Forget Truth. For Trump It’s All About Winning

Today Time published an interview that Michael Scherer conducted with Donald Trump. The topic was how he has handled truth and falsehood in his career. It is obvious that the president was prepped that this would be the focus of the discussion and his responses demonstrate that whether something is true or false is never part of his calculation. In Trump’s mind, everything is centered around proving himself to be right and winning.

For example, here is the president’s opening statement:

I predicted a lot of things, Michael. Some things that came to you a little bit later. But, you know, we just rolled out a list. Sweden. I make the statement, everyone goes crazy. The next day they have a massive riot, and death, and problems. Huma [Abedin] and Anthony [Weiner], you know, what I tweeted about that whole deal, and then it turned out he had it, all of Hillary’s email on his thing. NATO, obsolete, because it doesn’t cover terrorism. They fixed that, and I said that the allies must pay. Nobody knew that they weren’t paying. I did. I figured it. Brexit, I was totally right about that. You were over there I think, when I predicted that, right, the day before. Brussels, I said, Brussels is not Brussels. I mean many other things, the election’s rigged against Bernie Sanders. We have a lot of things.

One could take that list and demonstrate how Trump actually got some of those things wrong, or wonder what he means when he said “Brussels is not Brussels.” But a major take away is that he spends no time attempting to get at the truth (which is sometimes complex) and zeros in completely on convincing himself that he was right. In the process, he feels the need to take a dig at Scherer by saying “some things that came to you a little bit later.” That is nothing but a statement of dominance.

Trump also spent a lot of time claiming that Rep. Nunes has now vindicated what he tweeted about Obama wiretapping him and adds that he has “articles saying it happened.” When confronted with other lies – like the one about 3 million undocumented people voting, that Muslims in New Jersey celebrated on 9/11, and that Ted Cruz’s father was with Lee Harvey Oswald – he doubles down on the lies. On the last one, Trump’s defense is that it was in a newspaper.

Why do you say that I have to apologize? I’m just quoting the newspaper, just like I quoted the judge the other day, Judge Napolitano, I quoted Judge Napolitano, just like I quoted Bret Baier, I mean Bret Baier mentioned the word wiretap. Now he can now deny it, or whatever he is doing, you know. But I watched Bret Baier, and he used that term. I have a lot of respect for Judge Napolitano, and he said that three sources have told him things that would make me right. I don’t know where he has gone with it since then. But I’m quoting highly respected people from highly respected television networks.

When confronted with the fact that he was wrong, Trump shifts to suggest that he was simply quoting “respected people.” He assumes that clears him of any responsibility for trying to ascertain if what they said is true or false.

At another point in the interview Trump says, “I’m a very instinctual person, but my instinct turns out to be right.” Once again, the focus is not whether something is true/false, but whether he is right.

In his closing remarks, Trump summarizes what this is all about for him.

Hey look, in the mean time, I guess, I can’t be doing so badly, because I’m president, and you’re not.

After focusing all of his previous comments on being right, Trump closes with another statement of dominance.

Throughout all of this it is not difficult to imagine that the president is consumed with answering the voices in his head emanating from his father Fred Trump and his mentor Roy Cohn. He needs them to believe that he is right, will never show weakness by admitting he was wrong, and is dominating those who question him. It is his life quest to prove something to them.

Meanwhile the entire country is left to deal with a president who has a total disregard for the truth.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.