The Presidential Denial that Denies Itself


She was adamant.

They never called here.
I never spoke to them.

The young woman was insistant. And she, emphatically, was not telling the truth.

A carefully planned celebration was about to fall through.

The manager of our St. Louis branch office had become a popular figure among employees. He had a talent for listening carefully, for detecting hidden motives. When he had caught a glimmer of what inspired an individual, he would use that insight to motivate.

One employee wanted to learn a new computer language. The manager loaned him books, then made a point of asking him about his progress. When progress lagged, the manager stayed after hours and worked with the aspiring employee.

Later, when a recruiter was told about the developing skill, word spread. The employee found himself in demand. He turned down job offers and continued studying after work with the encouragement and occasional help from the manager.

I should know. I was that employee.

The manager’s penchant for helping seemed to dovetail with company goals. That made him popular with the home office in Iowa. In retrospect, the announcement seemed inevitable. The manager was being promoted. He would no longer be among us.

Employees made plans for a going away party. It would be a surprise. An upscale restaurant was around the corner and arrangements were made. A trophy was prepared, speeches were composed. The President of the company was contacted and booked a flight. It got to be a big deal.

On the final day, the little group who had been working with the restaurant made excuses and dashed off to prepare tables and placements.

They were soon back with the bad news. The planner at the restaurant told them there was no room after all. Unexpected crowds had shown up for lunch and the reserved tables were suddenly filled with patrons. They returned to the office, defeated.

I was among those who went back to the restaurant to find out what had gone wrong. We located the manager, who summoned the planner. The conference turned into a confrontation.

They never called here.
I never spoke to them.

The manager could have posed for a portrait of befuddled confusion.

It all eventually turned out okay. A few hasty telephone calls to a competitor restaurant a few blocks away solved the problem. They were busy, but their people would find a way to make it work, and they would find that way now. Right now.

I have had occasion to remember that incident, and the planner who denied any planning, as our national drama continues to unfold.

One constant throughout our history, even during foreign invasion, even as the White House was burned to ashes, even during the Civil War, has been a reverence for free elections. The possibility that close elections were stolen has been a matter of nationwide controversy.

The idea that a hostile foreign government, a traditional adversary, had succeeded in influencing how voters cast their ballots has been earth shattering. As evidence has piled up, that idea has acquired more than plausibility.

The possibility that the very systems used to house voting registration records had been infiltrated, that the infestation had occurred in more than three fourths of the states, has matured from possibility into near certainty.

The prospect of actual participation of Americans in that interference has produced reactions ranging from furious rage among patriots to angry denial among those who might be suspected. It should produce both.

Throughout it all, our new President has combined protests of innocence, counter accusation, executive orders to close off investigation, and furtive actions that have created and intensified suspicion. The firing of the head of the FBI did not douse the flames. Flirtations with officials of the former Soviet Union have not helped. Unexplained policy lurches favoring that nation of confirmed conspirators have not quelled the mistrust of our new national leadership.

But political life being what it is, Republican officials have cautiously defended my President.

Lindsey Graham tiptoed to the edge of a forthright defense on Face the Nation:

The hearing was pretty good. No collusion with a Russians … yet.

That “yet” was more than an escape hatch. It was a wide open side door. At least it seemed that way at first.

Then the good Senator proved what a friend he could be as he explained why my President must be innocent:

He doesn’t believe he did anything wrong with the Russians and I tend to believe him.

He can’t collude with his own government. Why do you think he’s colluding with the Russians

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), June 11, 2017

So President Trump is innocent. Because he is not competent enough to be guilty?

Others are more steely in their insistence. When it comes to President Trump’s denials that Russians interfered in any way with 2016 elections, conservative David French, at National Review, has been a true believer.

The Russians hacked a few computers, but they did not “hack” an election. The media’s persistent insinuations otherwise are leading millions of Americans to believe that the Russians actually meddled with the election process itself, including with voting machines. There is zero evidence that occurred. None. Zilch. Nada.

David French, the National Review, March 31, 2017

As we might expect, Sean Spicer agrees. He has been carrying the President’s message for months. There is no evidence of meddling. None.

There is zero evidence that they actually influenced the election.

Sean Spicer, January 2, 2017

The New York Times publishes a bit of research, a story replete with Trump operatives, Russia, spies, and technology. And so, of course, President Trump’s Chief of Staff talks about fake news:

I can assure you, and I’ve been I’ve been approved to say this, that the top levels of the intelligence community have assured me that that story is not only inaccurate, but it’s grossly overstated. And it was wrong. And there’s nothing to it.

And so, if I can say that to the American people, then what does it say about the story?

Reince Priebus, February 19, 2017

Yeah. If he can say that to the American people, what does that demonstrate? Well, let’s see.

My President, President Trump, who has denied that anyone had any evidence that Russia had interfered in the election that put him in office, now says this:

Well I just heard today for the first time that Obama knew about Russia a long time before the election, and he did nothing about it. But nobody wants to talk about that. The CIA gave him information on Russia a long time before they even — before the election.

President Donald Trump, June 25, 2017

There has been some internet ink spilled over President Obama’s unwillingness to make public the evidence of Russian interference unless Republican leaders in Congress agreed. Senator Mitch McConnell threatened to accuse him, and his administration, of making up the story, of lying.

Several observers make the same interesting point. One is an internet site aptly named Political Irony:

How can Trump claim that he just found out about the Russian meddling? He is the president, and the CIA (with their evidence and proof) reports to him. There is no way he didn’t know this.

It does bring back memories of the restaurant planner who nearly destroyed an office celebration at the promotion of a popular manager.

We eventually got an apology from her boss, the manager of the restaurant, and his boss, a Vice President of the restaurant chain. Both the manager and the Vice President put on aprons and catered a company luncheon for us at our office at no cost.

How did they know she was not telling the truth? They explained. In her insistent denial, she had gotten mixed up.

They never called here.
I never spoke to them.

Then she blurted out what she thought was additional conclusive proof.

Besides, I told them on the phone that we would be too busy that day.

I thought about the moral equivalent, substituting a defensive President for a defensive restaurant planner.

There was no Russian interference. There is no evidence. There is nothing to investigate. It’s all fake news.

Besides, with all that evidence of Russian meddling, OBAMA should have done something.

“The CIA gave him information on Russia”

“He did nothing about it.”


Donald Trump should put on an apron. Honorable man that he is, I’m sure he’ll want to cater an apology event.

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