The P. T. Barnum of presidents never ceases to rely on the tricks of the con man’s game as he tries to sell his dubious wares.
Take for example President Trump’s face-saving claims that the agreement that he “negotiated” with Mexico — after threatening to impose mutually destructive tariffs if our southern neighbor didn’t do more to stop the flow of refugees from Central America — contains “secret” yet-to-be-published provisions that belie the fact uncovered by The New York Times that everything Mexico acknowledges agreeing to had been determined well before the president issued his blustery threats.
Ever since the lie that undermined the presidential butt-covering was exposed, Trump has been trying to peddle the existence of these undisclosed provisions — that he claims will be unveiled at a later date — through a series of unhinged Twitter posts.
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While Martha Bárcena Coqui, the Mexican ambassador to the United States, has not directly denied Trump’s boast of a secret deal to have Mexico purchase an increasing amount of US agricultural products, she diplomatically offered the explanation that the lack of new tariffs would naturally lead to more trade between our neighboring nations as a way of avoiding antagonizing Trump into further threats by calling out his false claim.
None of this has stopped Trump from continuing to pretend that his amazing deal-making skills brought an end to the crisis of his own making, rather than his caving into the determined opposition from members of his own party who broke into open revolt over the economy-destroying tariff plan that amounted to a harsh new tax on all Americans.
Trump continued his charade on the South Lawn of the White House today while speaking with reporters and discussing the Mexican agreement, going so far as to pull out a folded piece of paper from his jacket pocket and proclaiming “that’s the agreement that everybody says I don’t have.”
“This is one page of a very long and very good agreement for both Mexico and the United States. Without the tariffs, we would have had nothing,” Trump boasted while dangling the folded white paper in front of reporters.
White House correspondents are not quite as easy to fool as the president would like, however. Brian J. Karem, the senior White House correspondent for Playboy magazine and a CNN political analyst, tried to question Trump about the paper in his hand, initially believing that it may just be a prop.
— Brian J. Karem (@BrianKarem) June 11, 2019
Given Trump’s refusal to display the document, Karem’s dubiousness was understandable.
However, the magic of high-resolution photography revealed that, for once, Trump was actually holding a document that related to the topic that he was discussing.
Karem corrected his earlier claim and posted a photo that showed at least a portion of the document’s content through the semi-transparent thin paper on which it was printed.
“the Government of Mexico will take all necessary steps under domestic law to bring the agreement into force with a view to ensuring that the agreement will enter into force within 45 days.” @realDonaldTrump #Mexico agreement. Second photo flipped @washingtonpost @postpolitics pic.twitter.com/lWuJU9bpYK
— Jabin Botsford (@jabinbotsford) June 11, 2019
Of course, nothing visible in the text discernable in the photo backs up Trump’s claims of secret provisions outside of what had been decided upon well before the tariff rants Trump embarked on to distract from accounts of his criminal obstruction of justice in Democratically-led congressional hearings.
Moreover, there is no proof that anything actually exists beyond the single page that Trump held in his hands, which, if it represents the entire agreement between Mexico and the United States, is neither full of concrete details nor does it have space for much in the way of substantial undisclosed provisions.
Yet, with a prop in hand, way too many Americans will believe Trump’s claims of a secret agreement that makes his dropping of tariffs justifiable in his supporters’ eyes, just as they buy into his desperate conspiracy theories about the deep state trying to bring down his campaign.
Anyone who does believe President Trump’s bunco artist cons should be ashamed of themselves. As the saying goes: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”
Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter.
Original reporting by Eric W. Dolan at RawStory.