Key Moments in Trump’s Interview on ‘Fox and Friends,’ With Fact Checks
Posted June 15, 2018 2:52 p.m. EDT
President Donald Trump appeared Friday outside the White House for a wide-ranging interview on “Fox and Friends.”
The interview, which started at 8:30 a.m., morphed into an impromptu question-and-answer session with other reporters.
The following are highlights and fact checks of some of his statements. This article will be updated as we continue to review the president’s remarks.
— On North Korea
‘You would have had 30, 40, 50 million people killed’
“When I came in, people thought we were probably going to war with North Korea. If we did — quiet, quiet, quiet. If we did, millions of people would have been killed. I don’t mean like — people are saying 100,000. Seoul has 28 million people 30 miles off the border. You would have had 30, 40, 50 million people killed. Who knows what would have happened. I came in, that was what I inherited. I should have never inherited it. That should have been solved long before I got there.”
‘I want my people to do the same’
“Hey, he [Kim Jong Un] is the head of a country, and I mean he is the strong head. Don’t let anyone think anything different. He speaks, and his people sit up at attention. I want my people to do the same.”
‘It’s great to give him credibility’
“I get hit because I went there, I gave him credibility. I think it’s great to give him credibility. Here is what we got, everything. Point after point after point.”
‘I call them war games. I hated them from the day I came in.’
TRUMP: “They’re doing so much for us. And now we’re well on our way to get denuclearization. And the agreement says there will be total denuclearization. Nobody wants to report that. So the only thing I did was I met. I got along with him great. We have a great chemistry together. That’s a good thing, not a bad thing.”
REPORTER: “How can Kim love his people if he’s killing them?”
TRUMP: “I can’t speak to that. I can only speak to the fact that we signed an incredible agreement. It’s great. It’s going to be great for them too because now North Korea can develop and North Korea can become a great country economically. It can become whatever they want. But there won’t be nuclear weapons, and they won’t be aimed at you and your family.”
REPORTER: “Why did you offer to halt the military exercises with South Korea?”
TRUMP: “That was my offer. Just so you understand — do you want to hear it? OK. I call them war games. I hated them from the day I came in. I said, why aren’t we being reimbursed?”
REPORTER: “That’s North Korea’s term, war games.”
TRUMP: “That’s my term.”
REPORTER: “They use it, too.”
TRUMP: “They might use it. We pay for it. We pay millions and millions of dollars for planes and all of this. It’s my term. I said I’d like to halt it because it’s bad to be negotiating and doing it. It costs us a lot of money.”
Fact Check: This requires context. It is unclear how much the joint military exercises with South Korea cost, but Seoul does shoulder some of the financial burden of the presence of U.S. troops.
Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, the top U.S. commander in South Korea, told Congress in February that South Korea paid $830 million in support of U.S. troop activities in 2017 and would increase that contribution by 1 percent this year.
The New York Times was also able to find one instance of Trump using the term “war games” to describe military drills before he met with Kim on Tuesday. But Trump has not been consistent in his criticism of the drills. When he visited South Korea in November 2017, he praised naval drills in the Pacific as a showing of “great strength.”
— On James Comey, the FBI and the inspector general’s report
‘The IG report totally exonerates’
“It is a very unfair situation, but the IG report totally exonerates. I mean, if you look at the results, if you look at the head investigator, is saying we have to stop Trump from becoming president. Well, Trump became president.”
Fact Check: False. The internal report released by the Justice Department’s inspector general Thursday did not “exonerate" Trump. In fact, the 500-page report did not examine or make conclusions about the special counsel’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. Texts released by the inspector general reveal that a top FBI agent overseeing the investigation into the Trump campaign had said “we’ll stop” Trump from becoming president. But the report concluded that there was no evidence that the political views of the agent factored into the inquiry.
‘What he did was criminal’
REPORTER: “From what you’ve seen so far, should James Comey be locked up?”
TRUMP: “I would never want to get involved in that. Certainly he, they just seemed like criminal acts to me. What he did was criminal. What he did was a terrible thing to the people. What he did was so bad in terms of our Constitution, in terms of the well-being of our country. What he did was horrible. Should he be locked up? Let somebody make a determination.”
‘A den of thieves’
“They all work for Comey. And Comey knew everything that was going on. You think McCabe didn’t tell him everything? McCabe told him everything. McCabe is up for criminal right now. He is now suing; it is a total mess. They’re all going against each other. No, I think Comey was the ringleader of this whole den of thieves, it was a den of thieves.”
