Deep in the interview President Trump granted to Time magazine, an interview predicated on Trump’s unfaithful relationship with the truth, the president offers a challenge to his interviewer.
“Name what’s wrong!” he said, after offering a string of examples where he said he’d been proven correct. “I mean, honestly.”
There was an enormous — an almost unbroken — list of things that were wrong with what Trump had said to that point. Whether he is unaware that he is wrong or simply uninterested is, remarkably, rather beside the point. He was wrong, explicitly and consistently.
Let’s run through his claims, in order.
Sweden. I make the statement, everyone goes crazy. The next day they have a massive riot, and death, and problems. … I talked about Sweden, and may have been somewhat different, but the following day, two days later, they had a massive riot in Sweden, exactly what I was talking about, I was right about that. … I’m talking about what Sweden has done to themselves is very sad, that is what I am talking about. That is what I am talking about. You can phrase it any way you want. A day later they had a horrible, horrible riot in Sweden and you saw what happened.
On Feb. 18, at one of his post-campaign campaign rallies, Trump exhorted the crowd to “look at what’s happening last night in Sweden” as an example of why his ban on immigration was important. Nothing had happened the night before in Sweden; Trump had apparently simply seen Sweden mentioned during a news broadcast on Fox News. Swedes were baffled.
One of the patterns that emerges in the claims Trump made to Time is that he’ll seize on any isolated incident, however tangential, as proof that his broad claim was correct. He leverages his own unreliability as an excuse to point to something else and say, “that, that’s what I was talking about.”
So when a few days later there was a violent confrontation between police and a couple of dozen residents in a largely immigrant community after an arrest, that becomes a “horrible, horrible riot” and proof that Trump was right.
Huma and Anthony, you know, what I tweeted about that whole deal, and then it turned out he had it, all of Hillary’s email on his thing.
Trump at one point tweeted this:
It came out that Huma Abedin knows all about Hillary’s private illegal emails. Huma’s PR husband, Anthony Weiner, will tell the world.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 3, 2015
When Weiner’s laptop was seized as part of an unrelated investigation, the FBI apparently found that his wife, Huma Abedin, had at some point used it to check her email, triggering the resuscitation of the Hillary Clinton email investigation and, Clinton feels, her electoral loss. Weiner’s laptop had some of Abedin’s email and a number of emails between Clinton and Abedin. That is not what Trump tweeted.
NATO, obsolete, because it doesn’t cover terrorism. They fixed that, and I said that the allies must pay. Nobody knew that they weren’t paying. I did. I figured it.
Two untrue claims here. The first is that Trump was the motivator for an announced information-sharing plan aimed at addressing terrorism, which experts say was not due to Trump.
The second is more egregious: His repeated claim that NATO states owe some sort of dues that go unpaid. In reality, NATO states are supposed to commit 2 percent of their GDP to defense, a mark many don’t hit. That they don’t do so has certainly been raised before, including by former defense secretary Bob Gates in 2011.
Brexit, I was totally right about that. You were over there I think, when I predicted that, right, the day before. … Brexit, I predicted Brexit, you remember that, the day before the event. I said, no Brexit is going to happen, and everybody laughed, and Brexit happened. Many many things. They turn out to be right. … I got attacked on Brexit, when I was saying, I said long before the day before, I said the day before the opening, but I was saying Brexit was going to pass, and everybody was laughing, and I turned out to be right on that. I took a lot of heat when I said Brexit was going to pass.
The referendum vote on whether or not Britain should leave the European Union — Brexit — was held on June 23, 2016.
In March, he told a British interviewer that he thought it would happen.
“I think that Britain will separate from the EU,” he said. “I think that maybe it’s time, especially in light of what’s happened with the craziness that is going on with immigration, with people pouring in all over the place I think that Britain will end up separating from the EU.”
On June 22, he did discuss Brexit on Fox Business. But his assertion was hardly the brash prediction he made it out to be after the fact.
“I don’t think anybody should listen to me because I haven’t really focused on it very much,” he said in that interview. “My inclination would be to get out, because you know, just go it alone.”
This is another hallmark of Trump’s convincing himself he’s right — misrepresenting what he said in the first place.
Brussels, I said, Brussels is not Brussels. … I talked about Brussels. I was on the front page of the New York Times for my quote. I said Brussels is not what it used to be, very sad what has happened to Brussels. I was absolutely lambasted. A short time later they had the major attack in Brussels. One year ago today. Exactly one year ago today. And then people said you know Trump was right.
On page A10 of the New York Times in January of last year, the paper looked at a comment Trump made about Brussels.
“Go to Brussels. Go to Paris. Go to different places. There is something going on and it’s not good, where they want Shariah law, where they want this, where they want things that — you know, there has to be some assimilation. There is no assimilation. There is something bad going on,” he had said to Maria Bartiromo on Fox Business. “You go to Brussels — I was in Brussels a long time ago, 20 years ago, so beautiful, everything is so beautiful — it’s like living in a hellhole right now.” Belgians quickly responded with photos and comments depicting life that appeared distinctly unhellholey.
Two months later, the attack occurred. Some did say that Trump was right: mostly conservative media outlets.
