December 2017 Archives

Trump's NYT interview is remarkable for his pathologically obsessive denial of what he referred to as "made-up problems like Russian collusion:"

DONALD J. TRUMP: ...frankly there is absolutely no collusion, that's been proven by every Democrat is saying it.

TRUMP: Virtually every Democrat has said there is no collusion. There is no collusion. [...] Great congressmen, in particular, some of the congressmen have been unbelievable in pointing out what a witch hunt the whole thing is. So, I think it's been proven that there is no collusion. [...]

TRUMP: There's been no collusion.

TRUMP: There was no collusion. None whatsoever. [...]

TRUMP: I think that Bob Mueller will be fair, and everybody knows that there was no collusion. I saw Dianne Feinstein the other day on television saying there is no collusion. She's the head of the committee. The Republicans, in terms of the House committees, they come out, they're so angry because there is no collusion. So, I actually think that it's turning out -- I actually think it's turning to the Democrats because there was collusion on behalf of the Democrats. There was collusion with the Russians and the Democrats. A lot of collusion. [...]

TRUMP: There was tremendous collusion on behalf of the Russians and the Democrats. There was no collusion with respect to my campaign. [...]

TRUMP: I watched Alan Dershowitz the other day, he said, No. 1, there is no collusion, No. 2, collusion is not a crime, but even if it was a crime, there was no collusion. And he said that very strongly. He said there was no collusion. [...] There is no collusion, and even if there was, it's not a crime. But there's no collusion.

This exchange is a cold-shiver moment--except for conservative authoritarians, who will probably love it:

SCHMIDT: You control the Justice Department. Should they reopen that email investigation?

TRUMP: What I've done is, I have absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department.

Trump's ego seemingly knows no bounds:

I know the details of taxes better than anybody. Better than the greatest C.P.A. I know the details of health care better than most, better than most. And if I didn't, I couldn't have talked all these people into doing ultimately only to be rejected.

Towleroad notes that Trump claimed "no collusion" 16 times, and the Toronto Star enumerated 25 false claims in a 30-minute interview:

U.S. President Donald Trump sat down Thursday for a rare interview with a media outlet other than Fox News, holding an impromptu 30-minute session with New York Times reported Michael Schmidt at his golf club in West Palm Beach, Fla.

He made nearly one false claim per minute -- 25 false claims in all.

The Star is keeping track of every false claim Trump makes as president. As of Dec. 22, Trump had already made 978 false claims; adding the Times interview, the tally will pass the 1,000 mark in the next update.

The Star addresses Trump's "no collusion" claims here:

1) "But I think it's all worked out because frankly there is absolutely no collusion, that's been proven by every Democrat is saying it ... Virtually every Democrat has said there is no collusion. There is no collusion."

Democratic members of Congress have not said en masse that they are convinced that there was no collusion between Trump's campaign and Russia. Some have acknowledged that they have not seen evidence of collusion, but they have pointed out that the investigation is ongoing. [...]

3) "I saw (Democratic Sen.) Dianne Feinstein the other day on television saying there is no collusion."

Trump appeared to be referring, as he has in the past, to a November CNN interview with Feinstein -- in which she did not declare that there is no collusion. Feinstein was specifically asked if she had seen evidence that the Trump campaign was given Democratic emails hacked by Russia. "Not so far," she responded. She was not asked about collusion more broadly, and her specific answer made clear that she was referring only to evidence she has personally seen to date, not issuing a sweeping final judgment.


update (4:04pm)
Ezra Klein's long analysis observes that Trump's interview "begins with a string of falsehoods that make it difficult to tell whether the leader of the free world is lying or delusional:"

It would be comforting, on some level, to believe that Trump is simply lying, that he is trying to convince us of what he knows to be untrue. It is scarier to believe that Trump is delusional, that he has persuaded himself that Democrats have said things they've never said, that his base has strengthened when it has actually weakened, that it's really his opponents under investigation for collusion, that his campaign has been cleared of wrongdoing when the circumstantial case for collusion has only grown stronger. [...]

Read Trump's phrasing carefully: "I have absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department." It's a statement that speaks both to Trump's yearning for authoritarian power and his misunderstanding of the system in which he actually operates.

"Over the course of reporting on the Trump White House," Klein continues, "I have spoken to people who brief Trump and people who have been briefed by him:"

I've talked to policy experts who have sat in the Oval Office explaining their ideas to the president and to members of Congress who have listened to the president sell his ideas to them. I've talked to both Democrats and Republicans who have occupied these roles. In all cases, their judgment of Trump is identical: He is not just notably uninformed but also notably difficult to inform -- his attention span is thin, he hears what he wants to hear, he wanders off topic, he has trouble following complex arguments. Trump has trouble following his briefings or even correctly repeating what he has heard.

Digby snarks that, "For the layperson, this is called being a "fucking moron."

Back to Klein, who makes more observations:

Whatever Trump is saying [about association health plans], it does not reveal much familiarity with health policy, or even with the status and limits of his own actions. And yet Trump believes himself, on policy, to be the most informed president in American history. As the Dunning-Kruger effect [see http://www.cognitivedissident.org/2010/10/dunning-kruger-effect.html here] suggests, he doesn't know how much he doesn't know, and that, combined with his natural tendency toward narcissism, has left him dangerously overconfident in his own knowledge base.

"This is the president of the United States speaking to the New York Times," Klein continues as a way to stress its import:

His comments are, by turns, incoherent, incorrect, conspiratorial, delusional, self-aggrandizing, and underinformed. This is not a partisan judgment -- indeed, the interview is rarely coherent or specific enough to classify the points Trump makes on a recognizable left-right spectrum. As has been true since he entered American politics, Trump is interested in Trump -- over the course of the interview, he mentions his Electoral College strategy seven times, in each case using it to underscore his political savvy and to suggest that he could easily have won the popular vote if he had tried.

I am not a medical professional, and I will not pretend to know what is truly happening here. It's become a common conversation topic in Washington to muse on whether the president is suffering from some form of cognitive decline or psychological malady. I don't think those hypotheses are necessary or meaningful. Whatever the cause, it is plainly obvious from Trump's words that this is not a man fit to be president, that he is not well or capable in some fundamental way. That is an uncomfortable thing to say, and so many prefer not to say it, but Trump does not occupy a job where such deficiencies can be safely ignored.

Digby concurs:

He's right. They cannot be ignored. But there are serious limits to what we can do about it I'm sorry to say. We have a psychologically deranged president and out system depends upon members of his own party turning on him to restrain his power.

They aren't doing it.


update 2 (10:56pm)
NPR ran its own fact check, and the NYT themselves identifies 10 falsehoods in the interview:

President Trump, in an impromptu interview on Thursday with The New York Times, rattled off at least 10 false or misleading claims about the Russia investigation, wars abroad, health care, immigration and trade.

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This page is an archive of entries from December 2017 listed from newest to oldest.

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