(Washington Post) —
IT MIGHT be a fun parlor game, if the future of the country weren’t at stake: How many lies by Donald Trump can be found in one news article? Post reporter David A. Fahrenthold set out to get a few simple answers about Mr. Trump’s claims of donating to veterans. What he got were lies and evasions about practically every detail.
Mr. Trump made a show of raising what he said was $6 million for veterans groups, including a $1 million donation from himself, at an Iowa campaign event in January. Four months later, Post reporters tried to determine if Mr. Trump, who often exploits his support for veterans to get the rhetorical upper hand on interviewers and opponents, really raised as much as he claimed, how much had been distributed, and to whom.
Corey Lewandowski, Mr. Trump’s campaign manager, said last week that Mr. Trump had raised only $4.5 million, not the $6 million the candidate boasted about, because some donors — Mr. Lewandowski did not say who — failed to follow through on their pledges. Then, in a Post interview Tuesday, Mr. Trump said that the number is $5.5 million and that all the pledges had come in. Why the shifting stories? Almost certainly because Mr. Trump had not given the $1 million of his own money he promised until, apparently, Post reporters started asking questions.
Mr. Trump’s campaign said last week that he had already handed out the $1 million he pledged. This was lie No. 1. After Post reporters began publicly asking veterans groups if any of them got money from Mr. Trump, the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation received a phone call Monday from Mr. Trump, promising his $1 million to the group. Mr. Trump blamed the delay on needing to vet charities. That was likely lie No. 2: Though other people’s donations began flowing to various charities well before now, his came only after Post reporters pressed the matter. Topping it off was lie No. 3: He said he never claimed that he raised $6 million, despite video proof.
Mr. Trump’s reaction to being scrutinized? He took to social media to denounce “bad publicity from the dishonest and disgusting media.”
This was not the first time that Mr. Trump abused the truth this week. In a nod to fact-ignoring conservative fantasists, he raised the theory that Vince Foster, a Clinton confidant who committed suicide in 1993, was murdered. Mr. Trump did so despite the fact that multiple investigations, including by aggressive Clinton investigator Kenneth Starr, confirmed that Foster’s death was a suicide. As conspiracy-mongering goes, this is worse even than Mr. Trump’s association with the “birthers.” He is using a dead man, whose family has pleaded to be left in peace, for a mendacious political attack. That is disgusting as well as dishonest.
Partisan solidarity and fear of Hillary Clinton are driving Republicans to consolidate around Mr. Trump, and the typical horse-race journalism that has emerged since he became the presumptive GOP nominee normalizes his campaign. But the Republican Party, the media and voters cannot pretend that Mr. Trump is a normal candidate. Mr. Trump is pathologically dishonest and morally bankrupt. How many more lies will he tell before the week is over? Republicans who care about their integrity should be counting along with us.