Trump Can’t Stop Lying about Opposing the Iraq War

logo-trump-lies-150In his speech on terrorism last week Donald Trump repeated the lie that he opposed the Bush-Cheney invasion of Iraq in 2003.

“I was an opponent of the Iraq War from the beginning – a major difference between me and my opponent,” Trump said, reading prepared remarks from a teleprompter.”Though I was a private citizen,whose personal opinions on such matters were really not sought,I nonetheless publicly expressed my private doubts about the invasion. I was against it, believe me. Three months before the invasion I said, in an interview with Neil Cavuto, to whom I offer my best wishes for a speedy recovery, that quote, perhaps we shouldn’t be doing it yet and that the economy is a much bigger problem.”

Factcheck.org, the rigorously nonpartisan fact checking organization, says this statement is not true:

Trump misrepresented a TV interview he gave in January 2003 to claim that he opposed the Iraq War “from the beginning.” In that interview, Trump said polling showed the economy is a “much bigger problem” for President Bush than Iraq, but he expressed no opinion on whether the U.S. should invade.
As we have written before, Trump on numerous occasions has made the claim without providing evidence that he was opposed to the Iraq War before it started. In this speech, he claims to have the evidence — but he doesn’t have the goods. Instead, he cherry-picks his quotes to twist the facts.

Trump did not tell Cavuto that “we shouldn’t be doing it yet and that the economy is a much bigger problem.” Trump is conflating two separate statements and presenting them as a single sentence and thought.
A little background: The Jan. 28, 2003, interview with Cavuto on Fox Business was conducted prior to President Bush’s State of the Union address that would be delivered that night. Cavuto starts by asking Trump what advice he would give the president on how much time to devote to Iraq and how much to the economy. Trump said the American public is “much more focused now on the economy,” and he criticized the Bush administration for dragging out the decision on whether to invade Iraq.

“Either you attack or you don’t attack,” Trump said.

Trump softened his criticism when Cavuto asked Trump if what he was saying was that Bush’s indecision “could ultimately hurt us.”

“Well, he has either got to do something or not do something, perhaps, because perhaps [we] shouldn’t be doing it yet and perhaps we should be waiting for the United Nations, you know,” Trump responds. “He’s under a lot of pressure. He’s — I think he’s doing a very good job.”

Trump switched to defending the administration and presented the alternative argument that the invasion should have the support of the United Nations. He didn’t say the U.S. shouldn’t invade Iraq.
Trump then went on to say, “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.”

Once again, Trump didn’t say the U.S. shouldn’t invade Iraq. He said public opinion polls show the economy is a “much bigger problem” for Bush…

Trump also offered as evidence an interview with Esquire that ran in the August 2004 edition — 17 months after the Iraq War started. As we have written, Trump was an early critic of the war after it started, but we can find no clear evidence that he was opposed to it before it started.

2 Comments

  • kodac
    September 10, 2016 - 11:50 am | Permalink

    I recall that at a time when the war in Iraq was very popular, supported by Ted Kennedy and Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump expressed his concern that the action was a mistake. I remember this clearly because it upset me at the time. I believed there to be good reasons for the action. Overthrowing Afghan terrorists was not a strong enough of a statement to protect America in the aftermath of 9/11. But now looking back, I recall the words of George Bush telling us that it will be a long war but we must not give up because if we give up then we will never have peace. I did not realize, when Trump made the statements, that the American people would eventually elect a President who did indeed give up. Looking back now, Trumps statements showed wisdom and good judgment at a time when everyone else thought differently.

    • Jon
      September 11, 2016 - 6:16 am | Permalink

      Trump did not criticize Bush’s invasion of the Iraq until 2004, by which time nearly all non-Republicans had come to realize the invasion was a disaster. Many of us knew it was a mistake from well before the invasion happened. We were mostly liberals, and Trump was not with us then.

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