The Spectator’s Washington editor interviewed Donald Trump this week. The full article will appear shortly, but here is an excerpt of their conversation:
On the FBI going after parents who protest against critical race theory
Amber Athey: I'd love to get your reaction to Attorney General Merrick Garland mobilising the FBI against parents who oppose CRT at local school board meetings.
Donald Trump: Well, I'm very surprised that he'd do it. The local boards have gone out of their way to really take over the school system and to do things that a lot of the parents disagree with — I would say almost all of the parents disagree with. It's shocking what they're doing. So I was surprised to see it. The school boards have really been changing. They first, they changed for the worse. Now they're changing for the better because parents are really up in arms about all of the things their children are being taught and they don't want that. They want to have a more traditional, more, let's say, more American form of education. And that's not what's happening. So I was a little bit surprised by it.
AA: Joe Biden promised before taking office that he would not politicise the DoJ and the FBI and actually accused you of politicising them. Now that the FBI is going after these parents, as well as the DoJ suing Georgia and Texas for voter rights laws and laws to protect the right to life, do you think that Biden has unfairly politicised the DoJ?
DJT: Well, that's what's happening. And if you look there's so many other reasons that they could go after — you look at antifa, you look at BLM, you look at so many things that are happening right now and and the crime rates are way up. You go to the cities, you go to Chicago, New York. Crime rates are way up. And instead, they're going after parents of students that want their children to get a good education. So yeah, I would say that it's not appropriate, and it's certainly not what he said during the campaign.
AA: Do you think that the 20 GOP senators who voted to confirm Merrick Garland made a mistake?
DT: No, I think that he's a good man. I think he is a person that, you know, believes liberally. Somebody else would have gone in and it might have been different. You could have had somebody that would have been radical left. I don't think he's radical left, but not everybody would agree with what he's doing, having to do with school boards. And I guess people would like to see no politics involved. That includes going after people that are political or politicians with local, state and federal prosecutors, which is happening too, at a far greater rate. The Republicans tend not to do that anywhere near the amount. But no, I don't think they would want a do-over.
On Kyrsten Sinema and the stalling infrastructure and reconciliation package
AA: Earlier this week, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema was filmed and harassed by a group of left-wing activists while she was using the restroom at Arizona State University because she opposes the President's reconciliation bill. Do you think that's an appropriate form of protest?
DT: No, these are radical people and they're hurting our country very badly. And I think that the people of Arizona like exactly where she is and they like her stance. They like the free enterprise system. They're doing very well. They're very entrepreneurial people. The Hispanics in Arizona, where I did so well, these are great people. They don't like to see that happen, and I think she's becoming more and more popular. I think that if she changed her views and went the other way, she'd become much less popular. So she's doing it, I don't think for popularity, I think she's doing it because she believes it. So we respect that a lot.
AA: When you look at the way the Democratic negotiations have broken down between the Progressive Caucus and the moderates, who do you think is most to blame for the party's failure to pass the infrastructure and reconciliation package?
DT: Well, I hated to see the 19 Republicans, including Mitch McConnell, on there, because I think that really gave them an edge. And now, maybe based on what I'm hearing over the last few minutes, maybe you're going to see a fold by Mitch McConnell, which would be a very bad thing because the Republicans really have the cards in terms of the debt ceiling. They really have the cards. They have to be able to play them, but they have a very strong hand if they are willing to use it, and they might as well use it because this will destroy our country if that stuff is approved. So they might as well use it.
But I'm hearing that they're willing to negotiate, all of a sudden. You wouldn't really have to. You have the debt ceiling, and as long as you have 50 votes, they need a quorum. And I don't think you can have it. I think the Vice President doesn't count in that case. You understand what that means. You don't include the Vice President if they don't have it and they won't have it. So I really think that the Republicans have the cards if they want to use them and they're going to have to use it because you can't fold on this. You'll destroy the country if this stuff is approved, the $3.5 [trillion] (£2.5 trillion) or even even a big percentage of it, which is what they're negotiating now. And I just don't think you can do that. In addition to $1.2 [trillion] (£900 billion) on infrastructure, but only nine per cent of it is for infrastructure. The rest is money being thrown out the window on the Green New Deal and other things.
AA: Do you think that Biden should have said that he would only sign one of these bills if the other one passed as well?
DT: Well, he's got to negotiate his own deals. And I just feel that the 19 senators that went along with the so-called infrastructure bill, which, as I said, is not infrastructure for the most part, I think that they really hurt the negotiating sense. And it's turning out exactly as I said it. Then all of a sudden they put them both together. They said they weren't going to do that. It was going to be separate, but all of a sudden they put them together. So that was obvious to me and it was obvious to a lot of other people, but they went along with it anyway. No, the Republicans have to get tougher on a lot of things, including the voting systems in this country, which are totally corrupt. We're like a third world country. The presidential election was a third-world country election, right?
