Donald Trump seems aware of the fact that he sparked a new controversy yesterday when he endorsed foreign interference in our elections. Even many of the president’s media allies have thus far struggled to defend his ridiculous comments.
So Trump turned to Twitter to defend himself:
“I meet and talk to ‘foreign governments’ every day. I just met with the Queen of England (U.K.), the Prince of Wales, the P.M. of the United Kingdom, the P.M. of Ireland, the President of France and the President of Poland. We talked about ‘Everything!’
“Should I immediately call the FBI about these calls and meetings? How ridiculous! I would never be trusted again.
“With that being said, my full answer is rarely played by the Fake News Media. They purposely leave out the part that matters.”
Let’s get a few things out of the way quickly. First, I’m reasonably sure Trump will never understand how quotation marks work. Second, I loved the reference to “the Queen of England (U.K.),” as if there were some other Queen of England and he wanted to make sure we knew to whom he was referring.
Third, in Trump’s original tweet, he referred to Prince Charles as the “Prince of Whales,” which was hilarious, but which was deleted soon after.
But putting all of that aside, what struck me as important is the cynical little shell game the Republican has decided to play: Trump’s new line is that it’s unrealistic to think he’d contact the FBI following every interaction with a foreign official or dignitary.
Maybe he’s playing dumb. Maybe the president assumes the public is dumb. Either way, Trump is going to have to do better than this.
Even the president, for all of his limitations, should be able to appreciate this basic framework: if foreign leaders offer illegal campaign assistance, he should contact the authorities. If they don’t, there’s no reason to reach out to the FBI.
Remember, this was the best argument Trump was able to come up with after checking out coverage of his self-inflicted wound this morning. I don’t blame him for struggling – I’m not sure how I’d defend his posture, either – but I do blame him for peddling obvious nonsense.