US & Canada

Donald Trump on Iraq... yes, no, maybe

Donald Trump Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption "But I said it, and I said it loud and clear, 'You'll destabilize the Middle East.'" Mr Trump claimed in February

Donald Trump has maintained he was always against the US invasion of Iraq, but he is on record as saying otherwise.

The Republican presidential nominee has cited his insistence that he was an early opponent of the war as an example of his "judgement".

Fact-checkers rate his dovish claims as false, pointing to his remarks backing the invasion months beforehand.

So what actually has been the Manhattan property mogul's stance over the years?

"I was totally against the war in Iraq", Mr Trump said again in September at a "Commander-in-Chief Forum" in New York.

He first gave his opinion on the matter on 11 September 2002, when radio host Howard Stern asked him: "Are you for invading Iraq?"

Mr Trump replied: "Yeah, I guess so. I wish the first time it was done correctly."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption 4,504 Americans lost their lives fighting in Iraq

The Washington Post has reviewed Mr Trump's previous comments on Iraq.

It found he made frequent media appearances in the early months of 2003 to promote his debuting TV programme The Apprentice.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the Bush administration's plan to topple Saddam Hussein did not come up in those interviews.

But as the president prepared to make his State of the Union speech in January 2003, two months before the invasion, Mr Trump was asked by Fox News what he expected him to say on Iraq.

"Either you attack or don't attack", Mr Trump said about the president's options, without saying which one he should choose.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Mr Bush used his 2002 State of the Union speech to vow to fight terrorists around the globe

One day after the invasion was launched in 2003, Mr Trump praised it.

"It looks like a tremendous success from a military standpoint," he told Fox News.

In February 2016 at a CNN town hall, Mr Trump acknowledged he "may have" at one point supported the war.

He said: "By the time the war started, I was against it. And shortly thereafter, I was really against it."

Mr Trump has evidence to back up this claim.

Weeks after the war started, as the stock market slumped following a friendly fire incident, he was quoted as saying at an Oscars party that it was a "mess".

By 2004, as the conflict steeply deteriorated, Mr Trump's opposition to the war was well-documented.