While questions abound about Donald Trump’s business acumen or lack thereof, there is one thing that many people agree on — the man is an accomplished liar. That is being proven again as the candidate continues to insist, all evidence to the contrary, that he was opposed to the Iraq war from the beginning. But his campaign is now touting an Esquire article that they say proves what Trump is saying when in fact the article in question, coupled with a comment he made two years earlier, proves just the opposite.
Campaign manager Kellyanne Conway appeared on CBS This Morning on Friday, where she once again claimed that Trump had opposed the war with Iraq before it started. Host Charlie Rose plays a recording of Trump speaking to radio shock-jock Howard Stern on September 11, 2002, where when asked if he supported invading Iraq, his response was “Yeah, I guess so.”
Conway brushes that off, and says that if Trump had been in the U.S. Senate, he would have voted against the war.
Before continuing, let’s be clear about something that seems to confuse Conway and her boss. Hillary Clinton did not vote “for the Iraq war.” She, like other Democrats and perhaps some Republicans who voted “aye,” voted for an authorization for President Bush to use force if necessary. In defending her vote to CNN host Larry King in 2004, Clinton said she was unhappy at how Bush pre-empted the weapons inspection process in Iraq and used the vote to go to war. In other words, she had given Bush the authorization to go to war as a last resort, and he instead used that authorization to rush into Iraq.
After Conway offers her response explaining Trump’s answer to Stern’s question, Rose notes that Trump has said he was always against the war. “Here he says ‘I guess I would support it.’ That’s a contradiction,” Rose says. He presses Conway, asking why Trump can’t say that he did support Iraq at one time, then he changed his mind. This is when Conway brings up the Esquire article.
“There are other public statements that he made contemporaniously to that, including the Esquire magazine interview.”
Trump himself has also cited that article. The Hill notes that he has read selected passages from it to “prove” he never supported invading Iraq. He recently told supporters at a rally in Cleveland,
“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. But I was opposed to the war from the beginning.”
This week, Esquire republished the story, along with this comment:
“Editor’s note: The following story was published in the August 2004 issue of Esquire. During the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump has repeatedly claimed to have been against the Iraq War from the beginning, and he has cited this story as proof. The Iraq War began in March 2003, more than a year before this story ran, thus nullifying Trump’s timeline.”
In the piece, Trump makes two remarks about how he would have done things differently with Iraq. But, as Esquire pointed out in a story last month, he said those things in 2004, a year after the war began. So in no way, shape or form were those remarks “contemporaneous” to what he told Stern. And as Charlie Rose noted, telling Howard Stern “Yeah, I guess so,” while not being an overwhelming endorsement, cannot possibly be considered “opposition.”
But hey, this is how the Trump campaign operates. “Please, please, PLEASE don’t confuse us with facts!”
Here is Kellyanne Conway’s appearance on CBS:
Featured image via Angelo Merendino/Getty Images