Our Constantly Lying Liar of a President
The most shocking moment in last week’s dramatic, political TV reality show wasn’t any startling new revelation Americans learned for the first time about the corrupt cartoon character who currently occupies the presidency.
Just the opposite. It was the reiteration of a very well known fact about Donald Trump that pretty much everyone knows by now: that our president is a fundamentally dishonest individual who can be expected to tell the nation a steady stream of lies.
Everyone watching the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, Democrat or Republican, understood exactly why fired FBI Director James Comey began writing detailed memos about his private meetings with Trump immediately after their first encounter. Comey said because of his gut feeling about “the person that I was interacting with … I was honestly concerned that he might lie about the nature of our meeting and so I thought it was really important to document.”
Comey started writing on a laptop in his car after every meeting with Trump. Those memos and descriptions, which Comey shared each time with senior FBI leadership, detail Trump’s pressure on Comey to rein in the FBI investigation into Trump’s campaign and administration.
Trump said he expected “loyalty” from his FBI director. He explicitly tried to shut down the investigation into fired National Security Advisor Michael Flynn for lying about contacts with Russians. Comey quoted Trump saying: “I hope you can see your way clear into letting this go, letting Flynn go. He is a good guy.”
When Comey didn’t halt the independent FBI investigation, Trump fired him. Trump told a television interviewer the Russia investigation was the reason: “I said to myself, I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.”
Five Lies a Day from Trump
Trump’s widely known reputation as a constantly lying liar dooms his attempt to turn Comey’s sworn testimony into a “he-said-he-said” story. Trump claims Comey’s the liar. That only works when others have no way of judging the credibility of witnesses. Trump’s total lack of public honesty has been meticulously documented.
Glenn Kessler and Michelle Ye Hee Lee of The Washington Post run what is perhaps journalism’s most reliable political fact-checking operation. After the first 100 days of Trump’s presidency, Kessler and Lee published a stunning running tally of every false or misleading statement made by the president.
The total number of false or misleading claims Trump made in 100 days was 492, an average of nearly five lies a day. Trump made it through only 10 days without telling a single lie. On six of those days, it was because Trump was golfing and said nothing at all publicly. There were five days on which Trump lied 20 or more times, including his 100th day in office bragging about completely fraudulent achievements.
Comey certainly is not above criticism as FBI director. Many believe he deserved to be fired for violating Justice Department policy against taking actions that could influence an election by unnecessarily announcing 11 days before the national election the FBI was reopening its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s e-mails.
Comey’s poor judgment helped elect Trump. But the notoriously lying Trump’s accusation that Comey committed perjury under oath defies belief. It requires someone to believe not just that Comey’s a liar, but that he’s also possibly insane. That would be the only explanation for Comey, who had no idea Trump would ever fire him, to begin writing fraudulent accounts containing fictional details and made-up quotes from Trump after every private meeting with the president. He then would have to tell those elaborate lies to other senior FBI officials after each meeting.
Sorry, but the only administration official ever suspected of being so pathologically unable to distinguish between reality and his own lies is the president himself. But even Republicans who are well aware of the president’s basic dishonesty and untruthfulness remain determined to ride Trump’s corrupt administration as long as they possibly can for whatever they can get out of it.
Comey said Trump’s not-so-subtle attempts to pressure him “rings in my ear as kind of, ‘Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?’” The allusion to the famous 12th-century hit England’s King Henry II put out on Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Becket was totally lost on Republicans.
Republicans recognize their president as a more modern sort of Godfather. When Comey woke up with a severed horse’s head in his bed, House Speaker Paul Ryan was right there to defend the president’s unorthodox approach. “The president’s new at this,” Ryan said. “He’s new at government.” A bloody horse’s head might not follow past protocols between the FBI and the president, Ryan was saying, but Trump was elected to do things differently.
Republican politicians have been shamelessly lying for a long time. Trump just makes it much more obvious.