FACT CHECK

Trump Was Against Iraq War? Not Really

Trump acts as if he risked it all to oppose the Iraq War before the U.S. invaded. History says otherwise.

02.07.16 8:54 PM ET

By Lauren Carroll and Linda Qiu

A pair of presidential debates and a fresh round of Sunday shows gave PolitiFact plenty to examine ahead of Tuesday’s pivotal New Hampshire primary.

Let’s get right to it.

Donald Trump’s dubious claim about the Iraq War

The 2003 invasion of Iraq has been on the minds of Republicans and Democrats.

Republican businessman Donald Trump began Saturday night’s debate at St. Anselm College by refuting doubts that he has the temperament to be president.

“The War in Iraq — I was the one that said, ‘Don’t go, don’t do it, you’re going to destabilize the Middle East,’ " Trump said. "So I’m not one with a trigger."

Trump’s statement rates Mostly False.

We only found one example of Trump commenting on the Iraq War before the invasion, and he seemed apprehensive but not vehemently opposed to the operation. He only started publicly denouncing the war after it started.

Trump makes it sound like he stood on a railroad to try to stop the Iraq War train in its tracks. In reality, by the time he got around to forcefully criticizing the war, that train had already left the station.

Bernie Sanders vs. Madeleine Albright 

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders continues to distinguish himself with Hillary Clinton based on their opposing votes on the Iraq War. Sanders opposed the war while Clinton voted for it.

On Meet the Press Sunday, Sanders broadened his attacks to include Clinton surrogate Madeleine Albright. Albright has harshly criticized Sanders’ foreign policy experience.

"Tell me what Madeleine Albright’s position was on the War on Iraq. I wouldn’t be surprised if she supported it," Sanders countered to NBC’s Chuck Todd.

Actually, Albright consistently questioned the drumbeat for war leading up to the March 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Get The Beast In Your Inbox!
By clicking "Subscribe," you agree to have read the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy
Thank You!
You are now subscribed to the Daily Digest and Cheat Sheet. We will not share your email with anyone for any reason

Sanders’ statement rates Mostly False.

Here’s an example of Albright’s comments leading up to the war. This is from PBS Newshour on March 17, 2003, a few days before the war began.

“My sense now is we are doing it in the worst way. Not in fact that there is any reason to defend Saddam Hussein — I agree completely and have for a long time with the why of what President Bush has said,” Albright said. “But the timing of it, kind of an elective war, pre-emptive action, a serious attack on the United Nations, generally questions about where the institutional structure of the post World War II world is coming to, are all questions that I think need to be considered — and that are issues that show the inevitable, the avoidable consequences, inevitable consequences that will come from this. …  And let me say that as soon as we go to war, I think all of us that have had arguments against this will make very clear that we support our troops.”

We found a half-dozen statements like it. Albright did generally voice support for operations once they launched.

Cruz blames CNN for Carson rumors

The race is on for votes in New Hampshire. But some people are still looking back to the results in Iowa.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s campaign wrongly suggested in the moments before the Iowa caucuses that Ben Carson would suspend his campaign. People believe Carson supporters switched their votes as a result.

Cruz apologized. But he said Saturday that the real culprit was CNN.

"Let me tell you the facts that occurred for those who are interested in knowing," Cruz said. "On Monday night, about 6:30 p.m. CNN reported that Ben was not going from Iowa to New Hampshire or South Carolina. Rather he was ‘taking a break from campaigning.’ They reported that on television. CNN’s political anchors Jake Tapper and Dana Bash and Wolf Blitzer said it was ‘highly unusual’ and ‘highly significant.’ My political team saw CNN’s report, breaking news, and forwarded that news to our volunteers."

Cruz’s campaign did more than forward on what CNN reported. His claim rates False.

Cruz's campaign took a nugget of information from CNN and took it too far. CNN reported that Carson was "to take a break after Iowa," while simultaneously noting that Carson would ultimately continue campaigning.

The Cruz campaign sent messages on its mobile app saying that Carson would "stop" his campaign. A key surrogate said that Carson was doing "the equivalent of suspending." That’s more than simply "forwarding" news.

Hillary Clinton’s fuzzy TPP memories

At Thursday’s Democratic debate, NBC’s Todd questioned Clinton about her perceived flip-flop on the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal. 

"I said that I was holding out the hope that (TPP) would be the kind of trade agreement that I was looking for," Clinton said. "I waited until it had actually been negotiated because I did want to give the benefit of the doubt to the (Obama) administration. Once I saw what the outcome was, I opposed it."

Did Clinton really withhold her support until the terms of the proposal had been finalized?

That’s a bit of revisionist history. That claim rates Half True.

Clinton made plenty of strongly supportive comments about the deal while negotiations were still ongoing. Speaking in Australia in 2012, Clinton hailed the deal as "setting the gold standard."

"This TPP sets the gold standard in trade agreements to open free, transparent, fair trade, the kind of environment that has the rule of law and a level playing field," Clinton said. "And when negotiated, this agreement will cover 40 percent of the world's total trade and build in strong protections for workers and the environment."

Strong words for a deal that hadn't been completed yet. But it wasn’t just on that one occasion that Clinton was more than just hopeful about the deal’s impact. She also used words such as  "exciting," "innovative," "ambitious," "groundbreaking," "cutting-edge," "high-quality" and "high-standard" in describing the partnership before she left the State Department in 2013.

It becomes disingenuous to argue, as she's doing now, that she didn't endorse the deal before it was finalized.

Read the full fact-checks at PolitiFact.com.