As of May 1, Donald Trump has made over 3,000 false or misleading statements since taking office. This past week, the president pushed that effort into overdrive — hold my beer style — with the exuberant assistance of his new legal counsel, Rudolph Giuliani.
Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York took to the airwaves in a media blitz designed to, well, no one’s entirely sure what it was designed to accomplish. What it did do was turn the White House narrative regarding the Stormy Daniels affair on its ear, forcing Trump and his surrogates to do a lot of tap dancing in order to justify the shifting storyline.
Press Secretary Sarah Sanders encountered numerous uncomfortable confrontations in the White House briefing room on Thursday, which left us with the quote, “I gave the best information I had at the time,” and several close variations ringing in our ears. Giuliani released a “clarifying” statement that was anything but; and then, on Friday the New York Times broke the story that Trump did, indeed, know about the Daniels pay-off several months before denying it aboard Air Force One.
This relegated Ms. Sanders’ Thursday narrative to the garbage heap.
As if all of that weren’t enough to make your head spin, over the weekend Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, continued the duck-and-weave diversions in response to the question, “does this White House have a credibility issue?” — even going so far as to say on air that “the president doesn’t lie.”
Throughout the week, voices from both left and right spoke out.
What Kellyanne Conway and Sarah Huckabee Sanders are doing — taking the President’s abundant falsehoods and trying to weave them into some alternate “truth” — is corrosive to our democracy and among the most destructive features of this Administration.
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) May 6, 2018
.@realDonaldTrump just admitted he lied about paying off Stormy Daniels.
Rather than apologizing, he tried to justify his lie by emphasizing the payment didn’t come from the campaign.
I believe the truth still matters. Time to talk to Mueller.
— Rep. Ted Deutch (@RepTedDeutch) May 3, 2018
While Democratic disapproval is to be expected, even supporters of the president made their displeasure known. Fox News Host, Neil Cavuto, called out Trump on his Thursday program:
Catch Neil's latest Common Sense pic.twitter.com/JdGCX4WmjF
— Neil Cavuto (@TeamCavuto) May 3, 2018
“Let me be clear, Mr. President. How can you drain the swamp if you’re the one that keeps muddying the waters? You didn’t know about the $130,000 payment to a porn star until you did,” Cavuto said.
“Your base probably might not care. But you should. I guess you’re too busy draining the swamp to ever stop and smell the stink you’re creating. That’s your doing. That’s your stink, Mr. President. That’s your swamp.”
The Wall Street Journal‘s editorial board, typically-supportive of the president, also weighed in:
“Mr. Trump’s public deceptions are surely relevant to his job as President, and the attempted cover-up has done greater harm than any affair would have. Mr. Trump asked Americans, not least his supporters, to believe his claims about the payments. They were false and conveniently so in putting the onus on Mr. Cohen. Now, as more of the story has emerged, he wants everyone to believe a new story that he could have told the first time.
Mr. Trump is compiling a record that increases the likelihood that few will believe him during a genuine crisis—say, a dispute over speaking with special counsel Robert Mueller or a nuclear showdown with Kim Jong Un. Mr. Trump should worry that Americans will stop believing anything he says.”
That’s a place many Americans, unfazed by the reality TV razzle-dazzle and unswayed by the “tell-it-like-it-is” schtick, have been since the infamous escalator ride. The fact that it has taken others so long to reach this point is what is truly astounding.
[New York Times] [CNN] [The Hill] [Photo courtesy DonkeyHotey via Flickr]