The Presidency Is Revealing Who Trump Has Always Been

One of Michelle Obama’s greatest insights after spending four years in the White House was that “the presidency doesn’t change who you are, it reveals who you are.” That’s why, early on in Trump’s presidency, when a lot of people in the media were breathlessly waiting for the pivot when he would become “presidential,” I knew it would never happen. Indeed, I always argued that Trump would never get better. Instead, he’d get worse.

Take a look at what the fact-checkers at the Washington Post recently reported.

It turns out [that summer is] when the president decided to turn on the spigots of false and misleading claims. As of day 558, he’s made 4,229 Trumpian claims — an increase of 978 in just two months.

That’s an overall average of nearly 7.6 claims a day.

When we first started this project for the president’s first 100 days, he averaged 4.9 claims a day. But the average number of claims per day keeps climbing the longer Trump stays in office. In fact, in June and July, the president averaged 16 claims a day.

Put another way: In his first year as president, Trump made 2,140 false or misleading claims. Now, just six months later, he has almost doubled that total.

They still insist on calling these “false and misleading claims” rather than lies, even though many of them are cases in which the president repeats a lie over and over again, even after the facts have been reported. But the numbers are, indeed, staggering all the same. Trump has basically more than doubled the number of lies he tells over the last few months.

When it comes to what the president lies about, here are the top three categories according to the fact-checkers:

  1. Economic issues (i.e. trade/jobs) – 1,293 lies
  2. Immigration – 538 lies
  3. Mueller investigation – 378 lies

Number three is moving up the list fast lately, as has been demonstrated by Trump’s Twitter feed. That is why I tend to agree with Josh Marshall.

I think we should assume that the President’s perception of the threat which the Mueller probe poses to him and his family has ratcheted up dramatically and very recently. He is mobilizing new threats to end it now. We can speculate on what that change might be. It might be connected to Michael Cohen. It might be connected to fears Paul Manafort will become a cooperating witness. It could be something happening in the background which we know nothing about. I’d say the last possibility is the most likely since we’ve seen so many times that we know very, very little about what is happening in the Mueller probe…

Regardless, it’s definitely something. Something new. Some dramatically escalating threat. How can we know this? We can’t know it as a matter of fact. But all the history of this case suggests this kind of direct cause and effect.

When both the president and his lawyer are attempting to make the case that collusion with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election wouldn’t be a crime, that tells us that they know Mueller has the goods on that one, even though it is likely to be referred to as a conspiracy rather than collusion.

What they are attempting to do is to prepare their supporters with an argument that what the president’s campaign did was not a crime. Think about that for a moment. Even if they are right (which they aren’t), their case will be that a sitting POTUS who colluded with a foreign adversary to influence the election is no big deal if it’s not a crime. The fact that they are even considering that kind of defense demonstrates how far down the rabbit hole they’ve traveled.

Donald Trump has always been nothing more than a con artist and a bully. As Michelle told us six years ago, the longer he is in office, the more that will be revealed.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.