Donald Trump returned to the show today, one day after nonsense reports that I am “anti-Donald” and have “come out against Trump.” As a conservative journalist/debate questioner, I ask them all tough questions and give them all space to answer. It isn’t the job of panelists to pick winners and losers, or tilt the question set in favor or against one or more candidates:
HH: The biggest get in America is Donald Trump. He had them rocking in Michigan yesterday talking about the Doral deal, and a nonsense article ran yesterday that said I am anti-Donald, I have come out against him. I’m here to correct that record with Donald Trump. Donald Trump, welcome back, I want to assure you that just is not true. I’m going to treat you fairly like every other candidate, no gotchas, just straight up hard questions. I hope you’re comfortable with that.
DT: Well, that I’m comfortable with, Hugh, and I sort of didn’t believe the article, although I did see you on television talking about tone, that maybe the tone’s a little bit tough. And we need tough tone in this country, Hugh. We can’t have somebody like, I know you like Jeb, but Jeb doesn’t have the tone. He doesn’t have the enthusiasm or whatever it is. You’ve got to, you need a little power right now. Our country’s in big trouble.
HH: I love them all.
DT: You’re not going to do it with a nice, easy tone, I can tell you.
HH: I love them all. All of you are my friends, and all of you will get the same questions. Let me start with a good, tough question for Trump. The EPA has dumped three million gallons of waste water into, they’re killing a river, they may kill the Colorado River. What would Donald Trump do right now faced with this crisis?
DT: Well, it’s just an amazing thing. This is all the more example why EPA, we should do it locally. We shouldn’t be doing it from Washington. It’s disgraceful. I’m looking at that every night now on the news, and the water is pure yellow. It’s all acid, the worst stuff. Probably, you’re right, probably going to kill the fish, kill everything. And it was totally their mistake. They opened the wrong door and all of this stuff spewed out. I guess what you have to do, you know, sometimes, you have to sit back and watch, sometimes. Maybe they can channel it off or funnel it off or do something, but boy, it looks like a mess all caused because of the EPA. I mean, they go around and give people like me a violation if something minor happens. It is so disgraceful what happened with that river, just incredible.
HH: And so if you’re the president and you’re sitting in the Oval Office, and they call you and say our, your guy, the head of the EPA has made a disaster happen, do you fire them on the spot? Do you say you’re fired?
DT: Well, that depends. Look, everybody makes mistakes. You have to recover from them. Like this is really a beaut. You know, sometimes a mistake is big enough, you just can’t, in your own mind, as a boss, you just can’t get your arms around it and you say just get out of here, I want to start all over again. But this is a terrible thing, and I haven’t, you know, when I heard, maybe it just even seems worse because it was so easily avoidable. They just made a pure mistake. Oftem times for a thing like this, you have to just get rid of them.
HH: All right, now let’s talk about Hillary Clinton. I have said that the Republicans are going too soft on her. You’ve been very tough on her. Jeb Bush amped it up last night a little bit. What do you make about this server and whether or not she can stay in the race?
DT: So I’ve been watching it very closely, and I don’t see how other than she’s got one thing going, and that’s that all of the prosecutors are Democrats. And frankly, they want to keep their job. They maybe want to be elevated to a higher job. And maybe they don’t want to prosecute. If they’re honorable, they have no choice but to prosecute, because what she did is far worse than Petraeus, on a much bigger scale. Petraeus’ life has been destroyed. You know, he actually got two years on probation and all sorts of things. And I mean, her maximum penalty is actually 20 years. Now let’s not talk about 20 years, but her maximum penalty for this is 20 years. This was a much higher level of document than what Petraeus did. And look, she’s, you know, I believe strongly you’re innocent until proven guilty, but it certainly looks like it’s a far greater problem than Petraeus had. And you know, I mean, they really, they came down hard on him and essentially destroyed his reputation and his life. So I don’t know. I just don’t see, people say oh, well, how are you going to do against Hillary, and actually a poll just came out where I do very well, we’re about even right now, and I don’t even focus on Hillary now. I’m focusing on the other folks, you know, I guess you could say more friendly folks, and less friendly folks. I’m not exactly sure, and we’re doing really well. But I don’t know if it’s going to be Hillary. I think she’s got a much bigger problem than running in an election.
