It was hardly the most important thing Donald Trump said at yesterday’s press conference, but when the president was asked why it took so long for him to denounce white supremacists after Saturday’s violence in Charlottesville, he launched a rant about the value he places on accuracy.
“I didn’t wait long. I wanted to make sure, unlike most politicians, that what I said was correct, not make a quick statement. The statement I made on Saturday, the first statement, was a fine statement. But you don’t make statements that direct unless you know the facts. It takes a little while to get the facts. You still don’t know the facts. And it’s a very, very important process to me. And it’s a very important statement.
“So, I don’t want to go quickly and just make a statement for the sake of making a political statement. I want to know the facts…. When I make a statement, I like to be correct. I want the facts. This event just happened. In fact, a lot of the event didn’t even happen yet, as we were speaking. This event just happened. Before I make a statement, I need the facts.”
How reporters in attendance didn’t burst into immediate laughter remains something of a mystery.
Look, I’m not even going to talk about the astonishing number of lies Donald Trump tells on a nearly daily basis, contradicting the idea that he “likes to be correct” when speaking. In this case, we can instead narrow the focus to instances in which the president rushed to make statements in response to violence and suspected attacks – often without having any idea what he was saying, occasionally pointing to attacks that didn’t actually happen.
In June, for example, Trump told Americans about his concerns regarding a “terrorist attack in Manila,” when in reality, that’s not what happened.
In February, the president told a group of supporters about an “attack” that he said had happened the night before in Sweden. There was no such attack.
In April, Trump talked to reporters about a terrorist incident in France before it had been confirmed by local officials, and before the president had relevant details.
As we discussed last week, Trump’s rhetoric in response to suspected terrorism has been so profoundly irresponsible that the Associated Press published a fact-checking piece a couple of months ago that said the president “can’t be counted on to give accurate information to Americans when violent acts are unfolding abroad.”
The president seems to take his time in response to violence when the suspects appear to be right-wing Americans.
Waiting to get the facts is “very, very important” to him? Please. If Trump is going to lie as a matter of course, the least he could do is stop insulting our intelligence.