I’ve said for months that my main problem with Donald Trump becoming President is not that he is liberal (although he is), or that his behavior would disgrace the office and the Republican party (although it would), or that he has only the dimmest understanding of any issue of global importance and that accordingly his policies, if implemented, would be disasters (although they would), or that he is an authoritarian petty despot at heart (although he is that, too).
No, my main problem with Donald Trump is and always has been that he acts like a person who is legitimately not right in the head. Trump’s apparent mental problems surface every once in a while in bizarre ways, as they did last Tuesday, on the day he essentially clinched the Republican nomination. On that day, Trump angrily demanded to know, in the course of an actual television interview, why the media wasn’t pointing out that Ted Cruz’s father was involved in JFK’s assassination. He said this, by his own admission, because of something he read in the National Enquirer. As I said at the time, if someone came up to you on the street and said these things to you, you’d begin backing away slowly and making excuses for why you didn’t have any spare change.
But that isn’t even nearly the only instance of Trump’s bizarre, decidedly non-sane public behavior. One of the most notorious examples of this is the fact – well known and documented by the press over the years – that Donald Trump for years pretended to be his own spokesman. This is not a joke or a subject of reasonable dispute, factually. In fact, Trump himself admitted in court that he acted as both “John Miller” and “John Barron” the names he gave to his own spokesmen.
Now, the Washington Post has released audio of “John Miller” – who is obviously Donald Trump – and it is even more bizarre and damaging than you could possibly imagine, even if you started from the premise that you were about to imagine one of the world’s wealthiest men pretending to be his own spokesman. The audio is here if you want to listen for yourself:
Now, someone in Trump’s team has told him that this audio sounds bad, really bad. It really makes you question whether putting this guy in charge of the United States military is a bad idea, regardless of what you think of his ideology or rhetoric or preparation for the office. And so, in spite of the fact that he’s admitted – again, under oath – that he sometimes used the name “John Miller” Trump has now come out and denied that the voice on the tape is him. He claims, bizarrely, that this is a “scam” of some sort:
In a phone call to NBC’s “Today” program Friday morning, Trump denied that he was John Miller. “No, I don’t think it — I don’t know anything about it. You’re telling me about it for the first time and it doesn’t sound like my voice at all,” he said. “I have many, many people that are trying to imitate my voice and then you can imagine that, and this sounds like one of the scams, one of the many scams — doesn’t sound like me.” Later, he was more definitive: “It was not me on the phone. And it doesn’t sound like me on the phone, I will tell you that, and it was not me on the phone. And when was this? Twenty-five years ago?”
First of all, the idea that Trump, who obsessively collects and curates his own press clippings, is just now hearing about the “John Miller” controversy is so obviously and laughably false that only a truly pathological liar could say it with anything approaching a straight face.
Second, recall that the background here is that reporter calls Trump Tower asking for a comment on an issue, and that someone immediately returned a call to that same reporter offering comment on that same issue, and offered intimate, confirmable details of Trump’s involvement therein. The suggestion that this is someone who somehow scammed the reporter in question and not actually Trump himself is flatly unbelievable to anyone with a functioning brain.
Third, and most importantly, remember that Trump testified under oath that he was, in fact, “John Miller” – so the idea that he’s just hearing about this issue for the first time is contradicted by his own sworn testimony.
Trump could easily play this whole thing off as a goof if he wanted – something he did with his free time to mess with the press. His own supporters would eat it up, at least. The fact that he’s out there telling such an obvious lie right now is just bizarre.
This whole thing is so absurd and so uniquely Trump that the only thing you can really say about it at this point is this:
Exclusive video of Trump’s former spokesman reacting to today’s WaPo revelation. pic.twitter.com/z2kaz8HMHN
— Elliott Schwartz (@elliosch) May 13, 2016
UPDATE: The story has gotten weirder.
Wow, Sue Carswell, reporter whose audio it was tells ABC she NEVER shared audio. Says that recording had to have come from Trump #JohnMiller
— Candace Smith (@CandaceSmith_) May 13, 2016
In other words, at some point, Donald Trump himself released this audio to somebody, presumably to brag about how clever he is, and it’s now coming back to bite him in the butt.