Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, left, shakes hands with vice presidential candidate Gov. Mike Pence, R-Ind., during a town hall, July 25, 2016, in Roanoke, Va.
Photo by Evan Vucci/AP

Trump allies defend his election lie as ‘refreshing’

Updated
Throughout his time in public life, Donald Trump has never been truth-oriented, but last week the president-elect told a rather specific lie: “I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.” This was a demonstrable falsehood, and neither Trump nor any of his allies have been able to bolster the bogus claim with evidence.

So instead, Team Trump has apparently embraced a post-modern debate about the inherent value and meaning of truth.

One pro-Trump pundit argued last week, for example, that there’s “no such thing” as facts anymore. Corey Lewandowski added that American voters “understood that sometimes, when you have a conversation with people, whether it’s around the dinner table or at a bar, you’re going to say things, and sometimes you don’t have all the facts to back it up.”

Outgoing RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, who’ll soon become the White House chief of staff, was asked on CBS’s “Face the Nation” yesterday about Trump lying about voter fraud. Priebus, without proof, said it’s “possible” that millions of illegal ballots were cast. When host John Dickerson noted that there is no evidence to support such a claim, Priebus responded, “I think the president-elect is someone who has pushed the envelope and caused people to think in this country.”

This is, of course, bordering on madness. Asked to defend his boss’ demonstrable lie, the incoming White House chief of staff thinks it’s great that the president-elect is “pushing the envelope” – as if making transparently false claims to the nation is somehow cutting-edge.

On ABC’s “This Week,” George Stephanopoulos asked Vice President-elect Mike Pence about Trump’s lie, and Pence pointed to a Pew Research Center report as proof to bolster the bogus claim. Given that the Pew report doesn’t support the claim at all, the incoming VP defended a lie with a lie.

Pence then tried to change the subject, which led to this exchange:
STEPHANPOULOS: [C]an you provide any evidence to back up that statement?

PENCE; Well, look, I think he’s expressed his opinion on that. And he’s entitled to express his opinion on that. And I think the American people find it very refreshing that they have a president who will tell them what’s on his mind.
This is no small moment. Americans are being told that their incoming president lied to them, got caught, and this is somehow a positive development that should inspire confidence in our reality-challenged leader.

Indeed, Pence’s mind-numbing appearance yesterday was practically Orwellian. Reminded that Trump made a false statement about factual evidence, Pence characterized it as an “opinion” – which doesn’t make any sense since there’s nothing subjective about Trump lying about the scope of voter fraud. Urged to defend Trump’s falsehood with facts, Pence tried to characterize lying as “refreshing.”

Forget politics for a moment. There’s simply nothing sane about approaching reality this way.

For the next four years, how do Pence, Priebus, and other Trump allies believe Americans should listen to their president? Clearly, by their own admission, taking Trump’s words at face value is a mistake. So when the leader of the free world tells us something he believes to be true – or at least pretends to believe is true – what kind of filter do Republicans recommend we use?

When he lies, are Americans supposed to give Trump a pass because he likes to “push the envelope”? When the president chooses to replace the truth with ridiculous falsehoods, are we supposed to find this “refreshing” because most presidents at least try to be honest?



Donald Trump, Mendacity and Mike Pence

Trump allies defend his election lie as 'refreshing'

Updated