Exclusive — Donald Trump Fires at Karl Rove: ‘A Dishonorable Guy,’ Who ‘Shouldn’t Be Allowed to Write for’ WSJ

NEW YORK CITY, New York — Billionaire and 2016 GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump told Breitbart News that GOP establishment consultant Karl Rove is so “dishonorable” that the Wall Street Journal should stop him from writing future columns for the publication.

“This guy is such a dishonorable guy,” Trump said in his latest exclusive phone interview last week with Breitbart News. “He shouldn’t be allowed to write for the Wall Street Journal.”

Rove, earlier that day, had published a piece in the Wall Street Journal, titled: “Vanity Will Be The Donald’s Undoing.”

Throughout it, Rove quotes from various interviews that Trump has given in recent weeks to argue that Trump has previously “often displayed his ignorance about myriad policies” and in two interviews with the Washington Post and one with the New York Times, “added to the impression of not having thought through his presidential bid.”

Trump told Breitbart News he believes that Rove misquoted him.

“Karl Rove writes articles and he quotes me with things I never said,” Trump said on Thursday during the phone interview with Breitbart News in New York City. “He actually makes up quotes and it is so disgraceful that he’s allowed to do it and he writes in the Wall Street Journal, which is a newspaper that totally misrepresents so much. Karl Rove — I’m just reading this — and he’s quoting me on things I’ve never said. He’s literally making up quotes.”

Specifically, Trump pointed to what he considered Rove’s mischaracterization of his comments to the New York Times on Iran.

“He says things that are just so wrong,” Trump said. “You know the interview in the Times, where Iran is not spending money here? In other words, they’re not allowed to spend money here — then I said we should change it. Because frankly, when we gave Iran $150 billion they aren’t spending that money here. Do you understand what I’m saying?”

Trump might have a point on this.

Here’s how Rove quotes one Iran part of the Times interview:

When Mr. Sanger suggested foreign affairs was “not an area you focused on in your business career,” Mr. Trump responded that he “had an aptitude for it,” and “would read about it.”

Asked what he had read, Mr. Trump said “various newspapers.” Pressed about his failure to attract experienced advisers, he responded, “Many of them are tied up with contracts working for various networks.” Strange how other campaigns don’t have the same problem.

Here’s the actual transcript of that part, published by the New York Times:

SANGER: One place that might be a good place to start is where we ended up on the foreign policy advisers. Because we’re trying to figure out how much time you’re cutting out now for foreign policy as you said — it’s not an area you focused on in your business career as much.

TRUMP: Well I enjoyed it, I enjoyed reading about it. But it wasn’t something that came into play as a business person. But I had an aptitude for it I think, and I enjoyed reading about and I would read about it.

SANGER: One question we had for you is, first of all, since you enjoyed reading about it, is there any particular book or set of articles that you found influential in developing your own foreign policy views?

TRUMP: More than anything else would be various newspapers including your own, you really get a vast array and, you know a big menu of different people and different ideas. You know you get a very big array of things from reading the media, from seeing the media, the papers, including yours. And it’s something that I’ve always found interesting and I think I’ve adapted to it pretty well. I will tell you my whole stance on NATO, David, has been — I just got back and I’m watching television and that’s all they’re talking about. And you know when I first said it, they sort of were scoffing. And now they’re really saying, well wait, do you know it’s really right? And maybe NATO — you know, it doesn’t talk about terror. Terror is a big thing right now. That wasn’t the big thing when it originated and people are starting to talk about the cost.

SANGER: Well it’s geared toward state actors and you’re discussing gearing something toward nonstate actors. Is it possible that we need a new institution that is not burdened by the military structure of NATO in order to deal with nonstate actors and terrorists?

TRUMP: I actually think in terms of terror you may be better off with a new institution, an institution that would be more fairly based, an institution that would be more fairly taken care of from an economic standpoint. You have many wealthy states over there that are not going to be there if it’s not for us, and they’re not going to be there if it is for terror. Whether it’s Saudi Arabia or others. I actually do think, while I’d like to adapt it, I think you have a different set of players, frankly. You have more of a Middle Eastern player and others but you would have in addition, Middle Eastern players.

