The anatomy of a Trump lie.

Trump is a well-known and well-documented liar

You don’t have to search very long or hard to identify the lies Trump tells on any given day, or to find a cumulative list of all of Trump’s lies now measured in the thousands. From the very beginning of Trump’s candidacy, Trump spewed his “fake news” as if it was truthful fact, continuing his life-long propensity for dishonesty for personal gain.

Unknown to many Americans, the term “fake news” originated with journalists describing Trump’s false depictions of facts and events. In Trump’s typical style, he co-opted the term “fake news” and re-branded it for his own illegitimate purposes.

No worries. Kellyanne The Con-Way gave us a much better and more humorous alternative, “alternative facts”. And Rudy Giuliani told us all about Trump’s truth system: “Truth isn’t Truth”.

Trump brags about his lying skills in The Art of the Deal.
It’s a lie, but who cares?

Trump has been a liar all his life. Trump explained to Tony Schwartz, Art of the Deal author, how he profited from lying and how lying was one of his core competencies. Schwartz struggled with a way to make lying appear as a desirable personal characteristic. After much deliberation, he settled on the term “truthful hyperbole”, which is clearly an oxymoron because by definition hyperbole is not truthful.

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It’s a lie, but who cares?

Donald Trump’s Ghostwriter Tells All
— The New Yorker, July 2016

When Schwartz began writing “The Art of the Deal,” he realized that he needed to put an acceptable face on Trump’s loose relationship with the truth. So he concocted an artful euphemism. Writing in Trump’s voice, he explained to the reader, “I play to people’s fantasies. . . . People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular. I call it truthful hyperbole. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration—and it’s a very effective form of promotion.” Schwartz now disavows the passage. “Deceit,” he told me, is never “innocent.” He added, “ ‘Truthful hyperbole’ is a contradiction in terms. It’s a way of saying, ‘It’s a lie, but who cares?’ ” Trump, he said, loved the phrase.

Trump lies have a shelf-life

One common characteristic of most Trump lies is that over time they are easily proven to be falsehoods. Shelf-life is an excellent term to describe the Trump lie life-cycle — the time-span between the first utterance or tweet of a Trump lie — and the time when it is undeniably proven to be false. At first, many Americans might believe the lie. However, once the lie has been proven false only the most sycophantic members of Trumps Cult of Personality continue to believe the lie.

(Note: There are valid arguments demonstrating that Trump sycophants don’t really believe many of his lies either, but will simply perpetuate his lies in support.)

It’s unfortunate when Trump lies, the lie doesn’t come with anexpiration date so we know how long the shelf-life of the lie will be. It would save all Americans a lot of time and energy. Instead of arguing back and forth about policies based upon the lie, we could simply wait for the lie’s expiration date and then act accordingly with full knowledge of the truth.

Anatomy of How the Trump “No Collusion” Lie Evolved

We’ve all heard and read Trump’s lies. However, it is interesting to follow a Trump lie and how it evolves over time, when at every stage of evolution the lie is proven to be a falsehood. In this article, we’ll examine “Russian Collusion” as an example. In many cases, Trump’s lies typically start with a strong message full of bluster and bravado, like “they’re rapists and drug dealers”. Then as the truth is discovered, the current lie slow-rolls into a new lie that shaves some of the hard edges off. With the topic of collusion, the opening salvo was crafted by Hope Hicks, in January 2017: “Zero contact with the Russians”.

… as the truth is discovered, the current lie slow-rolls into a new lie that shaves some of the hard edges off

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“Zero contact with the Russians”
Flynn and Kushner met with Kislyak on multiple occasions.

Trump  Collusion Lie Version 1:
“Zero contact with the Russians”

Hope Hicks crafted that message after Trump was elected but before he was inaugurated. It was in response to on-going news stories that the Russians hacked the DNC,  interfered in our election and might have ties to a member of Trump’s campaign.

