Trump told a bald-faced, easily debunked lie this morning. Nothing unusual about that, but I have a theory about his motivation for telling this particular lie today. Here’s the lie, which was tweeted at 7:02 AM ET:
He’s referring to the interview he gave to Lester Holt last year in which he confessed to Holt, on camera, that he fired Comey because of “this Russia thing with Trump.” Relevant transcript below:
“He [Rosenstein] made a recommendation, he’s highly respected, very good guy, very smart guy. The Democrats like him, the Republicans like him. He made a recommendation. But regardless of [the] recommendation, I was going to fire Comey. Knowing there was no good time to do it!
And in fact when I decided to just do it I said to myself, I said, “You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should’ve won.”
NBC posted the interview for all to see here. The portion where Trump basically confesses to obstructing justice certainly appears to be unedited, and I’m sure experts will weigh in on that question eventually since Trump has now falsely accused Holt of doctoring the tape.
But why now? Trump is prone to blurting out self-incriminating things — he just did that last week on a softball Fox & Friends appearance that was supposed to be a spin session after Michael Cohen implicated Trump in a crime while pleading guilty to tax evasion, bank fraud and campaign finance violations.
As the fallout from the Holt interview was happening in real time, Trump didn’t accuse Holt of editing the video. His go-to tactic until now has been to reclassify “obstruction of justice” as “fighting back.” So why revisit the Holt interview and make up a whopper about it on August 30, 2018?
I think it’s related to soon-to-be former White House Counsel McGahn. In the reports about McGahn spending 30 hours talking to the Mueller team, it came out that Trump’s legal team wasn’t aware of the extent of McGahn’s cooperation with Mueller. I’m not a lawyer, but I find it astonishing that Trump’s attorneys weren’t extensively debriefing McGahn after each session with Mueller. But apparently, they weren’t.
So, in the wake of that report, I’m guessing the Trump lawyers belatedly debriefed McGahn and learned that Mueller was especially interested in Trump’s rationale for dispatching Comey as confessed to Holt. Hence the absurd claim from Trump this morning that the video was edited.
Anyhoo, that’s my theory — Trump is in a box because he confessed to a crime on TV. Now he worries that Mueller recognized the confession for what it was, and this lame, easily debunked lie about Holt is the only response he’s got.