Does Donald Trump tell it like it is?
Compared to most professions, politicians rank pretty low in terms of public perception of their honesty and integrity. There are precious few professions — maybe used car salesmen — which rank lower. Hollywood depictions of Washington (such as House of Cards) often portray it as a nest of vipers, a nearly unsalvageable mess of corruption and lies. In my opinion, much of this is a caricature, and in reality most politicians do what they do because they believe they can make a difference, not simply because they want power. Many may have mixed motivations though.
Right or wrong, Trump tapped into this stereotype to try to present himself on the campaign trail as the voice of the people, as an honest guy and a Washington outsider, untainted by corruption and political games, uniquely willing to just “tell it like it is”.
Through what has seemed to most of us like the most unbelievably outrageous lies that a US Presidential candidate has ever told, Trump’s supporters have stuck with him through thick and thin.
I feel almost silly doing this, because Trump’s fundamental dishonesty seems so undeniable and self-evident to me that it’s hard for me to believe there is anyone who was unable to see through him during the campaign. But a good fraction of the nation did vote for him, so I feel obligated to present the evidence. So here, I give you, some of the biggest whoppers I have heard him tell and some links to the evidence which refutes them.
Trump began his foray into politics by calling into question the legitimacy of Obama’s birth certificate. Starting in 2011 and continuing for several years, Trump again and again accused Obama of being born in Kenya and having forged a fake Hawaiian birth certificate. The worst of it was conveniently timed to be during his 2012 campaign for re-election.
In July 2012, Trump tweeted:
With @BarackObama listing himself as ‘Born in Kenya’ in 1999, Hawaii laws allowed him to produce a fake certificate. #SCAM — Donald Trump, 2012
In the tweet he linked to a Breitbart News article to back up his claim. Like so many Breitbart articles, the article was just wrong— Obama never claimed that he was born in Kenya to anyone, and fact checkers had already debunked the article.
In August 2012, he tweeted:
An ‘extremely credible source’ has called my office and told me that @BarackObama’s birth certificate is a fraud. — Donald Trump, 2012
(Perhaps ironic now, as in 2017 Trump has been criticizing the New York Times as “fake news” and the “enemy of the people” for publishing claims from anonymous sources within his administration about things Trump has allegedly said or done privately.)
In September 2012, he tweeted:
“Wake Up America! See article: “Israeli Science: Obama Birth Certificate is a Fake” — Donald Trump, 2012
linking to another untrustworthy news source claiming that the birth certificate Obama released (in response to Trump’s continued harassment of him over the issue) was a forgery.
In Oct 2013, he tweeted:
“If you like your healthcare plan you can keep it = I was born in Hawaii“— Donald J Trump, 2013
This is a reference to the fact that nearly all Republicans view Obama’s statement “if you like your healthcare plan you can keep it” as a lie. Trump was saying if you believe he lied about healthcare, then you should believe he lied about being born in Hawaii — what’s the difference?
Every year the health insurance companies change around the menu of plans they offer, the same as a privately run restaurant does, so there is never any guarantee that someone is going to be offered exactly the same plan from one year to the next — that’s not something that’s ever been under government control. Presumably, what Obama meant to say was that there was nothing in the ACA that mandated that anyone has to switch to a new plan. But he phrased it carelessly, in a way that made it sound to some people as if he was promising the impossible.
There were more plans changed around by the insurance companies that year than most years (although still less than 2%), so it’s plausible that some of those changes were in response to the new rules defined in the ACA. (For example, the year the law went into effect, my own health insurance company decided to offer me a slightly less expensive plan with better benefits, which I was of course thrilled about. I have no idea whether this had anything to do with the new health care law, but technically, I didn’t have the option of sticking with my old expensive crappy plan if for some reason I had wanted to.)
This was about as close to an outright lie as Obama has ever told. Fox News commentator Sean Hannity compared it to Richard Nixon saying “I am not a crook” and Bill Clinton saying “I did not have sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky”. To me, these comparisons seem unfair and greatly exaggerated. But this is typical of the mindset of the conservative audience Trump was tweeting to, so what he was saying to them was essentially “Obama’s lies about being born in Hawaii were just as bad as his lies about healthcare.” (Something even Fox News saw as outrageous and offensive.)
