Thursday, June 15, 2017


Here's a detail in a Wall Street Journal story confirming the Washington Post's report that special counselor Robert Mueller is investigating possibile obstruction of justice by President Trump:
The special counsel also plans to interview Rick Ledgett, who recently retired as the deputy director of the NSA....

While Mr. Ledgett was still in office, he wrote a memo documenting a phone call that [NSA director Mike] Rogers had with Mr. Trump, according to people familiar with the matter. During the call, the president questioned the veracity of the intelligence community’s judgment that Russia had interfered with the election and tried to persuade Mr. Rogers to say there was no evidence of collusion between his campaign and Russian officials, they said.
If this is accurate, it suggests that Trump still believes Russia didn't interfere, even though he grudgingly acknowledged the interference a week and a half before he was inaugurated -- or at least he still sincerely wants people to believe Russia didn't interfere. You can read this as Trump being willing to say anything in order to get out of a tough situation, but I'm with Joy Reid:

Some people argue that Trump isn't really a liar -- he's a bullshitter, which is not the same thing.
As the Princeton University philosophy professor Harry Frankfurt put it in a famous essay, to lie presumes a kind of awareness of and interest in the truth — and the goal is to convince the audience that the false thing you are saying is in fact true. Trump, more often than not, isn’t interested in convincing anyone of anything. He’s a bullshitter who simply doesn’t care....

Frankfurt attempts to give the term definition that distinguishes the bullshitter from the liar, with the most salient distinction being that the liar is genuinely trying to trick you.

“The bullshitter,” by contrast, “may not deceive us, or even intend to do so, either about the facts or about what he takes the facts to be.”

The liar wants to be seen as the one telling the truth. The bullshitter just doesn’t care. That’s Trump. During the course of the 2016 campaign, he said over and over again that America is “the highest-taxed nation in the world,” which isn’t even remotely close to being true. But he kept saying it....

Trump says, over and over again, that he won one of the greatest Electoral College landslides in history. It’s not true, it’s obviously not true to anyone who bothers to look it up or remembers any past presidential elections, and it’s not even remotely clear why it’s important. But Trump keeps on saying it.
This doesn't really persuade me that Trump is, generally speaking, a bullshitter rather than a liar -- on the issue of taxes (as on many other issues), I think he's simply in the right-wing media's alternate-fact bubble and believes he's telling the truth.

But on the question of his election victory, I think he simply can't tolerate the notion that he didn't win fair and square and that he didn't win a massive victory, and certainly can't tolerate the notion that people believe his win was tainted. It strains credulity to say that he "doesn't care" about the truth regarding the election. He cares a lot. If he were ever to acknowledge to himself that he won because of Russian interference, and that he didn't win a big victory, it would be devastating to him. It's devastating to him that so many of us believe that.

So he's not bullshitting -- he's lying. On this at least, he's lying to himself, and he's try to lie to us, not bullshit us.

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