Just two weeks into Donald Trump’s new presidency, he announced he was going to “look at” the unfounded claim that 3 million people voted illegally in the 2016 election.
When pressed on it the next month, he said “we’ll see,” implying there could be even more illegal votes.
Nine months later, we’re still waiting for answers. And it hasn’t been the only time.
The President has been looking into everything from the North Korea crisis to peace in the Middle East, from health care specifics to immigration policy, from infrastructure plans to disaster relief in Puerto Rico.
Trump has used this device on a position or action more than 100 times as President, according to a new CNN analysis of transcripts, speeches, tweets and statements compiled by Factba.se.
The answer is the same whether the subject is the fates of Cabinet officials, the future of trade pacts or pushes to pass major legislation – he responds with a blanket, noncommittal “we’ll see.”
Scroll down for the full list and see all the times Trump has said he’s “looking into” something or that “we’ll see.”
Obviously, Trump is not the first President to evade difficult topics. (All politicians do it.) But Trump has a unique way of dancing around taking clear positions and avoiding transparency.
For example, Trump announced in April that he was “looking at” designs for the border wall with Mexico. But then he was “working it out” in June, “seriously looking” in July, “looking” in September and “looking” some more in October.
It happens on major legislation, too. “We’re looking at that, and we’re going to announce something very soon,” Trump told The New York Times about a sweeping infrastructure plan – back in April. No plan has been unveiled.
Creating uncertainty and unpredictability has been a signature style of the Trump campaign and now the White House. Trump has remarked that he sees perceived unpredictability as an asset in negotiations.
On some major issues, he’s wiggled a kind of middle ground to avoid a final decision. Trump said “we’ll see” about renegotiating the Paris climate agreement weeks after his decision to leave. He’s said “we’ll see” about the Iran nuclear deal after announcing his intent to decertify it. And on NAFTA, the fate of which still hangs in the balance, Trump has said “we’ll see” what happens for several months.
When Trump says he’s “looking at” or “we’ll see” about a government official, it’s usually not a good sign. In April, he said “we’ll see what happens” about former FBI Director Jim Comey, who was fired days later. In August, he said “we’ll see what happens” with Steve Bannon, who was fired. In September, he was “looking into” Secretary Tom Price, who later resigned.
But it hasn’t been the end of the road for everyone. In July, he said he was “looking at” the fate of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and “we’ll see” about Special Counsel Bob Mueller. Both are still in their jobs.
Of course, this didn’t start when Trump took the oath of office. Trump punted on everything from his relationship with Russia to gun violence during the campaign. And even before that, stretching back to when Trump was mulling a presidential run in 1999, the then-real estate mogul told NBC he was “looking at” a campaign for the White House “very seriously.”
The words come from a President who largely was not held accountable to shifting or ambiguous positions during the campaign. So will Trump change his ways any time soon? We’ll see.
Did we miss a Trumpian non-answer? Send a note to @ryanstruyk or @spetulla on Twitter.