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Trump Says He Knows Nothing About Hank Paulson, Whom He Praised By Name In 2008

It's a common response from Trump.

Posted on June 26, 2016, at 12:36 p.m. ET

Ian Macnicol / Getty Images

Donald Trump reacted to the news that former Bush administration Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson has endorsed Hillary Clinton with a familiar retort.

"Don't know anything about him," Trump told reporters in Scotland, where he is visiting his golf properties in an overseas trip.

Convenient memory lapses are a common dodge for Trump over the years. When confronted with unpleasant remarks made by prominent people, Trump often says he has never heard of such person (despite usually having commented them directly in the past by name). In May, Trump told an Indiana reporter he didn't know anything about Mike Tyson's rape conviction, a topic he infamously opined on 1992.

In the case of Paulson, who headed up the Treasury Department's response to the financial crisis in 2008, the Republican nominee actively praised him at length in an appearance on CNN in October 2008.

"I would give him an A," Trump told Wolf Blitzer when asked how to grade Paulson's response to the crisis. "But the fact is, he came into a mess. He didn't create the mess. And he is helping us get out of the mess."

Blitzer responded with amazement and asked if Trump would keep Paulson on as Treasury Secretary if then-Senator Obama was elected president.

"I wouldn't necessarily," said Trump. "He has got his own people. And he has got his — some very, very smart people with him. But I think Paulson, I would give an A, because he really took something very strong. Now, you could say the U.K. came up with the first land, but Paulson is the one that got us there in the first place, in terms of the concept."

Here's the transcript of the exchange:

BLITZER: Let's talk about the economy right now. And I want you to do, in your Donald Trump-style, some quick analysis, but give me some grades for these people, how they have done in dealing with the economic crisis that we are all going through right now. OK, grades. A is the best. F is failing — President Bush?

TRUMP: Well, I would certainly not give him an F. And I guess you can't give him an A, because, unfortunately, look at the mess we are in.

But I think that he has been dealing with the crisis pretty well. And he has some very smart people. They are pretty smart people. They are very smart people. So, I would give him a B.

BLITZER: Really?

TRUMP: Aren't you shocked to hear me say that?

BLITZER: Yes. I am pretty surprised.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP: You're talking about dealing with the crisis. You are not talking about getting us into the crisis. You're talking about dealing with the crisis. So, I would give him a B.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: How they have dealt with this financial crisis.

TRUMP: I would give him a B.

BLITZER: All right, Henry Paulson?

TRUMP: I would give him an A.

BLITZER: Really?

TRUMP: I would give him an A. And I know a lot of people are saying, oh, this and that.

But the fact is, he came into a mess. He didn't create the mess. And he is helping us get out of the mess.

BLITZER: So, if Obama were elected, you would advise him to keep Paulson on the job?

TRUMP: I wouldn't necessarily. He has got his own people. And he has got his — some very, very smart people with him.

But I think Paulson, I would give an A, because he really took something very strong. Now, you could say the U.K. came up with the first land, but Paulson is the one that got us there in the first place, in terms of the concept.

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