GOP senator sees Trump as 'the most transparent president' ever

"The most transparent president in history"? Only if the word "transparent" is stripped of any real meaning.
Image: Sen. Ron Johnson, R-WI, speaks at a hearing on Capitol Hill on Nov. 14, 2019.
Sen. Ron Johnson, R-WI, speaks at a hearing on Capitol Hill on Nov. 14, 2019.Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images
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By Steve Benen

When Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), a close White House ally, was asked about the revelations in Bob Woodward's new book, the Republican applauded Donald Trump for his "transparency."

"President Trump is the most transparent president in history. I don't think anything he says to any reporter, reported in any book, really comes as a surprise to anybody because he's already said it publicly."

In other words, Ron Johnson is prepared to shrug off Woodward's reporting because of Trump's "transparency": the president told the author what he's already disclosed to the public.

Of course, in reality, one of the striking takeaways from Woodward's book is the degree to which Trump did the opposite, privately acknowledging coronavirus concerns, for example, that the president did not share with the rest of the country.

But just as important is Ron Johnson's apparent confusion about the difference between candor and transparency. To hear the Republican senator tell it, Trump's habit of blurting out self-incriminating confessions of wrongdoing is evidence of a "transparent" president.

That's a generous rhetorical spin, which is belied by Trump's actual record. We are, after all, talking about the first president in the post-Watergate era to keep his tax returns hidden from the public -- hiring a team of lawyers to make sure the documents remain secret. Trump has also been far from forthcoming about his curious trip to Walter Reed Medical Center last year.

Trump has hidden information from Congress and also hides the White House visitor logs.

"The most transparent president in history"? Only if the word "transparent" is stripped of any real meaning.