— On the Russia probe
‘Manafort has nothing to do with our campaign’
“Manafort has nothing to do with our campaign. I feel a little badly about it. They went back 12 years to get things that he did 12 years ago. Paul Manafort worked for me for a very short period of time. He worked for Ronald Reagan, he worked for Bob Dole, he worked for John McCain or his firm did, he worked for many other Republicans. He worked for me, what, for 49 days or something?”
Fact Check: False. Paul Manafort was very much a part of the Trump campaign. He joined the campaign March 28, 2016, was promoted to campaign chairman in May 2016 and resigned August 19, 2016. That’s a total of 144 days, not 49 days.
Also contrary to the president’s claims, the charges brought against Manafort by the special counsel also span the time he worked for the Trump campaign. The indictment against Manafort and his protégé, Rick Gates, accuses them of serving as unregistered agents of Ukraine from at least 2006 to 2016 and laundered payments through U.S. and foreign entities “from approximately 2006 through at least 2016.” They also made false and misleading statements to the Justice Department between Nov. 23, 2016, and Feb. 10, 2017.
Manafort on Friday was sent to jail to await trial after prosecutors accused him of witness tampering.
— On families’ being forced apart at the border and supporting — or not — an immigration plan
‘I hate the children being taken away’
REPORTER: “Mr. President, do you agree with children being taken away —”
TRUMP: “No, I hate it. I hate the children being taken away. The Democrats have to change their law. That’s their law. Quiet, quiet. That’s the Democrats’ law. We can change it tonight. We can change it right now. I will leave here — no, no. You need their votes. You need their votes. The Democrats, all they have to do —”
REPORTER: “You control both chambers of Congress, the Republicans do.”
TRUMP: “Excuse me, by one vote? We don’t need it. You need 60 votes.”
REPORTER: “You control the House.”
TRUMP: “Excuse me, we have a one-vote edge. We need 60. So we need 10 votes. We can’t get them from the Democrats. Wait, wait, we can’t do it through an executive order.”
He added, “The children, the children can be taken care of quickly, beautifully and immediately. The Democrats forced that law upon our nation. I hate it.”
Fact Check: False. No party has enacted any law that forces immigration officials to separate immigrant children from parents who illegally cross the border. The practice is the result of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy favoring the prosecution of anyone who crosses the border illegally. White House officials and Republican lawmakers have previously cited a 1997 settlement of a class-action lawsuit, in which the government agreed to detain children under humane conditions and release them promptly. But that settlement does not mandate the detainment of parents.
‘I wouldn’t sign the moderate bill’
REPORTER: “Sounds like they’re going to take a vote on a couple different bills on immigration, probably next week. One of them, the Goodlatte bill, the other is something more moderate. Would you sign either one of those?”
TRUMP: “I’m looking at both of them. I certainly wouldn’t sign the more moderate one. I need a bill that gives this country tremendous border security. I have to have that. We have to get rid of catch-and-release. We have to have the wall. If we don’t have the wall, there is no bill.”
— On Barack Obama
‘How come he never gets blamed’
“President Obama didn’t like him [Vladimir Putin], even though they gave advanced notice about the election to Obama, people forget about that. You know, Obama was told by the CIA or somebody, FBI, about Russia. He didn’t do anything about it. How come he never gets blamed?”
Fact Check: False. Trump is free to argue that Obama did not do enough in response to Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, as some Democrats have. But he is wrong that Obama did nothing at all.
Privately, Obama administration officials warned Russia against meddling and Obama confronted President Vladimir Putin directly at a Group of 20 summit meeting in China before the November 2016 vote. Publicly, intelligence agencies issued a joint statement in October 2016 that blamed Russia for hacked emails released on WikiLeaks and other websites.
After the election, Obama imposed sanctions on Russia and ejected from the United States 35 people who were suspected of being Russian intelligence operatives.
‘President Obama lost Crimea’
TRUMP: “President Obama lost Crimea.”
REPORTER: “So it’s his fault?”
TRUMP: “It’s his fault, yeah, yeah. It’s his fault. It’s his fault. The president, just so you — because Putin didn’t respect President Obama. President Obama lost Crimea because President Putin didn’t respect President Obama. Didn’t respect our country and didn’t respect Ukraine. President Obama, not Trump — when it’s my fault, I’ll tell you. But President Obama gave away that — President Obama by not going across the red line in the sand that he drew, I went across it with the 59 missile hits. But President Obama when he didn’t go across the red line, what he gave away, nobody even knows.”