“Oh, Pete, the health care bill didn’t go down,” Trump told Pete Hegseth, the Fox News interviewer. “We have the votes, but reconciliation is a disaster… 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.”

White House officials could not quite rationalize why President Trump keeps promoting the bizarre claim. One senior Trump aide told The Daily Beast that the president was “just, you know, doing his thing,” in riffing on a topic and reiterating a false claim to which he feels attached. Another said the media was engaged in hair-splitting to ding the president. But when The Daily Beast emphasized that the failure of the repeal effort had nothing to do with a sick lawmaker, the official did not respond.

Another White House official, however, did, only to sarcastically reply: “tax reform going great.”