Donald Trump has for months claimed that he was "loud and clear" in warning the invasion of Iraq and the removal of Saddam Hussein from power would destabilize the Middle East.
His claim has come under scrutiny, with a clip unearthed by BuzzFeed News of Trump telling Howard Stern in 2002 that he supported an invasion of Iraq. "Yeah, I guess so," Trump said on the Howard Stern when asked if he supported invading Iraq. "I wish the first time it was done correctly."
The second part of his answer, referring to the way the Persian Gulf War was conducted by President George H.W. Bush, seemed to indicate that Trump previously supported removing Hussein from power. A BuzzFeed News review of Trump's statements on Iraq prior to the invasion and before the case was made by the Bush administration to invade shows Trump on two other occasions saying he wished Bush Sr.'s administration had deposed Hussein in the 1991 Gulf War.
Trump told Tony Snow in a Oct. 31, 1999 on Fox News Sunday about the first Gulf War: "No, I like the approach to the war, he did the right thing. He didn't finish the war. I wish he'd finished the war."
In his book as well, Trump made the case Bush should have finished the job.
"We can learn something here from George Bush and see how good a president he was," Trump wrote in his 2000 book The America We Deserve. "He wasn't afraid to use American power when he figured out that Saddam Hussein posed a direct threat to American interests in the East. I only wish, however, that he had spent three more days and properly finished the job. It is this kind of will and determination to use our strength strategically that America needs again in dealing with the North Koreans."
In that same book, Trump wrote that Iraq was developing weapons of mass destruction and targeted Iraq strikes had little effect on their overall weapons development. Trump concluded it wouldn't be crazy if we attack Iraq to "carry the mission to its conclusion."
On NBC's Meet the Press, Trump said he didn't know what he mean't when pressed by show host Chuck Todd about what doing it correctly "the first time" implied.
Here's the transcript of Trump on Fox News in October 1999:
SNOW: How about Saudi Arabia?
TRUMP: They take such advantage of us with the oil.
mine, and they're terrific, and they laugh this country, how stupid. They have boats bigger than any boats you've ever seen, they have houses all over the world, including Palm Beach. They have houses like you've never seen before -- all because we're so stupid.
Hey, let them have a house, but this is getting a little ridiculous. I mean, the money they make.
And then when we wanted to go over and fly our planes and land our planes in Saudi Arabia, in the war, to protect them, they didn't want us on their land. I mean, you explain that one to me.
SNOW: George Bush talked them into it.
TRUMP: He talked them into it and then didn't finish the war.
SNOW: So he should have gone -- you think the United States should have gone into Baghdad.
TRUMP: When you say "talked them into it," how did he talk them into it? He gave them all sorts of goodies, gave them all sorts of gadgets, and we're supposed to be protecting them and we had to go through huge negotiations just to land planes on their soil.
They wouldn't even -- they wanted us to protect them, but they said: Protect us, but don't come into our country.
SNOW: You said you like his approach to that war. Are you having second thoughts?
TRUMP: No, I like the approach to the war, he did the right thing. He didn't finish the war. I wish he'd finished the war.