Why the 9 Sentences After Agreeing 100%?

Jonathan Karl asked Donald Trump whether he would be willing to testify under oath contradicting James Comey’s claim that Trump asked him to pledge his loyalty.


  • What did Trump mean by the 9 sentences of weasel words that followed his agreement to Testify under Oath100%?
  • It seems needlessly complicated when, if he meant to agree, he could have stopped talking after “100%.”


Karl: So, [Comey] said those things under oath. Would you be willing
to speak under oath to give your version of events?

Trump: 100%.


Trump: 100%. [footnote]This is a perfect soundbite that Trump knew would get picked up by all the news shows, but the remainder of his answer does not make for a good soundbite, so he knew it would get ignored.[/footnote]

  1. I didn’t say under oath — [footnote]Why would Trump say this? It sounds as though he’s deceptively trying to give a soundbite-perfect answer, and then immediately negate it.[/footnote]
  2. I hardly know the man,
  3. I’m not going to say I want you to pledge allegiance.
  4. Who would do that?
  5. Who would ask a man to pledge allegiance, under oath? [footnote]Why would Trump say this? It sounds like he is implausibly pretending he heard the question wrong: “Did Trump ask Comey to pledge his loyalty, with Comey’s hand on the Bible.”[/footnote]
  6. I mean, think of it.
  7. I hardly know the man.
  8. It doesn’t make sense.
  9. No, I didn’t say that, and I didn’t say the other.

Full Transcript

Notice the 9 sentences of *weasel words* that didn’t get reported
because they weren’t a good soundbite.

Trump acts as if he’s answering his own invented question:

  • Did Trump ask for Comey’s loyalty, and
    did he have Comey place his hand on a Bible (pledge allegiance under oath)? [footnote]Line #5: “Who would ask a man to pledge allegiance, under oath?”[/footnote]
  • It doesn’t seem like these weasel words are accidental because
    its not credible that Trump misheard the question that way.

How does this make any sense?

  • Trump wasn’t under oath. He was just answering a reporter’s question; and lying doesn’t seem to be against his principles, so why add the weasel words?
  • Trump has established an expectation of testifying, regardless of weasel words[footnote]If Scott Adams is right, I don’t expect him to actually testify, just as he hasn’t released the tax returns he previously offered. Likely he will back away from his original remarks, perhaps saying that his lawyers don’t recommend it, or even saying that Mueller’s staff is partisan and out to get him.  He himself recommended that Bill Clinton take the 5th.  But he made it sound as though he wants to testify, which is what he wants people to believe.[/footnote]
  • By employing weasel words, he adding to his risk, because the
    weasel words confirm to a savvy audience that he intended to mislead.
  • So what purpose do the weasel words serve?

My theory: “Donald does Deception as a Sport”

  • It seems to me that Trump wants to be able to tell himself that
    he didn’t lie because what he said was technically not untrue,
    although highly deceptive.
  • Maybe “Donald does Deception for Sport”.
    • Trump wants to tell himself that he “cheated fair and square”.
    • The weasel words are his way of telling himself that he technically gave the press and public a chance, but he outsmarted the losers.

What’s your Theory?

  1. Are these 9 sentences of weasel words just accidental?
    • If Trump really meant to affirm, he could have simply said: “Yes. 100%” and left it there.
    • Or is this just a Trump brain fart?
    • What’s Your Theory?


  • Next time reporters might try reading Comey’s statements verbatim (without tripping up) to see whether Trump’s tactics change.  My suspicion is that when Trump says “I didn’t say that” he means that you didn’t pin him down with the exact words.

I’ve posted more on my blog:  openpolitics.com

Tim Langeman
Akron, PA
717-723-9898 (cell)