“We’ve seen this pattern repeatedly with Trump: An allegation. A denial or coverup. New evidence. Rationalization,” the Washington Post’s Philip Bump writes in an analysis exploring what appears to be an emerging pattern in President Donald Trump’s denial of Russia collusion. According to the analysis, Trump appears to be going from “no way” to “why not.”
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump insisted that the United States should improve its relationship with Russia, often criticizing former President Barack Obama for being a “weak” leader. In 2016, following reports that Russia is behind the Democratic National Committee cyberattack, President Trump’s financial and other ties to the country started being examined and questioned.
“For the record, I have zero investments in Russia,” Trump tweeted in July 2016.
In contrast to Trump’s 2016 tweet stands a message tweeted yesterday in which the president admits to “lightly” looking “at a building somewhere in Russia.” Trump’s most recent denial, according to the Washington Post, is merely part of a broader pattern. Whenever new evidence about his ties to Russia emerges or whenever Mueller cracks down on a Trump ally, the president goes from “no way” to “why not,” downplaying allegations and witness testimonies, often contradicting his past statements.
Similarly, when the New York Times alleged that members of the Trump campaign — Trump’s eldest son Donald Trump Jr. included — met with Kremlin-affiliated individuals in an effort to seek damaging information about Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump denied knowledge of the meeting, as well as its purpose. But when the publication provided emails showing that Trump Jr. had in fact met with a Kremlin-affiliated individual to obtain dirt on Clinton, Donald Trump’s tone changed. The president, according to the Washington Post, pivoted to “Just politics as usual! Not a big deal! Nothing to be mad about!”
The same can be said, according to the analysis, about hush money payments given to Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels, women who allege having relationships with Trump. The Trump team initially vehemently denied knowledge of the payments deeming the reports “fake,” but once a recording of Trump and his former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen discussing the payments surfaced, the president pivoted to attacking Cohen, diverting attention from himself and pointing at former President Barack Obama who, Trump claims, had a “big campaign finance violation” as well.
Trump’s rhetoric, the Post concludes, is largely based on the assumption that “most Americans lack long-term political memory,” so what the president does is deny allegations, and then when irrefutable evidence proving them true surfaces, he resorts to downplaying whatever he is being accused of as entirely normal and evidence that the “fake news” media is out to get him.