- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 19, 2019

President Trump tried to set guardrails around his approach to Iran late Sunday, saying there are two things he cannot abide.

“I just don’t want them to have nuclear weapons, and they can’t be threatening us,” Mr. Trump told Fox News’ Steven Hilton.

Mr. Trump is under pressure to explain his administration’s stance against the Islamic Republic, as pundits, members of Congress and global allies say they fear the U.S. is saber-rattling its way into military conflict, despite this White House’s own weariness with armed forays into the Middle East.

Speaking in a taped interview from the White House Rose Garden, Mr. Trump said war is harmful, economically and, of course, “war kills people.”

“I don’t want to fight,” Mr. Trump said.

He said his decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal is paying off, arguing the re-imposition of economic sanctions has “devastated” Tehran.

Still, U.S. lawmakers are demanding clarity about the situation, saying they’re worried that hawks like National Security Adviser John Bolton will result in conflict, as intelligence officials in both countries trade warnings.

“Let’s see what happens,” Mr. Trump said. “We cannot let Iran have nuclear weapons.”

The interview aired hours after he talked tough on Twitter, suggesting any aggression against the U.S. would pose an existential risk to Tehran.

“Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!” he tweeted.

Mr. Trump spoke on Iran as part of a wide-ranging interview with Fox, his favorite news network.

He said he still wants to strike an infrastructure deal with Congress, despite reports his own chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, poured cold water on it.

“I’d like to have infrastructure,” Mr. Trump said. “We have to fix our jobs, we have to fix our bridges.”

And he asserted his administration will outline a new plan for repealing and replacing Obamacare.

“We’re going to put out a plan, pretty soon, actually,” Mr. Trump said.

Mr. Trump also defended his escalating trade war with China, saying someone needs to stand up to the Asian nation. He said he admires President Xi Jinping, though he fears he wants to position China as the world’s foremost power.

“Not gonna happen with me,” Mr. Trump said, reiterating his plan to offer up to $15 billion in assistance to farmers caught in the crosshairs of tit-for-tat tariffs.

The president also said his plan to base a greater share of immigration on economic factors, instead of family connections, will gain traction, despite conventional wisdom it’s dead on arrival on Capitol Hill.

“We need people. We need people,” Mr. Trump said. “I want to make sure anyone who comes into our country comes in through merit.”

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