Donald Trump said he was against the Iraq War when he was asked about it in 2002 and called reports quoting him being in favor of the war unfair hits by the mainstream media.
Trump, who said "yeah, I guess so" when asked by Howard Stern if he was in favor of the war in 2002, said the mainstream media was in the pocket of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by framing the comments as opposition to the war.
"The record shows that I'm right," he said. "When I did an interview with Howard Stern, very lightly, first time anyone's asked me that, I said, very lightly, 'I don't know, maybe, who knows?' essentially."
He called a report from Buzzfeed, which posted audio of the interview, "mainstream media nonsense, put out by her" while pointing to Clinton.
Trump also said he had conversations with Fox News host Sean Hannity in which he argued against the U.S. going to war. Hannity tweeted his support during the debate.
Yes I heard. Omg we did have huge friendly arguments. Many!!— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) September 27, 2016
Throughout the campaign, fact checkers have had field day debunking Trump's oft repeated claim that he-opposed war in Iraq before the March 2003 invasion, but Trump has never backed down.
There is a consensus among fact-check sites and mainstream media outlets that Trump is at best being disingenuous or at worse lying about his pre-war stance.
But what was in Donald Trump's mind during the run up to the Iraq invasion is not so clear. No one has found any detailed public statements opposing the war before it began, so the evidence that he supported it hangs almost entirely on his four-word answer to Stern.
As a New York real estate magnate and private citizen, Trump had no access to classified briefing or intelligence assessments, and only he knows what his gut was telling him. In any event if he had serious doubts about the intervention, it does not appear he was vocal about them until months after the war began.
Trump keeps pointing to an interview he gave Esquire 2004 in which he was highly critical of how it the Iraq War was being handled, but the magazine points out that was more than a year after the invasion, at a time when the war wasn't going so well.
By contrast, Hillary Clinton's decision came after long analysis and soul searching. In 2002 she was a senator from New York, and she now calls her vote in favor of authorizing the invasion a mistake, specifically her mistake.
This month, at the NBC commander in chief forum Clinton argued that she believes the experience puts her in the best position to understand what went wrong and to prevent it from happening again.