It is an awful thing to call someone a liar. It breaks the social fabric. We expect that most people we know tell the truth. Saying they don’t — that in essence we don’t trust them — is an insult. Parents punish their children if they lie and warn them not to call anyone a liar.
The other day at Donald Trump’s Florida rally in which he again announced he is running for re-election (he began his re-election campaign during the inauguration), one woman in particular was outraged that so many people believe he routinely lies. That’s just a media fabrication, she stormed.
The Washington Post has a scorecard that has Trump caught lying 10,726 times that can be proved. The Toronto Star also keeps score. The New York Times keeps a record of his false claims and the facts. So does Buzz Feed. So do reporters and fact checkers and governments around the world.
Tony Schwartz, the biographer who wrote Trump’s screed, “The Art of the Deal,” says Trump lies about 80 to 90 percent of the time.
On many issues, Trump simply misstates the truth, embellishes it or exaggerates. That is not what we’re talking about or what is so upsetting to people who take unraveling the threads of democracy seriously. Lying is deliberately and knowingly saying something that is not true.
Trump tells lies about things that matter and things that can be proven. Here are just a few.
Trump repeatedly claims the Mueller report said there was no collusion with the Trump campaign and Russia. But the Mueller report did not say that. It said collusion is not a crime and was not investigated. Mueller did say that he was unable to say that Trump did not break the law and obstruct justice. He said there was a lot of evidence for obstruction of justice that Congress should investigate and then decide how to handle it. Proof? Read the report.
Trump rode to current fame not just on reality TV, telling celebrities they were “fired,” but also by claiming Barack Obama was not born in the United States. That is not true and Trump had absolutely no proof that it was anything but a lie. Proof? Obama’s Hawaiian birth certificate has been meticulously verified.
Trump said that the National Security Agency, the CIA and the FBI told Congress that Russia did not influence the 2016 election. That is not true. U.S. intelligence agencies unanimously agreed that Russia did interfere and is trying to meddle in the 2020 election as well. Proof: Read the Mueller report and the agencies’ own statements to Congress.
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Trump repeatedly says he got the most Electoral College votes of any president since Ronald Reagan. Trump got 304. George H.W. Bush got 426 in 1988. Bill Clinton got 370 votes in 1992 and 379 in 1996. Obama received 365 in 2008.
Trump claimed that thousands of people voted illegally in 2016 for Hillary Clinton because she had almost 3 million more votes than he did. He formed a commission to prove widespread fraud. The commission quietly disbanded without proving anything.
Trump has claimed that the rate of violent crime in the U.S. is the highest it’s been in 45 or 47 years. In fact, according to the FBI, violent crime dropped 49 percent between 1993 and 2017.
Late last year Trump said that because of his administration “big steel is opening and renovating plants all over the country” and “auto companies are pouring into the U.S.” According to industry figures, neither statement is true.
Also Trump has claimed that tariffs are making America billions of dollars. That is not true. Trump’s tariffs are hurting farmers and costing consumers.
Trump said the tax cut he pushed through Congress with only Republican support was “the biggest in American history.” The nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget said that is false.
Trump said he achieved an “economic turnaround of historic proportions.” Economists agree that is not true; the economy turned around under Obama.
According to Trump, separating children from their parents at the border is established U.S. policy, most recently authorized on a wide scale by Obama. That is not true. The Obama administration separated some children from parents to prevent human trafficking, not as a wide-scale tool to try to prevent illegal immigration as Trump tried and failed. Reunification generally was quick, not, like Trump’s policy, lasting for months or irrevocable.
You may still be an enthusiastic Trump supporter but the truth is that telling the truth is not one of the man’s virtues. Where do we go to get back national respect for honesty?