When Donald Trump lashed out at “Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon the other day, the president referred to a call the host purportedly made to the president after he appeared on the show. Fallon soon after explained, “I’ve never called this human in my life. I don’t have his number. I don’t want his number.”
In other words, Trump referred to a call that happened only in his imagination – which wouldn’t be especially notable, except the president keeps doing this.
At an event in Minnesota last week, Trump said, “The head of U.S. Steel called me the other day, and he said, ‘We’re opening up six major facilities and expanding facilities that have never been expanded.’ They haven’t been opened in many, many years.” The president told the same story last night, saying U.S. Steel called him to announce the opening of six plants.
By all appearances, that conversation did not happen. The Washington Post explained this morning:
Here’s a puzzler: Why is the president of the United States announcing the opening of new factories that a major U.S. company has not announced?
U.S. Steel is a publicly traded company, so it is supposed to disclose materially important information. The opening of six major facilities and the expansion of even more would be huge news.
It would, indeed, if the news were real. U.S. Steel has apparently been reluctant to tell reporters that the president’s story isn’t real, but that doesn’t make it true. Indeed, the Post added, “The president is wrong. But apparently U.S. Steel is afraid to say that out loud.”
And while that’s certainly important, what troubles me most is Trump’s incessant habit of describing imaginary conversations.
Circling back to our previous coverage, in August the president described a phone conversation with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto that, in reality, never occurred. Before that, Trump was excited about a phone call he’d received from the head of the Boy Scouts, which also hadn’t happened.
In July, he offered details of a phone conversation with the head of a large nation, with over 300 million people, who complained to the American president about the foreign country’s 9% GDP growth rate. There is no such country. Though Trump talked about the phone call more than once, he made it up.
Last month, he did it again, going into quite a bit of detail about the behind-the-scenes discussions he participated in over border-wall construction in California, despite the fact that those conversations apparently weren’t real.
I don’t mean to sound picky, but very stable geniuses tend not to do this.