He only had to say one word in answer to the question in order to vindicate himself.
Well, that would be true if anyone could believe even a single word coming out of President Trump’s mouth.
However, it is incredibly telling that the one word he needed to say — “no” — was never uttered by the president when Fox News host Jeanine Pirro asked him what should be a simple no-brainer question, one that it’s impossible to even imagine asking any other president in history:
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“Are you now, or have you ever worked for Russia, Mr. President?” Pirro inquired
The question was asked after The New York Times published an article on Friday evening detailing the FBI’s probe into whether Trump has been a long-standing Russian asset working on their behalf.
Whether you believe that Trump is inextricably wrapped up in a dastardly scheme with Russian President Vladimir Putin or not, the answer everyone expected to hear was a simple denial of being an agent of the Kremlin.
Trump gave no such assurance.
Instead, he launched into a rambling word salad of a response that feigned indignation at the very asking of the question and attacked his perceived enemies without ever actually denying being on the Russian payroll or working on their behalf.
Here’s President Trump’s verbatim reply to Pirro’s inquiry:
“I think it’s the most insulting thing I’ve ever been asked. I think it’s the most insulting article I’ve ever had written. And if you read the article, you’d see that they found absolutely nothing. But the, the headline of that article, it’s called “The failing New York Times” for a reason, they’ve gotten me wrong for three years. They’ve actually gotten me wrong for many years before that. But you look at what’s going on, you know, I fired James Comey. I call him lying James Comey, because he was a terrible liar, and he did a terrible job as the FBI director. Look at what happened with the Hillary Clinton and the e-mails and the Hillary Clinton investigation, one of the biggest screw-ups that anybody’s ever seen as an investigation. And what happened after I fired him? Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, his lover, Lisa Page, they did it. And, you know, they’re all gone. Most of those people, many, many people from the top ranks of the FBI, they’ve all been fired or they had to leave. And they’re all gone. This is what they were talking about. And, obviously, nothing was found. And I can tell you this, if you ask the folks in Russia, I’ve been tougher on Russia than anybody else, any other — probably any other president period, but certainly the last three or four presidents, modern day presidents. Nobody’s been as tough as I have from any standpoint including the fact that we’re doing oil like we’ve never done it, we’re setting records in our country with oil and exporting oil and many other things, so, which is obviously not great for them, because that’s what they, that’s where they get their money for the most part. But many other things. So I, I think it was a great insult. And the New York Times is a disaster as a paper. It’s a, it’s a very horrible thing they said, and they’ve gone so far that people that weren’t necessarily believers are now big believers, because they said that was a step too far. They really are a disaster of a newspaper.”
It’s an answer that makes it clear that Trump hates the New York Times, Hillary Clinton, James Comey, and the other former FBI officials he mentions. It’s an answer that allows him to repeat his laughably false claims about being the toughest president ever in Russia policy.
But it’s not an answer that includes a denial of the premise of the question.
Given that Trump has had no compunction whatsoever in telling everything from little fibs to massive whoppers at a rate unprecedented in presidential history, one has to wonder why he felt compelled to evade the question rather than give even an untruthful answer. Only his dedicated base would believe him if he did deny the accusation anyway, but why not at least make his repudiation of the charge perfectly clear?
That’s a question the answer to which exists only in the deepest recesses of the president’s unusually unique and complicated psyche, a dark and dangerous place where only the most fearless dare to speculate what may lay hidden within.
You can watch President Trump answer Jeanine Pirro’s fateful question in the video clip below.
"I think it’s the most insulting thing I’ve ever been asked…the most insulting article I’ve ever had written & if you read the article, you’d see that they found absolutely nothing."- @realDonaldTrump on NYT FBI report pic.twitter.com/cIB4Sk9ZA1
— Jeanine Pirro (@JudgeJeanine) January 13, 2019
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Original reporting by Alan Pike at Think Progress.