“Do these tweets make it more difficult for you to get stuff done here in Congress?” Ingraham asked McConnell.
Yet when confronted about the retweets by Piers Morgan, in an interview that aired Friday on ITV in Britain, Trump had the nerve to claim that the episode “was not a big story” in the United States.
“It was a big story where you are,” Trump told Morgan, “but it was not a big story where I am.”
This fallacy was central to Trump's defense, which could be summarized as an ignorance plea. Trump professed to have known nothing about Britain First at the time that he retweeted the group's videos, and, as Morgan pressed for an apology, the president insisted that he was still unfamiliar with Britain First because the retweets had not drawn much attention in the United States and he therefore had no reason to learn about the group's ideology.
(The second paragraph of The Post's front-page article identified Britain First as “a small group of ultranationalists whose supporters march in front of mosques with crosses and whose leaders decry what they describe as a takeover of British Christian society by 'foreign infidels' who want to impose Islamic law.”)
“I know nothing about them,” Trump told Morgan, who characterized Britain First as “basically a bunch of racists, fascists.”
“I don't want to be involved with people like that,” Trump added. “But you're telling me about these people 'cause I know nothing about these people.”
Trump said he “would certainly apologize” — framing his mea culpa as a hypothetical — “if you're telling me they're horrible people, horrible, racist people.” But he didn't actually apologize or actually disavow Britain First because, he maintained, he simply doesn't know enough about the group to make his own judgment.
Trump can plausibly deny that he understood Britain First at the time of the retweets, but his claim to continued cluelessness is quite a stretch, considering the amount of coverage the retweets received in the United States. The president's assertion that “it was not a big story where I am” is plainly untrue.
Trump's misrepresentation of press coverage could be explained by his allergy to saying "sorry," but it is worth remembering that “I know nothing about these people” is a near-exact repetition of a line he delivered in February 2016 when declining to reject the endorsement of former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke and white-supremacist groups.
“I know nothing about David Duke,” Trump said on CNN. “I know nothing about white supremacists. And so you're asking me a question that I'm supposed to be talking about people that I know nothing about.”
Trump's “know nothing” answer strained credulity. He had discussed Duke in multiple interviews over the years, calling him “a bigot, a racist, a problem.”
Trump disavowed Duke and the KKK after the CNN interview.