Donald Trump sat down with the Washington Post’s editorial board on Monday and opined on a variety of subjects he seems to know very little about (foreign policy, America’s inner cities, the Chicago Cubs), as well as one he seems to have studied meticulously (the size of his own hands). Here are the ten biggest revelations from the Post’s extensive interview.
1. Trump’s foreign-policy team is … unconventional.
When MSNBC asked Trump to name his top foreign-policy adviser last week, the GOP front-runner replied, “I’m speaking with myself, No. 1, because I have a very good brain and I’ve said a lot of things.”
Despite his extensive experience with making verbal pronouncements, Trump has decided to take on official foreign-policy advisers. In his interview with the Post, Trump named five:
Walid Phares, who you probably know, PhD, adviser to the House of Representatives caucus, and counter-terrorism expert; Carter Page, PhD; George Papadopoulos, he’s an energy and oil consultant, excellent guy; the Honorable Joe Schmitz, [former] inspector general at the Department of Defense; [retired] Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg; and I have quite a few more.
Phares, like Ted Cruz’s top foreign-policy adviser, Frank Gaffney, believes that members of the Obama administration have been “engaging with and partnering with the Muslim Brotherhood” in an effort to establish sharia law in the United States. Schmitz is affiliated with Gaffney’s think tank, the Center for Security Studies. Page is a former investment banker who has compared the Obama administration’s national-security strategy to a document on how to manage slaves from 1850. Papadopoulos is a young international energy lawyer whose primary foreign-policy experience appears to be his participation in a 2012 Model U.N. meeting in Geneva — an achievement he touts on his LinkedIn page.
2. Trump wants to build schools in Brooklyn, not Baghdad.
When asked whether the United States military should be involved in democracy promotion overseas, Trump gave an answer that could have come from the mouth of Bernie Sanders.
“I don’t think we should be nation building anymore. I think it’s proven not to work,” Trump said. “I watched as we built schools in Iraq and they’d be blown up. And we’d build another one and it would get blown up. And we would rebuild it three times. And yet we can’t build a school in Brooklyn. We have no money for education, because we can’t build in our own country. And at what point do you say hey, we have to take care of ourselves.”
Trump’s broader comments on the plight of America’s inner cities were similarly, surprisingly, Sanders-esque. Unlike most Republicans — and even President Obama — Trump did not explain the disaffection and runaway unemployment among African-American youth with reference to family breakdown or cultural pathology. While Trump dismissed concerns over racially biased law enforcement, he suggested that the anger of those who rioted in Baltimore last year was rooted in an accurate sense of economic deprivation.
“It can be solved, to a large extent, with jobs,” Trump told the paper. “You know, if we can rebuild those communities and create incentives for companies to move in and create jobs. Jobs are so important. There are no jobs. There are none. You go to those communities and you can’t — there is nothing there. There is no incentive for people. It is a very sad situation.”
Still, when asked exactly how his economic program for a city like Baltimore would differ from those that have already been tried, Trump’s only answer was that he would be a superior “cheerleader” for black youth:
“There’s a lack of spirit. I actually think I’d be a great cheerleader — beyond other things, the other things that I’d do — I actually think I’d be a great cheerleader for the country. Because a lot of people feel it’s a hopeless situation. A lot of people in the inner cities, they feel that way. And you have to start by giving them hope and giving them spirit and that has not taken place.”
3. Trump is a big fan of the Gawker verdict.
RYAN: Mr. Trump, you’ve mentioned many times during the campaign, in fact including this morning, instances you feel where the press has been biased or unfair or outright false in their reporting, and you’ve mentioned that you want to “open up” the libel laws. You’ve said that several times.
TRUMP: I might not have to, based on Gawker. Right?
For several minutes, the Post tried to get Trump to clarify exactly how he wished to change existing libel laws. The back-and-forth produced the interview’s least articulate response:
“But I mean I can only speak for — I probably get more — do I, I mean, you would know, do I get more publicity than any human being on the earth? Okay? I mean, [Editor’s note: Trump points at Ruth Marcus] she kills me, this one — that’s okay, nice woman.”
At various points, Trump suggested that it should be illegal for a newspaper to print inaccurate information about him without calling him first, regardless of whether he is a public figure.
