Trump has invented a demonstrably false excuse for botching the health-care vote — and he's sticking to it

President Trump.
(Image credit: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

President Trump is apparently convinced that Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) is in the hospital, even though Cochran himself has reportedly clarified that "I'm not hospitalized." While the Mississippi senator is recovering from a urological issue, he is "recuperating" at home.

You wouldn't know it from listening to Trump, though: "We have the votes for health care," the president told reporters Wednesday. "We have one senator that's in the hospital. He can't vote, because he's in the hospital." After answering a quick question about Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, Trump returned to the topic of Cochran: "We have the votes [for health care], but we can't do it now because we have somebody in a hospital," he went on. "We have great respect for that gentleman, by the way. He's a fantastic man … in other words, he can't come here and vote because he's in the hospital."

Sen. Cochran promptly tweeted "thanks for the well-wishes" but "I'm not hospitalized."

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Trump wasn't finished yet, though. At the unveiling of the Republican tax plan in Indiana on Wednesday, Trump amended himself to say Cochran was at home but he continued to make the situation sound dire. "We have a wonderful senator, great, great senator, who is a 'yes' vote, but he's home recovering from a pretty tough situation," Trump said.

Then, in an interview for Fox & Friends that was also recorded Wednesday, Trump returned to the hospital excuse. "We have the votes, but reconciliation is the disaster," Trump said. "But as you know, it ends on Friday. So we don't have enough time, because we have one senator who's a 'yes' vote, a great person, but he's in the hospital." Of course, as Slate points out, "Republicans don't have 50 votes for the bill even counting Cochran."

As of Thursday, Cochran continues to very much not be in the hospital. Jeva Lange

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