The President Lies Even When the Truth Would Serve Him Better
So many lies, but this week some of the lies seem to have real consequences.
The Dow plunged almost 800 points Tuesday as investors took note that the Trump Administration had "oversold" [what a wonderful euphemism] its trade understanding with China over the weekend. The President boasted on Twitter that China had agreed to reduce its current 40 percent tariffs on US auto imports to zero, and that they would “start purchasing agricultural product immediately.” The market jumped on Monday after the positive news, but collapsed on Tuesday when the details emerged.
Vox: "The White House hasn’t been able to back up Trump’s claims, though, indicating the president is overselling what happened in Buenos Aires. National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow acknowledged in a call with reporters on Monday that there was no “specific agreement” on auto tariffs. Kudlow also said he couldn’t “specifically” answer questions about China’s agricultural product purchases, saying his “expectation” is that China would roll back tariffs on goods “quickly.”
The President could have simply stated that the two nations had agreed on a 90 day hiatus to their trade war in order to provide some breathing room to negotiate a long-term agreement on the toughest issues. Investors would have been thrilled and the market would have had a nice run-up on Monday. But no; Trump had to portray the results as a Chinese surrender and administration officials have been back-filling ever since. The surprising part is that anyone took him at his word to begin with.
Similarly, on Saudi Arabia, the administration blundered by calling into question the CIA's determination that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was the mastermind behind the Jamal Khashoggi assassination. And, after the CIA briefed the Senate on the details of the journalist's murder, no one believes Trump's "maybe he did, maybe he didn't," foolishness regarding bin Salman's involvement. The President achieved nothing by trying to shield the Crown Prince and may actually have increased the likelihood of sanctions on Saudi Arabia.
Sen. Lindsey Graham was clearly angry that Trump had distorted the results of the CIA's investigation. “You have to be willfully blind not to come to the conclusion that this was orchestrated and organized by people under the command of MBS [Mohammed bin Salman] and that he was intricately involved in the demise of Mr. Khashoggi.” Graham went on to call bin Salman "a wrecking ball", "crazy" and "dangerous".
None of this will convince Donald Trump that honesty is the best policy, even when it really is. It's just not in his nature.