Friday, April 19, 2019

Mueller Blog: Trump's 86% Memory Loss

Trump's responses (or rather the responses issued by Giuliani, Sekulow, et al.) to Mueller's written questions in lieu of a proper interview, submitted under oath 20 November, are included somewhere in the Mueller report, and can also be seen separately in various venues, like CNN, but haven't attracted a lot of attention, presumably because they are really not very informative, about 86% "I do not recall." Seriously: as Philip Bump reported with admirable precision at the Washington Post,
They covered four primary topic areas: the Trump Tower meeting in June 2016, the Russian effort to interfere with the election, the proposed development project in Moscow and contacts with Russia or Russia-related issues during the campaign and transition. In total, the Mueller team asked 38 distinct questions with 37 follow-ups.
Trump offered 22 distinct answers. In 19 of those answers, he claims not to remember or recall some particular issue. Often, those failures to remember what happened constitute the entirety of his response.
Maybe it's true. He's certainly suffering from some kind of memory problem; in a tweet yesterday he didn't even seem to remember answering the questions at all:

One of the few things he did remember is somewhat revealing, in my opinion. It's in the matter of the Trump Tower meeting at which "a Russian government attorney" was supposed to be presenting the Trump campaign with some "very high level and sensitive information" on Hillary Clinton as "part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump", and the fact that on the evening of 7 June, the day Junior arranged for the meeting to take place on the 9th, Big Donald announced a soon-to-come "major speech" in which he would "be discussing all of the things that have taken place with the Clintons."

Which continues to sound like Big Donald was hoping to have all this thrilling dirt on Hillary from the Russian government attorney that he would be able to reveal on Monday. Trump, of course, has no recollection of when or what he heard about the meeting, and can't even be sure his personal calendar is correct, but he does happen to remember the speech.

Which is curious, you know, because (a) if it was about commonly available information why call it a major speech? and (2) he didn't deliver it. The only thing he can recall about the entire week is the one thing that didn't happen.

That is, not to belabor the point, you and I think we understand he didn't give the speech because Veselnitskaya didn't provide the information he was expecting to reveal, but that's the thing Trump is trying to hide.

Giuliani et al. anticipated the obvious follow-up question—so why didn't he give the speech then?

Though that, from the text they'd prepared for him, isn't a completely accurate rendering of what he said, by the way:
This was going to be a speech on Hillary Clinton and all of the bad things and we all know what's going on, and especially how poor she'd do as president in these very, very troubled times of radical Islamic terrorism.
In language ("all of the bad things and we all know") that echoes his previous promise ("all of the things that have taken place"). And a more emphatic repetition of the promise itself
and I will deliver that speech very, very soon.
and he never did. Though he did turn to saying "I love WikiLeaks!" which, if my feeling about this is right, amounts to the same thing; he's still referring to the dirt the Russians are going to give him, and he still hasn't given up hope.

Update: On my interpretation, compare the Mueller report, which doesn't think there's enough evidence to say:
We considered whether one sequence of events suggested that candidate Trump had contemporaneous knowledge of the June 9 meeting. On June 7, 2016 Trump announced his intention to give a major speech” “probably Monday of next week" — which would have been June 13 — about “all of the things that have taken place with the Clintons.” See, e.g., Phillip Bump, What we know about the Trump Tower meeting, Washington Post (Aug. 7, 2018). Following the June 9 meeting, Trump changed the subject of his planned speech to national security. But the Office did not find evidence that the original idea for the speech was connected to the anticipated June 9 meeting or that the change of topic was attributable to the failure of that meeting to produce concrete evidence about Clinton. Other events, such as the Pulse nightclub shooting on June 12, could well have caused the change. The President’s written answers to our questions state that the speech’s focus was altered “[i]n light of the Pulse nightclub shooting. See Written Responses, supra. As for the original topic of the June 13 speech, Trump has said that “he expected to give a speech referencing the publicly available, negative information about the Clintons,” and that the draft of the speech prepared by Campaign staff “was based on publicly available material, including, in particular, information from the book Clinton Cash by Peter Schweizer.” Written Responses, supra. In a later June 22 speech, Trump did speak extensively about allegations that Clinton was corrupt, drawing from the Clinton Cash book. See Full Transcript: Donald Trump NYC Speech on Stakes of the Election, (June 22, 2016).

No comments:

Post a Comment