Operation Sketchbook: (The Trump/Nixon Tapes Part 7)

trump courtroom sketch

[What follows is a transcript of President Donald Trump speaking into the Oval Office recording device originally used by President Richard Nixon. This series of recordings encompass the president’s communication to his inner circle.]

To: The Trump Circle of Trust (TCT)

cc: Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Majority Leader Mitch McConell

As all of you should know by now, I don’t watch CNN anymore. I think I made that clear to the AP when they were here this week. Where is it? Here: (sound of second tape recorder button clicking)

TRUMP: OK. The one thing I’ve learned to do that I never thought I had the ability to do. I don’t watch CNN anymore.

AP: You just said you did.

TRUMP: No. No, I, if I’m passing it, what did I just say (inaudible)?

AP: You just said —

TRUMP: Where? Where?

AP: Two minutes ago.

TRUMP: No, they treat me so badly. No, I just said that. No, I, what’d I say, I stopped watching them. But I don’t watch CNN anymore. I don’t watch MSNBC. I don’t watch it.

(recording ends)

So I was passing by CNN and noticed Sean was looking less fat. I was thinking that maybe we could put him back on camera, but then Steve pointed out that it was just a drawing by a CNN sketch artist. It was such a beautiful drawing I couldn’t get over it. So I got my own courtroom sketch artist. I like how honest he is about my hairline and number of chins. I’m thinking we just use this guy from now on: Operation Sketchbook. We can get him to draw me standing behind the podium and we’ll blow it up and stand it up there. The dishonest media can shout questions at it then go write their fake news.

Speaking of “fake news,” what about my big reveal on the Comey tapes? Pretty fantastic, right? Sean Hannity loved it. Wait. I’ve got that (button press)

SEAN HANNITY (HOST): I’m sorry, this was one of the most brilliant, strategic, doubt-inducing, mind-messing tweets in the history of mankind, because he basically said to Comey, “Well, if there’s tapes, you’re in trouble with the deep state,” it was also a nice shot at them. 

Ha ha ha. Oh and Fox and Friends thought it was pretty brilliant, too. I mean everybody is saying what a great Tweet it was. (click)

AINSLEY EARHARDT (CO-HOST): Big news today. You said you didn’t tape [former FBI Director] James Comey. Do you want to explain that? Why did you want him to believe you possibly did that? 

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well I didn’t tape him. You never know what’s happening when you see that the Obama administration, and perhaps longer than that, was doing all of this unmasking and surveillance. And you read all about it and I’ve been reading about it for the last couple of months about the seriousness and horrible situation with surveillance all over the place. And you’ve been hearing the word “unmasking,” a word you probably never heard before. So you never know what’s out there, but I didn’t tape and I don’t have any tape and I didn’t tape. But, when he found out that there may be tapes out there, whether it’s governmental tapes or anything else, and who knows, I think his story may have changed. I mean, you’ll have to take a look at that because then he has to tell what actually took place at the events. And my story didn’t change. My story was always a straight story. My story was always the truth. But you’ll have to determine for yourself whether or not his story changed. But, I did not tape. 

EARHARDT: That was a smart way to make sure he stayed honest in those hearings. 

TRUMP: Well, it wasn’t very stupid, I can tell you that. He did admit that what I said was right. And if you look further back, before he heard about that, I think maybe he wasn’t admitting that, so, you’ll have to do a little investigative reporting to determine that. But, I don’t think it’ll be that hard.

See? The honesty is really striking, right? Why can’t they get that over at CNN? It’s a disaster over there. What did I ever do to Jake Tapper? I mean who cares, right? I never said I had tapes. I just waited for 41 days to say I didn’t have tapes. I’m busy. I got a lot of things on my plate. Sheila? What’s for lunch? No. I want one of those shark steak sandwiches like Jeff Bridges got in that movie where he was president. Oh, who am I kidding? I’m not going to eat that. Get me a QPC from McDonald’s. Extra ketchup.

Okay. So what was I talking about? Sheila? Sheila? She’s gone already? Man, she moves fast. She’s a go-getter, Sheila. I mean she’s really going and getting, right? That’s the way it works.

You know, the more I look at that sketch of me, the more I like it this Operation Sketchbook. We should all just not appear on camera anymore. Jared gets the idea. He’s off solving the Middle East thing and nobody even knows what he sounds like because he can keep his mouth shut. Jared, you’ll have to tell me how you managed to talk a journalist from the AP into deleting photos of you from his camera. That must have been some talk.

