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Trump lied about Obama in another wild news conference. Then he did the unexpected: Dale

He took it back. Immediately.

April Ryan, left, the Washington bureau chief for American Urban Radio Networks gestures as she asks questions to President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., in the Rose Garden of the White House, Oct. 16, 2017.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / The Associated Press

April Ryan, left, the Washington bureau chief for American Urban Radio Networks gestures as she asks questions to President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., in the Rose Garden of the White House, Oct. 16, 2017.

WASHINGTON—U.S. President Donald Trump told a lie about predecessor Barack Obama.

Then something unusual happened. He took it back.

Only partly, and without an apology or admission. Nonetheless, Trump’s de facto retraction was a rare acknowledgment of his own inaccuracy.

Trump, holding an unscheduled press conference in the White House Rose Garden Monday afternoon, was asked about his public silence on the killing of four Army Green Beret soldiers in Niger on Oct. 4.

Trump said he had written “personal letters” to the soldiers’ families, then that he would call the families “at some point.”

Then he falsely claimed Obama, unlike him, never made such calls.

“Now it gets to a point where you know, you make four of five of them in one day, it’s a very, very tough day. For me, that’s by far the toughest. So the traditional way — if you look at President Obama and other presidents — most of ’em didn’t make calls, a lot of ’em didn’t make calls. I like to call when it’s appropriate, when I think I’m able to do it. They have made the ultimate sacrifice. So generally I would say that I like to call,” he said.

Obama regularly called the families of soldiers killed in action, former aides said, and he met with those “Gold Star families” whenever he visited a military base. One of the former aides, former deputy chief of staff Alyssa Mastromonaco‏, reacted to Trump’s smear with public anger.

“That’s a f---ing lie,” Mastromonaco wrote on Twitter. “To say president Obama (or past presidents) didn’t call the family members of soldiers KIA — he’s a deranged animal.”

By the Star’s count, Trump averages more than two false claims per day, and he has almost never been willing to retract any of them. This time, though, he was challenged to defend his claim by NBC reporter Peter Alexander.

He backed down immediately.

“I don’t know if he did,” Trump said. “I was told that he didn’t often, and a lot of presidents don’t.”

He continued: “President Obama, I think, probably did sometimes, and maybe sometimes he didn’t, I don’t know, that’s what I was told. All I can do is ask my generals.”

Trump was accompanied by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whom he has criticized repeatedly and whom his former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, has vowed to take down.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / The Associated Press

Trump was accompanied by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whom he has criticized repeatedly and whom his former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, has vowed to take down.

The comments on Obama came during a chaotic 45 minute press conference at which Trump was accompanied by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whom he has criticized repeatedly and whom his former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, has vowed to take down in favour of Republicans he sees as friendlier to Trump’s agenda.

“Despite what we read, we are probably now, I think, at least as far as I am concerned, we are closer than ever before and the relationship is very good,” Trump said of himself and McConnell. “We are fighting for the same thing, we are fighting for lower taxes, big tax cuts, the biggest tax cuts in the history of our nation. We are fighting for tax reform as part of that.”

In a show of support for McConnell and his caucus, Trump said he would try to talk Bannon out of running primary candidates against certain “great” Republican incumbents.

Trump again cast blame on Puerto Ricans for the ongoing Hurricane Maria crisis, claiming Puerto Ricans, not his government, are at fault for hunger and thirst on the island. Told that many Puerto Ricans still lack clean water — 28 per cent, according to the federal emergency agency — Trump said, “Well, we delivered tremendous amounts of water.”

“Then what you have to do is you have to have distribution of the water by people on the island,” he said.

Trump declined to condemn Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore for his desire to make homosexuality illegal. Trump said the people of Alabama like Moore.

Trump repeated a promise to reduce prescription drug prices. This time, he noted that Canada, among other countries, has much lower prices than the U.S.

Trump was asked for the first time to address the battles around Kirkuk between Iraqi forces and Iraqi Kurdish forces, both U.S. allies in the fight against Daesh, also known as ISIS and ISIL. He said: “We don’t like the fact that they’re clashing. We’re not taking sides.”

Trump again could not resist mocking Hillary Clinton. In a tweet earlier in the day, he had urged Clinton to run against him again in 2020.

“Hillary, please run again,” he said at the news conference.

Trump made a variety of other false claims, most of them repeats. Among other things, he said that the U.S. is “the highest-taxed country in the world” (it is below average for the developed world), that Puerto Rico’s power plants need to be rebuilt (they were barely damaged by Hurricane Maria), that China has a 15 per cent corporate tax rate (it is 25 per cent except for companies in advanced industries in certain cities).

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