In June 2014, he tweeted:
“Always remember, I was the one who got Obama to release his birth certificate, or whatever that was! Hilary couldn’t, McCain couldn’t.” — Donald J Trump, 2014
But neither Hillary Clinton nor John McCain ever suggested that Barack Obama wasn’t born in the US, or asked him to release his birth certificate — that was all Trump. They always agreed he was born in Hawaii, as did any honest politicians or media outlets then or now. Not only did the state of Hawaii have the birth certificate on file to prove it, the announcement of his birth was in the newspaper the year he was born, and is still on record for anyone to view. Still, Trump made a big public show about sending a team of investigators (stars from his reality TV show The Apprentice) to Hawaii to go investigate it, not believing the fact checkers that had already investigated it. (And incidentally, there has never been any law that you can’t be President if you weren’t born in the US — neither John McCain nor Ted Cruz were born in the US, for instance. Had Obama been born in Kenya, he still would have been perfectly allowed to run for President.)
Also, his short-form birth certificate was put online in 2008, in response to fringe conspiracy theorists, long before Trump started calling it a forgery. Trump only succeeded in goading Obama into releasing the long-form version, something completely unnecessary and superfluous. The short-form version is the ordinary version of a birth certificate used by people born in Hawaii, valid for all legal purposes in the United States — long-form is ordinarily only for internal state records and had to be specially requested.
During the primary race in 2015–2016, Trump suddenly stopped answering questions about Obama’s birth certificate. Several times when he was asked directly about it, he refused to answer, saying things like “sorry, I don’t talk about that issue any more”. He realized at that point he had to walk the line between his diehard fans, who were mostly birther conspiracy theorists, and more well-informed Republicans who knew it had been a shameful scheme to try to brand Obama as un-American.
But after winning the primary, when running against Hillary, the birthers became a much smaller percentage of the people he had to win over, so he decided to come out and finally state firmly and publicly what he had built his political career denying:
“President Barack Obama was born in the United States.” — Donald Trump, 2016
It’s not that he changed his mind, that’s not what he claims — there wasn’t any substantially new evidence that came to light after Obama released his birth certificate in 2008, and certainly nothing new since 2011 when the state of Hawaii released the long-form version of it. It’s just that somewhere between 2014 and 2016, he became willing to admit that it was all a game, and that he never took any of it seriously. He said what he did for political purposes, probably initiated in 2011 as a way of testing the waters to see if he could run against Obama in the 2012 election. Presumably, at some point he decided to wait until 2016.
During the 2015-2016 campaign, he kept doing similar things, except that his lies took a more sinister turn toward racism and fascism.
Near the beginning of the primary race, he claimed that the Mexican government was actively “sending” people across the border into the US:
“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” — Donald Trump, 2015
First, Mexico does not send anyone to the US. Some people sneak across the border, without permission from either the United States or Mexico. Others come here legally by applying to migrant worker programs or by obtaining work, travel, or student visas. Even most of them who decide to break the law and sneak across the border are hard working, dedicated people looking to improve their lives or re-unite with their families, but frustrated with the absurdly difficult bureaucratic hoops one has to jump through in order to do that legally.
This is a problem which most liberals, and especially libertarians, have been asking the US government to fix for a long time, but conservatives keep blocking it. As usual, conservatives are strongly in favor of the government interfering with people’s lives and restricting their freedom. In this case, using armed guards just to keep them from being able to do normal things that they would easily be able to do if there wasn’t a big scary government breathing down their necks telling them “no, you can’t get a job, you can’t feed yourself, you have no right to work yourself out of poverty.”
Conservatives are often sympathetic if someone bends or breaks the complicated tax laws set up by the IRS and then gets audited, but they seem completely oblivious as to why anyone would feel so angry at our overly restrictive and overly complicated immigration laws that they would feel tempted to bend or break them. In fact, many conservatives believe that if anyone slips up once with regard to immigration law, they ought to be banned for life from ever being considered a candidate for US citizenship.