On alleged election fraud
AA: Let me ask you about the Arizona audit, because when the results came out, you saw a lot of the mainstream media say that it was actually beneficial to Joe Biden. What was your read on the audit?
DT: Well, as you know, it was a great audit from the standpoint of us. It had findings at the end and there were a lot of them, I think, 12 or something like that. And you're talking about tens of thousands of votes and far more than we needed to win. And the findings were incredible and how they could have reported that report as a positive is just mind boggling.
The media in this country is totally corrupt. People don't believe in it anymore. They took a report which had findings. The findings were at the end and they were accurately reported. They were reported very plainly and [the media] didn't go with it. They just made up the scenario and the [Arizona] Senate that did the report, they can't even believe it. They can't believe the way that was reported.
And hopefully, the Attorney General will have the courage to do what has to be done. But that, as you probably know, based on this question, you probably looked at that report, and some of the findings at the end. But those findings were brutal to a fair election because it shows that the election was terribly fraught with fraud and other things.
AA: Well, I think that one of the bigger questions from the election that isn't talked about as much in the media is how the voting laws were changed so shortly before Election Day, particularly in Pennsylvania.
DT: You're right, and without the approval of legislatures. They changed the laws without, in many cases, the approval of legislatures. And they did major changes and they use Covid and these fake mail-in ballots, which are always going to be fake. Jimmy Carter and some others in doing a report, years ago, they said the one thing that could really kill our election system is the mail-in ballots. So that's what they used. It's a disgrace. I mean, it's a total disgrace. They rig the election with the mail-in ballots and other things, by the way. Not just — they went all the way. But you just said it. They didn't get approval from legislatures on the things they did. That alone made the election wrong. It was just a really, really third world election. They didn't follow the laws.
On vaccine mandates and Dr Anthony Fauci
AA: I'd like to ask you about vaccine mandates, because there's been opposition to them from a rather unlikely source. Some of the players in the NBA, particularly LeBron James, have come out publicly and said that they don't support a vaccine mandate. Does that surprise you?
DT: Nothing surprises me with him, I don't think he knows too much, but frankly, I understood he took the vaccine. He announced he took it. So in the meantime, he took it, but then he's going against what he did, and that's fine, I don't care.
Look, I'm a believer of the vaccine. I'm the one that came up with it in nine months or less. And I think millions and millions of people, I think lives have been saved all over the world. I'm very proud of the vaccine and they could have never done it. I did it in less than nine months.
We're supposed to be five years and at the end of five years, most people thought you wouldn't have it. And it does work. It's very effective — came up with three of them and came up with other things, like Regeneron therapeutics. So very proud of it. But I also am very proud of the fact that our country is a country that's based on freedoms. You can't force people to do things. You can explain it. Very interestingly, when I was president, there was no talk of mandates. You didn't need mandates. Everybody wanted to get the vaccine. And since then, I don't know. It's a lack of trust of Biden.
You know, they were all speaking badly of it when I was there. And then as soon as I got out, they went wild on the mandates. So it's sort of interesting. I remember they said that if Trump did it, we're not going to believe in it. Your Vice President, she said that. And then all of a sudden they changed. The other thing they did really bad was when they did a pause on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. That was a real setback because most people don't know about Johnson & Johnson. They just know there was a pause on the vaccine and it was over. It was about six people. I think all of whom got better or most of whom got better quickly. So it was a terrible thing to pause it. But no, I believe in the vaccines, but I believe in freedom. You have to have freedom.
AA: I think a lot of people were under the impression that if they got the vaccine, they would be able to return to normal. But now we have Dr Fauci saying during a TV interview this week that he's not even sure people are going to be safe together come Christmas time. So when you look back at the various changing statements that Dr Fauci said while you were in office, do you regret not firing him?
DT: Well, he's been there for 40 years or something. He's like a fixture. And I basically did, for the most part, the opposite of what he was saying.
You know, he was totally against masks and then he became a radical masker. I mean, he was actually very strongly against masks. He was very, very much against closing the country to China and to Europe, and I did very early to both, and he will admit we saved thousands and thousands of lives. And he didn't think we'd have a vaccine very quickly, and I felt we had a chance to do it and I, you know, did something that got us the vaccine — got the world the vaccine.
You know, this could have been a 1917 disaster. In 1917, you had the Spanish flu, and that was, they say, as much as 100 million people died. I think we would have had something very similar if we didn't have the vaccines. But again, I took it. I'm very proud of it, but I'm also proud of the fact that I believe people have to be able to make a choice and to have their freedom.
On the crisis at the US-Mexico border
AA: Joe Biden undid a lot of the border security policies that you implemented during your administration, and now there are over 200,000 illegal immigrants crossing the border each month. Most recently, there were 15,000 Haitian migrants camped under a bridge in Del Rio. The Biden administration said that the border patrol agents treated Haitian migrants horrifically by using agents on horseback, and Rep. Maxine Waters said the treatment of Haitians at the southern border is 'worse than what we witnessed during slavery’. Your response to that?