SANGER: Who are not currently members of NATO. You think the membership of NATO is not set up right for combating terror.

TRUMP: No, it was set up to talk about the Soviet Union. Now of course the Soviet Union doesn’t exist now it’s Russia, which is not the same size, in theory not the same power, but who knows about that because of weaponry, but it’s not the same size and this was set up for numerous things but for the Soviet Union. The point is the world is a much different place right now. And today all you have to do is read and see the world is, the big threat would seem to be based on terror and based on what’s going on in 90 percent, 95 percent of the horror stories. I think, probably a new institution maybe would be better for that than using NATO which was not meant for that. And it’s become very bureaucratic, extremely expensive and maybe is not flexible enough to go after terror. Terror is very much different than what NATO was set up for.

SANGER: And requires a different kind of force.

TRUMP: I think it requires a different flexibility, it requires a different speed maybe, watching nations or a nation or nations. I think it requires flexibility and speed.

SANGER: So Maggie and I were at the end of our conversation this morning we were talking with you a little bit about your foreign policy advisers. There’s been a little bit of a sense that you’ve had a hard time attracting some of the bigger names of your party. There were a lot of former deputy secretaries of state, of defense, others were out there. And the list of advisers you’ve released so far has been very strong on having military backgrounds but not many with diplomatic backgrounds. We were wondering whether or not you are looking for a different mix or whether you’re having trouble attracting some of the big names.

TRUMP: It’s interesting, it’s not trouble attracting. Many of them that I actually like a lot and that like me a lot and that want to do 100 percent, many of them are tied up with contracts working for various networks, you understand? I mean, I’ve had some that are — I currently have some that are thinking about getting out of their contract ‘cause they’re so excited about it. I’ve had a lot of excitement but there are some that are tied up where they have a contract with, as an example, they might have a contract with Fox, they may have a contract with CNN and they can’t do it. They have contracts with the various networks and maybe the media too. I don’t know about The Times but it’s possible — I think less likely, I’m not sure how that structure works with the actual newspapers. But there are some that I’ve spoken to that want to do it but they’re tied up with contracts that are with somebody else. There are some that were with campaigns that have now imploded, and I think they’re going to be free agents very shortly. Hey, a lot of campaigns have imploded in the last couple of months, which you people perhaps have seen just as vividly as I have. Right? Not as happily as I have, but nevertheless just as vividly. So you know there are actually, there are a lot of people available, there are a lot of good people available. But some of the good people are currently under contract. Does that make sense to you, David?

SANGER: Yup, Maggie, did you having anything more on that before we wanted to turn back to Israel?

HABERMAN: Yeah, Mr. Trump, if you could just say how much time are you devoting a week at this point either to briefings to studying, you know, and if there’s no major change now what it might look like in the future?

TRUMP: I think that you know, what I’ve really had to do is get through 17, cause it was really 18 total when we started. So I had to get through 17 people. I’ve gotten through almost all of the 17 people. But I’m down to two, from 17 to two. And you know many of them were front-runners, and they weren’t front-runners for very long. You can go through the list, you know the list as well as I do. And my primary focus was that.

But during the period I’ve been, I think very well versed on matters as we’re discussing and many more than just what we’re just discussing. Now as it gets — as we get you know closer to the end of the process it’ll take place more and more. I’m setting up a council, I’m setting up — and I have other people coming in, I gave you the other few names I think that we added, we have a few more coming in. But I have a few more that are going to come in. I just don’t want to I just don’t want to mention them unless they give me approval, meaning they’re on board.

And we’re going to have a very substantial council of very good people. And some of them are military. Look, the military is going to be very important because we have to do something with ISIS, David, and you know we do want the military. And I think that over the next few weeks I’ll be able to give you some more names. People that are going to be coming in.