Very important to realize is that most often, violations of immigration law are not due to anyone illegally crossing a border; they are due to people coming here legally and then failing to comply with all of the paperwork required to keep their legal status current. Sometimes that’s intentional and other times it’s through no fault of their own (like when someone’s paperwork gets lost in the mail). Either way, the fact is that the majority of undocumented immigrants (what Trump would call “illegal immigrants”, a racial slur originally directed against Jews in Europe) living among us came here legally. They did not hop any border or get sent here by any foreign government.
What about the rest of the claims Trump makes about Mexican immigrants? He claims that as a general rule, they are rapists and bring crime and drugs here. He also adds the caveat that he assumes some of them are good people. His use of the word “assume” implies that he has never personally seen or met any of them who are good people (otherwise it would not be an assumption but something he can just state as a fact). The only Mexican immigrants he’s encountered are apparently all rapists and criminals, but he assumes just based on the large number of them here that somewhere, there must be one who is a good person.
He may or may not really believe it, but there’s no question that what he said was outrageously untrue, and horribly offensive and racist. The statistics show that compared to the average US citizen, immigrants are less likely to commit rape or violent crime, as well as less likely to commit crime in general. So they are certainly not bringing crime or rape here, that’s just a bald faced lie. Plenty of people do cross the border illegally for purposes of drug smuggling, but these are generally not Mexican immigrants. Some of them are US citizens and some of them are Mexican citizens, but they are not the ones moving here to live here, they are just couriers who live on one side or the other and go back and forth. And like actual Mexican immigrants, none of them were sent here by the Mexican government.
In response to this statement, Trump was bombarded with questions from journalists on why he said it and what he meant by it. He was confronted again and again with the statistics which disprove his statements. But instead of apologizing or backing down on any of his claims, he doubled down on them. He continued to insist that Mexican immigrants are bringing crime, rape, and drugs here.
In one case, when asked why he thinks Mexican immigrants are more likely to be rapists, he cited an article on the website Fusion.net. But the article wasn’t even about immigrant rapists, it was about female undocumented immigrants being especially vulnerable to getting raped. Because they are putting themselves in a situation where they are always at risk of being turned in to authorities if they don’t co-operate, many men in their lives have an extreme amount of power over them — whether it be those who offer to smuggle them in the back of a truck, or an employer who offers them a sub-minimum wage job when they get here. When this was pointed out, he still didn’t admit he was wrong, but instead responded with the pathetically vague but inflammatory statement:
“Well, somebody’s doing the raping.” — Donald Trump, 2015
Most undocumented immigrants, including women, are always on their best behavior out of the constant fear that someone might turn them in and have them deported. I have many immigrant friends, a few of which have gone through periods where their status became undocumented. And I can personally attest to the fact that even the ones who are here fully legally get more worried than I do about minor violations of the law, such as running a traffic light or smoking marijuana, for fear that anything they do could result in deportation. But especially the ones who are here illegally worry about these kinds of things, and almost never break the law let alone commit violent crimes.
A disgustingly dishonest tactic Donald Trump has taken to try to fight the statistics on immigration is to use highly unusual anecdotes. For example, he found a rare case where someone was murdered by an undocumented immigrant, and then invited their surviving family member to come along with him on his campaign tour to speak side by side him about how much of a menace immigrants supposedly are. No doubt, this person will always have an irrational fear of immigrants, based on their personal experience. Just as someone whose family member is murdered by a Catholic priest might have an irrational fear of Catholic priests. But Trump has channeled this into a way of demonizing immigrants, especially hispanic immigrants, on a mass scale.
Trump’s lies during his campaign continued. He tried to claim retroactively that he opposed the US invasion of Iraq, even though he supported it initially (and changed his mind after the war had turned into a disaster). No matter how many times the media repeated his words back to him, he still insisted that he was against the war from the beginning.
Hillary’s position on the Iraq war was clear. She strongly disliked the idea of the US going in unilaterally, but she trusted Bush when he claimed he was in possession of classified intelligence that indicated Saddam had secretly restarted his nuclear weapons program and had attempted to buy 500 tons of uranium from a source in Niger. This turned out to be false information, based on a forged document whose exact origins are unknown. Even before he made this statement, Bush had been notified that this claim about Saddam purchasing uranium from Niger had been investigated by the CIA and refuted, but he decided to go ahead and put it in his State of the Union address anyway, because Congress and the American public needed to be convinced to go to war.
