Politics & Policy

13 Highlights from Mark Cuban’s Interview with Jamie Weinstein

Mark Cuban (Reuters file photo: Lucas Jackson)
In a wide-ranging interview with The Jamie Weinstein Show, the newest addition to NR’s podcast offerings, the Dallas Mavericks owner dishes on Trump, Bannon, Ted Cruz, Howard Stern, and running for president.

Dallas — Mark Cuban isn’t a conservative. He isn’t even really a libertarian, as he sometimes claims. But he is interesting, and he just may be coming to a presidential-debate stage near you.

During an extensive interview with The Jamie Weinstein Show, the billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks, who has openly said he is considering a 2020 presidential run, expounded on many different topics. Here are 13 of the more interesting, newsworthy things to come out of the conversation:

Ted Cruz once invited Mark Cuban to dinner . . . on Valentine’s Day

Jamie Weinstein: One more question on Cruz.

Mark Cuban: Sure.

Weinstein: You’re in Texas. Have you met Cruz? Do you know Cruz? Is there something that rubbed you the wrong way . . . 

Cuban: No. No, no, no. I mean, it’s just unanimously every conversation anybody has ever had about Ted Cruz was that he’s smart, they dislike him immensely, and they don’t trust him. And the one experience that I’ve had with him was when I said, “Anybody but Cruz,” in an interview and he reached out to me and wanted me to come over and have dinner. I’m like, “Okay, I’m willing to have dinner with anybody.” I literally — I’ll talk to anybody, because it helps me learn. And I was like, “When?” He was like, “February 14th.” I’m like — through his assistant, not him directly — I’m like, “That’s Valentine’s Day.” And I think it was a Sunday. He was like, “Bring your wife.” I’m like, “No.”

Why Cuban thinks there’s a “2530 percent chance” Trump doesn’t finish his term

Weinstein: Do you think [Trump] will finish the term?

Cuban: I say there is a 25–30 percent chance he does not.

Weinstein: And why? Does he say he’s just tired of this and figures out an excuse?

Cuban: No, no, no. I think because he’s so oblivious to the rule of law and the responsibilities of the president and just understanding what’s impeachable or not. The fact that he’s oblivious to those things, he may say something without knowing that it’s an impeachable offense and just step on himself.

Cuban might run for president, but it’s not likely

Weinstein: You openly said that you were at least considering a [2020] run. What are the odds right now that you enter the race?

Cuban: I’d say 90 percent against.

Weinstein: 90 percent against?

Cuban: Yeah, just — you’re newly married, but as a parent, in this political climate, what would you say about anybody you knew that was in politics that had children that are 8, 11, and 14 that would put them through the inevitable? It’s just — that’s bad parenting. There’s a tradeoff, country versus family. That’s why I’ll take as much time as I possibly can to see if anything changes in the political climate.

Cuban explains his mysterious relationship with Steve Bannon

Cuban: I met with [Bannon] 20 years ago. I met with him once after the election because I was just curious, and I wanted to get as much insight into Donald to find out if the experiences I had talking to him were the same and comparable with what Steve’s had. And I also wanted to learn more about him. I mean, I read everything about him like everybody else does. The fascinating thing I’ve read relative to Steve is that he likens himself to Cromwell, to King Henry VIII. And so I was just curious about all that. And since then we’ve texted, but there’s not been more than two texts that have been more than one sentence long. The last one was — we’ve never discussed candidacy at all — and the last one, because I’d said I’m working on a health-care program, and I had an animation and I sent it to him, and he said he didn’t understand it. And so, that was the last conversation we’ve had.

Weinstein: Why do you think he wants you to run and run as a Democrat?

Cuban: I have no idea. I don’t know. You know, Steve likes to be a kingmaker. He revels in the power and he leverages this — Steve is smart. First let me say this: A lot of people think, “Well, if you talk to Steve Bannon, he’s going to influence you like he’s some magician or some Geppetto that takes control.” I’m not Donald Trump, right? I have my integrity. I have my standards. I have my beliefs that are core to me. And then there’s topics that I’m always trying to learn about.

