The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

‘Tim Apple’ should have been a fleeting Trump moment. Now, it’s an ‘ongoing national scandal.’

After reportedly telling donors he called Apple CEO 'Tim Cook Apple,' President Trump later claimed he said 'Tim Apple' to save time and words. (Video: Drea Cornejo/The Washington Post)

“Tim Apple” was last week’s news.

The moniker was born from a fleeting moment during a White House event on Wednesday when President Trump appeared to mistakenly refer to Apple CEO Tim Cook as “Tim Apple.” Video of the slip-up swiftly went viral with social media users, late-night hosts and even Cook himself getting in on the fun. (Cook changed his Twitter name to “Tim” followed by an icon of the Apple logo.)

“This should have been just a fun slip of the tongue,” Trevor Noah said about the gaffe on Monday. “We laugh, we move on.”

But, Noah said, there only seemed to be one person who couldn’t let “Tim Apple” go: Trump.

On Friday, Trump told Republican donors at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla., that the flub was another product of “fake news,” Axios’s Jonathan Swan reported. He had actually said “Tim Cook Apple” but spoke the words so fast that “the ‘Cook’ part of the sentence was soft,” Swan wrote.

When that explanation drew doubts, Trump offered another defense on Monday. Dropping the CEO’s last name was intentional, the president tweeted.

“I quickly referred to Tim + Apple as Tim/Apple as an easy way to save time & words,” Trump wrote. As The Washington Post’s Philip Bump reported, leaving out “Cook” saved Trump a total of 0.27 seconds.

But instead of ending the “Tim Apple” jokes, Trump’s dueling explanations only fueled more ridicule Monday as many, including late-night comics, roasted the president for mounting such a rigorous defense over what was widely considered to be a trivial moment.

Trump called Tim Cook ‘Tim Apple,’ and the Apple CEO is leaning into it

“It was over, but now it has re-blossomed into an ongoing national scandal that we’re calling Applegate,” Colbert quipped on CBS.

The host first took aim at the comments Trump made on Friday.

“Mr. President, words don’t just disappear from the middle of sentences unless it’s CBS bleeping me when I say excuses like this are ... insane,” Colbert said, using an expletive that was censored out.

He looked around in mock confusion as the studio audience broke out in deafening applause and laughter.

“Did I say appleing insane?” Colbert said. “We’ll never know.”

Still, Colbert said he wanted to give Trump the benefit of the doubt, adding, “Maybe he’s not appled in the head.” He proceeded to play an edited video of Trump speaking at the White House on Wednesday that had been slowed down.

In the video, another person’s voice can be heard saying “Cook, the CEO of” between “Tim” and “Apple.”

“I apologize,” Colbert said with exaggerated contrition. “We’re wrong. Damn you, fake news.”

Colbert also poked fun at Trump’s Monday tweet, which he called, “Lie 2.0.”

“On their deathbed, I think everyone always says the same thing,” Colbert said before slipping into an impersonation of an elderly person. “I have only one regret that I wasted so much of my life on saying last names instead of occupations. Don’t make the same mistakes I did, little Johnny Paper Route.”

Trump saved a valuable 0.27 seconds by not including Tim Cook’s last name

On NBC, Seth Meyers ripped the excuses as “an example of one of the dumbest things Trump has ever lied about.”

“Tim Cook Apple doesn’t make any more sense than Tim Apple,” Meyers said. “Tim Cook Apple sounds like how Tarzan would describe someone making a pie.” In a gruff voice, the host added, “Tim cook apple. Tim eat apple. Tarzan love Tim.”

Meyers advised Trump that if he was going to lie, he should “at least improve your situation.”

Monday’s tweet also didn’t make sense to Meyers.

“Only Trump could claim he was trying to save time and words by writing a long tweet that takes up time and words,” the host cracked.

He continued, suggesting to Trump, “You know, if you really want to save time and words you could just not talk at all. Do all your campaign rallies with duct tape over your mouth, or at least skip a bunch of words.”

A video of spliced clips of Trump speaking began to play.

"We have won, and I am very totally crazy,” the heavily edited Trump announced.

There was, however, something to look forward to, Meyers said.

“The best part of all of this is that now Trump has to double down and do it to everyone,” he said, flashing photos of Tesla chief executive Elon Musk, director Steven Spielberg and the president’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort. “Oh there’s my friend, Elon Tesla. Oh, if it isn’t Steven Movies. And there’s my buddy, Paul Crimes.”

Both Noah and Jimmy Kimmel were equally skeptical of the president’s claims.

“Since when does Donald Trump care about saving time?” an incredulous Noah asked on Comedy Central. “No one wastes more time than Donald Trump. He spends as much time on the golf course as Tiger Woods.”

On Twitter, “The Daily Show” account also had an idea for the president’s new 2020 campaign slogan based on his interest in being economical with time and words.

Meanwhile on ABC, Kimmel was baffled by why Trump felt the need to come up with a story explaining “Tim Apple.”

“Of all the serious things the president has lied about, no one would have cared about this,” Kimmel said. “He misspoke. It’s not like he called him Tim Kardashian. He said Tim Apple, but still he had to lie about it.”

Kimmel added, “He lies in the same way a 4-year-old comes out with a face covered with magic marker and you go, ‘Did you draw on yourself?’ and they go, ‘Uh no.’ ”

Trump’s follow-up tweet just showed his unwillingness to “give up a dumb fight,” Kimmel said.

“How could anyone have such thin skin?” the host asked. “Could there be a chemical in the self-tanner he’s using? Could someone please check the tube of Banana Boat tanning lotion he rubs all over himself?”

Soon after he posted the tweet Monday, Trump became a trending moment on Twitter.

Keen-eyed social media users instantly likened the president to Kevin Malone, a character from the U.S. version of the popular sitcom “The Office.”

As “The Daily Show” and several others pointed out, Trump has a history of bungling names, including replacing a person’s last name with their company. Last year, for example, the president was introducing Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson when he called her “Marillyn Lockheed,” according to Business Insider.

Others noticed a flaw in Trump’s explanation.

With efficiency in mind, one person offered another alternative construction of Cook’s name.