Trump believes the decision to go into Iraq was one of the worst decisions made in the history of our country.
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Donald Trump is with us now on the phone. Mr. Trump, good morning.
DONALD TRUMP: Good morning.
GUTHRIE: Let’s see if we can clear something up that has become an issue in South Carolina. The question is whether or not you said that the Bush administration lied to get us into the war in Iraq. Here’s exactly what you said at the debate on Saturday night. We will roll the tape.
Video: “They lied! They said there were weapons of mass destruction. There were none and they knew there were none.”
GUTHRIE: And here’s what you said last night at a CNN Town Hall when asked by a voter who didn’t like that sentiment whether you’d be willing to reconsider. We’ll roll that tape.
Video: Voter: Would you be willing to rethink that? Trump: Well a lot of people agree with what I said and I’m not talking about lying, I’m not talking about not lying.
GUTHRIE: So which is it Mr. Trump? Because it seemed like you backed off that claim a little bit last night. Are you still saying that the Bush administration lied to get us into Iraq?
TRUMP: Well I’m not saying anything one way or the other. I’m saying that the…
GUTHRIE: Well you did say that, you did.
TRUMP: I’m saying that as far as I’m concerned the decision to go into Iraq was probably one of the worst decisions ever made in the history of our country. It led to the total destabilization of the Middle East and everything that we have right now is a total disaster.
GUTHRIE: But to this specific issue….I’m sorry to interrupt but to this specific issue this is what some voters in South Carolina are really seizing on. Whether or not you accused the Bush administration of lying. Are you still accusing them?
TRUMP: No I think you’re seizing on it. I don’t think they’re seizing on it, I think you’re seizing on it.
GUTHRIE: Well the voter asked you about it last night.
TRUMP: I don’t think the voters are seizing on it. I don’t know if he lied or not. He could have lied, maybe he did maybe he didn’t. I guess you’d have to ask him. But whatever, the decision to go into the Middle East, to go into Iraq was one of the worst decisions in the history of our country. We spent two trillion dollars in Iraq, we’ve lost thousands of lives, we’ve got wounded warriors who I love all over the place and that was a decision that was made and right now we have nothing. Iran has taken over Iraq, we’ve totally lost, we’ve been humiliated there and we should have at least gone…if you’re going to go in you go in to win. But the war in Iraq was one of the worst decisions…why he made it; there were no weapons of mass destruction. He said that there were weapons of mass destruction. There were no weapons of mass destruction. It’s been a horrible decision. Maybe the worst decision ever made by the United States.
WILLIE GEIST: Mr. Trump it’s Willie Geist. Let’s take up that question of Iraq. You have said as one of the pillars of your foreign policy credentials that you had the wisdom to know that it was going to be a bad idea to invade Iraq, that it would be disaster. You said that you said that in 2003 and 2004. Last night as you heard in the piece there Buzz Feed unearthed a clip of you talking to Howard Stern September 11th 2002 where you were asked “should we go into Iraq?” and you said “yeah, I guess so.” I guess my question to you Mr. Trump then is are you exaggerating how strong you were against the war? I know you’ve said things down the road that put you out there as someone who was against the war but are you exaggerating how hard you were against it?
TRUMP: No it’s the first time the question was ever asked to me. That was long before the war started. By the time the war started, and you have documentation on this, by the time the war started I was against it. And you see articles in 2003. Don’t forget I wasn’t a politician; nobody really cared about my opinion that was just a question that was asked of me. I was a civilian, I was an entrepreneur.
GEIST: At the time did you think it was a good idea?
TRUMP: To go into the war? It was a disaster.
GEIST: In 2002
TRUMP: To go into the war was a disaster. But the question was asked in 2002, quite a ways in front of the war, long before the war started. By the time the war started I was against it and immediately after the war started and for many years I’ve been against it. I said it will totally destabilize the Middle East and Iran will take over the Middle East and that’s exactly what happened.
Clinton said she voted to authorize the war in Iraq because she believed Saddam Hussein had nuclear weapons. She also said that it was a mistake.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Were you smart about Iraq; endorsing the president’s position on Iraq? Did you believe ever that Saddam Hussein…when you had to cast that vote to authorize the war in Iraq did you ever believe that Saddam Hussein had nuclear weapons?
HILLARY CLINTON: I did.
MATTHEWS: Who told you?
CLINTON: Well, I know at the end of the Clinton administration there was a very strong sense that he was reconstituting his nuclear weapons program. And I like to remind people that at the end of the 90’s there was a census congress passed that my opponent Bernie Sanders voted for basically talking about regime change in Iraq because of the threat of potentially nuclear, biological…
MATTHEWS: That was NeoCon stuff.
CLINTON: Well, Bernie Sanders voted for it so…
MATTHEWS: I know but I don’t know why he did.
CLINTON: Well Chris, I’m just telling you that that was the prevailing opinion and what…look, I’ve said it was a mistake because…
MATTHEWS: I want to know about the facts because if you were told by somebody that he had nuclear weapons they weren’t telling the truth. Because Mike Morrell who’s the chief CIA briefer on the subject told me on my show that they never told anybody because he said we had no evidence that they had nuclear weapons. So who, if it wasn’t the CIA, told you they had nuclear weapons?
CLINTON: Well what was going on was a continuing intensive inspection program. Hans Blix, remember Hans Blix? Hans Blix and his team of inspectors were trying to get to the bottom of this. Now here’s what was misleading, is that Saddam Hussein could have ended it immediately. He could have said “come anywhere, look anywhere, we have nothing” but he didn’t choose to do that. And so the inspectors were racing to get to all the sights that they were worried because remember at the end of the first gulf war we did find evidence of a nuclear weapons program. Then we had a number of years where we were flying a no-fly zone over Iraq and where we saw him diverting a lot of money into not just building palaces but building, we thought, programs.