Donald Trump on the Iraq War

Quotes by Donald Trump on His Support for the Iraq War

THEN
NOW


2000 - 2008
2015 - 2020

Donald Trump on the Iraq War Then
Donald Trump on the Iraq War Now


#DonaldTrump 9/11/02: "Yeah, I guess so ❲I’m for invading Iraq❳." » #Trump 2/6/16: "I was the one that said, ‘Don’t go, don’t do it, you’re going to destabilize the Middle East.’" Click To Tweet

Quotes by Donald Trump on His Support for the Iraq War

THEN

2000 - 2008

Donald Trump on the Iraq War Then
“[President George H.W. Bush] wasn’t afraid to use American power when he figured out that Saddam Hussein posed a direct threat to American interests in the East. I only wish, however, that he had spent three more days and properly finished the job
“Six years of tough talk and U.S. fireworks in Baghdad have done little to slow Iraq‘s crash program to become a nuclear power… Saddam Hussein wouldn’t let UN weapons inspectors examine certain sites where that material might be stored. The result when our bombing was over? We still don’t know what Iraq is up to or whether it has the material to build nuclear weapons. I’m no warmonger. But the fact is, if we decide a strike against Iraq is necessary, it is madness not to carry the mission to its conclusion. When we don’t, we have the worst of all worlds: Iraq remains a threat, and now has more incentive than ever to attack us.”
- Jan, 2000

Donald Trump's book 'The America We Deserve'

Donald Trump (via Buzzfeed), Jan, 2000
There's No Record Of Donald Trump Being Against The Iraq War Before It Started

(retrieved 1/4/19)
“Yeah, I guess so [I’m for invading Iraq]. I wish the first time it was done correctly.”
- Sept 11, 2002

Howard Stern interview

Buzzfeed, Feb 18, 2016
In 2002, Donald Trump Said He Supported Invading Iraq

(retrieved 1/4/19)
“Either you attack or you don’t attack… [President George W. Bush] 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. He’s under a lot of pressure. He’s — 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.”
- Jan 28, 2003

Neil Cavuto interview on the night of George W. Bush's 2003 State of the Union Address

Fox Business (via FactCheck.org), Feb 19, 2016
Donald Trump and the Iraq War

(retrieved 1/4/19)

March 19, 2003: The Iraq War begins


“I think Wall Street’s waiting to see what happens but even before the fact they’re obviously taking it a little bit for granted that it 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… I think Wall Street’s just going to go up like a rocket even beyond and it’s going to continue and – you know we have a strong and powerful country and let’s hope it all works out.”
- March 21, 2003

Neil Cavuto interview

Fox Business (via FactCheck.org), Feb 19, 2016
Donald Trump and the Iraq War

(retrieved 1/4/19)
“War is depressing, but something like the Miss USA pageant is positive and brings you out of that funk.”
- March 22, 2003

San Antonio Express-News (via FactCheck.org), Feb 19, 2016
Donald Trump and the Iraq War

(retrieved 1/4/19)
“If they keep fighting it the way they did today, they’re going to have a real problem. The war’s a mess.”
- March 23, 2003

Washington Post, March 25, 2003
Hollywood Partyers, Soldiering On

(retrieved 1/4/19)
“I think the president is doing a very good job. I would love to see New York City and some of the cities and some of the states get some of the money that’s going toward Iraq and other places, because you know, they really need and it they need it badly.”
- July 1, 2003

MSNBC ('Hardball with Chris Matthews' via FactCheck.org), Feb 19, 2016
Donald Trump and the Iraq War

(retrieved 1/4/19)
“It wasn’t a mistake to fight terrorism and fight it hard, and I guess maybe if I had to do it, I would have fought terrorism but not necessarily Iraq.”
- Sept 11, 2003

MSNBC ('Scarborough Country' via FactCheck.org), Feb 19, 2016
Donald Trump and the Iraq War

(retrieved 1/4/19)
“I think [Bush’s] bigger problem is going to be what’s happening in Iraq. I believe the economy is doing well. I think it could get better, but lots of surprises out on the horizon, and what is going to happen with Iraq, what is going to happen with the world situation, that could be the bigger problem that President Bush has…
Tremendous amounts of money being pumped into Iraq. I mean, you look at states like New York and California, where they can`t afford school systems, and we are giving $87 billion to Iraq and that is just the beginning. So, you know, it is a tremendous cost to this country, what’s gone on there, and again, we are getting some very, very unpleasant surprises in Iraq, and hopefully something is going to be done about it quickly…

“I mean, you see more and more doves, if you call them doves. The question is whether or not we should have been in Iraq in the first place… I mean, the country is starting to do well, so I think the whole shift is going to be very much toward the war.”
- Nov 4, 2003