SANGER: Do you fear that if you have too many military on your council, they tend to search for the military solution first instead of the diplomatic or economic sanction solution first?

TRUMP: Yeah but I’d like to know the military solution and I’m working on the military solution. Because there’s not huge negotiation involved with ISIS, because there’s an irrationality that is pretty — this is not something, ‘Oh let’s make a deal.’ I don’t see deals being made with ISIS. Nobody knows what ISIS is, nobody knows who is leading it, who is alive, who is not alive, I mean we’re really not talking about too many diplomatic solutions. We’re not talking about diplomatic solutions with ISIS, let me put it that way.

That proves Rove significantly truncated what Trump said and took it significantly out of context — even though Rove did “quote” some words and phrases Trump used in the Times interview.

The other Iran part of the Times interview that Rove appears to have misquoted, as Trump specifically noted in his Breitbart News interview, was with regard to the Iran deal.

Here’s the transcript of how Rove characterized it in the Wall Street Journal:

He further demonstrated his ignorance by complaining to the Times’s David Sanger and Maggie Haberman about how Iran is spending the billions released to it under the nuclear deal. “They’re buying everything, they’re buying from everybody but the United States,” he said. When Mr. Sanger reminded the celebrity TV star that U.S. sanctions prevent American companies from selling to Iran, Mr. Trump was reduced to saying, “Uh, excuse me?”

While here’s the actual transcript of that part of Trump’s interview with the Times:

SANGER: You have told us a lot about what your leverage would be over China in trade. Tell us on Iran: I know that you’ve said that you think that the Iran deal was an extremely bad deal. I’d be interested to know what your goals would be in renegotiating it. What your leverage would be and what you would renegotiate, what parts of the agreement.

TRUMP: Sure. It’s not just that it’s a bad deal, David. It’s a deal that could’ve been so much better just if they’d walked a couple of times. They negotiated so badly. They were being mocked, they were being scorned, they were being harassed, our negotiators, including Kerry, back in Iran, by the various representatives and the leaders of Iran at the highest level. And they never walked. They should’ve walked, doubled up the sanctions, and made a good deal. Gotten the prisoners out long before, not just after they gave the $150 billion. They should’ve never given the money back. There were so many things that were done, they were so, the negotiation was, and I think deals are fine, I think they’re good, not bad. But, you gotta make good deals, not bad deals. This deal was a disaster.

SANGER: So, it’s a deal you would inherit if you were elected, so what I’m trying to get at is, what would you insist on. Are the restrictions on nuclear not long enough, are the missile restrictions not strong enough?

TRUMP: Certainly the deal is not long enough. Because at the end of the deal they’re going to have great nuclear capability. So certainly the deal isn’t long enough. I would never have given them back the $150 billion under any circumstances. I would’ve never allowed that to happen. They are, they are now rich, and did you notice they’re buying from everybody but the United States? They’re buying planes, they’re buying everything, they’re buying from everybody but the United States. I would never have made the deal.

SANGER: Our law prevents us from selling to them, sir.

TRUMP: Uh, excuse me?

SANGER: Our law prevents us from selling any planes or, we still have sanctions in the U.S. that would prevent the U.S. from being able to sell that equipment.

TRUMP: So, how stupid is that? We give them the money, and we now say, “Go buy Airbus instead of Boeing,” right? So how stupid is that? In itself, what you just said, which is correct by the way, but would they now go and buy, you know, they bought 118 approximately, 118 Airbus planes. They didn’t buy Boeing planes, O.K.? We give them the money, and we say you can’t spend it in the United States, and create wealth and jobs in the United States. And on top of it, they didn’t, they in theory, I guess, cannot do that, you know, based on what I’ve understood. They can’t do that. It’s hard to believe. We gave them $150 billion and they can’t spend it in our country.

SANGER: So you would lift the domestic sanctions so they could buy American goods?

TRUMP: Well, I wouldn’t have given them back the money. So I wouldn’t be in that position. I would never have given them back the – that would never be a part of the negotiation. I would have never, ever given it to them, and I would’ve made a better deal than they made, without the money, and I would’ve made a better deal.

