“The rules are simple: they lie to us, we know they’re lying, they know we know they’re lying, but they keep lying to us, and we keep pretending to believe them.”

— Elena Gorokhova, A Mountain of Crumbs

“Some liars are so expert they deceive themselves.”

— Austin O’Malley, Keystones of Thought

As the evidence of wrongdoing mounts and the anecdotes of inconsistency and imbecility accrue, Democrats and pundits have transitioned from describing President Trump’s statements as fantasies and started labeling them as lies.

Children lie and know when they are lying, but they are being children. Some grow up to be honest, decent citizens. And some grow up to be one of our presidents.

Aside from what is fact or fabrication, Trump appears simply not to care whether what he says is true. Take for instance, President Trump’s press conference on Sept. 25, where he said:

“The president [of Ukraine] just came out with a statement saying there was absolutely no pressure put on him.”

What else could be expected in response to a president who has demonstrated he can and will punish with his power?

“As usual, the United States helps, and nobody else is there.”

From 2015 through 2018, the International Monetary Fund contributed $8.6 billion to the economic stability of Ukraine.

“It’s the single greatest witch hunt in American history, probably in history, but in American history.”

In the Salem witch hunt between 1692-1693, more than 200 people were accused of witchcraft. Nineteen were found guilty and hanged. Another, for refusing to plead, was crushed to death. It remains the “greatest witch hunt in American history.”

“…a lot of people said, ‘I never knew you could be so nice.’”

Speaking of suffering Lou Gehrig’s disease, Stephen Hawking said, “My expectations were reduced to zero when I was 21. Everything since then has been a bonus.”

“Part of the problem you have is that you have a lot of fake news, you have a lot of corrupt reporting….”

The Cambridge English Dictionary defines “fake news” as having originated to describe “false stories that appear to be news, spread on the internet… usually created to influence political views or as a joke.”

Fake news is a fair description of the thousands of “fake news websites” posted by Russia during Trump’s presidential campaign. However, the term has been co-opted by Trump and other Republicans to describe — without the need for evidence — whatever they don’t like. As a result, New York Times Publisher A.G. Sulzberger observes: “The phrase has been used to jail journalists in Cameroon, to suppress stories about corruption in Malawi, to justify a social media blackout in Chad….”

And it continues to be used — without evidence or argument — by Donald Trump.

“…the stock market went down very substantially yesterday when they saw the charge. After they read the charge, the stock market went up very substantially.”

Can mere accomplishment be a substitute for the constitutional processes by which guilt or innocence is determined? Can the size of a military evidence the decency of a citizenry, or of a president?

“We have created the greatest economy in the history of our country.”

If by “we” President Trump means all those who contributed to the recovery from the financial crisis of 2008 — Republicans and Democrats, economists and industrialists, farmers and small business owners — then the most he is guilty of is exaggeration.

But we know that’s not what he means. He means:

Donald Trump has created the greatest economy in the history of our country.

And that — and virtually everything else he said in his press conference and much of what he has said before it — is a lie.

Clifton Jolley

Clifton Jolley, Ph.D., is president of Advent Communications, Ogden.