In a tweet on Sunday, President Donald Trump said, “The Fake News is saying that I am willing to meet with Iran, ‘No Conditions.’ That is an incorrect statement (as usual!).”
It is possible that Trump’s position had just changed. But journalists were reporting the position he and his top officials had repeatedly expressed over the previous 14 months.
Facts First: Trump said in June 2019 and in July 2018 that he would meet with Iran with “no pre-conditions.” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin both said the same – five days before this tweet.
Trump has a history of accusing media outlets of “fake news” for reports that are accurate.
Here’s a timeline of instances in which Trump and senior administration officials said he was willing to meet with Iran with no pre-conditions:
July 30, 2018: During a press conference with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, Trump said of Iran, “I do believe that they will probably end up wanting to meet, and I’m ready to meet any time they want to.” Asked if he would have pre-conditions for a meeting, Trump said, “No pre-conditions. No. If they want to meet, I’ll meet. Anytime they want. Anytime they want. It’s good for the country, good for them, good for us, and good for the world. No pre-conditions. If they want to meet, I’ll meet.”
July 31, 2018: White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley was asked, “Is the President still willing to meet with the Iranian leader, no pre-conditions?” Gidley said, “That’s not changed. But he’s been clear on what he wants from Iran, and that is to end its destabilization efforts, its actions of being the world’s largest state sponsor of terror.”
June 2, 2019: Pompeo said at a press conference in Switzerland: “We’re prepared to engage in a conversation with no pre-conditions. We’re ready to sit down with them. But the American effort to fundamentally reverse the malign activity of this Islamic republic, this revolutionary force, is going to continue.”
June 23, 2019: Trump said he was not looking for war but that Iran cannot have a nuclear weapon. He added, “You want to talk? Good.” Chuck Todd, host of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” asked him, “No pre-conditions?” Trump responded, “Not as far as I’m concerned. No pre-conditions.”
June 23, 2019: Vice President Mike Pence told CNN’s Jake Tapper, “The President of the United States has made it clear we’re prepared to talk to Iran without pre-conditions.”
August 28, 2019: Gidley said on Fox News, “Well, listen, he has been clear that he wants to have conversations with the leaders of Iran without, you know, pre-conditions. He’s been very clear about that. And he was clear in the G7 as well. But the fact is, Iran is under a maximum pressure campaign by this president because of its decades’ worth of malign behavior.”
September 10, 2019: Appearing together at a press briefing, Mnuchin and Pompeo said within moments of each other that Trump was willing to meet with Iran with “no pre-conditions.”
“I think you know we’ve done more sanctions on Iran than anybody. And it’s absolutely working. Now, the President has made clear he is happy to take a meeting with no pre-conditions, but we are maintaining the maximum pressure campaign,” said Mnuchin.
When Pompeo was asked if he could foresee a meeting between Trump and the leader of Iran this month, around the United Nations General Assembly, Pompeo said, “Sure.”
“The President has made very clear he is prepared to meet with no pre-conditions,” he said.