The full transcript of Donald Trump’s interview with ABC News is available online. There’s also video of Trump talking about how he “can be the most presidential person ever,” with the possible exception of Lincoln.
In other words, this isn’t satire or fake news. These are the words of the President of the United States of America. People keep telling me I have to give him a chance to see what he does as President before I judge. That’s what I’m judging him on! On his words and his actions. On interviews like this, which continue to demonstrate his shocking ignorance and fragility.
If you have the stomach for it, go ahead and read the whole thing. Here are some excerpts. My interjections are in blue.
Comments are turned off. I have a deadline to meet, and too little time and energy to deal with trolls this week.
On Those “Millions” of illegal voters:
DAVID MUIR: What you have presented so far has been debunked. It’s been called … (OVERTALK) … false.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: No, it hasn’t. Take a look at the Pew reports.
“In fact, voting experts we talked to pointed to numerous studies that have found such in-person voter fraud — the type of fraud Trump is alleging — is virtually nonexistent.” –Factcheck.org, which includes links to the Pew reports. Those reports found evidence of outdated voting records (like senior White House adviser Stephen Bannon being registered in two states), but “no evidence that voter fraud resulted.”
DAVID MUIR: I called the author of the Pew report last night. And he told me that they found no evidence of voter … (OVERTALK) … fraud.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Really? Then why did he write the report?
DAVID MUIR: He said no evidence of voter fraud.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Excuse me, then why did he write the report? (OVERTALK) According to Pew report, then he’s — then he’s groveling again. You know, I always talk about the reporters that grovel when they wanna write something that you wanna hear but not necessarily millions of people wanna hear or have to hear.
DAVID MUIR: House Speaker Paul Ryan has said, “I have seen no evidence. I have made this very, very clear.” Senator Lindsey Graham saying, “It’s the most inappropriate thing for a president to say without proof. He seems obsessed with the idea that he could not have possibly lost the popular vote without cheating and fraud.”
DAVID MUIR: And you’re saying … (OVERTALK) … those people who are on the rolls voted, that there are millions of illegal votes?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I didn’t say there are millions. But I think there could very well be millions of people. That’s right.
DAVID MUIR: You tweeted though …
PRESIDENT TRUMP: And I also say this …
DAVID MUIR: … you tweeted, “If you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally, I won the popular vote.”
Trump has no evidence. Even his own party is criticizing him on this. But he keeps insisting millions of people voted illegally, because he’s simply incapable of admitting Hillary won the popular vote.
On That Speech to the CIA in Front of the CIA Memorial Wall:
PRESIDENT TRUMP: That speech was a home run. That speech, if you look at Fox, OK, I’ll mention you — we see what Fox said. They said it was one of the great speeches. They showed the people applauding and screaming and — and they were all CIA. There was — somebody was asking Sean — “Well, were they Trump people that were put–” we don’t have Trump people. They were CIA people.
That location was given to me. Mike Pence went up before me, paid great homage to the wall. I then went up, paid great homage to the wall. I then spoke to the crowd. I got a standing ovation. In fact, they said it was the biggest standing ovation since Peyton Manning had won the Super Bowl and they said it was equal. I got a standing ovation. It lasted for a long period of time. What you do is take — take out your tape — you probably ran it live. I know when I do good speeches. I know when I do bad speeches. That speech was a total home run. They loved it.
“Former CIA Director Brennan is deeply saddened and angered at Donald Trump’s despicable display of self-aggrandizement in front of CIA’s Memorial Wall of Agency heroes.” –Nick Shapiro, Brennan’s former Deputy Chief of Staff
PRESIDENT TRUMP: People loved it. They loved it. They gave me a standing ovation for a long period of time. They never even sat down, most of them, during the speech. There was love in the room. You and other networks covered it very inaccurately. I hate to say this to you and you probably won’t put it on but turn on Fox and see how it was covered. And see how people respond to that speech.
That speech was a good speech. And you and a couple of other networks tried to downplay that speech. And it was very, very unfortunate that you did. The people of the CIA loved the speech. If I was going to take a vote in that room, there were, like, 300, 350 people, over 1,000 wanted to be there but they couldn’t. They were all CIA people. I would say I would’ve gotten 350 to nothing in that room. That’s what the vote would’ve been. That speech was a big hit, a big success — success. And then I came back and I watched you on television and a couple of others.
