"I love you too"

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Dave Holmes, "To Whom Did Donald Trump Say 'I Love You, Too' During Wednesday's Cabinet Meeting?", Esquire 7/18/2018:

Listen: the crazy bullshit is coming fast and furious these days. Weird moments that would have permanently stained whole careers only years ago are allowed to sail right past, because we lack the mental bandwidth to really process them. […]

I bring this up because on Wednesday, a gorgeously awkward moment unfolded in front of us, and it would be a crime on the level of treason if I didn’t allow you to savor it the way I have. It was from Wednesday afternoon’s cabinet meeting, after our president was asked whether Russia was still targeting the United States, as our country’s entire intelligence apparatus has concluded that it is, and he replied “No.” […]

The weird thing happens right when he starts talking about how well we are doing with Russia: both very well and very well, probably as well as anyone has ever done, […]

You guys, just after disavowing the findings of his own government’s intelligence community, the President of the United States says, to nobody in particular, “I love you, too.” Seriously.

Here's the passage that Mr. Holmes links to:

Here's audio for the critical exchange:

And then just the part that Holmes transcribes as "I love you too":

Linda Holmes on Twitter suggest that it might really be "And let me tell you…":

It doesn't sound like "And let me tell you" to me, it sounds like "I love you too". But to quote our president, "I will say this, I don't see any reason why it would be."

In the cited Esquire article, Dave Holmes suggests a genuinely disturbing and therefore implausible reason.



  1. Brian said,

    July 19, 2018 @ 11:44 am

    You know how sometimes you'll blurt out something inappropriate just because it was reminiscent of a very specific context? Like maybe you get into a political argument with a friend, and you'll suddenly call them the wrong name, but it's the name of a different friend who you always wind up arguing politics with?

    That's what it feels like to me. He's trying to give reporters the brush-off, and a rote I-love-you-too just bubbled up to the surface and escaped. You can tell that he's trying to cover it up, too, by the way he suddenly starts talking, despite having tried to cut the conversation short a moment earlier.

    I feel like we just got a glimpse into how he handles his personal relationships.

  2. J.W. Brewer said,

    July 19, 2018 @ 12:06 pm

    That's an interesting use of vocative "you guys," as I guess part of an attempted departure from the register of traditional journalism, even opinion journalism. My default hypothesis would be that it's common in lots of varieties of AmEng to say "I love you, too" as a parting shot at someone you think has been behaving poorly or antagonistically ("being a dick" might be le mot juste in the relevant register of AmEng). It's obviously at some level a sarcastic usage, but I'm not sure if users of it always feel the need to signal sarcasm via tone of voice versus just letting context to the work.

  3. Tom S. Fox said,

    July 19, 2018 @ 1:03 pm

    “…disavowing the findings of his own government’s intelligence community…”

    I’ll just leave this here: https://twitter.com/joelpollak/status/1018923357838848000

  4. SamC said,

    July 19, 2018 @ 1:23 pm

    In the original clip it totally sounds like "lemme tell ya" to me. But could also be "I love you too" – it's like that Yanny/Laurel soundbite.

  5. V said,

    July 19, 2018 @ 4:09 pm

    I've witnessed sarcastic "I love you too" (И аз те обичам) in Bulgarian. As an answer to a friendly tease.

  6. David Marjanović said,

    July 19, 2018 @ 4:18 pm

    I’ll just leave this here: https://twitter.com/joelpollak/status/1018923357838848000

    Bush sending Powell to lie to the UN, months after the embarrassing claims about yellowcake, is being blamed on intelligence agencies now? That's an interesting new development in revisionist history.

  7. Ben Zimmer said,

    July 19, 2018 @ 5:29 pm

    @J.W. Brewer: Regarding vocative "(you) guys," found in a lot of online writing these days, see Caitlin Dewey's 2014 piece for the Washington Post (which quotes me).

  8. V said,

    July 19, 2018 @ 6:23 pm

    "It's obviously at some level a sarcastic usage, but I'm not sure if users of it always feel the need to signal sarcasm via tone of voice versus just letting context to the work."

    You definitely use a different tone of voice to signal that you think they have gone out of bounds. The tone contour goes straight down in a manner atypical of normal Bulgarian prosody.

  9. DaveK said,

    July 19, 2018 @ 9:41 pm

    The classic film noir “ Double Indemnity” used “I love you too” as
    Fred McMurray’s ironic retort to mildly abusive banter Edward G Robinson says to him throughout the movie.

  10. Rubrick said,

    July 20, 2018 @ 1:38 am

    To me it sounds like Trump is saying "I levitate", which is perfectly sane. What's the big deal?

  11. Pflaumbaum said,

    July 20, 2018 @ 3:16 am

    “Helluva team” would fit the context better.

  12. James Wimberley said,

    July 20, 2018 @ 12:42 pm

    You are the manager of the Sunny Glades Retirement Home, where Mr. Donald Trump is a resident. The Mexican gardener has unaccountably disappeared, perhaps some issue with his papers. Mr. Trump volunteers to help with the hedge trimmer. Do you let him? This strikes me as a better test for mental fitness under the 25th Amendment than a formal diagnosis of dementia.

  13. Jerry Friedman said,

    July 20, 2018 @ 3:31 pm

    I wonder whether it was a response to what President Trump perceived as an angry comment that we couldn't hear, or an angry gesture or facial expression.

  14. JPL said,

    July 20, 2018 @ 6:53 pm

    I heard that little snippet of utterance, but it's not clear enough for me to say what the words were or which speech sounds he produced. It was parenthetical wrt the rest of his utterances, but I don't think I can assent to "I love you too". In general, you can't interpret Trump's speech as you would with a normal person.

  15. Vilinthril said,

    July 21, 2018 @ 5:37 am

    To my ears, “lemmme te'ya” sounds like a plausible interpretation.

  16. Jade said,

    July 21, 2018 @ 4:29 pm

    To me it sounds like a false start (he started to say "and let me tell you", but he only said "and let me te…" without finishing the sentence)

  17. Pflaumbaum said,

    July 22, 2018 @ 6:54 am

    Yep, Vilinthril and Jade’s theory is much more convincing than any of the others mentioned here (including mine).

  18. Philip Taylor said,

    July 23, 2018 @ 4:01 pm

    I can hear (in reverse order of identifying them) "I levitate", "And let me te…", and "I love you too". I am inclined to think (particularly in view of the context) that what he actually started to say was "And let me tell you".

  19. Scott Grimmer said,

    July 23, 2018 @ 10:11 pm

    It would be more interesting to hear people's thoughts who didn't read this article.

    I read it first, and heard "I love you, too," as instructed, but I doubt that's what he is saying.

    After reading the comments, I get "and let me te–" also. That's my best guess.

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