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Joseph Wyatt: Trump's faulty memory (Opinion)

Appendix C of the Mueller report contains Donald Trump’s responses, written and submitted under oath, to Robert Mueller’s roughly five dozen questions. It will be recalled that the president came down with an evident case of jelly knees at the thought of a face-to-face interview. The president’s answers were evasive and twisted to the point that he probably could not later be accused of lying under oath if solid evidence arose to implicate him in wrongdoing. He was sly and un-presidential in equal amounts.

On 38 occasions, Trump responded that he either had no independent memory of events, or could not recall whether certain events had happened, or didn’t remember whether he knew at a given time in question whether or not a specific situation had occurred. His faulty memory provided cover against both honesty and clarity.

Had the president known that his campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, shared detailed internal polling data with Vladimir Putin's confidant Oleg Deripaska? Trump could not “remember being aware” of any such event. So the president may or may not have been aware of it, but presently couldn’t remember whether he knew it or not, even though it had occurred just 18 months earlier.

When he said, “Russia, if you’re listening ...” did he know about Russia’s hacking of the Clinton campaign’s emails, or had he engaged in conversations with anyone about that possibility? Trump answered, “I do not recall ...” Real different from, “I never had any such conversations,” which he wouldn’t say because he probably feared someone has it on tape or witnesses might emerge who heard it all.

When asked whether he knew that WikiLeaks had internal Clinton campaign emails that would damage Hillary’s chances, Trump wrote to Mueller, “I have no recollections of being told ...” Really? He couldn’t remember whether or not someone had said, “Hey, boss, guess what WikiLeaks has on Hillary?” So, maybe he was told about it, but if so, he no longer could remember whether or not he was told. For those whose phony-ometers are on the blink, your president’s answer was not equivalent to, “I am certain that I knew nothing about that.”

There is no dispute that Trump organization people were continuing to negotiate a Trump Tower Moscow project almost up to Election Day even though Trump himself repeatedly denied it to his campaign audiences. Yet, in responding to Mueller’s inquiries, Trump wrote that he couldn’t recall whether or not he had discussed his Moscow hotel project with the people in his own organization. Nor could he recall whether or not he had planned to travel to Moscow or whether or not he was aware of any communications he may or may not have had about it. He wrote to Mueller that had “no current recollection of any particular conversation, with whom I may have spoken, when, or the substance of any conversation.”

Trump could not remember whether or not, while at the Republican National Convention, he was involved in changing the GOP platform regarding arming Ukraine. Good grief! A man can’t remember whether he worked to change the platform of the party that nominated him? Maybe a blood thinner would unclog some of those cerebral arteries.

And on and on. Five-dozen questions and the man’s memory failed him 38 times. God help him. And us.

Joseph Wyatt is a Gazette-Mail contributing columnist and emeritus professor at Marshall University.

Funerals for Saturday, August 24, 2019

Barron, Dennis - 11 a.m., Airborne Church, Martinsburg.
Baylor, Elizabeth - 1 p.m., Snodgrass Funeral Home, South Charleston.
Bonds Jr., Patrick - 1 p.m., King of Glory International Ministries, Charleston.
Burgess, Corey - 5 p.m., Aldersgate United Methodist Church.
Burns, Helen - 11 a.m., Stump Funeral Home & Cremation, Inc., Grantsville.
Caldwell, Gary - 6 p.m., Long & Fisher Funeral Home, Sissonville.
Casto, Carroll - 1 p.m., Raynes Funeral Home, Eleanor.
Casto, Roger - 2 p.m., Chapman Funeral Home, Winfield.
Duty, Fred - 2 p.m., Handley Funeral Home, Danville.
Fisher, Bernard - 2 p.m., Waybright Funeral Home, Ripley.
Gwinn, Lloyd - Noon, Church of Christ, Craigsville.  
Habjan, Nathan - 1 p.m., Wilson-Smith Funeral Home, Clay. 
Hall, Daniel - Noon, Witcher Baptist Church.
Hinkle, Ethel - Noon, Church of Christ, Craigsville.  
Hoffman, Bruce - 2 p.m., Foglesong - Casto Funeral Home, Mason.  
Kinder, Siegel - 1 p.m., Leonard Johnson Funeral Home, Marmet.
Kyler, Virgil - 11 a.m., Pleasant Grove Cemetery, Reedy.
Palmer, William - 1 p.m., Barlow Bonsall Funeral Home, Charleston. 
Raynes Sr., Steven - 1 p.m., Tyree Funeral Home, Oak Hill.
Truman, James - 2 p.m., Newton Baptist Church, Newton.
Turner, Keith - Noon, Full Gospel Assembly,  Huntington. 
Webb, Antoinette - 11 a.m., SS Peter and Paul Catholic Church, Oak Hill.
Wilson, Greg - Noon, Roach Funeral Home, Gassaway.
Withrow, James - 1 p.m., Cooke Funeral Home Chapel, Cedar Grove.