TIME Washington Bureau Chief Michael Scherer has an exclusive interview, published Thursday, with President Donald Trump. The peg for the interview is the President’s claims regarding wiretapping, but the purpose is to explore his seemingly tenuous relationship with the truth.
It has been previously noted that this relationship is generally fraught with difficulties. In fact, as has been pointed out by PolitiFact and the Washington Post during an interview about falsehoods the President repeats falsehoods in order to support his truth-telling.
But it’s unclear from the interview if President Trump simply doesn’t understand what a falsehood is, or if years of practice have finely honed his ability to perpetuate things he knows to be false but he can spin as true.
In either case, the truth according to Donald Trump appears to be what can be true rather than what is evidently true. One particular segment of the interview highlights this notion:
One of my ideas here is that throughout the campaign and now as president, you have used disputed statements, this is one of them that is disputed, the claim that three million undocumented people voted in the election…
Well I think I will be proved right about that too.
The claim that Muslims celebrated on 9-11 in New Jersey…
Well if you look at the reporter, he wrote the story in the Washington Post.
But my idea is that whatever the reality of what you are describing, the fact that they are disputed makes them a more effective message, that you are able to spread the message further, that more people get excited about it, that it gets on TV.
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.
But there’s no evidence that 3 million people voted with…
We’ll see after the committee. 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.
Is there anything different about making these kinds of predictions without having the factual evidence as President?
I’m a very instinctual person, but my instinct turns out to be right…
In other words, the President is telling the truth because either 1) He will be proved right, 2) He’s just repeating something he read, 3) You misunderstood what he meant, 4) Only he can find the truth, or 5) He doesn’t need evidence to know he’s right.
No one can tell the President he is wrong. What he said was either misunderstood, it was not his falsehood, or will be proven right. He has made the truth unfalsifiable.
That is to say, in effect President Trump has created a reality wherein there is no difference between the truth and falsehoods. If this distinction disappears then truth is no longer a matter of evidence and context and perspective, the truth is simply whatever you want it to be.
And the truth, according to Donald Trump, is that “I can’t be doing so badly, because I’m president, and you’re not”.
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