Donald Trump Doubles Down on False Iraq War Opposition Claim

Donald Trump on Thursday defended his statement that he was publicly opposed to the Iraq war before it started — despite evidence contradicting that claim.

The GOP nominee also said he would have voted against the Iraq war had he been in Congress at the time of the 2003 invasion, a new line in Trump’s attempt to make the war a signature focus of the presidential campaign.

“Had I been in Congress at the time of the invasion, I would have cast a vote in opposition,” Trump said before framing the war as a referendum on Hillary Clinton’s judgment.

Trump, at a charter school here to deliver a speech about education, brought up interviews in 2003 and 2004 in which he slowly changed his stance on the war. The invasion began on March 20, 2003.

In Sept. 11, 2002 in an interview on the Howard Stern show, Trump was asked if he supported an invasion of Iraq and responded: “Yeah, I guess so,” and “I wish the first time it was done correctly.” The interview was earlier reported by Buzzfeed News, which posted audio of the exchange.

“I opposed going in, and I did oppose it. Despite the media saying, ‘no, yes, no,’ I opposed going in,” Trump said Thursday. “I was opposed to the war from the beginning, long after my interview with Howard Stern,” Trump said.

The Republican nominee has been criticized for seeming revisionist history on his position on the Iraq war, which Trump has used to attack Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, who voted to authorize the war when she was a U.S. senator.

Esquire, the magazine that published a 2004 interview in which Trump opposed the war a year after it began, earlier this month accused the GOP nominee of “lying” about claims he was always against the war.

Clinton at an NBC Commander-in-Chief forum Wednesday said the decision to to war in Iraq, and her vote to authorize military action, was a mistake. Trump called the Iraq issue “one of the biggest differences in this race.”

“Here’s the bottom line. I was a private citizen,” Trump said. “I had no access to briefings or great intelligence survey that she did … But I didn’t have access to all of the intelligence information that she did and everybody else did.”

Though it wasn’t necessarily long after the September 2002 Howard Stern interview, Trump did begin shifting his stance in early 2003. But it’s not clear that he was strongly against the war before it happened.

Trump on Thursday brought up a January 2003 interview with Fox’s Neil Cavuto, before the war began, in which he said that maybe President George W. Bush should be more focused on the U.S. economy.

“Well, he has either got to do something or not do something, perhaps, because perhaps shouldn’t be doing it yet and perhaps we should be waiting for the United Nations, you know,” Trump said, according to the website PolitiFact. “He’s under a lot of pressure. I think he’s doing a very good job. But, of course, if you look at the polls, a lot of people are getting a little tired. I think the Iraqi situation is a problem. And I think the economy is a much bigger problem as far as the president is concerned.”

Trump then cited an interview with the Washington Post from March 25, 2003 — days after the war began — in which he called the situation “a mess.”

However, in an interview four days earlier, again with Cavuto, Trump expressed optimism on the economy in the aftermath of the war and said the invasion “looks like a tremendous success from a military standpoint, and I think this is really nothing compared to what you’re going to see after the war is over.”

When asked to clarify what he meant, he told Cavuto “I think Wall Street’s just going to go up like a rocket, even beyond.”

Asked if he stood by those 2003 comments calling the invasion a “tremendous success,” Trump told reporters at his Thursday event, “You know what that meant,” before walking away.

When asked what that meant, Trump did not turn around to clarify.

At issue in his claim that he would have voted “no” on the war if he were in Congress is the fact that Trump did not express a negative opinion of the war until 2003. The vote to authorize the Iraq War was held months earlier, in October 2002.

This is the first time Trump has gone to such lengths to prove his claim, despite being asked at earlier points in his candidacy to provide proof of his stances prior to the war.

As he has on multiple earlier occasions, Trump cited a 2004 interview with Esquire, in which he gave his most forceful critique of the war in Iraq.

Trump read a quote from that article Thursday, saying, “Absolute quote: ‘Look at the war in Iraq and the mess that we’re in.’ This is right after the war started.”