As a Senator, Hillary lacked much of the classified information Bush had access to, so like most of congress, she trusted Bush’s judgement, and she voted in favor of a bill passed that authorized Bush to deploy military troops into Iraq as a last resort, where the bill explicitly said that he was only authorized to do this once he had explored all other options. Like many who voted for the bill, Hillary had assumed that this meant Bush would first work with the UN to continue inspections, and if the inspections substantiated the unproven claims that Bush and Cheney were making, then we would go to war. But that’s not what Bush did. As soon as the bill was passed, he used it as an excuse to immediately invade, without waiting for any further inspections. Many people, Hillary and myself included (my stance was identical to hers at the time) felt horribly betrayed.
But unlike Trump, Hillary has never tried to hide or retroactively change how she felt about the invasion in the past. Yes, she supported an invasion if certain conditions were met, and under the assumption that Bush had been telling the truth about Saddam’s nuclear program. She has never denied that, but openly admits that her vote for the Iraq war was her mistake. She should not have trusted Bush, and she learned a big lesson from it. How interesting that Fox News compared Obama’s “if you like your plan you can keep it” to Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton’s biggest lies, but failed to mention anything about Bush’s biggest lie. At least nobody died from either Nixon or Clinton’s lies. Hundreds of thousands of innocent people were killed because of Bush’s lie.
But while all Presidents have probably told a fib or two here and there, including Obama, nobody has ever come close to Donald Trump before. And I’m not just saying that because I’m a Democrat. Anyone who has listened to Donald Trump speak extensively should know that his words have very little correspondence with the truth — he just doesn’t care about his reputation when it comes to honesty. Republican Presidential candidate Ted Cruz described Donald Trump as such:
“He lies practically every word that comes out of his mouth, and in a pattern that I think is straight out of a psychology textbook.” — Ted Cruz in 2016, about Donald Trump
Most people know by this point a lot about one of Trump’s long-term friends, Steve Bannon. To briefly review, Bannon rose to fame upon taking over Breitbart News after Andrew Breitbart’s death and transforming it from a tea party website into the premier “platform for the alt-right” (as Bannon himself has bragged about, using exactly that phrase). Bannon was chosen as Trump’s campaign manager, after the first couple managers screwed up and got fired. And then after winning the Presidency, Trump gave him a cabinet position, and then passed an executive order that gave him a seat at the National Security Council. (According to the New York Times article mentioned earlier, anonymous sources within the Trump administration say that this was something Bannon slipped into the bill and Trump didn’t notice until after it was passed.) Breitbart’s most famous senior editor was alt-right spokesperson Milo Yiannopolous. After they continuously defended Yiannopolous for years, as he wrote scathingly offensive and hurtful things about women, minorities, Muslims, and transgender people (mostly for the shock value, because he dislikes “political correctness”), often bullying and tormenting individual users on twitter and other places online — he finally had to resign from Breitbart a couple weeks ago after defending the sexual molestation of young boys by Catholic priests on the grounds that it can be a great way for young gay boys to discover themselves and learn valuable techniques for oral sex while growing up (as he’s proud of having done, from his favorite priest “father Michael”).
But while Bannon has received a lot of press, not as much has been said about another important long-term friend of Trump’s: David Pecker. Pecker is the CEO of the tabloid magazine National Enquirer. Like Trump, the magazine has always been known for its complete lack of integrity when it comes to honesty and fact checking— perhaps why they are such good pals. Throughout the years, they have long traded favors and publicly praised each other. But during Trump’s campaign, the magazine became weaponized as a propaganda tool for Trump.
Before the Trump era, the magazine used to publish stories about Elvis sightings, or about alien babies. But now they pretty much just run non-stop pro-Trump ads on their covers. Here’s a typical example:
This may seem harmless at first. I mean, every candidate has some newspapers and magazines who write favorable things about them. The problem comes in that the magazine is willing to print anything Trump wants them to whatsoever, with no fact checking at all — they’ve never done that and they have no plans to start. Their target audience, like Trump’s target audience, doesn’t care about facts. Breitbart at least makes an effort at fact-checking, although they’re known for doing a terrible job and for advocating deplorable things.
