Uh-Oh: Does Donald Trump Know How to Read?

I can’t believe I even have to do this
but it’s increasingly unclear to me
that Donald Trump can comfortably read the written English language.
I mean like English written on pages.
I genuinely think after reviewing a bunch of videos and comments and evidence yesterday
that Donald Trump may barely be able to read.
Let’s start with some journalists who have interviewed Donald Trump
who have come to the conclusion that certainly Donald Trump doesn’t read.
We’ll start there.
There was one point when I asked him how he was preparing to possibly be president,
and are you reading the great presidential biographies, for example?
And he paused for an unusually long time.
His voice became almost tender,
and he said, you know, I’ve never read a biography
but I’ve always wanted to.
You ask him as he’s–because he’s leaving the interview and going to bed,
what are you reading?
And what does he say?
He kind of had that look.
Oh, yeah, you got me.
And then he tried to answer,
and he said he’s reading this–this book by–
that Ed Klein wrote, a hatchet job on Hillary Clinton,
which I’m sure he’s not reading.
Then there was a book about Nixon
which he couldn’t remember exactly.
Right, so Trump has said many times on the campaign trail that one of the main reasons
he’d be a good president was because of the stuff that he wrote about his life in “Art of the Deal,”
but of course we know he didn’t actually write it,
and one of the most notable things to come from an interview
with the guy who actually wrote “Art of the Deal,” Tony Schwartz,
is that he realized that not only did Trump have essentially no attention span whatsoever,
which connects to his concerning level of TV watching that we’ve heard about over the last week or so,
but also that he would be shocked to learn that Trump had read a single book cover-to-cover
in his entire adult life.
Again, this is a quote from an interview with Tony Schwartz where he said
that’s why he so prefers TV as his first news source–
information comes in easily digestible sound bites.
I seriously doubt that Trump has ever read a book straight through in his adult life.
He also said that during the entire 18 months that he was writing the book with Trump and observing Trump,
he never once even saw a book on Donald Trump’s desk or anywhere in his office or in his apartment.
So fine, Donald Trump doesn’t read, but can he read is really the question.
Let’s now put this together
with that report from last week from axios.com
about the total disarray that the Trump administration is in,
and one of the main disturbing aspects
of the early days of the Trump administration
according to insiders at the Trump White House
is that Donald Trump seems fixated,
fixated on watching TV
and cannot focus on nor read any of the reports or briefings or white papers or anything.
His advisers have even said he doesn’t even really surf the web or use a computer.
He’ll scroll through Twitter on his phone
and dictate tweets to people in the other room.
That’s yet another layer to this thing, that Donald Trump may not only have trouble reading
but also have trouble writing, as we’ve talked about before.
And trump has even tweeted about this himself.
I dictate my tweet to my executive assistant
and she posts them.
“Time is money.”
Source, “The Art of the Deal.”
Of course the phrase “time is money”
didn’t even come from “The Art of the Deal,” and again,
this further continues to call into question both Donald Trump’s reading and writing skills.
His advisers have now also said Trump avoids reading any report or briefing
that he finds to be too lengthy,
and he will often just glance at the first page
without even making it evident whether he understands what’s on the page.
It continues.
Listen to this strange conversation
that Mark Fisher had with Donald Trump.
So I pressed a little harder and I said, well,
How are you preparing? How will you make decisions as president?
And he said, well, I’m not gonna be reading any big reports or anything like that.
And he told me the story of how a guy from Wall Street came to him,
wanted him to make a deal in China
and said there was an innovative kind of financing that he wanted Trump to consider,
and so Trump said, well, I don’t know anything about.
And the guy said, no problem. We’ve done some research.
I have a report. I’ll send it to you today.
And Trump said, don’t send me any blanking reports, and–
and said, ’cause I won’t read them.
And here is Trump telling Chuck Todd that he gets his foreign policy advice from TV.
Odd place for a presidential candidate to be getting foreign policy advice.
Who do you talk to for military advice right now?
Well, I watch your shows. I mean, I really see a lot of great–
you know, when you watch your show and all of the other shows,
and you have the generals and you have certain people…
So that’s circumstantial. Trump doesn’t read.
But is he avoiding reading because he doesn’t like it or because he has trouble reading?
And here is where it all explodes.
I recently saw this interview I’m about to play for you
on “The Opie with Jim Norton” radio show
with “Saturday Night Live’s” Pete Davidson,
and Pete Davidson described that when Trump was guest hosting “Saturday Night Live,”
he genuinely seemed unable to read the script.
Take a look at this.
Okay, so he’s like–he doesn’t really know how to read.
For real?
Yeah, so during like the table read,
he, like–
before, like, we were gonna read each–
before he had to read each line,
and he’s the host so he’s in everything.
He would go, uh, I’m not gonna say this.
I think I’m gonna say it the way I want to say it. Is that okay?
