I got an email this morning from a conservative activist who I like and respect who was attempting to convince me to lay down my sword and get on board the Trump Train. This person said what I have heard from many other people, which is that Trump is succeeding because people are tired of “lying politicians.” I responded that this was a bizarre reason to support Trump, who is without a doubt the worst pathological liar to ever run for President, including Hillary Clinton. She responded that she wasn’t aware of any actual lies that Trump has told, just that he sometimes takes a while to make up his mind on a position.
I honestly was blown away by the exchange. I guess I have been so involved in the weeds of pointing out all the lies of Trump as they have happened, that I forget that people who aren’t paying very close attention may not have realized exactly how often Trump and his campaign have said things – about himself, even – that are demonstrably, provably untrue.
Here is one example. As of 8:00am this morning, Paul Manafort was on CNN (video at the link) vehemently denying that language from Melania Trump’s speech was lifted from Michelle Obama’s speech. Watch how adamantly he states that it never happened, that his claim to the contrary is not a lie (in spite of the obvious fact that it is), and that this is a nonsense story spun by the media. Less than four hours later, the Trump campaign admitted that the language was, in fact, taken from Michelle Obama’s speech. They even offered a detailed explanation of how it happened, and identified the staffer responsible.
Now, this story is obviously something of a tempest in a teapot, except for one thing – the Trump campaign has consistently and repeatedly lied through their teeth about it from the first minute. If they had offered the explanation that they are NOW giving immediately, this whole thing would have blown over immediately. Instead, for reasons that are clear only to them, they insisted that the language wasn’t lifted from Obama in spite of the obvious fact that it was, and in spite of the fact that they must have known that they were lying about it the whole time.
But here’s the thing: Chris Cuomo is right. This is not an isolated incident with the Trump campaign. It is part of a pattern of behavior with both Trump and his campaign that stretches back to the very earliest days of his campaign. Whenever Trump has gotten caught doing anything wrong, their response is to lie, lie, and then lie some more, until and unless the media hounds them into finally admitting the truth, after several days of public lying.
Here’s some examples. What’s astounding about this list is how often Trump lies about stuff that is small and insignificant. Stuff that has no bearing at all on the success of his campaign. Willingness to lie about the trivial and insignificant is I think more persuasive evidence of a sociopathy because it indicates a willingness to lie just for the sake of lying, as opposed to lying for the sake of accomplishing an actual objective. So I’m including in here some examples of Trump just flat out lying about stuff that makes no difference at all, as part of my point.
- For days, Trump lied about the well known fact that he used to pretend to be his own spokesman, sometimes going by the aliases John Miller or John Barron, in spite of the fact that he admitted under oath in a deposition that he used these aliases, and was actually caught on tape doing so. After weeks of flat out lying to the press about it, Trump came clean on Jimmy Kimmel and admitted he had been lying.
- Trump claimed repeatedly that he opposed the Iraq war “from the beginning,” including before the United States even invaded Iraq, in spite of the total absence of any proof to this effect. After weeks of making this claim, an interview surfaced of him from 2002 with Howard Stern in which he expressly stated that he supported invading Iraq, clearly exposing his claim as a lie. After this time, Trump quietly stopped claiming that he had been against the Iraq war from the beginning.
- Trump claimed very recently that he was the reason the RNC is currently being held in Cleveland – that it happened because he wanted it and he selected it. This is a ridiculous and demonstrably false lie, as the selection was made in 2014 before Trump had even announced his campaign and before anyone even knew that he would announce. The idea that Trump would have carried any weight in 2014 is absolutely laughable.
- In March, Trump was roundly criticized for botching an answer on abortion in response to a question that was posed to him by Chris Matthews. He claimed that MSNBC had deceptively edited the question and/or his response to omit important details. MSNBC promptly released the raw video which demonstrated that Trump was just engaged in his favorite trick: making s**t up on the spot and blaming other people (usually the media) for the dumb stuff he says and does. What’s egregious about this particular lie is that the media really does do this fairly often to Republicans and conservatives, and the fact that Trump claimed it falsely will make it more difficult for others who have actually been treated unfairly by the media to have their legitimate claims believed.
- In the run up to the Utah primary (which Trump lost handily), an anti-Trump Super PAC that was not affiliated with Cruz (and did not even support Cruz) ran a facebook ad which featured a naked picture of Melania Trump. Trump repeatedly lied and said this was a Cruz campaign ad. When the media repeatedly pushed back on this lie, Trump made up a new claim out of thin air: he claimed that the Cruz campaign “bought the rights” to the photo and/or the ad. This, it barely needs to be said, was also a patent lie – and the sort of lie only a person who lacks even a rudimentary understanding of campaign finance law would even attempt to pass off.
- In his bizarre March 8th victory press conference in which Trump basically tried to hawk a bunch of products with his name on them, he absurdly claimed that Trump Steaks were still in production and available for sale, which they are not and have not been for years.
- Trump repeatedly lied during the debates about whether he had ever supported universal, single-payer healthcare, and specifically whether he had praised the Canadian and Scottish healthcare models.
- Trump lied about and slandered Iowa evangelical leader Bob Vander Plaats, falsely alleging that Vander Plaats demanded a $100,000 fee for arranging to have Trump speak at an Iowa event. The event’s organizers produced documents proving that Vander Plaats in fact sought and received nothing, and in fact it was Trump who received $100,000 for speaking at the event.
- If you want a further, more exhaustive list (that hasn’t been updated in some time and thus could be much longer), I recommend this excellent post that was provided to me during the course of writing this.
Trump is, without a doubt, running the most dishonest campaign I have ever seen in American politics, and that dishonesty starts right at the top with all the words that fall out of Trump’s mouth. The irony of a Trump campaign that seeks to attack Hillary Clinton as dishonest really is pretty thick.