President Donald Trump has compiled a streak of public statements and gestures that doesn’t seem to add up.
Ronny Jackson, the White House doctor, withdrew Thursday as nominee for Veterans Affairs secretary — but not before Trump & Co. said things that would undermine Jackson in the name of “standing behind” him.
Trump declared two days earlier: “I said to him, ‘What do you need it for?’ I don’t want to put a man through a process like this. It’s too ugly and too disgusting.”
Huh? One might think a president would call his Cabinet pick the best person for the post and insist any honest review by loyal Senate Republicans would show that.
But on Wednesday, Trump uttered this strange wording: “I know there’s an experience problem, because lack of experience, but there’s an experience problem.”
Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), the Veterans Affairs chairman, said Jackson deserved a hearing to clear up multiple allegations of overprescribing opioids and drunkenness.
Now Jackson will not get to demand, before a national audience, a confrontation with his accusers. Instead, both he and Trump take cover by condemning a process that will never play out.
One or both have run from the fight.
Trump is also now distancing himself from lawyer Michael Cohen in a way that seems to contradict what he said earlier about the storm over porn actress Stormy Daniels.
After Cohen said publicly he “facilitated” the famous $130,000 payment to Daniels in 2016, Trump said aboard Air Force One in April that he hadn’t known about it.
Why did Cohen make the payment?
“You’ll have to ask Michael Cohen,” Trump said. “Michael’s my attorney, and you’ll have to ask Michael.”
Yet on Thursday, Trump told his receptive hosts on “Fox & Friends” that he didn’t know much about Cohen’s business activities. He said Cohen did a “tiny fraction” of legal work for him.
“Michael would represent me, and represent me on some things,” Trump said. “He represents me — like with this crazy Stormy Daniels deal, he represented me.”
This doesn’t add up. Maybe there’s an explanation, but we don’t know it yet.
Then there’s FBI Director James Comey’s newly released memo saying Trump denied hooking up with prostitutes in Moscow in 2013 and didn’t even spend a night there on that trip.
Flight records seem to say otherwise. On Fox Thursday, Trump said: “Of course, I stayed there. I stayed there a very short period of time, but, of course, I stayed. Well, his memos said, ‘I left immediately’ — I never said that!”
Another pair of events left to guesswork and interpretation occurred this week regarding French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to Washington.
First came the plethora of kisses and hugs and embraces and handshakes between them. Trump congratulated him for the “great honor” of being invited to address Congress that is “seldom allowed to be done.”
Congress has heard from 14 foreign leaders and other dignitaries over the past decade, according to The Washington Post.
Then Macron stood before the lawmakers and condemned what sounded like Trumpism as advertised in the 2016 campaign.
“”We can choose isolationism, withdrawal and nationalism. This is an option. It can be tempting to us as a temporary remedy to our fears,” Macron said. “But closing the door to the world will not stop the evolution of the world. It will not douse, but inflame the fears of our citizens.”
Maybe Macron is in the better position to explain that contradiction.