US President Donald Trump has defended making unsubstantiated claims about wiretapping and election fraud that have damaged his credibility, saying in a new interview he “predicted a lot of things.”
When questioned about a litany of controversial statements -- from unrest in Sweden, to Brexit, to dues owed by NATO states -- Trump told Time magazine in an interview published on Thursday that he often foresaw things that later were revealed to be true.
“I am a very instinctual person, but my instinct turns out to be right,” he said. “I predicted a lot of things, some things that came to you a little bit later.”
Trump defended his most audacious claim -- rejected by Republicans and Democrats alike -- that his predecessor Barack Obama ordered the tapping of his phone.
On March 4, Trump implied his predecessor had broken the law in targeting him.
“Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!” he tweeted.
The claim has snowballed into a political scandal that has called Trump’s credibility into question and damaged relations with foreign intelligence partners.
On Wednesday, representative Devin Nunes -- who worked on Trump’s transition team and is now leading a congressional investigation into possible links between that campaign team and Russia -- said Trump’s communications might have been swept up in intelligence gathering on suspected foreign agents.
Trump claimed that as a victory. “So that means I am right.”
“When I said wiretapping, it was in quotes. Because a wiretapping is, you know today it is different than wire tapping. It is just a good description. But wiretapping was in quotes. What I am talking about is surveillance.”
Riot, death, problem
Trump spoke with Time the same day as a deadly attack in London outside British parliament, though his mind was on issues elsewhere in Europe.
“Sweden. I make the statement, everyone goes crazy. The next day they have a massive riot, and death, and problems.”
Trump astonished Sweden last month by appearing to refer to a non-existent terror incident in the country, which he argued was paying a high price for its generous asylum policy.
Two days after his comments a riot broke out in a Stockholm suburb with a large immigrant population, leading Trump supporters to argue he had been vindicated.
Some cars were set on fire, and police hit with stones, but there were no reports of serious injuries, let alone deaths.
Trump also claimed his remarks concerning the NATO alliance and the British vote to leave the European Union had been prescient.
“NATO, obsolete, because it doesn’t cover terrorism. They fixed that, and I said that the allies must pay. Nobody knew that they weren’t paying. I did. I figured it.”
“Brexit, I was totally right about that.”
Pressed on his unsubstantiated and widely-challenged claims that three million illegal votes were cast in the election, or that Obama had tapped his phones, Trump insisted his credibility was not dented.
“I guess, I can’t be doing so badly, because I am president, and you are not. You know.”