When it comes to the Washington Post interview, it appears Rove again misquoted Trump.

Here’s the first part of Rove’s article, talking about Trump’s comments on the debt:

Quizzed by the Post’s Bob Woodward and Robert Costa about how long it would take a Trump administration to get rid of the $19 trillion national debt, he replied, “I would say over a period of eight years.”

Federal outlays under current law will total $38.6 trillion between 2017 and 2024, the Congressional Budget Office estimated last year. Mr. Trump would have to slash the budget nearly in half each year of his two full terms to fulfill his pledge without raising taxes. Oh, and he promises to leave entitlement programs, the chief driver of the debt, untouched. Mr. Trump was not pressed on his inane answer.

And here is the actual transcript of Trump’s interview with Bob Woodward and Robert Costa of the Washington Post:

RC: We were looking over your 1990 book, Surviving at the Top.

DT: Right.

RC:  And thinking about, what would happen if Trump’s president of the United States? And you — this is a line from your book, then: “The same assets that excite me in the chase often, once they are acquired, leave me bored. For me, you see, the important thing is the getting, not the having.” If you get the presidency, you are going to have it.

DT:  Yeah, but see, that’s not the getting. The getting, for me, is to make our country great again. The getting — that’s just a part of it. The getting the position is not the real getting. For me, the getting is — and that’s when I’ll say, congratulations everyone, my job is finished. We will make our country financially strong again. When you have 19 . . . I had a woman come up to me. A wonderful woman. I said this one or two times in the speech. She said, “Mr. Trump, I love you. You’re so incredible. I’m voting for you 100 percent, but could you stop saying you’re going to make our country rich again?” I said, “I understand what you’re saying – it doesn’t sound nice. But without being rich again, we can’t be great again.” I am going to make our country rich again. We are, the thing I didn’t like about The Washington Post, they didn’t put down my real statements as to Japan and everything else. They make it sound like I want Japan to have nuclear weapons. I don’t. And by the way, other people have said this too. I don’t mind taking care of Japan. But they have to help us out more, monetarily. We can’t protect the entire world. You look at our military budget, it’s massive compared to any other country. But what are we doing? We’re taking care of the military needs of all these countries. And these countries are much richer than us. We’re not a rich country. We’re a debtor nation. We’ve got to get rid of — I talked about bubble. We’ve got to get rid of the $19 trillion in debt.

BW: How long would that take?

DT:  I think I could do it fairly quickly, because of the fact the numbers . . .

BW: What’s fairly quickly?

DT:  Well, I would say over a period of eight years. And I’ll tell you why.

BW: Would you ever be open to tax increases as part of that, to solve the problem?

DT: I don’t think I’ll need to. The power is trade. Our deals are so bad.

BW: That would be $2 trillion a year.

DT: No, but I’m renegotiating all of our deals, Bob. The big trade deals that we’re doing so badly on. With China, $505 billion this year in trade. We’re losing with everybody. And a lot of those deals — a lot of people say, how could the politicians be so stupid? It’s not that they’re stupid. It’s that they’re controlled by lobbyists and special interests who want those deals to be made.

Rove also appears to have misquoted Trump when it comes to Trump’s vision for restoring U.S. greatness on the world stage.

Again, here’s an excerpt of Rove’s article on that part:

How would he restore international respect for America? “Through the aura of personality,” he told the Post reporters. They asked if Russian President Vladimir Putin would respect the U.S. under President Trump. “He said very positive things about me,” The Donald replied, confirming that he is easily misled by flattery from anti-American dictators.

Here’s the actual interview transcript with the Post:

RC:  Did you read Jeffrey Goldberg’s article about Obama’s foreign policy? In the Atlantic, Obama gave . . .

DT:    In the Atlantic, okay.

RC:  So one of the quotes Obama said in there is, “The notion that Russia is somehow in a stronger position now in Syria and Ukraine than they were before they invaded Ukraine or before he had to deploy military forces in Syria is to fundamentally misunderstand the nature of power in foreign affairs. Real power means you can get what you want without having to exert violence.” That’s Obama on global power. Do you agree?

