Trump Says There’s a ‘Chance’ of Military Action Against Iran

LONDON — In a wide-ranging interview on Wednesday, the third and last day of his state visit to Britain, President Trump said there was “a chance” of military action against Iran, cast his ban on transgender people serving in the military as an economic decision and admitted using the word “nasty” in connection with Meghan, Duchess of Sussex.

He made the remarks on ITV’s “Good Morning Britain” to Piers Morgan, the show’s co-host who was the winner of “The Celebrity Apprentice” in the United States in 2007-8 and someone Mr. Trump considers a friend.

Later on Wednesday morning, the president joined Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister Theresa May in Portsmouth, on the coast of southern England, at a ceremony to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Normandy during World War II.

[Read the latest about Mr. Trump’s visit in our live briefing.]

Mr. Trump’s state visit has been a whirlwind of ceremonial events with the royal family, including a state banquet on Monday; tea with Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall; and political and business meetings on Tuesday with Mrs. May and other top officials in which he urged Britain to forge ahead with plans to quit the European Union, dangling the prospect of a “phenomenal” trade deal with the United States.

But his trip has been marked by a continuing feud with the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and protests that brought thousands of people to the streets of London with new and old props, including the Trump baby balloon and one called Dump Trump, which shows the president sitting on a golden commode. Mr. Trump, who is often unsettled by reports of protests, sought to play down the demonstrations, calling them “fake news” in a news conference with Mrs. May on Tuesday and tweeting on Wednesday morning that there were actually “big crowds” supporting him.

Mr. Trump had set the stage for his second trip to Britain as president with interviews in The Sun and The Sunday Times, both Rupert Murdoch-owned newspapers. Asked by The Sun’s reporter about criticisms that the former Meghan Markle, Prince Harry’s wife, made about him in 2016, Mr. Trump replied, “I didn’t know she was nasty.” He later denied saying the word nasty, even though the exchange had been recorded.

On Wednesday, however, Mr. Trump acknowledged to Mr. Morgan: “They said some of the things that she said and, it’s actually on tape. And I said, ‘Well, I didn’t know she was nasty.’ I wasn’t referring to she’s nasty. I said she was nasty about me. And, essentially, I didn’t know she was nasty about me.”

When Mr. Morgan told him that his “nasty” comment could be read different ways, he insisted: “She was nasty to me. And that’s O.K. for her to be nasty. It’s not good for me to be nasty to her, and I wasn’t.”

The president said he had had a warm exchange with the duchess’s husband, Prince Harry. “In fact, he spent a lot of time talking to Ivanka and talking to my family. I went up — he couldn’t have been nicer,” Mr. Trump said.

He also said that in his meeting with Prince Charles, a brief chat had turned into a 90-minute discussion. “He did most of the talking,” Mr. Trump said. “He is really into climate change, and I think that’s great, I mean I want that, I like that.”

The president has denied that climate change exists, and has questioned the science behind it.

In the interview, Mr. Trump seemed impressed that the prince was concerned about the fate of future generations. “I’ll tell you what moved me is his passion for future generations; he’s really not doing this for him,” he told Mr. Morgan. “He’s doing this for future generations.”

But Mr. Trump said he dismissed the suggestion that the United States should do more.

“I did say,” he said, “ ‘Well, the United States right now has among the cleanest climates there are based on all statistics.’ And it’s even getting better.”

Mr. Morgan was at his most adversarial when he asked why Mr. Trump claimed to support rights for lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people, but was enforcing a ban on transgender people serving in the American military.

Mr. Trump repeatedly cast it as an economic decision, and suggested that transgender people were signing up for service as a way to have surgical costs covered.

“They take massive amounts of drugs. They have to,” he said, adding, “You’re in the military; you’re not allowed to take any drugs.”

Mr. Morgan interjected: “The U.S. military spends a lot more money, for example, on giving Viagra to servicemen,” he said, “than it does on actual medical bills of transgender people. And so it just seems to me an unnecessary thing for a guy who wants to be supportive of L.G.B.T. rights and the community around the world that you’ve taken this action.”

The president replied: “Well, it is what it is. Look, massive amounts — and also people going in and asking for the operation, you know the operation is $200,000, $250,000, and getting the operation, the recovery period is long and they have to take large amounts of drugs after that for whatever reason but large amounts, and that’s not the way it is. I mean, you can’t do that.”

When Mr. Morgan asked Mr. Trump whether he was considering military action against Iran, after months of threats and escalation between Tehran and Washington, the president said: “There is always a chance. Do I want to? No, I’d rather not. But there’s always a chance.” He added, “I’d much rather talk.”

He also called the reality of having control of the United States’ nuclear weapons a “terrible responsibility” for him, but one he was prepared to handle.

Source link