the national interest

Trump to Female Reporter: ‘I Know You’re Not Thinking. You Never Do.’

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Trump, perhaps concerned that allegations of sexual assault have made Brett Kavanaugh a symbol of right-wing misogyny, went out of his way to remind the country that he is the original symbol of right-wing misogyny. In a press conference on Monday, he called on ABC’s Cecilia Vega, commenting, “She’s shocked that I picked her.” Vega replied, “I’m not. Thank you, Mr. President.” Trump, mishearing her as “I’m not thinking,” replied, in a comment that is gross and bullying even by Trumpian standards, “That’s okay. I know you’re not thinking. You never do.”

“Not thinking” is of course Trump’s own approach to most situations. The White House official transcript altered Trump’s comments, so that the president is depicted as saying, “I know you’re not thanking”:

Of course the official transcript initially released by the White House was not only different than what everybody can clearly hear, it didn’t even make sense. Verga replied, “I’m not. Thank you,” so for Trump to come back with “I know you’re not thanking” directly after being told “thank you” does not track. Also, “you’re not thanking” would be a peculiar construction of words, since in the English language, we almost always include the subject of the thanks (i.e., thank you.) “I know you’re not thanking me” might have been a logical reply, but “I know you’re not thanking” is borderline gibberish. (After reporters publicized the alteration, the White House corrected its official transcript.)

The president used his press conference for various freeform political observations. Trump’s main takeaway from Kavanaugh’s testimony, which was intended to establish that the judge drank in moderation, was that Kavanaugh was a borderline alcoholic. Trump noted, “I was surprised by how vocal he was about the fact that he likes beer.” And also, “I really do believe that he was very strong on the fact that he drank a lot.” And he drove home the very off-message conclusion, “He did have difficulty as a young man with drink.”

Trump also casually asserted he is holding compromising information on a Democratic senator: “I happen to know some U.S. senators. One who is one the other side, who’s pretty aggressive. I’ve seen that person in very, very bad situations. Somewhat compromising.”

Kompromat: It’s not just for Russian presidents any more.

This post was updated to note discrepancies in the White House transcript.

Trump Tells Female Reporter She’s ‘Never’ Thinking