The Culture Of Lying
It is axiomatic among American voters that all politicians lie. It is just accepted as part of the political process. The lies to cover personal failings are known to us all, Clinton’s “I did not have sex with that woman” for example. And Americans are also familiar and marginally less accepting of the national security lie – Nixon’s expansion of the war into Cambodia and Laos, Reagan’s arms for hostages, and Bush’s weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. In addition, there is the big policy lie, a favorite of Republicans, such as the tax cuts will pay for themselves, the existence of massive voter fraud, climate change is a hoax, and so much more.
Trump’s modus operandi has been and continues to be basically lying. Trump is almost pathological in his capacity to lie, racking up an average of nearly six a day for his entire term. And virtually everyone in the Trump campaign has lied and continues to lie about their contacts and interactions with the Russians. That culture infected many of Trump’s nominees who lied on their security and financial disclosure forms as well as regarding their self-enrichment while in office. That may, of course, be why they were chosen.
Trump’s culture of lying has filtered down into nearly everything the administration does, even when dealing with Congress and the courts. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross brazenly lied under oath about the reasons for adding the citizenship question to the census in his testimony to Congress in March, 2018. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has lied on multiple occasions to multiple congressional committees when she continually denied that the administration had a policy of family separations.
With Republicans in control of Congress, it is clear that the Trump administration and those involved in the Russia investigation felt no compunction about lying to Congress, believing that there would be no repercussions. That judgement obviously has turned out to be incredible faulty because many of those same people are now facing perjury and lying to Congress charges now that Democrats control the House.
But Nielsen’s lie about family separation had a secondary, even more nefarious, purpose. Her lie was necessary because the Trump administration was in court defending legal challenges against that alleged policy by denying that such a policy of “separation of families as a deterrence mechanism” existed. The judge in that case had indicated that, if such a policy did exist, it would be unlikely to pass constitutional muster. So, Nielsen’s lie was necessary to maintain the fiction that the Trump administration was presenting to the courts.
It appears that this was not the only case that the Trump’s Department of Justice has openly lied in court proceedings. As the family separation policy was being drawn up, the administration was arguing a case in front of the Supreme Court about whether immigrants detained by CBP and ICE are entitled to a bond hearing. The Ninth Circuit had ruled that detainees were entitled to periodic hearings one had not been held in 6 months. The Trump administration challenged that ruling to the Supreme Court. As part of that challenge, the Trump administration pledged to continue the existing policy that allowed immigrants to be released if they were not a security or flight risk until their hearing, the so-called “parole” policy. That pledge was important in the Court’s ultimate decision overruling the Ninth Circuit.
In reality, the administration was already planning to rescind the parole policy but wanted to hold off until the Supreme Court made its decision. In fact, the parole rate fell to a miniscule 4%, compared to an over 90% rate earlier this decade, indicating the administration in fact had effectively rescinded the parole policy and then lied about it to the Supreme Court.
In general, Republican policies have been based on lies that they have gotten away with since the time of Reagan. That culture of lying has been supported by a captive propaganda network. It is supported by the refusal to prosecute white collar crimes and the political crimes of the Reagan/Bush and Bush II administrations. Trump himself is the embodiment of that culture and it has filtered down to every part of his administration. And now it has infected what the Department of Justice is submitting in cases to the courts, including the highest court in the land.