WASHINGTON—U.S. President Donald Trump did an Oval Office interview with Associated Press reporter Julie Pace to discuss his first 100 days in office.
He made some news, offering praise of far-right French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen and promising to act soon on tax reform. The interview is most notable, though, for its immense weirdness. The extended transcript, which was published on Sunday, is surreal — replete with lies, exaggerations, non-sequiturs and rambling asides.
The complete list of every false thing Donald Trump has said as president
For your reading pleasure, or perhaps reading alarm, we have compiled the 19 strangest parts. The full transcript follows.
1. Trump remembers and then immediately forgets how many missiles he fired at Syria:
“When it came time to, as an example, send out the 59 missiles, the Tomahawks in Syria. I’m saying to myself, ‘You know, this is more than just like, 79 missiles. This is death that’s involved,’” he said.
2. Trump talks about watching CNN, then boasts of not watching CNN: Trump, a renowned television addict, explained to Pace that he never thought he had “the ability” to do what he said he had done: stop watching CNN, a network he says is unfair to him. But Pace pointed out that he had just talked, in this same interview, about watching CNN. (Those remarks aren’t in the transcript; Pace says they came during an off-the-record portion.)
“Where? Where?” Trump asked.
“Two minutes ago,” Pace informed him.
Trump’s bewildering response: “No, they treat me so badly. No, I just said that. No, I, what’d I say, I stopped watching them. But I don’t watch CNN anymore.”
3. Trump says he doesn’t talk to European leaders about the Iran deal, then that he did:
Trump continued to gripe about the Iran nuclear deal the U.S. and other world powers struck with Iran during the tenure of Barack Obama. Asked what Germany’s Angela Merkel or the United Kingdom’s Theresa May say about the deal, Trump responded, “I don’t talk to them about it.” But when Pace followed up — “You don’t talk to them about the Iran deal?” — Trump quickly said he does talk to them about it.
“I mention it, but it’s very personal when I talk to them, you know, it’s confidential,” he said.
4. Trump disassociates himself from his own “Contract With The American Voter”:
Two weeks before voting day, Trump issued a “Contract With The American Voter” that listed all of the things he promised to accomplish in his first 100 days. The contract includes his very own signature. But when Pace asked whether he should be held accountable for the promises in the contract, Trump suggested he had nothing to do with it.
“Somebody, yeah, somebody put out the concept of a 100-day plan,” he said.
5. Trump explains he only called NATO obsolete because he didn’t know what he was talking about:
Trump rattled U.S. allies with his insistence as a candidate that the NATO military alliance was “obsolete.” He explained to Pace that he only did so because he was “not knowing much about NATO,” which he now knows much about. (“People don’t go around asking about NATO,” he said, “if I’m building a building in Manhattan, right?”)
The explanation is especially outlandish because of what Trump said at a CNN town hall at the time: “I understand this stuff. I mean, I really do understand this stuff. NATO is obsolete.”
6. Trump falsely claims terrorism didn’t exist before 1949:
Trump has long falsely claimed that NATO did not start dealing with terrorism until he complained as a 2016 candidate that it was not doing so. This time, he added a new whopper: “You know, back when they did NATO there was no such thing as terrorism.”
7. Trump uses the phrase “a super-duper”:
The president insisted that his giant wall on the Mexican border would cost less than $10 billion — but more, perhaps, “if I do a super-duper, higher, better, better security, everything else.”
8. Trump suggests his first address to Congress was one of the best speeches in the history of the House of Representatives:
“A lot of the people have said that, some people said it was the single best speech ever made in that chamber,” he said.
9. Trump says “most people don’t even think of NAFTA in terms of Canada”:
There are a mere three countries in the North American Free Trade Agreement: the U.S., Canada and Mexico. But Trump, long obsessed with Mexico, only recently started talking about Canada and NAFTA, and he has a tendency to project his own thinking, or non-thinking, onto the broader population.
It wasn’t his only odd claim on the subject: He also said Wisconsin and New York dairy farmers are “getting killed by NAFTA,” though Canadian dairy isn’t part of the deal at all.
10. Trump repeats his lie about F-35 savings:
The U.S. government was on track to cut the price of the troubled F-35 fighter jet program regardless of who was elected president. Trump, though, has falsely claimedat least a dozen times that his superlative negotiating skills are single-handedly responsible for these savings.
“Because of me,” he told Pace. “I mean, because that’s what I do.”