“An official with knowledge of the make-up of the crowd says that there were about 40 people who’d been invited by the Trump, Mike Pence and Rep. Mike Pompeo teams … Also sitting in the first several rows in front of the president was the CIA’s senior leadership, which was not cheering the remarks.” –CBS News
On Mexico Paying for That Wall:
DAVID MUIR: Mr. President, I want to start — we’re five days in. And your campaign promises. I know today you plan on signing the order to build the wall … Are you going to direct U.S. funds to pay for this wall? Will American taxpayers pay for the wall?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Ultimately it’ll come out of what’s happening with Mexico. We’re gonna be starting those negotiations relatively soon. And we will be in a form reimbursed by Mexico which I will say …
DAVID MUIR: So, they’ll pay us back?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Yeah, absolutely, 100 percent.
Former Mexican President Vicente Fox Quesada seems to have a different opinion:
— Vicente Fox Quesada (@VicenteFoxQue) January 25, 2017
DAVID MUIR: So, the American taxpayer will pay for the wall at first?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: All it is, is we’ll be reimbursed at a later date from whatever transaction we make from Mexico. Now, I could wait a year and I could hold off the wall. But I wanna build the wall. We have to build the wall. We have to stop drugs from pouring in. We have to stop people from just pouring into our country. We have no idea where they’re from. And I campaigned on the wall. And it’s very important. But that wall will cost us nothing.
DAVID MUIR: But you talked — often about Mexico paying for the wall. And you, again, say they’ll pay us back. Mexico’s president said in recent days that Mexico absolutely will not pay, adding that, “It goes against our dignity as a country and our dignity as Mexicans.” He says …
PRESIDENT TRUMP: David, he has to say that. He has to say that. But I’m just telling you there will be a payment. It will be in a form, perhaps a complicated form. And you have to understand what I’m doing is good for the United States. It’s also going to be good for Mexico.
DAVID MUIR: What are you gonna say to some of your supporters who might say, “Wait a minute, I thought Mexico was going to pay for this right at the start.”
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, I’d say very simply that they are going to pay for it. I never said they’re gonna pay from the start. I said Mexico will pay for the wall. But what I will tell my supporters is, “Would you like me to wait two years or three years before I make this deal?” Because we have to make a deal on NAFTA. We have to make a new trade deal with Mexico because we’re getting clobbered.
We have a $60-billion trade deficit. So, if you want, I can wait two years and then we can do it nice and easily. I wanna start the wall immediately. Every supporter I have — I have had so many people calling and tweeting and — and writing letters saying they’re so happy about it. I wanna start the wall. We will be reimbursed for the wall.
“His primary rules were: never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.” (Emphasis added)
-OSS Profile on Adolph Hitler.
DAVID MUIR: Mr. President, you told me during one of the debates that you would bring back waterboarding and a hell of a lot worse.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I would do … (OVERTALK) … I wanna keep our country safe. I wanna keep our country safe.
DAVID MUIR: What does that mean?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: When they’re shooting — when they’re chopping off the heads of our people and other people, when they’re chopping off the heads of people because they happen to be a Christian in the Middle East, when ISIS is doing things that nobody has ever heard of since Medieval times, would I feel strongly about waterboarding?
As far as I’m concerned we have to fight fire with fire. Now, with that being said I’m going with General Mattis. I’m going with my secretary because I think Pompeo’s gonna be phenomenal. I’m gonna go with what they say. But I have spoken as recently as 24 hours ago with people at the highest level of intelligence. And I asked them the question, “Does it work? Does torture work?” And the answer was, “Yes, absolutely.”
“[T]he use of force is a poor technique, as it yields unreliable results, may damage subsequent collection efforts, and can induce the source to say whatever he thinks the interrogator wants to hear.” –U.S. Army Training Manual on Interrogation
DAVID MUIR: You’re now the president. Do you want waterboarding?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I don’t want people to chop off the citizens or anybody’s heads in the Middle East. Okay? Because they’re Christian or Muslim or anything else. I don’t want — look, you are old enough to have seen a time that was much different. You never saw heads chopped off until a few years ago.
Now they chop ’em off and they put ’em on camera and they send ’em all over the world. So we have that and we’re not allowed to do anything. We’re not playing on an even field. I will say this, I will rely on Pompeo and Mattis and my group. And if they don’t wanna do, that’s fine. If they do wanna do, then I will work for that end.
I wanna do everything within the bounds of what you’re allowed to do legally. But do I feel it works? Absolutely I feel it works. Have I spoken to people at the top levels and people that have seen it work? I haven’t seen it work. But I think it works. Have I spoken to people that feel strongly about it? Absolutely.
… I will rely on General Mattis. And I’m gonna rely on those two people and others. And if they don’t wanna do it, it’s 100 percent okay with me. Do I think it works? Absolutely.
