Donald Trump did not oppose the Iraq War from the beginning. In September 2002, the month before then-Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) voted in favor of the congressional authorization to use force in Iraq, Trump went on Howard Stern’s radio show and said he supported sending troops in.
“Are you for invading Iraq?” Stern asked in a clip unearthed by BuzzFeed.
“Yeah, I guess so,” Trump said.
There is no record of Trump saying anything else publicly about the Iraq War before the invasion.
Bu throughout his presidential campaign, Trump has repeatedly said he opposed the war from the start. He’s repeated the lie so many times that some have seemingly lost sight of the fact it’s not true.
One of these people is apparently NBC’s Matt Lauer, host of tonight’s NBC Commander-in-Chief forum. After a half-hour of directing relentlessly negative questions at Hillary Clinton, Lauer let Trump lie about his Iraq war positions without attempting to correct the record.
Trump also did not oppose U.S. involvement in the military effort to depose Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. In a video blog about Libya from 2011, Trump said, “Gaddafi in Libya is killing thousands of people, nobody knows how bad it is, and we’re sitting around, we have soldiers all [around] the Middle East, and we’re not bringing them in to stop this horrible carnage… Now we should go in, we should stop this guy, which would be very easy and very quick.”
Nonetheless, during his campaign Trump has repeatedly said he “would have stayed out of Libya” — a lie he’s previously been praised for on MSNBC. And tonight, Lauer didn’t challenge Trump’s false suggestion that Clinton, who was Secretary of State at the time, “made a terrible mistake on Libya” by making a decision different from what he would’ve done.
Tonight’s forum was broadcast nationally on NBC. By not holding Trump accountable for his past statements, Lauer left millions of potential voters who tuned in with the impression that the Republican nominee had prescient judgment with regard to American involvement in both Iraq and Libya. Trump’s comments at the time, however, suggest he would’ve made the same decisions Clinton did.