During the primary, after Ted Cruz criticized Trump’s wife for posing semi-nude in magazines, the National Enquirer helped Trump get revenge by running two articles attacking Ted Cruz.
One of them claimed that he had been caught cheating on his wife with 5 other women, including a hooker, a teacher, and some coworkers.
And the other accused his father of being involved in the JFK assassination.
Like most National Enquirer articles, there was no truth to either of them (for instance, the man in the photo was not even Ted Cruz’s father) but they weren’t just harmless fictions. These appeared in practically every supermarket in the country. The people who buy these magazines typically have no idea how to fact-check anything, and even those who would never buy a tabloid may have been subconsciously influenced about the character of Ted Cruz. Trump was counting on it.
After running against Hillary, they did the same thing to her, claiming she was hiding medical problems, covering up her own sexual affairs, and involved in all sorts of other unsubstantiated corruption. The cover of one of them read “EXPLOSIVE STORY THAT WILL CHANGE THE ELECTION: Hillary Hitman Tells All!”
Interesting that the headline for when the FBI exonerated her in the email scandal, concluding their investigation by saying that she had done nothing whatsoever that a judge would accept as a prosecutable crime was “Hillary Going to Jail! Feds’ probe NAILS CLINTON ON 2 CRIMES!”. It reads as if it were written in anticipation of the report coming out, and then they decided to publish it anyway, apathetic that the report ended up saying the opposite.
This is not how democratic elections should be decided, this is completely below the belt. These fake articles reach millions of eyeballs, and many of them believe what they read. Donald Trump is truly our first fake news President. And as a strategy to combat that perception, he has started to appropriate the term to refer to the mainstream media, while praising the tabloids who print actual fake news. Trump says he likes David Pecker’s work because his tabloids are “more exciting” than mainstream news:
“Time Magazine should definitely pick David Pecker to run things over there — he’d make it exciting and win awards!” — Donald Trump, 2013
“[The National Enquirer] is a magazine that frankly, in many respects, should be very respected.” — Donald Trump, 2016
Throughout the campaign, Donald Trump became fond of retweeting tweets from neo-nazis and other alt-right whackos. For example, Trump twice retweeted tweets from twitter user WhiteGenocideTM. If his username wasn’t obvious enough, his icon was the founder of the American Nazi Party, his location was listed as “Jewmerica”, and his feed was filled with anti-semitic tweets criticizing Jews and questioning the validity of the holocaust. Mixed in with all that, he shared a photoshopped image of Jeb Bush, and then many months later praised Trump for having the best crowds at his rallies. Trump shared both of them proudly, apparently unbothered by the username or any of the other stuff associated with this twitter user.
Both of those were harmless enough, as the tweets themselves were not offensive, just coming from a source which only a deplorable human being would want to be associated with. But more harmful was the actual false neo-nazi propaganda Trump shared about correlations between race and crime.
Trump shared the above graphic image to his followers in Nov 2015, containing very obviously fake statistics, including a fake source (the “Crime Statistics Bureau of San Fransisco”, which doesn’t exist). The actual source of the image was traced back to another neo-nazi user on twitter, @CheesedBrit, whose profile includes the image of a swastika and the tagline “Should have listened to the Austrian chap with the little moustache.” Did Trump know the real source of this image? Possibly not, but before sharing a random image floating around the net, anyone I know (or any respectable politician I would think) would stop for at least a second and consider whether the numbers make any sense, or if it’s just another racist meme designed to reinforce racial stereotypes.
If these stats had literally been true, then it would be far more likely for a white person to be killed by a black person than another white person. Which is just what the neo-nazis want people to think. But exactly the opposite is true: if you’re white, you’re far more likely to be killed by another white person than a black person. Whites killed by blacks is listed in Trump’s tweet as 81% when the actual number according to the FBI is less than 15%.
During this period of the campaign, a study by the twitter analytics firm Little Bird found that 62% of Donald Trump’s retweets were from twitter accounts with direct ties to white supremacism. The few examples above were not anomalies, but the norm for Donald Trump during this period. To what degree his personal sympathies align with white supremacism has always been vague, but either way it’s clear he knew that these were the people he needed to win the election, so these are the people he catered to and focused on most heavily throughout his campaign.
