Donald Trump, faced with his own words from 2002 that directly contradict his claim he opposed an Iraq invasion early on, told CNN's Anderson Cooper on Thursday night he opposed the war by the time it started.
But in an interview with Fox News' Neil Cavuto one day into the Iraq invasion, Trump did not express his opposition to war, and said it appeared to be "a tremendous success from a military standpoint." Trump predicted the war would continue to be great for Wall Street.
"Well, I think Wall Street's waiting to see what happens but even before the fact they're obviously taking it a little bit for granted and it looks like a tremendous success from a military standpoint and I think this is really nothing compared to what you're gonna see after the war is over," Trump told Cavuto on Friday, March 21, 2003, the audio of which was obtained by BuzzFeed News through Vanderbilt University.
"I think Wall Street's just gonna go up like a rocket, even beyond, and it's gonna continue and, you know, we have a strong and powerful country and let's hope it all works out," continued Trump.
Cavuto asked Trump if he thought protests to the Iraq War would hurt investments in the United States. Trump replied that the U.S. would have to work on public relations, something he thought could be done once the war was over. And, added Trump, it would be interesting to see what weapons of the mass destruction the U.S. found.
"Well, I guess the French never liked us much except when we're bailing them out, you know, to be totally honest with you,"Trump said. "But certainly we're gonna have to work on our public relations because there's no question that there are a lot of countries in the world right now that aren't too fond of us, but I think that can be solved and probably pretty quickly. The main thing is to get the war over with and just make it a tremendously successful campaign and it'll be very interesting to see what kind of weapons they find."
BuzzFeed News on Thursday uncovered audio from Trump's September 2002 appearance on the Howard Stern Show, where he expressed support for an Iraq invasion.
"Are you for invading Iraq?" Howard Stern asked him, and Trump answered, "Yeah, I guess so."
Trump had long claimed he was an early opponent to the Bush administration's plan to invade Iraq as way to show his judgement on foreign policy. At the Feb. 6 debate in New Hampshire, Trump said, "I'm the only one up here, when the war of Iraq — in Iraq, I was the one that said, 'Don't go, don't do it, you're going to destabilize the Middle East.'"
Though Trump originally claimed he could easily provide documentation showing his early opposition, he backtracked last weekend, saying people didn't write everything he said at the time because he wasn't a politician.
In interviews on the CNN, Today and Good Morning America Trump stood by claims he was against the war, saying the 2002 Stern interview was the first time he asked his opinion about the war and "by the time the war started I was against."