Reversal: Trump Claims He Never Said He'd Pay Violent Supporters' Legal Fees

Posted: Mar 15, 2016 4:06 PM

Here's Trump on Good Morning America earlier today -- skip ahead to the 37-second mark for the relevant portion of the discussion:

The real estate tycoon's reply to George Stephanopoulos' challenge is classic Trump.  As we've seen before, he and his allies talk all the way around a controversy in such a manner as to allow people to hear what they want to hear.  In this case, he hedges with a flurry of 'maybes,' claiming that he hasn't looked at the issue yet (reversing himself moments later), while conceding that the ABC News anchor might be right.  His hardcore supporters will interpret this as a wink and a nod.  Donald's saying what he has to without betraying or condemning us.  But he also repeats several times that he doesn't condone violence, statements to which his campaign can point when their candidate is accused of stoking resentment and advocating acts of violence against protesters -- which he has unquestionably done on multiple occasions.  Over the course of delivering his noncommittal answer this morning, Trump made this assertion: "I never said I was going to pay for fees."  Yes, he did. Here he is in Iowa last month:

"Knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously. Okay? Just knock the hell...I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees. I promise. I promise."

And just 11 days ago in Michigan:

"Try not to hurt 'em. If you do, I'll defend you in court. Don't worry about it." [Cheers].

This past Sunday when Trump was confronted with similar questions on Meet the Press, he suggested he was seriously considering covering the legal bills for a man who punched an African-American protester in the face at a rally over the weekend.  The assailant later said that perhaps next time, he'd kill the protester.  “I'm going to take a look at it,” Trump told host Chuck Todd.  “I've actually instructed my people to look into it, yes.”  Forty-eight hours later with Stephanopoulos, Trump made the following two statements about the altercation within seconds of each other: (1) "I haven't looked at it yet...I haven't even seen it." (2) "I looked, and I watched, and I’m going to make a decision."  He can't even keep his story straight within a 20-second span.  He knows he'll pay no price for any of it among his followers, some of whom are openly cheering violence.  Beyond the cult of personality, he's relying on unprecedented saturation coverage to swamp every news cycle, which has been a gobsmackingly successful gambit over the primary season:

The general election is, alas, a decidedly different story. I'll leave you with a reminder that Trump casually lies about even the most frivolous of things, from his defunct steak brand to...signed baseballs?

Friendly reminder: Trump's "honest and trustworthy" ratings are worse than this woman's.

UPDATE - Another abrupt shift on what he has or hasn't seen, this time as it relates to the ad we wrote up earlier. Flat-out lying, or disoriented?