DT:  Well, I think there’s a certain truth to that. I think there’s a certain truth to that. Real power is through respect. Real power is, I don’t even want to use the word, fear. But you know, our military is very sadly depleted. You look at what’s going on with respect to our military and it’s depleted from all of the cuts. Hey, as a real estate person, all the time I’m getting listings of bases, Army bases, Marine bases, naval bases. I keep saying, how many bases do they have? I’m constantly getting, it’s crossing my desk, do we want to buy a base in Virginia? Do we want to buy. . . . And I see it all the time. We have to strengthen our military. It’s so vital to do that. We have to strengthen our military. By the way, we have to take care of our vets. So vital. But we have to strengthen our military. Now, one of the things that The Washington Post treated me very badly on, when I talked to you about NATO, we’re spending too much money, and we’re not getting treated with respect from the 28 countries that we’re dealing with.

RC:  This comes back to the Lone Ranger point. I think even globally, you’re comfortable being the United States president.

DT: No.

RC:  Not being an interventionist . . .

DT:  I didn’t say I’d get out of NATO. I say it’s got to be . . . First of all, it’s obsolete. Our big threat today is terrorism. Okay? And NATO’s not really set up for terrorism. NATO is set up for the Soviet Union more than anything else. And now you don’t have the Soviet Union.

RC: Well, you don’t have a great belief in these international institutions.

DT:  No, because we seem to get ripped off by everybody. We seem to always be the one that pays the bill and gets the least. And we’re going to stop doing that.

BW: But you’re talking about reform of NATO, aren’t you, rather than . . .

DT:  Yes, I’m talking about reform.

BW: You’re not just saying, let’s move out.

DT:  I’m talking totally about reform. But you have to be —  in order to get reform, you have to be prepared to walk. Otherwise you can’t get reform. For instance, the Iran deal. Had John Kerry stood up from his chair when they kept saying no, no, no, no — he didn’t get anything. Had he stood up twice — once or twice — from his chair and said, sorry gentlemen, we’re leaving, and increased the sanctions, you would’ve had a whole different Iran deal.

BW: Okay. One really important question.

DT: Go ahead.

BW: A couple of years ago, I had a breakfast with one of the leaders, heads of state, of our best allies. And I asked him about Obama. And he was talking off the record, and he said, “I like him. He is smart. But no one in the world is afraid of him.” Do you agree with that? And in a Trump administration — are you formulating a new doctrine of you better be afraid of me?

DT:  Yeah, I don’t want people to be afraid. I want them to respect our country. Right now, they don’t respect our country.

BW: But do they respect you if you kind of . . .

DT:  People have respected me. My life has been a life where I’ve been respected. I want them to respect our country. I want them to respect our leader. But I want them to respect our country. Now, you could use . . .

BW: How do you achieve that, sir?

DT:  Through the aura of personality. Through having the goods. You know, so Muhammad Ali is a friend of mine. He’s a good guy. I’ve watched many people over the years. Muhammad Ali would get in the ring and he’d talk and talk and scream and talk about the ugly bear, and this, that — you know. And then he’d win. And respect is about winning. We don’t win anymore. I see it in my — we don’t win anymore. And he’d win. I’ve seen many fighters that were better than Muhammad Ali, in terms of talking. I’ve seen guys that were so beautiful, so flamboyant, they’d get into the ring — and then they’d get knocked out. And guess what? It’s all gone. Let me just say: we don’t win anymore.

BW: So do you want Putin to be afraid of you?

DT:  I want Putin to respect our country, okay?

BW: And what would he respect?

DT:  Well, first of all, it’s sort of interesting. He said very good things about me.

BW: Understand.