Whoever is covering Jared’s muffin basket duty while he’s bringing an end to a centuries-old conflict this weekend should send Jared a muffin basket. Wait. Never mind. He’s done.

Will somebody bring me something else to sign? What is taking so long with that health care bill? Are the Democrats being obstructionists again? Just pass something so I can sign it and tell everybody how great your “mean son of a bitch” bill is.  Mitch, you fixed all that right? You told me to leave it to you and I said “Happy to do it” because one less thing for me to do, right? But you fixed it, right? I’m sure it’s okay. Here’s an idea! Must credit Trump!

Send it over, I’ll sign it before you vote on it. What about that, huh? Is that a great idea or what? I sign the bill before you bring it to a vote and you can say, “Look, it’s a done deal. The president has already signed it, so you need to get on the right side of this thing or you’re going to be left behind.” I think that would be beautiful. Can you imagine the look on Chuck Schumer’s face? [laughter]

But seriously, send me some legislation to sign. It is the best part of this job, showing off for the cameras and . . . hmmm. That’s . . . that’s tough . . . Guys, I’m not sure Operation Sketchbook is going to work out. Let me think about it. I’ll let you know something in two weeks.

I’ve been hitting the Russia thing pretty hard on Twitter. You know, I had no idea when I took this job that so many people would turn on you so quickly. I was just saying to Nixon’s ghost the other night. Nixon’s ghost is a good friend of mine, let me tell you. He’s the one who told me to tweet about the Comey tapes. “Keeps everybody honest,” he said. Ole Honest Nixon, they used to call him. Good times.

Anyway, I was telling Nixon’s ghost, “Look, it is nobody’s business who I call or when I call them or what we talk about when I call. Don’t give me “Presidential Records Act” this or “You can’t block people on Twitter” that.” The president deserves a little privacy to yell at his lawyers. Nixon’s ghost agreed with me, except for the Twitter part. He died in 1994. He doesn’t know what Twitter is. But I believe 90 percent of the ghost presidents living in the White House would agree with me. If not 95 percent.

So I don’t want to read in the paper about me making my morning calls to my lawyers to get all my Russia yelling out early in the day. That’s my “me time.” The dishonest media shouldn’t be writing about that, I don’t care if it is true.

So I’ve pivoted on the Russia thing, now that I’ve figured out how to blame it on Obama. I don’t know if you noticed because it was such a subtle shift in tone:

Now:

Amazing, right? It was such a subtle pivot that no one is going to notice my tacit admission that Putin stuck his thumb on the scale. Well, Sheila noticed, but she’s a real go-getter. I wonder when she’s going to be a come-bringer-er soon? I’m starving here.

So I’m thinking about firing Mueller. I know firing Comey didn’t work out exactly as Jared said it would. But this time I don’t have to be the one firing him. I can order Rosenstein to do it. Or whoever’s next in line if Rosenstein isn’t loyal. Have we fixed that yet? Find me a Bork and let’s get this Saturday Night Massacre on the road!

Mueller can’t investigate me if he’s best friends with Comey! He can’t use lawyers who have donated to Democrats! He can’t keep expanding his investigation to include money laundering and racketeering. I didn’t sign off on that and you guys know me, I’ll sign anything. He’s going after my general, my campaign manager, my consigliere, my Jared and now me? Putin told me I don’t have to put up with it. He said if it were him, he’d be making a pot of polonium tea for Mueller. That’s not really my style. Maybe some polonium Diet Coke? I’ll ask ghost Nixon. He knows how to handle these special prosecutors.

 

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Close Only Counts in Horseshoes, Hand Grenades, and Running a Country

grasping-at-strawsThere is an interview with President Donald Trump in TIME this week. It was ostensibly to be a Q&A about whether certain statements he has made recently are false. I’ve read through it a few times now and have come away amazed at how he spins his own lies into . . . well . . . something, but certainly not the truth.

It started with Trump giving a list of his “predictions” that he felt he got right.

Sweden. I make the statement, everyone goes crazy. The next day they have a massive riot, and death, and problems. Huma [Abedin] and Anthony [Weiner], you know, what I tweeted about that whole deal, and then it turned out he had it, all of Hillary’s email on his thing. NATO, obsolete, because it doesn’t cover terrorism. They fixed that, and I said that the allies must pay. Nobody knew that they weren’t paying. I did. I figured it. Brexit, I was totally right about that. You were over there I think, when I predicted that, right, the day before. 

