When Donald Trump first spoke to ABC News' George Stephanopoulos this week, the president was preoccupied with reports about his poor standing in public opinion polls. Stephanopoulos asked why he was so bothered by the reports.
"Because, it's untrue," Trump replied. "I like the truth. I'm actually a very honest guy."
It was his use of the word "actually" that stood out for me. The president must realize on some level that he's seen as one of the world's most flamboyantly dishonest people -- a reputation he's earned by lying so frequently, more than a few observers have raised concerns about his mental stability.
"I'm actually a very honest guy" is a hilariously false claim, but it comes with an unfortunate subtext: Trump almost seemed to suggest, "It might surprise people to hear that I'm honest, but..."
A day later, NPR's Steve Inskeep sat down with Peter Navarro, a controversial White House figure who's helping guide the president's agenda on trade. The host inquired about Trump's claims about a secret side deal with Mexico:
INSKEEP: I do have to ask ... about this purported secret agreement. The president says he has one. Mexico says he doesn't have one. Who's not telling the truth?
NAVARRO: The president always tells the truth.
As best as I can tell, Navarro wasn't trying to be funny. He actually expects people to believe that Trump is honest.
To be sure, it would be great if anyone could take boasts like these seriously, but in this presidency, it's just not an option. Trump has proven himself to be untrustworthy. His lies are innumerable.
The result is a crisis of credibility that the White House may not fully appreciate, but which the president and his team are nevertheless being forced to confront.