I mean many other things, the election’s rigged against Bernie Sanders. … What I said, look I said, Donna Brazile had information, and she had information on Hillary’s debate questions. I said why didn’t Hillary apologize. Donna Brazile just admitted that that was right. I said the election was rigged against Bernie, a lot of people agree with that one, a lot of people hated the statement when I made it.
Emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton’s campaign chairman that were then released by WikiLeaks created a booming economy in conspiracy theories about the election. The latter set of material did show that Donna Brazile, working as a commentator at CNN, passed questions from a town hall to the Clinton campaign in advance.
But nothing ever emerged to show that the election was in any way “rigged” to favor Clinton over Sanders. Isolated comments were seized upon as evidence that DNC staffers would prefer that Sanders get out of the race, but those were mostly sent well after the contest was clearly already over.
Sanders did complain about the rigged nature of the overall political system with regularity, and complained about the “dumb process” used to choose a party nominee.
When I said wiretapping, it was in quotes. Because a wiretapping is, you know today it is different from wire tapping. It is just a good description. But wiretapping was in quotes. What I’m talking about is surveillance. And today, Devin Nunes just had a news conference.
When Trump accused President Barack Obama of having tapped phone lines in Trump Tower he did use quotation marks — sometimes. The original tweet was this.
Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my "wires tapped" in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
Two tweets later:
I'd bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2017
There’s no evidence that anyone tapped phones in Trump Tower, much less targeting Trump on behalf of Obama. During a hearing earlier this week, that specific allegation was rebutted by FBI Director James B. Comey.
On Wednesday, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes told the media that he’d received new evidence suggesting that some Trump allies may have been surveilled as part of investigations into other people, information that was then shared in the intelligence community. This is not what Trump claimed, quotes or otherwise.
The Times on wiretapping
Look. I predicted a lot of things that took a little of bit of time. Here, headline, for the front page of the New York Times, “Wiretapped data used in inquiry of Trump aides.” That’s a headline. Now they then dropped that headline, I never saw this until this morning. They then dropped that headline, and they used another headline without the word wiretap, but they did mean wiretap. Wiretapped data used in inquiry. Then changed after that, they probably didn’t like it. And they changed the title. They took the wiretap word out.
The Times did use the word “wiretapped” on its front page on Jan. 20: “Wiretapped data used in inquiry of Trump aides.” That story was nebulous in what the surveillance looked like, but it appears to have been in part the sort of surveillance mentioned by Nunes.
The Times did not change its headline. That idea was propagated by an erroneous report in the National Review, which was later retracted. The shorter word “wiretapped” was used in print; online, the headline was always longer. (“Intercepted Russian Communications Part of Inquiry Into Trump Associates”)
Muslims celebrating on 9/11
Well if you look at the reporter, he wrote the story in the Washington Post.
When Trump first claimed in November 2015 that he’d watched thousands of Muslims in New Jersey celebrating on 9/11, the idea was thoroughly examined — and completely debunked.
Trump and his supporters point to a Post story from 2001 in which a reporter mentions that law enforcement investigated reports of people holding rooftop parties to celebrate. No such celebrations were ever televised — much less proven to have occurred.
The reporter who wrote that story, Serge Kovaleski, said that it was “not the case, as best as I can remember” that hundreds or thousands of people celebrated. That was why Trump then infamously mimicked Kovaleski’s physical disability during a speech.
Well now if you take a look at the votes, when I say that, I mean mostly they register wrong, in other words, for the votes, they register incorrectly, and/or illegally. And they then vote. You have tremendous numbers of people. In fact I’m forming a committee on it. … I have people say it was more than that. We will see after we have. But there will be, we are forming a committee. And we are going to do a study on it, a very serious problem.
There is no evidence that more than a handful of people voted illegally in 2016 (including, allegedly, the former head of the Republican Party in Colorado).
A 2012 report from Pew Trusts outlined problems with voter rolls across the country, including that people who had died were not quickly removed from the lists. Trump has embraced that report, which is accurate, making the totally unfounded extension that “they then vote.” There’s literally no evidence that’s been shown that any significant number of unauthorized votes are cast using registrations of dead people or by people in multiple states in a single election.
The election and the polls
The other one, election, I said we are going to win, we won. … When everyone said I wasn’t going to win the election, I said well I think I would. You know it is interesting, somebody came up to me and said the other day, gee whiz, the New York Times and other people, you know other groups, had you down at one percent, well, I said no I think I am going to win, and people smiled, George Stephanopoulos laughed, you remember. … And the New York Times and CNN and all of them, they did these polls, which were extremely bad and they turned out to be totally wrong, and my polls showed I was going to win. We thought we were going to win the night of the election.
National polling before the election showed Clinton winning more support — which she did, winning the popular vote by 2.1 percentage points. Trump’s own polls showed him losing as well, according to reports shortly after the election. Trump himself has said that he thought he was going to lose on election night.
It is true that few expected Trump to win, and that George Stephanopoulos was once amused at the idea.
Ted Cruz’s father knowing Lee Harvey Oswald
Well that was in a newspaper. No, no, I like Ted Cruz, he’s a friend of mine. But that was in the newspaper. I wasn’t, I didn’t say that. I was referring to a newspaper. A Ted Cruz article referred to a newspaper story with, had a picture of Ted Cruz, his father, and Lee Harvey Oswald, having breakfast.
It was the National Enquirer. I mean, honestly.