Facing serious backlash from the senior ranks of his own party over his plan to add a tariff to all Mexican goods, President Donald Trump employed a new strategy this week: he put words in the mouth of one of his top allies.
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In a tweet on Wednesday, President Trump appeared to concoct a quotation out of thin air that he attributed to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, endorsing his position on tariffs against Mexico. Trump's tweet, sent from London Wednesday morning and appearing on screens in Washington before dawn, came as Senate Republicans warned the White House against imposing tariffs on Mexico, and suggested they may challenge them if implemented.
“House Republicans support the President on Tariffs with Mexico all the way, & that makes any measure the President takes on the Border totally Veto proof. Why wouldn’t you as Republicans support him when that will allow our President to make a better deal.” Thank you @GOPLeader.
“House Republicans support the President on Tariffs with Mexico all the way, & that makes any measure the President takes on the Border totally Veto proof. Why wouldn’t you as Republicans support him when that will allow our President to make a better deal.” Thank you @GOPLeader— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 5, 2019
Trump often uses his Twitter account to publish flattering or supportive quotes from his surrogates, as he appears to do here with Leader McCarthy.
But to be clear, there is no evidence McCarthy said these words.
Asked about the purported quote, both McCarthy's office and the White House pointed ABC News to his interview with Laura Ingraham on Fox News, where the California Republican said his conference supports the president.
"No. No, we support this president. And why, when you're about to have a meeting -- the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, is meeting with Mexico tomorrow. We want to solve this crisis at the border. Why wouldn't you help them be as strong as they can be, stand up with them? And you know what, if you give the president his strongest hand, you'll never end up with tariffs and we'll have a border that is secure," McCarthy told Ingraham.
But this quote from McCarthy on Fox is far from the same message that Trump tweeted. Nowhere does McCarthy say he and other Republicans support tariffs "all the way," nor does he say he believes there is a "veto-proof" majority of support – as Trump suggests.
Yes, Leader McCarthy believes Republicans should stand with the president, but he was also clear he's against those tariffs. He said as much in an interview with Bloomberg News on Capitol Hill later on Wednesday: “End of the day we should support the president so we can get an agreement so we don’t have tariffs. Them talking about not supporting him undercuts his ability to do that."
The White House did not respond on the record to requests to explain why the President would have falsely quoted McCarthy based on this interview with Fox.
The President's apparent fabrication came just hours after he blasted Vice President Joe Biden over accusations his campaign plagiarized passages from its proposal to address climate change.
Plagiarism charge against Sleepy Joe Biden on his ridiculous Climate Change Plan is a big problem, but the Corrupt Media will save him. His other problem is that he is drawing flies, not people, to his Rallies. Nobody is showing up, I mean nobody. You can’t win without people!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 5, 2019
Biden admitted his campaign “made a mistake" Trump has not addressed the McCarthy "quote."