One of Donald Trump’s supposedly better qualities is that he speaks his mind. He promised to go into the “swamp” of smooth-talking politicians and drain it all, making the country “great again” for normal folks.
However, walking around with no verbal filter is a real double-edged sword. It has allowed Trump to appeal to countless voters and verbally eviscerate his political foes. At the same time, it’s led him to say (and tweet) some utterly unbelievable things.
We’ve assembled the 25 most controversial Donald Trump quotes. Just be warned: these quotes may change how you view President Trump forever!
“I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will have Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.”
— Trump at presidential announcement speech, June 16, 2015
Trump’s initial promise about his infamous wall was a real political litmus test. The idea that we could force another country to pay for our construction project was outrageous to many.
Since then, Trump has caused government shutdowns, declared national emergencies, and pilfered Department of Defense money to pay for the wall, at a cost of nearly $30 million per mile in southern Texas. Maybe he plans to send Mexico an invoice when it’s all done?
“I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the *****. You can do anything.”
— Trump recorded speaking to Billy Bush while on the way to film Access Hollywood in 2005
Many of Trump’s detractors thought this leaked audio would be the end of his political ambitions. After all, it was a direct recording of a presidential candidate seemingly admitting that he likes to sexually assault women.
Sadly, Trump and his defenders successfully spun this as simply “locker room talk” rather than an admission of wrongdoing. And that begs the question — who the hell brags about assaulting women in the locker room?
“Before a show, I’ll go backstage and everyone’s getting dressed, and everything else, and you know, no men are anywhere, and I’m allowed to go in because I’m the owner of the pageant and therefore I’m inspecting it… You know, they’re standing there with no clothes. And you see these incredible looking women, and so, I sort of get away with things like that.”
— Trump in reference to Miss USA and Miss Universe beauty pageants on The Howard Stern Show, 2005
While it’s arguably less horrific than admitting to sexual assault on tape, this is another Trump quote showcasing that he is a total creep.
Afterward, a number of former beauty pageant contestants confirmed that Trump did these things. History will record him as the first president to brag that he can “get away” with staring at naked pageant contestants!
“The line of ‘Make America great again,’ the phrase, that was mine, I came up with it about a year ago, and I kept using it, and everybody’s using it, they are all loving it. I don’t know, I guess I should copyright it, maybe I have copyrighted it.”
— Trump on MyFox New York, March 2015
Let’s give Trump some credit: he’s really good at branding. And people all over the world now associate “MAGA” (“Make America Great Again”) with Donald Trump himself.
However, in this quote, he takes full credit for coming up with the phrase. The only problem: Ronald Reagan came up with it first! He used the slogan “Let’s make America great again” as part of his successful 1980 presidential campaign.
“[John McCain is]… not a war hero. He’s a war hero — he’s a war hero ’cause he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured, OK, I hate to tell you.”
— Trump at the Iowa Family Leadership Summit, July 18, 2015
Trump has spent a long time presenting himself as a military-friendly president who loves his soldiers. Which is why this terrible quote casts such a long shadow.
In his attempt to smear his political rival John McCain, Trump blithely dismissed every single American POW. Rubbing salt in the wound, he insisted that being captured while serving your country doesn’t make you a “war hero!”
“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
— Trump, presidential announcement speech, June 16, 2015
Perhaps Trump’s most notorious quote on immigration, he actually said this in the speech announcing his presidential campaign. Americans and Mexicans alike were horrified at Trump’s comments, which were denounced as racist. The controversial statement led many to not take Trump seriously as a presidential candidate.
“You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her wherever.”
— Trump in an interview on CNN, on Fox News host Megyn Kelly questioning him during the presidential debate, August 2015
One of Trump’s more consistent qualities is that he hates being challenged or called out. And if anyone does so, he resorts to weird schoolyard insults right away.
During a presidential debate, when Fox News host Megyn Kelly asked about his previous comments about women (including calling them “fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals”), he told her that she was being ridiculous.
After the debate, when he was safe from any more of her hard questions, Trump made this controversial comment about her to CNN’s Don Lemon. Later, Trump tweeted that “her wherever” actually meant her nose.
“The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”
— Trump, Twitter, October 6, 2012
Another consistent Trump quality is his belief in conspiracy theories. Both before and after he became president, it seems like he never met a conspiracy theory he didn’t like.
In this quote, Trump tries to claim that the entirety of “global warming” is some kind of Chinese hoax. Maybe this was a test run for calling everything he doesn’t like “fake news?”
“What is it at 35? It’s called check-out time.”
— Trump on relationships with women on The Howard Stern Show, 2002
It’s tough for Trump to get much worse on the topic of women. But over the years, it seems like he was just filling out a misogyny Bingo card with his awful quotes.
Here, for instance, he jokes with Howard Stern about abandoning women as soon as they are 35 years old. With quotes like this, you can see why he’s on his third marriage!
“I think if this country gets any kinder or gentler, it’s literally going to cease to exist.”
— Trump in Playboy, March 1990
Trump’s successful run for president may have seemed pretty sudden. But he’s had political thoughts and ambitions for decades, and some of them are more outrageous than others.
In this 1990 Playboy interview, he seems to genuinely think the country would “cease to exist” because everyone is being too nice to one another. While America kept on ticking, we’ve got to hand it to Trump: creating a more divisive country will definitely be a major part of his presidential legacy!
“The U.S. cannot allow EBOLA-infected people back. People that go to far away places to help out are great — but must suffer the consequences!”
— Trump, Twitter, September 2, 2014
In this 2014 tweet, Trump seems to be advocating letting American citizens infected with Ebola “suffer” and possibly even die. Worse, he seems to think these are the natural “consequences” of helping others!
