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Donald Trump's Friday morning proves the massive danger of sitting down with Robert Mueller

President Donald Trump has a very casual relationship with the truth. To him, facts are fungible. They are things to ...

Posted: Jun 16, 2018 11:19 AM
Updated: Jun 16, 2018 11:19 AM

President Donald Trump has a very casual relationship with the truth. To him, facts are fungible. They are things to stretch, pull and sometimes break -- all in service of the story that he tells himself about his life.

In his first 466 days in office, Trump said more than 3,000 things that were either partially or entirely untrue, according to a count kept by the amazing Fact Checker blog at The Washington Post. That's 6.5 a day!

Trump's penchant for prevarication is, at some level, an accepted piece of his presidency at this point. It's a feature, not a glitch. For most people -- both those who support Trump and who vehemently oppose him -- his exaggerations, mistruths and, in many cases, outright lies are baked in.

If you like him, you don't really care -- seeing it as Trump being Trump, with little practical effect on your life or his presidency. If you loathe him, you view the lack of fact-based reality as a symptom of the broader issues infecting his presidency.

But there's one place where Trump's lack of candor and honesty is a major liability: in a legal deposition where lying carries criminal penalties.

Which brings me to Friday morning -- and Trump's interview with Fox News' Steve Doocy and subsequent 30-minute scrum with other reporters gathered on the North Lawn of the White House. And the ongoing debate over whether Trump will sit down for an interview with special counsel Robert Mueller to answer questions about the 2016 election, his firing of FBI Director James Comey and a bunch of other things.

Of that potential sit-down, Trump said Friday: "I would like to talk but it seems to be very biased." Rudy Giuliani, a member of Trump's legal team, told Bloomberg on Friday that there's a "good chance" Trump will make up his mind on whether to talk to Mueller by next week.

Here's the thing: If Friday is any indication of how Trump would speak in a deposition with Mueller, it would be hugely problematic for him, legally speaking.

MSNBC's Katy Tur counted 19 lies or mistruths from Trump just on Friday morning.

In the words of Radiohead, the distortions, half-truths and flat-out lies were everywhere all of the time.

Here's a sampler platter:

  • The Justice Department inspector general's report on the 2016 election "totally exonerates" Trump in the Mueller investigation
  • The reason children are being separated from their parents at the southern border is because of a Democratic law
  • Former President Barack Obama "lost" Crimea
  • The nuclear threat from North Korea has ended

Those are some -- but not all -- of the biggies. There are more.

Any one of those statements would be very problematic if Trump tried to make them across the table from Mueller. And it's worse than that for Trump: Remember that Mueller and his special counsel team have talked to dozens of people. All of whom have helped fill out a picture for the special counsel's office. Which means Trump's version of events, conversations and the like would be compared against all of the other versions Mueller has gathered.

The simple fact is that Trump is an absolute minefield when it comes to testifying before Mueller. His Friday morning proves that fact in spades.

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