Now that Trump's been busted for his failed attempt to fire special counsel Robert Mueller, he's changing his tune.
Donald Trump described reports that he attempted to fire special counsel Robert Mueller last June as “fake news,” but that’s a very different response from the outright denials he and his subordinates had previously issued.
Appearing at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Trump was asked about the latest revelation that Trump had plotted to fire Mueller almost immediately after his appointment, and then only thing that stopped him was White House counsel Don McGhan’s threat to quit if he did.
“Did you seek to fire Mueller?” a reporter asked.
“Fake news, folks, fake news,” he responded. “Typical New York Times, fake story.”
But in the past when reporting indicated that Trump has sought to remove Mueller, the denial was far more detailed than his go-to rhetoric attacking the free press.
There are at least eight instances of the Trump and his team denying plans to go after Mueller.
“I haven’t given it any thought,” Trump said in August, two months after he had already tried to fire Mueller. “I mean, I’ve been reading about it from you people. You say, oh, I’m going to dismiss him. No, I’m not dismissing anybody.”
Kellyanne Conway told ABC News in August 2017, “The president is not discussing firing Bob Mueller.”
Trump’s lawyer John Dowd told USA Today that same month, “That’s never been on the table, never.”
In December, Trump plainly said, when asked again about whether he was considering firing Mueller, “No, I’m not.”
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and legislative affairs director Marc Short also insisted that month that there was no conversation about firing Mueller.
Now there has been a dramatic shift in tone, from unequivocal denials to now simply attacking a news outlet. Notably, Trump attorney Ty Cobb simply said in a statement, “We decline to comment.”
Even Trump’s favorite pro-Trump propaganda outlet, Fox News, confirmed the story. Reporter Ed Henry told viewers, “A source close to the White House telling Fox the New York Times is accurate,” before the network began to regurgitate White House spin. Trump devotee Sean Hannity dismissed the story as mere “distraction” from The New York Times and then turned his focus to a car chase.
Trump’s safe space is his increasingly impotent “fake news” attack for which he was booed in Davos but his own rhetoric has given up the game: There was an attempt to rid himself of Mueller, which means more and more evidence that he tried to obstruct justice.
Which is an impeachable offense.