At a White House event last Wednesday, Donald Trump ranted for quite a while about the Mueller report, making a long series of claims, each of which were demonstrably wrong. Purely as a matter of political theatrics, it was almost impressive to see a sitting president lie so much, so quickly, about something of great significance.
Referring to the special counsel's findings, Trump argued, "It said, 'No collusion and no obstruction and no nothing.' And, in fact, it said we actually rebuffed your friends from Russia; that we actually pushed them back -- we rebuffed them." The Republican went on to make similarly false claims about his disclosures, his transparency, and federal investigators.
Listening to the tirade, it became clear that the president had simply decided to replace our reality with an alternative version that better suited his purposes. It served as a reminder that Trump had drawn firm conclusions about the Mueller report despite not having read it.
And yet, the president sat down with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos the same day and insisted he had read the Mueller report.
In context, the anchor, speaking with Trump inside the presidential limousine, asked the Republican about his "pitch to the swing voter on the fence." Trump quickly turned to the Mueller report, his "no collusion" claim, and his perception that voters "are angry about it." Stephanopoulos began to correct him, but said the two could discuss it in more detail later.
But the president pressed on, again insisting that the special counsel's findings concluded "no collusion," and "they didn't find anything having to do with obstruction." The ABC host explained, "They didn't examine collusion. He laid out evidence of obstruction."
This exchange soon followed:
TRUMP: He said no collusion.
STEPHANOPOULOS: He said he didn't look at collusion.
TRUMP: George, the report said no collusion.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Did you read the report?
TRUMP: Uh, yes I did, and you should read it, too.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I read every word.
TRUMP: Alright, let's go. You should read it, too, George.
At that point, the president decided it was time to leave the car.