The White House official transcript of Donald Trump's trade press conference originally misquoted the president after he hurled an insult at a female reporter asking about the FBI investigation into Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Calling on ABC's Cecilia Vega, the president said: "Yeah. Go Ahead. Sure. She's shocked that I picked her. She's like in a state of shock."
Vega replied: "I'm not. Thank you, Mr. President."
Here's where it gets funky. The official transcript had the president saying:
"That's okay. I know you're not thanking. You never do."
To which Vega replies: "I'm sorry?"
Then Trump concludes: "No, go ahead. Go ahead."
VOANews's Steven Herman quickly pointed out the error.
"I was sitting just behind her in the Rose Garden," Herman tweeted, "and we all clearly heard him say: 'I know you're not thinking. You never do.''
Official @WhiteHouse transcripts misquotes @POTUS today chiding @CeciliaVega (compare video to text). I was sitting… https://t.co/bCnEirujG9— Steve Herman (@Steve Herman) 1538447783.0
Video of the exchange corroborates Herman's account. Trump can clearly be seen and heard saying: "That's okay. I know you're not thinking. You never do."
Pres. Trump says he'll answer @CeciliaVega's question about whether White House is limiting scope FBI inquiry into… https://t.co/AIGncChrnj— ABC News (@ABC News) 1538409702.0
Steve Herman, who originally reported the misquoted transcript and sent an inquiry to the White House about it, later revealed that the White House had corrected the transcript to reflect the president's insult.
Update: @WhiteHouse has just issued a corrected transcript, changing "thanking" to "thinking." https://t.co/ZczNplxgfF— Steve Herman (@Steve Herman) 1538488061.0
https://t.co/P12KbhxqXu— Steve Herman (@Steve Herman) 1538488085.0
This has since been confirmed by CNN.
Few thought the "misquote" was an accident, however.
@W7VOA @WhiteHouse @POTUS @CeciliaVega They LIED they did not "misquote" Call what they did with it's proper name… https://t.co/JgfM2R9QIn— Τοξότης (@Τοξότης) 1538455465.0
@W7VOA @joshtpm @WhiteHouse @POTUS @CeciliaVega “misquotes” makes it sound like an innocent mistake which it wasn’t— ★·.·´𝚗𝚊𝚝𝚊𝚕𝚒𝚎`·.·★ (@★·.·´𝚗𝚊𝚝𝚊𝚕𝚒𝚎`·.·★) 1538453458.0
@W7VOA @WhiteHouse @POTUS @CeciliaVega I'm sorry White House you do not get to change history, we all heard him. Fix this and fix this now.— Nina (@Nina) 1538468378.0
@LauraLeeLenhoff @W7VOA @WhiteHouse @POTUS @CeciliaVega WTF-- if she said "thank you", why would Trump say "you're… https://t.co/eT4f1FCGHq— Alexander Lloyd 🎤🆘 for 🇺🇸 (@Alexander Lloyd 🎤🆘 for 🇺🇸) 1538486048.0
@W7VOA @Lawrence @WhiteHouse @POTUS @CeciliaVega It’s so weird for them to do stuff like this. It has been recorded… https://t.co/Nhzthe29uI— Dogwood83 (@Dogwood83) 1538460899.0
The sleight of hand doesn't even make sense, in context.
@imthatholly @W7VOA @WhiteHouse @POTUS @CeciliaVega But she had literally JUST SAID thank you. Why would he answer… https://t.co/NvUFTcX1u7— JFC get rid of the damned nazis! (@JFC get rid of the damned nazis!) 1538454805.0
@W7VOA @joffiecakes @WhiteHouse @POTUS @CeciliaVega "Thanking"? 😂 No. It was clearly "thinking" and thanking doesn'… https://t.co/roxRwCdfDt— That Comma-spastic Holly,,, (@That Comma-spastic Holly,,,) 1538454114.0
The Daily Show spoofed it, naturally.
@Momeaux @0neOfDem @W7VOA @JesseFFerguson @WhiteHouse @POTUS @CeciliaVega https://t.co/xo6JfGQbFC— Gaby Diaz (@Gaby Diaz) 1538458529.0
Some viewed the blip, thought later fixed, as part of something bigger, specifically, that Trump intentionally wants people to be confused over what reality is.
@W7VOA @Lawrence @WhiteHouse @POTUS @CeciliaVega We all heard him say thinking!!! Really—what’s happening and why are we allowing it???!!!— Timswife Anderson (@Timswife Anderson) 1538454413.0
@W7VOA @WhiteHouse @POTUS @CeciliaVega He clearly said, I know you’re not thinking, you never do. I watched it live… https://t.co/lZZkWCrknk— HeatherRene (@HeatherRene) 1538474102.0
Their fears are hardly unwarranted. In July, Trump told an audience at a rally in Missouri what the press reports “is not what’s happening.”
"It’s all working out. Just remember: What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening," Trump declared. “Don’t believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news."
This Orwellian attitude for many is deeply disturbing.
@teresa_atHome @W7VOA @WhiteHouse @POTUS @CeciliaVega https://t.co/4nZjE5P15A— Zizi Roberts (@Zizi Roberts) 1538478361.0
@W7VOA @WhiteHouse @POTUS @CeciliaVega Contempt for the truth is a dangerous thing. https://t.co/Gp38vjpXtK— T #OR-1 🌊 🇺🇸 (@T #OR-1 🌊 🇺🇸) 1538466483.0
@W7VOA @WhiteHouse @POTUS @CeciliaVega They don't misquote. They alter the truth. It's called #lying. It's called… https://t.co/3FCatW9I0s— Zizi Roberts (@Zizi Roberts) 1538478790.0
@W7VOA @WhiteHouse @POTUS @CeciliaVega I don't know what is worse? The fact that @realDonaldTrump said what he sai… https://t.co/P8oNjOZ4m5— KnorFromDK (@KnorFromDK) 1538466485.0
@W7VOA @ganglywhitegirl @WhiteHouse @POTUS @CeciliaVega Unbelievable, we all saw and heard. They are literally trying to alter our reality— Teresa Call (@Teresa Call) 1538478616.0
@W7VOA @WhiteHouse @POTUS @CeciliaVega 1984? This is frightening Orwellian revisionism & those who think this hasn'… https://t.co/oX7LgwvY97— AmericanPlutocracy (@AmericanPlutocracy) 1538451228.0
One burning question remains.
@W7VOA @Acosta @WhiteHouse @POTUS @CeciliaVega Isn't lying on an official government document illegal?— Inigo Montoya Resists 🏳️🌈 🌊 🇺🇸 🌈 ❄️ (@Inigo Montoya Resists 🏳️🌈 🌊 🇺🇸 🌈 ❄️) 1538487437.0
It very well may be, but the law is a bit ambiguous. Presidential speeches, declarations, and even tweets are considered official records under the Presidential Records Act.
According to the Department of Justice, anyone who "willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, falsifies, or destroys (any record) shall be fined not more than $2,000 or imprisoned not more than three years, or both; and shall forfeit his office and be disqualified from holding any office under the United States."
The key is whether there was intent to mislead the public. Deleting a tweet with a typo and posting a corrected version is one thing. Rewriting history may prove to be quite another.