Before Super Bowl LI on Sunday, former New Jersey Generals owner Donald Trump spoke at length to Westwood One’s Jim Gray in an interview that covered a range of topics, including follow-ups on some of what Trump spoke about to Bill O’Reilly in an interview recorded Saturday and shown during the Fox pregame show.
Here is a transcript provided by Westwood One of Gray’s questions and Trump’s answers.
Gray: Mr. President, you sit with Bob Kraft, you communicate with Bill Belichick, Tom Brady’s a friend. Can we take that from your personal relationships that you’re rooting for the Patriots today?
Trump: Well, I guess you have to say that. They’ve been great friends of mine for a long period of time and they’re terrific people. And I have to tell you, the Falcons have terrific people, also. But I’ve known them a long time, so I guess we’re allowed to do that every once in a while. They are really wonderful. I think it’s going to be a wonderful game, actually.
Gray: Have you communicated with Tom Brady or Bill Belichick this week and if so, what advice have you given them?
Trump: Well, I don’t have to give them advice. These are champions. These are winners. They know how to win. I speak to them on occasion but I don’t have to really speak very much about winning. They know how to do it. It’s a lot of pressure on them, but probably less so because they’ve been there and they’ve done it before. More pressure always on the ones that haven’t done it.
Gray: Mr. President, how do you feel about the abuse that’s being directed at Tom Brady because he’s a friend of yours?
Trump: Well, I haven’t seen it, I mean, honestly, I’ve been so busy doing other things that I haven’t seen that. I haven’t noticed it. But I can tell you that generally speaking, that’s a two-way street. There may be some people that aren’t, you know, liking the fact that he may feel good about me. But there are a lot of other people that like him a lot better because of it. So that’s really proven to be a two-way street. There’s been many instances of that where people have sort of said a little bit negative about whatever it may be — even a store or a chain — and the chain’s business goes through the roof. You know, I mean, we’ve had cases like that, too, so it really is a two-way street, Jim.
Gray: Mr. President, what are your thoughts on Deflategate and the way that Tom Brady was treated?
Trump: Well, I think Tom Brady is a great guy and it’s over with and we don’t have to discuss it. But it was a rough period of time and it was very sad. I thought it was very sad. And look at the season he’s had missing four games and look at the great season he’s had. So you know, I just think it was an unfortunate experience and I think it was bad for probably everybody involved, and that’s all behind us, so that’s a good thing.
Gray: You’ve had some very strong, negative opinions about Roger Goodell in the aftermath of his decisions on domestic violence and Deflategate. You’re now president. He’s obviously the commissioner of the NFL. If you were to see him, and your paths were to cross, what would you say to him?
Trump: Well, I’d just say good luck. Just do a good job with the NFL. I mean, he handled the various situations — this is prior to me running for office — and he handled the various situations in his way and I hope he’s happy with it. I think it’s good if he is, but you know, people can disagree on everything. I may really have looked upon the way he handled it a little differently than others, but, you know what, it’s the NFL. It’s going to do well. The game is going to be very interesting. We’ll see what happens.
Gray: You plan to pardon Tom Brady? (laughs)
Trump: Well, Tom is always pardoned. You know that. Tom doesn’t need a pardon. Tom . . . his game pardons him, and his talent. He’s a great champion, so I think his game really pardons him and frankly I don’t think he’s somebody that has to be pardoned.
Gray: Mr. President, the NFL Players Association is fighting to legalize the use of medicinal marijuana for its players. These guys take a physical beating. Would you support them in this fight?
Trump: Well, I have no opinion on it. They’re going to have to take a look at that. They’re going to talk with the league. They’re going to be talking to, obviously, government officials wherever it may be, and when it comes up to the level of the presidency, I’ll have an opinion.
Gray: You know quite a bit, as a former casino owner, and you have a particular insight. Today an estimated $5 billion dollars will be wagered, $4.8 billion unregulated and untaxed illegally. What is your position and thoughts on making sports gambling legal nationwide?
Trump: Well, what I do is I sit down with the commissioners. I would be talking to them and we’ll see how they feel about it. Some would not want it, and I’ve read where others maybe do. But I would certainly want to get their input and get the input from the various leagues and we’ll see how they feel about it. I’d also get the input from lots of law enforcement officials, because, obviously, that’s a big step. So we wouldn’t do it lightly, I can tell you. It’ll be studied very carefully, but I would want to have a lot of input from a lot of different people.
Gray: Mr. President, Los Angeles will bid for the 2024 Olympics in the fall. Do you support that bid, and would it be a good thing for Los Angeles and our country?
Trump: Well, I’ve been asked to support it and I’ve actually spoken to the Olympic Committee in Europe. And they were very happy when they spoke to me. They wanted to have an endorsement from me and I gave it to them very loud and clear. I would love to see the Olympics go to Los Angeles. I think that it’ll be terrific. The United States committee’s members have asked me to speak up about it, and I have, and I think I’ve helped them and let’s see what happens. But I’d be very happy and honored if they would choose Los Angeles, and we’d stand behind it.
Gray: Do you feel your immigration policy and the recent executive order might hurt the bid and cost L.A. some IOC votes?