HH: If it’s Joe Biden, how do you match up against Joe Biden?
DT: I think I’d match up great. I’m a job producer. I’ve had a great record. I haven’t been involved in plagiarism. I think I would match up very well against Biden.
HH: Now one of the things this article used to try and get you into a fight with me, and me into a fight with you, is that I mentioned temperament on Sunday, and I said you’ve got, you don’t have presidential temperament. I should have said an unprecedented temperament. I said that on Morning Joe the next day before this article came out. I want to know when the temperament issue comes up, and you talked yesterday about the Doral deal, and you said you punch and you punch, and you beat the hell out of them until you get the deal done. Does that work in the Oval Office, do you think, Donald Trump?
DT: Absolutely. I mean, you do it, and you do it in a dignified way. Hey, look, I went to an Ivy League school. I was a great student. You know, I had to sit in class, and sometimes, they weren’t exactly exciting, but I was an excellent student at the Wharton School of Finance, which is the best in the world, one of the hardest to get into in the world, maybe the hardest, but one of the hardest to get into, even back then, I mean, it was always at that level, and did well, came out. I made a fortune. I made over $10 billion dollars, and that’s a lot, and I only say that because that’s the kind of, I’m not saying that as a braggadocios thing. that’s the kind of thinking that our country needs, the kind of mindset. I’m not saying the nicest person, the not nicest, although I like to be nice, but the fact is that’s the kind of mindset or thinking we need to beat China on trade. I don’t know if you noticed they just devalued their currency again.
HH: Oh, yeah, twice.
DT: They’re killing us.
DT: And the biggest, by the way, Hugh, the biggest in 20 years, the biggest in two decades, the biggest devaluation. They are killing us. They are taking our money, and then on top of it, they take out money, they take our jobs, they make our product, and we owe them $1.4 trillion dollars. We owe them right now $1.4. That’s like a magic act. Anyway, do the Apprentice, massive success, do The Art of the Deal, the most successful book, business book, you know, everything I’ve done. Now temperament, because I noticed that in your statement, and I actually saw you on television, we need a strong temperament in this country, and I tell the story that you know, illegal immigration, I don’t even think, people would be talking about it if I didn’t bring it up, and now it’s a very important subject and a good subject, and people have apologized to me who came down on me because I was right. But if you look at what’s going on in the world, heads chopped off if you happen to be a Christian in the Middle East, and there are plenty of other people having their heads chopped off. We need a strong temperament. We don’t need these people that sit around with very low-key, where everyone falls asleep listening to him. We need a strong temperament.
HH: Do you agree with me that yours would be unprecedented in the Oval Office, that we have never had anyone like Trump in the Oval Office?
DT: Well, I’ve been a great success. I’m the most successful person.
HH: Oh, no, I mean, I’m talking about past presidents.
DT: …to run for office, and I think that’s what we need to turn the country around. I know what to do. I know how to get the debt paid off. I mean, I know things that other people won’t have a clue. And you need energy. You know, it’s interesting, sometimes the word temperament, it’s an interesting word to really define. But part of that word is energy. And I see some of the people, and I have great respect for a number of the people that we’re talking about, the candidates. Let’s call them the candidates. But I have a lot of respect for some of them, and I’ve really gotten to like a few of them, but I must tell you, the word energy is very important. We need great energy. And some of those people, let’s just use some, some of those people do not have energy. And if you don’t have the energy, which is a part of temperament, this country is never going to get better, it’s never going to be great again, Hugh.
HH: Yeah, I don’t know if you know this. Alexander Hamilton, another New Yorker, said energy in the executive is the most important part of the presidency in the Federalist Papers. You can put that in your speeches. Let me ask you, though, you said…
DT: Well, I think you have to add, though, energy and good judgment.
DT: Now I know people with energy, but they have bad judgment and they get themselves in trouble all the time. You know, you have to couple it with brains and you know, really intelligence. But you have to couple it with good judgment, because I do know people with a lot of energy and a lot of poor judgment.
