Donald Trump joined me Wednesday to talk about whether or not he’ll be on the stage when I am asking questions in the fall:
HH: Pleased to welcome to the Hugh Hewitt Show now Donald Trump. Mr. Trump, welcome, it’s great to have you on the program.
DT: It’s great to be with you, Hugh.
HH: I read yesterday you hired Chuck Laudner in Iowa. Is that true?
DT: That is true. I’ve had a lot of respect for him for a long time. I really know the people of Iowa very well. They all feel the same way. He’s a really, just a great guy.
HH: Now it was announced yesterday I’m going to be asking some questions of the presidential candidates in September at the Reagan Library. Are you going to be on that stage?
DT: I very well may. I mean, we’re going to look at it very seriously. We have been looking at it very seriously. You know, the country is doing horribly, to put it mildly, like a laughing stock, actually. And we’re run by incompetent people with incompetent leadership, and I think that I am going to surprise a lot of people if I say a certain word known as yes.
HH: And when do you have to have make that decision by, Donald Trump?
DT: I would say sometime prior to June, June or prior to, during the month of, maybe, but right around that territory.
HH: I’ll come back to the politics in a moment. The questions I’ll be asking in Simi Valley will be about national security, I hope.
HH: …because people always want to know is the person who wants to be president qualified to be the commander-in-chief. Quick question, have you read The Looming Tower by Lawrence Wright?
DT: Excuse me? I didn’t hear you.
HH: Have you read the book, The Looming Tower by Lawrence Wright?
DT: I have not.
HH: How about the new Atlantic article about ISIS, called What ISIS Really Wants?
DT: I’ve seen it. I haven’t, I sort of got a synopsis of it, but if you look at what’s going on, it’s almost obvious what ISIS wants. I mean, they want domination. They want complete domination. And they’ve wanted it for a long time. And it’s disgraceful that we’re allowing this to happen.
HH: If you were commander-in-chief, what would you do about ISIS?
DT: I would go after them to a point that they would be very, very nervous, if they existed at all. You have to go after it. You have to kill the cancer. You have to go after them really strongly, which is exactly what we’re not doing right now. And I was a little bit surprised, because originally, when they said bomb them, you would think bombing would do the trick. It’s not doing the trick, and they’re almost using it to their advantage. I mean, they are using it to their advantage. Now, they’re going in and taking people hostage, killing them, burning them, beheading them like medieval times, and I think it’s a disgrace what’s going on. No, you have to be very, very strong and you have to just wipe them out, and you have to do it rapidly and with great force.
HH: So would you send American ground troops back to Iraq, Donald Trump?
DT: If necessary, you would have to do that, Hugh. If necessary, you have to do that.
HH: All right, now, and more generally speaking about our Defense budget, you know, it’s going down, down, down, and our Navy is shrinking, shrinking, shrinking. It’s down to, like, 270, 284 ships if you use the new math of the Navy, 274 if you count it the old way.
DT: Which is unbelievable.
HH: Is that adequate to our needs?
DT: No, it’s not, and our Defense, and look, I’m a very large real estate person. And all the time, I get listings, we call them listings, from areas where they’re selling forts, and they’re selling all sorts of bases, Army bases, Marine bases. They’re selling all them. I keep saying how many of these bases do they have, because so much is being closed up of the military, and I say to myself, why are we doing this? We probably need our military now more than almost any time in the history of this country, and it’s getting smaller and smaller. Our weaponry is getting outdated, and you look at what’s happening in China. As an example, China, with the aircraft carriers they’re building, with the destroyers that they’re building, they’re going wild. And by the way, they’re taking our jobs. They’re doing so much to really strip our country, and then they’re building up their military, and we’re making ours smaller. So no, you have to go, we have to make our country great again. But we have to make our country rich again so that we can afford all of these things. And a person like myself, if I decide to do this, is able to do that, because we have such tremendous potential if we had people that know what they’re doing.
HH: Now I don’t do ambush interviews, but I’m curious if you’re prepared, yet, to talk about, for example, the number of aircraft carriers that we need, the number of, how we replace the Ohio-class nuclear submarine. Are you up to speed on questions of that level of detail?
