Columnist Paul Waldman writes.
You know how if you repeat a word over and over, eventually it starts to sound strange to your ear, like merely a random collection of sounds? That is apparently what President Trump is doing with the word “collusion.” Say it often enough, and perhaps it will lose all meaning.
That’s just one of the things that comes through in this bizarre and disturbing interview Trump conducted at the Trump International Golf Club with Michael Schmidt of the New York Times, apparently on the spur of the moment and with no aides there to protect him. As we’ve almost come to expect by now, when Trump speaks at length without a script, he skitters back and forth along the line that divides the comical from the terrifying, telling one obvious lie after another, making endless digressions that devolve into incomprehensible word salad, and generally sounding like someone with only the most tenuous grip on his faculties.
But there’s one thing he’s very clear about wanting everyone to know: He and his campaign did not collude with Russia during 2016. In fact, without being prompted he returned again and again to the topic, repeating the word “collusion” no fewer than 23 times:
“Frankly there is absolutely no collusion…Virtually every Democrat has said there is no collusion. There is no collusion…I think it’s been proven that there is no collusion…I can only tell you that there is absolutely no collusion…There’s been no collusion…There was no collusion. None whatsoever…everybody knows that there was no collusion. I saw Dianne Feinstein the other day on television saying there is no collusion [note: not true]…The Republicans, in terms of the House committees, they come out, they’re so angry because there is no collusion…there was collusion on behalf of the Democrats. There was collusion with the Russians and the Democrats. A lot of collusion…There was tremendous collusion on behalf of the Russians and the Democrats. There was no collusion with respect to my campaign…But there is tremendous collusion with the Russians and with the Democratic Party…I watched Alan Dershowitz the other day, he said, No. 1, there is no collusion, No. 2, collusion is not a crime, but even if it was a crime, there was no collusion. And he said that very strongly. He said there was no collusion…There is no collusion, and even if there was, it’s not a crime. But there’s no collusion…when you look at all of the tremendous, ah, real problems [Democrats] had, not made-up problems like Russian collusion.“