Trump Lied About His Opposition To The Iraq War
Donald Trump has repeated throughout his presidential campaign that he opposed the Iraq war before the March 19, 2003 invasion, often taking credit for his judgement and vision — claiming he knew it would destabilize the Middle East.
On Feb. 13, in the most recent debate, Trump said: “I said it loud and clear, ‘You’ll destabilize the Middle East.'” In the Sept. 16, 2015 debate, Trump claimed that he “fought very, very hard against us … going into Iraq,” saying he could provide “25 different stories” to prove his opposition.
Trump has even said that he was “visited by people from the White House” in attempt to silence him, because, he said, he was getting “a disproportionate amount of publicity” for his opposition to the war.
There is no evidence that we could find, however, that he spoke against the war before it started, although we did find he expressed early concerns about the cost and direction of the war a few months after it started.
Others have looked, but no one else — including PolitiFact and the Washington Post Fact Checker — has been able to find any evidence to support his claims, either. Now, BuzzFeed reports that Trump indicated his support for war in a radio interview with shock jock Howard Stern on Sept. 11, 2002 — a little more than six months before the war started.
Stern asked Trump directly if he supported going to war with Iraq, and Trump hesitantly responded, “Yeah, I guess so.”
We don’t know if Trump still felt the same way in March of 2003. We do, however, know two things after having reviewed multiple news archival services in search of Trump’s position on the war:
Trump had a financial interest in opposing the war in the weeks leading up to the war. The Newark Star-Ledger, New Jersey’s largest newspaper, reported on March 12, 2003 that Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts planned “to sell $485 million in junk-grade bonds this week in an effort to avoid a cash crunch later this year.” The uncertainty of war complicated Trump’s bond sale.
The company began planning for the sale of the bonds in December, and it was completed March 13,2003 — six days before the war started. The Star-Ledger reported that “the growing threat of war with Iraq”and a proposal to “raise casino taxes and install video slot machines at New Jersey’s racetracks … made it more difficult for the company to find willing investors.”
After the sale of the bonds was completed, Trump issued a statement on March 13 saying he was pleased with the results “despite difficult capital market conditions and the looming threat of war.”
Trump expressed concerns about the cost of the war soon after it started. If Trump did support the war, he turned on it quickly. As the timeline below shows, Trump in July said that he wished the money being spent in Iraq could be spent in New York City. By November, he talked about the “tremendous cost” of the war and the “very, very unpleasant surprises in Iraq.”
By 2004, Trump’s opposition to the war was well documented.
Below is a timeline of all the Trump statements about the Iraq war that we could find in 2002 and 2003. Except for the Howard Stern interview in 2002, which was reported by BuzzFeed, the statements below were culled from numerous archival services available to us at FactCheck.org through the University of Pennsylvania: Access World News, ProQuest, Vanderbilt Television News Archives and LexisNexis.
Posted on February 19, 2016 By Eugene Kiely
Johnny B. Good