President Donald Trump lied to reporters at the White House on Wednesday night, in his first remarks about the anonymous New York Times op-ed in which a senior administration official described him as amoral, ill-informed and unfit for office.
When the president was asked for his response to the allegation, he first dismissed it as an illustration of “the dishonest media.” He then defended his record and reached inside his jacket pocket to find the text of an article which, he said, bolstered his case that “nobody has done what this administration has done in terms of getting things passed and getting things through.”
The president made a show of reading the article’s headline out loud — “Trump breaks the record for budget gridlock wins; scores big win” — held it aloft proudly, and read out more phrases from the text as he gave a deeply confusing account of the record he was proud to have broken.
“So for 20 years — it’s a 20-year record — for a 20-year record,” the president said, “they call it ‘the “fouled up” budget gridlock’ and ‘scores big win.’ Here is the thing. So this just came out. So in 20 years, it hasn’t been like it is now. It’s — we broke — we broke it.”
Close readers of the Trump presidency will not be shocked to learn that there is no mention at all of any record in the real text of the article. The actual headline, visible in an image of the print-out captured by Associated Press photographer Susan Walsh, is, in fact, “Trump breaks 20-year ‘fouled up’ budget gridlock, scores big wins.”
That report, from the pro-Trump Washington Examiner columnist Paul Bedard, was about the unified Republican government managing to avoid the disagreements over spending that were common in the past 20 years, when the White House and Congress were often controlled by different parties.
Still, Trump’s blatant disregard for the actual text of the article he held up for reporters to photograph did contribute to one record he is on pace to set: as the first president to be caught lying more than 10,000 times during a four-year term.