President Trump shared a story with Fox Business's Maria Bartiromo in an interview that aired Wednesday morning, and it's a story he says others have been begging to get their hands on. It's about how things went down Thursday night when he authorized missile strikes in Syria — all while he was wining and dining Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago.
And in his recounting, Trump seemed positively wowed by his ability to use military force over dessert — “the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake that you've ever seen.” In fact, Trump mentioned “dessert” or “cake” five times while telling the story.
Here's the relevant section:
TRUMP: I was sitting at the table. We had finished dinner. We're now having dessert. And we had the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake that you've ever seen, and President Xi was enjoying it. And I was given the message from the generals that the ships are locked and loaded, what do you do? And we made a determination to do it, so the missiles were on the way. And I said, Mr. President, let me explain something to you — this was during dessert — we've just fired 59 missiles, all of which hit, by the way, unbelievable, from, you know, hundreds of miles away, all of which hit, amazing.
TRUMP: It's so incredible. It's brilliant. It's genius. Our technology, our equipment, is better than anybody by a factor of five. I mean look, we have, in terms of technology, nobody can even come close to competing. … So what happens is, I said we've just launched 59 missiles heading to Iraq and I wanted you to know this. And he was eating his cake. And he was silent.
BARTIROMO: Heading to Syria?
TRUMP: Yes. Heading toward Syria. In other words, we've just launched 59 missiles heading toward Syria. And I want you to know that, because I didn't want him to go home. We were almost finished. It was a full day in Palm Beach. We're almost finished and I — what does he do, finish his dessert and go home and then they say, you know, the guy you just had dinner with just attacked a country?
Trump ran as a noninterventionist during the 2016 campaign, but this does not sound like a guy who is particularly solemn when it comes to the use of military force. In fairness, Bartiromo was the one who first brought up dessert — asking Trump, “When did you tell him? … Before dessert or what?” — but Trump totally buys into the idea that this is a remarkable little anecdote about his presidential duties. It's telling that he saw fit to share it in such detail.
It also sounds like a man who just discovered the power that is at his fingertips. And it's likely to cause great alarm to people who have long suspected he was secretly a foreign policy hawk at heart — that the same volatility they saw in other facets of his politics could make him an unpredictable player on the world stage.