In early 2016, holocaust denier and former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan David Duke gave Trump a strong endorsement, telling his many followers that voting for anyone but Trump is “treason to your heritage”. After this, Trump was asked if he liked being associated with Duke and the KKK or if he would be willing to disavow them. Fearing that disavowing Duke would lose him a lot of alt-right support, Trump outright refused, saying he didn’t know enough about either Duke or the KKK to know whether he would agree with them. Regarding the KKK, he said that there are many different groups, and some of them “may be totally fine”— yes, it’s true that some KKK groups in history were worse than others, but I think any ordinary American would agree that all of them were unquestionably deplorable. He also said that he would have to meet Duke to decide, and that he never had. But that was a lie, Trump and Duke had met before, and Trump had previously spoken about him in interviews. Back in 2000, Trump said he preferred not to keep company with people like David Duke, specifically citing as his reason that he was a klansman — and yet in 2016 he was afraid to say that again for fear of losing the white supremacist vote.
There were many more outrageous lies during his campaign, but let’s move on to after the election.
Just after the inauguration, Reuters posted side-by-side photographs of the crowd which attended Trump’s inauguration, taken from exactly the same vantage point at approximately the same time of day (within about a half hour of each other):
The photo on the left is from Trump’s inauguration in 2017, while the one on the right is from Obama’s inauguration in 2009. This split image originated from Reuters and both were taken by their photographers, but it also got circulated through CNN and most of the usual mainstream news outlets on the day of the inauguration.
Trump was furious when he saw these photos, and worried that it made him look bad to his supporters. So he instructed his press secretary, Sean Spicer, to hold a press conference about it, the first of his administration, where Spicer announced that the media was out to get Trump and that this wouldn’t be tolerated by his administration. In direct contradiction with the easily verifiable facts on this, he very forcefully made the outrageous counter-claim that:
“This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period. Both in person and around the globe.” — Sean Spicer, 2017
Spicer continued after that, providing a set of entirely false claims about the inauguration, aimed at backing up Trump’s fantasy that the media had misrepresented the crowd size. He complained that 2017 was the first year that they had used floor coverings, which may have had the effect of “highlighting where people were not standing”. This was false, the same floor coverings were used in Obama’s 2013 inauguration. He claimed that it was also the first time magnetometers were used, which may have made it more difficult for the crowd to congregate, but this was a lie also — there were no magnetometers used, and no reported problems with the crowd congregating. He also claimed that 420,000 people used the DC metro on Trump’s inauguration day, but only 317,000 did for Obama in 2013. These were completely and intentionally phony numbers, based on comparing different times of the day to each other; the real numbers were 570,000 for Trump and 782,000 for Obama. And the photos in question were from Obama’s even bigger inauguration of 2009 anyway, not 2013. (For 2009, DC metro ridership was 1.1-million.)
At the press conference, Spicer estimated the crowd size to be around 720,000. The photos and the fact-checkers show significantly less, but even if he were right about that number, Obama’s 2009 inauguration was around 1.8-million so they were just nowhere near in the same ballpark. (And Obama’s 2013 inauguration was around 1-million.) Politifact rated his statement about Trump’s crowd size as pants on fire, a totally outrageous lie.
Even more disturbing than the fact that Trump sent his press secretary to lie about something so easily fact-checkable was that he supposedly did it to set the record straight on what he claimed was the media spreading false information about him, when they were just doing their job. Trump felt like he was being mocked, and needed to take control of the narrative somehow.
When Trump’s senior advisor Kellyanne Conway was asked on Meet the Press why Trump sent Sean Spicer out to the press to lie about something so petty as crowd size, she said “Don’t be so dramatic about it. He just gave alternative facts to that”. To which the host replied “Look, alternative facts are not facts. They’re falsehoods.”
This kind of 1984-style intimidation of the media, always insisting that 2+2=5 even when everyone knows it’s a lie, has continued unabated as we get further into his Presidency. I’ve never seen anything like this before in American politics.
