Anyone who has been paying attention could easily predict what happened late last week when the DOJ’s Inspector General issued his report about the FBI and the Clinton email investigation: Trump was going to claim it proved him innocent no matter what it said. And he did exactly that:
“I think that the report yesterday,” he told reporters, “maybe more importantly than anything, it totally exonerates me. There was no collusion. There was no obstruction. And if you read the report, you’ll see that.” When pressed on that blatant lie, he replied, “Look, if you read the IG report, I’ve been totally exonerated. As far as I’m concerned.” Well I did read the IG report and this is a flat-out lie. Steve Benen explains why:
Following an extensive examination of federal law enforcement’s behavior during the 2016 presidential election, the IG effectively shredded every bogus narrative the president has peddled for months.
Trump argued that the FBI was biased against his candidacy, and the IG found the opposite. Trump claimed the Justice Department went easy on Hillary Clinton, and the IG found the opposite. Trump insisted Clinton should’ve been indicted, and the IG found the opposite. Trump whined incessantly for months about the system being “rigged” against him, and the IG found the opposite.
What’s less clear is why the president is peddling this lie. Does he genuinely believe these ridiculously and demonstrably false assertions? Does he assume that much of the public will believe lies just so long as he repeats them?
Has Benen really missed the one thing about Trump that should be most obvious, with the possible exception of his malignant narcissism? Let me explain why he peddles this lie and so many others, as I have done repeatedly in the past. He does it because he simply makes no distinction between truth and falsehood other than what is convenient for him at any given moment. If a given factual claim or narrative benefits him, it’s “true.” If it doesn’t, it’s “false.” He never, ever considers whether it’s actually true or false, only whether it’s useful.
And he’s gotten away with this his entire life, and continues to, so he is justifiably convinced that the public, or at least his base, will believe literally anything he tells them. That is how tribalism and cults of personality work and that is what he leads. He is safe in the knowledge that no lie, no matter how obvious, and no set of lies, no matter how extensive and constant, will have any effect on his popularity with the true believers.