Donald Trump is in a tough spot. You see, his trade war with China is hurting the economy just like everyone said it would, which is threatening to push the United States into a recession. Even Trump, whose brain short-circuited years ago, knows this would be bad, particularly for a guy whose campaign slogan is, “You have no choice but to vote for me because your 401(k), everything is going to be down the tubes [if you don’t].” The problem is, China appears unlikely to budge and has met every single round of tariffs with retaliatory measures of their own. But if Trump called the whole thing off now, without a deal, he’d look pretty stupid—even stupider than he looked when he said wind turbines cause cancer, or that we should use nuclear bombs to stop hurricanes. Sure, he could put the health of the economy before his infantile obsession with “winning,” but that would require an emergency personality transplant. And that’s seemingly left the president with little choice but to describe fictional phone calls with Beijing and claim that a trade deal is all but in the bag.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the G7 summit, Trump saidMonday that China is ready to resume negotiations, which it indicated in a call Sunday night. “China called last night our top trade people and said, ‘Let’s get back to the table.’ So we will be getting back to the table and I think they want to do something,” Trump said from Biarritz. “They have been hurt very badly but they understand this is the right thing to do and I have great respect for it. This is a very positive development for the world. I think we are going to have a deal.” Indeed, that would be a positive development for the world, if it had actually happened.
But according to Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang, the phone calls did not in fact take place. “Regarding the phone call in the weekend, I am not aware of that,” he said at a news briefing on Monday afternoon, adding, “I can tell you clearly that I haven’t heard of such a thing.” When pressed on his side of the story, Trump refused to give any further details, which is totally what someone telling the truth would do. “I don’t want to talk about calls,” he said of the calls he’d cited as evidence of positive trade news just hours earlier. “We have had calls at the highest level, but I don’t want to talk about that. The vice chairman put out a statement last night that was a statement and saying that he wants to make a deal and he wants calm.”
It kind of seems like a big deal that Donald Trump is just *inventing* phone calls with a key foreign adversary. If this is true, this seems a serious escalation of his lying—and bodes poorly for a future crisis. https://t.co/TgKQxHEas2
— Garrett M. Graff (@vermontgmg) August 26, 2019
CNBC’s Jim Cramer, late of the claim “BEAR STEARNS IS FINE!” a week before the investment bank collapsed, told colleagues that he is “aghast [that] we trust the People’s Republic of China more than we trust the White House,” and that while “the predominance of coverage this morning is that the president is lying,” Cramer himself is “not willing to say that he’s lying.” And it’s true! It is pretty wild to think that we’re taking the word of China over that of the president of the United States. It would almost be unthinkable were it not for the fact that the president has literally told 12,019 “false claims and mistruths” between January 20, 2017, and August 5, 2019, clearly lied just this weekend about conversations with other foreign leaders, and has lied specifically about his trade deal with China in the past. Last December, he boasted to reporters that he’d struck an “incredible” trade deal with Chinese president Xi Jinping, a statement that completely blew up in his face less than 24 hours later. So you’d think he’d have learned his lesson here, but apparently not so much!