Donald Trump’s fundamental fraudulence was exposed twice this week — he lied about his health (according to his own doctor), and he lied about the Stormy Daniels payments (according to his own lawyer) — so it’s only fitting that I share some fresh words of wisdom.
“Mr. Trump’s public deceptions are surely relevant to his job as president, and the attempted (Stormy) coverup has done greater harm than any affair would have. Mr. Trump asked Americans, not least his supporters, to believe his claims about the payments. They were false and conveniently so in putting the onus on (Michael) Cohen. Now, as more of the story has emerged, he wants everyone to believe a new story that he could have told the first time.
“Mr. Trump is compiling a record that increases the likelihood that few will believe him during a genuine crisis — say, a dispute over speaking with special counsel Robert Mueller or a nuclear showdown with Kim Jong Un. Mr. Trump should worry that Americans will stop believing anything he says.”
So says an editorial today, on the right-wing opinion page of Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal.
In all likelihood, most Americans have already stopped believing anything Trump says, but that biting analysis is four-alarm proof that even his natives are getting restless.
And that was merely the warm-up act for this televised commentary, which aired last night. Here it is, lovingly transcribed by yours truly:
“President Trump is fond of calling out the media on ‘fake news.’ But is he the one giving them very real ammunition? Maybe not intentionally, or deliberately, but consistently. Way too consistently. So let me be clear, Mr. President. How can you drain the swamp if you’re the one muddying the waters?
“You didn’t know about the $130,000 payment to a porn star — until you did. You said you knew nothing about how your former lawyer Michael Cohen handled this — until acknowledging today that you were the guy behind the retainer payment that took care of this. You insisted that money from the campaign or campaign contributions played no role in this transaction, of that you’re sure. Thing is, 24 hours ago, sir, you couldn’t recall any of this — but now you’re very sure …
“I’m just having a devil of a time figuring out which news is fake. Your own words on lots of stuff give me lots of pause. Like the time you said the Russians didn’t interfere in the 2016 election. A lot of Republicans had to remind you that they did. You came back months later and said, ‘I never said the Russians didn’t meddle in the election.’ In fact, you did — a lot. Now, this doesn’t make me a never-Trumper. Just confused. Like when you said your tax plan was the biggest (cut) in U.S. history — when it wasn’t. Or that the bill you signed would cost you a fortune — when it turns out it is going to make you a bigger fortune. Or that your job approval numbers really aren’t that bad, relative to other presidents at this stage — when they’re actually worse than most presidents at this stage.
“(Polls) can change. But what’s weird is that (your) pattern does not. Like the time you said rumors of Rex Tillerson’s departure from the State Department were false — until they weren’t. Or that your former chief of staff Reince Priebus wasn’t going anywhere — until he was. Or that your economic adviser Gary Cohn was doing a great job — until he wasn’t. Or that you absolutely loved Steve Bannon — until you didn’t. Or that you swore by Jeff Sessions — until you started swearing at Jeff Sessions. Or that your legal team was locked in place — until it wasn’t. Or that you denied reports you were thinking of firing Robert Mueller — even as you’re now threatening of getting ‘involved’ at the Justice Department …
“I’m sure you can understand how even your friends think these inconsistencies don’t make you look good — or do anything to help you advance your policies, many of which are very good. The prospects for peace with North Korea — remarkably good. But all this stuff you keep blurting out — remarkably bad, and remarkably bad timing …
“It is always something else. Like the time you claim to have signed more bills than any president ever, neglecting the other four presidents — FDR, Truman, Carter, and Clinton — who all signed more. Or when you bragged about the national debt going down by $12 billion in your first month in office, even though it has soared by more than $1 trillion in your first 15 months in office.
“But it is not what you are omitting, Mr. President. It is what you keep stating and never correcting. Like when you said there was serious voter fraud in New Hampshire — and there wasn’t. Said the same about repeated claims of voter fraud in Virginia — and there weren’t. Or that millions voted illegally in the last election — but they didn’t. Or the time you talked up your ‘massive’ landslide in the Electoral College — even though 3 out of 4 presidents before you had bigger landslides in their elections …
“Oftentimes, the press is using your own words to bash you. Your base probably might not care. But you should. I guess you’re too busy ‘draining the swamp’ to stop and smell the stink you are creating. That’s your doing. That’s your stink. Mr. President, that’s your swamp.”
So said commentator Neil Cavuto, on Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News.
My advice for Trump is that he stop obsessing about Mueller, the free press, the Democrats, the “deep state” and whatever other external threats he conjures in the wee hours — because at this point (oh no! scary music!), the calls are coming from inside the house.
Today, on WHYY’s “Radio Times,” the program was titled “The Legal Issues Facing Trump.” I was a co-guest, tasked with providing political perspective. The podcast is here. It was a fast hour.