DT: Not in particular. I just know this. Military is very important to me. We need more, and we need proper weaponry, not wasting it because some guy has political contacts and we’re doing things that we don’t need. We need, as an example, I saw on 60 Minutes something that was very, very terrible, I mean, like terrible. They did a whole thing on our nuclear weapons system, that they’re outdated, that they’re totally obsolete, nobody even knows if they work, and that even the telephone system inside, the wires were all rotted, and the telephone system doesn’t work. You know, when you see things like that, and then you have Putin making a statement like he made four weeks ago talking about the fact that Russia has nuclear weapons, it’s a pretty sad commentary. So you don’t have to know exactly, you know, the question that you’re perhaps posing, of which I don’t even know if it was really that.
HH: Yeah, it’s that. And you know, we’ve got 18 Ohio-class nuclear submarines.
HH: And they all age out in 2029.
HH: And we haven’t begun to build the replacement, yet.
DT: Well, it’s crazy. I mean, it’s crazy. We need them, and we need them badly. We need them worse now than ever before. And you know, one of the bigger problems that we have is that you know, in this day and age, nuclear, once the other side gets nuclear, talks are over. I mean, they’re as powerful as we are. We could have the most power, we could have the most ships, we could have the most, it all doesn’t matter. If we allow other people such as Iran to get nuclear, it’s all over. I mean, we no longer have any kind of power that people thought we had. And we’re allowing this to happen. What’s going on with the talks in Iran is disgraceful, because they’re just tapping us along. They’re obviously making nuclear weapons, and they’re obviously doing things that we don’t know about, we don’t have a clue. We take off our sanctions. Whoever heard of a negotiation where we go into a negotiation, they say we demand that you take off the sanctions, we take off the sanctions, and we negotiate? We should triple up the sanctions before we start negotiating. So you know, what I see here is just gross incompetence, Hugh.
HH: Now yesterday, Susan Rice, the President’s National Security Advisor, said Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit to the United States is “destructive”. What do you think of the President’s attitude towards Israel? Is he a friend of Israel?
DT: No, I think he’s one of the worst things that’s ever happened to Israel. You look at what’s going on, and I know Bibi very well. In fact, he asked me if I’d do a commercial for him. I think I’m the only so-called celebrity that did a commercial for him. And you know, and it was a nice commercial and everything else, and I hope he’s going to do great, and I think he’s going to do great. But when you think about it, and I have so many friends of mind that contributed the Obama campaign, and that because they’re so pro-Israel, I said how can you contribute to the campaign? This guy is the worst thing that ever happened to Israel. And if you’re living in Israel, believe me, you believe that.
HH: Now you’re a real estate guy. You mentioned this. I want to go back and thank you for some of the most entertaining audio I’ve ever played, which was the 2005 testimony on the U.N. renovation. We played the whole thing on the show.
DT: Oh, that’s great.
HH: Did it turn out…
DT: You know what happened with that?
HH: No, I was going to ask you. How’d it turn out?
DT: Well, I’ll tell you what happened. I said I can do the whole thing. They were going to spend $3 billion dollars. And the ambassador, I believe, from Sweden called me up, and he couldn’t understand why did a renovation of a building cost $3 billion dollars, because he read that I built a 92 story building directly across the street for $350 million dollars. So he said how come we’re going to spend $3 billion? Smart guy. How come we’re going to spend $3 billion dollars when he built a brand new building that’s much bigger and much more beautiful and everything else, and a tremendous success right across the street for like $350 million dollars? And he said how could that be possible? And it was actually less than 350, if you want to know the truth. So he said it doesn’t make sense. So I got involved because of that. He asked me could I come. I came. I said I could do the whole thing, I believe the number, Hugh, was $500 million, and maybe I would have lifted it to $750, because when you hear they’re going to spend three and a half billion, you say, well, maybe I’ll make it a little bit more. But it was about I can do the whole job for either $500 or $750 million, and I testified before the Senate. And everybody agreed with what I said. And they said yeah, but what’s the difference. And I said the difference is it’ll be a much better job with much higher grade materials. They would use terrazzo, and I would use marble. It would be a better job. And that was the end of it. I then met with the head of the U.N. and everything else. Nobody ever did. You know what they spent on that thing?
DT: Billions. Billions. They never called me, they never took up my offer. And you know, I’m not looking for more work, in all fairness. But I thought this was outrageous. And they never called me to do it. If I would have done it, I said what kind of a system do you have for heat? Is it a boiler system? Is it New York Steam? The head of the project had no idea what either was. He didn’t know what New York Steam was.
