A Brief History of the President’s Lies

David Leonhardt in the opinion pages:

The president of the United States is lying again.

He is lying about the reason he fired James Comey, the F.B.I. director. Trump claimed that he was doing so because Comey bungled the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email, which meant that Comey was “not able to effectively lead the bureau.”

There is no reason to believe Trump’s version of the facts and many reasons to believe he is lying. How can I be so confident?

First, it’s important to remember just how often Trump lies. Virtually whenever he finds it more convenient to tell a falsehood than to tell a truth, he chooses the falsehood.

An incomplete list of the things he has lied about include: Barack Obama’s birthplace, Obama’s phone “tapp,” John F. Kennedy’s assassination, Sept. 11, the Iraq war, ISIS, NATO, military veterans, Mexican immigrants, Muslim immigrants, anti-Semitic attacks, the unemployment rate, the murder rate, the Electoral College, voter fraud, the size of his inaugural crowd, his health care bill and his own groping of women.

Great article, you should read the whole thing.

Trump Fires FBI Director Running Investigation Into Trump’s Campaign

(Now former) FBI Director Comey back in March, quoted by the New York Times:

Mr. Comey said the F.B.I. was “investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government, and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts.”

Yesterday Trump wrote this letter informing Comey of his termination:

Dear Director Comey:

I have received the attached letters from the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General of the United States recommending your dismissal as the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. I have accepted their recommendation and you are hereby terminated and removed from office, effective immediately.

While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgement of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau.

It is essential that we find new leadership for the FBI that restores public trust and confidence in its vital law enforcement mission.

I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.

Why include that second paragraph when the letters referenced in the first aren’t about an investigation into Trump’s campaign?

Phil Helsel at NBC, yesterday:

President Donald Trump has hired a Washington law firm to send a letter to a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee saying he has no connections to Russia, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Tuesday.

Spicer’s revelation was in response to a question from reporters on a briefing about committee member Sen. Lindsey Graham’s remarks that he wants to look into whether Trump has any business dealings with Russia.

“The president, obviously, was aware of Senator Graham’s suggestion after he made it today and he’s fine with that. He has no business in Russia. He has no connections to Russia. So he welcomes that,” Spicer said.

“In fact, he is already charged a leading law firm in Washington, D.C., to send a certified letter to Senator Graham to that point that he has no connections to Russia,” Spicer said.

Benjamin Wittes and Susan Hennessey of Lawfare, yesterday:

On November 10, we wrote that that Trump’s firing of Comey would be a “a clear bellwether to both the national security and civil libertarian communities that things are going terribly wrong.” At the time we wrote those words, Comey was deeply unpopular with both the Left, which blamed Hillary Clinton’s defeat on his eleventh hour letter to Congress, and the Right, which criticized his decision to recommend that Clinton not be charged over her handling of government emails. Whatever the merit of Comey’s actions during the campaign, the fact that he managed to anger both sides of the political spectrum demonstrated his storied political independence. And that political independence, we argued, would serve as a critical check against any efforts on the part of President Trump to trample the rule of law.
The FBI Director serves a ten-year term precisely in order to insulate against the whims of a President who does not like what—or whom—the FBI is investigating. While the President has legal authority to fire an FBI director, the fact that Trump has done so under circumstances of an active FBI investigation of the President’s own campaign violates profoundly important norms of an independent, non-political FBI. The situation has no parallel with the only previous FBI director to be removed by a president: President Clinton’s firing of William Sessions, whose ethical misconduct was so extensive that it resulted in a six-month Justice Department investigation and a blistering 161-page report detailing his illicit activities, including flagrant misuse of public funds. Trump’s firing Comey at a time when Comey is investigating Russian intervention in the election on Trump’s behalf and the specific conduct of a number of people close to Trump undermines the credibility of his own presidency. And it deeply threatens the integrity of and public confidence in ongoing law enforcement and intelligence operations.

Trump’s offered rationale does nothing to assuage the fears we expressed in November regarding the meaning of this event.

