One of the central tenets of Donald Trump campaign has been that, unlike Hillary Clinton, he was against the Iraq War from the very start. Of course, while he has constantly espoused this at every opportunity, there is no real proof of this being an actual fact. On the contrary, his public comments prior to and right at the start of the war show him to be in favor of it. It wasn’t until 2004, when public opinion started shifting, that we see him speaking out against the war.
Trump has been mildly pressed on this, but has been able to squirm away by claiming that he wasn’t a political figure back then, and therefore he wasn’t asked about it that often. At the same time, he’s also said that he’s pretty sure there is evidence that shows he was against the invasion, and that his team will provide the press with it in due time. Months have passed, and nothing has emerged.
During a one-on-one previously recorded interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper that aired Sunday, the Republican nominee was pressed to reveal evidence of his opposition when he decided to go after Hillary for voting to authorize the war. After stating that he told everyone not to go into Iraq back then, Tapper confronted him, telling him to prove it.
From Media Matter’s transcript of the exchange:
DONALD TRUMP: I have a very strong temperament, but I have a temperament that’s totally under control. And [Hillary Clinton] mentions that I’ll bring us into war. She’s the one that wanted to go into Iraq. She raised her hand. She didn’t know what the hell she was doing. She raised her hand. I said, I don’t want to go into Iraq. Iraq is going to destabilize the Middle East, and I was 100 percent right.
JAKE TAPPER (HOST): Can I just say one point on that, I have looked so long and hard for any evidence —
TRUMP: I’ll give it to you. 2004, they had newspaper articles.
TAPPER: Right, but the war started in 2003.
Right off the bat, Tapper reveals to the audience just how full of shit the Trumpster is. In response to Trump’s bloviations that he was telling everyone that we need to not go into Iraq because it would destabilize the entire Middle East, Tapper simply states that the war started in 2003 and, yet, the first time Trump can point to him being against the war was a year after its start.
And it goes downhill for The Donald after that.
TRUMP: It did, but you know what, you look at — I did an interview with Howard [Stern], and that interview was the first time I was ever asked the question. Don’t forget I was an entrepreneur. I’m a real estate person.
TAPPER: But didn’t you say to Howard that you thought it was a good idea?
TRUMP: This was before the war started, long before the war started and it was a very, like, I don’t know. First, nobody ever asked me the question, when you’re do what I did nobody was talking about a lot of the questions that you ask me today, and I was — I sort of like, well, I don’t know, maybe, I don’t know. By the time that started, I was totally against it, and from 2004 on, there’s a lot of proof of that, because, as you know, there was articles in magazines, there was a lot of articles.
TAPPER: Yeah. A year after the war started.
Trump is just all over the fucking place here. He brings up the Stern interview from 2002, in which he actually expresses support for an invasion, and then tries to claim that he wasn’t being asked questions about it. He shifts back to 2004, only for Tapper to once again point out that it was a year after the war started.
Realizing the mess he’s in, the ex-Apprentice host and current GOP standard-bearer then insists that he was against the war before it started, but apparently after Stern asked him about it.
TRUMP: No, no, but I was against it from before it started. And if you go back and look at that interview, and I’ll get it for you if you want, but that interview was substantially before the war started. It was the first time I was ever asked the question. And even that, it wasn’t like, oh yeah, we should go in. It was a very, like yeah, maybe.
TAPPER: The only thing I would say, and then we don’t have to belabor this point, is if there is evidence of you being against the war strongly before the war actually started, I would love to see that.
TRUMP: OK, but I think there is evidence.
TAPPER: I just haven’t seen it.
TRUMP: I think there is evidence. I haven’t been asked that question before. Nobody said that to me before. I think there is evidence, I’ll see if I can get it. But I will say, from the beginning of 2004, I mean I’ve had articles, and I mean there are magazines —
TAPPER: 2004 no question.
TRUMP: I was against the war a long time ago and it destabilized the Middle East, and that’s exactly what I said was going to happen.
You have to give credit where credit is due, Tapper did an amazing job in this interview, mostly just by sticking with his questions and forcing Trump to reveal just how untruthful he’s been regarding this subject (and others). Donald Trump’s position this whole time was that he was shouting from the rooftops about how big of a disaster the Iraq War would be, and out leaders were just not listening because they’re too stupid.
However, when pressed for proof, he contradicts himself immediately and says nobody was asking him about it because he was a business person. He then points to articles a year after the start of the war to show he was fiercely opposed to it from the beginning, even though at that point, public approval for the war had also drastically changed. The fact is, he was just going along with the flow, not being a trendsetter or prophet.
And that is how Tapper presented him. By pressing him for evidence, he exposed the fact that Trump has none, and it came across clearly to the viewing audience.
Below is video of the segment, courtesy of Media Matters: