An Era of Breathtaking Lies

David Leonhardt of the New York Times has evidently lost his patience with the lies that are coming out of the president’s mouth and the mouths of his spokespeople and surrogates, and so he’s abandoning his reservations about applying the ‘L’ word to politicians who tell big gigantic consequential whoppers.

…the current president of the United States lies. He lies in ways that no American politician ever has before. He has lied about — among many other things — Obama’s birthplace, John F. Kennedy’s assassinationSept. 11, the Iraq WarISISNATO, military veterans, Mexican immigrants, Muslim immigrants, anti-Semitic attacks, the unemployment rate, the murder rate, the Electoral Collegevoter fraud and his groping of women.

He tells so many untruths that it’s time to leave behind the textual parsing over which are unwitting and which are deliberate — as well as the condescending notion that most of Trump’s supporters enjoy his lies…

…As Comey was acknowledging on Monday that the F.B.I. was investigating possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, Trump was lying about it. From both his personal Twitter account and the White House account, he told untruths.

A few hours later, his press secretary, Sean Spicer, went before the cameras and lied about the closeness between Trump and various aides who have documented Russian ties. Do you remember Paul Manafort, the chairman of Trump’s campaign, who ran the crucial delegate-counting operation? Spicer said Manafort had a “very limited role” in said campaign.

The big question now is not what Trump and the White House are saying about the Russia story. They will evidently say anything. The questions are what really happened and who can uncover the truth.

It’s refreshing to see a New York Times opinion writer state things so frankly, but it’s also a disturbing sign of the times we’re living through. No one seems to know quite what to do when the country is being run by people who will lie so brazenly and unapologetically that there seems to be almost no agreed facts upon which you can have a conversation.

The FBI confirms that they’ve been running a counterintelligence investigation on the Trump campaign’s possible coordination with Russian hackers and senior Russian intelligence officers since last July. We know that some of the main subjects of that investigation are Michael Flynn, Carter Page, Roger Stone, and Paul Manafort. The administration says that Flynn was merely a volunteer on the campaign, rather than the man they installed as our National Security Adviser. Roger Stone and Carter Page were just “hangers-on” rather than active participants who traveled tirelessly to help the campaign. Manafort had a limited role for a limited time despite being the chairman of the campaign who herded the delegates for Trump at the convention.  Three of these men have already been fired after their too-close connections to the Russians were exposed.

The FBI Director says that Trump’s claim that President Obama ordered the wiretapping of Trump Tower has no basis in fact and that the Russians absolutely did influence the election and that they clearly preferred that Trump win in large part because of Putin’s dislike of Clinton. National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers says he agrees with the British that it was “utterly ridiculous” for the White House to allege they had spied on Trump Tower at Obama’s behest.  The president insists that Comey and Rogers testified to roughly the opposite.

If you want to know what the intelligence community really thinks, you should go to NSA Director Rogers’s deputy, who is retiring shortly and seems to have less reticence about telling it like it is than his boss.

Allegations from the United States that British spy agency GCHQ snooped on Donald Trump during his election campaign are “arrant nonsense,” the deputy head of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) said in an interview on Saturday.

President Trump has stood by unproven claims that the Obama administration tapped his phones during the 2016 White House race. On Thursday his spokesman cited a media report that Britain’s GCHQ was behind the surveillance.

Richard Ledgett, deputy director of the NSA, told BBC News the idea that Britain had a hand in spying on Trump was “just crazy.”

“It belies a complete lack of understanding of how the relationship works between the intel community agencies, it completely ignores the political reality of ‘would the UK government agree to do that?'” Ledgett said.

There would be no advantage for Britain’s government in spying on Trump, given the potential cost, he said.

“It would be epically stupid,” said Ledgett, who is due to retire shortly.

The core of the problem here is that one side is conversing normally and the other side is responding with “ridiculous nonsense.”

And it isn’t just the Russia question. It’s everything. When the White House determines that health care reforms will cost 26 million people their health insurance, the administration says that they think their bill will actually cover more people.

You can’t even argue with that level of dishonesty. All you can do is step back and try to draw a breath.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly and the main blogger at Booman Tribune.