Trump’s boast that he could ‘shoot somebody’ tops Yale list of 2016’s notable quotations

Donald Trump speaks in Sioux Center, Iowa, on Jan. 23.
Donald Trump speaks in Sioux Center, Iowa, on Jan. 23.
(Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

The latest update to the Yale Book of Quotations is out, and topping this year’s list is President-elect Donald Trump’s now-famous boast that he could commit assault with a deadly weapon and get away with it, the Associated Press reports.

“I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody,” Trump told attendees at an Iowa rally Jan. 23, “and I wouldn’t lose any voters.”

The line shocked many at the time, but Trump’s sentiment proved somewhat prescient: Despite a series of statements that many political observers found outrageous, Trump was elected president last month, defeating Democrat Hillary Clinton.


Updates to the Yale Book of Quotations, first published in 2006, are selected by Fred Shapiro, an associate director of the Yale Law School library. The new entries are announced at the end of each year.

It’s not unusual for politicians to make the list, although it’s rare that their quotes reference shooting someone.

George W. Bush has several quotations in the book, including one from his Sept. 20, 2001, address to Congress: “The course of this conflict is not known, yet its outcome is certain. Freedom and fear, justice and cruelty, have always been at war, and we know that God is not neutral between them.”

President Obama is represented in the book as well, including a quotation from his speech to the Democratic National Convention in 2004, when he was still an Illinois state senator: “We worship an awesome God in the blue states, and we don’t like federal agents poking around our libraries in the red states. We coach little league in the blue states, and yes, we’ve got some gay friends in the red states.”

Trump, who made two appearances among the 10 quotes to be added as the 2016 update, is one of several political figures on the list. For second place, Shapiro selected a passage from a commencement speech First Lady Michelle Obama made in Mississippi in April: “When they go low, we go high.” The quote was later adopted by Hillary Clinton in her campaign.


Clinton herself took the No. 3 spot with her statement that “You could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the ‘basket of deplorables.’” The widely criticized quote was an excerpt from an address she gave at a September fundraiser while suffering from pneumonia.

Trump took the No. 6 spot on the list with his assertion to the Republican National Convention that “I alone can fix it,” a reference to corruption in business and politics.

“Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda made the list, but not with a quote from his musical. At the Tony Awards ceremony, where “Hamilton” took 11 awards, Miranda read a poem in tribute to the victims of the Orlando killings, which had happened early that morning: “And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love cannot be killed or swept aside.”

One notable quote selected was not at all political — it’s from record-breaking gymnast Simone Biles, who told an interviewer at the Olympics in Rio, “I’m not the next Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps. I’m the first Simone Biles.”