In a series of tweets this morning, Donald Trump explained why, from his perspective, he backed off military strikes against Iranian targets. To hear the president tell it, the mission presented to him by U.S. military leaders was a disproportionate response, so he called it off "10 minutes before the strike."
There's no shortage of questions about whether this version of events is true, and there's ample room for skepticism.
But as part of the same missive, the Republican added, in apparent reference to Iran, "Sanctions are biting & more added last night." Is that true? Did the White House impose new sanctions on Tehran yesterday evening?
Evidently, no, the president seems to have made that up. The Washington Post reported this afternoon:
The White House did not impose new sanctions against Iran on Thursday in response to its downing of a U.S. military drone, contrary to President Trump's assertion in a Twitter post Friday morning.Trump's statement of new penalties against Iran came during a string of Twitter posts.... But no such sanctions were imposed. [...]A White House spokesman did not respond to an inquiry regarding Trump's comments.
I imagine White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders would've heard several questions about this at today's briefing, but in Trump's White House, press briefings have effectively ceased.
Alas, this wasn't the first time this president has been caught peddling false claims to the public about sanctions.
Three months ago, Trump also declared via Twitter, "It was announced today by the U.S. Treasury that additional large scale Sanctions would be added to those already existing Sanctions on North Korea. I have today ordered the withdrawal of those additional Sanctions!"
A few days later, we learned that literally every aspect of the message was untrue.
I am curious, though, about the president's thought process. When Trump declared this morning that new sanctions were "added last night," did he know he was wrong? Did he genuinely believe the sanctions were real? Did he misunderstand something he saw on Fox News?
Or did the president just think the idea of new sanctions sounded good -- Trump wanted to be seen doing something about Iran, even if his purported step was made up out of whole cloth -- and he assumed the public would never know the difference?