There’s a lot to unpack there. Let’s take them one at a time.

“Sweden. I make the statement, everyone goes crazy. The next day they have a massive riot, and death, and problems.”

On February 19, Trump held a campaign rally in Florida. He said, “You look at what’s happening in Germany. You look at what’s happening last night in Sweden — Sweden — who would believe this? Sweden, they took in large numbers, they are having problems like they never thought possible. You look at what’s happening Brussels, you look at what’s happening all over the world.”

The Swedish government (and news agencies around the world) were confused by this statement because nothing happened in Sweden on Feb. 18. The president may have been confused by a segment on Fox News where Tucker Carlson interviewed a filmmaker pushing highly criticized documentary about issues Sweden is having with immigrants and refugees. Two days later, on Feb 21, police clashed with rioters in a majority immigrant neighborhood in Stockholm. Some rioter threw rocks and one officer was struck in the arm. Police fired warning shots to dispurse the crowd, but no one died and the police said the riot may have been the result of increased police pressure in the neighborhood.

The fact that a riot happened two days after the president made a reference to a terrorist incident that didn’t happen three days earlier doesn’t really mitigate his statement, does it? But Trump believes he got close enough. He wants partial credit.

Huma [Abedin] and Anthony [Weiner], you know, what I tweeted about that whole deal, and then it turned out he had it, all of Hillary’s email on his thing.

In October, a little more than a week before the election, FBI Director James Comey sent a letter to Rep. Jason Chaffetz at the House Oversight Committee to say that, while investigating Anthony Weiner for an unrelated matter, they discovered some emails to Clinton from Weiner’s wife and Clinton aide Huma Abedine on Wiener’s laptop. Comey has been roundly criticized for rushing to send the letter before anyone (including himself) knew if anything on the laptop was new or relevant to the Clinton email investigation. Contrary to the president’s statement, the laptop didn’t contain “all of Hillary’s email on the thing.” In fact, the wasn’t anything new or undisclosed on the laptop, leading many to speculate that Comey was attempting to put his thumb on the scale to help Trump in the week leading up to the vote. Trump wasn’t even close on that one, but he still wants credit.

NATO, obsolete, because it doesn’t cover terrorism. They fixed that, and I said that the allies must pay. Nobody knew that they weren’t paying. I did. I figured it.

Here the president doesn’t even try to make sense. NATO isn’t obsolete. In fact, it is essential for the defense of Europe and the encroaching threat of Putin’s Russia. They have been working on counterterrorism since 1980 and stepped up those efforts in 2011 after the attack on the World Trade Center. Countries don’t pay into NATO for defense. NATO allies agree to spend two percent of their GDP on defense (this is a goal to be reached by 2026, as of now only four countries are there). None of that money is paid to the United States and our contribution to NATO isn’t a favor to Europe, but an essential part of our own national defense. A free democratic Europe is essential to the security of the western world. He wants credit for being right about something he doesn’t understand.

Brexit, I was totally right about that. You were over there I think, when I predicted that, right, the day before.

The record of Trump’s predictions on Brexit will show that he wasn’t confident. In fact, when asked about his position on Brexit back in June, Trump wasn’t sure what it was. The day before the vote, he was hedging: “I don’t think anybody should listen to me because I haven’t really focused on it very much. … My inclination would be to get out, because you know, just go it alone. … I also tell people: ‘Don’t go with the recommendation, because it’s a recommendation that I would make, but that’s where I stand.’” He got the answer right, but I doubt he could show his work. Technically, he didn’t predict how the vote would go, only how he would have voted.

Then the reporter asked about the president’s various statements that have only a passing aquaintence with the truth.

Wiretapping:

Now remember this. When I said wiretapping, it was in quotes. Because a wiretapping is, you know today it is different than wire tapping. It is just a good description. But wiretapping was in quotes. What I’m talking about is surveillance.

Trump sent out four tweets during that fateful Saturday morning at Mar-a-Lago. In two of them he used quotes around “wiretapping” and in two he didn’t. But in all of them, he accused President Obama of illegally ordering it. In fact, he called the president “bad” and “sick.” None of that is mitigated by trying to walk it back with fake excuses about quote marks. He said it was “Nixon/Watergate” stuff. Trump brought up House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes holding an unusual press conference inwhich he said some of Trump’s campaign team turned up in surveliance files where the targets of surveillance were Russians. That doesn’t mitigate Trumps accusations or provide any sort of vindication for his ill-advised twitter storm. But Trump wants credit for it.

