Trump Caught in Contradictory Lies on Russia

By Jonathan Riley, 2/16/2017

The Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek points out that sometimes the more justifications you provide for your actions, the more it seems you are hiding something. He uses the metaphor of the borrowed kettle. [1]

Imagine I borrow a kettle from you and when I return it, the kettle is broken. I argue I shouldn’t have to buy you a new one for three reasons:

  1. The kettle isn’t broken — it works just fine!
  2. That stinking kettle was broken before you lent it to me!
  3. Kettle? What kettle? I never borrowed any kettle!

While each of these reasons might be persuasive on their own, the more reasons I offer the more obvious it becomes that not all of them can be true, and so probably none of them are true. Looks like I owe you a new kettle.

This is the situation Donald Trump has gotten himself into with this Michael Flynn scandal. The more defenses he offers, the more he contradicts himself, and the more it looks like this potentially treasonous collusion with Russia goes right to the top.

Today in a press conference in which Trump became increasingly unhinged, [2] a reporter asked if Trump directed General Michael Flynn to tell his Russian counterpart before the inauguration that Trump would roll back sanctions on Russia once in office. “Mike was doing his job. He was calling countries and his counterparts. So it certainly would’ve been OK with me if he did it,” The President responded. He said that no, he did not direct Flynn to tell Russia he planned to undo the sanctions but, “I would’ve directed him to do it if I thought he wasn’t doing it.” [3]

Wait, so Trump says he didn’t tell Flynn to communicate this information to Russia — therefore the President is not to blame for the wrongdoing — but it actually wasn’t a wrongdoing at all, and in fact, Trump would have ordered it if he didn’t already assume Flynn was doing it…? So that means Trump DID know on some level what Flynn was telling the Russians, because if he didn’t, he would have ordered Flynn to do so (which he didn’t.)

But if Flynn was just doing his job, then why did he have to resign?

The reason Trump asked for Flynn’s resignation, he explains, isn’t because he did anything wrong before the inauguration, but because he lied to the Vice President about it — he lied about the thing that wasn’t wrong for him to have done: “He didn’t tell the vice president of the United States the facts and then he didn’t remember and that just wasn’t acceptable to me,” Trump said. So actually to be more precise, Flynn didn’t even really lie, he just didn’t remember what he told Russia. He was fired for misremembering.

To sum it up, Trump’s excuses for this Flynn scandal go like this:

  1. I knew nothing about the wrongdoing
  2. There was no wrongdoing: Flynn was doing what I wanted him to do
  3. Flynn was fired for lying about the non-wrongdoing
  4. Flynn wasn’t lying, he just misremembered the facts

Since all of these excuses clearly cannot simultaneously be true, my bet is that none of them are true.

Oh and then there was this beautiful bit of illogic. Trump has called the allegations on Russia “fake news.” At the same time, he wants to root out and prosecute members of the intelligence community for leaking this information about Russian collusion to the press. This led a reporter to ask the obvious question, “Is it fake news or are these real leaks?”

“The leaks are absolutely real, the news is fake,” Trump responded. [4]

Wow. So all this stuff about members of the Administration conspiring with Russia — that’s just fake news. But what’s worse, the President wants us to believe, is that people are leaking top secret info about him conspiring with Russia in the first place!

Both of those things can’t be right Donald. If the information being leaked is true — and therefore the leakers are worthy of prosecution — then the news reports about that leaked information are true.

Trump’s story is beginning to unravel. It’s time for an independent investigation to find out what the President knew and when he knew it.