In the 2004 article, Trump also expressed his doubts that Iraq would become a democracy and said: “Two minutes after we leave, there’s going to be a revolution, and the meanest, toughest, smartest, most vicious guy will take over.”

Esquire has since added an editor’s note to the online version of the article disputing any link between the piece and Trump’s claim of opposing the war in Iraq before it started.

“Donald Trump has repeatedly claimed to have been against the Iraq War from the beginning, and he has cited this story as proof,” the editor’s note reads. “The Iraq War began in March 2003, more than a year before this story ran, thus nullifying Trump’s timeline.”

And the magazine on Aug. 15 published an accompanying article titled “Once Again, Trump Claims He Was Always Against the Iraq War. He’s Lying.” — with an line below reading “And now he’s throwing Esquire into the mix.”

(h/t NBC News)

Reality

When we lay out the timeline of events, we can see that Trump is indeed lying when he said he was always against the Iraq War.

Media

 

Donald Trump Will Not Stop Lying About The Iraq War

Of all the lies Donald Trump likes to tell while running for president, the one about being an early opponent of the 2003 Iraq War may be his favorite. Despite well-documented evidence that the casino mogul spoke in support of the ill-fated war in the lead-up to the invasion, reporters have repeatedly let the Republican presidential candidate tell a revisionist version of his past stance without pushing back on the claim.

That sequence repeated itself on Wednesday night during NBC’s televised town hall, the first event featuring the two presidential candidates in back-to-back question-and-answer sessions. When it was Trump’s turn, NBC’s Matt Lauer asked the Republican candidate what about his past experiences has prepared him to be the country’s commander in chief.

Trump followed a familiar routine of dodging the question, offering vague assurances of his success, and eventually, outright lying.

“Well, I think the main thing is, I have great judgment. I have good judgment. I know what’s going on. I’ve called so many of the shots. And I happened to hear Hillary Clinton say that I was not against the war in Iraq. I was totally against the war in Iraq ― from ― you can look at Esquire magazine from ‘04, you can look at before that. I was against the war in Iraq because I said it would totally destabilize the Middle East, which it has. It has absolutely been a disastrous war.”

Lauer, who is surely aware of the factual inaccuracy of Trump’s claim, could have pointed out that 2004 was after the invasion, and therefore more of an example of Monday-morning quarterbacking than good judgment. He could have pointed to earlier interviews in which Trump voiced support for the war. Or he could have asked the candidate for another example from before the 2003 start of the war.

Instead, he just moved on to the next question.

Buzzfeed’s Andrew Kaczynski was the first to uncover Trump’s earlier remarks about the war in Iraq. In 2000, Trump called for a “principled and tough” policy toward “outlaw” states like Iraq, Buzzfeed found. In 2002, Howard Stern asked Trump outright if he favored invading Iraq. “Yeah, I guess so,” Trump said at the time. “I wish the first time it was done correctly.”

By 2004 it had become clear that ousting Iraq’s dictator Saddam Hussein was only the first part of a protracted U.S. military effort there, and Trump was offering a new view on the invasion. In August 2004 he told Esquire’s Cal Fussman:

“Look at the war in Iraq and the mess that we’re in. I would never have handled it that way. Does anybody really believe that Iraq is going to be a wonderful democracy where people are going to run down to the voting box and gently put in their ballot and the winner is happily going to step up to lead the county? C’mon. Two minutes after we leave, there’s going to be a revolution, and the meanest, toughest, smartest, most vicious guy will take over. And he’ll have weapons of mass destruction, which Saddam didn’t have.”

Lauer is not the first reporter to let Trump get away with his revisionist account of his early stance on the Iraq War. Buzzfeed later reported that several major news outlets ― CNN, Fox, MSNBC, NBC, CBS, Bloomberg, the New York Times and the Washington Post ― have, on at least one occasion, offered a platform for Trump to insist he was always against the Iraq War without correcting the candidate.

