Item #1: The Embraced And Then Denied Shithole Comment.
On January 11th the news broke that President Trump made racist remarks in a bipartisan meeting to negotiate DACA. The President described African nations (and perhaps Haiti) as “shitholes” saying “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” To make his racist intent absolutely clear the President added that we should instead be taking people from the lily white nation of Norway (as if they are interested).
The President’s comments were confirmed by Democratic Senator Durbin and Republican Lindsey Graham. Graham said he confronted the President about his language at the meeting. In the hours that followed, the White House did not deny the remarks, stating instead that the President will always speak up to defend the country and demand merit-based immigration. White House staffers argued the comments would actually play well with the President’s base. Trump himself called his rich buddies to brag about it, proudly taking a “victory lap.”
The next day brought the hangover of growing bipartisan condemnation and diplomatic repercussions as some Presidentially deemed “shithole countries” filed strong diplomatic protests. At a ceremony memorializing Martin Luther King Day reporters directly asked Trump if he’s a racist (he refused to answer).
Realizing this was not playing as he thought it would President Trump did what he always does. He lied. The President brazenly tweeted to sort of deny he ever said it.
A rather lame denial. Notably Trump did not say what he did say (and still hasn’t). He would later suggest that future meeting should be recorded:
As discussed below this turned out to be a really good idea, just not a good one for the President.
Item #2: Trump Says He Has Very Good Relationship With North Korean President Kim Jon-Un.
Also on January 11th the Wall Street Journal released transcripts of an interview with Trump where he said “I probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong Un of North Korea.” This naturally produced a flood of questions from the media. How could he have a very good relationship with Kim Jon-Un when he’s never met or spoken to the guy? Did some sort of secret meeting or conversation occur?
Rather than admit he either lied, or misspoke, Trump preferred to lie and blame the “fake news” again. He denied saying what he said, again:
But alas, the President was hoisted on his own “record everything” petard. The WSJ did record the interview and promptly released the relevant audio. Listen for yourself to hear the President say exactly what he claims to have not said and precisely what the WSJ correctly reported he said:
As you can hear for yourself, the President “I probably have” and not “I’d probably have.” Further, a review of the full transcript renders the President’s dishonest spin even more implausible.
Mr. Trump: With that being said, President Xi has been extremely generous with what he’s said, I like him a lot. I have a great relationship with him, as you know I have a great relationship with Prime Minister Abe of Japan and I probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong Un of North Korea.
I have relationships with people, I think you people are surprised.
WSJ: Just to be clear, you haven’t spoken to the North Korean leader, I mean when you say a relationship with Korea —
Mr. Trump: I don’t want to comment on it — I don’t want to comment, I’m not saying I have or I haven’t. But I just don’t —
WSJ: Some people would see your tweets, which are sometimes combative towards Kim Jong Un…
Mr. Trump: Sure, you see that a lot with me and then all of a sudden somebody’s my best friend. I could give you 20 examples. You give me 30. I’m a very flexible person.
Let’s break that down some. The President is talking about how he has a great relationship (present tense) with President Xi of China and Prime Minister Abe of Japan. In the same sentence he then says “and I probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong Un of North Korea.” Now he’s trying to convince us that was “I’d probably have . . .” (future tense).
The very next sentence further clarifies the present tense context. “I have relationships with people, I think you people are surprised.” He is clearly talking about relationships he currently has with people. He emphasizing how surprising it is to reporters, who certainly have cause to be surprised about his supposed very good relations with the North Korean President.
Further, if the President was speaking hypothetically of the future, the thought remains inexplicably uncompleted. As in “I’d probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong Un of North Korea if I met with him.”
However, the reporter does seek to nail the President down. The reporter says Trump never has spoken to the North Korean leader and Trump responds that maybe he has.
“I don’t want to comment, I’m not saying I have or I haven’t.”
So Trump quite deliberately puts this in the context of casting doubt on the notion that he has never spoke to Kim Jon-Un. Even though the reporter said “when you say a relationship with Korea . . . ” Trump doesn’t deny he suggested a relationship with the Korean leader as he interrupts the reporter to intimate he might have talked to Kim Jon-Un. Trump then goes on to belittle the notion that his combative tweets toward Kim Jon-Un foreclose a “very good relationship” because no matter what he says to people everybody comes to love him. He’s just that incredibly charismatic. #eyeroll.
Put simply, the audio proves Trump is lying, the transcript proves Trump is lying and the context of the statement at issue proves Trump is lying.
Tying It Back Together.
Trump lies about what he says when there are witnesses present. He lies about what he says even when it is recorded. It’s mind bending denial of reality that continues to call into question the President’s mental fitness.
But when evaluating the credibility of competing claims of what was said when things were not recorded, remember Trump’s recorded lies that you can hear for yourself.