Donald Trump Monday morning argued that the 9/11 attacks may not have taken place under his watch, because his strong immigration policies likely would have kept the attackers out of the United States, but he denied that he was looking back at the past to attack or blame anyone.
"I don't like to go back and blame," the GOP front-runner told Fox News' "Fox & Friends" program.
"I like to look to the future. I'm not blaming anybody. The only thing I said, well, you know, [Jeb Bush] said we were safe [under President George W. Bush]. Well the fact is, we had the worst attack in the history of our country during his reign. Jeb said we were safe during his reign, that wasn't true and the only thing I pointed out."
However, he told the show, in a sometimes-contentious interview, "If you look at his three primary agencies, they hated each other ... a good leader would make sure they get along and talk and lots of other things happen."
Trump said that he had thought about a retort to Jeb Bush during the last debate, when he'd said his brother kept the country safe after the 9/11 attacks, because "I didn't want to embarrass him that night," Trump told the program.
"I said, 'He kept us safe? We lost the World Trade Center.' On Sept. 11, his brother was president and the World Trade Center came crashing down, with 3,000 lives and all the problems ensuing."
But with his immigration policies, Trump said, he's not only talking about the Southern border, "I'm talking generally speaking, come into the country legally."
He also said that if you "remember back on that time," then-CIA Director George Tenet "knew in advance there would be an attack."
Trump agreed that back in the "dark and sad history" surrounding the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, "the FBI, the NSC and the CIA were not talking to each other" and Tenet has stated that there was no communication between the three major agencies.
"Now, then you go back just a little bit further and advance it. Why did we attack Iraq?" he continued, insisting that he had been against that war all along.
"There were no weapons of mass destruction number one and number two, there are many other things, but when the terrorists dropped off their families a couple of days before, maybe even the day before the attack, those families went back to Saudi Arabia," Trump continued.
"They didn't go back to Iraq. They went back to Saudi Arabia. So why did we attack Iraq? And now we have the mess, with the whole Middle East screwed up because we destroyed Iraq."
Trump told correspondent Pete Hegseth, who argued that just two of the attackers were in the United States without legal visas, that his immigration policies would have stopped the others from being in the country, as his standards would be "much higher for visas."
"Number two, we'd have a massive whistleblower system, which you have to have," said Trump. "It's hard to believe you had 18 or 19 people and nobody, nobody knew what they were doing. They were working all, you know, they were all over the place, they were learning about airplanes, they were flying airplanes."
But, he told the show, he was opposed to the attack, even back to 2003 and 2004, even though he is the "most militaristic person there is."
"What does that mean, militaristic?" Hegseth asked him.
"I want to have a strong military so that nobody messes with us and I'll have the strongest military, but you have to know when to use it," Trump said. "When you did Iraq, when you knocked the power from Iraq, you had these two equal powers, Iran and Iraq. When you took away, when you decapitated one, the other one is now taking over the Middle East."
Hegseth argued back with him, saying that to say President George W. Bush lied is "a Michael Moore line."
"Actually, I didn't take this argument. I'm not blaming anybody," said Trump, agreeing that there has not been another major attack on the homeland.
"But we attacked a country, we spent $2 trillion attacking a country and you know what we have for it right now? Zero," said Trump.
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