Upon voting to expel George Santos from Congress, Nebraska Republican Rep. Don Bacon pronounced, “We’re not going to tolerate people that lie and steal in our ranks.”
Goodness, Congressman. Do you hear yourself?’
A Republican in good standing in Congress swears to one thing only. Hint: It’s not to support and defend the Constitution, as the oath says. It’s to abet and obey a lie and a liar.
Donald Trump, the Napoleon of Prevarication, the Hannibal of Dishonesty, lives by the lie just like little George Santos.
In Trump, however, we aren’t talking about petty fictions and dime-store theft. We are talking lies for the ages — in particular one lie so massive and offensive that history will forever encase it in capital letters.
He now stands indicted for, among a stunning array of criminal charges, defrauding the government in the effort to negate the voters’ verdict on him in 2020.
And here’s another offense, whether or not the criminal code applies: Trump has extorted fellow partisans to swear to the Big Lie, thereby seeding the beanstalk of BS that so many Americans salute as fact today.
Liz Cheney saw it up close. Few books are more appropriately named than her new work, “Oath and Honor.”
Honor? Liz Cheney kept hers. Adam Kinzinger kept his. And so did dozens of Republican officials like former Arizona Speaker of the House Rusty Bowers, who testified to the Select Jan. 6 Committee about the many ways by which Trump sought to subvert our democracy. They were methods by which Bowers could not abide.
Many Republicans in Congress will say they have no choice but to embrace Trump’s acts and his prevarications. That excuses none of them.
As one congressman told Cheney, it was either embrace all that Trump says and does or face threats to his family and himself and, more frighteningly, getting a Trump-backed primary opponent.
That’s the definition of extortion.
What a telling gem it is for Cheney to report that “Orange Jesus” had become a nickname in the GOP caucus for the Tangerine King.
Extortion. Recall how Trump committed this very act — and got himself impeached — for dangling military aid before Volodymyr Zelenskyy to get him to lie that Ukraine was investigating Joe Biden. Just say it, said Trump, even if an investigation isn’t in the offing. The falsehood was the thing.
Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns, in their book, “This Shall Not Pass,” write about how Trump honed this tool — political extortion — in his attempt to return to power.
Then-Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey set up a “Hail to the Chief” ringtone so he would recognize — and not answer — Trump’s incessant calls to get him to protest loudly about Arizona’s election results – vote totals which Ducey knew he had no reason to contest.
At one point, a despondent Ducey told a friend he feared for his political future for not playing Trump’s game. If Ducey were to run for anything, he said, “Trump’s going to primary me.”
However, “Nowhere did Trump do more to attack the foundations of democracy than in Georgia,” Burns and Martin write.
The matter far transcended Trump’s phone call in which he sought to intimidate Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger, insisting that he “find 11,780 votes.”
When Republicans in Georgia begged the pouting ex-president to come there to boost senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler in a crucial run-off, Trump said he’d do it only if the two echoed his “stolen election” line at the event. Neither believed the claims, but both repeated them dutifully, knowing the consequences of bucking Mr. Big.
Both would lose. Many Georgia Republican officials believe some Trump voters stayed home from the runoff because he had convinced them their votes wouldn’t count in a “rigged election.”
Extortion. It’s how the Big Lie became so monumental as to threaten the world’s oldest democracy.
Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: email@example.com.