It is possible to low-ball even Donald Trump’s threshold for corruption.
I did. When reports showed he sought to extort Ukraine to torpedo Joe Biden’s candidacy, the assumption – my assumption – was that Trump had demanded an investigation of his most-likely Democratic rival.
Wrong. What Trump wanted, as revealed by his (second) impeachment trial, was for Ukraine’s president simply to lie for him.
Say there’s an investigation. Just set up some cameras and say it. That’ll do. I’ll take it from there.
Ukraine’s president refused to lie for him.
We find out this very dynamic was as play in Trump’s bullying of the Justice Department after getting shellacked by Biden by 7 million votes and 74 electoral votes.
According to several reports, Trump pressured acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen to report, in words dictated by Trump, “significant concerns that may have impacted the outcome of the election in multiple states.”
Notes from Rosen’s deputy contained this from Trump: “Just say the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me.”
But Rosen refused to lie for him. So did Rosen’s predecessor, William Barr, on Trump’s search for someone, anyone, in Justice to say the election was stolen. Ultimately Trump left that up to big-bellied thugs in the Jan. 6 insurrection.
“Lie for me, please” was the gambit at play in an hour-long call Trump made to Georgia Secretary of State George Raffensberger pleading for him to find a way to show that Trump had won the state, pressuring him with, “I just want to find 11,780 votes.” Just 11,780.
Raffensberger refused to lie for him.
Trump demanded fealty to him, at the expense of truth and democracy, when he summoned Michigan Republican leaders to the White House to block certification of his 154,000-vote loss of that swing state.
Ever heard of Aaron Van Langevelde? He refused to lie for Trump as well.
Though pressured by fellow Republican leaders, the member of the Michigan Board of Vote Canvassers voted with the two Democrats on the board to certify those votes. Since then the Michigan GOP has remove him from the board.
Warning to any Republican elected official who won’t lie for Donald Trump.
Watch Wyoming Republicans eviscerate Liz Cheney in the congressional primary to come. Watch Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger go down. They will not lie for Trump.
They will not stand for Trump’s behavior. They believe he bears responsibility for the terrorist rampage of Jan. 6 incited by the Big Lie. This disqualifies them from office, sayeth today’s GOP.
The “Lie for me” dynamic doesn’t apply simply to the 2020 election.
The New York Times reports that Trump’s demand that scientists play his game of denial on climate change resulted in a massive void.
Trump’s appointees “undermined federal studies, fired scientists and drove many experts to quite or retire.”
They left because they refused to lie for him.
So, who will?
This week we read reports that Trump’s political organization has raised $82 million.
That’s real money, apparently, but raised on a false pretext. And isn’t that a surprise?
Trump raised much of it by telling supporters they needed to contribute to his challenge of the “steal” of the 2020 election.
Only a fraction of that money has gone to said challenge, which effectively is over. The rest has gone to Trump to do what he wishes.
I have an educated guess about where a great deal of that money emanated. The New York Times reports that last year when Biden announced a major climate-change initiative, Big Energy ramped up online advertising and other spending to counter Biden’s message, with Facebook reaping $10 million in new ad dollars.
Who is guessing with me that a lot of the booty Trump has reaped out of office comes from these very players?
Rest assured, someone can be found who will lie for Donald Trump.
Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.