Donald J. Trump is a master of three kinds of lies: Lies. Damned lies. And plausible-sounding prevarications.
While running for office in 2016 and 2020 he spread them around like manure on the political landscape, leaving it rank, encouraging other politicians to do the same, including a number of feckless state officials in Alabama.
He lied his way through two national campaigns, compiling a record of untruths never before seen or heard in American presidential campaigning. Thousands littered the political fields six years and two years ago, respectively, none more egregious than The Big Lie of 2020-2022. The Big Lie he’s never proven before scores of judges — that the election of 2020 was stolen from him.
He lied his way through a four-year term in office. By the time he left office on January 20, 2021 — two weeks after calling in a mob to attack the U.S. Capitol and the electoral voting process occurring therein — the number of documented lies and false statements totaled some 35,000.
His second biggest lie was that he had “made America great again.” After all, when he was finally forced out of the White House, much like one of his non-paying tenants, the economy was in shambles, unemployment was at a record level, millions of Americans were unnecessarily sickened and hundreds of thousands were dying of a pandemic he mishandled, U.S. relations with its Western allies was strained to the breaking point, and only very wealthy and corporate Americans were benefiting from his tax cuts, which exploded the national debt.
Now, twenty months into his unhappy retirement and caught yet again in a vortex of unlawful activity, he is turning with renewed energy to his life-long habit of lying. Why not? He’s lied to bankers, he’s lied to state and federal governments on his income taxes, he’s lied to creditors and to his own lawyers (whom he doesn’t always pay), and he’s lied to us — especially to those Americans he’s actually sold his lies to. By last count, the total number of people in that latter group runs into the tens of millions.There is no lie some of them are incapable of accepting.
However, the sheer audacity and creativity of the lies about the classified and other governmental material he purloined from the White House — as a greedy guest checking out of one of his overpriced hotels with towels and other linen, paintings, and electronic devices for which s/he didn’t pay — have been so inconsistent, so contradictory, and so absolutely outrageous as to tax the credulity of even his most ardent (rational) enablers and supporters, leaving some of them in quandary. That is, unless there is no limit on the extent to which Trump is able to make fools of his most enthusiastic partisans. Shouldn’t there be a “bag limit” on the number of such lies per illegality?
Consider: In just the first ten days after the FBI executed a perfectly lawful search warrant pursuant to a showing of probable cause before a judge that he has violated multiple federal laws (again), the former defeated president and/or his spokespersons have said all of the following:
(1) he has returned ALL of the material unlawfully removed from the WH (manifestly untrue);
(2) the documents and other materials found by the FBI were “planted” — all of the scores of things listed in a multiple-page inventory — in front of witnesses on the scene (untrue);
(3) the dozens of items were “declassified” at the WH by a magic “wave of the hand” or by a “standing order” no one has ever heard of (untrue; ask John Bolton);
(4) the items are covered by “executive privilege” (untrue, but even if true an ex-president has no authority to remove them from the WH);
(5) the items are covered by “lawyer-client privilege” (untrue, almost certainly, but even if true an ex-president has no authority to remove them from the WH); and
(6) “the materials are mine,” not the federal government’s, and, by implication, “if the President does it, it’s not illegal.”
The latter is the Nixon Doctrine, uttered post-presidency, that led to the enactment of the laws Trump now stands in violation of. Materials generated by a presidential administration belong to the American people, not to the respective presidents. Remember: the disgraced President Richard Nixon tried to haul away many boxes of materials, including the infamous tapes, to use in writing his memoirs. I’m betting that Trump had a similar motive, though he’ll not write a memoir, and that he planned otherwise to make money off of them, especially the “love letters” from North Korea.
If Trump gets away with all of that without penalty, it will mean the U.S. document classification system can’t be enforced and all of the purloined Trump documents would be subject to open records laws.
Justice requires that we apply to him the standard he applied to Hillary Clinton’s emails, which did not endanger national security: Lock him up!
Dr. Jim Vickrey writes from his native Montgomery. He is a retired college professor, university president, and lawyer. He invites replies at firstname.lastname@example.org., rebutting any of the above.
This article originally appeared on Montgomery Advertiser: Master of lies Donald Trump deserves to be locked up