Donald Trump, after weeks of games, finally conceded yesterday what many had long suspected: when he raised the prospect of secret "tapes" of his conversations with former FBI Director James Comey, the president was bluffing. If Trump's new claims are to be believed, the president did not record his discussions with Comey.
Trump under investigation for obstruction: WaPoJune 15, 201709:05
This morning, Fox News aired a new interview with Trump, asking about his bogus tweet, and after whining about the Obama administration for a while, the president argued that he was simply trying to intimidate the former FBI chief in advance of his sworn testimony in the investigation into Trump's Russia scandal.
"But when [Comey] found out that there may be tapes out there, whether it be governmental tapes or anything else, I think his story may have changed ... my story didn't change, my story was never a fake story."
When the Fox News host gushed that Trump's tweet "was a smart way" to make sure Comey "stayed honest in those hearings," the president, pleased with himself, replied, "Well, it wasn't very stupid, I can tell you that."
I'm afraid Trump doesn't fully understand what he's saying, his confidence notwithstanding.
As of two weeks ago, the president's argument was that Comey lied under oath, effectively committing perjury by repeating falsehoods about the scandal. Trump's new argument is that Comey told the truth under oath, but only because the president -- the strategic mastermind that he is -- tricked him by publishing a deceptive tweet about tapes that don't exist.
In other words, Trump, while boasting about not changing his story, changed his story.
Making matters just a little worse, the president also seems to believe he was fiendishly clever to publish a tweet that helped lead to the appointment of a special counsel, who's reportedly made Trump the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation.
All of this, of course, also raises possible legal questions about witness tampering.
But don't worry, "it wasn't very stupid, I can tell you that."
In the meantime, despite the White House saying officials will no longer talk about the investigation into the Russia scandal, and Trump's lawyers urging him to stop talking about the Russia scandal, the president can't seem to stop himself from talking about the Russia scandal.
Yesterday, for example, Trump lied about former DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson's congressional testimony from the day before. Worse, despite Trump administration officials repeatedly acknowledging Russia's interference in the American election, the president himself yesterday ignored his own administration's intelligence findings and dismissed the meddling allegations as "all a big Dem HOAX."
It's important to recognize that Trump is actually regressing. Note the sequence of his arguments:
1. Trump used to argue that Russia didn't interfere in the election.2. Trump then argued that Russia may have interfered, but it didn't matter.3. Trump then argued that it may have mattered, but the Trump campaign didn't cooperate with the Russian crimes.
As of yesterday, the president seems to have started over.