Did Donald J. Trump mean to confirm that he was being probed?

MONDAY, JUNE 19, 2017

A president's mental disorder:
Last Friday morning, Donald Trump issued one of his most famous tweets.

Truth to tell, the famous tweet took the form of a pretty good joke:

"I am being investigated for firing the FBI director by the man who told me to fire the FBI director! Witch hunt."

If we assume that Trump was referring to Rod Rosenstein, that can be read as a comedian's fairly good joke. In all honesty, that was the first way it struck us. On a comedy stage, we thought, that's a darn good joke.

That said, a chase is currently underway, a chase after Donald J. Trump. In part for that reason, pundits have widely interpreted that tweet in the following way:

Donald J. Trump was confirming the fact that's he's under investigation! Just like the Washington Post had reported!

(Note: How would Trump know he was under investigation? Have you see one pundit ask?)

Did Trump really intend to confirm the fact that he was under investigation? Aside from the widespread desire to lock him up, we think it's silly to draw that conclusion.

This is Donald J. Trump, after all. Among other things, he seems to be badly disordered. (Plus, he tends to speak in ironic jokes.)

Donald J. Trump seems to be badly disordered. He contradicts himself in much the way other people breathe. He rarely seems to have any idea what he's talking about.

You can't believe a thing he says. He rarely seems to give much though to the ways his statements will be taken.

Trump seems to have a disordered mind. It seems to us that the press corps has been slow to come to terms with the implications of that fact. Consider his alleged confession of motive to Lester Holt last month.

On May 9, Donald J. Trump fired Comey the God. Two days later, he discussed the firing with Holt. The remarks we've highlighted below have been widely cited, in part because they seem to incriminate Trump.

That doesn't mean they're accurate, even though they came from Trump's mouth:
TRUMP (5/11/17): Look, [Comey's] a showboat. He's a grandstander. The FBI has been in turmoil. You know that. I know that. Everybody knows that. You take a look at the FBI a year ago, it was in virtual turmoil—less than a year ago. It hasn't recovered from that.

HOLT: Monday, you met with the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Did you ask for a recommendation?

TRUMP: What I did is— I was going to fire Comey. My decision. It was not—

HOLT: You had made the decision before they came in the room?

TRUMP: I, I— I was going to fire Comey.


TRUMP: Regardless of 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 have won...
The highlighted statements have been widely quoted, in part because they seem to support the idea that Trump has committed an obstruction of justice.

That said, in the rest of his conversation with Holt, Trump made an array of statements about the firing. These statements cut in several different directions. In part, the highlighted statements have been stressed because they serve the aims of the chase.

Why did Trump fire Comey? We can't answer that question, nor are we sure Trump can.

Nor is there any particular reason to believe anything Trump ever says. We can easily imagine that Trump decided to fire Comey for a different reason altogether—because Comey's "a showboat, a grandstander" (see Trump's statement above), as Comey had proven with a statement to a Senate committee six days before he was fired.

Comey was discussing the possible effects of his procedurally irregular attacks against Candidate Clinton last year. In remarks which were widely discussed, the showboating fellow said this about the meaningless cache of emails he discussed in public in late October 2016, helping send Trump to the White House:
COMEY (5/3/17): Look, this is terrible. It makes me mildly nauseous to think that we might have had some impact on the election. But honestly, it wouldn't change the decision.
James B. Comey was showboating hard. Is it possible that those grandstanding remarks are what got him fired?


Ideally, you were supposed to think that Comey the God meant this by what he said:
I hate the idea that my morally upright work at the FBI might have affected some votes in a White House election.
That's what you were supposed to think the great man meant by his statement. Trust us, though—this is what Donald J. Trump thought the great man had said:
It makes me nauseous to think that my conduct helped elect Donald J. Trump!
As always, Comey was showboating in service to his desire to be seen as a moral paragon. Given Trump's absurd reactions to matters like this, are you sure it wasn't that widely-cited bit of grandstanding, all by itself, which caused the great man to be fired?

Trump said many things to Holt on May 11. In part because a chase is on, a few of those remarks have been singled out.

That said, Donald J. Trump seems to have a disordered mind. There's no reason to assume that anything he ever says is the actual truth.

We doubt that Trump was trying to confirm a fact with last Friday's tweet. (For one thing, how would he have known?) Nor do we think it's obvious why he fired Comey the God, though it certainly may have been an attempt to undermine the Russia probe, as has been widely asserted.

That said, our sitting president seems to be badly disordered. It seems to us that our somewhat less disordered press corps has been slow to come to terms with the implications of that dangerous fact.


  1. The highlighted statements are quoted because they constitute admissions, which would be admissible in a court. That doesn't mean you have to believe them, but what are the media supposed to do, ignore them? Most people in Trump's position don't routinely foam at the mouth and make statements damaging and contradicting their own positions.

  2. "This is Donald J. Trump, after all. Among other things, he seems to be badly disordered. (Plus, he tends to speak in ironic jokes.)

    Donald J. Trump seems to be badly disordered. He contradicts himself in much the way other people breathe. He rarely seems to have any idea what he's talking about.

    You can't believe a thing he says. He rarely seems to give much though [sic] to the ways his statements will be taken."

