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The 13 biggest hoaxes in America, according to Donald Trump

In this Aug. 21, 2017, photo, President Donald Trump points to the sun as he arrives to view the solar eclipse at the White House. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

Some men use words like a scalpel, leveraging their power incisively and conservatively. Others use words the way Wile E. Coyote uses a boulder perched at the edge of a cliff.

Former president Donald Trump is more of a push-the-boulder kind of guy, and one of the boulders he likes to push is the word “hoax.” Trump used it nearly 800 times as he was first running for and then serving as president, generally as a way of undergirding his incessant claims that everyone but him was being dishonest about things. Every time someone criticized him, it was a “hoax,” to the point that the word lost any real meaning.

There was one particular use of the word, though, that came up a lot. In 2013, he attracted some attention by describing global warming as a hoax, an assertion that was predicated on a major ice storm and cold temperatures ... in December. If global warming were real, why is there still winter, Trump asked. Checkmate.

As he was running for president, though, this blunt descriptor became something of an albatross. He had been all over the map on the issue of climate change for years and recognized that some voters wanted to hear something a bit more refined on the subject. His long-standing hatred of wind turbines, born of frustration about the spoiled views at a golf course in Scotland, was moderated when an Iowa voter in 2015 challenged him on subsidies the industry relied upon in that state. Being a politician was different than just being a guy hollering at things.

But now Trump is once again a guy hollering about things, albeit one who’s leading in early polls for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. And so, to get applause from his base as well as to attack President Biden, Trump on Monday released a statement again disparaging the “global warming hoax” and Biden’s attendance at a conference centered on the subject. It’s an odd moment at which to make such a claim, given that we’ve learned far more over the past eight years about how the world is warming as a result of human activity, but nuances of the science were never the trigger for Trump’s position on the subject. So, he declared, it’s a hoax — in fact, the “7th biggest Hoax in America," a global hoax somehow contained by this nation’s borders.

Trump went so far as to outline a number of other hoaxes, in order, so that we might better appreciate just how rampant such hoaxes are. So here, without further ado, the 13 biggest hoaxes in America.

13. The “No Collusion” finding of the Mueller Report. Trump’s statement indicated that this was the smallest of the 13 hoaxes, despite how much energy he poured into the issue as president. I’ll note that the “hoax” here isn’t really clear. Referring to the report on Russian interference efforts in the 2016 election compiled by a team working for special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, Trump appears finally to be admitting that his own insistences that the report cleared him of collusion were false. The Mueller report didn’t adjudicate “collusion” as such and outlined multiple dubious points of contact between Trump’s campaign and Russian actors. It was, in fact, a hoax (so to speak) to claim that Mueller declared there to have been “no collusion.”

12. Impeachment Hoax #2. The second time Trump was impeached, you’ll recall, centered on his obvious role in the violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6. Without Trump’s dishonest claims about the election and encouragement for people to be in D.C. on that day, there’s no riot. This is a very Trumpian use of “hoax,” in the way he uses “fake news”: It’s negative and therefore it’s just somehow wrong without explication.

11. Impeachment Hoax #1. The first time Trump was impeached centered on his efforts to get Ukraine to announce an investigation of Biden, leveraging federal resources to pressure his likely (and eventual) 2020 opponent. This was also not a hoax, given the surfeit of evidence and testimony that he did exactly that. He was impeached by the House but acquitted by the Senate, thanks to the requirement that two-thirds of senators support conviction.

10. Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine. I’m not sure how this is different than the first impeachment “hoax”? Maybe it isn’t.

9. Russia, Russia, Russia. I’m not sure how this is different than the Mueller report “hoax”? Maybe it isn’t.

8. 2020 Presidential Election Scam. A scam and a hoax are technically different things, but we get the point here. This is presumably Trump again claiming that his 7-million-vote loss in last year’s presidential election wasn’t a loss at all but, rather, a massive criminal enterprise for which literally zero credible evidence has emerged one year later. There is a scam centered on the 2020 election results, one that has generated an enormous amount of money for a prominent figure and which has been exploited as an attention-generating mechanism, but it isn’t driven by Democrats or Trump’s opponents.

7. Global Warming Hoax. Coming in at No. 7, the global warming hoax. Again, not a hoax: over the past decade, the world has gotten measurably warmer, seas have measurably risen and glaciers have measurably shrunk. And, again, Trump offers no evidence that this is somehow a “hoax.” He just says it as a way of saying something akin to look at this dumb thing liberals care about lol what dorks and understands the response that will generate.

6 through 1. [Unclear] Trump’s delineation of the biggest hoaxes stops here. In his statement, he declared that global warming was the “7th biggest hoax” and that the six others in this list “follow closely behind.” So that means there are six unidentified hoaxes that precede it, ones that I guess we should be sufficiently familiar with to impute them ourselves.

Or maybe Trump just phrased the whole thing clunkily, opening the door for a snarky analysis of his assertions by someone who likes to think he’s more of a scalpel-word-user than a boulder one.

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