The United States elected a president who lies so much that he’s lost credibility only two months after his inauguration. This is a serious problem: The day will soon come when Donald Trump really needs the American people to believe him. Will anybody know if he’s telling the truth?
Trump has a long history of spreading outright falsehoods. For years, he claimed that President Barack Obama wasn’t born in the United States. And when he finally admitted publicly that Obama was indeed born in Hawaii, Trump didn’t apologize. He never does; he just changes the subject.
Trump also lied in November when he tweeted that he lost the popular vote in the presidential election because millions of people “voted illegally.” Trump repeated that lie during his first meeting with congressional leaders at the White House, according to The New York Times. He claimed that 3 to 5 million undocumented immigrants voted against him. Trump seems to believe that if he repeats his lies often enough, people eventually will believe them.
One of the few things we know to be true about Trump is that he doesn’t care for immigration. His presidential campaign started in 2015 with a huge lie about Mexican immigrants: “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”
Note that Trump didn’t say “some” or “a few” immigrants. He characterized all immigrants as criminals. The fact is that 97% of all undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. have not committed a felony, according to the Migration Policy Institute.
Trump tweeted one of his latest big lies at 6:35 a.m. on March 4: “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!” And just 14 minutes later, he asked: “Is it legal for a sitting president to be ‘wire tapping’ a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW!”
We don’t know what was happening that morning at Mar-a-Lago, the president’s Florida resort, but Trump has turned his cellphone into a propaganda machine. Worse, it seems nobody on his team dares to contradict him, even when he’s clearly wrong. On March 20, at a congressional hearing, FBI Director James Comey refuted Trump: “I have no information supporting those tweets.” Still, Trump is sticking to his baseless falsehoods.
It’s shocking for a president to accuse a former president of such a crime without evidence. The leader of the free world should have to corroborate the accusations he’s making on Twitter, or at the very least take a deep breath before hitting send.
Furthermore, I don’t understand why a president who is in the midst of launching his administration’s first major policy initiatives and who just nominated a Supreme Court justice would want to divert the country’s attention with such ridiculous claims.
But the core problem is that we’re growing accustomed to Trump’s fabrications. There are so many — and they are so frequent — that nobody is shocked anymore when he makes them. Remember when he said that Muslims were celebrating in New Jersey after the 9/11 attacks? Or when he claimed that Sen. Ted Cruz’s father had met with Lee Harvey Oswald? These accusations were absurd, and Trump continues to make new ones. And when he’s caught telling lies, he just keeps recycling them.
Such behavior could have dire consequences for the country. Situations will occur when Americans must absolutely trust their president. What would happen if North Korea were to launch a nuclear weapon? Or if a new war were to break out in Syria? Or if terrorists carried out another large-scale attack in America? Could we trust the president to tell us the truth?
Trump appears to be living in his own fantasy world, where truth is indistinguishable from fiction. And when you confront him about this, as an interviewer from Time magazine recently did, he’ll just point out that, “I’m president, and you’re not.”
That’s the language of a child — and Trump often behaves like one. He so wants to be accepted as a legitimate president, yet he doesn’t realize that his lies and delusions of grandeur only make him look juvenile.
(Jorge Ramos, an Emmy Award-winning journalist, is a news anchor on Univision and the host of “America With Jorge Ramos” on Fusion. Email him at email@example.com.)