    Then there's Vinny "the Chin" Gigante:
    {Wikipedia} "With the arrest and conviction of Gotti and various Gambino family members in 1992, Gigante was officially recognized as the most powerful crime boss in the United States. For the better part of 30 years, Gigante feigned insanity in an effort to throw law enforcement off his trail. Dubbed "The Oddfather" and "The Enigma in the Bathrobe" by the press, Gigante often wandered the streets of Greenwich Village in his bathrobe and slippers, mumbling incoherently to himself, in what Gigante later admitted was an elaborate act to avoid prosecution."

  3. Unlike The Chin, with Trump it's no act.

  4. The incoherence defense.

    Good luck with that.

  5. I'm glad Bob has concluded there is something a little strange about Donald Trump.

    1. Greg's Justifiably Sainted MotherJune 20, 2017 at 6:43 AM

      We are amazed (and proud of course, honey!) that you seem to be developing some reading comprehension, Greg.

      Also, perhaps going forward, keeping your "thoughts" to simple one-sentence declarations as you've done here will help you keep on track.

      But difficult as it is, darling, we do regret to have to point out that every other reader of this blog is well aware that what you see as a recent conclusion has been a firm part of Somerby's understanding of Trump for, well, for simply ages. It ain't new, at all.

      Try, sweetie, in order to minimize your future self-embarrassments, to wrap your struggling mind around this -- that's not Somerby's "conclusion" anyway: it's a basis for his continuing indictment of the press.

      PS We wrapped your sandwdich and put it in the fridge for you, since you didn't come up. Your dad brought your Power Ranger blankie and slippers down for you. I hope you weren't too chilly overnight.

  6. Trump has a mind entirely ordered to business, and not in the least to what we are accustomed to from politicians.

    1. This. This. This.
      The fact that Trump's been screwing his contractors for 5+ decades, proves Trump is entirely ordered to the business world.
      Now that Anonymous at 11;29 PM has shown the business world is as corrupt as the day is long, we should probably stop rewarding, idolizing, and cutting the taxes of businesses.

  7. For Bob, how "prosecutorial liberalism" won't save the Dems...


  8. AnonymousJune 19, 2017 at 4:39 PM: what are the media supposed to do, ignore them?

    The media are supposed to ask Trump or his spokesperson what Trump meant by his statement. Presumably Trump would explain that he was making a kind of witticism, but that he didn't mean to imply that he'd been formally informed that he was being investigated. Then then the media could report accurately, rather than run a "gotcha" article.

    1. How the fuck do you ask tRump anything? Maybe try to catch him on the golf course? He's a lying sack of shit anyway so it would be a waste of time.

    2. mm -- Bob answered your point. If Trump is a "lying sack of shit", then the media shouldn't report his statement about being under investigation.

      P.S. Trump's media people are available for questions, even when Trump isn't available.

    3. Really? Tell me, scumbag, when will he answer the question - did he tape his meetings with Director Comey? Oh, I know. "In a very short period of time." Jackass.

      He's the president of the United States. If he wants to make a horse's ass of himself on twitter every day, it's incumbent on the press to report every gruesome hideous detail.

    4. "Trump's media people are available" to stonewall, to answer only softball questions from right-wing frauds pretending to be news organizations, and to incessantly whine about how they and their boss are unfairly treated. The last place actual information can be found is a a Trump press gaggle.

      Your trolling has gone from 4th-rate to off-the-charts-awful. Go away.

    5. "...ask Trump..."
      Yeah, ask a guy who lies for a living. That'll help. What next, ask Newt Gingrich?

    6. David, they ask Sean Spicer all the time what the president meant by a tweet. "I think it speaks for itself" is his favorite answer, followed by "I haven't spoken to the president about that specific topic."

      And why ask the president what he meant? Are you going to ask him what he meant by whatever he says in reply, too? I think the president would actually prefer to be taken at face value. He's making statements on twitter because he's trying to communicate to people. It's not like a hot mic being taken out of context. If he's making jokes about being investigated on his twitter feed, maybe that's a dumb-as-shit thing for a president (or ANYONE...just ask a lawyer) to do, and he should figure that out.

      Unless he doesn't have a problem with constantly being "misinterpreted." At what point can we expect the president to be a semi-rational human being that is capable of learning new things and taking advice?

  9. Bob, I think you're starting to split the hairs a bit too thin. I was with you on the whole thing about whether or not we should use the word "lying" to describe Trump's misstatements, as we can't know if they were intentional. But this...let's just take him at his word, OK? Isn't it just as bad if he's making these statements and he doesn't even know whether he's being investigated? Maybe even worse? I mean, what sort of person makes self-incriminating statements about himself and contradicts what his spokespeople say about the topic...and he's wrong, to boot?

    We can always remain open to the possibility that Trump has no idea what he's talking about. I think that caveat should stand behind everything he says, and thus, should go without saying at a certain point. It never actually makes him look better! Otherwise, we've got to decorate any commentary about the president with the usual caveats that he may be talking out of his ass.

    Besides, after a certain point, we're overreaching ourselves by engaging in a bit of mind-reading. I'm sure the president himself would prefer if we assume he means what he says and knows what he means. So I'm going to make that generous (IMO) assumption that he knows what he's talking about on any given topic until I hear otherwise. Yes, I know he's an incurable narcissistic ignoramus with poor impulse control. I'll always know that, so let's move on.

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