As was often the case, President Trump falsely stated in "60 Minutes" Sunday night that North Korea and the United States would go to war before intervening.
Interviewer Lesley Stahl had none of it. "We went to war?"
Trump immediately retired to a safer ground, expressing an opinion rather than trying to assert a fact: "I think it would end in war," he said, "memorizing" the situation.
The 26-minute interview was typical of Trump ̵
The stage of "60 Minutes" was one of the more difficult public settings Trump has allowed himself to be put in. It was the rare national crowd outside Fox News friendly borders and in a one on one television interview with an experienced reporter who repeatedly challenged him.
The result was that Trump resorted to all his favorite steps to circumvent the truth.
On Stahl's first question, if Trump still thinks that climate change is a hoax, the president dodged, "something happens," explained that climate change is not a joke and that "I do not deny climate change."
Trump also falsely said that the climate will change again, though the national climate test allowed this from his White House last year, saying that there was no going back. He said he did not know if climate change was man-made, even though the same report says "no convincing alternative."
Trump did his usual shrug as he asked if North Korea was building more nuclear missiles. "Well, no one really knows, I mean, people say that." Among the people who say that are US intelligence agencies who have come to the conclusion that North Korea does not intend to give up its nuclear warehouses completely and work on them instead Even though he adapts his rhetoric, sometimes contradicting what he has just said, Trump almost always seems to believe in what he says. As he fussed over steel on some details about North Korea, he refused to allow any mistakes in the picture.
He pointed out a question from Steel on an exclamation he gave to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at one of his recent rallies – "we've fallen in love" – as "just a phrase." But he insisted that Kim had agreed to denuclearization, a goal that US presidents had long sought.
Kim signed a noncommittal target only – and the goal of "working towards complete denuclearization" was listed as the third. The communiqué signed by the two men was much less detailed than a declaration issued by North and South Korea more than a quarter of a century ago.
On Trade, the President continues to suggest that deficits mean the United States is losing money "I told President Xi that we can not continue to get China out of the US $ 500 billion a year."
That's wrong. The trade deficit only means that Americans buy more Chinese products than Chinese people buy from the US, and not that the Chinese somehow steal US money. Trade deficits are also influenced by macroeconomic factors such as the relative strength of currencies, economic growth rates and saving and investment rates.
Trump continues to misrepresent the trade deficit with China. It's not $ 500 billion, he said; According to the US government, it was $ 335 billion in 2017. The United States has imported $ 505 billion worth of goods to China, perhaps giving Trump its number. Curiously, he denied Stahl that he ever said that he was conducting a trade war with China, even though he had said and tweeted it many times, including on Fox News last week. He insisted he had only called it a "battle" – a term he used sometimes – but now suddenly downgraded to a mere "skirmish."
He also falsely said that "the European Union was made use of us in commerce." That's at best a misunderstanding of history. The EU. started shortly after World War II as the European Coal and Steel Community – an early effort to unite embattled enemies like Germany and France in a common economic space to promote peace.
Trump reappeared – "We should not bear almost the entire cost of NATO for the protection of Europe." In fact, the United States pays 22 percent of NATO's common fund. Trump continues to count US defense spending spent on NATO funding for patrolling the Pacific Ocean and other parts of the world.
When Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, a former general who served in the military for 44 years, was told, He says he believes NATO has maintained peace for 70 years, and Trump sniffed, "I think I know more about it than he does. "
Trump acknowledged that Russia had invaded the 2016 elections, adding, "I think China interfered too." When Steel said he had "diverted the whole Russia thing," Trump insisted he was not. "I do not do anything," he replied. "I say Russia, but I also say China."
There is no evidence that China has made the same disinformation efforts as Russia, which intelligence agencies have said is planning to turn the election to Trump.
Finally, Trump continued his habit of mischaracterizing what his predecessor did. He claimed that Barack Obama "gave away" the Crimean region of Ukraine when Russia actually seized it and then Obama made an effort to impose sanctions in response.
He also falsely claimed that "Obama was the same" as Trump's controversial family separation policy at the border. That's wrong. There is a collection of policies and judicial decisions that include Democratic and Republican administrations, but no one needed the Trump administration to separate children from their families, as Stahl rightly noted.
"I wanted the laws to change," Trump said. But his preferred approach failed in the Senate and received only 36 of 51 possible republican votes. He has made little effort to negotiate a compromise.
In one of the more sensitive back-and-forth, Trump tried to close Steel with a line that was undeniably true: "I am President," he said, "and you are not.
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