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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

A Thursday morning press release from Donald Trump’s campaign announced that he would be writing off the loans he has financed his campaign with for months. But the press release had an interesting little Trumpian quirk:

trump press release

Within a single statement, Trump claims to be donating himself “more than $50 million,” “nearly $50 million,” and “in excess of $50 million.”

The actual answer? At last count (through the end of May) Trump had loaned his campaign $45,703,185. And though the press release says he now considers these loans donations, Trump has a history of claiming to have donated to charity cases without actually doing so.

A Reuters report on the loan write-off quotes Gaylord Hughey, a Texas-based fundraiser supporting Trump, who called the move “unprecedented.” 

Actually, it’s extremely precedented. Rich people have been donating money to their campaigns since campaigns existed: Think of the Kennedys, or Ross Perot, or Mitt Romney, who in the 2008 Republican primary loaned (and later, donated) his campaign $44.6 million, nearly the same as Trump’s donation.

A small note: Even after writing off these loans, assuming he does, Trump hasn’t fully self-funded his primary campaign — he’s sold millions of dollars in merchandise and has accepted millions more in loans small and very, very large. He has tacitly accepted the help of super PACs and, after becoming the Republican nominee, has behaved the same as any other politician: He goes on fundraising tours, speaks at $25,000-a-plate dinners, wears funny cowboy hats, sends desperate emails, and changes his views on policy ideas — like defaulting on the national debt, an absolutely insane concept — that upset wealthy donors.

So no, Donald Trump never self-funded his campaign, and he still is not self-funding his campaign. Still, if in fact he does forgive $50 million $47 million in loans to himself, he deserves a great deal of credit.

Even for a “billionaire,” that’s a lot of money to throw away at a doomed campaign.

Photo: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Greensboro, North Carolina on June 14, 2016.   REUTERS/Jonathan Drake

Video: Donald Trump’s Facebook page

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany was forced to defend President Donald Trump's recent attacks on MSNBC host Joe Scarborough on Tuesday, an unenviable task she nevertheless intentionally signed up for. She desperately tried to divert the attention back to Scarborough — without engaging in the president's conspiracy theorizing — but offered no credible defense of the president's conduct.

Trump has been spreading the debunked theory that Scarborough killed a staffer in 2001 while he was in Congress, even though it was determined she died of natural causes. The staffer's widower wrote a released a letter on Tuesday pleading with Twitter to take down the president's offensive tweets promoting the thoery. He said he was "angry," "frustrated," and "grieved" by the president's promotion of the harmful allegations. Trump is perverting his late wife's memory, he said, and he fears her niece and nephews will encounter these attacks.When asked about the letter, McEnany said she wasn't sure if the president had seen it. But she said their "hearts" are with the woman's family "at this time." It was a deeply ironic comment because the only particularly traumatizing thing about "this time" for the family is the president's attacks, which come nearly two decades after the woman's death.

McEnany refused to offer any explanation of Trump's comments and instead redirected reporters to a clip of Scarborough on Don Imus's radio show in 2003. In that show, Imus made a tasteless joke obliquely referring to the death, and Scarborough laughed at it briefly.

"Why is the president making these unfounded allegations?" asked ABC News' Jonathan Karl. "I mean, this is pretty nuts, isn't it? The president is accusing someone of possible murder. The family is pleading with the president to please stop unfounded conspiracy theories. Why is he doing it?""The president said this morning, this is not an original Trump thought. And it is not," she said, bringing up the Imus clip. But she made no mention of why the president is bringing up the issue 17 years later and with a much larger platform.

When pressed further on the president's conduct, she again diverted blame to Scarborough, saying his morning show unfairly criticizes the president. But again, she offered no substantive defense of Trump.

After McEnany had moved on, PBS reporter Yamiche Alcindor brought it up again: "Why won't the president give this widower peace and stop tweeting about the conspiracy theory involving his wife?"

McEnany said she had already answered the question, which she hadn't, and said the onus is on Scarborough to explain the Imus clip."The widower is talking specifically about the president!" Alcindor shot back. But McEnany called on Chanel Rion, with the aggressively pro-Trump outlet OAN, who changed the subject to conspiracy theories about the origins of the Russia investigation.

"Are you not going to answer that?" Alcindor called out, still trying to get a substantive response to her question, but Rion spoke over her.

At the end of the briefing, another reporter asked whether Trump was looking for any actual law enforcement steps be taken in response to his conspiracy theory. But McEnany had nothing to add, and simply told people to listen to the Imus clip again. As she hurried out of the briefing room, a reporter asked if Trump would stop promoting the theory — but she left without answering.

Watch the exchange about Klausutis, which begins at 48:45.