My Analysis of President Trump’s response to NBC’s Lester Holt
May 12, 2017 at The Whitehouse
Carefully note the question was: “Can you tell us whether you, your family, your businesses, your surrogates have accepted any investments, any loans from Russian individuals or institutions?”
First of all, because the question was improperly structured with “Can you tell us …” we can’t rely on what follows. I can “tell” you anything whether it’s the truth or not. Deceptive people will seize poorly worded/structured questions to provide misleading responses. I can tell you anything – it just may not be the complete truth. Deceptive people will often provide partial truths to mislead the listener, letting the listener believe they’re receiving the complete truth when they’re not; when the listener believes they received all the necessary information, when they haven't; when the listener believes they understand, when they really don't. A better structured question would be, “Tell us if you, your family, your businesses have accepted any investments, any loans from Russian individuals or institutions?” Even then, the wiggle words “investments" and "institutions” could be leveraged by the deceptive to provide misleading answers. Questions have to be precise, clear, concise, and use only mutually understood words.
But let’s look anyway at President Trump’s response:
He didn’t initially answer the question until line 14. The question asked whether you “… have accepted any investments, any loans from Russian individuals or institutions?” Everything from lines 5 to 14 is present tense, not past tense. “I don’t have …” provides just a snapshot, a picture, of his holdings on May 12, 2017. It tells us nothing of his holdings before or after May 12, 2017. If they don’t answer the question, they did. In other words, evasive answers are an indication of sensitivity and an unwillingness to provide information. The reason behind that could be any number of reasons, including the need to avoid telling a complete lie, to avoid being deceptive. A truthful person wants to tell the truth and does so using simple, direct, clear, and concise responses. A truthful person with no sensitivities to the question will answer the question simply, directly, and precisely. Any other responses are suspicious.
Beginning line 14, President Trump does provide information about past Russian financial activities. His response, “I have had dealings over the years ...” is tantalizing and vague. He provides two examples (“ ..sold a house; ..Miss Universe Pageant”) which suggest a good response but not a necessarily complete one.
However, President Trump artfully avoids any discussion about financial transactions that wouldn’t qualify as a “loan” or “investment” from Russian sources. Those terms are subject to wide interpretation and, therefore, are terms on which the deceptive feed. What about “gifts” or “exchanges” or “payments for services?”
Further, President Trump is suspected of assisting, enabling, or otherwise cooperating with Russian/Kazakhstan/Netherlands based individuals and/or companies. Does a Russian-owned company in Kazakhstan qualify as a Russian individual or institution? Granted, this can get overly technical. However, precisely worded questions are necessary to obtain reliable information.
So, even though the question was poorly worded, we are still able to discern some useful information. The initial response is evasive and that tells us this topic/question is sensitive to the President. Why? Well, that’s the real question isn’t it?