After being pushed by former Apprentice Contestant Piers Morgan during an interview for his ITV show in the U.K., President Trump would not say that he apologizes for having re-tweeted racists videos from the far-right extremist group BritianFirst.
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He did say he might apologize for his re-tweet of a video featuring the racist group’s leader Jayda Fransen, which brought a rebuke from U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May and many others, even though he only did it because he opposes Islamic terrorism.
“If you are telling me they’re horrible people – horrible, racists people – I would certainly apologize if you’d oke me to do that,” Trump told Morgan in his first international TV news interview, which airs in the U.K. on Sunday night.
Note that Trump’s comments are not an actual apology.
"I would certainly apologize if you'd like me to do that. I know nothing about them."
President Trump answers questions from Piers Morgan about retweeting anti-Muslim videos posted by British far-right group Britain First. pic.twitter.com/JIJNqvRynt
— NBC News (@NBCNews) January 26, 2018
But that isn’t preventing Morgan from publicizing what Trump said as if it is a real apology from the president.
President Trump has publicly apologised for retweeting far-right group Britain First.
Says he didn't know who they were. 'I don't want to be involved with these people. If you're telling me they're horrible racist people. I certainly apologise.' pic.twitter.com/S1apSWC7rR
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) January 26, 2018
It is not. It is only an apology in TrumpSpeak, that language where lies are O.K., facts have alternate meanings and whatever he does has a hidden agenda behind it.
Trump, of course, is famous for almost never apologizing for anything, even when he has been caught lying or has been proven wrong.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon asked him why he never apologizes. Trump replied: “I think apologizing is a great thing, but you have to be wrong…I will absolutely apologize sometime in the distant future if I’m ever wrong.”
There was a rare instance during the campaign when Trump apologized after the Access Hollywood tape in which he was seen making inappropriate remarks about women aired, but he more recently denied that was even him telling host Billy Bush he could do whatever he wanted to any woman because of his fame.
If Trump really does apologize this time, it won’t be to clear his conscience. It will be to boost the changes he might actually get to pay a state visit to the U.K. which has been put off several times after he made some outrageous remarks or unseemly tweets.
On this trip to Davos for a major economic conference, Trump met privately with May and has been boasting ever since about their great relationship, and how much he loves the U.K.
Morgan listed a number of other world leaders of questionable character and distasteful credentials who have been given state visits to the U.K. including Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, and Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, and suggested the fact Trump has not gotten one means he is seen as worse than these murdering authoritarians.
“I don’t care,” insisted Trump, going again into how much he likes May, who when he first met her in Washington after his inaugural he appeared to refuse t shake her hand.
“We actually have a very good relationship,” Trump told Morgan, “although a lot of people think we don’t.”
There is fear in the U.K. – for good reason – that a visit by Trump would lead to huge protests against him and his racist, isolationist policies but in the interview, Trump once again is trying to talk his way out of the situation and rehabilitate his terrible image.
The real problem for Trump is that he earned that bad image and would deserve the protests there, just as he got them when he arrived in Switzerland this week, and as he faces regularly at home.
May has discussed a full state visit somewhere in the second half of this year, but in Trump time that is a very long way off. Between now and then the president will inevitably say, tweet or leak something that will have people in the U.K. and elsewhere up in arms once again.
In the end, Trump’s half-ass apology to Morgan is a non-apology from a guy who proudly never apologizes.
As Salon put it in a March 2016 article: “Trump doesn’t take responsibility for the false or insulting things he says because he knows they make him look powerful to the only people he cares about – his voters.”
“But he has real power now,” added Salon, “and he’s going to be judged by results from here on in.”
That is why the odds are there will never be a state visit to the U.K. and his image, reputation, and place in history will continue to put him in the company of all those despicable authoritarians that Morgan mentioned.
So what it really is about is Morgan apologizing for Trump.