Donald Trump’s Mantra: No Truths. No Consequences.

FRANK F ISLAM

In 2024, Donald Trump continues to perpetuate the Big Lie and to add a litany of new lies into his liar’s bushel basket. He does this in the hope that an agenda of no truths now, as it has in the past, will end up producing no consequences for him in the future.

In this blog, we look back briefly at Donald Trump’s lying before he became president and at his lying during his presidential tenure. After that, we examine his lying today.

Donald Trump’s Lying Pre-Presidency

Donald Trump himself admits he lies. but he doesn’t call it lying. According to Emily Price of Fast Company, in his best-selling book, The Art of the Deal, published in 1987, Trump wrote:

People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. I call it truthful hyperbole. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration — and a very effective form of promotion.

In a 2018 interview, Judy Woodruff of the PBS NewsHour, questioned Gwenda Blair, author of The Trumps: Three Generations That Built an Empire, published in 2000, about Trump’s use of “exaggeration.”

Woodruff said, “It is the case that — and you have written about this — that over time the president has been called out for exaggerations and for saying things that could not be borne out by the facts.”

Blair responded,

Yes, he has. He’s — but he’s made his brand — that phrase exaggerated hyperbole, he made that into a brand. He made that into a symbol of success. The whole idea of excess, you know, of bumping everything up, saying it was the biggest, the best, it’s always a superlative. …He was already — he made it his job to establish himself as someone who could stretch the truth, and that was part of his — stretch whatever he said. That was part of who he was. And I think that that has turned out to be very shrewd. He has been always a performer, always selling himself, and part of that sales job is to — that superlative thing, to push the boundaries of everything and to get away with it.

And, get it away with it, Trump did that time, and time and time again before he became president. For information and insights on what and how he did this, click here to read a Forbes article titled “Business the Trump Way,” published in April 2016 when Trump was running for president.

In 2024, it appears Trump’s getting away with it on the business front may be coming to an end. The decision and ruling in the civil case in New York against him for fraudulent behavior in securing loans from banks prevents Trump from being an officer or director of any New York business for three years, and calls for him to pay more than a $360 million penalty before interest. PBS reports that in her statement issued after the decision was rendered, New York Attorney General Letitia James, who brought the case noted, “Now, Donald Trump is finally facing accountability for his lying, cheating, and staggering fraud.”

Donald Trump’s Lying as the President

Even though there were two impeachment trials for some of Trump’s lying and manipulative behavior while president, he was never held accountable, as the Republican-controlled Senate acquitted him on all counts in each trial.

The impeachment trials were conducted on major issues. During his presidential tenure, as he did before he became president, Trump lied continually on issues big and small.

Shortly after Trump left office, on January 24, 2021, Glen Kessler, Salvador Rizzo, and Meg Kelly of the Washington Post reported:

By the end of his term, Trump had accumulated 30,573 untruths during his presidency — averaging about 21 erroneous claims a day.

What is especially striking is how the tsunami of untruths kept rising the longer he served as president and became increasingly unmoored from the truth.

Shortly before Trump left office, on January 16, 2021 Daniel Dale of CNN published a piece on the 15 Most Notable Lies of Donald Trump’s Presidency. He began that piece by stating,

Trying to pick the most notable lies from Donald Trump’s presidency is like trying to pick the most notable pieces of junk from the town dump.

There’s just so much ugly garbage to sift through before you can make a decision.

Dale’s most notable 15 included:

  • The most dangerous lie: The coronavirus was under control
  • The Crazy Uncle lie award: Windmill noise causes cancer
  • The most depressing lie: Trump won the election

In conclusion, we should remember that on January 22, 2017, two days after Trump was inaugurated, Kellye Anne Conway, Senior Counselor to President Trump, was on the Meet The Press with Chuck Todd. Conway tried to defend press secretary Sean Spicer’s misrepresentations of the size of Trump’s inaugural crowd as “alternative facts.” Todd replied that “Alternative facts are not facts. They’re falsehoods.”

