Donald Trump insists he opposed the Iraq War before it began. His main piece of evidence? “You can look at Esquire magazine from ’04,” Trump said during the NBC News candidate forum on Wednesday night.
Well, if you do look at the Esquire piece Trump was referencing — which he wrote for the magazine — it now comes with a very big disclaimer:
Editor's note: The following story was published in the August 2004 issue of Esquire. During the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump has repeatedly claimed to have been against the Iraq War from the beginning, and he has cited this story as proof. The Iraq War began in March 2003, more than a year before this story ran, thus nullifying Trump's timeline. More details can be found here.
The problem for Trump’s claim, then, is the basic concept of time. He says he always opposed the Iraq War — even before it officially began. But his only piece of evidence is an article published more than a year after the war started.
But there’s a reason Trump only points to this article. When you do look at Trump’s comments before the Iraq War, they actually show he supported the invasion. Here’s what Trump said in 2002 in an exchange with Howard Stern:
STERN: Are you for invading Iraq?
TRUMP: Yeah, I guess so. I wish the first time it was done correctly.
Not only did Trump say he was for invading Iraq, but he seemed to suggest that the US should have invaded even earlier — back in the early 1990s, during the Gulf War. That’s as opposite as you can get from Trump’s claim.