This is no small oversight. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton failed to secure the Democratic party’s presidential nomination in 2008, in part, because she voted for the disastrous war that her opponent, Barack Obama, had opposed as a senator.

In this election, voters don’t have the option of electing a candidate who demonstrated better judgment about whether to invade Iraq. But during the town hall on Wednesday, Clinton owned up to her miscalculation on the Iraq War ― and reminded voters of her opponent’s refusal to do so.

“I have taken responsibility for my decision,” Clinton said. “He refuses to take responsibility for his support ― that is a judgment issue.”

(h/t Huffington Post)

Reality

In Sept. 11, 2002 in an interview on the Howard Stern show, Trump was asked if he supported an invasion of Iraq and responded: “Yeah, I guess so,” and “I wish the first time it was done correctly.” The interview was earlier reported by Buzzfeed News, which posted audio of the exchange.

Esquire, the magazine that published a 2004 interview in which Trump opposed the war a year after it began, earlier this month accused the GOP nominee of “lying” about claims he was always against the war.

Trump Defends 2013 Tweet About Allowing Women to Serve in the Military

Donald Trump on Wednesday defended a tweet that he posted three years ago that stated the estimated number of unreported sexual assaults in the military and then mused: “What did these geniuses expect when they put men & women together?”

“Well, it is, it is a correct tweet,” Trump said when asked about the tweet during NBC News’ Commander-in-Chief Forum in New York on Wednesday night. “There are many people that think that that’s absolutely correct … Well, well, it’s happening, right? And, by the way, since then, it’s gotten worse.”

NBC’s Matt Lauer, who led the forum, pushed Trump to better explain himself and asked if the Republican nominee thinks that the only way to end sexual assault in the military is to kick women out. (Sexual assault in the military is not just a problem for women, as that Pentagon has said that many assault cases involve men attacking other men.)

“No, not to take them out, but something has to be happen[ing],” Trump said. “Right now part of the problem is nobody gets prosecuted. You have reported — and the gentleman can tell you — you have the report of rape, and nobody gets prosecuted. There are no consequence[s]. When you have somebody that does something so evil, so bad as that, there has to be consequence[s] for that person. You have to go after that person. Right now, nobody’s doing anything. Look at the small number of results. I mean, that’s part of the problem.”

(h/t Washington Post)

Reality

First, from Trump’s statements he was clearly under the impression that we are dealing with only men raping women, and may believe the rape myths that men cannot be raped, and that women cannot be perpetrators.

Donald Trump’s answer never addressed the blatantly sexist overtones of his tweet, and instead called for more prosecutions. However this response also calls into question Trump’s understanding of a very nuanced issue.

According to Human Rights Watch, military personnel who report a sexual assault frequently find that their military career is the biggest casualty. This gives most victims of sexual assault no incentive or protections to come forward or with any recourse once they’ve been booted out of the armed forces.

Trump, however, has said women should be in the military because, “they’re really into it.”

Media

CNN

Trump Praises Putin Again, ‘A Leader Far More Than Our President’

Donald Trump defended his admiration for Russian President Vladi­mir Putin at a forum on Wednesday focused on national security issues, even suggesting that Putin is more worthy of his praise than President Obama.

“Certainly, in that system, he’s been a leader, far more than our president has been a leader,” Trump said. “We have a divided country.”

The Republican presidential nominee said that an alliance with Russia would help defeat the Islamic State, and when asked to defend some of Putin’s aggressions on the world stage, he asked, “Do you want me to start naming some of the things Obama does at the same time?”

Trump also said he appreciated some of the kind words Putin has had for him. “Well, I think when he calls me brilliant, I think I’ll take the compliment, okay?”

(h/t Washington Post)

Reality

Donald Trump has engaged in an unsettling bromance with the Russian president, once saying Putin was was world leader he would “get along very well with,” and has since made a lot of pro-Russian stances.