Trump has claimed repeatedly that the 2016 election was rigged, both before and after he won. Afterwards, he keeps saying that 3-million “illegal votes” were cast in the election. He won’t admit it, but it’s obvious where he got this number from: Hillary beat Trump in the popular vote by nearly exactly 3-million votes, the largest margin of any loser of a Presidential race. That these 3-million votes were illegal has been dismissed as complete nonsense by every mainstream media outlet and fact-checker. Jake Trapper of CNN pointed out that if it were really true, then Trump should be launching an investigation to see how there could have been such a vast conspiracy among poll workers all across the nation to allow so many illegal votes to be cast. After pressure from him and other journalists who keep mocking the absurdity of this claim, he has agreed to launch an investigation into it, putting Mike Pence in charge of it. I expect it to be about as successful as the investigation he launched into Obama’s birth certificate years ago. There is speculation that the reason Trump came up with this in the first place is to trick the media into defending the legitimacy of his Presidency, instead of attacking it. (Since prior to this the focus was on the FBI’s and CIA’s conclusions that Putin directly ordered Russian intelligence to hack the DNC specifically to help Trump in the election; and that several key members of Trump’s campaign had direct communications with Russian officials during the race.)
In another conference he held recently, Trump claimed that he’d won the electoral vote by the largest margin since Reagan. But this is even easier to look up than the crowd size: every President since Reagan except George W Bush has won by a larger electoral margin than Trump, and George W Bush’s win against Al Gore in 2000 was only smaller than Trump’s because it was such a dead heat that the election was decided after a Florida judge ruled that enough hand recounting of ballots with hanging chads had been done that no more recounts were to be allowed. George H W Bush, Clinton, and Obama all won by bigger electoral margins than Trump. In fact, Trump won by one of the slimmest electoral margins in all of American history. After making this false statement twice, once on twitter and once at a press conference, he was challenged on it and then backed off a bit, saying that he meant every Republican President. But that’s still false. After being challenged on the second version, he just threw his hands up and said that he was only repeating information that had been given to him.
Most recently, Sean Spicer announced on behalf of Trump:
“Great news for American workers: economy added 235,000 new jobs, unemployment rate drops to 4.7% in first report for @POTUS Trump. […] Not a bad way to start day 50 of this administration”. — Sean Spicer, March 2017
When journalists asked him how to reconcile this with Trump’s reaction to the previous jobs report where unemployment dropped to 4.8% under Obama’s administration:
“Don’t believe those phony numbers when you hear 4.9 and 5 percent unemployment. The number’s probably 28, 29, as high as 35. […] The 5 percent figure is one of the biggest hoaxes in modern politics!” — Trump, 2016
“I talked to the president prior to this, and he said to quote him very clearly: ‘They may have been phony in the past, but it’s very real now.’” — Sean Spicer, March 2017
Yes, and Obama’s birth certificate may have been phony in the past, but it’s very real now. Some things about Trump never change.
Ted Cruz calls Donald Trump a “pathological liar”. The New York Times calls Donald Trump a “pathological liar”. Bernie Sanders calls Donald Trump a “pathological liar with authoritarian ambitions”. When Politico did a study on how frequently each of the candidates in the 2016 election lied during a 1 week period (in Sept 2016) by analyzing all of their public speech, Trump was far beyond Hillary and even beyond what I would have expected from him. The study concluded that every time Trump opens his mouth, he tells another lie every 3 minutes and 15 seconds, on average. While they did mention that “Clinton is no paragon of truth-telling either”, they also concluded that:
“Trump’s mishandling of facts and propensity for exaggeration so greatly exceed Clinton’s as to make the comparison almost ludicrous.” — Politico
The total number of lies he told just during that week was 87, of which they enumerated all 87 including links to fact checking of them.
Again, I felt almost silly writing this post because it seems to me that most everyone already knows that Trump is a pathological liar, but I wrote all this out in detail for the sake of the last die-hard Trump fans who may still have some hopeful impression that their hero is really “telling it like it is” and that somehow everyone else in Washington and in the media is just smearing him. And yes, I left out plenty of really good examples; there’s just no way to get to every absurd and irresponsible thing he’s said in one post. But I think this gives you a good sampling.