In the interview, released early Thursday, Trump insisted that several of his unsubstantiated claims were correct, continued to re-litigate November’s election, and argued that everything is fine “because I’m president and you’re not.”
Despite no evidence, he wouldn’t withdraw his claim that former President Barack Obama ordered wiretapping on his campaign.
Trump said he didn’t really mean wiretapping because he tweeted it with quotation marks, and he was actually referring to the concept of surveillance more broadly, two lines of defense that administration officials have also employed.
“When I said wiretapping, it was in quotes,” he said. “Because a wiretapping is, you know, today it is different than wire tapping. It is just a good description. But wiretapping was in quotes. What I’m talking about is surveillance.”
He still thinks he will be “proved right” on his unfounded claim that 3-5 million people voted illegally.
“Well, now if you take a look at the votes, when I say that, I mean mostly they register wrong,” he said of his assertion. “In other words, for the votes, they register incorrectly, and/or illegally. And they then vote. You have tremendous numbers of people. In fact I’m forming a committee on it.”
There has been no evidence of the widespread voter fraud that Trump alleges. And while Trump has pledged to conduct “a major investigation” into the issue, The Huffington Post’s Sam Levine found that no state election officials have been contacted about the investigation.
But Trump said on Wednesday that he is still focused on this “very serious problem,” claiming — again, without evidence — that the number of illegal votes may be even higher.
“We’ll see after the committee. I have people say it was more than that,” he said. “We will see after we have. But there will be, we are forming a committee. And we are going to do a study on it, a very serious problem.”
He again questioned U.S. government statistics.
“I inherited a mess with jobs, despite the statistics,” he said. “You know, my statistics are even better, but they are not the real statistics, because you have millions of people that can’t get a job, OK.”
During his campaign, Trump repeatedly claimed that the U.S. government’s unemployment statistics were “phony” and that the real statistics were much higher.
“Don’t believe those phony numbers when you hear 4.9 and 5 percent unemployment,” Trump said last February. “The number’s probably 28, 29, as high as 35. In fact, I even heard recently 42 percent.”
As HuffPost’s Arthur Delaney has noted:
Trump could have pointed to other aspects of the government’s data that suggested the labor market hasn’t fully recovered from the Great Recession, but instead of going for a subtle argument, he preferred to attack the headline number as dishonest.
If the number were a hoax, it would necessitate a conspiracy involving hundreds of civil servants. No such conspiracy has ever been uncovered.
Trump insists he’s right and that voters should trust him because he is ‘an instinctual person’ who ‘knows how life works.’
When Time asked whether he is concerned about his credibility when he makes unfounded claims, he insisted that they were correct claims.
“Name what’s wrong! I mean, honestly,” he said.
He also boasted about being able to predict, among other things, his victory in the election, the British vote to exit the European Union and various terrorist attacks, including one in Sweden that never actually happened.
“I’m a very instinctual person, but my instinct turns out to be right. When everyone said I wasn’t going to win the election, I said, ‘Well, I think I would,” he told Time. This was one of several instances during the interview when he brought up the election, unprompted. (He also incorrectly stated how many electoral votes he won. He won 304.)
“You take a look and guess what, I won, and I won easily,” he said later. “I predicted Brexit. Remember they said there was no way to get to 270? Well, I ended up at 306. I had election night, 306. But there was no way to get to, in fact I went to Maine four times, four times I went to Maine, because I had to get one vote, because there was no way to get to 270, but I ended up getting to 306. Brexit, I predicted Brexit, you remember that, the day before the event. I said, ‘No, Brexit is going to happen,’ and everybody laughed, and Brexit happened. Many, many things. They turn out to be right.”
And he insists everything is fine because he became president.
“I can’t be doing so badly, because I’m president, and you’re not.”
Read the full interview here.