HH: It was terrific testimony. We may go back and play some of that testimony later today.
DT: Well, you know what happened, though? Nothing. They didn’t take me up on the offer. I guaranteed it at that price, and they didn’t take me up on the offer. So it’s a sad commentary.
HH: In that testimony, though…
DT: I lost a lot of respect for the U.N. during that little period of time.
HH: Yeah, in that testimony, you said I’m a big fan, a very big fan of the United Nations and all it stands for. Are you still a big fan of the United Nations?
DT: Well, I do think the United Nations, if properly run, could have a great impact. But I will say I lost a lot of respect during that particular period, because you know, I went in, and they had press all over the place, it was going crazy, and I figured they’d come back to me and say listen, if you could do this for $500 million or $750, we would love you do to it, and the job will actually be better? And I said yes, better. And that was the last I ever heard of them. And you know, they had sessions, and a lot of people, they had the hearings, and a lot of people, I mean, it really did awaken a lot of people. But from what I understand, they spent $3 billion dollars, or three and a half billion dollars, and I asked, it’s sort of funny you bring this up, because I asked about a year ago what did they end up spending, and they’re still spending, and I think the number is way over $3 billion dollars. That’s what I was told.
HH: That’s interesting. Well, let me turn to politics, now. And I don’t have to ask you this. You’re the maven of social media, but you know what it means to troll someone, right?
HH: Okay, do you, some people say you troll the Republican Party to promote your various shows, buildings, golf courses. How do you respond to that?
DT: Well, it’s not. Look, I’m a Republican. I’m a very conservative guy in many respects, I guess, in most respects. But I’m so disappointed, and many of the Republicans have come up to my office. Walker just left, and you know, all good guys. I mean, they’re up here and they want support, and they want a lot of other things. Who know what they want? But they do come up and they do respect my audience, because I have a big audience. As you know, I have many millions of people on Facebook and Twitter and all of this. But I don’t do, I am so disappointed that whether it’s Benghazi or whether it’s so many other subjects – IRS, so many subjects, whether it’s having to do with whether it’s Hillary or the President, it’s all talk and it’s no action. They start off, they’re going to go after it, and that’s the last you ever hear of it.
HH: But you’re not just promoting the latest Trump Tower or the latest Trump golf course?
DT: No, I don’t need that. I get more publicity than any human being should want. I don’t seek it. I don’t even have PR people. I mean, they just call, for some reason, I’ve always had a lot of press.
HH: Well, you’re not shy.
DT: It must be because I’m so handsome.
HH: Yeah, you’re not shy. Let me ask you this. On the day you declare, how many years of tax returns will you release?
DT: Well, I’d certainly go over tax returns, and I will tell you nobody knows the tax return business or world better than me. And you have to understand, I’m a businessman, and I work for myself. And I have a phenomenal net worth, and a lot of cash and very little debt, and you’d see that. And actually, I did that, you know, I’m the only candidate in history that actually submitted his financials the last time, and I didn’t run. I actually submitted my financials, because to be honest with you, I’m very proud of my financials.
HH: But I mean, would you actually…
DT: And my financials now are much better.
HH: Would you release tax returns, though?
DT: I would release tax returns, and I would also explain to people that as a person that’s looking to make money, you know, I’m in the business of making money until I do this. And if I won, I would make money for our country. I would make so much money for our country that they wouldn’t have to cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, that we would be able to have a strong, we would take the jobs back from China. We’d take the jobs back from Mexico. I don’t know if you know, the new great abuser in this country is Mexico. They’re taking our jobs, they’re killing us on the border. People are just fleeing across Mexico. If you want to become a citizen of Mexico, do you know it’s probably the hardest or one of the hardest nations in the world to become a citizen of? And yet they let people flow across their borders, and they push them through our border, because we don’t know what we’re doing.
HH: I got it, but I want to stay focused on the tax returns. How many years back?
DT: So the answer is yeah, I would do it.
HH: Three years? Five years?
DT: I mean, I would do something, but I will tell you up front, as a private person, Hugh, I would be, and you know, I’m very proud of this. I want to pay as little taxes as I can as a private person.
HH: Of course. Of course. That’s the American way, legally.
DT: You know, why should I be, why should I say I’m looking to pay a fortune in tax? It’s part of the complexity of the tax system.
HH: How many years back would you go on the day you announce? Three? Five?
