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Trump’s bizarre “Tim/Apple” tweet is a reminder the president refuses to own tiny mistakes

It wasn’t a big deal to begin with, but five days later, Trump is still talking about it.

President Trump Participates In American Workforce Policy Advisory Board Meeting At The White House
Trump and Tim Cook during a White House event last Wednesday.
Tom Brenner/Getty Images

During an on-camera White House event last Wednesday, President Donald Trump mistakenly referred to Apple CEO Tim Cook as “Tim Apple.”

A clip of the humorous gaffe quickly went viral.

Trump’s mistake is embarrassing, but it’s not like it’s the end of the world. We’ve all made mistakes like that. Usually we acknowledge them and move on with our lives.

But not Trump.

Five days later, on Monday morning, Trump posted a tweet in which he insisted that he meant to say “Tim Apple” all along.

“At a recent round table meeting of business executives, & long after formally introducing Tim Cook of Apple, I quickly referred to Tim + Apple as Tim/Apple as an easy way to save time & words,” Trump wrote. “The Fake News was disparagingly all over this, & it became yet another bad Trump story!”

Trump’s explanation doesn’t even make any sense. “Cook” has one fewer syllable than “Apple,” so Trump’s gaffe did not end up saving him any “time & words.”

Not only that, but Trump’s tweet on Monday wasn’t the first explanation he offered for saying “Tim Apple.” As Jonathan Swan of Axios reported on Sunday, during a speech to Republican donors at his private Mar-a-Lago club on Friday, Trump — who last year admonished his supporters that “what you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening” — dismissed video of his flub as “fake news.”

From Axios:

Trump told the donors that he actually said “Tim Cook Apple” really fast, and the “Cook” part of the sentence was soft. But all you heard from the “fake news,” he said, was “Tim Apple.”

Two donors who were there told me they couldn’t understand why the president would make such a claim given the whole thing is captured on video. Nobody cared, they said, and Tim Cook took it in good humor by changing his Twitter profile to Tim Apple.

”I just thought, why would you lie about that,” one of the donors told me. “It doesn’t even matter!”

Trump has a long history of getting names wrong on camera. In fact, “Tim Apple” wasn’t the first time he’s referred to a CEO by calling them the name of their company. Last year, he referred to Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson as “Marillyn Lockheed.”

Trump has long been unwilling to acknowledge minor errors. Vox even did a piece on it in 2016, when the Trump campaign was refusing to admit the obvious about how Melania Trump’s Republican National Convention speech lifted phrases from Michelle Obama’s Democratic convention speech eight years earlier.

This tendency often manifests itself during speeches and other public events, when Trump will pretend his misstatements were intentional.

In the case of “Tim Apple,” the White House also tried to make it seem like there was a method to Trump’s mistake. The official transcript of the event added dashes to suggest Trump was trying to specify what company Cook is associated with, despite video evidence being conclusive that he just misspoke.

“Tim Apple” is also not the first time Trump has tried to draw into question an incident people clearly saw with their own eyes on video. In November 2017, the New York Times reported that Trump privately told a US senator and a senior adviser that the Access Hollywood tape in which he brags about groping women was somehow inauthentic — even though he previously apologized for it.

During a news conference last June in Singapore following his first summit with Kim Jong Un, Trump accidentally gave up his game. Asked what he’d do if Kim proved him wrong by not following through on his denuclearization promises, Trump said, “I may stand before you in six months and say, ‘Hey, I was wrong.’ I don’t know that I’ll admit that but I’ll find some kind of an excuse.”

Nuclear weapons are a big deal. “Tim Apple” is not. Yet in both cases, Trump refuses to be accountable.

The news moves fast. To stay updated, follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter, and read more of Vox’s policy and politics coverage.

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