If this is truly about his actions during the election, why fire Comey now, months after the inauguration?

Matthew Rosenberg and Matt Apuzzo for the Times, today:

Days before he was fired, James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, asked the Justice Department for a significant increase in resources for the bureau’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the presidential election, according to four congressional officials, including Senator Richard J. Durbin.

If it’s not about Russia and this happened months after the inauguration, surely the administration would have planned this transition to occur smoothly, right?
Michael S. Schmidt, nytimes:

Mr. Comey was addressing a group of F.B.I. employees in Los Angeles when a television in the background flashed the news that he had been fired.
In response, Mr. Comey laughed, saying he thought it was a fairly funny prank.

Then his staff started scurrying around in the background and told Mr. Comey that he should step into a nearby office.

Mr. Comey stopped addressing the group. He proceeded to shake hands with the employees he had been speaking to. Then he stepped into a side office, where he confirmed that he had been fired. At that point, he had not heard from the White House.

Shortly thereafter, a letter from Mr. Trump was delivered to the F.B.I.’s headquarters, just seven blocks from the White House.

“We’re not gonna be big on vacation”

Before January 20th one of our national embarrassment’s favorite things to criticize President Obama about (over Twitter) was his penchant for golfing:

This shameful embarrassment has been golfing 12 times in his first few months as president. Each trip costs us a few million dollars, and of course he promised “We’re not gonna be big on vacation.” while he was decrying the Obama administration.

Clearly Wrong

Phillip Rucker at The Washington Post reporting on an interview with Trump:

“I’ve been reading about things,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News Channel. Trump said that after noticing an article in the New York Times and commentary by Fox anchor Bret Baier, Trump said he told himself, “Wait a minute, there’s a lot of wiretapping being talked about.’”

In the interview Wednesday with Fox host Tucker Carlson, Trump maintained that information would soon be revealed that could prove him right, but he would not explain what that information might be. He said he would be “submitting certain things” to a congressional committee investigating the matter and that he was considering speaking about the topic next week.

“I think you’re going to find some very interesting items coming to the forefront over the next two weeks,” Trump said.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), who was a member of Trump’s transition team, said Wednesday that there was no evidence that Trump Tower was wiretapped while Trump was a candidate. He told reporters that if Trump’s tweets were taken literally, then “clearly the president was wrong.”

Quotes Make Lies “OK”

According to White House “press secretary,” Sean Spicer, quotes indicate that Trump didn’t specifically mean wiretapping when he was lying about Obama’s administration ordering a wiretap on Trump Tower.

Jeremy Diamond:

Namely, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Trump wasn’t referring to wiretapping when he tweeted about wiretapping.

“I think there’s no question that the Obama administration, that there were actions about surveillance and other activities that occurred in the 2016 election,” Spicer said. “The President used the word wiretaps in quotes to mean, broadly, surveillance and other activities.”

Wiretapping is a narrowly defined surveillance activity that involves tapping into “a telephone or telegram wire in order to get information,” according to Merriam-Webster dictionary.

Tremendous Respect 

Somebody sure has a weird idea of what tremendous respect means:

versus:

Bragging about sexually assaulting married women is so respectful.

As is bragging about creeping on women in locker rooms while they’re changing:

“Well, what you could also say is that, as the owner of the pageant, it’s your obligation to do that,” Trump said, before discussing how he got away with going backstage when the contestants were naked.

“Well, I’ll tell you the funniest is that before a show, I’ll go backstage and everyone’s getting dressed, and everything else, and you know, no men are anywhere, and I’m allowed to go in because I’m the owner of the pageant and therefore I’m inspecting it,” Trump said. “You know, I’m inspecting because I want to make sure that everything is good.”

“You know, the dresses. ‘Is everyone okay?’ You know, they’re standing there with no clothes. ‘Is everybody okay?’ And you see these incredible looking women, and so, I sort of get away with things like that. But no, I’ve been very good,” he added.

