On Wednesday, during an off the record chat aboard Air Force One, Trump used his revival of the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines as an example of how he’s not Putin’s puppet. In what seems likely to be a new method of handling/editing Trump’s public remarks, the White House released excerpts from the transcript of the conversation on Thursday.
The subject of the US and Trump’s relationship with Russia was a prominent talking point. As per usual, his rhetorical style was a maddening merry-go-round of half-thoughts, falsehoods, strange connections, and a complete misunderstanding of the issues. After throwing out numerous claims about the DAPL and KXL pipelines, he said, “You know, you’ll check, please check it. I have to be exactly accurate. They’ll say, oh I wasn’t totally accurate.” He was not totally accurate. And as requested, here are just a few things he wasn’t totally accurate about.
The first thing I signed, the first day, was the Keystone Pipeline. That first * was the Keystone and the Dakota Access Pipeline — also Dakota Access.
Trump signed executive memoranda to accelerate the pipelines four days after taking office. No big deal, but the error rewrites history. If we consider the Saturday after Inauguration Day his first full day in office, it was spent stewing about his crowd size and humiliating his press secretary. He did sign some executive orders on Friday but he said he wasn’t going to count that as his first day.
The reason Trump wanted to talk about the pipelines is that he sees it as leverage against Putin, and possible proof that Putin wouldn’t want him to be president. After his son, Donald Trump Jr. tweeted out emails that showed Trump’s campaign coordinating with Russians to meet about the Kremlin’s support for him, it’s been harder for Trump to deny.
So, the next time I’m with Putin, I’m going to ask him: who were you really for? Because I can’t believe that he would have been for me. Me. Strong military, strong borders — but he cares less about the borders — but strong military, tremendous. We’re going to be an exporter of fuel this year. We’re going to be exporting ...
Hillary would have never signed — that was with the reservation — she would have never signed it. I was given great credit for that one. That was a tough one. First day.
Trump’s argument is that because low oil prices hurt the oil-dependent economy of Russia, and more pipelines mean more oil, Putin would have preferred Clinton to be president. One also has to admire that he throws in the fact that it was a tough decision because the people who live around the DAPL don’t like having their drinking water tainted. He’s the kind of guy who will say “fuck an American’s drinking water.” He did it again in February when he ordered revisions to the “Clean Water Rule: Definition of ‘Waters of the United States.”
Then he turned to job creation as a result of the pipelines.
It’s also 48,000 jobs between both of them. The other one I signed, that was the Keystone. That was dead. That was dead for two years. It was never going to happen. I revived it on day one.
Again, it wasn’t day one. It also took two months for the State Department to approve the Keystone permits.
As for the jobs, he always has a hard time getting those numbers right. Most the estimated jobs are temporary. And if you cast a really wide net that includes things like temporary fast food workers to feed temporary construction workers, Keystone XL is estimated to create 26,000 positions during its two-year construction. 50 jobs would exist when it’s complete. The Dakota Access Pipeline was estimated to create 12,000 temporary positions over the course of construction, but it’s almost complete. The Brookings Institute estimates that 40 full-time jobs will remain when all is said and done.
Trump wouldn’t commit to any answer about new sanctions against Russia or any other punishment’s for Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election. He also wouldn’t commit to an answer about whether or not he believes there were any Russian attempts to meddle. When asked about it, he said:
Somebody said later to me, which was interesting. Said, let me tell you, if they were involved, you wouldn’t have found out about it. Okay, which is a very interesting point.
What I said, I asked him, were you involved? He said, very strongly — said to him a second time — totally different — were you involved? Because we can’t let that happen. And I mean whether it’s Russia or anybody else, we can’t let there be even a scintilla of doubt when it comes to an election. I mean, I’m very strong on that.
So, at least as of yesterday, Trump’s position seems to be that he’s not really doing much about “the cyber,” but by giving energy companies free reign on fossil fuels, he’ll give Russia hell.
After some disjointed comments about military spending, he unrelatedly said, “I’m a tremendous fracker,” and that was true. In the English usage and the Battlestar Galactica usage.