DT:  You saw that. He said, Trump is brilliant and Trump is going to be the new leader and all that. And some of these clowns said, you should repudiate Putin. I said, why would I repudiate him? He’s not going to get anything. Because I’ve been through this stuff before. But he said very positive things about me. And I say to myself — and I say to people — wouldn’t it be nice if we actually could get along with Russia? And if we could get along with these people? China takes advantage of us. Look at what they’re doing in the South China Sea. They’re not supposed to be playing that game. Okay? Look at what they’re doing. That is a lack of respect. When they’re building a massive, like nobody’s ever seen before — they’re building islands in the middle of the South China Sea for a massive military complex. Beyond runways. I mean, this is a complex. So what I’m saying is there’s a tremendous lack of respect for our country. And I think for our leader.

BW: But what does Putin respect? The former KGB lieutenant colonel? Force. Power.

DT: I think he respects strength. Okay? I think Putin respects strength. And I’ve said it before, I think I will get along well with Putin. Now you never know. I don’t say that – only a fool would say, “I will,” but I feel that I will get along well with Putin. I feel that if we can get along with more countries, that’s a positive thing. That’s not a bad thing. Some people — for instance, when Putin came out and he wanted to bomb the hell out of ISIS, we had people standing on the stage, we don’t want that, we want . . . Let me tell you something. If we have somebody else dropping bombs that cost a half a million dollars a piece on the top — if we have somebody helping us, that’s not so bad. You understand that. That’s not so bad. But I had people that I’m running against saying, like, that was a terrible thing. It’s not a terrible thing. We have a situation in Libya where a friend of mine is just saying, so, we had Gaddafi, he killed the terrorists, he ran his place. Not a good man. Same thing you could say with Iraq, with Saddam Hussein. Saddam Hussein was a plus-10 at killing terrorists, that’s one thing. If our presidents would have gone away and gone to the beach, the Middle East would be a far better place than it is right now. I don’t say it would be run by nice people, but you know, it would be a far better place. The mistakes we’ve made in the Middle East are so astronomical. Now here’s the thing: ISIS is now . . . A friend of mine who’s very much involved in the energy business, ISIS is controlling the oil now in Libya. How did we let that happen?

RC: So just turning back.

DT: And by the way, that oil? That is a great oil, and it’s a lot of oil. And they’re controlling it.

Trump told Breitbart News he believes that Rove is attacking him because if Trump wins the election, Rove won’t be anywhere near his administration.

“Because I want nothing to do with him,” Trump said when asked to explain why he thought Rove was attacking him. “Because I don’t respect him. Because he made a fool of himself during the Romney election, he made a fool of himself on the election evening. He’s out of tune, he’s out of touch. He literally is quoting me and using language that I never used and making statements and giving ideas that are not even mine. It’s such a disgrace that he’s allowed to get away with it.”

All of this comes in the wake of a Politico story that suggested Rove was warming to Trump. The piece, from Politico‘s Ken Vogel and Eli Stokols, notes that Rove’s American Crossroads Super PAC “is suggesting to its donors that it can help Trump win the White House and save Republican senators whose reelection bids could be jeopardized by having Trump at the top of the ticket.”

“The apparent warming of the American Crossroads super PAC and its sister groups to Trump has become evident in its recent communications with donors, including a Tuesday afternoon ‘investor conference call,’ according to multiple sources familiar with the outreach,” Vogel and Stokols wrote:

The phone call — which featured Rove, Crossroads officials and a pollster — laid out swing state polling and electoral map analysis done by the group showing circumstances in which Trump could beat Clinton, the Democratic presidential front-runner, in a general election, according to three sources briefed on the call. One source, a high-level operative with the Koch brothers’ conservative advocacy network, characterized the conversation as heralding “a softening of the anti-Trump position” within the big-money GOP establishment. The source added of Crossroads’ stance on Trump, “It’s not that they support him, only that if he’s the guy, we can do something to stop Hillary.”

Rove, on Fox News, shot back in an interview with anchor Bill Hemmer when asked if it’s true he is warming to Trump: “The answer is no.”

Looks like, from the responses from both parties to the other, that neither is going to be getting along any time soon.


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