Trump’s electoral fiction floats free of verifiable reality. It is defended not so much by facts as by claims that someone else has made some claims. The sensibility is that something must be wrong because I feel it to be wrong, and I know others feel the same way. When political leaders such as Ted Cruz or Jim Jordan spoke like this, what they meant was: You believe my lies, which compels me to repeat them. Social media provides an infinity of apparent evidence for any conviction, especially one seemingly held by a president.
President Trump is a selfish liar, and a vain one. Those traits, together, can cause chaos, as they did on Thursday, when, in an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt, Trump undermined his own alibi for firing the F.B.I. director, James Comey. The official story had been that Trump was moved to act on Tuesday only after the Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, and the Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein, came to him with concerns about Comey’s competence—specifically, his handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s e-mails…. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the deputy press secretary, [threw] in some smears of Comey, who she said had committed “atrocities” while at the F.B.I. and was disliked by its rank and file. Speaking to Holt, Trump stood by the smears: “Look, he’s a showboat, he’s a grandstander”; “I just want somebody that’s competent.” But, when Holt asked him about heeding Sessions and Rosenstein, Trump seemed to bristle. Could Holt think that he, Trump, needed to hear what anyone had to say—that he had his mind changed by subordinates?BACK TO TOP