Trump Gave His First Major Interview As The Official GOP Nominee. It Was Completely Unhinged.

SOURCEThink Progress
DES MOINES, IA - MAY 16: Businessman Donald Trump speaks to guests gathered for the Republican Party of Iowa's Lincoln Dinner at the Iowa Events Center on May 16, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. The event sponsored by the Republican Party of Iowa gave several Republican presidential hopefuls an opportunity to strengthen their support among Iowa Republicans ahead of the 2016 Iowa caucus. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Normally after securing the official nomination of a major political party, candidates for president rein in the more incendiary rhetoric that may have won them the primary campaign, move to the center, and project a secure, calm, rational, and steady vision of national leadership to appeal to the whole nation.

Donald Trump took a different approach.

Trump, now officially the GOP nominee, in his first major interview after the convention on NBC’s Meet the Press, took the extreme rhetoric that won him the primary election and cranked it up a notch.

Trump attacked the women accusing ousted Fox News CEO Roger Ailes of sexual harassment

Todd asked if Roger Ailes, recently ousted from Fox News after many of his current and former female employees accused him of sexual harassment, was helping or advising Trump.

Well, I don’t want to comment. But he’s been a friend of mine for a long time. And I can tell you that some of the women that are complaining, I know how much he’s helped them. And even recently. And when they write books that are fairly recently released, and they say wonderful things about him.

And now all of a sudden they’re saying these horrible things about him. It’s very sad. Because he’s a very good person. I’ve always found him to be just a very, very good person. And by the way, a very, very talented person. Look what he’s done. So I feel very badly. But a lot of people are thinking he’s going to run my campaign.

Trump’s campaign manager Paul Manafort was asked about Trump’s comment that Ailes might run his campaign on ABC This Week. He said “I have no idea where that came from,” but did say that Ailes is a “voice that understands the American people” and went on to praise him.

Trump said he would create multi-million dollar super PACs to defeat his Republican opponents who didn’t endorse him

Todd asked if Trump would fund a super PAC to defeat Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Trump’s rival who refused to endorse him at the RNC. Trump said that while it wasn’t “the number one thing on my mind,” he would “probably do a super PAC, you know, when they run against Kasich, for $10 million to $20 million, against Ted Cruz. And maybe one other person that I’m thinking about…”

Trump did not reveal the third name, apart from saying “he’s actually such a small person, I hate to give him the publicity.

Trump said he’s expanding his proposals to ban Muslims from the U.S.

Meet the Press host Chuck Todd asked if Trump had really backpedaled on his proposal to ban all Muslims entering the United States, as the Wall Street Journal and others had reported last month, and has he appeared to suggest in his convention speech, which focused the ban on nations that have been compromised by terrorism.

Todd said that seemed like a slight rollback, but Trump replied that it shouldn’t be interpreted as such.

“I actually don’t think it’s a rollback,” he said. “In fact, you could say it’s an expansion. I’m looking now at territory. People were so upset when I used the word Muslim. Oh, you can’t use the word Muslim. Remember this. And I’m okay with that, because I’m talking territory instead of Muslim.”

He then went on to say that while “our Constitution is great … it doesn’t necessarily give us the right to commit suicide, okay?” He said the religious protections in the constitution (meaning the First Amendment) are “great, and that’s the wonderful part of our Constitution. I view it differently.”

“I live with our Constitution,” he continued. “I love our Constitution. I cherish our Constitution. We’re making it territorial. We have nations and we’ll come out, I’m going to be coming out over the next few weeks with a number of the places.”

Todd asked if this would limit immigration from places like France, which has seen terrorist attacks in recent months.

“They have totally been,” Trump said. “And you know why? It’s their own fault. Because they allowed people to come into their territory.”

Trump did not completely rule out supporting former KKK grand wizard David Duke in his run for Senate

Trump tried to rebuke David Duke, who has praised Trump and filed to run for Senate as a Republican in Louisiana last week, before Todd could finish his question. But when Todd asked if Trump would support a Democrat over Duke, Trump said it depended on who the Democrat was.

Trump described his speech at the Republican National Convention as “optimistic”

Todd said Trump’s speech had been called “dark” and “that there wasn’t enough optimism in it.” Trump cited the attacks in Afghanistan and Munich and said he didn’t think the speech was dark.

“I thought it was very optimistic,” Trump said. “To me, it was an optimistic speech.”

Not only was the speech repeatedly described as dark, it also contained many falsehoods.

Manafort echoed Trump, saying his candidate delivered a speech of hope.

Trump maintained that he might not honor U.S. commitments to NATO

Todd asked Trump about Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) calling Trump’s suggestion that the United States a not honor the NATO treaty in case of an attack on one of its members a “rookie mistake.”

“He’s 100 percent wrong,” Trump shot back. “Okay? He’s 100 percent wrong if he said that. … And frankly it’s sad. We have NATO, and we have many countries that aren’t paying for what they’re supposed to be paying, which is already too little, but they’re not paying anyway.”

Todd asked about defending a NATO member if Russia invades, and Trump just said “I feel differently. I feel very differently.” Trump broadened his comments to other allies like Japan and South Korea, saying “we lose on everything.”

Trump concluded that if the countries pay, he’s “a big believer in NATO” — but “We have to be reimbursed. We can no longer be the stupid country.”

Trump bragged that WWE CEO Vince McMahon liked his entrance at the Republican convention

Todd asked Trump about his flashy entrance on Monday night at the convention, saying “I don’t think I’ve seen that even on WWE [World Wrestling Entertainment].” Trump said that WWE chairman and CEO Vince McMahon praised the entrance.

“Yeah, I know. Well, Vincent’s a good friend of mine. He called me, he said, ‘That was a very, very good entrance.” But I didn’t want to do it a second time, because, you know, it never works out the second time.”

Trump floated withdrawing the United States from the World Trade Organization

Todd asked Trump about his methods of punishing companies that move to Mexico and sell their products back to the United States. Trump talked about a tax on those goods, and Todd said “Well, some of these things aren’t going to get through the World Trade Organization [WTO].”

Trump replied, “Even better. Then we’re going to renegotiate or we’re going to pull out.” He called the WTO “a disaster.”

Some economic experts have said that while Trump may have identified the right problems on trade, his solutions are problematic, risking a trade war. If the United States pulled out of the WTO, one effect would be to make it easier for countries to place tariffs on U.S. exports. Trump has said that the way he would get, for instance, Mexico to pay for building his border wall is through placing tariffs on their exports.


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Ryan Koronowski is the Editor of Climate Progress. He grew up on the north shore of Massachusetts and graduated from Vassar College with dual degrees in Psychology and Political Science, focusing on foreign policy and social persuasion. Previously, he was the Research Director and Rapid Response Manager at the Climate Reality Project. He has worked on senate and presidential campaigns, predominantly doing political research and rapid response. Ryan is pursuing his M.S. in Energy Policy and Climate at Johns Hopkins.