MSNBC ('Hardball with Chris Matthews' via FactCheck.org), Feb 19, 2016
Donald Trump and the Iraq War

(retrieved 1/4/19)
“[Saddam Hussein‘s capture] is just a great thing for the free world… Look, you have a lot of questions and a lot of people questioning the whole concept of going in, in the first place, Neil. But we are in, we went in, you had to find him. If he was alive, you had to find him. And you know, they fulfilled the pledge of finding Saddam Hussein…
“You have Mr. [Howard] Dean, that’s going to say we shouldn’t have been there regardless. And you have others that are saying, well, we are there and we have to do the best. I mean, we are there, regardless of what should have been done. Some people agree and some people don’t agree, but we are there. And if we are there, you have to take down Saddam Hussein. And they have done that, and they did it maybe not as quickly as they thought in terms of finding him, but they found him. And that is a huge day for this country.”
- Dec 15, 2003

Neil Cavuto interview

Fox Business (via FactCheck.org), Feb 19, 2016
Donald Trump and the Iraq War

(retrieved 1/4/19)
“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.
“What was the purpose of this whole thing? Hundreds and hundreds of young people killed. And what about the people coming back with no arms and legs? Not to mention the other side. All those Iraqi kids who’ve been blown to pieces. And it turns out that all of the reasons for the war were blatantly wrong. All this for nothing!”
- Aug 2004

Esquire, August, 2004
Donald Trump: How I'd Run the Country (Better)

(retrieved 1/4/19)
“No [I was not always against the Iraq War], but I have to qualify it. We were lied to by the president… We were told that this guy had nuclear weapons, he didn’t have an M-1 rifle.”
- July 16, 2008

Howard Stern Show (via Factbase), July 16, 2008
Interview: Donald Trump on The Howard Stern Show - July 16, 2008

(retrieved 2/13/19)
“It just seemed like Nancy Pelosi was going to really look to impeach Bush and get him out of office, which, personally, I think would have been a wonderful thing… He lied. He got us into the [Iraq] war with lies.”
- Oct 15, 2008


#Trump 7/08: "No ❲I was not always against the Iraq War❳." » #Trump 9/15: "I…fought very, very hard against…going into Iraq…I said, ‘You’re going to destabilize the Middle East.’" Click To Tweet

NOW

2015 - 2020

Donald Trump on the Iraq War Now
“I am the only person on this dais — the only person — that fought very, very hard against us…going into Iraq, because I said going into Iraq — that was in 2003 — you can check it out, check out — I’ll give you 25 different stories. In fact, a delegation was sent to my office to see me because I was so vocal about it. I’m a very militaristic person, but you have to know when to use the military. I’m the only person up here that fought against going into Iraq… I think it is very important. I think it is important because it is about judgment. I didn’t want to go into Iraq. It is about judgment. Because what I said — what I said, ‘You’re going to destabilize the Middle East,’ and that’s what happened.”
Sept 16, 2015 -

Republican primary debate in Simi Valley, California

CNN, Sept 16, 2015
Transcript: GOP Presidential Debate. September 16, 2015

(retrieved 1/4/19)
“Take a look at what we’re doing in the Middle East. We went into Iraq. We shouldn’t have. You know that I was opposed to going into Iraq many years ago. In 2003/2004 there were headlines in Reuters that Trump is opposed to the war, because you’re going to destabilize the Middle East. I said, if you do this, you’ll destabilize the Middle East and Iran will take over. Very simple, Iran will take over Iraq. That’s exactly what’s happening. And on top of that we have ISIS, which is another problem and another complicating factor…

“And you know what we’ve gotten for Iraq? We’ve spent $2 trillion, OK? We’ve — thousands, hundreds of thousands of people killed. We’ve lost thousands and thousands of our great young people, soldiers. So, $2 trillion, deaths, wounded warriors, we have nothing and Iran is now taking over Iraq with the second largest oil reserves in the world. And I said, don’t go in.”
Dec 20, 2015 -

'This Week' interview

ABC News, Dec 20, 2015
'This Week' Transcript: Gov. Chris Christie, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump

(retrieved 1/4/19)
Hillary Clinton…she’s caused death. She’s caused tremendous death with incompetent decisions. I was against the war in Iraq. I wasn’t a politician, but I was against the war in Iraq. She voted for the war in Iraq… Getting rid of Saddam Hussein — I’m not saying he was a good person. He was a bad person. But what we have now is far worse. OK? And all of this has led to ISIS. All of this has led to the migration. All of this has led to tremendous death and destruction. And she, for the most part, was in charge of it, along with Obama.”
Jan 3, 2016 -
“I’m the only one up here, when the war of Iraq — in Iraq, I was the one that said, ‘Don’t go, don’t do it, you’re going to destabilize the Middle East.'”
Feb 6, 2016 -

