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Donald Trump's HUGE 'denial' double standard

On Monday morning, President Donald Trump said he spoke with Saudi Arabia's King Salman about Washington Pos...

Posted: Oct 15, 2018 5:50 PM
Updated: Oct 15, 2018 5:50 PM

On Monday morning, President Donald Trump said he spoke with Saudi Arabia's King Salman about Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi and left seemingly convinced that the Saudi government played no role in the reporter's disappearance in Turkey earlier this month.

What convinced Trump -- despite lots of evidence that seems to suggest the Saudi government lured Khashoggi, a critic of that government, to their embassy in Istanbul? The king denied it. Very strongly.

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"He firmly denies that," Trump told reporters before heading to Florida and Georgia to inspect damage from Hurricane Michael. "The King firmly denied any knowledge of it."

Added Trump: "It sounded to me like maybe these could have been rogue killers, who knows. We are going to try to get to the bottom of it very soon. But his was a flat denial."

Trump repeatedly suggested that the strength of Salman's denial was indicative of innocence. He did however note he was sending Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to the region to investigate.

You might recognize that language of denial from Trump. He uses it a LOT -- to defend people who he views as allies or who support his agenda.

It's the same response Trump gave when asked whether he broached the topic of Russian interference in the 2016 election during a face-to-face meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, earlier this year. "So I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today," Trump said at a joint news conference with Putin following the summit in July.

It's the same response Trump gave when asked about the allegation of sexual assault leveled against his Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. The President repeatedly noted that Kavanaugh denied the allegations as proof positive it didn't happen, calling the allegations "one of the most unfair, unjust things to happen to a candidate for anything.

It's the same response Trump gave when multiple women said that Roy Moore had pursued relationship with them when they were teenagers and, in some circumstances, had forced himself on them. "He totally denies it," Trump said of Moore in the heat of the Alabama special election late last year "He says it didn't happen, and you have to listen to him also."

It's the same response Trump gave when the news broke that both of White House staff secretary Rob Porter's ex-wives said he had abused them. "He says he's innocent and I think you have to remember that," said Trump. "He said very strongly yesterday that he's innocent, but you'll have to talk to him about that."

That believe-the-denial approach, of course, only holds for when Trump wants or needs to believe the person doing the denying. Remember that this is a man who has accused the past administration of authorizing a wiretap on him during the 2016 campaign (despite all evidence to the contrary). A man who has suggested that a former opponent's father may have been involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy (despite all evidence to the contrary). A man who has accused elements within his Justice Department of being part of a "deep state" conspiracy against him (despite all evidence to the contrary.)

Trump swerves between taking your word for it and absolutely refusing to take your word for it even when your word is backed up by lots and lots of evidence. His approach to allegations is entirely situational. He believes denials when it suits him -- even when it seems incredulous for him to do so. And he refuses to believe denials when it plays into some sort of broader conspiracy theory he has either hatched or is peddling.

Take the disappearance of Khashoggi. What we know is that Khashoggi entered the Saudi Embassy in Istanbul on October 2 and hasn't been seen since. A US official familiar with the intelligence surrounding the disappearance told CNN that the there are intercepts in American possession that show Saudi leaders discussing a plan to lure Khashoggi back to their country. The "working assumption" is that Khashoggi was killed in the embassy, according to a US official. Turkish authorities are set to be allowed into the embassy on Monday; CNN's Nic Robertson saw a cleaning crew entering the embassy on Monday as well.

There's every reason to believe that King Salman knows the stakes here. Trump himself promised "severe punishment" for Saudi Arabia if proof emerges that Khashoggi was murdered in the embassy. A number of high-profile international companies, amid the news of Khashoggi's disappearance, have pulled out of the Future Investment Initiative conference set for later this month.

The idea that Salman, after repeated denials, would suddenly say "OK, I did it!" to Trump in a phone call is totally fanciful. And yet, because that didn't happen, Trump seems convinced -- at least for the moment -- that it could have been "rogue killers" who, somehow, infiltrated the Saudi embassy -- without the government's knowledge! -- and committed the suspected murder.

That's a similar blueprint to how Trump responded to the increasingly clear evidence that Russia had coordinated a broadscale hacking and interference campaign designed to aid him and hurt Hillary Clinton in the 2016 campaign.

"I don't think anybody knows it was Russia that broke into the DNC," Trump said in a debate with Clinton in October 2016. "She's saying Russia, Russia, Russia, but I don't -- maybe it was. I mean, it could be Russia, but it could also be China. It could also be lots of other people. It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, OK? You don't know who broke into DNC."

In January 2017, the US intelligence community unanimously concluded that Russia sought to interfere in the 2016 election. And yet, Trump continues to offer alternative solutions. "Russia continues to say they had nothing to do with Meddling in our Election!" he tweeted in June. "Where is the DNC Server, and why didn't Shady James Comey and the now disgraced FBI agents take and closely examine it? Why isn't Hillary/Russia being looked at? So many questions, so much corruption!"

Trump believes the denials he wants to believe -- or needs to believe. Unfortunately, those denials are sometimes -- often -- rebutted by facts, and Trump seems not to pay any heed to that reality.

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Reported Deaths: 6007
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Ramsey39917738
Dakota32945340
Anoka30935364
Washington20116227
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St. Louis13658241
Scott1193296
Wright11598104
Olmsted1045075
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Carver693436
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Rice605268
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Chisago452032
Benton419586
Winona388046
Douglas373966
Nobles369646
Mower364729
Goodhue346858
Polk328256
McLeod324745
Morrison311544
Beltrami309947
Lyon301136
Becker284639
Itasca284543
Isanti282441
Carlton279443
Steele27279
Pine266613
Freeborn244621
Todd231730
Nicollet224036
Brown214734
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Cass207623
Meeker199433
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Fillmore12315
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Rock110112
Sibley10847
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Watonwan10638
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Jackson85310
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Iowa Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 304391

Reported Deaths: 4270
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk45574448
Linn17742274
Scott15414163
Black Hawk13696236
Woodbury12968175
Johnson1207549
Dubuque11348150
Pottawattamie8959112
Dallas885171
Story865434
Webster468271
Cerro Gordo464768
Sioux454456
Clinton449461
Warren440738
Marshall426561
Buena Vista392329
Muscatine388477
Des Moines381041
Plymouth349768
Wapello342398
Jasper321258
Lee315830
Marion303852
Jones270649
Henry263830
Carroll253934
Bremer242648
Crawford229422
Boone217017
Washington216831
Benton209244
Mahaska191836
Jackson191431
Tama186657
Dickinson185026
Delaware173036
Kossuth172143
Clay167319
Wright163624
Fayette161122
Buchanan159123
Hamilton158729
Winneshiek155219
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Hardin154429
Cedar152519
Clayton151348
Butler147324
Page144215
Floyd138836
Cherokee138427
Mills136216
Lyon134832
Poweshiek132424
Hancock129824
Allamakee127627
Iowa124322
Calhoun12209
Grundy120526
Jefferson120124
Madison11999
Winnebago118729
Mitchell116134
Louisa114730
Cass112841
Chickasaw110912
Sac110915
Emmet110431
Appanoose110138
Union108222
Humboldt105319
Guthrie102924
Shelby102126
Franklin101718
Unassigned9230
Palo Alto9049
Keokuk84926
Montgomery84822
Howard83119
Monroe80918
Clarke7927
Pocahontas77611
Ida74130
Davis69121
Greene6917
Adair68720
Lucas6488
Monona64016
Osceola6389
Worth6063
Taylor5919
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Van Buren49612
Decatur4824
Ringgold4289
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