Sadly, many babies are born with birth defects. And Donald Trump was born with one of the rarest birth defects of all: He is congenitally incapable of telling the truth. Which he proved again this week.
Embarrassed when reminded by reporters that he'd allowed 12 days to elapse before making any comment about the loss of four servicemen killed in Niger, Trump promised he would call family members of each of the four – which, he asserted, no other president had ever done. Which was a big fat lie. Former White House staffers immediately confirmed that former Presidents George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama had all made those painful calls.
Trump was further embarrassed when Florida Rep. Frederica Wilson told CNN about one awkward call. In the car with Myeshia Johnson, widow of slain Sgt. La David Johnson, Wilson overheard Trump make the crudely insensitive observation: "He knew what he signed up for, but I guess it still hurts."
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What was Trump's response? Another big lie: He had proof he never made such a statement. Like many reporters, I rushed to the White House briefing that afternoon to see the proof. But there was none. The only "proof" press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders could offer was that several other people were in the Oval Office when Trump made the call. Which proves nothing.
These are just the latest examples of the avalanche of what former FBI Director James Comey called "lies, plain and simple" Donald Trump has told as president. They include such whoppers as drawing the biggest inauguration crowd in history. Not true. Barack Obama's was bigger. And racking up more electoral votes than any president since Ronald Reagan. Not true. George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama all got more electoral votes than Trump.
The cascade of lies rolls on, for matters big and small. In July, he bragged about signing more bills at that point in his presidency than any president ever. Not true. Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Harry Truman and FDR all signed more. He asserted again this week that Obamacare "covers very few people." Not true. Even though he's doing everything he can to sabotage it, Obamacare still covers some 20 million Americans via individual health policies or Medicaid.
Is there anything Trump will not lie about? Apparently not. He insists he's appeared on the cover of Time magazine more than anybody else. Not true. He's appeared on the cover 11 times; Richard Nixon, 55. And he still maintains that nobody talked about Russia's interference in the 2016 election until after he won, which is manifestly untrue.
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Trump even lies about his roots. In his book "The Art of the Deal," Trump says his immigrant grandfather "came here from Sweden as a child." Actually, he came here from Germany. Little Donald was repeating a lie told by his father, Fred, as noted by the New York Times in his 1999 obituary: "Fred Trump would tell friends and acquaintances that he was of Swedish origin, although both his parents were born in Germany."
Every day, in fact, Trump spews out more lies, which keeps the good people at PolitiFact working overtime. Founded in 2007 by the Tampa Bay Times to check the accuracy of statements made by politicians of both parties, PolitiFact consistently gives Trump the lowest possible rating. As a candidate, they classified 78 percent of Trump's comments as "false," "mostly false," or – the worst – "liar, liar, pants on fire." So far, 69 percent of his presidential statements get the same dismal ratings.
Of course, Trump's not the first president not to tell the truth. President Eisenhower covered up the mission of U-2 spy pilot Francis Gary Powers. Ronald Reagan lied about selling arms to the Contras. Bill Clinton lied about Monica Lewinsky. But Donald Trump's the first president to lie about everything. Indeed, he lies with such facility you wonder if he's so divorced from reality that he doesn't even know he's lying. He's clearly unable to tell the difference, or unwilling to take the time to learn, between what is true and what he wants to be true.
For anybody, that's a serious problem. For a president of the United States, that's a national crisis. If we can't believe our president, whom can we believe?
Sad! As they used to say of Richard Nixon, America began with a president who wouldn't tell a lie, and now we're stuck with one who can't tell the truth.