President Trump says a lot of things that aren’t true: that millions of illegal votes cost him the popular vote, that he saw thousands of Arabs in Jersey City cheering the 9/11 attacks, that President Obama tapped his phones in Trump Tower. Many people, including some of Trump’s supporters, have learned to doubt his claims. So Trump and his aides have figured out a way to shore up his credibility: quoting other, more trusted public figures. You can believe what Trump is saying, the argument goes, because some independent, well-respected official has confirmed it.
But there’s a problem with this solution: A man who says things that aren’t true is also likely to misrepresent statements that supposedly back him up. And that’s what we’re seeing now, as the White House tries to explain why Trump fired FBI Director James Comey.