Donald Trump Is Still Getting Away With Claiming He Opposed The Iraq War

The New York Times is the latest outlet not to challenge his evidence-free boast.
Donald Trump has long claimed he opposed the Iraq war, but he can't back it up.
Donald Trump has long claimed he opposed the Iraq war, but he can't back it up.
Star Max/IPx

NEW YORK -- Donald Trump says a lot of things, many of which are untrue.

It's why reporters and fact-checkers have been working overtime this election cycle to vet his frequently inaccurate statements and bizarre conspiracy theories. And it's why it's incumbent on news organizations to challenge him when he repeats claims that have already been debunked.

But on Wednesday, The New York Times allowed Trump to again assert he opposed the Iraq War without any qualification, despite numerous fact-checks finding no evidence to support it.

In an interview Wednesday night, Mr. Trump criticized Mrs. Clinton’s early support for the Iraq war, which he said he opposed, and questioned her judgment in Libya. “Bernie Sanders said it and I’m going to use it all over the place because it’s true,” Mr. Trump said. “She is a woman who is ill-suited to be president because she has bad judgment.”

Trump has repeatedly said he was an early critic of the Iraq War, a claim meant to suggest he had more foreign policy vision than his political rivals, from Republican primary candidates to the likely Democratic nominee. But fact-checkers have been looking for evidence for nearly a year and have consistently come up empty-handed.

During the first Republican debate, in August, Trump cited a July 2004 article as evidence he opposed the war before it began, even though the U.S. invaded Iraq 16 months earlier, in March 2003. The Times fact-checked Trump's statement in real time, and said it "left out the reality that his opposition came well after the war was already underway."

The Huffington Post searched newspaper and TV archives in September and found no evidence Trump publicly opposed the war before the 2003 invasion. A week later, during the second Republican debate, Trump said there were "25 different stories" that showed he did. None have been found.

Trump continued making the claim in TV interviews throughout the fall. When he did so in a December debate, the Times again noted that his public opposition to the war came long after it started. Trump was seriously pressed on the Iraq issue on TV earlier this year and couldn't back up his claim.

BuzzFeed's Andrew Kaczynski, who has closely tracked Trump's shifting statements on Iraq, even found the presumptive Republican nominee tepidly supporting the invasion in a September 2002 interview with Howard Stern.

Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post's "Fact-checker" columnist, criticized TV news hosts last month for continuing to allow Trump to say he opposed the war without qualification.

"There is no excuse for this," Kessler wrote. "TV hosts should have a list of Trump’s repeated misstatements so that if he repeats them, as he often does, he can be challenged on his claims."

Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.

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