DT: I think it's so ridiculous and they're hurting these people that are tremendously talented law enforcement people, and they weren't whips. It was the reins of the horse. It wasn't whips. And frankly, the people came in here illegally. They shouldn't have been allowed to come in and our country is being overrun with people that shouldn't be in our country and our country cannot handle it economically. They can't handle it physically. Hospitals can't have it. People are coming to our country, they think they have an open invitation to come in and destroy our country. And that's what they're doing. They're destroying our country. Our country is not equipped. No country is equipped to go through what we're going through. Hundreds of thousands of people are pouring through. And now if you add them up, it's millions of people, but hundreds of thousands are pouring through as we speak, and it's not even believable. It's almost as though they hate our country. They want to destroy it. But what happened on the southern border and what happened in Afghanistan with that ridiculous withdrawal where we had soldiers, incredible soldiers, killed and we had $85 billion (£60 billion) worth of military equipment — we could have taken that stuff out in one week, all of it.
I mean, we didn't even fly airplanes out. You could have brought pilots out, fly out the airplanes. It was no rush because I had them totally at bay. They wouldn't have done a thing, the Taliban. They didn't kill the soldiers in 18 months because of what I told them. And to have this happening to our country, our country is a laughing stock all over the world right now. It's a terrible thing that's happening to our country.
On Afghanistan and Biden’s foreign policy
AA: The Biden administration also did not prioritise removing Americans from Afghanistan after the Taliban took over. Instead, there are tens of thousands of Afghan 'refugees' who are now being resettled in the United States, some of whom have already been charged with rape and domestic violence because they were not vetted before they came to the country. Do you think Biden made a mistake by not prioritising the removal of Americans?
DJT: It's a terrible thing. It's a terrible mistake. Maybe it's not a mistake for him. I don't know that he knows what's happening. It's destroying our country. And when you think of the people that rush those planes, those were people with great energy, largely males. These are people with great energy. And these are people that you know, they got on the plane illegally. These are not people that we're supposed to be taking. And as bad as that, or worse, is countries from all over the world, they're emptying out their prisons into the United States. Not just Honduras, El Salvador, Mexico to an extent, but you take a look at what's going on. They're emptying out their prisons, and now as many as 50 countries are emptying out their prisons into the United States. It's a disgrace.
AA: Biden repeatedly said during the campaign and after the election that America was going to be 'back' on the world stage and its allies could trust [the US] again. Since then, we've had the disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal, there are reports that Joe Biden ignored calls from Prime Minister Boris Johnson during that withdrawal, and France pulled its ambassador from the United States after the nuclear submarine deal was negotiated between the UK and Australia. What is it specifically about the Biden administration's foreign policy that you think has made it such a disaster?
DT: Well, there is no foreign policy, and when you look at the way the allies who were in Afghanistan with us and they weren't even notified, they didn't even know — by the way, they went in and got out their people and we didn't. And we have at least hundreds of Americans still there and you wouldn't want to be there, not based on what we're all seeing now and, you know, the horrible things that are happening. So you certainly wouldn't want to be there.
But Biden, if you look at what's happened, I don't think they have a foreign policy. I think the greatest embarrassment in the history of our country, I think we've got two of them, actually. But Afghanistan, the withdrawal, which should have been perfect. You'll take the military out last, obviously, and you get the Americans out and then anybody else who wants it — who's deserving, by the way. Most of these people aren't deserving. They say only three per cent of the people that rushed the planes are deserving and we're putting them all over the United States. We don't even know who they are. They could be terrorists and they will be, some of them.
But if you look at that and then if you look at the border where Russia and China, all these countries, are looking at what's happening where these hundreds of thousands of people are rushing our border that shouldn't be in our country — I don't think we've ever had anything so embarrassing. We've never been more embarrassed as a nation and China no longer respects us. They respected us a lot one year ago, I can tell you. China no longer respects us as a country. Russia no longer respects us as a country. It's pretty incredible.
AA: John Kerry admitted in an interview with a French journalist that Biden had 'literally' no idea that the US was involved in this nuclear submarine deal between the UK and Australia. Is that unusual? Is that something that you would have been made aware of when you were president?
DT: Well, anything nuclear, you have to be. But I was, I guess, surprised — I mean, maybe I shouldn't be surprised — but certainly a thing like that he should have known about. I didn't know when John Kerry made that statement, was he doing that mockingly or was he doing that, you know, from a very serious standpoint because frankly, that's a big statement to make the way he made it, that Biden had no idea. I was surprised that he had no idea.
AA: It almost seemed like he was trying to apologise to the French or cover for Joe Biden.
DT: Right? In other words, using that as an excuse. But I thought it sounded very bad, right?