  • Heaped praise on Russian President Vladimir Putin saying, “I will tell you, in terms of leadership, he’s getting an ‘A,’ and our president is not doing so well. They did not look good together.”
  • Questioned the need for NATO, which was set up as a check against Russian aggression in Europe, calling it “obsolete.”
  • Declared he would not come to the aide of NATO allies when attacked by Russia if they do not pay.
  • Fought like mad during the Republican National Convention to change the GOP platform to no longer provide arms to Ukraine in their conflict with Russia.
  • Told a conference in Ukraine that their nation was invaded because “there is no respect for America.”
  • Invited Russian hackers to attack his political rival in order to influence the American election.
  • Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, left over revelations that he possibly received millions of dollars in illegal payments from Ukraine’s former pro-Russian ruling party.
  • Incorrectly stated that Russia would never go into Ukraine, when they have been intervening there for the past 3 years.

But in the larger context, make no mistake, Republicans love Russian President Vladimir Putin. No surprises here because in the past, conservatives have heaped massive praise on Putin. Here are just a few examples.

Never-mind that Putin is a human-rights-abusing, political-enemy-killing, tyrant. Putin became the strong authoritarian model they have long desired in a president after 2 terms of “weak” Obama.

Media

MSNBC

Trump’s Comments On Intelligence Briefings ‘Astonish’ Former Intel Officials

During last night’s Commander-in-Chief forum, Donald Trump made it sound as though the intelligence officials who have been briefing him haven’t hid their disdain for President Obama.

Asked by NBC’s Matt Lauer whether anything he learned during his first two briefings shocked him, Trump said “Yes, there was one thing that shocked me.”

“What I did learn is that our leadership — Barack Obama — did not follow what our experts… said to do,” Trump said. “I was very, very surprised in almost every instance. And I could tell — I am pretty good with the body language — I could tell they were not happy our leaders did not follow what they were recommending.”

Three people who have worked in the intelligence community told ThinkProgress Trump’s comments are both unusual and implausible.

Paul Pillar, a former high-ranking CIA analyst who worked for 28 years in the intelligence community, said he “can’t remember any time where a candidate has said anything about” an intelligence briefing publicly.

“The proper, standard thing for any candidate to do would be to say nothing about it — to at most acknowledge a briefing happened,” he added. “It’s quite out of order to start talking about body language.”

Pillar views Trump’s remarks as crossing a line.

“This is a courtesy provided by the intelligence community to the candidate to help keep them as smart as possible on things the agencies are following, and to turn it around and try and take electoral advantage of it by reading something into it, like [officials] not liking what the current administration is doing, is simply not in order,” he said, adding he’d “be very, very surprised any intelligence analyst would indicate anything about pleasure or displeasure with current policies.”

Pillar’s sentiment was seconded by Bruce Riedel, senior fellow and director of the Brookings Institute Intelligence Project.

“I don’t know of any precedent,” Riedel wrote in an email. “It’s also questionable that intelligence briefers would criticize policy decisions even by body language.”

Alan Makovsky, senior national security fellow at the Center for American Progress and a former senior staff member on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, characterized Trump’s remarks as “astonishing.” (ThinkProgress is an editorially independent part of CAP.)

“Speaking as a former member of the [intelligence] community, I think it would put a cloud over the careers of the briefers if people took Trump’s comments seriously,” he said. “If the body language stuff was believed by their superiors, it’d be the last briefing they ever got.”

During a press conference today, Hillary Clinton characterized Trump’s comments as “totally inappropriate and undisciplined,” adding she’d “never comment on any aspect of an intelligence briefing that I received.”

The Washington Post reports that during his first briefing on August 17, Trump was accompanied by Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) and retired U.S. Army Gen. Michael Flynn.

“Trump and Christie listened politely but Flynn repeatedly interrupted the briefers and disparaged their work, according to former officials familiar with the matter,” the Post reports.

(h/t ThinkProgress)

Reality

Retired Col. Steve Ganyard told ABC News the intelligence community was ‘quite upset‘ over Donald Trump’s comments and he “crossed a line.”

