President Donald Trump once bluffed his way through a discussion about the Iranian general Qassem Suleimani -- whose killing he ordered Thursday in an escalation of the Middle East conflict.
MSNBC's "Morning Joe" played a clip from Trump's interview Sept. 3, 2015, with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, who asked the newly minted Republican candidate whether he knew Suleimani's name.
"Are you familiar with Gen. Suleimani?" Hewitt asked.
"Yes," Trump said, then began fishing for hints. "Go ahead, give me a little. Go ahead, tell me."
Hewitt told the candidate that Suleimani led the clandestine Quds Force, and Trump either misheard the host or was unfamiliar with that military unit.
"I think the Kurds, by the way, have been horribly mistreated by us," Trump said.
Hewitt tried to redirect him.
"Not the Kurds, the Quds Forces, the Iranian revolutionary Quds forces," Hewitt said. "The bad guys."
Trump said he'd misheard Hewitt, but continued talking about mistreatment of the Kurds, and the host asked whether he thought Suleimani's behavior would change.
"I think that Iran right now is in the driver's seat," Trump said, "to do whatever they want to do."
Hewitt told the candidate that Suleimanii was to terrorism what Trump was to real estate, and he indicated that he was at least passingly familiar.
"Is he the gentleman going back and forth with Russia, meeting with (Vladimir) Putin, I read something, and that seems to be also where he's at," Trump said, and Hewitt said he was correct. "He's going back and forth meeting with other countries, etc., etc."
Hewitt then threw a few more names at Trump, who bluffed his way through an answer.
"No, you know, I'll tell you honestly, by the time we get to office they'll all be changed, they'll be all gone," Trump said. "I knew you were going to ask me things like this and there's no reason because, number one, I will hopefully find Gen. Douglas McArthur in the pack. I will find whoever it is that I'll find and we'll -- but they're all changing. Those are like history questions. Do you know this one, do you know that one?"
Hewitt assured Trump he didn't ask "gotcha" questions, but the candidate offered the vaguest of assurance that he understood foreign policy and military issues.
"That is a gotcha question, when you're asking me about who is running this, this, this," Trump said. "That is not -- I will be so good at the military your head will spin. It is gotcha -- you're asking me names that, you know, I think it's somewhat ridiculous."