over $300 billion in trade to China. I mean, we have a negative, let's call it profit. We have a negative of $300 billion this year with China. And there's no better or greater abuser than China, other than, of course, OPEC.

KUDLOW: So wait a minute, when you--stay with that point, all right, regard to President Obama and also prior presidents. You know, US, China, I'm a free trade guy, but China doesn't play fair. They don't reciprocate. They counterfeit our goods, they counterfeit our brands.

Mr. TRUMP: Hundred percent.

KUDLOW: They steal--they pirate our technology.

Mr. TRUMP: Hundred percent.

KUDLOW: When is a president going to stand up and try to fix the China trade issue?

Mr. TRUMP: And by the way, when they don't pirate, they steal our technology. When you make a deal in China, they get the technology. And I don't want to mention General Electric...


Mr. TRUMP: ...but I can mention many companies that go in there, and by the time they end up with a deal--whereas us, we say, oh, come in, sell your products.

KUDLOW: But what about--China lost joint ventures but they had the majority share in these new joint ventures. Now, there's got to be something wrong with that.

Mr. TRUMP: And when China does something, they make you make the product in China.

KUDLOW: Right.

Mr. TRUMP: When we do something, we say, oh, come on in. We are so poorly represented, Larry, it's unbelievable. And you know, somebody said, oh, but they have our debt. First of all, it's less than a trillion dollars, which is a lot of money, but it's a very small amount of money compared to the world at large. And more importantly, they're taking our jobs. They're taking our jobs, they're making our product, they're manipulating their currency so it's very, very tough for our--believe me, I buy so much and I buy it, unfortunately, much more from China than I want to. You want to put up a curtain wall of a building, where does the glass from--come from? China. The aluminum? China. So many products come from China. A lot of it has to do with the...

KUDLOW: That's not a bad thing, is it, if they allow us to...

Mr. TRUMP: It's bad...

KUDLOW: But I mean, our country--look, I mean, you're going to grow the pie if both sides are trading freely and fairly.

Mr. TRUMP: Yeah, that's right, but not fairly. It's a manipulation of the currency that makes it very, very hard for our companies to compete. And I will tell you, what we should do is a very simple solution. You put a 25 percent tax on Chinese products coming into this country, you'll never even have the tax on, Larry, because they'll come and negotiate so quickly your head will spin.

KUDLOW: But if they didn't, would you go to the walk--remember, that's...

Mr. TRUMP: Absolutely.

KUDLOW: ...a 25 percent price hike for consumers who buy Chinese goods.

Mr. TRUMP: And you know what it's going to do? It's going to force companies to build furniture in Alabama and things in North Carolina and Texas and Ohio.

KUDLOW: If you give them 100 percent depreciation, if you give them a low corporate tax rate. Now I'm going to...

Mr. TRUMP: Yeah.

KUDLOW: You're critical of the President Obama on a lot of these issues. Let's go right to the economy here.

Mr. TRUMP: Well, it's not that--excuse me.

KUDLOW: Your opening statement.

Mr. TRUMP: I'm not--it's not being critical.

KUDLOW: But you sound critical.

Mr. TRUMP: We have no common sense. We're not using our great business minds to make our deals. We have diplomats. You know what a diplomat is? That's a person that studies to be nice. In other words, they study to be nice. That's the people that are negotiating our deals.

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