DT: Oh, I don’t know. I mean, I actually have not even thought of that, but I would certainly show tax returns if it was necessary.
HH: At least a couple of years?
DT: Well, what have they been doing? They’ve been really doing one year, other than people that never made anything. But I would certainly, I’m very proud of what I’ve done. I do pay tax. But I’m very proud of what I did. I will say this. You will see piles and piles and piles of paper stacked many feet into the air, because the system is so complex that it’s disgraceful. And the tax system does have to be changed.
HH: That’s what I, you know, I think two or three years would be great. I think anyone, if you did two or three years…
DT: But we’ll take a good, strong look at that, Hugh. I mean, it’s obviously not something I thought of, but you know, I’ve given any real thought to, but I have no objection to certainly showing tax returns.
HH: Now are you worried at all? Governor Christie’s going to be in this race, and you know, he’s been the U.S. attorney in New Jersey, he’s been the governor, he knows that state so well. And you’ve got the Taj Mahal hotel which has filed for bankruptcy last year. Are you worried that Christie has dope on you that nobody else does that he can use?
DT: No, not at all, and frankly, I’ve known him for a long time. I have a great relationship with him. But just do you understand, I left Atlantic City seven years ago. A lot of people don’t understand this. I left Atlantic City seven years ago. I’ve gotten great feedback from intelligent people, people that are really smart in terms of the world of finance, I’ve gotten great credit for my timing in Atlantic City, because Atlantic City’s gone to hell in a hand basket. Caesars just filed, I mean, whoever hear of this one, Caesars just filed for bankruptcy. Most of the buildings in Atlantic City now have either filed or will be filing for bankruptcy. The place is a disaster. I left seven years ago. Now one other thing, I never went bankrupt. I’ve played bankruptcy like Carl Icahn has, like Henry Kravis has, like Sam Zell has, like Caesars, but I never filed for bankruptcy. I have many, many companies, many hundreds and hundreds of transactions, and many, many, many deals. And of them, in a few cases, in order to negotiate great deals, and in some cases, you buy something and you throw it into a bankruptcy, and then you negotiate from the power of, you know, you use the powers of the law. But I’ve never filed for bankruptcy. I’ve never gone bankrupt. And you know, a lot of people say oh, but Trump went bankrupt. I never went bankrupt. Now Warren Buffett, all of these people, Carl Icahn, all great businesspeople, they all do the same thing as me. But unfortunately with me, if I take a company and buy it, and throw it into a chapter and negotiate a great deal and make a lot of money, everybody says oh, Trump went bankrupt. I never went bankrupt.
HH: All right, now let me ask you a couple quick more questions. I don’t want to abuse your time.
DT: Go ahead.
HH: Common Core, it’s the hottest issue out on the domestic policy trail.
HH: What’s Donald Trump think about Common Core?
DT: Well first of all, I think it’s going to kill Bush, and I think that education should be local, absolutely. I think that for people in Washington to be setting curriculum and to be setting all sorts of standards for people living in Iowa and other places is ridiculous.
HH: Why is it going to kill Bush?
DT: I think that is a killer of an issue, frankly, for Bush.
DT: Because I think people don’t want to have somebody from Washington looking down and saying this is what you’re going to be studying.
HH: But do you think he’s responsible for that part of it?
DT: No, but he’s responsible for supporting it.
HH: All right, now what about Snowden? Is he a traitor?
DT: Oh, I think he’s a total traitor. I think he’s a disaster, and I think it’s disgraceful that we have so little power or respect of and from Russia that we can’t get this guy back. To me, and I will say, I’ve tweeted very strongly that he’s a traitor and we should get him back, and I get hit by so many people saying he’s not a traitor, he’s a wonderful, great American and everything else. I think he’s a total traitor. He’s really hurt us with people. He’s really hurt us, you look at Germany, and you look at some of these, you know, where we’re getting phone messages. Now you don’t think they’re doing the same thing with us? If you look at Russia and others, but we have a guy that went out and released all of this? Number one, how does that happen? But number two, he’s a total traitor, and he should be treated in the harshest of forms.
HH: Last question, because you’ve been very generous, I appreciate the time.
DT: Yeah, I’ve enjoyed being with you, Hugh.
