A pharmacy employee dumps pills into a pill counting machine as she fills a prescription while working at a pharmacy in New York December 23, 2009.
Lucas Jackson / Reuters

Trump (falsely) links pharmaceutical industry to impeachment process

Updated

Donald Trump was in Florida yesterday, holding an official White House event that seemed an awful lot like a campaign rally, where the president seemed to implicate the pharmaceutical industry in the scandal that’s likely to lead to his impeachment.

After boasting that he and his team are “taking on the pharmaceutical companies,” Trump added:

“You think that’s easy? It’s not easy. It’s not easy. They come at you from all different sides. I wouldn’t be surprised if the hoax didn’t come a little bit from some of the people that we’re taking on. They’re very powerful. They spend a lot of money – spend, I think, more money than any other group in the world actually, in terms of lobbying and lobbying abilities.

“And I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the nonsense that we all have to go through, but that I go through – wouldn’t be surprised if it was from these – some of these industries like pharmaceuticals that we take on.”

This struck me as amazing for three reasons, so let’s take a minute to unpack the multilayered nonsense.

First, Donald Trump isn’t taking on the pharmaceutical industry. On the contrary, he tapped someone who oversaw a drug company’s lobbying efforts to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, which came after he backed off his 2016 campaign promises related to drug pricing. The Republican occasionally likes to pretend he’s a progressive crusader, but it’s absurd.

Trump also tapped Joe Grogan, a former drug industry lobbyist, to help shape the administration’s drug-pricing plan. The president later promoted the former lobbyist to lead the White House’s Domestic Policy Council.

Second, the scandal that’s likely to lead to his impeachment obviously isn’t a “hoax.” Trump has effectively already confessed. It’s also why there’s no reason to think nefarious corporate giants are trying to pull strings behind the scenes: there’s simply no need.

Asked for a response to the president’s nonsense, a spokesperson for PhRMA said yesterday, “Not to be so frank, but that is a ridiculous question.”

But even if we put all of that aside, as we discussed yesterday, it was the president’s love of ridiculous conspiracy theories that helped get him into trouble in the first place, pushing him to the brink of impeachment. If the Republican were better able to demonstrate critical thinking skills, separating fact from nonsense, he’d be in a vastly better position.

And yet, there he was yesterday, concocting an entirely new conspiracy theory involving drug companies and his scheme to get foreign assistance for his re-election campaign. Trump just can’t seem to help himself.