Polman: The latest lie from Trump's alt-reality
You never hear the term "black liar" anymore. I think it died in the 19th century, which is a shame, because it'd be a kick to diss a fabulist by saying, "You are a black liar, sir!"
We should revive it, if only to use it on Trump.
I'm supposed to be on vacation, but naturally the black liar has tweeted something new that cries out for a fact-based corrective. I'm well aware that truth has become a quaint concept coveted by only half the electorate, but hey, I was trained to refute liars and I won't ever apologize for sustaining a career habit. And this post won't take long, because the wifi at 30,000 feet costs more than a price surge on Uber.
As you probably know, Trump is scrambling to shutter the Donald J. Trump Foundation one step ahead of the New York attorney general's probe. He's like a drug dealer who flushes his stash down the toilet when the cops come knocking. Part of his strategy, of course, is to float the lie that the foundation was fantastic all along and that nothing it or he did was ever amiss. Which brings us to the tweet he thumbed at 11 p.m. Monday night:
"The DJT Foundation, unlike most foundations, never paid fees, rent, salaries or any expenses. 100 % of money goes to wonderful charities!"
Here's the thing about Trump: If you want to know when he's lying, don't just watch his lips move. Follow the exclamation marks.
All the money went to wonderful charities ... I bet he truly believes that alt-reality. But in the reality, the Trump Foundation spent $264,631 to renovate a fountain outside the windows of his Plaza Hotel. It spent $250,000 to settle lawsuits that ensnared Trump's for-profit companies. It spent $30,000 on Trump portraits, one of which hangs in Trump sports bar. It spent $25,000 on a political contribution (the IRS bars charities from making political contribution). Trump also used foundation money to buy a two-person membership to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
All those expenditures have raised questions about whether Trump broke laws that prohibit "self-dealing."
That's what the New York AG's office is probing, to determine whether or to what extent Trump personally benefited from foundation outlays that were legally earmarked for "wonderful charities." Indeed, an AG spokeswoman said on Tuesday: "The Trump foundation is still under investigation by this office and cannot legally dissolve until that investigation is complete."
And speaking of exclamation marks, the black liar had another one Monday night:
"I gave millions of dollars to DJT Foundation, raised or recieved millions more, ALL of which is given to charity, and media won't report!"
By the way, that's the way he spelled "recieved." Like he said, he loves the poorly educated.
More importantly, he said yet again that "ALL" of the foundation money has gone to charity. And his first declaration, that he "gave millions of dollars to DJT Foundation," skips the fact that, according to foundation tax records, Trump didn't give the foundation a cent of his own money in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, or 2014. (He relied on outside donors, like pro wrestling mogul Linda McMahon. He just hired her to run the Small Business Administration.)
Anyway, I know it's futile to point this stuff out. But there may come a day when his followers begin to realize that he's not bringing back factory jobs, that he's not building a wall, that he and the Republicans are endangering their health care and Social Security, that his tweets are stoking international crises. Only then would they begin to question his credibility.
Which would be a good thing. Because black lies matter.
Dick Polman is the national political columnist at NewsWorks/WHYY in Philadelphia (newsworks.org/polman) and a "Writer in Residence" at the University of Pennsylvania.