Buried in Trump’s bonkers interview with New York Times reporters Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush is this outrageous exchange Trump claims happened recently:
TRUMP: [U.S. Representative] Elijah Cummings was in my office and he said, “You will go down as one of the great presidents in the history of our country.”
TRUMP: And then he went out and I watched him on television yesterday and I said, “Was that the same man?”
Which… would have been odd considering Cummings, a fiery Democratic congressman, has been one of Trump’s most intense critics. He’s very public about it. Cummings has been outspoken about Trump’s disturbing connections to Russia, the GOP’s botched attempts to cover those connections up, and has repeatedly demanded Trump divest himself of his numerous conflicts of interest. He hardly sounds like a person who has looked at Trump’s trainwreck first three months in office and concluded that he deserves to be up on Mount Rushmore.
One theory was that Trump flatly lied. Always a possibility — Trump is a pathological liar. Another, suggested by writer Jamelle Bouie, is that Trump mixed up two black men, conflating Cummings with some other guy. Another strong possibility – Trump has shown a complete lack of interest in the lives of black Americans.
Fortunately, Cummings came in to provide the real answer: Trump took a criticism Cummings has made to his face and filtered it through his unchecked narcissism. Here’s how Cummings describes the meeting Trump said was about praising him:
“During my meeting with the president and on several occasions since then, I have said repeatedly that he could be a great president if … if … he takes steps to truly represent all Americans rather than continuing on the divisive and harmful path he is currently on.”
Note the jab that Trump completely missed? IF Trump stops being “divisive and harmful” he could someday be a great president. So far he has not done so. Hasn’t even tried. (As if to underscore how little Trump has tried to stop being divisive, in the same interview he defended Bill O’Reilly for sexually harassing women at Fox News.)
Unintentionally, Trump’s bizarre retelling of what went down during his meeting with Cummings exemplifies the warped way Trump sees the world. A criticism turns into praise, stripping away all context in the process. It may explain, for example, why Trump seems to genuinely believe he saw Muslim Americans celebrating on 9/11. His ego filters everything, facts get distorted and retooled for his own agenda.
The fact that we have a president who does not seem to understand the difference between reality and the fantasy world that exists in his head is a recipe for disaster. If meetings with a congressman get this distorted, what other delusions is Trump living in?
Featured image via Win McNamee/Getty Images