Just before jetting off on a 12-day trip to Asia Friday, reporters asked President Donald Trump what he remembered about a late March meeting in which, according to court documents, former foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos broached the idea of a meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin,
“I don’t remember much about that meeting,” Trump responded. “It was a very unimportant meeting, took place a long time [ago], don’t remember much about it.”
Well, OK. A president has lots and lots of meeting with lots and lots of people. It’s understandable that you’d forget some every once in a while. And, while Papadopoulos reportedly broached the idea of a Trump-Putin meeting – and Attorney General Jeff Sessions shot it down – “unimportant” is sort of in the eye of the beholder.
Unless, of course, you bragged that you had “one of the great memories of all time” a week ago. Which Trump did.
Before heading to a Dallas fundraiser, Trump spoke to the press about a wide variety of subjects including his own intellect. “People don’t understand, I went to an Ivy League college. I was a nice student,” Trump said. “I did very well. I’m a very intelligent person.”
Later, pointing to his head, he added: “One of the great memories of all time.”
That episode isn’t the first time Trump has bragged about his memory – or ran down a political opponent for their supposed lack of a great memory.
In May 2012, Trump tweeted this about then President Obama: “Selective memory - @BarackObama says that he “forgets” the recession … Maybe that’s why he is forgetting to create jobs.”
At an event in North Carolina in September 2016, Trump savaged Hillary Clinton for her inability to remember all of the details governing her decision to set up a private email account as secretary of state.
Here’s what he said:
“Hillary and her top aides told the FBI and others related in the lawsuits that they couldn’t recall or remember – can’t remember anything! By the way, if she really can’t remember, she can’t be president! She doesn’t remember anything! She doesn’t even remember whether or not she was instructed on how to use emails. ‘Were you instructed on how to use?’ ‘I can’t remember.’”
And then there’s this: Trump repeatedly used an “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember” defense when he was deposed in a number of lawsuits he has faced over the years. As expertly noted by the Washington Post’s Philip Bump, Trump used some variation of he doesn’t know or he can’t recall regularly in these depositions.
In fact, in one of those depositions, Trump is asked – directly! – whether he believes “you have one of the best memories in the world.” Trump responds: “That I can’t tell you. I can’t tell for other people but I have a good memory.”
The questioner in that deposition persists: “You’ve stated though that you have one of the best memories in the world?” Responds Trump: “I don’t know. Did I use that expression?”
So, that happened.