That One Time Trump Told the Truth During the Debate

Given Donald Trump’s history of lying during this campaign, it doesn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone that he told a bunch of whoppers last night that kept the fact-checkers busy. But I thought that his most outrageous lie of the night was actually preceded by a moment of truth.

Just as he did a couple of weeks ago, Trump doubled down last night on lying about his role in the whole birther movement. He blamed it all on Clinton and said that she failed to get President Obama to release his birth certificate. Trump thinks he deserves credit for forcing the issue. He said, “But I was the one that got him to produce the birth certificate. And I think I did a good job.” In other words, he is proud of the fact that he is the one who got the first African American president of this country to release his long-form birth certificate. A statement like that indicates that either the Republican nominee hasn’t talked to many African Americans – or he doesn’t care what they think. For example, here’s Wesley Lowery:

I would also remind you once again of the video Baratunde Thurston made the day the President released his birth certificate.

When Lester Holt pressed the issue with Trump last night and asked – in the context of a discussion about racial healing – what Trump would say to African Americans, the candidate had a rare moment of honesty.

Well, it was very — I say nothing. I say nothing, because I was able to get him to produce it. He should have produced it a long time before. I say nothing.

In other words, on the one thing Trump has done in the last decade that most offended African Americans, he’s got nothing to say when it comes to healing the divide. I take him at his word on that one.

Of course, the very next words out of Trump’s mouth were – in my mind – the most outrageous lies of the night.

But let me just tell you. When you talk about healing, I think that I’ve developed very, very good relationships over the last little while with the African-American community. I think you can see that.

And I feel that they really wanted me to come to that conclusion. And I think I did a great job and a great service not only for the country, but even for the president, in getting him to produce his birth certificate.

The reason I call that the most outrageous is that it is not only a lie. It is also one of the most racist things to come out of the mouth of a presidential candidate in decades. It created a moment when Michelle Obama’s exhortation that “when they go low, we go high” was beyond me.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.