Fact Checker editor and chief writer Glenn Kessler labels Trump “the most mendacious president in U.S. history.” And the 344-page book backs up that charge.
“Donald Trump and His Assault on Truth” lays bare the scope of this president’s record of unprecedented habitual and intentional dishonesty, tracing three-plus years of deceitfulness up to and including his incompetent handling of the coronavirus crisis.
An entire chapter of the book is devoted to his misrepresentations about the rapidly spreading disease and his false depictions of his blunderbuss and botched response.
Kessler and his co-authors, Salvador Rizzo and Meg Kelly, catalogue Trump’s sick relationship with the truth, which has been on daily display since the start of his presidency. They tally the misleading or false claims he made from Jan. 20, 2017 — Inauguration Day — to Jan. 20, 2020: a grand total of 16,241; an average of 15 per day.
Some Trump falsehoods, the book notes, were often-repeated but fanciful exaggerations: passed the biggest tax cut ever; presided over the best economy in U.S. history; cut a massive job-creating deal with Saudi Arabia; and all but solved the nuclear crisis with North Korea.
Other Trump claims had no grounding in fact. U.S. Steel was building more than half a dozen new plants — untrue. President Barack Obama gave 2,500 Iranians U.S. citizenship when negotiating the nuclear deal — another untruth. The Trump administration did not have a family separation policy on the border — it did.
The book captures Trump’s compulsion to undo or degrade Obama’s accomplishments — an obsession that borders on pathological. Kessler says Trump falsely claimed on four separate occasions that Obama’s relationship with the Philippines was so poor that during one official visit, the country’s leaders would not let the U.S. presidential jet land, leaving Obama circling the airport. “Why,” the author asks, “would [Trump] conjure such an implausible scenario?”
But the Obama story is a telltale sign of Trump’s brand of deceit. He makes stuff up and keeps the bogus claims going as long as he can get away with it.
The book’s introduction says it best: “We had never encountered a politician like Trump — so cavalier about the facts, so unconcerned with accuracy, so willing to attack people for made-up reasons and so determined to falsely depict his achievements. Presidents previously sought to speak with authority; Trump wants to brag or berate, usually armed with false information.”
The penchant for lying exposed in “Donald Trump and His Assault on Truth” is only one of the flaws that make him a dangerous president. It is intertwined with his grandiose sense of self-importance, callousness, arrogance and cruel disregard for other people’s rights, including the rule of law.
In Trumpworld, only he matters.
Thus, Trump purges the government with impunity, limits public accountability to his liking, blows off congressional subpoenas like dandruff and asserts an absolute privilege to do whatever the hell he wants, whether legal or not, because — thanks to the subjugation of Attorney General William P. Barr — Trump controls the Justice Department. And he can rest assured that a Republican-led Senate will never kick him out of office when he is impeached by a Democratic House.
And now all of that amassed presidential power is directed at — what else? His reelection.
Mendacity lies at the heart of his reelection strategy: Keep them — we know who — away from the polls by any means necessary. If that requires telling lies about absentee balloting, making false voter-fraud charges, and misrepresenting disenfranchisement and voter-suppression schemes, so be it.
And, depressingly, some Democrats are making it easy for Trump.
Instead of joining a nationwide strategy to protect polling places from intimidation and safeguarding the U.S. Postal Service’s ability to deliver mailed ballots unimpeded by budget strictures — and at a time when focus belongs on protecting the right to vote, encouraging voter registration and ensuring access to a ballot — Democrats are furiously debating which woman should be Joe Biden’s running mate. Some sterling candidates are on the list.
But as for voter turnout, if a lying, devious and bigoted bully like Donald Trump can’t bring voters out to the polls, then nothing will.
And that’s the truth.
Read more from Colbert King’s archive.