When I met with Steve in New York, it was more me trying to talk him out of some of his nomenclatures, telling him some of his stuff was crazy than him trying — he’s not going to convince me of anything. But, he’s got a good feel for the Trump base, and he’s got a good feel for Donald Trump and what makes him tick. And I learn from that, and it was insightful to me in a lot of respects, but it’s not going to change who I am, what I think about, how I approach things. I’m certainly not looking for it. But again, I give him credit.

People like to — it’s funny the Left brands him like the Right branded Hillary in a lot of respects. And there’s grains of truth in all of it and there’s a lot of ridiculousness in all of it. But he played Trump to the point of making himself a kingmaker, and you can see it in all his interactions in all these different races where he’s trying to position himself as someone who can make or break a candidate. And he played Trump all the way through, branded himself, and he got the best branding out of the whole thing.

Cuban doesn’t think Bannon respects Trump

Weinstein: Last Stephen Bannon question: Did you get the sense, during your interactions, which don’t sound so extensive, whether he respects Donald Trump?

Cuban: I got the sense he doesn’t.

Weinstein: He does not respect him?

Cuban: No. But that’s just me reading into things, not him explicitly saying that.

Cuban explains his even-more-mysterious relationship with Trump lawyer Michael Cohen

Cuban: That just goes way back. We’re friends. And so, we’ve never really talked business in terms of Trump. He’ll tell me stories every now and then, but I think [I first met him] when I did something with Trump way back when and we just stayed in touch, and then during the campaign he gave me s**t. I gave him s**t back. And then, [I met him again] as he started going through all this stuff with the Russia stuff. You know, it’s like I’m the craziest PR person sometimes, and so, we’ve met twice, both times just discussing my experience with the SEC and just, “Look, if you’re in the right, stick by yourself and stay with it.” And then we discussed this last time him writing a book. And I was like, “Do it!”

How a President Cuban would pick judicial nominees

Weinstein: What is your judicial philosophy? How would you pick judges?

Cuban: Balance. So if I came in after a Republican administration — I would not, there’d be no litmus test. I want the smartest, the most capable, the most objective, but I would try to seek balance. So, if the Supreme Court nomination came up and there was a Democratic administration before me, I’d balance it so I’d try to get four and four and somebody in the middle, so that there’d be balance.

Because I think once you tilt one way or the other, you create a lot of unintended consequences that can create problems for us. [The] judiciary works because of balance. When everybody thinks the same way, that’s where you start having problems.

Cuban on immigration: “I think we need to recognize that we need immigrants”

Weinstein: What is the Cuban immigration policy? You brought it up. Do you legalize who’s here? Try to put a border on the wall? Chain migration? Where are you on those issues?

Cuban: Keep DACA. Our borders need to be strong. Our borders need to be very, very strong. Is the wall the way to do it? That’s probably the least effective way to do it. And trying to stop two-bit drug-dealers shouldn’t be the priority. Where we’re really at risk, from terrorists, eco-terrorists, is more from somebody that is going to mess with our infrastructure, somebody who’s going to be a bio-terrorist and get to our water and food supply. Those are the risks I’m more concerned about. And a wall is not going to stop anybody like that. But yeah, we need to protect our borders. Period. End of story. But, I think we need to recognize that we need immigrants.

The Cuban Doctrine: “hacking the s**t out of everybody else”

Cuban: How are we going to continue the American Century if we don’t understand the tools of war that [our enemies are] using? Their weaponry — I mean, God help us when autonomous weapons based on AI become commonplace and we don’t have the tools to combat it.

I’m not worried about them coming up with a bigger battleship or a better bomber than us. I’m worried about them hacking our bombers and hacking our battleships. We had two incidents where people died in the Navy. Who knows if it’s true, but people said it could’ve been that they were hacked.

