Donald Trump’s affiliation with the truth throughout his presidential campaign, and his career in business, has been called into question repeatedly. And a recent piece in the Huffington Post claims that Trump’s administration has reached the unenviable “100 lie” mark faster than any previous administration.
Most of the lies that Trump or his representatives have told are exaggerations or overstatements and many, like his repeated claims about inauguration crowd size or how much golf he plays, are not directly relevant to policy or decisions that have an impact on Americans. We could argue that ANY dishonesty from elected officials is important to explore and address – and minor exaggerations or boastful claims have brought down previous politicians. But three of President Trump’s lies are of particular concern because they indicate specific weaknesses or policy issues that are important for the country.
Refugees: At his rally last week in Florida, President Trump again claimed falsely that thousands of refugees to the U.S. are not being vetted.
According to PolitiFact: “Defending his stalled immigration ban, Trump said ‘there was no way to vet those people. There was no documentation. There was nothing.'”
Trump continues to stoke fears among his followers that U.S. borders are porous and that that refugees, most of whom are women and children, are not being vetted. This is not true. He used fear of immigrants, painted as rapists, murderers, terrorists, and job stealers, to get elected and repeatedly makes similar false claims to rally support for his administration.
Jobs: President Trump claimed that auto giant Ford’s plan to reinvest in a Michigan auto plant rather than a new factory in Mexico was due to pressure he applied to Ford directly. Ford, however, has disputed this claim citing market forces and the kinds of training and education necessary for an ambitious fleet of hybrid and electric cars that will be produced at the plant. The pattern of taking credit for good economic news while shifting responsibility for bad news onto others, President Obama in particular, is likely one we will see throughout his administration.
Russia: Despite phone records and calls that were intercepted, Trump has repeatedly claimed that reporting about contact between his campaign and senior Russian intelligence officers is false or “fake news” perpetrated by losing Democrats and the dishonest media. He has retaliated against both The New York Times and CNN in particular by not taking questions from their correspondents during press briefings. This particular instance of dishonesty is crucial because it calls into question the legitimacy of his election and the underpinnings of his foreign policy.
In some ways it’s difficult to choose which lies are most alarming. Absurd statements about voter fraud undermine our very government (and Trump’s own presidency) and obviously ridiculous assertions that his administration is running very smoothly also cause concern. However, dishonesty about Russia, taking credit for jobs, and falsely demonizing refugees are the lies that are not surprising (looking back) and most alarming (looking forward).