Is that okay, Lorne? Is that–everything–
And everybody’s like, what?
And then this is–my favorite part is,
there was a sketch that we wrote where he’s at Disneyland with his daughter,
and the line is,
All right, let’s get out of here. Turkey legs?
Like, let’s go get turkey legs?
And he doesn’t know how to read, so he went,
All right. Let’s get out of here, Turkey Legs.
He called his daughter Turkey Legs.
And then he looked up. Like, he doesn’t get it.
Like, he thinks if everybody’s laughing with him
but we’re all laughing at him.
So this would explain why it’s such a disaster every time Trump tries to use a teleprompter.
Not because he’s unfamiliar with prompters
but because he’s not a very good reader.
Let’s take a look at just one of these awkward teleprompter debacles.
Everything that is broken today
can be fixed and every failure can be turned
into a truly great success.
Just look at the way I just
melded into the teleprompter.
Yeah, so now here’s where it gets completely nuts.
I took a look at some specific portions of a deposition that Trump gave in June of last year,
and there is some really really clear attempts here to avoid having to read out loud.
His lawyer clearly doesn’t want Trump to do any reading out loud.
And is the first clip where Trump says, I don’t read leases. Let’s start with that.
Did you review the lease at all before you signed it?
How many leases like this have you reviewed in your career?
Signed or reviewed?
Not too many.
I signed hundreds…
Right, so he’s never really reviewed a lease,
and then he’s asked to read a portion and his lawyer really doesn’t like it.
You did not review this section of the lease.
– What does that say?
– Monetary damages.
This is in the remedies section.
I did not. No.
Would you be able to read this section and tell us what your understanding of it is?
Mr.. Trump isn’t a lawyer.
I mean, do you want me to read it?
It’s a lot of–it’s long–
It is long.
– It’s very long.
– It is long.
Yeah, so then it looks like maybe Trump is actually going to read,
his lawyer seeming increasingly nervous,
and it gets really weird.
I would–I would like you to read
just the monetary damages section
starting at the number one in the middle of the page, just there,
the rest of that,
and to the end of that.
It continues on the next page.
And tell me what you think,
reading that, you as the landlord are entitled to get
from the tenant in the event of a tenant breach
in the way of damages.
I don’t have my glasses.
I am at a disadvantage–because I didn’t bring my glasses.
This is such small writing.
All right, well–
If the witness can’t actually
physically read the language–
I mean, it’s very small writing.
I can–I can make it out.
Do you want me to try?
Well, I’m…
We can have–you know what we can do?
We can have a bigger copy made of these pages.
– And we’ll come back to it.
– Let me try–let me just do it.
All right, I have to place on the record a hearty objection.
Very awkward.
Insanely awkward.
So long pause,
looking at the page, looking confused.
He doesn’t have his glasses with him.
Have we ever seen Trump wearing glasses when signing executive orders?
Have we ever seen Trump wearing glasses
at those countless rallies where he goes up onstage with polling data to read to people?
No. Here’s an example.
Again, never any glasses.
All right, so South Carolina just came out,
and that’s 32 for Trump, 18 for second, 11 for third, great.
Florida leading by a lot, 31, 19, 13, and then all down in the dumps.
So again, he’s able to read numbers off of a page.
Didn’t seem to have a problem there without his glasses.
We’ve never seen him wear glasses, but all of a sudden at the deposition,
he doesn’t have his glasses.
And then his lawyer objects again as you heard.
Lastly Trump stares at it for a while and then again instead of reading it,
He sort of weirdly paraphrases
what he thinks it says.
Yeah, it’s the all damages that the landlord may sustain including all legal fees and everything else involved.
Looks like everything and the kitchen sink to me.
Then you have number two.
Go on.
It’s the value of the positive difference with the aggregate amount of the base rent
and the additional rent.
The guy can barely read, Pat. I am convinced he can barely read.
And even on an inauguration day–I didn’t think much of this–
Trump seemed confused about which orders
he was signing and where to sign, but it’s all part of this.
He kept having to be told what he was signing, and now it all comes together.
The guy barely can comprehend what’s on pieces of paper.
We have to sign that.
I know that.
Where would you like me to sign this?
You just sign under–
Just underneath.
Anyplace you want.
As long as it’s signed.
So we may have a Trump–a president–
we may have a president in Trump here who isn’t speaking at a fourth-grade level
because it’s some genius way to appeal to people.
It’s because he’s reading at a fourth-grade level,
and that’s the highest level he’s able to speak at.
I mean, I’m not sure if we have enough here to make a conclusion on his raw reading ability.
– No.
– But the lack of intellectual curiosity
is what bothers me, because you can get books on tape,
you can have advisers come in and tell you what the policy proposals are.
There’s ways around this.
There are ways around it, but this is all incredibly disturbing,
and I’m curious to see what the audience thinks about it.

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