“It’s really cold outside, they are calling it a major freeze, weeks ahead of normal. Man, we could use a big fat dose of global warming!”
— Trump, Twitter, October 19, 2015
Most presidents and world leaders are not scientists. Nonetheless, it’s good when leaders have a rudimentary handle on basic scientific concepts.
Sadly, this does not apply to Trump. In this quote, he reveals his belief that “global warming” is nothing but a warm day and seems to think cold days somehow disprove climate change.
“I never attacked him on his looks, and believe me, there’s plenty of subject matter right there.”
— Trump on Sen. Rand Paul, Republican presidential debate, September 16, 2015
The first real challenge for Trump’s presidential run was the sheer number of Republican candidates. He had to stand out from that pack of experienced politicians, and he did so with outrageous comments whenever possible.
When he and Senator Rand Paul started exchanging comments during a debate, things took a nasty turn toward the end. Sen. Paul said, “I kind of have to laugh… his visceral response to attack people on their appearance… my goodness, that happened in junior high. Are we not way above that?”
Trump responded with the shade-throwing quote above, proving he was not indeed “way above that.”
“I would never buy Ivana any decent jewels or pictures. Why give her negotiable assets?”
— Trump, Vanity Fair, September 1990
Trump hides a lot of misogyny behind his attempts at humor. Every now and then, though, the humor turns self-deprecating.
Here, for instance, he casually assumes he is likely to divorce Ivana and wants to avoid giving her “negotiable assets.” That’s Trump in a nutshell: a quote that’s a little funny, a little sad, and a little strange, all in equal measure.
“I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”
— Trump, Iowa campaign rally, January 23, 2016
During a 2016 campaign rally, Trump claimed he could go so far as to shoot someone in broad daylight and not lose any voters.
“I loved my previous life. I had so many things going. This is more work than in my previous life. I thought it would be easier.”
— Trump speaking to Reuters reporters, August 28, 2017
Does this quote make it sound like Trump hates being president? Maybe this is why Trump spent one out of every five days in 2019 at a golf club.
“In life you have to rely on the past, and that’s called history.”
— Trump on Celebrity Apprentice
The entire premise of The Apprentice is that Trump is a wise business guru here to dispense his wisdom to newbies. But on one episode of Celebrity Apprentice, he sounded more like a Sesame Street character than a sage.
Here, Donald Trump asserts that history is what happened in the past and that we should learn from that. Honestly, these celebs could have gotten better advice from a fortune cookie.
“My fingers are long and beautiful, as, it has been well documented, are various other parts of my body.”
— Trump to Page Six, 2011
This quote is Trump defending himself against Spy Magazine, which has been calling him a “short-fingered vulgarian” since the 1980s.
Why do you think Trump’s camp embraced “locker room talk” as a defense against the “grab ’em” comment? Maybe it’s because Trump constantly talks like he’s in a locker room.
“Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me ‘old,’ when I would NEVER call him ‘short and fat?’ Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend – and maybe someday that will happen!”
— Trump, Twitter, November 11, 2017
If you had to sum up Trump’s political career, it would be this: he’s good at saying the quiet part out loud. Here, for instance, Trump promises to never insult the North Korea leader while he insults him. Then, bizarrely, he hopes the two will become friends.
Strangely, Trump and Kim Jong-un did end up having a friendly face-to-face meeting months later in the historic 2018 North Korea–United States Singapore Summit!
“[Kim Jong-Un] speaks and his people sit up at attention. I want my people to do the same.”
— Trump on Fox & Friends, June 15, 2018
On Fox & Friends, days after meeting with Kim Jong-un, Trump casually mentioned how he wants his citizens to react to him like North Korea’s citizens react to Kim Jong-Un. When you think about how North Korea maintains discipline and respect, that’s a pretty scary statement!
“North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the ‘Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.’ Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”
— Trump, Twitter, January 2, 2018
Pop quiz: what’s weirder than bragging about the size of your fingers? Bragging about the size of your nuclear button!
In his “on again, off again” feud with North Korea, Trump inexplicably bragged that his nuclear button is “bigger” and “more powerful” than his rival’s.
“We’re… increasing our budget by many billions of dollars, because of North Korea and other reasons, having to do with the anti-missile.”
— Trump at a press conference, August 2017
Another fun Trump category of quotes includes his made-up words and phrases. For example, he can misspell coffee as “covfefe” and create an entirely new genre of memes.
In this weird quote, he explains that budget increases have to do with something called “the anti-missile.” It’s difficult to believe Trump is being fiscally responsible when he’s throwing billions of dollars at something that doesn’t exist!
“Nobody knew health care could be so complicated.”
— Trump at a meeting of the nation’s governors at the White House, February 27, 2017
This is pretty much in the same vein as Trump thinking the presidency would be an easier gig. Here, he admits that American healthcare is more complicated than he thought.
While Trump is right that healthcare is complicated, his use of “nobody” is a little troubling. It seems like the president thinks nobody in the world could possibly understand or improve our healthcare system!
“What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.”
— Trump in a speech to a veterans Association, July 24, 2018
Every now and then, you get a Trump quote that just shuts down your brain. These are the quotes that would sound too hokey and unrealistic if they came from someone in a book or made-for-TV movie. The best example is this Trump quote from 2018. Taken at face value, it’s quite strange.
But critics were quick to point out how Trump seems to be echoing the dystopian government from George Orwell’s 1984. Orwell wrote, “The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.” In the book, the government is all about rewriting unfavorable history as fake news and insisting that citizens trust the government instead of their own senses. Needless to say, Trump has made 1984 more relevant than ever!