There’s a good reason half the country didn’t believe President Donald J. Trump when he claimed he didn’t conspire with the Russians; the claim was mixed in with too many lies on too many important topics. Like the boy in the fable, Trump had simply cried wolf too many times to be believed.
For example, Trump has often struggled with veracity. The tone for what Trump would be like as president was set during the 2016 campaign. In the end, the New York Times had to finally throw up its hands in disgust and start calling out false claims he made on the campaign trail as “lies.”
Trump’s lying started in the very first week of his presidency when he and his Press Secretary Sean Spicer falsely claimed that the crowd at Trump’s inaugural was the largest in American history. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t. That honor belonged to Barack Obama’s 2009 inaugural.
It was a troubling lie because anyone with side by side pictures of the two events could see that the president and his team were lying about the crowd sizes. When asked about this, White House aide Kellyanne Conway said Spicer was offering “alternative facts” – whatever those are.
Misstatements, Shading of Truths, and Outright Lies
As the fact checkers at the Washington Post would find out, keeping track of Trump’s misstatements, shading of truths, and outright lies would become a full-time job for multiple journalists. The fact checkers at the Washington Post had to create an entirely new category for his repeated lies called the “bottomless Pinocchio.”
Like his lies about the inaugural crowd size, Trump seems particularly fond of lying about the U.S. economy, which is puzzling since the economy is doing relatively well by most objective measures. In just the last 24 hours, the president lied about the GDP. But when he lies about basic mathematical numbers, it’s as if he is trying to be the sole source of facts on how the U.S. economy is doing – even when his numbers don’t match up with what his own administration is measuring.
Then there’s a whole genre of lies about the 2016 election. Trump seemed hell-bent on wishing away the 3 million more votes that Hillary Clinton received, beating him in the popular vote. One tactic he tried to deploy was falsely claiming that this margin was the result of voter fraud. He even set up a commission in a slapdash fashion to expose this mythical fraud. This voter fraud commission was chaired by Kris Kobach, the then-Secretary of State of Kansas who was known for tilting at windmills when it came to bogus claims of fake votes. The commission imploded without finding evidence.
As election law experts could have told Kobach and the president, finding voter fraud is rarer than lightning strikes. Ironically, one of the few people prosecuted for voter fraud was a woman in Iowa who tried to vote for Trump twice. So, at least on the issue of his own election, Trump doesn’t have a great record for shooting straight.
Meanwhile, there was the Special Counsel’s investigation into whether the Trump campaign conspired with the Russians to interfere in the 2016 election. Trump has been relatively consistent in claiming that he did not “collude” with the Russians. He’s been all over the map in his acceptance and contestation of whether the Russians interfered in the election.
During one election debate, he claimed that the interference could have been from China or a 400-pound man sitting in his bedroom. At other points, he seemed to acknowledge that Russia had interfered. But then, in a key moment in Helsinki standing side by side with Vladimir Putin, Trump claimed that he believed Putin in saying that Russia had not interfered in the election.
No Collusion, No Obstruction, Complete and Total EXONERATION. KEEP AMERICA GREAT!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 24, 2019
According to a letter Attorney General William Barr sent to Congress on March 24, it is clear that the Russians interfered in the 2016 election. However, Barr stated that Robert Mueller’s investigation found that no one in the Trump campaign wittingly conspired with the Russian government during the 2016 campaign. This matches up with Trump’s long-time refrain of “no collusion, no collusion.” However, that “no collusion” claim came from the same man who made 9,014 false or misleading claims over 773 days.
President Trump burned his credibility long ago, by lying about demonstrably false things to the American public. It is reasonable for his critics to be skeptical of his protestations of innocence after years of him crying wolf.Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of The Globe Post.