When the reporter brought up that Comey testified that there was no surveillance of the Trump campaign or transition team, he responded, “I have articles saying it happened.” Wow. So the FBI, the NSA, the DoJ, and the Brits all say there was no surveillance. But Trump will ignore them in favor of “articles” in the newspaper? I find it particularly gaulling that he’s referring to the New York Times here because as everyone should know, Trump has no respect for that paper, describing it alternately as “failing” and “fake news.” But if you look at the article to which Trump is probably referring, it doesn’t say anything about Obama ordering surveillance. The president is just way off here and grasping at anything to keep from having to admit he was in error. He’s wrong, but he wants the NYT to be the one to take the hit.

Three million undocumented people voted:

There is zero evidence to support that claim or any of the associated claims such as people being bussed across state lines to vote in two different states. It didn’t happen. But Trump says, “Well I think I will be proved right about that too.” He’s going to form a committee to study it. 

Wait, more than that? Federal Election Commissioner Ellen Weintraub disputes that claim and has demanded the president either present his evidence or stop making it. No one else in government seems to believe that this is possible. But Trump wants to form a committee and have it spend tax dollars chasing its tail so he won’t have to admit he got it wrong. Again. He wants credit for believing he’s right. 

Before the election when Trump made wild accusations and “predictions” that turned out to be false, it was just another celebrity blowhard beaking off. But now that he’s the president, it’s not a good look. The reporter asked him if there was a difference between citizen Trump and President Trump making these “kinds of predictions without having the factual evidence.” 

“I’m a very instinctual person, but my instinct turns out to be right.”

No, Mr. President. You’re not. It just goes on an on from there. His contention that Sen. Ted Cruz’s father Raphael had something to do with the murder of President John F. Kennedy? “Well, that was in a newspaper.” It was in the National Enquirer and it was debunked days before Trump made the statement.

“I’m just quoting the newspaper, just like I quoted the judge the other day, Judge Napolitano, I quoted Judge Napolitano, just like I quoted Bret Baier, I mean Bret Baier mentioned the word wiretap.”

Napolitano got his information from Russia Today, Putin’s state-sponsored propaganda media channel and he’s been suspended from Fox News over it. Baier was interviewing Speaker Paul Ryan about unconfirmed reports of wiretapping and Ryan denied seeing any evidence of it. Fox News has said they have no evidence of any wiretapping. 

Rather than take responsibility for his own credulousness, he passes the buck. Oh, I was just quoting what I saw on TV. How can you hold me responsible for the lies of the dishonest media?  The reporter pointed out that traditionally presidents don’t make wild statements without having the facts at hand. 

“Well, I’m not, well, I think, I’m not saying, I’m quoting, Michael, I’m quoting highly respected people and sources from major television networks.”

So, the lying, dishonest, fake media suddenly becomes “highly respected” when he can use them to avoid taking responsibility for his outlandish statements. He lies. He lies repeatedly and with gusto over little, inconsequential matters. 

“Hey. I went to Kentucky two nights ago, we had 25,000 people in a massive basketball arena.” The Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville holds 18,000 people. That’s a respectable number. No one is going to think less of him because he filled an 18,000-seat arena instead of a 25,000-seat one. Why lie about something that doesn’t mean anything and can be so easily checked? 

President Trump doesn’t have the temperament for this job. He doesn’t do well when confronted with facts that oppose his own ideas. He denies his own words when confronted with the truth. I encourage everyone to read this interview and try to make sense of what he’s trying to say. He cannot admit fault. He cannot acknowledge that he got something wrong. He wants credit for getting close.

There are no participation trophies for world leaders. There are only consequences. Bald-faced lies coupled with a complete denial of the truth is the stock and trade of a toddler, not a president. It’s how a con man skates by in the world. It isn’t how an adult does his or her job. 

Our President is Unbelievable

lovitz-flanaganDavid Muir conducted the first sit-down interview with President Trump since he moved into the Oval Office. It was unbelievable. That’s not hyperbole. It was literally unbelievable that a sitting president would be so obsessed with his own popularity.

