Donald Trump met with the Washington Post editorial board on Monday to shed light on what candidate Trump is thinking and what President Trump’s agenda might look like. The Post released a full transcript of the Q&A along with audio of the meeting. Much of the back-and-forth was about Trump’s campaign, his hand size, and violence at his rallies, none of which is particularly new and all of which is vintage Trump at this point.
Despite a bloviated, circular style of answering questions, the Post did manage to get the candidate to tiptoe ever so slightly into actual issues facing the country and explore his thoughts on them. In many cases, Trump pretty clearly didn’t have any new thoughts or any particular insight. Here’s how the Post’s ed board summed up their meeting in an editorial published Monday evening:
… the visit provided no reassurance regarding Mr. Trump’s fitness for the presidency. “I’m not a radical person,” he told us as he was leaving. But his answers left little doubt how radical a risk the nation would be taking in entrusting the White House to him.
Here’s more of what Trump had to say about some of the key issues facing the U.S.. Head over to the Post to check out the full, unedited interview.
Does Trump Believe There Are Racial Disparities in Law Enforcement:
TRUMP: I’ve read where there are and I’ve read where there aren’t. I mean, I’ve read both. And, you know, I have no opinion on that…
How Would Trump Change Libel Laws:
TRUMP: What I would do, what I would do is I’d – well right now the libel laws, I mean I must tell you that the Hulk Hogan thing was a tremendous shock to me because – not only the amount and the fact that he had the victory — because for the most part I think libel laws almost don’t exist in this country, you know, based on, based on everything I’ve seen and watched and everything else, and I just think that if a paper writes something wrong — media, when I say paper I’m talking about media. I think that they can do a retraction if they’re wrong. They should at least try to get it right. And if they don’t do a retraction, they should, they should you know have a form of a trial. I don’t want to impede free press, by the way. The last thing I would want to do is that. 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.
On the Future of NATO:
JACKSON DIEHL, DEPUTY EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR: Back to foreign policy a little bit, can you talk a little bit about what you see as the future of NATO? Should it expand in any way?
TRUMP: Look, I see NATO as a good thing to have – I look at the Ukraine situation and I say, so Ukraine is a country that affects us far less than it affects other countries in NATO, and yet we are doing all of the lifting, they’re not doing anything. And I say, why is it that Germany is not dealing with NATO on Ukraine? Why is it that other countries that are in the vicinity of the Ukraine not dealing with — why are we always the one that’s leading, potentially the third world war, okay, with Russia? Why are we always the ones that are doing it? And I think the concept of NATO is good, but I do think the United States has to have some help. We are not helped. I’ll give you a better example than that. I mean, we pay billions– hundreds of billions of dollars to supporting other countries that are in theory wealthier than we are.
TRUMP: … I don’t want to pull it out. NATO was set up at a different time. NATO was set up when we were a richer country. We’re not a rich country. We’re borrowing, we’re borrowing all of this money. We’re borrowing money from China, which is a sort of an amazing situation. But things are a much different thing. NATO is costing us a fortune and yes, we’re protecting Europe but we’re spending a lot of money. Number 1, I think the distribution of costs has to be changed. I think NATO as a concept is good, but it is not as good as it was when it first evolved. And I think we bear the, you know, not only financially, we bear the biggest brunt of it. Obama has been stronger on the Ukraine than all the other countries put together, and those other countries right next door to the Ukraine. And I just say we have, I’m not even knocking it, I’m just saying I don’t think it’s fair, we’re not treated fair. I don’t think we’re treated fair, Charles, anywhere. If you look everything we have. You know, South Korea is very rich. Great industrial country. And yet we’re not reimbursed fairly for what we do. We’re constantly, you know, sending our ships, sending our planes, doing our war games, doing other. We’re reimbursed a fraction of what this is all costing.
On Sending Tens of Thousands of American Troops to Fight ISIS if Generals Requested Troops:
TRUMP: I find it hard to go along with—I mention that as an example because it’s so much. That’s why I brought that up. But a couple of people have said the same thing as you, where they said did I say that and I said that that’s a number that I heard would be needed. 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. I would get other countries to become very much involved.
On Dealing With China in the South China Sea and Being Unpredictable:
TRUMP: Well look, we have power over China and people don’t realize it. We have trade power over China. I don’t think we are going to start World War III over what they did, it affects other countries certainly a lot more than it affects us. But—and honestly, you know part of—I always say we have to be unpredictable. We’re totally predictable. And predictable is bad. Sitting at a meeting like this and explaining my views and if I do become president, I have these views that are down for the other side to look at, you know. I hate being so open. I hate when they say — like I said get rid of the oil, keep the oil, different things over the years, when people are saying what would you do with regard to the Middle East, when we left — We should have never been in Iraq. It was a horr- it was one of the worst decisions ever made in the history of our country. We then got out badly, then after we got out, I said, “Keep the oil. If we don’t keep it Iran’s going to get it.”
Trump on D.C. statehood:
TRUMP: I think it’s just something that I don’t think I’d be inclined to do. I’d like to study it…. I don’t see statehood for D.C.
POST: What about having a vote in the House of Representatives?
TRUMP: I think that’s something that would be okay. Having representation would be okay.
On Whether Trump Believes There Is Human-Caused Climate Change:
TRUMP: I think there’s a change in weather. I am not a great believer in man-made climate change. I’m not a great believer. There is certainly a change in weather that goes – if you look, they had global cooling in the 1920s and now they have global warming, although now they don’t know if they have global warming. They call it all sorts of different things; now they’re using “extreme weather” I guess more than any other phrase. I am not – I know it hurts me with this room, and I know it’s probably a killer with this room – but I am not a believer. Perhaps there’s a minor effect, but I’m not a big believer in man-made climate change.