The Slatest

Watch Trump Deny Sex Tape Tweet in Most Incomprehensible Debate Answer Ever

This is how all of America should feel after having watched Donald Trump’s debate performance.

Pedro Pardo/AFP/Getty Images

Of all the idiocy that Donald Trump has wrought upon our national politics, his decision to slut-shame a former Miss Universe on Twitter at 5 in the morning has perhaps been the most impossible to defend. Yes, Trump’s and his backers’ attempts to defend his wretched live mic remarks boasting about sexual assault as “locker-room banter” is certainly a vile defense, totally detached from reality. But at least it’s relatively straightforward one to understand—he’s saying that he and Billy Bush were just “bros being bros.”

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There is no even somewhat plausible defense for his 5 a.m. tweet attacking Alicia Machado for once having had sex on a reality TV show, the disgusting hypocrisy of a serial philanderer and grope-bragger making this attack completely aside. This was seen in Rep. Renee Ellmers’ pathetic and garbled attempt to defend Trump’s tweet last month, and it was seen again on Sunday night when Anderson Cooper asked Trump about the tweet in the second presidential debate. Here is the question along with an attempt to track Trump’s incomprehensible answer and outright lie.

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Cooper: In 2008, you wrote in one of your books that the most important characteristic of a good leader is discipline. You said if a leader doesn’t have it, “he or she won’t be one for very long.” In the days after the first debate, you sent out a series of tweets from 3 a.m. to 5 a.m., including one that told people to check out a sex tape. Is that the discipline of good leadership?

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“No it wasn’t ‘check out a sex tape,’ ” Trump responded. The tweet is here. It was literally “check out sex tape” verbatim.

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After that initial lie, Trump continued:

It was just take a look at this person that she [Hillary] built up to be this wonderful Girl Scout, who was no Girl Scout.

Again, Trump’s comments were this:

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And this:

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So, they were slut-shaming of the “she’s no Girl Scout” variety he described. But they were also slut shaming of the ‘check out a sex tape’ variety. So he doesn’t deny his slut shaming, he just lies about it.

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Like any and every attempt to defend that tweet, the answer became more garbled from there:

And by the way, just so you understand, when she said 3 in the morning, take a look at Benghazi. She said, “Who’s going to answer the call at 3 in the morning.” Guess what? She didn’t answer because when Ambassador Stevens—

As Trump went horribly off-topic—seeming to criticize Clinton for not being up at 3 a.m. in the midst of the Benghazi attack and referencing a 2008 presidential campaign ad about the proverbial “3 a.m. presidential phone call”—Cooper tried again to get Trump to answer the question: “The question was: ‘Is that the discipline of a good leader?’ ”

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At this point, Trump continued to ramble, making a minimum of sense and moving from topic to topic as if he were doing stream of consciousness poetry.

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Six hundred times. Well, she said she was awake of at 3 in the morning. She also sent a tweet out at 3 in the morning, but I won’t even mention that. But she said she’ll be awake. Who’s gonna—the famous thing: “We’re gonna’ answer a call at 3 in the morning.” Guess what happened, Ambassador Stevens, Ambassador Stevens sent 600 requests for help and the only one she talked to was Sydney Blumenthal, who is her friend and not a good guy, by the way. So, she shouldn’t be talking about that.

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Huh? As best as we can tell, this was in reference to a wildly misleading right-wing talking point about the amount of times Clinton ignored security requests for the compound that was attacked in Benghazi, along with another right-wing hobby horse, Clinton’s relationship with Blumenthal. Again, it’s really hard to understand, though.

At the end of his answer, Trump begins to make a bit more sense:

Tweeting happens to be a modern-day form of communication. You can like it or not like it. I have, between Facebook and Twitter, I have almost 25 million people. It’s an effective way of communication. So you can put it down, but it’s a very effective form of communication. I’m not unproud of it to be honest with you.

So, yes, here is our best summation of that entire answer: I didn’t send the tweet I sent. Something something Benghazi. Also, something, something Sid Blumenthal. And I have a yuuuge following on Twitter. Yuuge. And I’m not unproud of the tweet that I didn’t send. To be honest with you.

If anyone can mount a plausible defense of the sex tape tweet or provide a clearer explanation of what just happened, please email tips@slate.com.

Read more Slate coverage of the 2016 campaign.

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