House Oversight Committee Won’t Investigate Trump’s Voter Fraud Lies

Speaking of bullshit from our public embarassment, Avalon Zoppo quoting Jason Chaffetz:

Speaking on CNN, the Utah representative said he does not see any evidence to back up Trump’s tweets.

“We can’t just investigate everything that’s ever thrown out there by the Democrats, by the Republicans. We have to pick and choose,” he said.

Trump has repeatedly, and without evidence, pushed claims that millions of ballots were cast illegally in the 2016 election and called for a probe into the issue. Days after his inauguration, Trump tweeted: “I will be asking for a major investigation into VOTER FRAUD, including those registered to vote in two states, those who are illegal and even, those registered to vote who are dead.”

Although the committee will not look into Trump’s voter fraud allegations, Chaffetz said congressional leaders will investigate the president’s Saturday morning claim that former President Obama wiretapped Trump Tower during the campaign, adding that “the president is directly asking and calling for” a probe.

Not sure how directly asking and calling for an investigation into his bullshit about millions of fraudulent voters is different from asking and calling for an investigation into this bullshit about a wiretap.

The Orange Embarassment Doesn’t Even Know How to Order a Wiretap

This is the immediate aftermath of Trump’s insane lie about President Obama wiretapping him during the campaign according to a New York Times article by Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman:

That led to a succession of frantic staff conference calls, including one consultation with the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, as staff members grasped the reality that the president had opened an attack on his predecessor.

Mr. Trump, advisers said, was in high spirits after he fired off the posts. But by midafternoon, after returning from golf, he appeared to realize he had gone too far, although he still believed Mr. Obama had wiretapped him, according to two people in Mr. Trump’s orbit.

He sounded defiant in conversations at Mar-a-Lago with his friend Christopher Ruddy, the chief executive of Newsmax Media, Mr. Ruddy said. In other conversations that afternoon, the president sounded uncertain of the procedure for obtaining a warrant for secret wiretaps on an American citizen.

Mr. Trump also canvassed some aides and associates about whether an investigator, even one outside the government, could substantiate his charge.

The embarassment is off of his rocker.

Send the schmo to talk to Letterman!

David Marchese has this fantastic interview with David Letterman. They talk about our Dear Leader and other topics, but this part echoes the considerations of many people after Trump insulted John Lewis:

David Marchese: Is it fair to say you’re not interested in revisiting a late-night talk show?
David Letterman: My interest has shifted. When I’m talking about things to do now, it’s not like, God-dang, let’s get right back into comedy. Let’s call the Butterball hotline on Thanksgiving. But bring in Donald Trump or Mike Pence or somebody, and let me smother them with my ignorance. I’ll tell you what really got up my nose — do you have a minute? — was the John Lewis thing. Congressman John Lewis. Do I have the name right?

DM: Yep.
DL: So he announces he’s boycotting the inauguration. Trump hops on his Twitter device and describes John Lewis as just another all-talk, no-action congressman, so sad.

DM: It turns out John Lewis has been involved in a fair bit of action.
DL: Holy God. First of all, because I’m always thinking about myself, I think, I was about John Lewis’s age when he marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Would I have had the guts to do that? The all-talk John Lewis goes down there and gets a goddamned skull fracture. I mean, Trumpy will never have to worry about a skull fracture because of the hair. Thank you! How do you know if Donald Trump is lying? His lips are moving. Thank you! But in addition to every other thing that’s wrong with the Trump, he’s ignorant in a way that’s insulting to the office, insulting to America, insulting to human rights, insulting to civil rights, insulting to John Lewis. Trump saying that broke my heart. I thought, You stupid son of a bitch. You ought to have known better than that.

Where Do You Get Your News?

Our President gets his from the best sources:

Mr. Trump’s demand for a congressional investigation appears to be based, at least in part, on unproved claims by Breitbart News and conservative talk radio hosts that secret warrants were issued authorizing the tapping of the phones of Mr. Trump and his aides at Trump Tower in New York.

If you had access to the best sources of information, you might be surprised this embarrassment turns to the worst instead.