Trump interview with ABC News

Trump hasn’t had a great first week in office. His administration has been leaking like a sieve, with the New York Times and the Washington Post both posting anonymous insider-sourced stories about the goings on in the West Wing. These accounts talk of a man who obsesses over poll numbers, TV ratings, and benchmarks. Someone who was unhappy with the media and surprised they didn’t treat him nicer since he was sworn in. And while most presidents do enjoy a honeymoon once in office, Trump almost assuredly squandered his over fights with the press corps about insignificant things like the size of the crowd at his inauguration.

All In All We’re Just Another Brick in the Wall.

Muir did his best to keep the president on topic and focused, which wasn’t easy because Trump tends to take off on flights of fancy. Trump signed an executive order calling for the construction of a southern border wall for the United States. Now, you may recall that during the campaign one of Trump’s favorite call-and-response bits was to get the crowd yelling about the wall. “Who’s going to pay for it?” “MEXICO!!!!” But the EO has asked Congress to appropriate $14 billion to begin planning and construction.

Trump assured Muir not only that Mexico would reimburse us for the wall, but that he never said Mexico would pay for it up front:

DAVID MUIR: What are you gonna say to some of your supporters who might say, “Wait a minute, I thought Mexico was going to pay for this right at the start.”

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, I’d say very simply that they are going to pay for it. I never said they’re gonna pay from the start. I said Mexico will pay for the wall. 

Trump seems to think it’s *our* fault if we didn’t interpret “Mexico is going to pay for the wall” as “Mexico is going to reimburse us for the wall through a complex payment structure that we will decide on later.” Admittedly, it isn’t easy to get a crowd to chant that.

But there are a couple of things to unpack there. The EO Trump signed comes at an unfortunate time — the first day of talks between top officials in Mexico and the US ahead of a planned visit from President Enrique Peña Nieto to the White House.  Peña Nieto responded with a video message denying that Mexico will pay for the wall. “It is evident that we have differences with the new United States government on some issues, such as a wall that Mexico absolutely will not pay for,” Peña Nieto said. “At no time will we accept anything that goes against our dignity as a country and our dignity as Mexicans.”

Trump’s response was, “He has to say that” but they’re gonna pay for it. They just don’t know it, yet, saying the reimbursement will be part of a complicated “transaction” with Mexico, that will result in them paying “100 percent” for the wall and it will cost us “nothing.” Additionally, though the Mexican president claims the wall would be an affront to their dignity, Trump says it will be “good for Mexico.” Peña Nieto said he is considering canceling his US trip. To which Trump replied through a tweet that if Mexico didn’t want to pay for the wall he *should* cancel the trip.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan confirmed that Congress is willing to put up $14 billion for this project, saying, “We’re going to pay for the wall and front the money.” This is troubling since that’s nearly twice as much money as President Obama requested for the EPA in his last budget and was told by congress it was unaffordable. We can’t spend $8 billion to protect our environment, but we can front $14 billion on what is essentially a boondoggle? Unbelievable.

It’s a Major Award!

Muir brought up another executive order President Trump signed calling for a “major investigation” into voter fraud. Let me just say as an aside that normally presidents and government officials don’t use words like “major investigation.” These are left to pundits and media hacks. When the president says “major investigation” I’m left with questions such as what constitutes “major?” Is there a threshold in terms of manpower? Agencies involved? Scope? Or is this just our superlative and hyperbolic president trying to reassure us of his seriousness?

There are no details about this investigation because an EO doesn’t cover things like the budget or a timeline. But with a $14 billion wall to pay for, one wonders if we can afford vanity projects like this. And make no mistake, this is all in service of Trump’s ego. He will not move on from the fact that he won the election, but lost the vote by nearly 3 million.

Trump held a meeting with congressional leaders in which he told them he would have won the popular vote but for three to five million illegal votes cast. The press corp asked Sean Spicer if the president really believes that, then why aren’t we investigating it.

Boom. “Major investigation.” Muir asked him about the meeting and Trump spun off into how he won the election, how he could have won the popular vote easily if that was his goal, but it wasn’t. He talked about how many states he went to. How he didn’t campaign in New York or California and how voter fraud in this country is rampant and pervasive. Muir pressed him for evidence of his claims and we got one of the more interesting exchanges:

DAVID MUIR: What you have presented so far has been debunked. It’s been called false.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: No, it hasn’t. Take a look at the Pew reports.

DAVID MUIR: I called the author of the Pew report last night. And he told me that they found no evidence of voter fraud.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Really? Then why did he write the report?

