Trump’s Repeated Deceptions

“Tricks and treachery are the practice of fools, that don’t have brains enough to be honest.”
– Benjamin Franklin

Trump brought America to its knees. He duped tens of millions of people who believed his repeated Big Lie that his reelection was stolen from him. He’s still at it. He could care less that he’s lying.

Fully 74 million Americans voted for a president in 2020 whose attorney general, William P. Barr, testified before the Jan. 6 House committee probing the Capitol mob riot that Trump was “detached from reality” for consistently spreading the lie that he beat Joe Biden, who wound up with seven million more votes than the incumbent.

Barr and White House and Trump campaign staffers tried many times to tell the president that he lost the election, but he would have none of it, according to their testimony. The unknown: Whether Trump actually believed his ruse because of a warped mental state or trusted from the get-go that his falsified scenario would be believed because of voters’ loyalty to him.

One thing to remember that has a bearing on his behavior: It was Trump running against Hillary Clinton in 2016 who said with unmitigated arrogance, “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose voters.” I wonder if that still could be true.

“He has become detached from reality if he really believes this stuff,” Barr testified in a video shown at Monday’s hearing. “When I went into this and would tell them [Trump’s loyalists] how crazy some of these allegations were, there was never an indication of interest in what the actual facts were.”

Barr, who had been loyal to Trump and had defended his chaotic behavior, had testified, too, that he repeatedly told Trump that pushing the narrative of a fraudulent election was “bullshit.” But it didn’t seem to matter to a president who was determined to stay in power. Remember, too, that this is an individual who finds that the ultimate insult is to be a loser.

Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor who was Trump’s personal lawyer, repeatedly ranted on election night that the president had won, all while Ivanka Trump and top aides argued against Trump declaring victory as he kept slipping in the balloting, including Fox News’ call that Biden won Arizona. Trump was livid that his propaganda network called the state for his rival. Giuliani was “definitely intoxicated,” Trump aide Jason Miller testified.

And Trump is mulling publicly about running again in 2024. He seems to have absolutely no idea how dangerous he’s said to be. Put revenge-seeking vindictive Trump in the White House a second time, and who knows what could happen. Don’t chance it.

The twice-impeached Trump was worse than President Richard M. Nixon and Watergate because he instigated the unpardonable sin of trying as a sitting president to overthrow the United States government. Can tens of millions of people be fooled a second time? Quite possibly.

The House panel focused Monday’s hearing not only on testimony by Barr and Trump’s aides but on how spreading the Big Lie was the engine that powered fundraising for a ghost recipient called the Official Election Defense Fund.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., a committee member, said the panel “discovered no such fund existed.” I wonder how many people opened their checkbooks, for naught. Won’t Lofgren’s revelation anger them?

Testimony about the fraudulent fund (yet Trump brazenly argues that the election was a fraud) and its distribution of money to entities not identified as a target of the fundraising could result in criminal charges.

“We found evidence,” Lofgren said, “that the Trump campaign and its surrogates misled donors as to where their funds would go and what they would be used for. So not only was there the ‘big lie,’ there was the ‘big rip-off.’”

The so-called defense fund was nothing more than a “marketing tactic,” said Amanda Wick, a committee investigator. Trump and his backers raised $250 million, $100 million during the first week after the 2020 election.

A good chunk of that money was channeled to the Save America PAC, which Trump created only days after he lost the 2020 election. Millions were distributed to former White House officials and allies; more than $200,000 was given to the Trump Hotel Collection, Wick testified.

The collection appears to deal with exclusive upscale furnishings for Trump’s luxury hotels.

If you think Trump’s supporters have seen the House committee shine a light on the truth about their hero and changed their minds about him, think again.

People have voted for at least 108 candidates for Congress or statewide office who have campaigned on Trump’s lies, The Washington Post reported exclusively Tuesday. Further, it said the number of those winning candidates increases to 149 if you include those who favor restricting voting, either by strictly enforcing existing rules or tightening them.

Of course, these voters cast their ballots for Trumpist candidates before the House panel opened its dynamic hearings on June 9. But would the voters have turned against those campaigning to imitate Trump’s racist policies if the hearings had begun earlier?

Bottom line: Assume there are millions of serious Trump supporters, regardless of what they possibly might learn from the House hearings. Or pooh-pooh the presentations, arguing they’re “fake news” and all part of an ongoing “witch hunt” against their man.

Would the truth backed up by testimony before a House committee have an impact?

The only thing that will slam the political door on Trump is if he is criminally prosecuted, found guilty of various crimes, and sent to prison.

Richard C. Gross, who covered war and peace in the Middle East and was foreign editor of United Press International, served as the opinion page editor of The Baltimore Sun.