In a wide-ranging interview with Time, President Donald Trump stood by a number of controversial claims he has made without evidence — such as his allegations that former President Barack Obama wiretapped him during last year’s election and that 3 million people voted illegally last November — arguing that the country trusts him because he was correct about his own election and the U.K. Brexit referendum.
“I’m a very instinctual person, but my instinct turns out to be right,” Trump said. “When everyone said I wasn’t going to win the election, I said, Well, I think I would.'”
Trump argued that he quotes “highly respected people” instead of making allegations himself.
Time Washington Bureau Chief Michael Scherer said, “But traditionally, people in your position in the Oval Office have not said things unless they can verify they are true.”
“Well, I’m not," the president replied, "Well, I think, I’m not saying. I’m quoting, Michael, I’m quoting highly respected people and sources from major television networks.”
Questioned about his wiretapping allegations, Trump defended himself by saying that he used “quotes.”
“Because a wiretapping is, you know today it is different than wire tapping,” he said. “It is just a good description. But wiretapping was in quotes. What I’m talking about is surveillance.”
The reporter then pointed to Trump’s charge during his primary campaign that Rafael Cruz, the father of his former Republican primary rival Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas), was with Lee Harvey Oswald “shortly before the death” of President John F. Kennedy.
“Well that was in a newspaper,” Trump replied. “No, no, I like Ted Cruz, he’s a friend of mine. But that was in the newspaper. I wasn’t, I didn’t say that. I was referring to a newspaper. A Ted Cruz article referred to a newspaper story with, had a picture of Ted Cruz, his father, and Lee Harvey Oswald, having breakfast.”
The “newspaper” Trump referred to was the tabloid publication the National Enquirer.
Trump also claimed that no one has been on the cover of Time more than he has. When Scherer noted that Nixon was on the cover of the publication more times than Trump, the president replied, “OK, good. I’m sure I’ll win.”
The president went on to complain that he “inherited a mess” when he became president.
I inherited a mess in so many ways. I inherited a mess in the Middle East, and a mess with North Korea. I inherited a mess with jobs, despite the statistics. 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. And I inherited a mess on trade. I mean we have many, you can go up and down the ladder.
At the conclusion of the interview, Trump said, “Look, in the meantime, I guess, I can’t be doing so badly, because I’m president, and you’re not. You know. Say hello to everybody, OK?”
The Washington Post gave Trump four Pinocchios over the claims he made in the interview.