A Brief History of Trump's Political Lies

Donald Trump has been lying since day one.

What’s the most recent lie Donald Trump has told? Was it his lie about the Philadelphia Eagles showing that they don’t respect the flag and our national anthem when they didn’t show up at the White House on Tuesday? In fact, none of the Eagles “took a knee” during the playing of the national anthem last season. Was it his umpteenth denunciation of his Attorney General for refusing to warn him that he would recuse himself from the Russia investigation? In fact, neither Trump or Sessions had been made aware of any investigation of Trump’s campaign at the time he appointed Sessions to the office of Attorney General in November of 2016, so Sessions could hardly have warned him about something he had no knowledge of.

Trump’s lies are so fast and furious — the Washington Post estimates that he has told five or six of them a day since he took office — that I got curious about what the very first lie he told when he started running for president, so I went back and had a look at his announcement for president in June of 2015.

I have to say, we should have seen him coming: a fake candidate, running a fake campaign, making a fake announcement for president in front of a fake crowd. That was Donald Trump on June 16, 2015, the day he descended the escalator in Trump Tower and announced that he was running for president. The lying began with the very first words out of his mouth as a candidate for president: “Wow. Whoa. That is some group of people. Thousands. This is beyond anybody’s expectations. There’s been no crowd like this.”

He had a row of American flags behind him, and he faced a crowd of what could have been, because of the size of the lobby of Trump Tower, only several hundred spectators. Who were they, these cheering “thousands?” Many in the crowd had been hired from a New York-based casting agency for movie extras, Extra Mile Casting. Four days previously, the agency had put out a casting call: “We are looking to cast people for the event to wear T-shirts and carry signs and help cheer him in support of his announcement,” the agency’s email said. “We understand this is not a traditional ‘background job,’ but we believe acting comes in all forms and that is inclusive of this school of thought,” the agency explained. 

CNN would later report that on the street outside Trump Tower, “campaign volunteers flagged down pedestrians to hand them the campaign T-shirts and invite them inside for the announcement.”

With his fake crowd looking on, Trump began telling lie after lie after lie. What were we doing that day? Weren’t we paying attention to him at all? Because the lies poured out of him like a geyser.

“When was the last time anybody saw us beating, let’s say, China in a trade deal? They kill us. I beat China all the time. All the time.” This from the man who would go on to impose fake tariffs on China and move to bail out the Chinese communications giant, ZTE, recently fined $1.2 billion for violating sanctions on trade with North Korea and Iran. $1.2 billion! That fine will never go through, they’ll never feel its pain, because the man who said “I beat China all the time” has let them off the hook.

Quickly, he pivoted to the country that would become his chief campaign whipping boy, Mexico. “And now they are beating us economically,” he wailed. They are not our friend, believe me. But they’re killing us economically.” Mexico, with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $1.15 trillion that year. United States GDP in 2015? $18.04 trillion. Hell, California’s GDP was more than twice that of Mexico at $2.45 trillion. I looked in vain for a story about Trump’s presidential announcement that would pick up just this one lie, about Mexico “killing us economically.” Nothing. Zero. Zip. Nada. Trump was standing right there in front of us telling lies, and nobody called him out. Hell, nobody even noticed.

Then came his famous denunciation of Mexican immigrants. “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” To support this outright gibberish, Trump told another lie: “I speak to border guards and they tell us what we’re getting.” He didn’t speak to a single border guard. He didn’t pay attention to statistics that prove immigrants are far less likely to commit crimes than native born Americans. He just stood there making shit up.

Muslim terrorists were next: “Islamic terrorism is eating up large portions of the Middle East. They’ve become rich. I’m in competition with them.” Huh? Trump is competing with ISIS? WTF? Where did that come from?

“They took the oil that, when we left Iraq, I said we should’ve taken,” Trump declared. Oh, I get it now. We should have driven oil tankers into the desert in Iraq and “taken” the oil. That makes total sense. In 2015, Iraq’s oil production averaged 4.1 million barrels a day. With 42 gallons of oil in each barrel, that’s 160 million gallons of oil being pumped to the surface each day. With an average semi-truck oil tanker carrying 9,100 gallons, “taking” Iraq’s oil would have meant driving about 18,000 tankers into the oil fields each day and filling them up and driving away. And doing the same thing the next day. And the next. That’s what we would have had to do to “take” Iraq’s oil.

Did anyone point out this obvious lie Trump told about “taking” Iraq’s oil? Nope. Nobody did.