HH: Let me ask you about yesterday in Michigan. You said the Republicans have been treating you fairly. First of all, are you counting on me treating you fairly, because I’m going to treat you fairly in these debates.
DT: Well, I was until I saw this article, I actually was. But I think you’ll treat me fairly. Look, you’re a professional. I was a little surprised, and you did talk about temperament, and again, you know, I was criticized on the same day by Bush and by Hillary Clinton, and they used the same word. They say we don’t like his tone, because his tone is a little aggressive, we don’t need…well, I don’t like their tone, because they don’t have the energy. They don’t have that push or that drive. And that’s what we need. You know, we’re behind the eight ball. It’s not like we’re riding high and it’s the opposite way. If the opposite way, we can low-key it, but we’re behind the eight ball, so you need a strong tone. So it was very interesting, though, Hugh, at the same moment of the same day they both used the same term, and I was actually complimented by it. But what I can tell you?
HH: Now people are worried that Bill Clinton called you, and a lot of Republicans are worried that Trump is in this to set up Hillary. What did you talk about with Bill Clinton?
DT: Ah, it’s so crazy. Well, first of all, nobody, and you actually said this before, nobody has been tougher on Hillary than I have.
DT: Look, I’m the only one that came out and said what she did, and I said this two months ago, was a criminal act. I saw it two months ago. Nobody else, even now, they don’t say it. I think the reason politicians don’t say it is they think that they could likewise be there someday, so they’re afraid to say it. But I’m the only one that said it was a criminal act. Nobody’s been tougher. And he did call me, and the reason, and by the way, he called me after. You know, there’s a lot of false reporting. He called me after I made my decision. And in my opinion, he was very unhappy when he heard what the outcome was. But he called me long after I made my decision. I made my decision, and I think, and you know, look, I have nothing against anybody, but I think that he wanted to find out if I’m actually doing it. But he called after I made, not before I made my decision. And I said to people, look, they would know that if I run, because my whole life has been about winning. That’s what we need in this country. I think that they would know, and he understands me well enough, that it’s going to be their worst nightmare. I will be their worst nightmare. And interestingly, a recent poll that came out, while I’m killing everybody in the regular polls in terms of the Republicans, one poll that just came out had me even with Hillary. And this was, I don’t know why this would be, but I was a little bit down to Hillary when some of the other guys that I’m killing as a Republican, frankly beating badly, as a Republican, were even with Hillary. Well, one came out yesterday where I was even with Hillary. You see, I don’t worry about Hillary right now. I worry about her later. I want to do one thing as a time. I like to do, I would like to make it as simple as, it’s a complex world. I like to make it as simple as possible. But the first thing I have to do is this. But Hillary, I think, I really believe it might not be Hillary, Hugh, because of the fact that I really think she’s got a huge problem with the emails.
HH: Did Bill Clinton ask you not to run?
DT: No, not at all. He didn’t ask me not to run, but I had already made my decision to run. He called me after I made my decision.
HH: All right. Let’s…
DT: He didn’t call me before.
HH: Let’s finish…
DT: It wouldn’t have mattered. He would have had no influence. But he called me after I had made my decision to run.
HH: All right, let’s finish with a hard issue, the China issue. They are running live fire drills in the South China Sea today near the disputed island that John Kerry asked them to stay away from last week. That’s a show of disrespect. What would Donald Trump do?
DT: Well, they have no respect for our president. They have no respect for John Kerry, who falls off bicycles at 73 in the middle of a negotiation that’s very important, which by the way, it turns out to be, I think, one of the worst deals that we will ever make ever. And you know the sad part about that deal, and I found out about it three or four days ago, if the deal doesn’t go through, we still have to give them the money. You ever hear of a deal like that? If the deal doesn’t happen, we give them the money. This is the most incompetent group of negotiators. As far as the South China Sea, which is what we’re talking about, it’s a long ways away. I flew to China not too long ago, and I was on a plane for 21 hours. That’s a long, long ways away. And at some point, we are going to have to stop being the policemen of the world, Hugh, whether we like it or don’t like it. You know, they talk about Ukraine also. Now Putin can’t stand Obama, and I understand that, and Obama can’t stand Putin, either, but he can’t stand him. And Ukraine, we’re with them. We’re with the Europeans and all. But you know, wouldn’t it be nice if Germany, who is minting money, they’re coining money, they have an unbelievable, actually, they have a very smart leader. She’s one of the great leaders of the world today, but Germany and all of these countries that are affected by Ukraine aren’t the ones that are fighting. We are. At what point do we say Germany, you know what, you better start handling Ukraine, because we have enough to do. We have to rebuild our country, Hugh. Our infrastructure is dead, our roads, our highways, our airports, our schools.
