Fact check: White House press secretary makes two false claims about the Iraq War in one sentence

Among the things McEnany said was that Trump is “on record for decades and decades and decades opposing — opposing foreign wars.”

She continued, “You have this President who, when Washington was unanimous in saying, ‘We’re going into Iraq,’ this President said, ‘No, that’s not the right decision.'”

Facts First: Trump never publicly opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq before it occurred. Rather, he expressed tentative support for the invasion in late 2002 and waffled in early 2003. He only became an explicit opponent of the war more than a year after it began. And while McEnany did not precisely define “Washington,” there was not unanimity among Washington politicians about going into Iraq: 156 members of the House and Senate voted against the 2002 resolution to authorize President George W. Bush to use military force against Iraq.

Trump himself has repeatedly claimed to have opposed the war before it began. But as we have written before, that is not true. (We’ve also written about the inaccurate claims his opponent Vice President Joe Biden has made about his own stance on the war.)
When radio host Howard Stern asked Trump in September 2002 if he is “for invading Iraq,” Trump responded, “Yeah, I guess so. I wish the first time it was done correctly.” (Trump’s comments to Stern were revealed during the 2016 campaign by CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski and Nathan McDermott, both then working for BuzzFeed.)
Trump did not express a firm opinion about the looming war in a Fox interview in January 2003, saying that “either you attack or don’t attack” and that Bush “has either got to do something or not do something, perhaps.” The day after the invasion in March 2003, Trump told Fox: “It looks like a tremendous success from a military standpoint.”
And in his 2000 book, “The America We Deserve,” Trump had argued that a military strike on Iraq might be necessary.
Trump started expressing skeptical or critical thoughts about the war shortly after the 2003 invasion, calling it a “mess” in a brief comment at an Academy Awards after-party later in the week of the invasion, but he did not become an explicit opponent until 2004. You can read more about his evolution here.

The congressional vote

Both the House and Senate voted to approve the use of military force against Iraq, so it’s certainly fair to say there was substantial bipartisan support in Washington for the war.

But it was never “unanimous” support.

In the House, 133 members, including 126 Democrats, voted no on the 2002 authorization resolution. So did 23 senators, including 21 Democrats.
More Democratic House members voted no than voted yes (81). Among the members who voted no is the most powerful Democrat in Washington today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She was the House minority whip at the time of the 2002 vote.


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