Off he went on Obamacare, first attacking the website used to sign up for the program: “And remember the $5 billion website? $5 billion we spent on a website, and to this day it doesn’t work. A $5 billion website.” Lie and lie. Estimates of the cost of setting up Healthcare.gov ran from $834 million to $2.1 billion. Did it work? Almost 9 million Americans signed up for Obamacare from November 2014 to February 2015, the official sign up period. Prior to the implementation of Obamacare, 47 million Americans were without health insurance. By 2015, that number had dropped to 29 million. A year later, that number dropped to 27 million.

Trump was out there on the very first day he ran for president lying over and over and over again. He lied that he would impose a “tax” of 35 percent on cars imported into the U.S. Never happened. He said Ford Motor Company would change its mind about building a new plant in Mexico and “beg for a little while,” and say “please, please, please.” Ford cancelled the plant in Mexico and moved it to China. Will those Ford cars made in China face tariffs when they are shipped back here? Take a guess.

He said the Saudis would start paying for the protection we give them with our military. “There is so much wealth out there that can make our country so rich again, and therefore make it great again. Because we need money. We’re dying. We’re dying. We need money. We have to do it. And we need the right people.”

Where do you begin? We’re “dying.” “We need money.” He yelled about the national debt, said we’d soon be at $20 trillion. Well, he got that one right. But what has he done about it? Pass a tax cut that will produce an annual deficit of $1 trillion by next year, according to the Committee for a Responsible Budget, a non-partisan watchdog group.

He said, “we need the right people.” Hard to argue with that. Who would he go on to hire in his cabinet? Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price. How long did he last? 231 days. Out because he had spent one million dollars on private jets flying around the country and overseas. EPA administrator Scott Pruitt: currently facing at least 14 investigations for flying first class on the taxpayer’s dime, spending over $3 million on his private security detail, renting a sweetheart deal room on Capitol Hill from a lobbyist doing business with the EPA, and using one of his EPA assistants to run personal errands for him on the taxpayer’s dime. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who’s been flying around on private planes. HUD Secretary Ben Carson, who tried to spend $31,000 of tax-payer dollars on a new dining room table for his office.

He claimed Obama couldn’t get anything done because he was always “out playing golf.” Trump has been in office for 495 days. He has spent 115 days playing golf. That’s about 25 percent of his presidency spent hitting a little white ball and chasing it on an electric cart. At least Obama walked.

Trump trumpeted his love for generals: “I will find — within our military, I will find the General Patton or I will find General MacArthur, I will find the right guy. I will find the guy that’s going to take that military and make it really work. Nobody, nobody will be pushing us around.” He hired General Michael Flynn as his first national security adviser. Fired. Under indictment for lying to the FBI. Cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller. He replaced Flynn with General H.R. McMaster. Fired. He lasted one year and one month. Do you know who the U.S. commanders are in Iraq and Afghanistan? Neither do I. Oh, I could look them up on Google, but why bother? Trump probably doesn’t know who they are, either.

He bragged about his phony 10 billion dollar net worth, and attacked the stock market as “so bloated.” Practically every time the Dow Jones Average has gone up, he’s taken credit for it. When it goes back down, you couldn’t find him with a bloodhound.

He claimed he was going to “save Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security without cuts. Have to do it.” What did Republicans do the day after they passed their tax cut for billionaires and millionaires? They started claiming that they were going to have to cut Medicare and Social Security because they were blowing up the deficit. Where was Trump? He was walking through a big dinner down at Mar a Lago telling his rich friends, “you just got a lot richer.”

“Sadly, the American dream is dead,” Trump concluded. “But if I get elected president I will bring it back bigger and better and stronger than ever before, and we will make America great again.”

He trademarked “Make America Great Again” as a campaign slogan in 2012, three years before he announced for president. You can buy an “official” MAGA hat on his own personal website, www.shopdonaldjtrump.com. A red one costs $25. A pink one will set you back $30. He’s offering a 20 percent discount on blue and yellow hats at $40.

Or you can get the official North Korea Summit coin, depicting Donald J. Trump and North Korea Supreme Leader Kim jung Un for $24.95. If you act fast, you can pick one up at a discount for $19.95, from the website offering them, www.whitehousegiftshop.com, which has nothing to do with either the White House or Donald Trump.

Trump has been lying to us from day one. He told dozens of whoppers every time he stepped before an audience at campaign rallies in 2016. He ordered his press secretary to go before the press on the day he took office and lie about the size of the crowd at his inauguration. He has kept lying, day after day, lie after lie.

We weren’t listening closely enough on June 16, 2015 when he told one lie after another making his announcement for the presidency. We’ve been paying for it ever since.

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Lucian K. Truscott IV has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist and screenwriter, covering stories such as Watergate, the Stonewall riots and wars in Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan. Follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott.