politics

5 times Trump said something controversial ... and then walked it back

By Dakin Andone and Cassie Spodak

Published July 22, 2018

President Donald Trump faced bipartisan anger this week after he declined to side with the US intelligence community on the question of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.

YURI KADOBNOV/AFP/Getty Images

President Putin, he just said it's not Russia. I will say this, I don't see any reason why it would be.

POOL

After he returned to Washington, Trump said he misspoke.

POOL

In a key sentence in my remarks I said the word "would" instead of "wouldn't." The sentence should have been: "I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be Russia."

POOL

It wasn’t the first time the President received backlash for a comment he made, only to walk it back later.

Tom Pennington/Getty Images North America/Getty Images

On John McCain

In July 2015, not long after Trump declared his candidacy, he set off a political firestorm for saying Sen. John McCain, who spent five years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, was not a war hero.

Win McNamee/Getty Images

He's not a war hero. He is a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren't captured, okay? I hate to tell you.

CNN

THE WALK-BACK

Trump changed his tune nearly a year later, though he refused to apologize.


“You know, frankly, I like John McCain, and John McCain is a hero,” Trump said on Fox News Radio. “Also, heroes are people that are, you know, whether they get caught or don’t get caught – they’re all heroes as far as I’m concerned.”

Scott Olson/Getty Images

On Megyn Kelly

In August 2015, after then-Fox News host Megyn Kelly pressed candidate Trump about misogynistic remarks he made in the past, he slammed her and made a controversial comment that many took to be a reference to menstruation.

CNN

You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her wherever.

CNN

THE WALK-BACK

Trump later clarified his comments on Twitter, writing that he was referring to Kelly’s nose.


“Only a deviant would think anything else,” he said.

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/AFP/Getty Images

On a Muslim ban

In December 2015, after a terrorist attack by ISIS sympathizers in San Bernardino, California, then-candidate Trump called for a ban on Muslims entering the US.

Kena Betancur/Getty Images

Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.

CNN

THE WALK-BACK

The following May, Trump appeared to soften his position in an interview on Fox News Radio, saying the ban was merely a suggestion.

“We have a serious problem, and it’s a temporary ban – it hasn’t been called for yet, nobody’s done it. This is just a suggestion until we find out what’s going on,” Trump said.

Scott Olson/Getty Images North America/Getty Images

On abortion

In March 2016, MSNBC host Chris Matthews pressed Trump on whether women who choose to have abortions should be punished.

Tom Lynn/Getty Images

There has to be some form of punishment.

MSNBC

THE WALK-BACK

Trump later clarified his position, saying that women who obtain abortions are victims and the doctors that perform them should be punished.


“If Congress were to pass legislation making abortion illegal and the federal courts upheld this legislation … the doctor or any other person performing this illegal act upon a woman would be held legally responsible, not the woman," Trump said.

Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty Images

On Charlottesville

Perhaps Trump’s most high-profile walk-back occurred after white nationalists and other far-right groups violently clashed with leftist anti-hate protesters last year in Charlottesville, Virginia. The day ended in tragedy with the death of counterprotester Heather Heyer.


The President’s initial comments drew condemnation after he appeared to equate the two sides.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence -- on many sides, on many sides.

POOL

THE WALK-BACK

Trump took a stronger stance a few days later and denounced the far-right groups:


"Racism is evil -- and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

THEN HE WALKED BACK THE WALK-BACK

But a few days after that he reversed course (again) in an infamous press conference in the lobby of Trump Tower, doubling down on his original statement and blaming “both sides.”

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

I think there’s blame on both sides ... I think there’s blame on both sides. And I have no doubt about it and you don’t have any doubt about it either.

POOL