Early vote-count results were encouraging, so he planned a victory speech. Then the tally went sour, and so did he.
“It was stolen from me,” said Donald Trump.
Over the next few weeks Trump pestered state officials alleging irregularities. He threatened to sue. “Fraud,” he declared without a shred of evidence.
But Ted Cruz had won — the 2016 Iowa Caucuses, that is.
Donald Trump wasn’t even one primary contest into his presidential pursuit, and already he was lying about it.
(Months later, when Cruz sought to strip away convention delegates, Nixon Dirty Trickster Roger Stone, now serving Trump, set up an in-house effort which Stone coined “Stop the Steal,” a moniker so snazzy as to be summoned off the shelf by Trump four years later.)
Lies, lies and more lies — from a man forever to be identified with one Big One in particular.
The striver who promoted his activities to gossip columnists using an alias, who used bots to rig online magazine polls in a bid to raise his profile among business leaders, who said he was worth $7 billion (only several billion off, there) had only just begun to lie.
Now in a Manhattan courthouse, a lifetime of fraudulent acts catches up with him.
One might ask why it was so necessary for this stable genius, he who would fix everything, to lie like a grimy 5-year-old.
He said that if he stood in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shot someone, his supporters would still vote for him. OK. So why not simply tell them the truth?
“The media writ large was unprepared to cover a political candidate who lied as freely as Trump did, on matters big and small,” writes The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman in her book about him, “Confidence Man.”
“Even those of us who had covered Trump for years,” she writes, “struggled with how to handle the gush of falsehoods that dotted his sentences.”
As she observed, before Trump’s torrent of fabrications, the political news media generally avoided “lie” for politicians’ claims.
But how would you depict someone:
— Saying the Russia probe had nothing to do with why he fired FBI Director James Comey, then telling the Russian foreign minister that he did it for that very thing?
— Saying he withheld arms aid to Ukraine because it was getting too much compared to other European nations? We’d find out in his first impeachment trial that this was instead a bid to extort a favor harmful to Joe Biden, a favor President Zelensky refused to honor.
— Hearing a comprehensive report from intelligence agencies that Russia interfered to his benefit in the 2016 election, then issuing a statement the next day saying the intelligence was inconclusive?
— Hearing Vice President Pence say he did not have the power to reject certification of Biden’s win, then issuing a statement the next day that Pence agreed he had that very power?
This of course delivers us to the Big Lie, the most egregious and destructive fraud ever committed by an elected official in this country. People died because of this lie. The Capitol was ransacked because of this lie.
The seeds of this lie have left the Republican Party a field of noxious weeds. Election deniers run for key posts and get slaughtered by voters for their insanity. Nonetheless, almost no top GOP leader exhibits the guts to say what Trump’s own closest advisers told him over and over: He lost fair and square.
The Big Lie did not occur to him when it was clear when a new morning made clear that his bid for re-election was over. Trump’s hideous, evil, democracy-destroying falsehood was devised long before, when Rudy Giuliani said: Just say you won, Boss.
The same type of calculated fiction prevailed when pressure mounted for Trump to release his tax returns, writes Haberman. “I could just say ‘I’ll release them when I’m no longer under audit,” he told advisers, “’cause I’ll never not be under audit.”
Though he managed to pull one over on enough voters in key states to gain the highest office, he will have greater difficulty with state and federal investigators. They are interested in truth and nothing but.
Trump is presumed not guilty until shown otherwise, but as pertains to profiting from a lifestyle of lying, that case is closed.
Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.