This NBC interview with Lester Holt at 0:21 is transcribed as:

When I decided [to fire Comey], I said to myself, I said, 'You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story.'

I don't understand the word following "You know, this ..."

If it's actually Russia, it doesn't sound like the second instance of Russia in the same sentence, which makes me think that he's not saying Russia. I hear something like ... rush her

Trump has been mistranscribed in the past according to this article

Maybe related, Trump sometimes slurs his words as witnessed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lmk6oC2CuT0

Is there an alternative word, that sounds more or less like Russia and would make more sense in that sentence?

  • 1
    Yes, he says "Russia." Commented Jun 18, 2018 at 18:12
  • 1
    It's fine as transcribed, it's weird, because he is weird. He is referring to himself in the third person! And can't even get that out properly.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jun 18, 2018 at 19:21
  • From what I understand, you weren't the only one confused on this at the time. Although the words were clear enough for his PR team to understand, they weren't entirely sure why he was saying some of the things he was saying...
    – corsiKa
    Commented Jun 19, 2018 at 0:32

1 Answer 1


The transcription shows a grammatically incorrect (or at least, imprecise) fragment, and there are at least two ways to analyze that. One is to wonder, as you are doing, if the transcription is inaccurate. But the other is to note that:

  1. Spoken English is often grammatically incorrect/imprecise, even from someone who is precise in their written word
  2. Mr. Trump, specifically, demonstrates such incorrectness very often, and in fact as a matter of course (at least in the portions of his speech to which we, media consumers, are exposed)

Now in this particular case, I agree with @Jason Bassford in his comment to your question. The transcription is correct; Mr. Trump says Russia both times. His grammar is a bit iffy, but as I say that's very common (for almost everyone) in spoken English.

That said, you are right that his pronunciation is a tad unusual in that he appears to end with an "r" -- a bit like the "rush her" you suggested. I believe that's called an intrusive R. It's common in many places; for example, you can hear it in British English, as it is pronounced in the southern third of the country. So, their pronunciation of the word "drawing" would sound, to northerners, like "drawring".

  • There is always some truncation and ellipsis in speech, that's how speech is, not perfect. However, his is particularly poor. Very few transcriptions of people speaking show perfect speech patterns. Ellipses, truncations, changes in what is being said is what makes it speech....and not written language. What is werid is that he is referring to himself by name.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jun 18, 2018 at 19:25
  • +1. The descriptions I'm familiar with describe intrusive /r/ as occurring before a vowel, but I think you're right that this is related to intrusive /r/. It is certainly some form of hyper-rhoticity, but I don't know enough about this topic to say any more. Perhaps see: languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=390
    – user230
    Commented Jun 18, 2018 at 19:39
  • Intrusive R in a popular song (A Day in the Life The Beatles ): youtu.be/usNsCeOV4GM?t=1m8s I saw-R- a film today, oh, boy
    – alecail
    Commented Jun 19, 2018 at 13:43

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