Trump's comments came during an appearance on Republican National Committee (RNC) chairwoman Ronna McDaniel's Real America podcast, which the RNC provided to Breitbart News exclusively on Tuesday evening ahead of its public release on Wednesday.
“There was never anybody tougher on Russia than I was,” Trump said in the interview with McDaniel. “And I would say that Putin would, if he was being honest, he would say that the sanctions I put on — I was the one that ended Nord Stream. There was never anybody even close. I mean, Nord Stream 2 was the biggest thing. Nobody ever even heard of it until I came along and complained. And then I shut it down, and there was never anything so big that happened to Russia than shutting down Nord Stream 2. And then Biden came in and he opened it up almost immediately. I couldn't believe it. And now we are where we are. It's a disgrace. The other thing we are, and we're just a little while ago, energy independent. We were producing more energy by far than Russia or Saudi Arabia. We were going to be double the size of both in a very short period of time, probably within 12 months. But we were energy independent for the first time in more than 72 years. And that was a killer for Russia because we brought the price of energy down. We were down at $30 a barrel, $32 a barrel, $40 a barrel. And actually much less than that for a period of time. And nobody had ever seen anything. And that was certainly tough for Russia and other countries because they had to go out and they had to compete with those prices. And now they're making a fortune with what's going on, and we're buying energy from Russia.”
WATCH: RONNA MCDANIEL INTERVIEWS PRESIDENT TRUMP FOR REAL AMERICA:
McDaniel then cited Trump's speech last weekend at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) where he laid out how, in this century, he is the only president under which Putin did not invade another country. It is notable that McDaniel even criticized former President George W. Bush, a Republican, who allowed a Putin incursion into Georgia. During former Democrat President Barack Obama's administration, Putin annexed Crimea from Ukraine, and now of course, during Biden, the Russians have invaded the whole country of Ukraine.
“He did it under Bush. He did it under Obama. He's done it under Biden,” McDaniel said. “What do you say about Biden taking this Russian oil?”
Trump replied by recounting how aggressive Putin has been under every other president than him during the 21st century. “He took over Georgia, he took over Crimea, and now it looks like he's taking over the world the way Biden talks,” Trump said. “During my four years — in fact, I watched Sleepy Eyes Chuck Todd the other day, which it's not often that I watch him, and he asked I guess [Secretary of State Antony] Blinken a question: ‘How come this didn't happen during the four years that Trump was president?' You know what the answer was? ‘I don't know.' But I can tell you, we were very tough on Russia.”
Trump added that he believes the Chinese Communist Party will “be making a move soon” against Taiwan. “China is going to make a move — and a very strong move — on Taiwan,” Trump said. “I would say sooner rather than later. Now the Olympics — I would say after the Olympics — now that the Olympics is over, they see what fools we made of ourselves in getting out of Afghanistan and the way they got out. I got it down to 2,000 soldiers and the rest was easy. There's never been anything so mishandled, so bungled, so incompetent. I think actually a big reason why the problem you have with Ukraine — I think when Putin and when Xi and when Kim Jong-un and when the Iranians are watching that, the Iranian leaders, I think they saw what happened in Afghanistan — and I think that gave them a new sense of power and dignity.”
McDaniel then touched on how with the record-high gas prices and Biden-caused inflation among other things, ordinary Americans are struggling economically. She said Trump was a “voice” for those forgotten American workers and asked him what he would say to those people now.
“Well, I think the party is still the voice,” Trump said. “When you look at Hispanics, if you look at African Americans, Asian American people, we have taken in so many people that we never would have taken in if it wasn't for Make America Great Again, me, a whole group, you, a lot of people, we all worked on [bringing people to the GOP] very hard. And you know, we have a much bigger, much more powerful party. We're going to do fantastically well [in 2022]. We did great in 2020. We did much better than we did in 2016; we got 12 million more votes and the most votes ever gotten by a sitting president.”
McDaniel noted that the Republicans flipped a bunch of House seats in 2020, defying expectations and proving Trump has serious coattails. “We had tremendous coattails,” Trump said.
Trump then touted his victories in endorsements in Texas primaries, where every single candidate he endorsed either outright won their primary or led heading into a runoff. “In Texas, we were 33-0,” Trump said. “We won 33, or in a few cases, they're in primaries but they're way ahead. We had a tremendous night in Texas [last week], and I think people saw that loud and clear.”
After that, Trump laid out how Republicans have a “big obligation” to “straighten out the country” from the “mess” that Democrats and Biden have created.
“When you talk inflation, when talk the border, when you talk about the wall, all of these things — the wall could have been finished in three weeks,” Trump said. “It had such an impact because we built 500 miles of wall and we had the best numbers on the border we've ever had, and the drug numbers were the lowest we've ever recorded. They've been recording them for a long time, but we were stopping the drug traffic to a large extent. We've never had a southern border as good, and now it's the worst it's ever been. Whether it's human trafficking, whether it's drugs, whether it's people coming across, it's by far the worst it's ever been. Every single thing we have is in bad shape. The military has become woke — we have great generals, but not the guys you see on television that took out ISIS, 100 percent of the ISIS caliphate — we got Al-Baghdadi. Nobody has done the job we had done, and now every single thing — inflating is totally self-inflicted. I think inflation is largely because of the energy. It's gone up so much that the baking goes up with it. Every single thing you do, whether it's the trucks or the machines you use to make a product or whatever it may be — the planes that fly it to a destination — everything is related to energy. It's so bad. Energy has doubled and tripled — and it's going to be tripled and quadrupled.”
Later in the interview, Trump ripped Biden even more, saying he calls him “O'Biden” — a “combination of the two,” Obama and Biden — and saying, “he really hurt this country.”
“They hurt this country,” Trump reiterated. “They hurt this country so badly. But what's happened in the last year, and now it's almost — it's hard to believe it's almost two and a half years until the big presidential election. Time does fly. And we're talking about six months until I think we're going to have a tremendously successful midterm. But when you look at the damage this man and this administration has done, if you take the worst five presidents in the history of our country and add them up together, you haven't seen damage like this. There's never been anything like it. This country is so badly hurt. Plus, it's lost its confidence. America has lost its confidence, it's lost its self-respect. It's not respected anymore in the world. They're laughing at us.”
McDaniel and Trump discussed Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin's victory — thanks in large part to Trump's tele-rally in the lead-up to the election that turned out many voters McDaniel said otherwise might not have voted — in November and then turned to the midterm elections coming up.
“We'll be working with a lot of good candidates with endorsements, rallies, and tele-rallies,” Trump said. “We're going to be doing a lot of rallies — we have one next week in South Carolina … We're going to be doing very big rallies. We had 87,000 people in Texas a few weeks ago. We had 63,000 people — it was incredible — at one in Alabama. We're going to different states, and we're getting bigger numbers than we've ever gotten. And the reason is they're angry. People are angry with what's gone on in the country with the elections, with the border, with Afghanistan, with everything. And now, Ukraine is maybe worse than everything combined. What's happening in Ukraine is a mass murder. It could be millions of people by the time it's finished.”
Trump said next, too, that his direct message to the people is to keep fighting — and that all hope is not lost yet.
“I think we can really do something that will be comparable if not even better than the job we did before,” Trump said. “So, don't lose hope. People can't lose hope.”