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The 2018 A-Z of alternative facts

The 2018 A-Z of alternative facts
At a news conference this year, Russian President Vladimir Putin baldly lied about his efforts to interfere in the U.S. election while President Trump stood meekly by. But hey, free soccer ball. (Chris McGrath / Getty Images)

A is for Acosta, Jim, the CNN reporter whose White House press credentials were stripped after the administration circulated video doctored to make it look like he acted aggressively toward a press aide.

B is for boof, a word in Supreme Court nominee Bret Kavanaugh’s high school yearbook that he claimed referred to flatulence. Under oath. During a televised Senate hearing.

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C is for “collusion is not a crime,” a particularly Trumpy defense against charges that the president’s campaign worked with Russian officials to influence the 2016 election. No one ever said collusion was a crime. Conspiracy to violate election law, on the other hand…

D is for Democrats whom President Trump likes to accuse of colluding with the Russians to deflect attention from himself. The evidence of this appears to rely almost exclusively on the circumstances of Fusion GPS, the company hired by the Democrats to examine Mr. Trump’s own Russia ties, which also helped defend Prevezon Holding, a Russian company connected to Vladimir Putin, in a federal court case settled in 2017.

E is for entrapment, which is how Trump defenders insisted the FBI caught former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn in a series of lies about his contacts with Russians. Not so much, it turns out. Agents warned him explicitly of the consequences for lying.

F is for Florida recount, or the automatic result of close races for governor and U.S. Senate in the Sunshine State. Or in Mr. Trump’s tweeted assessment, “Trying to STEAL two big elections in Florida! We are watching closely!” Turns out the ones trying to steal an election were North Carolina Republicans.

G is for General James Mattis, supposedly the last grown-up in the room at the White House who, as defense secretary, could rein in President Trump’s worst instincts. After Mr. Mattis resigned, President Trump tweeted that he would retire “with distinction” in February. Then the president read Mr. Mattis’ resignation letter, in which he acknowledged the obvious truth that he was quitting in abject frustration and disgust. Another tweet: Mr. Mattis would be out by the first of the year.

H is for hush money and the evolving view of President Trump’s knowledge of payments to women with whom he allegedly had affairs. Initially, Mr. Trump had no knowledge of those payments. His former personal lawyer has since testified that he was on top of that transaction all along — and understood how it would aid his presidential campaign.

I is for invasion, or how President Trump characterized the group of several thousand Central American migrants seeking asylum in the United States.

J is for jobs, as in the “1 million jobs” that President Trump said in October that Saudi Arabia was providing the United States with a “$450 billion” investment under deals he has arranged since 2017. The official (and more reality-based) White House statement suggests that Saudi defense contracts represent “tens of thousands of jobs” in the defense industry, some of which won’t be realized for years.

K is for kneeling during the national anthem, or what President Trump claimed the Philadelphia Eagles did as part of his justification for disinviting the Super Bowl winners to the White House. Not a single Eagle knelt during the entire 2017 season.

L is for letter of intent, signed, or a document related to a prospective Moscow Trump Tower deal that presidential lawyer Rudy Guiliani insisted did not exist, only to be proven wrong when CNN unearthed a copy.

M is for “maybe he did and maybe he didn’t,” or President Trump’s assessment of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s foreknowledge of journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder.

N is for NAFTA, a trade deal President Trump decried as the worst ever, and not to be confused with the remarkably similar USMCA, which Mr. Trump deems the best ever.

O is for Obama did it, or the Trump administration’s false justification for its policy of separating migrant children from their parents at the border.

P is for perjury trap, or what Mr. Giuliani insists Mr. Mueller is trying to set for the president. Other lawyers might suggest their clients avoid this problem by not lying.

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Q is for Queen Elizabeth II, the British monarch President Trump claimed was late to their meeting. A live television broadcast showed the queen checking her watch as she waited for him to arrive.

R is for rain, or one of the various excuses President Trump made for skipping an event to commemorate the end of World War I in France.

S is for Schumer shutdown, or the preferred GOP spin on who would get the blame if the federal government closed over a budget impasse. In an odd turn of events, it was President Trump who outed the truth on this one, saying in a televised meeting with Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi that he was the one driving that particular car off the cliff.

T is for Trump Foundation, which the president insists has “done great work,” by which he apparently means has served as a massive tax dodge while furthering his personal, political and business interests.

U is for Ukraine, the nation whose ships were seized by Russia in the Black Sea in November, leading President Trump to say he would not meet with Vladimir Putin at a G20 summit. He chit-chatted with the Russian president over dinner instead.

V is for Vladimir Putin, the Russian president who had the temerity to announce, with a straight face, at a July news conference in Helsinki: "The Russian state has never interfered ... into internal American affairs including election process."

W is for “weak,” or President Trump’s description of his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, who is going to prison for three years for committing crimes on his ex-boss’ behalf.

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X is for Xi Jinping, the Chinese leader with whom President Trump had dinner at a G20 summit, prompting him to proclaim he had negotiated a terrific trade deal, by which he meant he had negotiated more time to negotiate.

Y is for Yemen, the Middle Eastern nation where civilian casualties and suffering are mounting as a result of a Saudi bombing campaign. The Trump administration said in November that it was pulling back American support for the effort, but as the New York Times reported this week, virtually every aspect of it would be impossible without continued American aid.

Z is for Zienke, Ryan, the former Montana congressman who resigned this month as Secretary of the Interior. He’s associated with a plethora of alternative facts, memorably his claim that gas prices under President Barack Obama were up in the $6 a gallon range, but perhaps the most notable were his claims to have the slightest interest in protecting the nation’s interior. Unless by “protecting,” he meant letting oil, gas and coal companies do whatever they want to it.

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