Susan Walsh / AP
President Trump says he imposes new sanctions on Iran.
"We continue with further sanctions against Iran," said the president, and spoke to journalists Saturday outside the White House. "Some of them are in place. As you know, we have as strong a penalty group as you might have in any country, but we are making additional sanctions."
He did not provide specific information on these sanctions, but proposed sanctions could be lifted in the future.
"We don't want Iran to have a nuclear weapon," Trump said. "And when they agree, they will have a wealthy country, they will be so happy and I will be their best friend."
Last year, Trump withdrew the US from an agreement mediated by President Obama, which lifted sanctions against Iran instead of abandoning its nuclear weapons program. Since then, Trump has tried to use an economic tactic called "maximum pressure", in other words, reintroduction of sanctions. On Thursday, Iran hit a US surveillance drone days after the United States accused Iran of hitting two foreign-owned oil tankers traveling in the Hormuz River.
In his remarks, the President also defended his decision Thursday to cancel a strike on Iran after he said he learned the strike would kill 150 people. The strike was intended to reciprocate for Iran to shoot down the American drone The New York Times was first reported.
"I didn't like the idea that they deliberately shoot down an unmanned drone and then we kill 150 people," Trump elaborated on Saturday.
"I don't want to kill 150 Iranians," he continued.
Karim Sadjadpour, a senior fellow at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said that Iran is suffering from rising inflation, high unemployment and the departure of educated citizens and capital.
"The Iranian economy really deteriorates as a result of these sanctions, and I cannot see how they will be able to reverse the absent any form of accommodation or negotiation with the United States," Sadjadpour said. NPRs Scott Simon on Weekend Edition .
Sadjadpour estimated that "we will continue to see this escalating cycle. It may be that Iran is trying to wait for the Trump presidency and hopes that in November 2020 more moderate democrat will be elected."
Congress leaders have pushed for more input to US strategy.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Said Friday that the leading lawmakers had met with the president after they had learned about his decision to initiate and then cancel a strike on Iran.
"Democratic leaders emphasized that hostilities must not begin without the approval of Congress," Pelosi said in a statement. "We have no illusions about the Iranian regime's dangerous behavior. It is a dangerous high-voltage situation that requires a strong, smart and strategic approach."
We are in a very dangerous and sensitive situation with Iran. We need to calibrate an answer that scales and promotes US interests – and be clear about what those interests are.
Hostilities must not begin without the approval of the congress. https://t.co/8cRcWA8SLH
– Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) June 21, 2019
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Wrote that he appreciated the president's desire to be measured and thought-provoking when it comes to Iranian provocations. He hoped he hoped that if Iran followed through its threat to restart the atomic movement, the United States would "make this a red line."
I appreciate President @realDonaldTrump 's desire to be measured and thoughtful when it comes to Iranian provocations.
What will the world's reaction be if Iran follows through their threat of resuming the atomic movement?
I hope the US will make this a red line.
– Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) June 21, 2019
Trump told reporters on Saturday that US oil and gas production is so large that the United States no longer depends on the Hormuz oil transport channel. State Secretary Mike Pompeo has said that the United States will keep the shipping routes open in the Gulf of Oman, and Trump said it is mainly in favor of China, Japan, Indonesia and other countries.
"We make them a great service by keeping the strains open, but it's not about the strains it is about, Iran can't have a nuclear weapon," Trump said.
The reporters asked the president if he trusted his national security advisor, John Bolton. "Yes I do." Trump said. "Because I have John Bolton, which I would definitely say is a hawk, and I have other people on the other side of the equation, and ultimately I make the decisions so it doesn't matter."
The question came after Fox hosted Tucker Carlson accusing Bolton of "denied" logic to invade Iraq.
"John Bolton is a kind of bureaucratic tapeworm. Try as you might, you can't expel him," Carlson said. "His life is truly Washington in a nutshell, blundering in obvious disasters over and over, refusing to admit the blame, and then demanding more of the same."
However, Trump said, "John Bolton does a good job."
Trump also extended US immigration and customs enforcement plans to arrest and expel thousands of immigrant families across the country.
He called ICE "A group of very good law enforcement officers go after the law, go by the rules, go to our legal system and take people out of our country illegally entering our country."
The president praised Mexico for his role in fighting illegal immigration.
"I would like to thank Mexico. So far Mexico has been really good. They probably do not have an agreement because of tariffs, but they have entered into an agreement and so far they have really honored the deal," he said.
Earlier in June, Trump had threatened to impose tariffs unless Mexico advocated tightening the border and reducing the refugees' immigrants crossing the United States illegally. NPR's Carrie Kahn reported that the mission will be difficult.
"Mexico has very limited resources," Kahn said. "And this new government has reduced its budgets for the immigration and refugee programs under the president's new austerity program. So it will be difficult to take even more asylum seekers."
In response, Mexico was willing to deploy its national guard and to keep more immigrants from Central America.
On another topic, on Saturday, the President rejected a warning from the Council Columnist E. Jean Carroll that Trump sexually assaulted her in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room in the mid 90s.
"It's a totally false accusation," Trump said. "I have absolutely no idea who she is."