Trump gave an interview to the Associated Press and it was amazing (and I use that word believing it to be one of the most overused and misapplied words in the modern lexicon, but with the complete conviction that it does in indeed apply in this case).
Full Transcript – Trump Interview
There are some truly wacky word salad parts where it feels like a mini-stroke, some flights of fancy where he claims stuff that is just not true and other times it’s those jaw dropping moments of self-reflection where he states the obvious about something, that only he didn’t really grasp until now. Like thus:
AP: Can I ask you, over your first 100 days — you’re not quite there yet — how do you feel like the office has changed you?
TRUMP: Well the one thing I would say — and I say this to people — I never realized how big it was. Everything’s so (unintelligible) like, you know the orders are so massive. I was talking to —
AP: You mean the responsibility of it, or do you mean —
TRUMP: Number One, there’s great responsibility. When it came time to, as an example, send out the 59 missiles, the Tomahawks in Syria. I’m saying to myself, “You know, this is more than just like, 79 (sic) missiles. This is death that’s involved,” because people could have been killed. This is risk that’s involved, because if the missile goes off and goes in a city or goes in a civilian area — you know, the boats were hundreds of miles away — and if this missile goes off and lands in the middle of a town or a hamlet …. every decision is much harder than you’d normally make. (unintelligible) … This is involving death and life and so many things. … So it’s far more responsibility. (unintelligible) ….The financial cost of everything is so massive, every agency. This is thousands of times bigger, the United States, than the biggest company in the world. The second-largest company in the world is the Defense Department. The third-largest company in the world is Social Security. The fourth-largest — you know, you go down the list.
TRUMP. It’s massive. And every agency is, like, bigger than any company. So you know, I really just see the bigness of it all, but also the responsibility. And the human responsibility. You know, the human life that’s involved in some of the decisions. (emphasis added)
It’s big. No doubt.
Check out this amazing discussion of “heart” by which I guess he means compassion, thoughtfulness, caring for human beings, which he says you don’t need in business, “In fact, you’re better off without it.” So you can screw your opponent in business, not pay on contracts, renege on promises to workers, etc. And then he segues to his press.
TRUMP: Well in business, you don’t necessarily need heart, whereas here, almost everything affects people. So if you’re talking about health care — you have health care in business but you’re trying to just negotiate a good price on health care, et cetera, et cetera. You’re providing health. This is (unintelligible). Here, everything, pretty much everything you do in government, involves heart, whereas in business, most things don’t involve heart.
AP: What’s that switch been like for you?
TRUMP: In fact, in business you’re actually better off without it.
AP: What’s making that switch been like for you?
TRUMP: You have to love people. And if you love people, such a big responsibility. (unintelligible) You can take any single thing, including even taxes. I mean we’re going to be doing major tax reform. Here’s part of your story, it’s going to be a big (unintelligible). Everybody’s saying, “Oh, he’s delaying.” I’m not delaying anything. I’ll tell you the other thing is (unintelligible). I used to get great press. I get the worst press. I get such dishonest reporting with the media. That’s another thing that really has — I’ve never had anything like it before. It happened during the primaries, and I said, you know, when I won, I said, “Well the one thing good is now I’ll get good press.” And it got worse. (unintelligible) So that was one thing that a little bit of a surprise to me. I thought the press would become better, and it actually, in my opinion, got more nasty.
You have to love. But my press is terrible and it keeps getting worse. He doesn’t get that his press is connected to his actions. If you win you should get good press. When you win the presidency you should get the best press, because you’ve earned it. I think he believes that if he says A the press should just report A and if they report that the truth is B, that’s dishonest coverage because he said A. The truth of A or B does not really enter into it as far as he’s concerned. The only truth is he said A, so just report that.
This is just weird:
TRUMP: But things change. There has to be flexibility. Let me give you an example. President Xi, we have a, like, a really great relationship. For me to call him a currency manipulator and then say, “By the way, I’d like you to solve the North Korean problem,” doesn’t work. So you have to have a certain flexibility, Number One. Number Two, from the time I took office till now, you know, it’s a very exact thing. It’s not like generalities. Do you want a Coke or anything?
AP: I’m OK, thank you. No. …
I guess it’s nice he cares about the interviewer’s beverage, but…
Then there’s the usual denial of responsibility for things said, for example about NATO. He asserts that he really didn’t know what he was talking about when he was first asked and it’s the press’s fault for asking him – but it turns out (as it always does) that he was right about it afterall!
TRUMP: They had a quote from me that NATO’s obsolete. But they didn’t say why it was obsolete. I was on Wolf Blitzer, very fair interview, the first time I was ever asked about NATO, because I wasn’t in government. People don’t go around asking about NATO if I’m building a building in Manhattan, right? So they asked me, Wolf … asked me about NATO, and I said two things. NATO’s obsolete — not knowing much about NATO, now I know a lot about NATO — NATO is obsolete, and I said, “And the reason it’s obsolete is because of the fact they don’t focus on terrorism.” You know, back when they did NATO there was no such thing as terrorism.
AP: What specifically has NATO changed?
