Spicer ... denied that Trump misspoke when he talked about the ships. "The president said that we have an armada going towards the peninsula. That's a fact, it happened," Spicer said.But then Spicer corrected himself, noting that it had not in fact happened. "It is happening, rather," he said.
April 19, 201718:14
Oh dear, we're headed into a debate over the meaning of "is."Look, there's no need to make this more complicated than it is. Trump, Spicer, and other administration officials said the USS Carl Vinson was on its way towards Korea. They spoke about this in present tense -- if the White House press secretary doesn't believe that, he can check his own transcript -- and these officials said nothing about future events.Looking specifically at the president's comments, there's an important difference between "We are sending an armada," which is what Trump said, and "We will send an armada," which isn't what Trump said.Not to put too fine a point on this, but when the Commander in Chief of the world's strongest fighting force says "we are" doing something about national security that we're not actually doing, that does real harm to the nation's credibility. It only makes matters worse when his press secretary adds, "That's a fact, it happened. It is happening, rather."Falsehoods don't become facts if you have to change the tense and wait for them to eventually come true.The damage abroad may prove to be real. The Wall Street Journal quoted a South Korean presidential candidate saying, "What [President Donald Trump] said was very important for the national security of South Korea. If that was a lie, then during Trump's term, South Korea will not trust whatever Trump says."