Through that time, I noted the people who lined up against the war. Former Vice President Al Gore notably did so, in a speech at the Commonwealth Club in September, 2002. A young Illinois state senator named Barack Obama did the same, early in October. In the Senate, Democrats like John Kerry and Hillary Clinton were equally notable for voting in favor of the war. Twenty-one other Democrats, from Teddy Kennedy and Bob Byrd to Russell Feingold and Paul Wellstone, voted No. The full list is here. Bernie Sanders was not yet in the Senate (he voted No in the House), but his independent predecessor from Vermont, Jim Jeffords, voted No—as did exactly one Republican, Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, now a Democrat, and for a while a 2016 presidential candidate.
So the lines were drawn, the warnings issued, and the predictions or promises made in the fall of 2002. I have no recollection, and can find no record, of Donald Trump saying anything whatsoever in public about invading Iraq before the war began.
To say this again: I’m as likely to have noticed Trump’s public opposition to the war, had it existed, as anyone you’ll find. And I am not aware of his having said anything, nor has anyone provided any evidence that he did so. I believe he is completely making this up.
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As far as I can tell, Donald Trump’s “prescience” and “foresight” about the war is all based on a throwaway comment he made after the fighting had started and was running into trouble. You can read about it here. His comments, from a Vanity Fair party for the Oscars, as quoted in the Washington Post, were:
Donald Trump, with Amazonian beauty Melania Knauss at his side, pronounces on the war and the stock market: "If they keep fighting it the way they did today, they're going to have a real problem."
Looking as pensive as a "Nightline" talking head, the Donald concludes, "The war's a mess," before sweeping off into the crowd.
You can read more debunkings of Trump’s claim by: Erik Wemple in the Washington Post, Steve Eder in the New York Times, Michael Calderone in Huffington Post, Kevin Drum in Mother Jones, Lauren Carroll in Politifact, and Andrew Kaczynski in Buzzfeed. They amount to this conclusion:
Trump. Is. Lying. About. Having. Publicly. Opposed. The. Iraq. War.
Does this matter more than his other encounters with reality? I don’t know. Because of my stake in the issue, it bothers me more. On Brian Stelter’s Reliable Sources today I tried to make the point that Trump’s Iraq claims were fantasies— even while noting that Trump’s honey-badger bearing had so far immunized him to all fact-checks.
So I’ll leave it with this hope: that interviewers, moderators, GOP opponents, and others will push him the next time he starts talking about Iraq. Having been “right about Iraq” is an important claim in favor of Trump’s judgment. And he is making it up.