“Zero contact with the Russians” had a shelf life of a couple of months before we found out that National Security Adviser Flynn had numerous contacts with Russian Diplomat Sergey Kislyak. Also, Clown Prince Jared was working with Kislyak to set up a back channel using a private Russian network with an endpoint in the Russian Embassy.
“Zero contact” was abandoned and the official message became:

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Wiretaps on Kislyak’s phone proved he and Flynn discussed sanctions.
— US Intelligence Community

Trump Collusion Lie Version 2:
“No discussion of sanctions with the Russians”

With the “zero contact”  lie completely destroyed, the Trump Campaign had to evolve to a new but related lie. With news stories focusing on Flynn’s contact with Kislyak possibly violating the Hatch Act, The Trump Administration had to begin with a new narrative. They admitted that Flynn and others talked clandestinely with the Russians but the new angle was there was “no discussion of sanctions”, trying to distance Flynn from claims of Hatch Act violations.

“No discussion of sanctions” had a shelf life of a month before we found out that the FBI had been tapping Kislak’s phone, and they picked up an incidental conversation between Flynn and Kislyak discussing sanctions.  Then “no discussion of sanctions” had to be thrown out and the official message became:

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Sessions met at least twice with Kislyak during the campaign.

Trump Collusion Lie Version 3:
“No contact with the Russians during the campaign”

Still battling Hatch Act accusations, the Trump Administration took the position that it was perfectly appropriate for Flynn to be discussing policy with Kislyak, because Trump was the President-elect and Flynn was part of the Transition team.

“No contact during the campaign” had a shelf life of a month before we found out Sessions met with Kislyak at least twice during the campaign. We also found out that Cohen was in discussions with Russian Oligarchs about the Trump Tower project in Moscow. It is well known that in an Oligarchy like Russia, the Oligarchs are de facto representatives of the government.  “No contact during the campaign” was completely debunked and the official message became:

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After a few rounds of lying about the intent of Jr’s Russian Summit, it was ultimately admitted the intent of the meeting was to get illegally-obtained dirt on Hillary.

Trump Collusion Lie Version 4:
“No discussion of the election with the Russians”

Trump Jr’s Russian Summit with Manafort, Kushner and Natalia Veselnitskaya, has a whole list of evolutionary lies all by itself, and it is deserving of its own analysis. But for our purposes, the Summit debunked the “no discussion of the election” lie. It had a shelf-life of several months when the official messaging took a different turn. Instead of addressing individual events, the messaging turned to two broad generalities:

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Rudy “the bigger the eyes, the bigger the lies” Giuliani keeps alternating between “No collusion” and “Collusion isn’t illegal”.

Trump Collusion Lie Versions 5 & 6:
“No collusion” and “Collusion isn’t illegal”

After spending months with the Trump Cabal changing the narrative based upon specific events that contradicted their lies,
Rudy Giuliani started alternating between two different stories, ”no collusion” and ”collusion isn’t illegal”.

First Rudy kept telling us there was no collusion. But after getting beat up on that lie a bit, he morphed for a short time to “collusion isn’t illegal. Now, he just uses both.

“There is no collusion. But if there is, collusion isn’t illegal.” — Rudy Giuliani

And that’s where it stands today, waffling back and forth between “no collusion” and “collusion isn’t illegal”. BTW, where has Rudy been anyway? Do you think maybe he’s in Muller’s sights for obstruction of justice.=?

To review, this is the complete evolution of Trump’s lies regarding collusion from beginning to end:

Summary: The Evolution of the Trump Collusion Lie

(1) zero contact with the Russians, becomes:
(2) no discussion of sanctions with the Russians, becomes:
(3) no contact with the Russians during campaign, becomes:
(4) no discussion of election with the Russians, becomes

(5) no collusion ⇿ (6) collusion isn’t illegal

There are many Trump lies just like “zero contact with the Russians” that you can follow from beginning to end. It’s fun to identify how each iteration of the lie evolves over time as previous iterations are proven false. Try it!