Donald Trump’s Lying Post-Presidency

Alternative facts and truthful hyperboles. Those were Donald Trump’s domains as a businessperson and as president.

They have remained his domains since he left the White House. He has employed them over the past three years to construct his own artificial reality and post-truth world.

He resides in that world. In that world, his lies have become darker and more dangerous as he feels more and more threatened by his current circumstances. He portrays himself as a victim to persuade his acolytes that an attack upon him is an attack upon them and their future, and the future of this nation.

He uses three primary means to communicate to those in MAGA-world and beyond: Truth Social; speeches at political events; and comments after actions related to the civil and criminal charges against him.

Trump on Truth Social

Trump founded Truth Social in October 2021 to be a social media platform to compete with Twitter. As with many areas of Trump’s involvement, the opposite of what the platform is called is true. Its more accurate title would be “Lies Unsocial.”

Trump uses, and has used, Truth Social since it launched in February 2022 to post his rants and musings.

One of the most egregious of his postings to his personal platform was the following, which he put up on February 19, President’s Day — the day after the death of Russian activist and opposition leader Alexei Navalny in a Russian penal colony:

The sudden death of Alexei Navalny has made me more and more aware of what is happening in our Country. It is a slow, steady progression, with CROOKED, Radical Left Politicians, Prosecutors, and Judges leading us down a path to destruction. Open Borders, Rigged Elections, and Grossly Unfair Courtroom Decisions are DESTROYING AMERICA. WE ARE A NATION IN DECLINE, A FAILING NATION!

This posting shows that for Trump, the only thing that matters is Trump. His equivocation of himself to Navalny is ludicrous. Another accurate title for his social media platform could be “It’s All About Me.”

Truth Social’s owner the Trump Media and Technology Group was taken public on March 26. For what this may mean in terms of Donald Trump’s future “bamboozling” of investors, refer to the Washington Post opinion piece, “Trump’s new stock deal is just another pig in a poke,” by Adam Lashinsky,

Trump at Political Events

Trump’s rambling ranting and railing at political events are ripe with false assertions and untruths. Two prominent locales for his commentary this February were the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) and A Black Conservative Federation gathering in South Carolina.

Jonathan Swan and Michael Bender closed their New York Times article on Trump’s remarks at CPAC by noting:

… the theme of retribution coursed through CPAC.

“I stand before you today not only as your past and future president, but as a proud political dissident,” Mr. Trump said.

“For hard-working Americans,” he added, “Nov. 5 will be our new liberation day — but for the liars and cheaters and fraudsters and censors and impostors who have commandeered our government, it will be their judgment day.”

At that, the crowd whistled and roared.

Early in his Washington Post article covering Trump’s commentary at the Black Conservative Foundation convening, Josh Dawsey cites the following remarks:

A lot of people said that’s why the Black people liked me, because they had been hurt so badly and discriminated against. And they actually viewed me as I’m being discriminated against … Maybe there’s something to it,” he said, right after talking about the charges. (Trump’s originally 91, now 88 felony charges in his four criminal indictments.)

“When I did the mug shot in Atlanta, that mug shot is number one,” Trump said. He added that the Black population “embraced it more than anyone else.”

He also said: “I’m being indicted for you, the Black population.”

Trump on Civil and Criminal Charges

Trump has not held back in his comments regarding the civil and criminal charges against him. Associated Press News (AP) begins its article on his testimony at his civil trial in New York by observing:

A defiant Donald Trump sparred with a New York judge and slammed the state attorney general suing him Monday, using the witness stand at his civil fraud trial to defend his riches and lash out at a case that imperils his real estate empire

The former president’s barbed testimony spurred the judge to admonish, “This is not a political rally.”

According to the AP article, here is some of what Trump had to say in his testimony:

“This is the opposite of fraud,” he declared. Referring to James, a Democrat whose office brought the lawsuit, he said, “The fraud is her.”

“I’m worth billions of dollars more than the financial statements,” he said Monday on the stand, telling a state lawyer, “You go around and try and demean me and try and hurt me, probably for political reasons.”