DAVID MUIR: He said no evidence of voter fraud.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Excuse me, then why did he write the report? According to Pew report, then he’s — then he’s groveling again. You know, I always talk about the reporters that grovel when they wanna write something that you wanna hear but not necessarily millions of people wanna hear or have to hear.

The Pew Report on the States, published in 2012, was headed up by David Becker. Becker (who is not a reporter, by the way) has repeatedly said the conclusions of the report were misconstrued and that they found no evidence of voter fraud. He has consistently said this. The problem is that Trump hasn’t read the report. He’s been told about it, most likely by Kris Kobach, secretary of state for Kansas who has a real hard-on for making it harder to vote. Kobach likes to wave that report around and say it says what it doesn’t say (generally by citing the anomalies in the data and extrapolating from them. Becker said they rechecked the anomalies and can account for most of them).

But if we look at what Trump believes is happening, he’s describing problems with voter registration and voter rolls, not actual voter fraud.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: In fact, I heard one of the other side, they were saying it’s not 3 to 5. It’s not 3 to 5. I said, “Well, Mr. Trump is talking about registration, tell–” He said, “You know we don’t wanna talk about registration.” They don’t wanna talk about registration.

You have people that are registered who are dead, who are illegals, who are in two states. You have people registered in two states. They’re registered in a New York and New Jersey. They vote twice. There are millions of votes, in my opinion.

The reason “they don’t want to talk about registration” is because registration isn’t voter fraud. It isn’t unusual for people to be registered in two states because when you move from one state to another, you don’t unregister from your old state. You just register with your new one. So your name may remain on the voter rolls in your old home for years before they get around to removing it. That’s not nefarious. The problem is that Trump has convinced himself that people regularly cross state lines to vote twice.

Interestingly enough, Trump’s daughter Tiffany, White House advisor and Nazi sympathizer Steve Bannon, and Treasury Secretary-Designate Steve Mnuchin are all registered to vote in two different states. Bannon, by the way, registered to vote at a Florida address belonging to someone else (Bannon never lived there).

But to Trump, the accuracy of his claims takes a back seat to the popularity of his claims as evidenced by this exchange:

DAVID MUIR: House Speaker Paul Ryan has said, “I have seen no evidence. I have made this very, very clear.” Senator Lindsey Graham saying, “It’s the most inappropriate thing for a president to say without proof. He seems obsessed with the idea that he could not have possibly lost the popular vote without cheating and fraud.” I wanna ask you about something bigger here. Does it matter more now …

PRESIDENT TRUMP: There’s nothing bigger. There’s nothing bigger.

DAVID MUIR: But it is important because …

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Let me just tell you, you know what’s important, millions of people agree with me when I say that if you would’ve looked on one of the other networks and all of the people that were calling in they’re saying, “We agree with Mr. Trump. We agree.” They’re very smart people.

No, Mr. President, that’s not important. Being popular on FOX doesn’t make you right. Not that “millions of people” called into FOX to say they agreed with you. This is a running theme with Trump. He puts more stock in anecdotal evidence than he does in hard data. If someone tells him a story that he likes (especially if a celebrity does it) then it is as good as gold. For example, at the meeting with the congressional leaders, Trump related a story told to him by his “friend” professional golfer Bernhard Langer.

According to the people there, Trump said Langer tried to vote in Florida and was told he wouldn’t be allowed to. He said that there were people in line in front and behind him “that looked like they shouldn’t be allowed to vote” but they were given ballots. They said Trump threw out the names of some South American countries where he speculated these people came from.

Now think about that for a second. That’s a racist story. In Trump’s mind, it was an outrage that brown people were allowed to vote and a white man wasn’t. But this is Florida, which has a large Hispanic citizenry. And Langer isn’t a citizen! He’s from Germany. And the story didn’t happen to him, but to a friend of his.

A senior White House staff member, who was not at the Monday reception but has heard Mr. Trump tell the story, said Mr. Langer saw Mr. Trump in Florida during the Thanksgiving break and told him the story of a friend of Mr. Langer’s who had been blocked from voting. …

The story, the aide added, had made a big impression on Mr. Trump.

So Trump bases his convictions on a second-hand account that he misunderstood and cites as evidence a second-hand account of a report he hasn’t read that doesn’t say what he thinks. But that doesn’t matter as much as his impression that “millions” of people agree with him. That’s nuts. Our president is nuts.

