US President Donald Trump has been telling the same story in speeches to different pro-Israel audiences in the past few months, but has each time changed a critical detail: the name of the character appearing in it.
In the speeches — most recently, twice on the same day — Trump recalls a conversation he allegedly had with a Jewish friend about what his biggest accomplishment for Israel has been.
Each time, Trump says he had asked whether it was moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem or recognizing the Jewish state’s sovereignty in the Golan Heights. He is then answered that neither — it was nixing the Iran nuclear deal.
The problem? Each time he tells the story, the person he is talking to in it changes, casting a certain doubt over the authenticity of the anecdote.
Most recently, Trump told the story twice on the same day — to two audiences at two White House Hanukkah receptions last Wednesday. Once the person speaking to Trump in the story was Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots football team, and just hours later it was Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner’s real estate developer father Charles.
Four days earlier, Trump told the story with the character being major GOP financier Sheldon Adelson.
Trump told the story for the first time in September. That time, he supposedly was talking to “the people.”
Trump told the same story about a Jewish friend four times in three months.
Each time, the name of the friend changed.
— JM Rieger (@RiegerReport) December 13, 2019
The Washington Post has created a video with all four speeches, side by side.
Iran has ramped up its nuclear activities since Trump unilaterally pulled the US out of the 2015 nuclear deal last year. The deal, negotiated between Tehran and world powers under the previous administration of Barack Obama, was designed to see Iran curb its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of powerful sanctions. The US has since reinstated punitive measures on Iran which have affected its struggling economy.
Trump came under fire last week when he told a pro-Israel conference that some American Jews don’t love Israel enough. He also noted that he did not have to worry about getting his audience’s votes, because they would cast ballots with business interests in mind.
Those comments, to the Israeli American Council advocacy group in Florida, drew quick criticism from opponents and were derided as anti-Semitic.
The comments were reminiscent of remarks he made in August when he said that Jews who vote for Democrats were disloyal, drawing a vociferous backlash. Trump has also been accused of anti-Semitism in the past for linking Jews to money.
Agencies contributed to this report.