One of the glaring realizations to emerge this week is that Donald Trump lied about one of the hush-money payments to one of his alleged former mistresses. The president was asked on April 5 whether he know about the pre-election payoff to Stormy Daniels. “No,” Trump replied.
Asked where Michael Cohen got the money for the hush-money payment, the president added, “I don’t know.”
The fact that he was lying is no longer in dispute. In fact, Trump tacitly admitted yesterday that his original claims weren’t true when he changed his story about what transpired. The Washington Post had a good piece along these lines, noting, “The evolving strategy on the hush-money allegations is textbook Trump: Tell one version of events until it falls apart, then tell a new version, and so on – until the danger passes.”
But of particular interest at this point in the process is the sheer volume of the president’s evolving defenses, each of which are extremely difficult to believe, some of which clearly contradict each other, and some of which have already been proven false.
It led Trump to roll out a new defense during an interview yesterday with Fox News’ Harris Faulkner:
“Nobody except for me would be looked at like this – nobody.
“What about Congress? Where they have a slush fund and millions and millions of dollars is paid out each year. They have a slush fund – millions. They don’t talk about campaign finance or anything. Have you ever heard a campaign finance list? Have they listed that on their campaign finance sheets? No.”
Trump’s affection for “whataboutism” is limitless, but this was a special example of self-pitying whataboutism.
The president started the defense by suggesting it’s unfair to examine his record. Sure, he made illegal hush-money payments shortly before the election, but does that really justify scrutiny?
And then he pivoted, hoping to change the subject away from the accusations surrounding his political operation and toward a multi-million-dollar congressional slush fund. For what it’s worth, I haven’t the foggiest idea what he was referring to, and given Trump’s approach to reality, it’s quite likely he simply made this up.
But it’s the underlying point of the argument that matters here: the president thinks he’s being picked on, just because there’s evidence of him committing some felonies. Trump may have broken the law, but true to form, he sees himself as a victim.
It reeks of weakness, but at this point, Trump is running out of other defenses.