HH: When you say…
DT: We don’t have to worry about Ukraine. Now we’d be with the Europeans, but that’s not a fight that should be led by us. That’s a fight that should be led by the Europeans, and in particular, Germany, not by us.
HH: Now President Reagan, whom I served, said we’re the last best hope of the world. We’re the bright, shining city on the Hill. If we aren’t the policemen of the world, who is, Donald Trump?
DT: Well, don’t forget, you know, when he was doing it, it was a little bit different. They didn’t owe $19 trillion in debt, they weren’t going to be Greece in another six months if it keeps going the way it’s going. You know, when you hit $24 trillion, that seems to be a very sacred number. That’s the magic number. When you hit $24 trillion, and we’re going to be there very soon, because it’s building up very quickly, and Obamacare is a disaster. Obamacare is going to add, it’s got to be repealed and replaced by something better, but it’s got to be. But when we hit that $24 trillion number, we become Greece on steroids. I mean, we have a lot of problems in this country. We can’t do what maybe they would have done in those days. Now that doesn’t mean we can’t come back to do it, Hugh, when we straighten ourselves out. But we have made so many mistakes, we have had such incompetent leadership in this country, that we really have to be in a position where we straighten out our own house first. We just can’t be going all over the world fighting battles all over the world that have, in many cases, nothing to do with us. And let Germany, let Europe, and we’ll be with them. You know the expression we’re right behind you, just go in there, we’re right behind you. But if they don’t want it bad enough, what are we doing? What are we doing?
HH: But President Obama said he was leading from behind. It brought us Libya. It brought us Iraq. It brought us ISIS. What’s the difference between leading from behind and what you’re talking about, Donald Trump?
DT: Well you know, as far as Obama was concerned, and you know, I am the most militaristic, let’s call it, of anybody that you’ve spoken to. I want to build our military, I want to take care of our vets great, I want to build our military so strong that nobody will ever mess with us. But in 2004, and I was sent a small delegation from the White House to talk to me, because I got a lot of publicity. It was actually on Reuters in July of 2004. I said we shouldn’t be going into Iraq, because we’re going to totally destabilize the Middle East, Iran will take over Iraq. You know, they always fought each other, Hugh, as you know, for many, many years.
HH: Yes, yes.
DT: They would fight, and they were equal. They were exactly equal. And you know, they’d move ten feet one way, ten feet the other, then they’d rest. Okay, then they’d go back. We totally decapitated one of those equals. And I said that Iran will take over, and it turned out there were no weapons of mass destruction. So that’s another interesting thing. It was just a big mistake. So we’ve totally destabilized, and I said once we were there, keep the oil. All of these things that I said turned out to be true. So I said Iran will take over Iraq. That’s already essentially happened, but it’s happening as we speak. And I said Iran and other people that are far worse than Saddam Hussein, ISIS, will take over the oil. That’s happened. So the point is that we need people of vision. I am the only one out of all of these people that are running that said don’t go into Iraq. And yet I am stronger militarily than any of them. I will be, jobs will be my strength, but I think I’ll be equally strong, militarily. We have to rebuild our military. We have to take care of our vets. But, and I know how you feel, Hugh. I’ve heard you plenty of times. I know how you feel. But we have to straighten out our own house or we’re not going to have a country left anymore.
HH: Donald Trump, thank you for joining me today. Keep coming back. I will treat you fairly on the stage at the Reagan Library, and every time in between and in the future debates, and every time you come on the Hugh Hewitt Show.
DT: Thank you very much, and remember, we need a strong temperament, Hugh.
HH: All right (laughing), Donald Trump, I hear you.
DT: So long.
HH: Thank you.
End of interview.