Days after President Donald Trump was caught gaslighting the American people about an embarrassing campaign poll that he falsely claimed did not exist, he has taken action. Rather than change the conduct and message that has made him the most consistently unpopular president in modern times, he has instead opted to change the messenger.
Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign reportedly dismissed three longtime pollsters over the leak of an internal poll that showed him trailing Joe Biden badly in several key states. They included Michael Baselice, Adam Geller, and Brett Loyd. The latter name is particularly noteworthy: he is president and CEO of the polling company inc./WomanTrend, the public opinion firm created by Trump’s counselor Kellyanne Conway back in 1995.
While polling about an election that’s still more than a year away is notoriously unreliable, it is significant that the president of the United States — who, as a candidate, vowed to America “I will never lie to you” — flat out lied about the existence of his own poll.
“They were fake polls that were released by somebody that is — it’s ridiculous,” he said last Wednesday after the numbers were first reported.
“They’re giving out phony polls,” Trump charged. “These are polls that we have, that nobody saw. We do very little polling because I’m not a huge believer in polling… But we have some internal polling — very little — and it’s unbelievably strong. The strongest I’ve ever been is exactly today.” Trump’s deep unpopularity has remained largely unchanged since he took office.
After the polling memo itself became public on Friday, Trump’s campaign manager claimed that the unfavorable polling numbers were out of date, but refused to make public the more recent data he claimed existed, which supposedly show much better numbers for the president.
Even after it became clear that Trump lied about his own campaign’s poll, he continued to lie on Monday morning. In a tweet, he claimed that “Only Fake Polls show us behind the Motley Crew.” (Nikki Sixx, Mick Mars, Vince Neil, and Tommy Lee are among the few people not running for the 2020 Democratic nomination, but even they have seen their popularity soar this year in ways the president could only dream of.)
Only Fake Polls show us behind the Motley Crew. We are looking really good, but it is far too early to be focused on that. Much work to do! MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 17, 2019
Loyd’s name is the only employee listed on the website for Conway’s former firm. The company’s most recent filings with Virginia’s State Corporation Commission list only Loyd and one other “director.”
Conway has previously indicated that she was in the process of divesting her financial stake in the company, but Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, alleged last week that she and her former firm have not been transparent about how and when that has happened.
This story has been updated to clarify the substance of Cummings’ allegations.