“All I did was authorize and tell people to give whatever is necessary for the accountants to do the statements,” he said. As for the results, “I would look at them, I would see them and maybe on some occasions, I would have some suggestions.”

In terms of suggestions, Trump had one major one that is transcendent. It is the claim that as a president and former president, he is immune from prosecution.

An appeals court in DC heard Trump’s immunity claim and rejected it. On February 28, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review the appeals court decision in the week of April 22 (now scheduled for April 25). After the Court’s decision was announced, Trump posted the following on Truth Social:

Without Presidential Immunity, a President will not be able to properly function, or make decisions, in the best interest of the United States of America.

Presidents will always be concerned, and even paralyzed, by the prospect of wrongful prosecution and retaliation after they leave office. This could actually lead to the extortion and blackmail of a President.

(We will comment on the Supreme Court’s involvement in this case in our next blog.)

The Impact of Trump’s No Truths. No Consequences Approach

Trump has mobilized his MAGA army of tens of millions of Americans in support of his no truth, no consequences agenda. They embrace him and his truthful hyperbole and alternative facts as they march forward in collaboration with him.

Dan P. McAdams, Professor of Psychology at Northwestern University explains the rationale for this inseparable engagement in Chapter 5, Truth, of his The Strange Case of Donald J. Trump: A Psychological Reckoning, published in 2020. An abstract for that chapter states:

For Trump, truth is effectively whatever it takes to win the moment, moment by moment, battle by battle — as the episodic man, shorn of any long-term story to make sense of his life, struggles to win the moment. Among the many reasons that Trump’s supporters excuse his lying is that they, like Trump himself, do not really hold him to the standards that human persons are held to. And that is because many of his supporters, like Trump himself, do not consider him to be a person — he is more like a primal force or superhero, more than a person, but less than a person, too.

While McAdams focuses on the psychological reckoning of Trump and his supporters in his book, the reckoning could very well be an existential one for our American democracy if Trump manages to return to the White House and can exercise his claim to immunity with impunity.

We warned about the emerging threat to American democracy in our blog, “The Cancer Cult is Infecting our American Mind and Memory,” posted in September of 2021. Since then, the threat has not decreased. Rather, it has increased substantially. Because of this, we offer a slightly modified and updated commentary from that blog:

Forward momentum is what the United States needs desperately right now to improve the health of the fragile crucible called our democracy. The platform for positive momentum must be provided by institutional players such as businesses, educational institutions, religious groups, non-profits, governments, and elected officials.

The source for the momentum, however, must come from “we the people.” That’s the truth — not a truthful hyperbole or alternative fact.

Joe Klein begins his New York Times article on Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan by quoting Senator Moynihan saying, in a lecture at Harvard in 1986, “The central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society. The central liberal truth is that politics can change a culture and save it from itself.” Klein proceeds to observe that “Moynihan, an apostle of complexity, lived at the intersection of these two truths.”

In 2024, because of the changing dynamics, all of us live at the intersection of those two truths. And given the radically changed nature of the Republican Party since the emergence of the Tea Party, the Freedom Caucus, and the ascendancy of Donald Trump and his cultish supporters, politics now is culture, and vice versa, for many members of that party.

To establish the necessary forward momentum, there is a need for a counterbalance that can only come from concerned citizens who are committed to moving this democracy forward in a positive way. As Adlai Stevenson so aptly put it, “As citizens of this democracy, you are the rulers and the ruled, the law-givers and the law-abiding, the beginning and the end.”

When a large group of citizens does not want to play by the rules or to be law-abiding, it could spell the end for this democracy that obliterates its beginning. The citizens who understand this must be willing to step forward.

In doing so, they must recognize that while the perception of the conservative or Republican will differ from that of the liberal or Democrat, the definition of facts should not. Those citizens who understand this perspective will have the right starting point in order to collaborate and compromise to come up with a mutually agreeable solution to our problems.

They will move the American experiment forward and continue the progress toward a more perfect union rather than a regression toward an autocracy.


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