On Wednesday, Trump stepped outside of Mar-a-Lago and took a few questions from his press pool. A few of the questions were about Monday’s horrific terror attack in Berlin, where a tractor trailer crashed into a Christmas market, killing 12.
One of those questions related to a statement that Trump released after the attack, which read, in part, “Innocent civilians were murdered in the streets as they prepared to celebrate the Christmas holiday. ISIS and other Islamic terrorists continuously slaughter Christians in their communities and places of worship as part of their global jihad.”
But when asked specifically about that statement, Trump seemed confused, asking the reporter “Who said that? When did—when was that said?” Then, when told that he was the one who said it, in a statement, Trump seemed to edit the remark, saying “It’s an attack on humanity. That’s what it is. It’s an attack on humanity and it has to be stopped.”
Trump’s statement was inflammatory—it framed the attack as being part of a larger clash of civilizations, and as part of the so-called War on Christians. But Trump himself seemed to bristle at this framing and instead told reporters what you’d expect from a president—he called it an attack on humanity and left it at that. This is disturbing on a number of levels—Trump should be aware of statements being widely-distributed with his name on them, especially inflammatory ones. But it’s also one that complicates the way Trump is typically understood, as an impulsive hot-head surrounded by advisers who try their best (and usually fail) to temper his worst instincts. The first part of that is still true, or at least mostly true, but the second part should be revisited by those who haven’t already—it seems like Trump’s inner circle is just as hot-headed and impulsive as he is.