TRUMP: (Cites Wall Street Journal article) … I did an interview with Wolf Blitzer, and I said NATO was obsolete — I said two things — obsolete, and the country’s aren’t paying. I was right about both. I took such heat for about three days on both, because nobody ever criticized NATO. I took heat like you wouldn’t believe. And then some expert on NATO said, “You know, Trump is right.” But I said it was obsolete because they weren’t focused on terror. …
He didn’t know much about it but offered a critique. Now he knows a lot! But he still has a very shallow understanding of their mission and a complete lack of historical context. There’s ALWAYS been terrorism, but no, NATO was created to counter the threat from the Soviet bloc. A threat that is unfortunately as relevant as the post-war era because of Putin’s adventurism and threatening stances towards the old Soviet bloc nations like Ukraine and Poland.
Let’s talk about Wikileaks
TRUMP: When Wikileaks came out … never heard of Wikileaks, never heard of it. When Wikileaks came out, all I was just saying is, “Well, look at all this information here, this is pretty good stuff.” You know, they tried to hack the Republican, the RNC, but we had good defenses. They didn’t have defenses, which is pretty bad management. But we had good defenses, they tried to hack both of them. They weren’t able to get through to Republicans. No, I found it very interesting when I read this stuff and I said, “Wow.” It was just a figure of speech. I said, “Well, look at this. It’s good reading.”
AP: But that didn’t mean that you supported what Assange is doing?
TRUMP: No, I don’t support or unsupport. It was just information.
Trump said “I love Wikileaks” But I guess that doesn’t mean he supports them.
And on Iran:
AP: On Iran, you also talked about it quite a bit on the campaign trail. And you said in the press conference yesterday that you think that Iran is violating the spirit of the agreement. When you say that, do you mean in terms of the actual nuclear accord, or do you mean what they are doing in the region?
TRUMP: In terms of what they are doing all over the Middle East and beyond.
AP: So you believe that they are complying with the agreement?
TRUMP: No, I don’t say that. I say that I believe they have broken the spirit of the agreement. There is a spirit to agreements, and they have broken it.
AP: In terms of what they are doing elsewhere in the Middle East?
TRUMP: In terms of what they are doing of all over.
AP: When you talk to European leaders, when you talk to Merkel, for example, or Teresa May, what do they say about the nuclear deal? Do they want you to stay in that deal?
TRUMP: I don’t talk to them about it.
AP: You don’t talk to them about the Iran deal?
TRUMP: I mention it, but it’s very personal when I talk to them, you know, it’s confidential. No, they have their own opinions. I don’t say that they are different than my opinions, but I’d rather have you ask them that question.
So they are complying, but not in the spirit of the agreement, which he’s never read, come on, we all know that – until they come out with a pictorial version of the agreement he won’t read it. He doesn’t know anything about the agreement. But they’re Iran, so how could they be complying? And the other parties to the agreement, their opinions on the matter are personal. Which means he either has never spoken to them about it (because he didn’t know there were other parties) or he doesn’t want to say what they said.
This is just crazy. Starting about Isis strategy, then segueing all over the map. I swear this could be an Alec Baldwin sketch.
(An aide talks about the president’s address to Congress.)
TRUMP: A lot of the people have said that, some people said it was the single best speech ever made in that chamber.
AP: You seem like you enjoyed it.
TRUMP: I did. I did. I believed in it and I enjoyed it. It was a great feeling to introduce the wife of a great young soldier who died getting us very valuable information. Have you seen the tremendous success? … That’s another thing that nobody talks about. Have you seen the tremendous success we’ve had in the Middle East with the ISIS (an abbreviation for the Islamic State group)? When (current Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al) Abadi left from Iraq, he said Trump has more success in eight weeks than Obama had in eight years. … We have had tremendous success, but we don’t talk about it. We don’t talk about it.
AP: Do you mean you don’t talk about it personally because you don’t want to talk about it?
TRUMP: I don’t talk about it. No. And the generals don’t talk about it.
AP: You had put a request into the Pentagon to put forward an ISIS plan within 30 days. I know they have sent that over. Have you accepted a plan? Are you moving forward on a strategy?
TRUMP: We have a very strong plan, but we cannot talk about it, Julie.
AP: So you have decided on a plan?…
AP: Can you say generally what the strategy is? Should people —
TRUMP: Generally is we have got to get rid of ISIS. We have no choice. And other terrorist organizations.
AP: Should Americans who are serving in the military expect that you are going to increase troop numbers in the Middle East to fight ISIS?
TRUMP: No, not much.
AP: In terms of the strategy, though, that you have accepted, it sounds like, from the generals —
TRUMP: Well, they’ve also accepted my strategy.
AP: Does that involve more troops on the ground, it sounds like?
TRUMP: Not many.
AP: So a small increase?
TRUMP: It could be an increase, then an increase. But not many more. I want to do the job, but not many more. … This is an important story. I’ve done a lot. I’ve done more than any other president in the first 100 days and I think the first 100 days is an artificial barrier. And I’m scheduled … the foundations have been set to do some great things. With foreign countries. Look at, look at President Xi. I mean …
His strategy, which the generals have accepted, is to get rid of Isis. Why couldn’t Obama have come up with that? Obama and his generals were terrible. Trump and his generals (the same generals) are wonderful. And we’ve had great successes that we don’t talk about. Although I love to talk about successes!!!
He’s just off that boy, he’s just off.