The problem with being a habitual liar is that it’s often difficult to keep your story straight. It’s even harder when someone with an aging brain suspected of being in the early stages of dementia is involved.
Speaking to reporters this afternoon before spending copious taxpayer funds to jet off to a campaign rally in Lexington, Kentucky, Donald Trump commented on former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who recently testified that she was fired from her post because of Trump’s lack of confidence in her.
“I really don’t know her,” Trump told the reporters. “But if you look at the transcripts, the president of Ukraine was not a fan of hers, either. I mean, he did not exactly say glowing things,” Trump continued, referring to the partial transcripts of his call with Ukrainian President Zelensky that helped inspire the impeachment inquiry by House Democrats.
“I’m sure she’s a very fine woman. I just don’t know much about her,” Trump claimed.
While it’s difficult to lose confidence in someone you say you don’t actually know, Trump’s claim of unfamiliarity with the ex-ambassador rings mighty hollow if you follow his advice and look at the transcript of the call.
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Trump says an awful lot of negative things about someone he doesn’t know. Enough that, if the shoes were reversed, he would surely have his phalanx of attorneys filing libel suits against the ambassador with lightning speed.
During the call with President Zelensky, Trump called Yovanovitch “bad news” and ominously intoned that she was “going to go through some things” without specifying exactly what those things would be. Zelensky — trying to stay in the good graces of the American president who controlled the flow of military aid to his country still at war with Russia — agreed with Trump that Yovanovitch was a “bad ambassador,” saying “her attitude towards me was far from the best.”
Trump’s new Sargeant Schultz defense — “I know nothing, nothing!” — is as credible as Bill Clinton’s famous declaration of “I did not have sexual relations with that woman,” except rather than a lie about sexual misbehavior between consenting adults, Trump’s lies have global political implications with the safety of Ukrainians fighting Russian troops in the eastern section of the country hanging in the balance.
Trump has either developed a bad case of selective amnesia or is truly slipping in and out of an objective reality with which he usually keeps at least a modicum of a connection.
Perhaps this is all a canny long-term strategy to escape the inevitable post-presidential prosecution he faces once he leaves his office. Establish a substantial record of diminished capabilities and bizarre behavior and that insanity defense is made so much more convincing.
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Original reporting by Morgan Chalfant at The Hill.