On Monday Donald Trump, standing alongside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, gave an impromptu press conference in the Rose Garden and it went about as you’d expected: a lot of lies, a healthy portion of word salad, and one jaw-dropping and slanderous attack on President Obama.
Here’s an annotated look back at what Trump said.
On health care:
“We are getting close to health care. We’ll — it’ll come up in the early to mid-part of next year. We’re going to have a vote. I think we already have the votes. We feel confident we have the votes. You pretty much know what the plan is.”
There is currently no plan. Republicans don’t have the votes to repeal Obamacare. You can’t already have votes for a bill that doesn’t exist.
In the wake of Trump’s decision to not make payments promised to insurance companies for covering low income Americans, he said, “people are talking now, Democrats are talking to the Republicans for a short-term, taking care of what we will call health care, so that people can have good health care without big spikes. You would have had massive spikes.”
Trump’s decision has caused spikes in premiums for low-income Americans.
On judicial nominees:
“The Democrats are holding them up beyond anything — beyond comprehension, they’re holding them up. I mean, frankly, they have terrible, terrible policy — terrible policy, and perhaps they’re not even good politicians, but they are good at obstruction.”
It is true that Democrats are slow-rolling Trump’s nominees, but they can’t actually block them because of changes to the filibuster rule enacted by Democrats in 2013. However, Trump complaining about obstructionism while standing next to McConnell, who spent eight years obstructing President Obama with the historic use of the filibuster is the definition of chutzpah.
Earlier on Monday Trump tweeted this out:
Art Laffer just said that he doesn't know how a Democrat could vote against the big tax cut/reform bill and live with themselves! @FoxNews— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 16, 2017
There is no tax bill at the present time.
When asked about taxes in his press conference, Trump said this:
“We want to make sure that the middle class is the biggest beneficiary of the tax cuts and tax reform.”
According to almost every independent analysis, Trump’s outline for tax cuts will disproportionately benefit wealthy Americans. Indeed, last week Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin acknowledged that the administration’s push for repealing the estate tax will be a boon for “rich people,” an embarrassing revelation that should serve as a reminder for Mnuchin that you don’t say the quiet part loudly.
On Tom Marino, his pick to be the new head of the DEA:
“As far as Tom Marino, so he was a very early supporter of mine — the great state of Pennsylvania. He’s a great guy.”
When Trump calls someone a great guy, it’s a pretty good indication that they’re about to get a dead fish in the mail. Sure enough, this morning Marino’s nomination was withdrawn.
On his failure to say anything about the four US soldiers recently killed in Niger:
“I felt very, very badly about that. I always feel badly. It’s the toughest — the toughest calls I have to make are the calls where this happens. Soldiers are killed. It’s a very difficult thing. Now, it gets to a point where, you know, you make four or five of them in one day — it’s a very, very tough day. For me, that’s by far the toughest.”
Here Trump is talking about the deaths of US service members in terms of how it affects him, which isn’t necessarily unusual. But that he is focused less on the burden faced by the families of service members who have lost loved ones and more on his own personal burdens is quintessential Trump.
But in next breath, Trump said this
“So the traditional way — if you look at President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn’t make calls. A lot of them didn’t make calls. I like to call when it’s appropriate, when I think I am able to do it.”
This is untrue, and even by Trump’s standards of truth-telling this is as dishonest and malevolent attack on his predecessor that I can remember.
It’s worth keeping in mind that Trump, who regularly complains about the media printing made up stories, said this without any knowledge that it was true. In fact, when asked in a follow-up question about Obama making these calls he said, “I don’t know if he did. No, no, no.”
“So there has been absolutely no collusion. It’s been stated that they have no collusion.”
No one other than Trump has stated this. In fact, there has been a ton of circumstantial evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, including a meeting with Russian officials who promised dirt on Hillary Clinton that included Trump’s son, his campaign manager, and his son-in-law. Trump’s denial of reality on the Russia investigation is reminiscent of the apocryphal story of King Canute who stood at the shoreline and commanded the tides to halt.
On unexplained attacks on US diplomats in Cuba:
“I do believe Cuba’s responsible. I do believe that.”
According to a cable sent out by the State Department on Monday, we “do not know who or what is behind them.” It’s not necessarily unprecedented in the Trump administration for a government agency to openly contradict the president, but it doesn’t make it any less remarkable.
On his campaign being subpoenaed for documents relating to sexual harassment allegations:
“All I can say is it’s totally fake news. It’s just fake. It’s fake. It’s made-up stuff, and it’s disgraceful, what happens, but that happens in the — that happens in the world of politics.
Trump once suggested that Ted Cruz’s father was involved in the Kennedy assassination and as president, falsely, accused Obama of wiretapping him. So on this final point I kind of have to agree with the president: what happens in the world of politics these days is disgraceful.Michael A. Cohen’s column appears regularly in the Globe. Follow him on Twitter @speechboy71.