Last week, President Trump said that he had “one of the great memories of all time.” On Friday, he said he didn't remember details of a meeting that took place last year.
“I don’t remember much about that meeting,” Trump said of the meeting where adviser George Papadopoulos said he could arrange a sit-down between Trump and Vladimir Putin. “It was a very unimportant meeting. It took place a long time ago. Don’t remember much about it.”
And this is hardly the first time that one of the greatest memories ever has also proven to be one of the most convenient memories ever.
The reason Trump would downplay the memorability of the meeting is clear: Papadopoulos's proposal for a Trump-Putin get-together was revealed this week in unsealed documents from the Russia investigation, and that flies in the face of Trump's and his campaign's statements that they didn't talk to Russia during the campaign. Details of this meeting were also apparently forgotten by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whose denials of contacts with Russians are now riddled with holes.
But Sessions never claimed to have a historically superior memory; that would be Trump. And a brief trip down memory lane suggests that memory fails him at plenty of opportune times.
- There were 35 times he said he didn't remember something during a deposition in the Trump University lawsuit in December 2015
- There were 24 times he said that in a separate Trump University lawsuit deposition in 2012.
- Trump told the New York Times in July that he didn't remember details of the one-on-one meeting he had with then-FBI Director James B. Comey, as Comey recounted in his testimony after Trump fired him. “Not even that I remember,” Trump said. “He was sitting, and I don’t remember even talking to him about any of this stuff. He said I asked people to go. Look, you look at his testimony.”
- Trump told The Washington Post in June 2016 that he didn't remember testifying in 1980 to the Organized Crime Strike Force about mob-connected labor leader John Cody, who was close to Trump's mentor Roy Cohn and was alleged to have offered Trump peace with organized labor in exchange for a Trump Tower apartment. “I don't remember that at all,” Trump said, adding: “I don't remember that, no. But I would have said Cody was a bad guy if I did.”
- Trump said at a February 2016 town hall that he didn't remember telling Howard Stern that he supported the war in Iraq — something Trump erroneously claimed as a candidate that he had opposed. “That was probably the first time — I don't remember that, but it was probably the first time I was asked about it,” Trump said.
And in fact, even Trump's ability to remember his claims of having a fantastic memory are subject to this convenient memory block. Back in that 2015 deposition, when Trump said repeatedly that he didn't remember things, he was asked about another time that he had claimed to have one of the best memories in the world.
He didn't remember that.
“I remember you telling me, but I don't know that I said it,” Trump said, adding: “I don't remember saying that. As good as my memory is, I don't remember that.”
The quote Trump didn't remember? It had come less than three weeks earlier.