Trump recently claimed he opposed the Iraq War in 2003 and “before that.”
Buzzfeed’s Andrew K (a tremendous reporter, with terrific scoops) did some digging, though, and found audio of Trump appearing on the Howard Stern show on September 11, 2002. It’s a solid find by Andrew but it’s being used by Trump critics to apparently demonstrate Trump is a ‘liar’ who didn’t, in fact, oppose the Iraq War.
I don’t see, however, how this audio negates Trump’s alleged opposition to the war. If anything, it supports the notion that Trump was against the war. Why?
- For starters, Trump’s “Yeah, I guess so…” isn’t exactly an enthusiastic, ringing endorsement of the war plans. One can almost hear his shoulders shrugging. Let’s just say that’s not what an Iraq War supporter sounded like in 2002.
- It’s September 2002 — months before the war began the following year. At that time, I recall opinions (my own included) wavered week to week. Wildly varying information and various Bush pitches were emerging constantly, and opinions on whether to invade — including even what the ‘invasion/war’ would actually entail — were all over the place. So, yes, one could say “Sure, let’s go over there” one week and easily turn around and oppose it the following week, or vice versa. Thus, it’s possibly Trump could go on a show and say “Yeah, I guess so” regarding plans to invade but then reconsider — which would make his “I opposed the war” truthful.
- Notice the date — the interview was on the anniversary of September 11th. Who would dare — 12 months after 9/11, on its anniversary — question Bush’s “plan to fight terrorism”, much less on a public show that isn’t even about political affairs??? Most of us, even if we opposed the war, would probably just say “Yeah” when interviewed on that date and on that show.
- It’s NYC. As someone in NYC during this exact time period, I can tell you support of the Iraq War — at a time when one was expected to give Bush free-reign to go after ‘terror’ — was almost mandatory. Only the most hardcore liberals dared openly AND CONSISTENTLY criticize the idea of invading Iraq.
So there you have it.
UPDATE/FURTHER INFO: Trump addressed the matter, noting:
Indeed. End of story.
Also, a quick Google search revealed Trump did, in fact, express skepticism BEFORE the war began (the invasion began in March 2003), back in January 2003. I guess if you’re going to take his I-was-against-it-in-2003-and-before-that (a one-time, offhand remark) extremely LITERALLY, and take that to mean 2002 or earlier, then sure, maybe he didn’t do so publicly, on the record, in 2002 or earlier. But he DID publicly, on the record, do so… in January 2003 (close enough, for ya?!), certainly before the war started. Trump’s Jan 2003 comment is ‘skepticism’ at the very least but pretty much what most would call healthy opposition.
Need more? Here’s Trump at a Vanity Fair party, only five days after the war began, calling it a “mess.”
Here’s Trump outright AGAINST the war in July 2004, a year after the war began but still pretty darn early on and at a time when many were still fervently supporting it!, during an interview with the Dallas Morning News.
And also in August 2004:
Also: Since posting this circa 10 pm EST tonight and sharing it on Twitter, my Twitter tweeps made some excellent points, with which this post should be updated:
UPDATE 2 (following day, Feb 19th): New information has emerged, including additional finds. Thanks to some of my Twitter tweeps, who tipped me off to my pal Sean Hannity’s remarks on this topic, I located two relevant remarks by Sean, wherein Sean clearly notes Trump was clearly against our going into Iraq from the very beginning.
Andrew also had another good find, this afternoon, though, worth addressing:
Again, however, I do not see the ‘gotcha’ here. Of course (!) folks (even those against the war) would compliment the job our troops and military were doing. My take?:
Also, notice Trump’s actual quote: “it looks like a tremendous success from a military standpoint.” FROM A MILITARY STANDPOINT. That’s not saying you support the endeavor or think it’s a great success overall — but rather are opining strictly from a military standpoint. Trump also later adds, in an obviously skeptical manner: “let’s hope it all works out.”
UPDATE 3: In August 2003, only five months after the war began, while on Joe Scarborough’s show, Trump noted the following:
Also, there is this 2006 CNN interview:
And in 2007, when, yes, many were still supporting the war, including Elizabeth Hasselbeck, Trump noted anyone who justified it was an “imbecile.”