Whether you like him or not, Donald Trump, during his first year as President has already left his distinct mark on American politics. He can take credit for some significant accomplishments which are expected to have long-term effects on the lives of all Americans. Among these is the recently-passed tax bill, the unusual number of his federal judges who have been confirmed – including that of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court – and the number of federal regulations which he has helped to roll back. But it’s the president’s personality and the way he interacts to situations and circumstances that distinguishes him from most other presidents. President Trump is combative by nature and therefore quick to retaliate verbally against people and institutions that oppose him – and is prone to make off-the-cuff remarks, even when speaking on the record. He even criticizes government agencies for which he is responsible and people whom he has appointed to his administration. This is the first president to use social media, like Twitter, extensively to communicate directly with people on all manner of issues.
Perhaps President Trump’s most controversial trait is the way in which he plays fast and loose with facts and appears at times to make little distinction between fact and fiction (or fantasy) – even though many of his statements are easily disproven. It is not uncommon for his closest advisors and surrogates to attempt to clarify something he has said, and at least one advisor has called some of his statements “alternate facts”. But the president always stands by his statements offering little or no clarification – and without apology. In 2015 Donald Trump won PolitFacts’ “Lie Of the Year” award for his falsehood and exaggerations during, most which were matters of public record. What follows is a summary of PolitiFacts’ statement about the award:
From “thousands and thousands” cheering in New Jersey on Sept. 11 to dubious accounts of his own record and words, Trump’s 2015 inaccurate statements exhibited range, boldness and a disregard for the truth. By December 2015, we had rated 76 percent of Trump’s claims Mostly False, False or Pants on Fire. No other politician had clocked more falsehoods on our Truth-O-Meter, and our only real contenders for “Lie of the Year” were Trump’s. We rolled all them into one big trophy in 2015.
But, in my opinion, the most significant and controversial claim made by President Trump is that the Russians did not interfere in the 2016 US presidential election. He claims that the whole idea is a hoax and fake news – made up by the press and Democrats. Most Americans in and out of government, except his most loyal supporters, apparently disagree with him on this issue, and this has only made the president angrier and more combative as he tries discredit the Russian Meddling story. What apparently angers President Trump most is that the US intelligence agencies have concluded that not only did the Russians interfere in the 2016 election, but that they attempted to help him while damaging the campaign of Hillary Clinton.
The US intelligence agencies issued a report in January 2017 in which they described their findings and conclusions about Russian meddling in the US presidential election in 2016. The report depicts Russian interference as unprecedented in scale, saying that Moscow’s role represented “a significant escalation in directness, level of activity, and scope of effort” beyond previous election-related espionage. The [Russian Hacking] campaign initially sought to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, “denigrate” Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and damage her expected presidency. But in time, Russia “developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump” and repeatedly sought to artificially boost his election chances.
As congressional investigations into Russian meddling began to get underway, President Trump became more strident in his denials of Russian meddling and began to overtly criticize anybody or any institution that disagreed with him. The criticism included attacks on all the Security agencies in his own administration. Eventually President Trump fired Jim Comey, the FBI Director and that led Deputy Attorney General Rob Rosenstein to appoint Robert Mueller to head up an independent investigation into the Russian meddling matter. The investigation was to include whether Trump’s presidential campaign had cooperated with the Russians in an effort to help Trump get elected. That action infuriated President Trump who began a campaign to discredit Mueller and his investigation. Lately, the president has been joined in his criticism by several members of congress who wish to discredit Mr. Mueller and close the investigation. Mr. Mueller, a ten-year veteran as FBI Director apparently is paying little attention to all this criticism, and his investigation has already obtained guilty pleas from two of Trump’s campaign advisors and indicted two others.
Here is a summary of PolitiFact’s reasons for awarding President Trump the “2017 Lie of the year” award.
“The record shows that credible evidence led the FBI to begin investigating possible ties between the Trump team and Russia in July 2016. That is the start of the story, more than three months before the election. The American intelligence community expressed with confidence that Russia aimed to interfere in the election to harm Clinton and help Trump. Democrats did not create the story, nor do they control the agenda of the House and Senate committees which are conducting their own investigations. – We rate this claim Pants on Fire.”
Click here to see the winners of Politifacts’ “Lie Of the Year” Award from 2009 through 2016. Note that Donald Trump was cited in the 2016 award, President Obama won the award in 2013 and Sarah Palin was cited in the 2009 award.
Click here to go to the PolitiFact web site.