What is the difference between these two sentences?
- "I probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong Un."
- "I'd probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong Un."
If you said that the first statement is a positive statement of fact in the present tense, and the second statement is a lame attempt by a lunatic to cover up yet another telling example of his tenuous grip on reality, you would be correct. Kudos to the White House staffer who came up with the brilliant idea that Trump should insist he actually used the conditional tense.
"I'd" = "I would" or "I could". Which would make sense, at least grammatically. It sounds plausible in a tweet, because it's difficult to sound irredeemably insane in 140 characters.
But is, in fact, not true.
Aside from the fact that there is an audio of the interview, which clearly supports the Wall Street Journal's original reporting, the problem is that Mr. Trump followed up his statement with this bit of braggadocio:
"I have relationships with people. I think you people are surprised."
The only surprising relationship to which he possibly could have been referring was his fantasy relationship with Kim Jung Un (don't wanna go there please don't make me go there). And, yes, I was surprised, given the evidence of my own senses. And I wondered (briefly) what his very good relationships with Melania and the kids might be like.
Now Mr. Sweet Potato Head is saying that "obviously" he didn't say he had a very good relationship with Kim Jong Un.
Because, you know, that would be crazy.
And, like, he really used the conditional tense.
And I really wish there were (subjunctive) an audio of someone explaining that to him.