Donald Trump realizes he has a bad image, and his solution — other than trying to bully the news media — is to solve it with lies. Robert Costa and Philip Rucker report that the presumptive Republican nominee “plans to rehabilitate his battered image in the coming weeks by publicly addressing head-on some of the most controversial episodes of his campaign.” Specifically, there’s the time Trump mocked the physical disability of Serge Kovaleski. The story here is that Trump lied last year about “thousands” of Muslims in New Jersey celebrating the 9/11 attacks, then claimed this had been reported by Kovaleski. When Kovaleski refuted him, Trump responded with what was without a doubt an imitation of Kovaleski, a reporter he knows well:
Trump then covered this up with more lies, insisting he did not know Kovaleski, who in fact is on a first-name basis with Trump.
Trump has unveiled a new rebuttal:
“I would never say anything bad about a person that has a disability,” Trump said, leaning forward at his office desk. “I swear to you it’s true, 100 percent true … Who would do that to [the] handicapped? I’ve spent a lot of money making buildings accessible.”
Trump then satirically reenacted the scene, his arms jerking all around, and said he was trying to show “a guy who grovels — ‘Oh, oh, I didn’t say that. I didn’t say that.’ That was the imitation I was doing.”
“Now,” he concluded, “is that a believable story?”
So the new Trump denial has two points. First, he loves people with disabilities, as evidenced by the fact that he has spent money to make buildings handicapped-accessible. (Since handicapped accessibility is required nationally by the Americans with Disabilities Act, and New York requirements date back even earlier, this is like saying you would never mock a person with a disability because you don’t park your car in handicapped spots.)
Point No. 2 of the Trump defense is that he was merely attempting to depict a reporter “grovelling,” which is absurd on its face — the facial expression, arm gestures, and tone of voice Trump uses in his impression of Kovaleski look and sound nothing like “grovelling,” or of Trump’s mockery of other reporters.
But if Trump’s plan is to come up with some kind of line that Fox News can repeat, so that Republicans who opposed him before but now support him have a pretext to do so, his plan probably stands a reasonable chance of success.