“And I get these stories and they’re so angry and I actually say, I actually say, ‘How could they write?’ — and many stories I must tell you, many stories are written that with a brief phone call could be corrected before they’re written. Nobody calls me.”
4. Trump’s plan to defeat ISIS is to get some other country to defeat ISIS.
Throughout his campaign, Trump has flitted between a radically noninterventionist foreign policy (questioning the need for American bases in South Korea, Germany, and Japan) and a radically aggressive one (sending tens of thousands of U.S. troops to kill ISIS militants, along with their wives and children). With the Post, Trump mostly stuck to the former worldview, suggesting that America shoulders too much of NATO’s burden and arguing that our allies should fight more of their own battles. When the Post’s Jackson Diehl asked about his previous pledge to send 20,000 to 30,000 U.S. troops to defeat ISIS, Trump insisted that he had merely been quoting the estimates of American generals. As far as whether he’d be willing to heed their advice, Trump was uncertain.
“I would find it very, very hard to send that many troops to take care of it. I would say this, I would put tremendous pressure on other countries that are over there to use their troops and I’d give them tremendous air supporters and support, because we have to get rid of ISIS, okay, just so — we have to get rid of ISIS.”
5. The one thing Trump would be willing to risk U.S. troops’ lives for is Iraqi oil.
HIATT: How do you keep it without troops, how do you defend the oil?
TRUMP: You would… You would, well for that— for that, I would circle it. I would defend those areas.
HIATT: With U.S. troops?
TRUMP: Yeah, I would defend the areas with the oil.
6. Trump is against using nuclear weapons to defeat ISIS and is for using compliments to evade questions about using nuclear weapons.
TRUMP: I don’t want to use, I don’t want to start the process of nuclear. Remember the one thing that everybody has said, I’m a counterpuncher. Rubio hit me. Bush hit me. When I said low energy, he’s a low-energy individual, he hit me first. I spent, by the way he spent 18 million dollars’ worth of negative ads on me. That’s putting [MUFFLED]…
RYAN: This is about ISIS. You would not use a tactical nuclear weapon against ISIS?
TRUMP: I’ll tell you one thing, this is a very good-looking group of people here.
7. Muslims call Trump all the time and congratulate him for taking such a noble stance against them.
“I’ve had Muslims call and tell me you’re right with the Muslim thing, I think it’s a serious problem,” Trump told the paper.
8. With some protesters, you either need to punch ’em or give ’em a recording contract.
Asked about the many instances in which he has praised violence against protesters, Trump said the following:
“We had one guy — and I said it — he had the voice — and this was what I was referring to — and I said, ‘Boy, I’d like to smash him.’ You know, I said that. I’d like to punch him. This guy was unbelievably loud. He had a voice like Pavarotti. I said if I was his manager I would have made a lot of money for him, because he had the best voice.”
9. Trump is not optimistic about the Cubs’ chances this year.
On Twitter last month, Trump appeared to blackmail the Ricketts family of Chicago, who own the Cubs and have contributed to an anti-Trump super-pac.
Asked what he meant by “they better watch out,” Trump replied, “Well, it means that I’ll start spending on them. I’ll start taking ads telling them all what a rotten job they’re doing with the Chicago Cubs.”
The Cubs went to the National League Championship series last fall and, after a productive off-season, are widely projected to be the best team in baseball this year.
10. Trump’s hands are normal.
In the desperate final days of his sad campaign, Marco Rubio mocked Trump’s small hands at a rally, going so far as to suggest their diminutive size might be reflected in that of the Donald’s genitals. Rubio’s joke ended up inspiring the GOP front-runner to assure a national television audience that his penis was not problematically small. When asked about whether it was right for a public servant to brag about his private parts, Trump mostly just reiterated that his fingers are a normal length.
“My hands are fine. You know, my hands are normal. Slightly large, actually. In fact, I buy a slightly smaller than large glove, okay?” the presumptive Republican nominee insisted. Trump went on to note that his supporters were often pleasantly surprised by just how normal-sized his hands truly are: “I was on line shaking hands with supporters, and one of supporters got up and he said, ‘Mr. Trump, you have strong hands. You have good-sized hands.’ And then another one would say, ‘You have great hands, Mr. Trump, I had no idea.’”