Trump: Well, I don’t know, but we have to have, regardless, we have to have security in our country. We have to know who’s coming into our country. We have to have people that are coming in with good intentions, Jim. If people are coming in with bad intentions, I want to be able to find out before they get here. You see what’s happened in other countries, you see what’s happened in our country. Take a look at so many different events, including the World Trade Center. So if people want to come into our country, they have to come in with good intentions, and we want to have strong borders and we have, want to have extreme vetting and we want to know what we’re doing, frankly. And right now, it’s tied up in the courts and I think it’s a bad situation for the country. I think it’s very, very bad. We have to know exactly who’s coming into our country and I think most people agree with me on that, and they may not express it, but you’re seeing it more and more. People are agreeing with me. I want security for the United States.
Gray: Now, Mr. President, many Russian athletes were banned from competing in the Rio Olympics last summer due to the Russian state-sponsored doping program. Should that ban continue in 2018 in Korea and 2020 in Tokyo until the Russians can prove that they’re clean, and are you willing to express that to President Putin?
Trump: Well, I think that’s going to be really up to the various Olympic committees. They’ve taken a very strong stand and that’s going to be up to them much more so than me. So we’ll see what they have to say, Jim.
Gray: Mr. President, leaving aside your desire to have a productive relationship with President Putin, your comments earlier today to Bill O’Reilly on Fox before the Super Bowl seemed to indicate an equivalency between the actions of our government and the actions of the Russian government. Can you kind of clarify that statement?
Trump: Well, I don’t have to clarify it. The question was do you respect him. He’s a head of a major country. He’s actually very popular in his country if you listen to various reports that are actually put out by polling agencies and various groups within our country, whether they like it or not. But they asked me whether or not I respect him — he’s the leader of a major country — and you know what my answer was. And, frankly, there are a lot of bad things going on in a lot of places in this world, and if we get along with Russia — I don’t know that we will; I don’t know the gentleman — but I’ve had two conversations or three conversations with him. He called to congratulate me on the inauguration recently and called to congratulate me previously on the election. And it was very nice, and I appreciated the call. But I’ve been called by virtually every leader of the world. We’ve been called by just about everybody, so I don’t put a lot of credence to that. I will say this, if we get along with Russia, and other countries — I mean, I want to get along with all countries — but if we got along with Russia, if we got along with China, if we get along with Japan, and the prime minister is coming next weekend, in fact he’s coming to the White House. And then, he’d like to play golf and we’re going to come down to Florida, Palm Beach, and we’re going to play golf. We’re going to have a round of golf, which is a great thing. That’s the one thing about golf, you get to know somebody better on a golf course than you will over lunch. So if we are able to get along with other countries, that’s a good thing, not a bad thing.
Gray: Will you have a bet? Is he a good golfer?
Trump: I don’t know. I think I know he loves the game and we’re going to have a lot of fun. It won’t matter, I’ll just make sure he’s my partner.
Gray: Mr. President, people feel that divides are getting deeper in our country. The first couple of weeks in office, you see what’s happening across the country. Today in sports, right here on the field, and in the military, we see people with different backgrounds come together for the common good. What concrete plans do you have to unite our country and bring our nation together?
Trump: Well, I think it’s great that they come together, but I will say we were a very divided country before I came along and one of the reasons I won the election is because of the fact that we were such a divided country. We had a tremendous group of people that, you look at issues and you look at what’s going on and there was such division in our country and I think a lot of people think I’m going to be able to bring it together. And I think I will be able to do that, but we have been a very, very divided country for a very long period of time, and, you know, I guess they consider me to be very much of an outsider, but it’s an outsider that can bring us together and I think I’ll be able to do that.
Gray: Is it tougher being a boxing promoter or president?
Trump: Well, boxing is an interesting . . . I’ve had many, many fights, as you know. I’ve been involved with just about everybody in that business and I really enjoy the boxing and I enjoy what they’ve done with the UFC. Dana White and all of the folks, the, the families that have done such a great job with that and, you know, I, I enjoy sports in any kind. I enjoy virtually every sport, and sports, nothing’s easy. Sports aren’t easy. And, you know, but I have great respect for what they’re doing and I think today’s game is terrific and I think it’s going to be terrific.
Gray: Final two questions. You’ve been in office a couple of weeks. Monday Morning Quarterback yourself. How would you assess how you’ve done?
Trump: Well, I think I’ve done well. I think polls are showing that I’ve done well. It’s been tough on a lot of people because, you know, we’re breaking the glass a little bit. We’re doing what has to be done. We’re being strong on vetting, we’re being strong on coming into the country. It’s very easy if you just let it be the way it was, but the FBI has over 1,000 investigations going on right now on terror and terrorism. They’ve never had anything like that before and that’s been reported all over the place. And frankly, we have to have a safe country. But I think I’ve done well. We have plants coming back and going in to Michigan and Pennsylvania and Ohio and the car companies are pouring back into our country. I’ve saved hundreds of millions of dollars in negotiation on the F-35 fighter jet and, and various military elements that I’ve gotten involved in the negotiation and saved hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars. That will end up being many, many billions of dollars. I think I’m getting very high marks by a lot of people.
Gray: Final thought. With all the head injuries and concussions — a big concern now with football — would you allow your grandchildren and Barron to play if they wanted?
Trump: If they wanted, I would allow them to play, but I will say that they have to be very careful, because that would be the big risk to the NFL if it gets to a point to where people are afraid to let their children play, that would not be a good thing for the NFL certainly. But, you know, it depends on the level. I mean, I know, I played football at a certain level and I will tell you, It’s a rough game, it’s a tough game and there’s something really good about that in terms of competition and learning how to compete and win. But it’s a rough game and a lot of people are deciding the other way. But, you know, regardless, I would, I would also leave it up the young person in the family. I think I would have to do that.