For most of his appearance before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, Corey Lewandowski was more like a bad street performer than a hearing witness. Determined not to be cooperative (or perhaps to sock away some video ammunition for his own Senate campaign), he stonewalled and filibustered, deflected and attacked. To call him evasive is a disservice to such a respectable word; he wasn’t dodging the truth so much as giving it the finger and begging for a contempt charge. And then something unusual happened. The Democrats trotted out a heavyweight hired gun, criminal defense lawyer Barry Berke, and reality started gushing out of the former Trump campaign manager. Called to account for admitting one thing to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and quite another during a cable news network interview (the video evidence conveniently trotted out by his inquisitor), Mr. Lewandowski admitted to the following:
“I have no obligation to be honest with the media because they’re just as dishonest as anyone else.”
That, in sum, covers not just Mr. Lewandowski’s cavalier relationship to the truth but the theme of Donald Trump’s first 32 months in office. For President Trump and his inner circle, alternative reality isn’t a weekly feature on an editorial page, it’s a way of life. There is “no obligation” to be truthful with the American people (which is the point of doing an interview, after all) particularly when it comes to the sensitive issue of whether Mr. Lewandowski was told by his boss to twice tell then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to urtail-cay the Ueller-may investigation. He didn’t forward that message, by the way, likely because he recognized the criminality of obstructing justice.
Now, gentle readers, this is where the Trump supporters generally launch into their what-about-isms. Like how about those times when political people who aren’t on the Trump payroll lied? Or what about mistakes that show up in the “fake news” media? On Twitter, President Trump is surely “locked and loaded” on that point, having already excoriated two reporters for The New York Times for leaving out what he perceived as exculpatory information from a Sept. 14 article on Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s alleged sexual impropriety back in his undergraduate days at Yale University.
I call for the Resignation of everybody at The New York Times involved in the Kavanaugh SMEAR story, and while you’re at it, the Russian Witch Hunt Hoax, which is just as phony! They’ve taken the Old Grey Lady and broken her down, destroyed her virtue and ruined her reputation...
“I call for the Resignation of everybody at The New York Times involved in the Kavanaugh SMEAR story, and while you’re at it, the Russian Witch Hunt Hoax, which is just as phony! They’ve taken the Old Grey Lady and broken her down, destroyed her virtue and ruined her reputation,” the president tweeted Monday evening.
Now, there’s an ethics standard: If you leave out information that the public should know, you should lose your job. Hey, we’ll take that benchmark, Mr. President. But first, let’s note that the information in question, which the Times promptly added to the article, had to do with a female student who declined to be interviewed and who friends have said did not recall an episode in which Mr. Kavanaugh allegedly — let’s just say did something gross — during a drunken party. The reporters have that detail in their book, but it was worth adding to the article, and they did. Now, compare that to outright lying in or around the White House and never, ever, ever admitting to it except when a committee counsel forces your ex-campaign manager into spilling his guts.
So if we go back to the lie-and-be-fired standard, President Trump would have been impeached on Week One. By The Washington Post’s latest tally, he’s about 12,000 firings into his term. That’s about a dozen firings a day, or a season of “The Apprentice” every two days. All of which raises the more essential question: What’s the corresponding Democratic standard for false or misleading statements to the public? Clearly, it’s not a zero tolerance strategy given the glacial pace of impeachment talks. Mind you, the media isn’t exactly shocked that anyone in Washington fudges the truth. But how rewarding when the truth unexpectedly leaks out from ethical swamp creatures like Mr. Lewandowski (a former CNN commentator, by the way, so there’s a whole additional level bordering on pathological in his career choices). He may be an unlikely truth-teller, but for at least one moment this week, he was a darn credible one.