Republican primary debate in New Hampshire

Washington Post, Feb 6, 2016
Transcript of the New Hampshire GOP debate, annotated

(retrieved 1/4/19)
George Bush made a mistake. We can make mistakes. But that one was a beauty. We should have never been in Iraq. We have destabilized the Middle East… I want to tell you. They lied. They said there were weapons of mass destruction, there were none. And they knew there were none. There were no weapons of mass destruction…
“I’m the only one on this stage that said: ‘Do not go into Iraq. Do not attack Iraq.’ Nobody else on this stage said that. And I said it loud and strong. And I Iraq in the private sector. I wasn’t a politician, fortunately. But I said it, and I said it loud and clear, ‘You’ll destabilize the Middle East.’ That’s exactly what happened.”
Feb 13, 2016 -

Republican primary debate in Greenville, South Carolina

New York Times, Feb 14, 2016
Transcript of the Republican Presidential Debate

(retrieved 1/4/19)
“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 a — you can look at Esquire magazine from ’04. You can look at before that. And I was against the war in Iraq because I said it’s going to totally destabilize the Middle East, which it has. It has absolutely been a disastrous war.”
Sept 7, 2016 -
Iraq is one of the biggest differences in this race. I opposed going in and I did oppose it, despite the media saying no, yes, no, I opposed going in and I opposed the reckless way Hillary Clinton took us out, along with President Obama, letting ISIS fill that big terrible void.”
Sept 8, 2016 -

The Hill, Sept 8, 2016
Trump slams 'lies' about him supporting the Iraq War

(retrieved 1/4/19)
“I never — support– look, look, let’s get it straight. I was opposed to the war in Iraq. I was opposed to the war in Iraq. And for the most part the honest people agree with it. Right from the beginning I was opposed now and [that September 11, 2002 Howard Stern interview where I talked about the war] was way before the war started. And that was the first time I was ever even asked about Iraq and I gave a very, like– I don’t know. Who knows? …
“That was long– that was way before. If you look at just before the war started I said, ‘Don’t do it. It’s a mistake. You’re gonna destabilize the Middle East.’ From the beginning, I was opposed to the war in Iraq. Then they did magazine articles right after the started, I was opposed to it then. And that was 100 percent.”
Oct 27, 2016 -
“You know, I was against going into Iraq for years and years. And before it ever happened I was against going into Iraq. And some people said, ‘Oh I don’t know.’ I was totally against and I was a private citizen. It never made sense to me. I was against going into the Middle East.”
June 23, 2019 -

NBC News, June 23, 2019
President Trump's full, unedited interview with Meet the Press

(retrieved 6/26/19)
“GOING INTO THE MIDDLE EAST IS THE WORST DECISION EVER MADE IN THE HISTORY OF OUR COUNTRY! We went to war under a false & now disproven premise, WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION. There were NONE!”
“The United States went to war in Iraq — now, listen to this. I was against going to the war. Nobody cared; I was a civilian.”
Oct 12, 2019 -

“If you read about the history of Donald Trump, I was a civilian. I had absolutely nothing to do with going into Iraq and I was totally against it

President Bush went in. I strongly disagreed with it, even though it wasn’t my expertise at the time, but I had a — I have a very good it wasn’t my expertise at the time, but I had a — I have a very good instinct about things. They went in and I said that’s a tremendous mistake. And there were no weapons of mass destruction. It turned out I was right. I — I was right for other reasons but it turned out, on top of everything else, they had no weapons of mass destruction.”
Oct 28, 2019 -

Washington Post, Oct 28, 2019
Trump’s news conference on Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s death, annotated

(retrieved 11/1/19)
starts at 34:25

“When they went into Iraq, when they went into the Middle East in such a fashion, I was very much against it. Shouldn’t have gone — gone in.”
Feb 29, 2020 -


Context

There is no evidence that Donald Trump opposed the Iraq War before it began in March 2003, his repeated claims during the 2016 election that he said he repeatedly opposed the war “loud and strong” before it began notwithstanding. To the contrary Trump supported going into Iraq before the war, albeit tepidly (“Yeah, I guess so”).

Trump did not clearly oppose the Iraq War until almost a year and half after it began, in an August 2004 Esquire article, when the situation on the ground was deteriorating and popular support for the war was sinking.1Pew Research Center, 3/19/08
Public Attitudes Toward the War in Iraq: 2003-2008
retrieved 1/4/19



#Trump 9/11/02: "Yeah, I guess so ❲I’m for invading Iraq❳." » #Trump 9/8/16: "Iraq is one of the biggest differences in this race. I opposed going in…despite the media saying no, yes, no, I opposed going in." Click To Tweet