Trump placed officers in a terrible situation. Active military is forbidden against wading into political matters, so it would be impossible for the briefers to defend themselves. These people spend years training their bodies to not betray their thoughts. If the body language stuff was believed by their superiors, it’d be the last briefing they ever got.

Media

 

Trump Policy Staffers Quit After Not Being Paid

Many of Donald Trump’s Washington, D.C., policy staffers quit working for the campaign after not being paid or publicly recognized, according to a new report in The Washington Post.

According to former employees, they were told they would be paid when Corey Lewandowski was campaign manager. But Paul Manafort, who replaced Lewandowski in July, said the staffers would remain unpaid.

“It’s a complete disaster,” a campaign adviser told the Post. “They use and abuse people. The policy office fell apart in August when the promised checks weren’t delivered.”

Jason Miller, a campaign spokesman, said that the D.C. policy shop has been “very successful” but added that “no such oral agreements were made” in respect to paying the staffers.

The two leaders of the policy shop, Rick Dearborn and John Mashburn, allegedly promised the workers that the money was coming. The report notes, however, that Dearborn failed to get an approved budget for the D.C. branch after Manafort was appointed.

“I heard it from Dearborn, I heard it from Mashburn. It was understood that we would be paid. The campaign never discussed how much the pay would be. It was never in writing,” another staffer told the newspaper.

“There were some people who were treating it as a full-time job. I suspect that those people were quite astonished when the pay didn’t come through.”

There were also workers who did not hold the policy shop’s leaders responsible.

“Rick Dearborn was always professional and forthcoming with me,” said the former policy coordinator.

“I was certainly under the expectation I would be paid at some point, but I don’t blame Rick Dearborn.”

The list of staffers who left the D.C. policy shop includes Ying Ma, a former staffer to Trump adviser Ben Carson; Tera Dahl, a former assistant to ex-Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.); J.D. Gordon, the shop’s director of national security; and conservative writer William Triplett, among others.

The staffers who remained in the Washington office are now working on a volunteer basis, the report added.

(h/t The Hill)

 

Trump Took Millions From Saudi Government While Trashing Clinton Foundation

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump reportedly made millions of dollars from Saudi Arabia, The New York Daily News reported.

A Daily News investigation found that in June 2001, the GOP nominee sold the 45th floor of Trump World Tower to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for $4.5 million.The apartments became part of the Saudi Mission to the United Nations in 2008, according to the report.

At the time of the sale, the five apartment that were sold had yearly common charges of $85,585 for building amenities, meaning Trump has been paid at least $5.7 million by the Saudi government since 2001 — if those rates stayed the same.

The Daily News investigation also found Osama Bin Laden’s half-brother, Shafiq Bin Laden, lived in an apartment in Trump Tower for four months in 1986. He paid an $8,500 security deposit for the apartment.

The GOP nominee has in the past criticized his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, for accepting money from Saudi Arabia for the Clinton Foundation.

“Crooked Hillary says we must call on Saudi Arabia and other countries to stop funding hate,” Trump said in a June Facebook post.

“I am calling on her to immediately return the $25 million plus she got from them for the Clinton Foundation!”

(h/t The Hill)

Trump Offends Some With Comment That Clinton Lacks ‘Presidential Look’

Donald Trump’s comment that Hillary Clinton doesn’t have “a presidential look” is seen by some as the Republican presidential nominee’s latest knock on a woman’s appearance.

During an interview with ABC News in Ohio Monday, Trump said, “I really do believe that” Clinton doesn’t look the part.

“I just don’t believe she has a presidential look, and you need a presidential look,” he told ABC News anchor David Muir.

When pressed for specifics, Trump avoided giving any, saying, “I’m talking about general.”

(h/t ABC News)

Reality

This isn’t the only time that Trump has talked about other candidates’ appearance during this campaign. In one of the most notable cases, he talked about another female candidate, Carly Fiorina, before she dropped out of the Republican Party primaries.

During an interview last year for a September 2015 Rolling Stone cover story, he said, “Look at that face” when a camera zoomed in on Fiorina, according to the magazine. “Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?!”