“In spite of decades of use, and ample opportunity to gather statistics, there just isn’t any scientific evidence beyond a few dubious anecdotes to show that torture works.” –Source
On Banning Refugees:
DAVID MUIR: Mr. President, I wanna ask you about refugees. You’re about to sign a sweeping executive action to suspend immigration to this country.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Right.
This isn’t the first time the U.S. has turned refugees away, sentencing many of them to death out of our own overblown fears.
“In an interview, Lipstadt says that the State Department’s attitude was shaped by wartime paranoia and downright bigotry. ‘All those things, they feed into this fear of the foreigner,’ she says. It was thanks to the Treasury Department’s report that Roosevelt formed a new body, the War Refugee Board, that belatedly accepted tens of thousands Jewish refugees. But by that time, millions of Jews had already died in Europe.” –Source
DAVID MUIR: Who are we talking about? Is this the Muslim ban?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: We’re talking about — no it’s not the Muslim ban. But it’s countries that have tremendous terror. It’s countries that we’re going to be spelling out in a little while in the same speech. And it’s countries that people are going to come in and cause us tremendous problems. Our country has enough problems without allowing people to come in who, in many cases or in some cases, are looking to do tremendous destruction.
“There’s an acceptance now of the idea that the threat from jihadi terrorism in the United States has been overblown. And there’s a belief that the threat of right-wing, antigovernment violence has been underestimated.” –Dr. John G. Horgan
“The reality is this: The United States has resettled 784,000 refugees since September 11, 2001. In those 14 years, exactly three resettled refugees have been arrested for planning terrorist activities—and it is worth noting two were not planning an attack in the United States and the plans of the third were barely credible.” –Source
On War in the Middle East:
DAVID MUIR: You brought up Iraq and something you said that could affect American troops in recent days. You said, “We should’ve kept the oil but okay maybe we’ll have another chance.” What did you mean by that?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, we should’ve kept the oil when we got out. And, you know, it’s very interesting, had we taken the oil, you wouldn’t have ISIS because they fuel themselves with the oil. That’s where they got the money. They got the money from leaving — when we left, we left Iraq, which wasn’t a government. It’s not a government now.
And by the way, and I said something else, if we go in and do this. You have two nations, Iraq and Iran. And they were essentially the same military strength. And they’d fight for decades and decades. They’d fight forever. And they’d keep fighting and it would go — it was just a way of life. We got in, we decapitated one of those nations, Iraq. I said, “Iran is taking over Iraq.” That’s essentially what happened.
DAVID MUIR: So, you believe we can go in and take the oil.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: We should have taken the oil. You wouldn’t have ISIS if we took the oil. Now I wasn’t talking about it from the standpoint of ISIS because the way we got out was horrible. We created a vacuum and ISIS formed. But had we taken the oil something else would’ve very good happened. They would not have been able to fuel their rather unbelievable drive to destroy large portions of the world.
DAVID MUIR: You’ve heard the critics who say that would break all international law, taking the oil …
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Wait, wait, can you believe that? Who are the critics who say that? Fools … I don’t call them critics. I call them fools.
On Repealing the Affordable Care Act:
DAVID MUIR: Let me ask you, Mr. President, about another promise involving Obamacare to repeal it. And you told The Washington Post that your plan to replace Obamacare will include insurance for everybody. That sounds an awful lot like universal coverage.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: It’s going to be — what my plan is is that I wanna take care of everybody. I’m not gonna leave the lower 20 percent that can’t afford insurance. Just so you understand people talk about Obamacare. And I told the Republicans this, the best thing we could do is nothing for two years, let it explode. And then we’ll go in and we’ll do a new plan and — and the Democrats will vote for it. Believe me.
…I said, “If you go fast we then own Obamacare. They’re gonna put it on us. And Obamacare is a disaster waiting to explode. If you sit back and let it explode it’s gonna be much easier.” That’s the thing to do. But the right thing to do is to get something done now.
… here’s what I can assure you, we are going to have a better plan, much better health care, much better service treatment, a plan where you can have access to the doctor that you want and the plan that you want. We’re gonna have a much better health care plan at much less money.
I’ll be honest, a much better health care plan at much less money sounds great. But “I wanna take care of everybody” isn’t a plan. The ACA is flawed, yes. It also saved lives. There are people who would likely be alive today if the ACA had been in effect earlier.
By all means, please improve health care in this country. But Trump is slashing away at the ACA and offering nothing but promises of fairy dust and unicorn farts.