Sometimes President Trump refuses to admit a mistake when confronted. On Tuesday, he brought up a year-old error — and insisted again that he was right.
During a news conference with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, a Swedish journalist asked Trump a broad question about his view of immigration policies in Sweden.
“Now that you spend some time with our prime minister, how do you view Sweden, in general?” the reporter asked. “What is your take? And also on our immigration politics?”
“Certainly you have a problem with the immigration,” Trump replied. “It's caused problems in Sweden. I was one of the first ones to say it. I took a little heat, but that was okay, because I proved to be right.”
Trump was referring to remarks he made at a rally in Melbourne, Fla., in February last year. Discussing the threat of terrorism in Europe, he said, “You look at what's happening in Germany. You look at what's happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this? They took in large numbers. They're having problems like they never thought possible.”
At the time, the comment baffled Swedish officials, who clarified that there had been no terrorist attack “last night in Sweden.”
Trump then tweeted that he had been referring to a Fox News report about immigrant crime in Sweden, and White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that the president “was talking about rising crime and recent incidents in general and not referring to a specific incident.”
A month later, however, Trump altered his story and claimed that there was, in fact, a specific incident that backed up his remark at the rally — an incident that occurred in the future. Here's an excerpt of a March 2017 interview with Time magazine:
TRUMP: 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.
TIME: But even in that Sweden quote, you said, “Look at what happened on Friday in Sweden.” But you are now saying you were referring to something that happened the following day.
TRUMP: No, I am saying I was right. I am talking about Sweden. 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.
The riot occurred two days after the president's rally in a predominantly immigrant neighborhood in the northern suburbs of Stockholm.
Trump's argument was that he “was right” when he spoke about an imaginary terrorist attack in Sweden because a subsequent riot validated his basic premise that immigrants in Sweden sometimes commit violent acts. A year later, Trump is still insisting that he was right.