Near the end of the final presidential debate Wednesday, moderator Chris Wallace asked Donald Trump about the Syrian city of Aleppo, currently the site of one of the most important battles in the country and a massive humanitarian disaster. Wallace asked him to clear up his stance on the city given that, in the previous debate, Trump falsely claimed that rebel-held areas of the city had fallen to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.
Here is Trump’s answer in its entirety. I have omitted nothing:
Well, Aleppo is a disaster. It's a humanitarian nightmare. But it has fallen from any standpoint. I mean, what do you need, a signed document? Take a look at Aleppo. It is so sad when you see what's happened. And a lot of this is because of Hillary Clinton. Because what has happened is by fighting Assad, who turned out to be a lot tougher than she thought, and now she is going to say, “Oh, he loves Assad.” He's just much tougher and much smarter than her and Obama. And everyone thought he was gone two years ago, three years ago. He aligned with Russia. He now also aligned with Iran, who we made very powerful. We gave them $150 billion back. We give them $1.7 billion in cash. I mean cash, bundles of cash as big as this stage. We gave them $1.7 billion.
Now they have aligned, he has aligned with Russia and with Iran. They don't want ISIS. But they have other things because we're backing, we're backing rebels. We don't know who the rebels are. We're giving them lots of money, lots of everything. We don't know who the rebels are. And when and if, and it's not going to happen because you have Russia and you have Iran now. But if they ever did overthrow Assad, you might end up as bad as Assad is, and he is a bad guy.
But you may very well end up with worse than Assad. If she did nothing, we'd be in much better shape. And this is what has caused the great migration where she has taken in tens of thousands of Syrian refugees who probably in many cases, not probably, who are definitely in many cases ISIS-aligned. And we now have them in our country and wait until you see this is going to be the great Trojan horse.
And wait until you see what happens in the coming years. Lots of luck, Hillary. Thanks a lot for doing a great job.
This answer contained a number of blatant falsehoods. The US has never outright fought Assad’s regime, and our support for the anti-Assad rebels is not what has caused the massive humanitarian disaster in Aleppo — that was largely caused by Assad and Russia besieging and bombing the city indiscriminately. Furthermore, Assad was aligned with Russia and Iran well before the Syrian civil war, not as a consequence of it as Trump says. There is also no evidence that refugees are a “Trojan horse”: The odds of being killed by a refugee terrorist are 1 in 3.6 billion.
But the most fundamental issue here isn’t specific statements. It’s that Trump’s answer to a deeply important policy questions is stream-of-consciousness blather, a nearly indecipherable string of nonsense that jumps from a brief discussion of Aleppo to Russia to ISIS to the refugee crisis. He never once says anything of substance about Aleppo, anything at all to indicate that he actually understands what’s happening in the city and has an iota of an idea of what to do about it.
When you read it, it becomes clear just how ignorant about policy Donald Trump is.