Yours truly*, Donald J. Trump
Of all the things Donald Trump has said lately as the midterm elections approach, this may have the best chance of passing the smell test.
In an ABC News interview, Trump was asked if he has kept a promise he made to the American people in the 2016 campaign that "I will never lie to you."
The president responded: "I do try, and I always want to tell the truth. When I can, I tell the truth. And sometimes it turns out to be where something happens that’s different or there’s a change, but I always like to be truthful." (Video clip here.)
If that's true, he's had an especially disappointing time these past few weeks. He announced there would be a new middle class tax cut by Nov. 1, but there wasn't. He said Republicans will defend health coverage for pre-existing conditions while administration lawyers side with those seeking to eliminate the protection. He has repeatedly passed along misinformation and disinformation about migrants.
The Washington Post fact-checkers have caught Trump in more than 5,000 false or misleading claims since he became president. The New York Times reviewed 15 of his "most egregious falsehoods" since Oct. 22 that illustrate the recent comments by onetime, short-time White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci that Trump "has a reality distortion field around himself where he curves facts toward himself.”
"Facts" that are just too good to check.
In the ABC interview Wednesday, Trump was asked why he said that the United States was the only country in the world with birthright citizenship when in reality there are more than 30.
"Well, I was told that," Trump replied. Per usual when spouting fiction, he didn't reveal his sources.
Last week's wave of letter bombs, including three sent to CNN, spurred renewed calls on Trump to tone down his repeated denunciations of news media organizations he doesn't like as the "enemy of the people."
Trump should "understand that your words matter . . . but so far, you don't seem to get that," said CNN president Jeff Zucker.
It seems he does get it and doesn't care.
In an interview with "Axios on HBO," Trump said it makes his fans "like me more."
"But what happens if all of a sudden someone gets shot? Someone shoots one of these reporters?" the president was asked.
Said Trump: "It’s my only form of fighting back. I wouldn’t be here if I didn't do that.”
Janison: Bail on the chief?
There are a few more cracks in GOP unity despite the imminent elections, writes Newsday's Dan Janison.
Rep. Steve King's open solidarity with far-right white nationalists around the world hasn't stopped Trump from being all cuddly with the Iowa congressman, but the head of the House Republican campaign committee renounced him.
House Speaker Paul Ryan derided Trump's claim that he could undo birthright citizenship with an executive order. Mitt Romney, likely the next senator from Utah, wrote that he couldn't "conceive of thinking or saying" the news media is an enemy as Trump does.
What's the 'R' stand for?
“You know the word ‘racist’ is used about every Republican that’s winning," Trump complained to a Christian Broadcasting Network interviewer: “Anytime a Republican is leading, they take out the ‘R’ word, the ‘racist’ word."
The "R" word was used quite a bit by Democrats and Republicans alike to describe a video that Trump posted on his Twitter account to gin up fear of migrants. It includes courtroom scenes of Luis Bracamontes, a Mexican, smiling menacingly and bragging in expletive-filled rants that he's killed cops and he’s “gonna kill more cops soon.”
"Democrats let him into our country. . . . Democrats let him stay,” the video said. Luis Bracamontes, now under death sentence in California, entered the U.S. illegally and was deported under both Democratic and Republican administrations.
Al Cardenas, a former Florida GOP chairman in Florida, tweeted at Trump: “You are a despicable divider; the worse social poison to afflict our country in decades.” Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez called it the "dog-whistle of all dog-whistles."
Over the borderline
Pounding the drums again Thursday on illegal immigration, Trump said he will sign an executive order next week that says asylum-seekers must present themselves at an established point of entry and could no longer surrender to patrols in between crossings.
That would likely invite legal challenges that Trump is violating the Immigration and Nationality Act.
The president also said he will detain asylum applicants in tent cities “for a long time” rather than allowing them into the country to await a court date. For more, see Candice Ferrette's story for Newsday.
Previously unreported emails and texts show how Roger Stone, now a target of Robert Mueller's investigation, presented himself to Trump campaign officials in 2016 as having an insider's track with WikiLeaks hacks of Democratic emails, The New York Times reported.
Stone says now that what he said then shouldn't be believed. It was “posture, bluff, hype,” he said.
What else is happening:
- Trump is on an eight-state, 11-stop push for the final days before the elections, focusing on places where the GOP seeks to win Senate and governors’ seats rather than House ones, Newsday's Emily Ngo reports.
- The rabbi from the Pittsburgh synagogue where 11 people were shot dead Saturday told The Washington Post that when Trump visited, he saw a “warm and personal side” to the president that surprised him.
- State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert is among the people under consideration to be the next U.S. ambassador to the UN, Trump said Thursday. Like many Trump officials, she came to the administration from Fox News.
- National security adviser John Bolton praised Jair Bolsonaro, the far-rightist elected as the next president of Brazil, as a “like-minded” partner for the U.S. and a believer in "free-market principles." Bolsonaro has also praised the country's former dictatorship, insulted gays and black people, and told a female lawmaker she was too ugly for him to rape her.
- Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was bad-mouthing journalist Jamal Khashoggi to top White House officials as a dangerous Islamist in the weeks before the kingdom acknowledged its agents killed him, The Washington Post reported.