The latest big buzz is about Jeff Sessions, the attorney general. It turns out that he lied during his confirmation hearings, denying that he had met with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign.In fact, he met twice with the Russian ambassador, who is widely reported to also be a key spymaster.
Not incidentally, if this news hadn’t come to light, forcing Sessions to recuse himself, he would have supervised the investigation into Russian election meddling, possibly in collusion with the Trump campaign.
But let’s not focus too much on Sessions. After all, he is joined in the Cabinet by Scott Pruitt, the Environmental Protection Agency administrator, who lied to Congress about his use of a private email account; Tom Price, the secretary of health and human services, who lied about a sweetheart deal to purchase stock in a biotechnology company at a discount; and Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, who falsely told Congress that his financial firm didn’t engage in “robo-signing” of foreclosure documents, seizing homes without proper consideration.
And they would have served with Michael Flynn as national security adviser but for the fact that Flynn was forced out after the press discovered that, like Sessions, he had lied about contacts with the Russian ambassador.
At this point it’s easier to list the Trump officials who haven’t been caught lying under oath than those who have. This is not an accident.
Critics of our political culture used to complain, with justification, about politicians’ addiction to spin — their inveterate habit of playing down awkward facts and presenting their actions in a much better light than they deserved.But all indications are that the age of spin is over. It has been replaced by an era of raw, shameless dishonesty.
In part, of course, the pervasiveness of lies reflects the character of the man at the top: No president, or for that matter major US political figure of any kind, has ever lied as freely and frequently as Donald Trump. But this isn’t just a Trump story. His ability to get away with it, at least so far, requires the support of many enablers: Almost all of his party’s elected officials, a large bloc of voters and, all too often, much of the news media.
Read Professor K's piece in The Times for March 3, 2017.krugman#sthash.aylCubpK.dpuf