Trump Insists He Was Against Both Iraq and Libya Interventions Despite Evidence

Trump told Howard Stern in 2002 he would support the Iraq War.

ByABC News
September 8, 2016, 11:20 AM

— -- Donald Trump has been catching some heat for previous comments he's made about Iraq and Libya.

Trump has repeatedly said he did not support the 2003 invasion of Iraq or the U.S. intervention in Libya in 2011, but past public statements on both international affairs contradict his current position.

The controversy got kicked up again on Wednesday when Trump made an appearance on NBC's Commander-In-Chief Forum and offered up a rebuttal to a criticism being leveled at him by his Democratic opponent in the upcoming election.

"I heard Hillary Clinton say I was not against the war in Iraq. I was totally against the war in Iraq," Trump told host Matt Lauer. "You can look at Esquire magazine from 2004. You can look at before that. And I was against the war in Iraq, I said it's going to totally destabilize the Middle East, which it has. It's been a disastrous war."

Outlets like Politifact and BuzzFeed News have pointed out in the past that Trump in 2002 expressed tepid approval of the impending U.S. invasion.

In an interview that only briefly touched on the subject, Howard Stern asked Trump "Are you for invading Iraq?"

Trump appears to hesitate, responding, “Yeah, I guess so. I wish the first time it was done correctly.”

Politifact has rated his claim that he "was among the earliest to criticize the rush to war in Iraq, and yes, even before the war ever started," as false.

BuzzFeed dug up the audio of the Howard Stern interview and posted it back in February. They provide a timeline of his comments on Iraq since then and sum up his shifting position by saying Trump "expressed support for regime change at length in 2000, tepid support for the war in 2002, made both positive and negative comments about it in 2003, and was strongly opposed by 2004."

Consistent Issue During the Campaign

At an event in Myrtle Beach, Florida, in February, Trump claimed that his comments to Stern were not his final comments about the war.

"I was with Howard Stern before the war, before, like many months before and the first guy that ever asked me about Iraq was Howard Stern. Then I started looking at it, before the war started, I was against that war. I was against that war," Trump said.

That same week, CBS had an interview with Trump where he repeated that the Stern interview happened "many months before the war started."

Trump then said that shortly after the Stern interview, he started to study the topic and changed his stance because "you’re going to ruin the balance of Middle East which is what happened, now Iran is taking over the Middle East."

Laying Out His Support for Libya

Iraq wasn't the only international conflict that he denied supporting.

On Wednesday, Trump said that he did not support intervention in Syria, even though he previously posted a video to his then-blog in February 2011 calling for action against the country. The video blog was found by Buzzfeed in February of this year.

"You talk about things that have happened in history; this could be one of the worst. Now we should go in, we should stop this guy, which would be very easy and very quick. We could do it surgically, stop him from doing it, and save these lives," he said in the video, looking directly into the camera.

Earlier this year at a Republican primary debate, Trump agreed with Obama's and Clinton's actions in Libya.

"[Ted Cruz] said I was in favor of Libya? I never discussed the subject. I was in favor of Libya? We would be so much better off if [Muammar] Gaddafi were in charge right now," Trump said at the primary debate on Feb. 24.

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