Friday morning, Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway did the TV rounds and argued that Donald Trump really did oppose the Iraq war from the beginning. But her argument is debunked by the easiest fact-check ever.
During interviews on both CBS’ This Morning and CNN’s New Day, Conway argued that a September 2002 Howard Stern clip where Trump says he supports invading Iraq is just one of many comments he made on the topic at the time. Conway pointed to a separate Esquire interview where Trump called the war “a mess” and said the military effort was “for nothing.” But what Conway and her interviewers didn’t mention is that the Esquire interview was conducted in 2004 — a year after the Bush administration sent troops in.
This Morning host Charlie Rose grilled Conway about why Trump “can’t simply say… at one point I was [for the war], and then I changed my mind.”
Conway’s response was to point to the Esquire interview.
“There are other public statements that he made contemporaneous to that, including the Esquire magazine interview where he gives a much longer answer about why he thinks it was a bad idea,” she said.
About an hour later on CNN, Conway made a similar case. Asked by Chris Cuomo about why Trump “doesn’t own what he said in the past,” Conway responded by asking Cuomo “why don’t you look at the full compliment of what he said about the Iraq war over time. Look at the Esquire interview.”
Esquire itself rejects that the 2004 interview in any way bolsters the false notion Trump opposed the Iraq war from the start. In a post published last month, Esquire’s Jack Holmes wrote that Trump “came out against the war in Esquire almost a year and a half after the invasion began, when the situation on the ground had begun to deteriorate and popular support for the war was sinking. This was a reasonable position for him to take, but it does not mean he was always against the war.”
Esquire even added this note to the top of the 2004 Trump interview in question (the link is to Holmes’ post):
We can confirm that 2004 indeed came after 2003, and that Trump made no on-the-record comments about the Iraq War prior to the invasion, aside from the Stern interview where he said he supports it. Therefore, Conway’s argument doesn’t hold water.