This is a disturbingly Orwellian habit for the Trump administration.
While an unskeptical political media (with rare and great exceptions) fell for Donald Trump’s extended mental stability photo op Tuesday, Trump’s own communications team appears to understand what a disaster it really was.
The 55-minute televised portion of the bipartisan meeting on immigration was a naked attempt to quell concerns about Trump’s mental fitness, but it backfired when he had to be reminded of his own policy positions.
One spectacular example was this exchange with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), in which she asks Trump if he would be “agreeable” to a clean DACA bill:
FEINSTEIN: Would you be agreeable to that?
TRUMP: Yeah, I would like I would like to do that.
But when the White House released its official transcript of the meeting, that line from Trump was nowhere to be found. It was only after getting busted for the omission that a “corrected” transcript was released, 17 hours later.
It would be easier to chalk this up as an accidental omission if not for the fact that the line exposes Trump’s manifest ignorance about his own policy positions, and if this were not part of a longstanding pattern for this White House. When they’re not making up alternative facts, they’re just disappearing the ones they don’t like.
Sometimes, the alterations to official transcripts are seemingly trivial, yet illustrative. In July, the White House altered an official briefing transcript to stroke Trump’s ego by inflating his dubious golf skills.
Also in July, though, the White House made a much more significant omission from a transcript of an Air Force One gaggle. Trump told reporters that he may have been told about the Trump Tower collusion meeting, but maintained he wasn’t aware of the subject matter, according to a New York Times reporter:
Among pts WH omitted, per pool: Trump said of Jr mtg "In fact maybe it was mentioned at some point" but he wasn't told it was abt HRC & dirt
— Julie Davis (@juliehdavis) July 13, 2017
Trump has never been asked publicly to reconcile that bombshell revelation, although it will surely come up when he sits down to face special counsel Robert Mueller.
And from that same gaggle, the White House omitted Trump’s remarks about DACA, reportedly at the urging of White House senior adviser and perennial cable news embarrassment Stephen Miller. But those remarks had already been published via a pool report.
Censoring official White House transcripts is just one of many ways in which this administration betrays the free press, but it is a particularly audacious one that asks the American people to believe their lying president, rather than their own eyes and ears.