Then Trump’s advisers quickly jumped to his defense, dismissing his comments as “ironic” and insisting that the President had been joking. In an interview that aired Monday, given the opportunity to tell himself if he was serious, Trump covered it up and told CBN News that his comment was “half mocking.”
Then, Tuesday morning, speaking to reporters before boarding Marine One, Trump completely contradicted his advisers and flatly denied that his comments were a joke. “I’m not kidding,” Trump said. “By having more tests, we have more cases. We have made 25 million. Therefore, we have more cases.”
The incident is a prime example of a phenomenon that has been a hallmark of the Trump presidency: Over and over, he will say something as false or outrageous, aides and allies will try to explain it on the grounds that he was joking, only to have him Trump undermined his efforts by suggesting he was serious.
Other times, Trump himself will play the “prank” card after saying something controversial.
Since the start of his presidential campaign, Trump himself has claimed at least 50 times that he has been joking or using sarcasm, according to Factba.se, a website that tracks every word spoken or tweeted by Trump and other politicians.
Sometimes it’s obvious when Trump is being sarcastic, like when he tweeted about Rep. Justin Amash considering running for president. But often it isn’t, and the ‘joke’ explanation comes after the fact.
Examples of the president’s so-called jokes and sarcasms span the gamut, from suggesting people inject themselves with disinfectant to asking Russia to search for emails from Hilary Clinton. But the starting point is almost always the same: Trump only lets the public tell the joke later, usually after some embarrassing comment has attracted unwanted attention.
I was joking, of course. Wasn’t it obvious?
Although tactics and circumstances differ, Trump’s use of the “prank” and “sarcasm” cards is simply an extension of his habit of making misleading statements, sowing confusion, and alleging false claims. And it puts the public in a difficult position having to gauge the president’s intention behind certain statements.
Here are some recent examples, starting with a closer look at Trump’s comments on the evidence.
After the demonstration, an administration official told CNN that the president was “obviously joking” about ordering a slowdown in coronavirus testing. Press secretary Kayleigh McEnany insisted that Trump’s comments were “joking.”
However, the President has not only made similar claims before suggesting that further testing is not necessary, but turned to Twitter after the rally to clarify his belief that it only appears that the US does. USA It has more coronavirus cases than other countries because “our Coronavirus tests are so much higher (25 million tests) and much more advanced.”
Two days after the rally, when asked to clarify his comments on the evidence, the president did not say he had been joking and instead doubled down on the idea that the United States has such a high number of coronavirus cases “because we do more evidence than any other country by far, “which is itself debatable given the lack of reliable and available data from other countries.
In an interview, the president admitted that he told his administration that fewer tests for coronaviruses would make the United States look better, undermining McEnany’s insistence that his comments were “joking.” On Tuesday morning, Trump did it again, tweeting: “Cases are increasing in the US. Because we are testing much more than in any other country, and expanding. With smaller tests we would show fewer cases!” While higher case numbers can sometimes be attributed to better evidence, experts say recent increases outweigh the increase in evidence.
Coronavirus and bleach
The president has a tendency to get out of the script, which can sometimes bite him again. That’s essentially what happened on April 23, when he suggested during a coronavirus briefing that “tremendous” amounts of ultraviolet light or disinfectant could somehow be a potential cure for the virus.
The comments prompted manufacturers to issue warnings warning people against consuming chlorine and other disinfectants. Poison control centers across the country reported an increase in calls.
When asked about the incident the next day, Trump tried to correct the record, claiming that he had made the comments sarcastically. His explanation itself was full of falsehoods and other attempts to reframe his comments. It was a classic example of Trump saying something confusing and potentially dangerous, and then playing sarcastic when he was given the opportunity to explain what he was trying to say in the first place.
The border wall in Colorado
In October 2019, when Colorado Governor Jared Polis and others voiced confusion over the President’s announcement that the United States was apparently building a wall in Colorado as part of its border protection efforts, Trump played as if he had been joking. . He tweeted that he had been joking and that his comments were actually referring to the people of Colorado who benefited from the border wall that was being built elsewhere.
Ukraine and China investigating the Bidens
Trump told reporters in early October 2019 that he thought Ukraine and China should investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son. With these comments just a week after Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi announced a formal impeachment investigation into the president, prominent Republican lawmakers jumped to her defense. House of Representatives minority leader Kevin McCarthy, Representative Jim Jordan and Senator Marco Rubio promoted the narrative that Trump’s comments should not be taken literally. But when the president was directly asked if he had been joking, he declined to confirm that narrative, replying instead that any investigation would be “up to China.”
A free Rolls-Royce
At a 2018 campaign rally in Arizona, Trump joked that Democrats want to give undocumented immigrants a free Rolls-Royce. At a rally the next day in Nevada, Trump naturally stated that Democrats want to give undocumented immigrants cars and driver’s licenses. But when the media verified Trump’s statements about Democrats, immigrants, and cars, he criticized them in later meetings for failing to make a joke.
At a protest in October 2018, the president praised Republican Montana Rep. Greg Gianforte, who had assaulted a journalist while campaigning the previous year. Trump said “there is nothing to be ashamed of,” adding that “any man who can do a body shot … he is my man.” The next day, House Majority Representative Whip Steve Scalise defended the president’s comments as “clearly a joke,” saying Trump was simply “bothering” Gianforte. However, hours later, when Trump was asked if he regretted his comments on Gianforte, he said “not at all” and then called Gianforte “a great guy.”
China’s business practices
Trump’s refusal to accept others’ interpretation of his intentions dates back to his first year in office. In November 2017, the President praised China’s business practices, the same tactics he had previously criticized as unfair. Speaking to business leaders in Beijing, Trump said “I don’t blame China” for taking advantage of the United States, but blamed the growing trade deficit on previous US administrations. Later, then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters that the president’s comments were “ironic,” only to be contradicted soon after by a tweet from the president that publicly reiterated the position he had voiced that day.
“Russia, if you are listening”
In particular, the President has tried to rewrite history by claiming multiple times since he was elected that he was joking when he made his infamous “Russia, if you are listening” request during the 2016 presidential campaign. CNN has verified this alternative narrative several times before. And the facts clearly show that when Trump asked for his help in getting deleted emails from Hillary Clinton, neither he nor the assembled audience laughed.