But the tape also includes some other, rather colorful moments. Below are a few of them.
1. Trump second-guesses the Korean War
Trump at one point during a discussion on trade suggests that the Korean War wasn’t worth fighting.
“South Korea? I could write a book on them,” Trump says. He added: “How we ever got involved in South Korea in the first place, you know? Tell me about it — how we ended up in a Korean War? We’re fighting a Korean War to keep these two places from —” (Trump then trails off).
(For those unaware, North Korea invaded South Korea. Given other events around the time, including in China, there was concern that communists would take over Asia.)
Trump adds of the South Koreans: “I mean, they’re one of the toughest traders we do business with. They’re probably tougher than China. They’re just smaller.”
2. Making fun of Kim’s golf game
On the subject of North Korea, Trump shares a chuckle with his guests about the tale of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il shooting multiple holes in one in a round of golf. Trump and his son Donald Trump Jr. apparently thought the story was about Kim’s son and North Korea’s current leader, Kim Jong Un.
“You know that Kim Jong Un is a great golfer. You know that, right?” Trump says.
Donald Trump Jr. chimes in with a joke, saying, “Course record: 18.”
Trump adds: “Did you ever hear that? He shot an 18.”
Someone eventually notes that the story was about an elder Kim — though they aren’t sure whether it’s Kim Jong Il or his father, Kim Il Sung.
“This is one weird deal,” Trump says.
(For the record, the round was actually supposed to be a 34 with fives holes in one — though some versions have it as high as 11 — and as Golf.com reported in 2016, the reporting stemmed from a misunderstanding about the system used by the elder Kim’s scorekeeper.)
3. ‘Ukraine has oil!?’
Trump learns about Ukraine from his new associate Parnas, and he grows particularly interested when Parnas mentioned an oil pipeline.
“Ukraine has oil!?” Trump quite literally exclaims.
People around him say “of course,” with one calling Ukraine’s oil production “No. 1 in Europe” (which isn’t true).
Trump again exclaims,” Ukraine!? How come they [unclear]? They don’t have any money. Why aren’t the companies going there? Too risky?”
4. ‘The European Union is a group of countries that got together to screw the United States’
During another talk about trade, Trump derides both the World Trade Organization and the European Union — with the strongest words for the E.U.
“So the WTO allowed China to do what they’re doing. The WTO is a weapon to hurt the United States, to allow people to enrich themselves,” Trump says. “And European Union’s the same thing. The European Union is a group of countries that got together to screw the United States. It’s as simple as that. And frankly, they’re probably worse than China, in a sense — just smaller.”
Trump adds that the E.U. may sound innocuous because “we’re all sort of from there,” but he calls it “brutal.”
“The European Union’s really big,” Trump says. “You know, it doesn’t sound like it. ‘European Union’ — we’re all sort of from there. But it’s — the European Union’s brutal. But we’re changing that rapidly too. They can’t even believe it.”
5. Marijuana leads to ‘accidents’ and an ‘I.Q. problem’
Parnas, who has business interests in the marijuana industry, at one point suggests Trump should get ahead of the curve on legalization.
“It’s something that’s the future, no matter how you look at it,” Parnas says, adding, “I think you need to be ahead of it, and I think you need to control it because — ”
Trump, who is apparently skeptical, cuts in, saying, “In Colorado they have more accidents. It does cause an I.Q. problem.”
He does apparently see some medicinal use for it, though, suggesting it’s preferable to opioids. “But it’s actually good for opioids,” he says.
Donald Trump Jr. then chimes in: “Between that and alcohol, as far as I’m concerned, alcohol does much more damage. So, you don’t see people driving — you don’t see people beating their wives on marijuana. It’s just different.”
6. Clinton should have picked Sanders in 2016
One of the more interesting parts of the tape is the political analysis of Trump and some of the guests.
Trump at one point says it would have been tougher to beat Hillary Clinton in 2016 if she had selected Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) as her running mate.
“I think if she would have picked Bernie as her vice president, it would have been tougher,” Trump said. “She picked a real stinker,” he adds, referring to Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), “but I think Bernie — because all those people that hated her so much voted for me. You know, I got 20 percent of Bernie vote — people don’t realize that — because of trade.”
(Surveys actually indicate Trump got between 6 and 12 percent of people who voted for Sanders in the Democratic primary.)
Trump adds: “Had she picked Bernie Sanders, it would have been tougher. He was the only one I didn’t want her to pick. Now then you say — people say, ‘No, it would have been easier because then her establishment, normal Democrats would have come to me.’ So she might have lost a lot of votes too.”
Speaking of amateur political analysis, one of the guests wagers that Candace Owens and Kanye West might be steering young people and African Americans toward Trump.
“I do want you to touch on this whole pop culture, Candace Owens, you know Kanye West — that was a big, for that younger, African American generation,” she says. “I think it’s going to be a turning — a shift in that.”
She adds: “My son sat me down last night: ‘Did you hear the Kanye West song, mom?’ I’m like, no, Jack. … And then he taught the lyrics to it. So it was just interesting that the young people — they are talking about it. The high schoolers are talking about it. And this is in Canada, by the way.”
Hearing the tape, it’s not difficult to see how Trump might draw some optimistic conclusions about his base of support expanding.
7. A moment of clarity on election results?
Trump often hails GOP special election wins, even in races that Republicans should be winning and even when the margins are much closer than they should be.
And in this private setting, he does seem to recognize the difference.
“We won the race in Arizona three nights ago,” Trump says shortly after Rep. Debbie Lesko’s (R-Ariz.) win in a special election in Arizona’s 8th Congressional District. “Of course, we’re getting no credit for that. They’re saying we should have — because I won it by 22, so she won it by six. I would have taken the — two votes is okay as far as I’m concerned.”