But, of course, McCabe was a career prosecutor with a sterling record, and his wife’s campaign (to which Clinton never donated) had ended by the time he had been made deputy FBI director. One doesn’t allegedly pay $130,000 to someone with a detailed account of an adulterous affair for nothing. Trump’s finances are intertwined with a host of Russian figures. And Trump himself hyped the WikiLeaks hacked emails, his son met with Russians on the pretext they had “dirt” on Clinton, and a campaign foreign policy adviser pursued Russian operatives also promising dirt on Clinton.
When it comes to matters of policy, they would like us to believe that fixing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is part of an amnesty and “open borders” plot. (DACA is about young, law-abiding undocumented immigrants brought here as children.) They wanted us to believe we were in the midst of a crime wave caused by illegal immigrants, until it became evident that crime was down, which they naturally claimed resulted from Trump’s brilliant policies.
Even a casual acquaintance with reality would show how preposterously untrue these claims are. The constant churn of falsehoods provides programming material for servile Fox News hosts and the conspiracy theorists who populate the nighttime programs. The gusher of untruths motivates the Keystone Kops antics of unwitting Russian helpmates such as Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), whose schemes echo through the Twitter landscape with the help of Russian Twitter bots. Getting Trump cultists to believe the latest utterance of their Great Leader does not mean Trump is “getting away” with anything.
The latest Politico-Morning Consult poll, for example, shows “47 percent of respondents said they had little or no confidence in the presidency, up 3 percentage points from a December 2016 survey with Politico.” Meanwhile, the print media, whom Trump accuses of spreading “fake news,” fared much better. (“Only one institution Morning Consult polled on — newspapers, a frequent punching bag of the president and his supporters — maintained their trust among the public, with 53 percent saying this month and a year earlier that they had at least some confidence in them.”) TV news, however, dropped four points. Likewise, poll after poll tells us a majority of Americans think Trump doesn’t tell the truth.
So when Trump, for example, denies that he improperly interfered with the Justice Department and the Russia probe, will the public believe him — or evidence that he asked former FBI director James B. Comey for a pledge of loyalty, demanded that Attorney General Jeff Sessions not recuse himself (“Where’s my Roy Cohn?” he reportedly said), interrogated former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe as to whom he voted for, asked Comey to go easy on fired national security adviser Michael Flynn and fired Comey for persisting with the Russia investigation?
Will they believe the mound of nutty conspiracy theories (remember the claim that President Barack Obama bugged Trump Tower?) so obviously intended to distract from the inquiry of Robert S. Mueller III? Or will they instead believe Mueller, the FBI and the rest of the intelligence community?
More than 2,000 lies later, Trump — we dearly hope — has revealed that he is unworthy of the public’s trust. The Mueller findings might not shake loose congressional Republicans, who have demonstrated a remarkable willingness to sacrifice their own credibility to defend the president, but then the public doesn’t trust Congress much these days either. When the GOP and Trump most need the public’s faith, they may find that the well of trust is bone-dry.
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