Edit: It turns out that even that story was wrong.

To sum up: The author of the Pew Report says there was no evidence of voter fraud. The Speaker of the House said there was no evidence of voter fraud. Trump’s own attorneys who were fighting the Jill Stein-led recount said “all available evidence suggests that the 2016 general election was not tainted by fraud.”

But if you want to ignore all that, before you go spending money on a “major investigation,” shouldn’t you look at the results of the previous investigation of voter fraud? The Bush Administration did a five-year study and found “virtually no evidence” of voter fraud. Justin Levitt of Loyola Law School conducted one of the most comprehensive multi-year studies of voter fraud and found 31 instances of voter impersonation out of a billion ballots cast. That’s 1 in 32 million votes.

Iowa did their own two-year study in 2012 and found no evidence of significant voter fraud (27 instances, mostly related to misunderstandings about voting regulations). The Washington Post did a review of cases in the 2016 elections and found four out of 136 million (two of those were Trump voters trying to vote twice, even though Trump said in his interview that “none of ’em come to me. None of ’em come to me. They would all be for the other side. None of ’em come to me.”)

Dartmouth did a study of voting patterns in the 2016 elections looking for the fraud Trump says happened. “Our research focuses on non-citizen populations, deceased individuals, the timing of results, and voting technology, and we do not uncover any evidence consistent with Trump’s assertions about widespread voter fraud.

The National Association of Secretaries of State released a statement saying they were unaware of any evidence supporting Trump’s claims. Kris Kobach of Kansas did his own review of 84 million votes cast in 22 states looking for duplicate registrations. He found 14. Wisconsin prosecuted 20 felons who voted illegally in 2008.

What no one asks Trump and what would be harder to explain away is that why would Democrats organize five million illegal votes and not put them in states where Clinton needed to win the electoral college? And why didn’t they also vote for down-ballot Democrats to help take back the Senate or the House?

It doesn’t make sense. But for Trump, it doesn’t have to make sense. A professional golfer told him a story and “millions” of people agree with him. So let’s have a “major investigation.” Sean Spicer said the investigation will concentrate on “bigger states” and “Urban areas.” Trump wants to look for fraud in places where he lost. That’s not an ethical use of the president’s power.

The Standing O

From a personal standpoint, one of the most telling sections of the ABC interview was when Trump spoke about his speech at the CIA. Nothing illustrates the delusion behind his tired, old eyes quite like his insistence that he was not only warmly welcomed, but that he was given a huge standing ovation.

 

PRESIDENT TRUMP: That speech was a home run. That speech, if you look at Fox, OK, I’ll mention you — we see what Fox said. They said it was one of the great speeches. They showed the people applauding and screaming and — and they were all CIA. There was — somebody was asking Sean — “Well, were they Trump people that were put–” we don’t have Trump people. They were CIA people.

Not according to news reports. CBS said Trump and Pence brought 40 people with them to the meeting which took up the front two rows. But beyond that, “screaming?” Why does Trump say these CIA officers were “screaming” for him? He’s truly the hyperbolic president.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: I got a standing ovation. In fact, they said it was the biggest standing ovation since Peyton Manning had won the Super Bowl and they said it was equal. I got a standing ovation. It lasted for a long period of time. What you do is take — take out your tape — you probably ran it live. I know when I do good speeches. I know when I do bad speeches. That speech was a total home run. They loved it. People loved it. They loved it. They gave me a standing ovation for a long period of time. They never even sat down, most of them, during the speech. There was love in the room. You and other networks covered it very inaccurately. I hate to say this to you and you probably won’t put it on but turn on Fox and see how it was covered. And see how people respond to that speech.

Okay, couple of things.

1) What the hell are you talking about with the Peyton Manning SuperBowl ovation? How could a room with fewer than 400 people in it, give “the biggest standing ovation since Peyton Manning had won the Super Bowl and they said it was equal.” What? What does that even mean? Who said that?

2) If they never sat down during the speech, then they didn’t give you a standing ovation at the end.

3) Why does this matter so much to you? Why do you insist on repeating this obvious lie over and over? Is your ego so fragile that you have to waste your time and energy dying on *this* hill?

Our president is unbelievable and I mean that in the most literal sense of the word. It is impossible to believe him because he talks in hyperbole. He lies for no reason. He lies like breathing. He’s unbelievable.