11. Trump falsely claims he had never heard of WikiLeaks until last year:
WikiLeaks has been the subject of major controversy since it published secret U.S. military videos and documents in 2010. Trump, though, claimed he had “never heard of WikiLeaks”— “never heard of it,” he repeated — until the organization released emails hacked from Democratic officials during the 2016 campaign.
At best, this would be a confession of ignorance; in fact, it is untrue. CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski uncovered a 2010 interview in which he called WikiLeaks “disgraceful.”
12. Trump says he thought the press would get friendlier when he became the Republican nominee:
For reasons entirely unknown, Trump said he thought the media would get softer on him once he won the Republican primary and became the party’s general election candidate.
“I said, you know, when I won, I said, ‘Well the one thing good is now I’ll get good press.’ And it got worse. So that was one thing that a little bit of a surprise to me,” he said.
13. Trump calls the media “very stupid” for pointing out his China flip-flop:
Trump repeatedly said during his campaign that he would immediately designate China as a currency manipulator for deliberately devaluing its yuan — even though every expert pointed out that China was not doing so any more. Trump flip-flopped two weeks ago, finally agreeing that China is not attempting devaluation … but told Pace that the media is the ignorant one here.
“You know, very specific formula. You would think it’s like generalities, it’s not. They have — they’ve actually — their currency’s gone up,” he said.
14. Trump insults show he just booked interview on, boasts he got the best ratings since 9/11:
Shortly before this transcript was released on Sunday, Politico reported that Trump would do an interview this week with John Dickerson, host of the CBS show Face the Nation. In the AP interview, Trump twice disparagingly called it “Deface the Nation” — and bragged that one of his appearances on the show earned the best ratings since the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.
“It’s the highest for ‘Deface the Nation’ since the World Trade Center. Since the World Trade Center came down. It’s a tremendous advantage,” he said.
15. Trump claims the Electoral College is biased toward Democrats:
Republicans can have a hard time in the Electoral College because they are unpopular with many Americans. Trump, though, portrayed the existence of liberal states as a kind of systemic unfairness.
“You start off by losing in New York and California, no matter who it is. If, if Abe Lincoln came back to life, he would lose New York and he would lose California,” he said. “The Electoral College is so skewed in favour of a Democrat that it’s very, very hard.”
16. Trump “whatever”s critics who worry that he’s too quick to declare incidents to be acts of terrorism:
“By the way, I’m 10-0 for that,” he said. “I’ve called every one of them. Every time they said I called it way too early and then it turns out I’m ... Whatever. Whatever. In the meantime, I’m here and they’re not.”
17. Trump repeats his obviously false claim about a Democratic congressman:
Trump met earlier in April with Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, who has been highly critical of him. He told Pace, as he told others earlier, that Cummings told him he would be the greatest president of all time.
“He said you will be — in front of five, six people — he said you will be the greatest president in the history of this country,” Trump repeated.
Pace had to point out to him that Cummings’s hypothetical was used to couch a sharp rebuke. “I have said repeatedly,” Cummings told the Washington Post, “that he could be a great president if, if, if he takes steps to truly represent all Americans rather than continuing on the divisive and harmful path he is currently on.”
18. Trump suggests we should count differently:
Trump twice called the 100-days figure an “artificial barrier” — and suggested that he is only at 60 days on health care, since the first 30-ish days don’t really count.
“I’ve been here 92 days but I’ve only been working on the health care, you know I had to get like a little bit of grounding right? Health care started after 30 day(s), so I’ve been working on health care for 60 days,” he said.
Sixteen times during the interview, the AP recorded a Trump remark as “unintelligible,” a notation that is highly unusual for a one-on-one interview in a silent setting like the Oval Office.
Pace explained to the Star that one of Trump’s aides, who did not want his or her comments included in the transcript, kept talking at the same time as him. This is itself highly unusual.
Full transcript of Trump’s interview with the Associated Press
A transcript of an Oval Office interview Friday with President Donald Trump by AP White House Correspondent Julie Pace. Where the audio recording of the interview is unclear, ellipses or a notation that the recording was unintelligible are used.
AP: I do want to talk to you about the 100 days.
AP: I want to ask a few questions on some topics that are happening toward the end of the interview.
TRUMP: Did you see Aya (Hijazi, an Egyptian-American charity worker who had been detained in the country for nearly three years) .............