Presidents are usually cogent, logical and choose their words carefully, due to years of personal discipline and White House vetting – this does not apply to Trump.
Washington Bureau Chief Michael Scherer interviewed President Trump for TIME magazine, asking “Is Truth Dead?”, for which Trump is the perfect choice as the world’s most famous liar.
In the rambling, lengthy interview Trump ironically repeated several falsehoods including those about alleged wiretaps on Trump Tower, the millions of people he said voted illegally, and Sen. Ted Cruz’s father’s ties to Lee Harvey Oswald. A recurrent theme is his obsession with having won the general election, with a reference to his victory around every corner.
Trump was defiant, saying, “The country believes me.” And yet that, too, could be false: Two polls released last month both showed that less than half of the country trusts Trump over the media.
Perhaps his most bizarre assertion is that he is innocent on such topics like accusing a former president of illegally wire tapping his phones because he was “just quoting” people. These people being Fox News correspondents who were reporting unverified information. It’s just completely unprecedented to have the leader of the free world use Fox News as their primary source of information, instead of the entire intelligence community that is at his fingertips.
In the interview Trump swerves from topic to topic, languishing himself with praise while dismissing his critics in language that is often tricky to follow.
“I happen to be a person that knows how life works”
Trump is always desperate to show that he is smarter than the other people around him, continuously bragging that he knows better than doubters. It’s clear that Trump does not allow any self-doubt to infiltrate his mind.
I happen to be a person that knows how life works. I said I was going to win the election, I won the election. In fact, I was number one the entire route, in the primaries. From the day I announced, I was number one. And The New York Times and CNN and all of them, they did these polls, which were extremely bad and they turned out to be totally wrong, and my polls showed I was going to win. We thought we were going to win the night of the election.
“I’m President, and you’re not”
In a fitting end to a bizarre ramble, Trump speaks to what he knows best:
I inherited a mess with jobs. Despite the statistics, you know, my statistics are even better, but they are not the real statistics because you have millions of people that can’t get a job, O.K. And I inherited a mess on trade. I mean we have many, you can go up and down the ladder. But that’s the story. Hey look, in the meantime, I guess, I can’t be doing so badly, because I’m president, and you’re not. You know. Say hello to everybody, O.K.? —
- “Sweden. I make the statement, everyone goes crazy. The next day they have a massive riot, and death, and problems.”
Reality: Trump said in February that there were attacks “last night in Sweden” (there were none) after misunderstanding a Fox News segment he’d seen the night before. There were indeed riots two days after Trump made this claim but no deaths.
- “NATO, obsolete, because it doesn’t cover terrorism. They fixed that.”
Reality: There have been entire books written on NATO confronting terrorism, especially post-9/11. The only time NATO has invoked its collective defense clause was after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
- Also on NATO: “I said that the allies must pay. Nobody knew that they weren’t paying. I did. I figured it.”
Reality: President Obama publicly criticized NATO allies for not paying the 2 percent of GDP required on defense in April of 2016.
- “Brexit, I predicted Brexit, you remember that, the day before the event. I said, no, Brexit is going to happen, and everybody laughed, and Brexit happened. Many, many things. They turn out to be right.”
Reality: The day before the Brexit vote last June, Trump told Fox Business Network: “I don’t think anybody should listen to me because I haven’t really focused on it very much.” Weeks before that, Trump appeared to not know what Brexit was in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter.
- That 3 million to 5 million people voted illegally: “Well, now, if you take a look at the votes, when I say that, I mean mostly they register wrong, in other words, for the votes, they register incorrectly, and/or illegally. And they then vote. You have tremendous numbers of people.”
Reality: Despite his roundabout answer here, Trump was unambiguous in November when he tweeted “I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.” He has repeated this claim to lawmakers. There is no evidence of voter fraud on this scale. There are millions of people registered in two places but no evidence that millions voted twice.
- That Ted Cruz’s father was with Lee Harvey Oswald: “Well that was in a newspaper. No, no, I like Ted Cruz, he’s a friend of mine. But that was in the newspaper. I wasn’t, I didn’t say that. I was referring to a newspaper. A Ted Cruz article referred to a newspaper story with, had a picture of Ted Cruz, his father, and Lee Harvey Oswald, having breakfast.”
Reality: The “newspaper” was The National Enquirer and no other media outlet has corroborated its “reporting.”
- That Obama wiretapped him during the campaign: “And the New York Times had a front-page story, which they actually reduced, they took it, they took the word wiretapping out of the title, but its first story in the front page of the paper was wiretapping.”
Reality: The New York Times frequently has different headlines for its print and online editions. The paper did not take “wiretap” out of the headline and the story itself does not support Trump’s claims.