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President Trump, Why Are You Lying?

Lynn Yaeger
It’s been one heck of a week in Washington, D.C.

“Come on, Sarah, you’re a parent. Don’t you have any empathy for what these people are going through? They have less than you do. Seriously, Sarah, seriously. These people have nothing,” Brian Karem asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders at the press briefing on Thursday. His fiery inquiry was met with ice—the press secretary did not even blink.

When it came to the subject to which Karem was referring—the forced separation of immigrant children from their parents at the border—the president, on the other hand, was quite talkative. “I hate the children being taken away. The Democrats have to change their law. That’s their law,” he spouted absurdly on Friday during an impromptu press conference in the White House driveway. (He did not, however, have anything to say when more than one reporter cried out in response, “Why are you lying?”) Even Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions, doesn’t argue that the internment of children can be blamed on the opposite party. In fact, the AG seems fine with the policy, going so far as to quote Scripture to justify these forced separations and citing a Bible passage that in the past was used to excuse slavery. At this same free-for-all, the president alleged that Barack Obama was responsible for the Russian invasion of Crimea; that parents of fallen soldiers from the Korean War have asked him to get their sons’ remains back (these moms and dads would have to be more than 100 years old); and that he feels bad for former national security adviser General Flynn because “he’s lost his house. He’s lost his life. And some people say he lied, and some people say he didn’t lie.” (The people who say he lied actually include Flynn himself, who is now cooperating with the Mueller investigation.)

Believe it or not, it was less than a week ago that Kim Jong-un strolled the streets of Singapore, the American flag hung next to the colors of North Korea, and the president called the dictator smart and talented, and declared that “he loves his people.” Trump even allowed himself to fantasize about the future of North Korea: “They have great beaches. You see that whenever they’re exploding the canons into the ocean. I said: Look at that view. Wouldn’t that make a great condo beyond that?” he mused. He and the supreme leader also signed a document that the president says means that the nuclear threat is over, a historic memo that, at 300-odd words, is far shorter than this Vogue post.

And speaking of documents: You think your job sucks? At least you don’t have to spend your days piecing together the papers that the president routinely shreds in defiance of the Presidential Records Act, which directs that the White House preserve all memos, letters, and emails that the president touches and send them to the National Archives for safekeeping. In other document news, the judge in the Paul Manafort case metaphorically ripped up the former Trump campaign manager’s bail agreement, due to alleged witness tampering, and sent him to the big house, where he can sit on his nasty little cot and think about flipping. Who will cave first—Manafort or Michael Cohen, who has just fired his whole legal team? “I always liked Michael Cohen. I haven’t spoken to Michael in a long time,” the president said at that driveway presser, hardly a ringing endorsement of his former attorney, a guy who once said he loved Trump so much he would take a bullet for him.

In other legal developments, on Thursday the New York State attorney general filed a lawsuit naming the president and his kids (well, not Tiffany and Barron—the other three), alleging that the Donald J. Trump Foundation violated both federal and state laws and was a veritable cesspool of mismanagement. That same day, the Department of Justice released its long-awaited report on former FBI chief James Comey’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation. Trump apparently didn’t even glance at this thing: “I think that the report yesterday, maybe more importantly than anything, it totally exonerates me,” he offered. “There was no collusion. There was no obstruction.” In fact, the document does not deal with Trump’s collusion or obstruction, one way or the other.

But so what if the answer doesn’t have anything to do with the question? Why are we even asking about this, when, according to the commander in chief, our role is to express unwavering fealty to the supreme leader? Asked what he meant when he told a reporter from Fox, “[Kim] speaks and his people sit up for attention. I want my people to do the same,” the president responded, “I was kidding. You don’t understand sarcasm.”

But it certainly didn’t seem like a joke, and it is not the least bit amusing.

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