Trump followed up in other interviews, saying he was talking about her persona and not her appearance. But she made it clear at the next Republican prime-time debate that she wasn’t buying it.

“Women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said,” she said.

Trump Describes The “Trumpertantrum” He Would Throw Over Air Force One Staircase Mishap at G-20

Donald Trump said Monday that he would have left the G-20 summit in China over a logistical flap that left President Obama disembarking Air Force One onto a plain metal staircase.

The president’s subdued arrival on Saturday afternoon, from a secondary exit on the presidential plane, stood in contrast to other world leaders who departed their planes onto red-carpeted stairs — and some, including Trump, perceived it as a snub by Chinese officials.

They won’t even give him stairs, proper stairs to get out of the airplane. You see that? They have pictures of other leaders who are … coming down with a beautiful red carpet. And Obama is coming down a metal staircase,” Trumps said Monday at the beginning of a roundtable with labor leaders in Brook Park, Ohio.

“I’ve got to tell you, if that were me, I would say, ‘You know what, folks, I respect you a lot but close the doors, let’s get out of here,’” he added. “It’s a sign of such disrespect.”

The Clinton campaign quickly seized on the comments and criticized Trump’s temperament. “Temperament Update: Trump would leave G-20 mtg b/c the staircase offended him and he was wrong abt the staircase,” tweeted Clinton spokesperson Jesse Ferguson.

Trump has regularly accused Obama of failing to show strength against foreign leaders and has pointed specifically to Air Force One arrivals to make his point. He made similar claims that Obama had provoked a national embarrassment when Obama visited Cuba and Saudi Arabia earlier this year, calling decisions by the heads of state not to greet Obama at the airport “unprecedented.”

“The truth is they [other countries] don’t respect us. When President Obama landed in Cuba on Air Force One, no leader was there, nobody, to greet him. Perhaps an incident without precedent in the long and prestigious history of Air Force One. Then, amazingly, the same thing happened in Saudi Arabia. It’s called no respect,” Trump said in April.

The Washington Post’s Fact Checker rated that comment false, giving it four Pinocchios and noting that heads of state have opted not to greet American presidents on airport tarmacs in the past.

Trump, talking about the staircase, added that he “guaranteed it was built in China, it wasn’t built here, okay?” The stairs in question, which folded out from the center of the plane, were part of Air Force One.

(h/t Washington Post)

Reality

This is yet more evidence that Donald Trump does not have the temperament to be a world leader on a global stage if he would throw a fit over a small logistical mishap.

Media

Donald Trump Refuses to Talk About His Role in the Racist Birther Movement

Years after the issue was debunked, Donald Trump still refuses to back away from the birther conspiracy he helped fuel.

“I don’t talk about it,” Trump told NBC’s Ali Vitali on Monday.

Trump made similar comments to “Late Show” host Stephen Colbert last year.

(h/t Huffington Post)

Reality

First of all, President Obama was born in Hawaii. Shut up.

And second, Donald Trump rose to political fame with the questioning of the legitimacy of America’s first black President, with a clear origin in racial prejudice.

In March 2011 when Trump appeared on “The View” and asked the panel, “Why doesn’t he show his birth certificate?” While on Fox News’s “On the Record,” Trump demanded, “I want to see his birth certificate.” In an interview with NBC’s “Today Show,” he revealed, “I’m starting to think that he was not born here.”

And in the most irony of ironies, Trump has refused to release his own birth certificate and passport information.

2011 Birther Study on Racism

A 2011 study of birthers in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology showed racial prejudice played a substantial role in those who believed the claims that Obama wasn’t an American.

“The influence of racial prejudice in contemporary U.S. society is typically manifested in subtle, indirect forms of bias. Due to prevailing norms of equality, most Whites attempt to avoid appearing biased in their evaluations of Blacks, in part because of a genuine desire to live up to their egalitarian standards, but also because of concern regarding social censure. As a consequence, Whites’ prejudice is more likely to be expressed in discriminatory responses when these actions can be justified by other factors.”

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