HH: And it goes to a tweet that you put out. I love the fact that you tweet your own stuff. You wrote massive combined inoculations to small children is the cause for a big increase in autism. Spread shots over a long period, and watch positive result. Do you stand by that, Donald Trump?
DT: Okay, I do, and let me explain it real quickly. I am a total believer in getting the shots and having it done, and I am a total believer, 100%, nobody a bigger believer. What I don’t like seeing is that 20 pound little baby going in and having this one massive inoculation with all of these things combined. I’d like it spread over, because look, our autism rate is at a level that it’s never been. Nobody’s ever, you know, in the old days, you didn’t even hear about autism, and now it’s at a level that’s so high, especially in boys, but so high that nobody can even believe it. What I’m saying is 100% I want to see it happen. I want everybody, but it should be spread over. Smaller doses over a longer period of time. So spread it out over a year. There’s no harm in that, and I believe autism will go way down.
HH: So you’re saying there’s a causal connection…
DT: I totally believe, but I would like to see it spread out and in smaller doses.
HH: So you believe there’s a causal connection between vaccines and autism?
DT: Well, a lot of people do. I mean, there are many people that do. And I know at least two people, one of them who works in the building that I’m in right now, a beautiful woman, has a child. The child is 100% healthy, takes the child, who was I think around a year and a half or two years old to get the shot, gets this massive shot of fluid pumped into the baby’s body, and a few days later, catches a fever, and all of a sudden, is severely autistic. And many people, many people have had that experience, Hugh. And I will tell you, on Twitter and on Facebook, where you know, so many people, I feel, it’s sort of interesting, because I get so much response, people are praying for me that I at least say that. So I totally believe in the shot. I totally believe that you should be vaccinated. But let them spread it out over a little period of time. You can’t pump that, because have you ever seen the size of these inoculations? You can’t pump that much fluid into a little baby’s body. And I think it’s having an effect. And I know of at least two cases in my, but many people say the same thing happened to me where their child is totally healthy. They get pumped up with this huge pile of liquid, with many, many different vaccines, and their child turns out to be autistic after it. And all I’m saying is spread it out in smaller doses over a longer period of time.
HH: If a group of scientists came to you and said look, The Donald, that’s just, that’s not right, you’re giving out misinformation, would you change your mind if presented with facts on that?
DT: Well, I’ve seen babies that were totally healthy that weren’t healthy, and I’m not asking for anything. All I’m doing is saying spread it out over a period of time. I’m not saying don’t get inoculated, don’t get the shots, don’t get the vaccines. I’m saying spread it out over a period of time. It doesn’t hurt anybody other than probably the pharmaceutical companies, because they probably make more money putting it into one shot. Maybe it hurts the doctors. I don’t know. But I can say this. Everybody would get the vaccines. They just, they wouldn’t be pumping these massive amounts of liquid into a child.
HH: All right, absolute last question, popular culture question. We have some favorite authors here – Brad Thor, Daniel Silva, Chuck Box. Who do you read in the fiction world?
DT: Well, I read a lot, and you know, to be honest, I read a lot of fiction, but I really like to stay away from fiction now. And over my life, I’ve read so much. But now with what I’m doing in real estate, with what I’m doing throughout the world, I don’t get to read a lot. I mean, I read the New York Times, I read the Wall Street Journal. I read the Post and I read lots of other things, but I don’t get to read fiction anymore. And as much as I’d like to, I just don’t get to read very much.
HH: How does Donald Trump relax, then, if you don’t read a good thriller?
DT: Well, I love playing golf when I have the option. I have some of the greatest golf courses in the world. We in fact, one we recently have is Doral, which is just incredible and a big success in Miami. And you know, it’s a form of relaxation. And I actually love watching television, watching the news, watching what’s happening in the world, which is scary. You know, when you look at television today, it’s very depressing. Every newscast is negative. One thing I’ll say about our nation, too. When’s the last time you hear something positive, that we beat such and such a nation, that we’re doing better than China, that we’re doing better than, as an example, Mexico, which is cleaning our clock, that we’re doing…we’re not doing better than anybody, and we can’t continue to go on like this, Hugh, because we’re not going to be a great nation any longer, believe me. And that’s part of my theme, is make America great again. And if I run and if I win, I would be able to do that.
HH: Donald Trump, great to talk to you, come back again soon.
DT: Well, thank you, a great honor, and you have a great show. Thanks a lot, Hugh.
HH: Thank you.
End of interview.