When you hear the president claim hoax, dig deeper

Five biographers have noted long ago, the president has a problem with the truth. I often use the quote of Thomas Wells, an attorney that worked for Trump, who wrote in 2016, “Donald Trump lies every day, even about things of no consequence.” So, when Donald Trump claims something is hoax, dig deeper.

The Russian bounty story has now been called a hoax by the president, created by the media and Democrats. These words eerily track the words he uttered repeatedly about COVID-19 as late as February 28. Ironically, that was the night of the first official American death from COVID-19. This hoax has now killed over 127,000 Americans and the misinformation continues.

The Russian investigation was a called a hoax, but The Mueller Report, did not exonerate Trump noting he likely obstructed justice, had a campaign with too many unusual contacts with Russians and he was untruthful on more than a few occasions. And, this so-called hoax sent several folks to jail.

The Ukraine arm-twisting for personal gain was called a hoax, but we saw a parade of duty-bound and honorable public servants testify under oath at great risk over their concerns. These folks knew they would likely be fired by a well-known vindictive person. This led to his impeachment by the House. It should be noted former National Security Advisor John Bolton, in his book “The room where it happened,” corroborated the testimony of Dr. Fiona Hill, who was one of the more impactful testifiers.

The hoax term has been pulled out of the holster on several occasions on other mistakes or misstatements made by this president both here and abroad. Often, he adds a heavy dose of ridicule to those who dare ask him a tough question. Sadly, what his ardent followers fail to realize is the problem is the person crying “hoax.”

One of the dilemmas is the problem goes beyond the lying. Per two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, Bob Woodward’s book “Fear,” which is based on 750 recorded interview hours, the president does not invest the time to read briefings. This is not new, as his short attention span matches his short fuse, also prevalent in this and other books about the Trump White House. He does not read and his staff is scared of his volatile temper. On the Russian bounty issue, he said he was not briefed, because he didn’t do his work.

Former Secretary of Defense James Mattis said Trump is unfit for the role he is in, saying “Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try.” A GOP legislator named Shawn Lemmonds (former local mayor and state house representative) who is helping organize an alternative Republican convention of anti-Trumpers said today in The Charlotte Observer, “he considers the ‘Trump cult’ the biggest threat to the country since World War II and the biggest threat to the party since Nixon.”

In essence, the US president has a job he is unsuited for and does not care to learn. If he would tweet less, he may have more time to read what we need him to know. As Former Secretary of Labor (and advisor to two Democrat and one Republican president), Robert Reich noted “Trump is a clear and present danger to America and the world.” Sadly, that is not is hoax.

Four conservative quotes worth noting

Three Republicans and one long time Republican who left the party have made very sober statements, with the last one being more of a stance. Let’s begin with General James Mattis, who served as Secretary of Defense under Donald Trump and resigned in December, 2018, with many Republicans pleading with him not to go. Note, former Chief of Staff, General John Kelly reinforced that Mattis was not asked to leave as mentioned in rebuttal by the president.

In an op-ed in The Atlantic, Mattis wrote “Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try. Instead he tries to divide us. We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership.”

Next, we have the words of Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee who reinforces Mattis’ comments in an article in The Hill.

“I thought General Mattis’s words were true and honest and necessary and overdue… When I saw Gen. Mattis’s comments yesterday I felt like perhaps we’re getting to the point where we can be more honest with the concerns we might hold internally and have the courage of our convictions and speak up,” she told The Washington Post’s Paul Kane, who pooled the remarks and sent them to other Senate reporters. Asked if she could vote for Trump in the 2020 election, Murkowski admitted, “I am struggling with it. I have struggled with it for a long time.”

Next, from an editorial by venerable conservative columnist George Will, reported in a CNN article called “One of America’s most prominent conservative columnists wants Republicans to lose in 2020,” Will’s comments are very indicting, as well as colorful. Here are two select comments written by Will who left the Republican party.

“In life’s unforgiving arithmetic, we are the sum of our choices. Congressional Republicans have made theirs for more than 1,200 days. We cannot know all the measures necessary to restore the nation’s domestic health and international standing, but we know the first step: Senate Republicans must be routed, as condign punishment for their Vichyite collaboration, leaving the Republican remnant to wonder: Was it sensible to sacrifice dignity, such as it ever was, and to shed principles, if convictions so easily jettisoned could be dignified as principles, for … what?…

The measures necessary for restoration of national equilibrium are many and will be protracted far beyond his (Trump’s) removal. One such measure must be the removal of those in Congress who, unlike the sycophantic mediocrities who cosset him in the White House, will not disappear “magically,” as Eric Trump said the coronavirus would. Voters must dispatch his congressional enablers, especially the senators who still gambol around his (Trump’s) ankles with a canine hunger for petting.”

Finally, Senator Charles Grassley, Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, has officially raised concern over the president’s firing of a couple of Inspectors Generals releasing a statement.

“Though the Constitution gives the president the authority to manage executive branch personnel, Congress has made it clear that should the president find reason to remove an inspector general, there ought to be a good reason for it. The White House’s response failed to address this requirement, which Congress clearly stated in statute and accompanying reports.”

Grassley announced he is blocking Trump’s nominations of Christopher Miller to head the National Counterterrorism Center and Marshall Billingslea to be the State Department’s undersecretary for arms control and international security, pending explanations by Trump for the firing of a number of Inspectors General. He said he will not allow consideration of Miller’s nomination to proceed until the White House provides answers on Trump’s firing in April of intelligence community inspector general Michael Atkinson. In addition, he said Billingslea’s nomination cannot proceed until Trump explains why he terminated State Department inspector general Steve Linick last month.

Political courage is too rare these days. I applaud these folks for speaking out. As an independent and former Republican voter, I am in agreement with their comments. I have been especially concerned by the firing of Inspectors Generals. If we were a publicly traded company, firing the auditors (or Inspectors General) would be flagged by the independent Audit Committee of the Board of Directors. It matters not who is in the White House. This should be a concern to all of us and I am grateful Grassley is raising the issue.

Please do not dismiss these four conservative voices as lone wolves. Groups like Republican Voters against Trump, Republicans for the Rule of Law and The Lincoln Project have all organized to advocate the defeat of the president and/ or hold him accountable. These are all Republican groups, not Democrats or Independents. The question to ponder is why would they do that? This is not fake news nor is it from people who some supporters would dismiss as Trump haters. These are sober voices who are saying what is needed to be said.