I know from our end, [if] you have me there [in the White House], we’re hacking the s**t out of everybody else in a way that is in accordance with what we agreed to in whatever agreements — and we need to get agreements in place. And we need to have ways to monitor, and that’s possible to do that. Just like China monitors their entire country and their entire Internet, there’s ways to deal with monitoring.

If we don’t win that battle, and we don’t recognize that the rules of war and the tools of war are going to be dramatically different than they have been in the past, you know, start learning your Chinese or Russian.

The Cuban Doctrine, Part II: “I believe in American exceptionalism. I think we need to dominate.”

Cuban: It all comes down to this: I believe in American exceptionalism. I think we need to dominate. I think we’re capable of dominating — economically, militarily, socially. What makes our country different is that entrepreneurial spirit. We innovate. We come up with solutions and the more we get it out there into the world, I think that is — maybe it is arrogant, maybe it is ugly America — but I think that’s better for the world.

I believe in American exceptionalism. I think we need to dominate. I think we’re capable of dominating — economically, militarily, socially.

But unless we focus on the things that make us better, unless we enable people to get better, and we get smarter, it’s not going to happen. Now, you look at the inverse. What if China wins that? We already see with the TPP. We already see what’s happening in South Korea. China is not going to just push over North Korea like President Trump hopes, because the more uncertainty that Trump introduces, the more power China has throughout the East. Why wouldn’t they just hedge that to their advantage? And the same with Russia. “Oh, yeah, they’re our best friends.” Of course, they’re going to hack our election. Of course, they’re going to try to hack anything, and they’ve been doing it since the Cold War. Now they just have different tools. And we seem to be oblivious to that.

How Cuban felt when he discovered he had relatives who died in the Holocaust

Cuban: I mean, it’s heart-wrenching. It’s hard. It was painful. It’s on my mom’s side, and half of what would be my great-aunts and my great-uncles died. Anybody who’s Jewish has a base of understanding, right, of how difficult and it what it means. It helps you understand more what it means to be Jewish even in this day and age.

Two weeks, just to give you an example, two Sundays ago, there’s Max who is a Holocaust survivor who lives here in Dallas. We brought him over to my house so he could meet my children, and show his tattoo and talk about what it was like when — my oldest daughter is 14 — what was like when he was 13 and 14, and working in a camp and being transported and losing his family and how fortunate he was working in the resistance in Poland when he was a kid, you know, smuggling, and just as a contrast to the comfort. And you know, his emphasis to them was, “It can happen again if you’re not vigilant.” So it hits home. It scares me that that’s a possibility again. And I’m not relating that to Trump or suggesting in any way, but when you see individuals rise to power outside the United States, I think, more than in, that see the Holocaust as a positive, that’s a world my children are going to live in. That’s the world they are living in. That’s scary.

Would the famously casual Cuban wear a suit on the presidential debate stage? In the Oval Office?

Weinstein: If you run, would you wear a suit during the debates?

Cuban: Not a tie.

Weinstein: Not a tie? How about as president in the Oval Office?

Cuban: Probably not. John Kennedy changed the decorum when he stopped wearing a hat, right?

The last Republican presidential candidate Cuban voted for is . . . 

Weinstein: Who’s the last Republican you voted for for president?

Cuban: Bush? Let’s see ’92 — I voted for George Bush in 2000, and again in 2004, yeah.

Cuban’s many billions of dollars can’t buy him more interviews with Howard Stern

Weinstein: Howard Stern.

Cuban: I like Howard.

Weinstein: Like Trump, you’ve been on the show. I think he’s the best interviewer.

Cuban: Yeah, he’s an amazing interview. I’m upset he hasn’t had me on more. Howard, if you’re listening . . . 

Weinstein: You don’t think that if you wanted to go on at any time you could go on . . . 

Cuban: No, I know I can’t.

Weinstein: Really?

Cuban: Yeah, I am not high enough up on his totem pole.

Weinstein: Has he emailed you about the presidential race or encouraged you?

Cuban: No, he’s been very clear that he stays out of politics as much as he can. Last time he emailed me was when I won [the NBA] championship [in 2011] and he congratulated me.

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