This week, The New York Times reported that behind the scenes, President Donald Trump has been pressing aides and associates for their opinions on Vice President Mike Pence — and like a broken record, the president has again taken to grandiose claims about the “phony” media in response.
A reporter pressed him on the subject during one of his brief appearances before the press before leaving the White House that this time unfolded early Saturday before he left to visit California, which has been devastated by record breaking wildfires.
He told the reporter:
‘No, I don’t question his loyalty at all. He is 100 percent loyal. It was a phony story. I doubt they had any sources. A typical New York Times phony story. Mike Pence is 100 percent. Not even a doubt about it in my mind. He’s been a trooper. He’s been with me from as soon as I won the primaries — I mean, he was the one I chose — and I couldn’t be happier.’
President Trump talks to reporters before leaving for California and trashes “phony” New York Times story about Mike Pence. “How do you do a story like that and you don’t call” me or Sarah Sanders for a quote? pic.twitter.com/4EEovhYYMs
— TheBlaze (@theblaze) November 17, 2018
Trump has criticized the media’s usage of anonymous sources from inside his administration before, but there remains simply no evidence that any mainstream national media outlet that he’s criticized has made up a source. Trump is just pulling this claim out of thin air — which hardly stops him from running with it.
Getting awfully apocalyptic and totalitarian, he ranted:
‘It’s fake news, and that’s what breaks up a country! It’s fake news.’
The comment is reminiscent of the president’s repeated claims that most of the mainstream media in the United States is the “enemy of the people.” He refuses to engage in a substantive national conversation surrounding his actions and those of his administration and instead retreats into his whiny wannabe dictator mode.
He offered an attempt at a more specific rebuttal of The Times‘ story on Pence, asserting that the fact they didn’t call him for a comment is proof that it’s fake news.
In reality, the story did include a quote from a White House communications official — deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley — and the denial he offered didn’t exactly stop them from running the story. It’s not as though the president’s personal phone number gets distributed to reporters — there are enough concerns about his incessant use of a possibly unsecured personal phone anyway. Trump’s attempt at a substantive rebuttal is entirely baseless.
The story about him questioning aides on Pence appeared shortly after the midterm elections concluded, with no major elections now in between him and the next presidential contest. He filed for re-election with record speed following his ascent to office, but who he will tap as his 2020 running mate remains one of the questions on the table.
Although his approval rating among Democrats is unsurprisingly near zero and among independents it’s in 30s, it’s wildly high among Republicans to the point of an easy path remaining to him taking a spot in the 2020 contest at all.
Who the Democrats will tap to face him is another open question. Options range from U.S. Senators like Cory Booker and Kamala Harris to former Obama administration official Julian Castro to a whole host of others.
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