A history of Trump's "great memory," and when it failed him

Trump claims he couldn't remember a meeting with former aide George Papadopoulos days after bragging of his memory

By Matthew Rozsa
Published November 3, 2017 4:17PM (UTC)
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(Getty/Mandel Ngan)

President Donald Trump may like to brag about his brain, but when he was asked about a meeting that may have occurred with himself and his former foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, he forgot all about those boasts.

"I don't remember much about that meeting, it was a very unimportant meeting. Took place a long time — Don't remember much about it," Trump told reporters as he prepared to embark on a trip to Asia. He also reiterated that there was "no collusion" and that it was a "disgrace" that the criminal justice system was looking into his scandals instead of those involving his former opponent in the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton.

Yet only nine days earlier, Trump had bragged about having "one of the great memories of all time." Which brings us to Trump's long history of bragging about his brain.

Trump bragged about his memory during a controversy over a Gold Star widow phone call

Last month Trump pointed to his head and infamously said that he had "one of the greatest memories of all time." Why? Because he wanted to convince the American public that his memory of a phone call with a Gold Star widow was more reliable than the accounts provided by both the widow herself and a congresswoman who was in the car with her.

Trump claimed he didn't remember bragging about his memory during a lawsuit from 2015

In his 2015 deposition over a lawsuit involving Trump University, lawyer Jason Forge (who was questioning Trump on behalf of one of the plaintiffs) asked if he recalled saying that he had "one of the best memories in the world." Trump initially responded by asking, "I don't know. Did I use that expression?" After being told there was video of him saying it, he replied, "I don't remember saying that. As good as my memory is, I don't remember that, but I have a good memory."

He did, however, stand by another past statement he had made, namely that he had "one of the all-time great memories."

Trump called NBC News in November 2015 to brag about his memory

In a spur of the moment phone call to NBC News, Trump, "I have the world’s greatest memory. It’s one thing everyone agrees on." This was prompted by a comment he made claiming that "thousands and thousands" of American Muslims in Jersey City had cheered during the September 11th terrorist attacks.

There are plenty of occasions when Trump hasn't remembered things that someone with one of the world's greatest memories would definitely remember

Trump has claimed, at various times, to have not remembered the name of the doctor whose letter on bone spurs in his foot allowed him to get a draft exemption, to have not remembered referring to women as "fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals" and to have not remembered playing golf with Samuel L. Jackson, who was able to provide photographic evidence of the receipt.

Strangely enough, though, Trump wound up playing the song "Memory" from the musical "Cats" over the loudspeakers at Trump Tower in Manhattan when he announced he was running for president in 2015.

So there is that.

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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Donald Trump George Papadopoulos