In January 2016, Donald Trump held a fundraiser in Iowa for veterans' charities, and at the end of the event, the Republican made a bold boast: he'd raised $6 million for vets, and he'd contributed $1 million out of his own pocket.
A few months later, the public learned that neither of Trump's claims were true: he'd exaggerated the total amount of donations, and the money Trump vowed to contribute from his personal finances hadn't been sent. The then-candidate scrambled to send the money only after journalists began asking about his broken promise.
Something eerily similar happened yesterday.
We talked briefly about the Washington Post's reporting on Chris Baldridge, whose son, Army Cpl. Dillon Baldridge, was killed in Afghanistan. The president called the father directly and said something unexpected.
President Trump, in a personal phone call to a grieving military father, offered him $25,000 and said he would direct his staff to establish an online fundraiser for the family, but neither happened, the father said.
A White House spokesperson insisted yesterday that a check "has been sent," and described the line of inquiry as "disgusting." But that led to an obvious question: did Trump send the money or not?
As it turns out, the White House did send the check -- yesterday. In other words, Trump kept his promise months after the fact, but only when confronted with questions, just like when he lied last year about the money he'd donated to veterans' charities.
This has been an extraordinary week for the president, dealing with a series of controversies Trump created for himself. Instead of answering a straightforward question about a deadly attack on American troops in Niger, he's managed to lie about his predecessors' interactions with grieving families, misstate his own record of calling fallen soldiers' loved ones, exploit the death of his own chief of staff's son, and draw the ire of Gold Star families that were offended by the president's comments.
As Rachel noted on last night's show, it's difficult for us as Americans "to process this kind of moral disgrace in our leadership."