WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said in an interview that aired Saturday night that tensions between the United States and North Korea over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program is an issue he should not have had to deal with.
“This should have been handled 25 years ago,” Trump told former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee on his TBN show “Huckabee.” “This should have been handled 10 years ago. It should have been handled during the Obama administration. The truth is, Mike, I was handed a mess. Not only there, I was handed a mess in the Middle East. Just a total mess.”
In an extensive interview with Huckabee, who is the father of Trump’s press secretary Sarah Sanders, he discussed North Korea, the Iran deal, health care and his administration’s response in Puerto Rico.
Trump also told Huckabee in the interview, which touched broadly and in quick succession on a handful of major issues facing Trump’s administration, that if it were up to him, the US would not have gone into Iraq.
“That was a big mistake. That was truly one of the biggest mistakes in the history of our country,” he said about the Iraq War. “Because it was like throwing a rock in the hornets nest. But Obama should have never gotten out the way he got out. That’s how ISIS formed.”
Trump’s remarks contradict those he made in interviews before and after the invasion in which he supported the US going into Iraq. Trump only began questioning the merits of the war several months later, as US forces became mired in a war against Iraqi insurgents.
When asked about moving the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, something Trump said during his campaign that he would do, the President signaled he hadn’t made that decision yet.
“We’re going to make a decision in the not too distant future,” Trump said. “Right now, actually, we’re working on a plan that everyone says will never work because for many, many years, it’s never worked. They say it’s the toughest deal of all. It’s peace between Israel and the Palestinians. And if that doesn’t work … I want to give that a shot before I even think about moving the embassy to Jerusalem.”
Trump also wouldn’t say if the US was planning to get rid of the Iran nuclear deal. Two senior US officials told CNN this week that Trump plans to “decertify” the deal soon, declaring the Obama-era pact not in US interests and launching a congressional review period on the accord.
“In a few days from now, a week and a half to be exact, you’ll see exactly,” Trump told Huckabee. “But I can tell you I’m very unhappy with the deal. I’m very unhappy with their attitude. … Iran is a bad player. And they’re going to be taken care of as a bad player.”
On domestic issues, Trump expressed dissatisfaction with Republican lawmakers over their inability to pass a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.
“I’m very disappointed with a few people,” Trump said. “I thought that when I got to the Oval Office I’d have a bill sitting on my desk … but it didn’t happen.”
He also predicted that his tax reform plan will be successful if it gets passed. He unveiled the framework of the plan late last month.
“This is something that is going to work so easily” he said. “So basically, these people, we’re the highest-taxed nation in the world. These incredible people we have are treated unfairly. The companies in our country are treated unfairly and frankly, they’re leaving. They leave. They’re starting to come back with me.”
He continued: “We’re going to have more money to spend. It’s like handing people money.”
On Puerto Rico, Trump continued to slam San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz for criticizing his administration’s response to the damage from Hurricane Maria. Last week, in a series of tweets, he accused her of “poor leadership” and suggesting that the island’s residents are not doing enough to help themselves.
“We have the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, who didn’t attend meetings, who didn’t work with FEMA, who really did not do a very good job, in fact, did a very poor job,” Trump said in his interview with Huckabee. “And she was the lone voice that we saw. And of course that’s the only voice the media wanted to talk to.”
On Tuesday, after Trump visited the island, Yulín Cruz said Trump should avoid making comments that hurt the people of Puerto Rico.
“I think his staff understands now and they have all the data they need,” Yulín Cruz said. “But I would hope that the President of the United States stops spouting out comments that really hurt the people of Puerto Rico, because rather than commander in chief, he sort of becomes miscommunicator in chief.”