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Donald Trump makes doubtful claims about Middle East, Nikki Haley and Mitch McConnell

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Washington, Feb 5 (IANS) Former US President Donald Trump apparently slipped again making doubtful claims, described as false by the media, about the Middle East, rival Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley, Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and other subjects.

Trump’s alleged false claims came in an interview that aired on Sunday morning on Fox News, notably including his claim that he warned the US not to invade Iraq in March 2003, media reports said.

Invasion of Iraq: Trump claimed that he had publicly spoken against the idea of invading Iraq, a claim he has been making since his 2016 presidential campaign.

Trump told FOX: “Going into Iraq was a stupid thing. Remember I used to say, ‘Don’t do it, but if you do it, keep the oil.’”

Fact check: Trump’s claim is false and was debunked eight years ago. In reality, Trump did not publicly express opposition to the invasion of Iraq before it occurred. In his 2000 book, “The America We Deserve,” Trump argued a military strike on Iraq might be necessary; when radio host Howard Stern asked Trump in September 2002 whether he is “for invading Iraq,” Trump responded, “Yeah, I guess so. I wish the first time it was done correctly”, CNN said in a report apparently dug out from the past statements of the ex-President.

Trump did not express a firm opinion about the looming war in a Fox interview in January 2003, saying that “either you attack or don’t attack” and that then-President George W. Bush “has either got to do something or not do something, perhaps.”

Trump criticised the war in 2003, but after the invasion, he claimed that American troops should not be withdrawn from Iraq. He emerged as an explicit opponent of the war in 2004. A CNN search in 2019 turned up no examples of Trump saying anything before the war about keeping Iraq’s oil. Trump’s White House did not respond at the time to the news agency request to provide proof.

Iran’s missiles: Trump reiterated an earlier claim that Iran intentionally avoided hitting bases that housed US troops in Iraq when it launched missiles toward the base in January 2020 in retaliation for the Trump-ordered assassination of top Iranian General Qasem Soleimani.

Trump told Fox News, Iran “called me.” He said, “We knew they weren’t going to hit inside the fort” even though outside observers were left wondering, “How come they all missed?”

Fact check: Trump’s claims that all of Iran’s missiles missed the base are false, media reports said. As The Washington Post noted in its own fact check late last year, 11 Iranian missiles hit the al-Asad base Iran targeted in the retaliatory attack.

The fact that missiles hit the base was confirmed by satellite images, by the Pentagon. A CNN team of reporters that visited the base days after the attack had then said that: “Ten of the 11 missiles struck US positions at the sprawling desert Iraqi air base. One struck a remote location on the Iraqi military’s side. The Iranian missiles, which used on-board guidance systems, managed to shred sensitive US military sites, damaging a Special Forces’ compound, and two hangars, in addition to the US drone operators’ housing unit.”

While no US troops were killed, more than 100 were diagnosed with mild traumatic brain injuries. General Mark Milley, who was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the time, told reporters he believed Iran’s intent was to kill; he credited “the defensive techniques that our forces used” for the absence of deaths.

Trump, reports claimed, did not substantiate his claim that Iran called him to telegraph the strike and offer reassurance. As The Post reported, Iraq’s Prime Minister said he received a general warning from Iran that it was about to begin its response and target US troops.

New Hampshire primary: Trump said the New Hampshire primary he won in January was the one place that Haley had a chance to win – claiming that this was “because Democrats are stupidly allowed to vote in the Republican primary, and Independents also.”

Trump’s statement was found to be incorrect: Registered Democrats aren’t allowed to vote in New Hampshire’s Republican primary. Only registered Republicans and Independents are allowed to vote. Democrats who have flipped sides and become Independents are allowed to vote.

Some Independents who lean toward Democrats almost certainly participated in the Republican primary, plus some Democrats who switched their affiliation to Independent before the early October deadline. But Trump claimed, with no caveats that Democrats are simply allowed to vote in New Hampshire. That’s not true, reports said. (A general practice is that some states allow people to switch affiliations by a certain date to participate in another party’s primary.)

Mitch McConnell and the Green New Deal: In a clip from the interview that Fox aired on Friday, Trump claimed McConnell has supported trillions in spending on “projects that are Green New Deal.” The Green New Deal is a broad congressional resolution, supported by some Democratic legislators, that calls for major investments in a wide variety of environmental, social and economic initiatives, reports said.

“Mitch McConnell. I mean, he’s agreed billions of dollars and trillions of dollars for projects that are Green New Deal – you know, I call it the Green New Scam – trillions of dollars for the Green New Scam,” Trump said.

Trump’s claim that McConnell has supported “trillions” in spending on Green New Deal projects is false even under a generous-to-Trump definition of what counts as a Green New Deal project, CNN verified. Trump did not mention that McConnell was a vocal opponent of the Green New Deal congressional resolution as a whole – and that Congress has never actually passed the resolution.

–IANS

ashok/rad

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