April 25, 2024 | Reading Time: 3 minutes

That time Donald Trump admitted he’s been lying the whole time

It was an accident.

Screenshot 2024-04-12 11.15.53 AM

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We’re so used to hearing Donald Trump accuse Joe Biden and the Democrats of rigging elections we might not notice when he admits he’s been lying the whole time. But that’s what happened April 8.

Make no mistake. It was an accident. He was intending to get US Senator Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina, to stop going on and on and on about the desire for a national abortion ban among a majority of Republicans. Graham has nothing to fear. Trump does. He’s principally responsible for the collapse of national abortion rights. Meanwhile, Republican candidates have been losing winnable elections since 2022.

Trump would prefer to pretend that the abortion question is settled. He’d prefer to fault Biden and the Democrats for making a fuss, as if abortion were just a way for them to win elections rather than a serious policy disagreement. That’s why he declared abortion to be a state’s rights thing. Nothing to do with him, it’s about states, end of debate. The debate is hardly ended. Neither are the Democrats at fault. 

He was intending to get US Senator Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina, to stop going on and on and on about the desire for a national abortion ban among a majority of Republican voters. Graham himself has nothing to fear. Trump does.

On the one hand are Republican-controlled states like Arizona and Alabama taking antiabortion politics to its logical conclusion. (The Alabama Supreme Court outlawed, in effect, in vitro fertilization. The Arizona Supreme Court said an abortion ban from 1864 was still valid.) On the other hand are people like Lindsey Graham going on and on and on. It would be easier if Donald Trump’s own side would just shut up already. But it won’t. It can’t. Rightwing politics is never satisfied. 

By itself, this would be enough for any normal presidential candidate to worry about the normal democratic consequences of unforced errors. If Trump and the Republicans don’t stop reminding everyone that they have taken the very wrong and very unpopular side of a serious policy disagreement, they risk doing the Democrats’ work for them. 

That’s pretty much what Trump said April 8 on his media site. “Many Good Republicans lost Elections because of this issue, and people like Lindsey Graham, that are unrelenting, are handing Democrats their dream of the House, Senate and perhaps the Presidency.”

It’s a confession, though obviously unintended.

If he believed Biden rigged the last election, and is rigging the current one, there would be no reason to worry about the normal democratic consequences of unforced errors, because the rules of normal democratic politics don’t apply when an election isn’t free and fair. 

Between Trump and a jail cell
Honesty, I’m not paying that much attention to Trump’s trial. I probably should. After all, it’s the first time in our history that a former president is facing criminal accountability, in this case for using his business, in 2016, to cover up payments to Stormy Daniels for her silence about their sexual relationship, in effect defrauding the American people.

The main event isn’t as interesting to me as the smaller moments, like this: Trump has been trying to get more people to show up at his trial. I don’t mean family. (They seem to have given up on him.) I mean people he truly needs. (He seems to believe they love him.) But crowds of “protesters” are shrinking in size as rapidly as crowds at his campaign rallies. It’s a visible sign of dwindling public support. For a showman and con artist like him, that’s unthinkable. So, naturally, he lies.

No one is stopping anyone from “protesting,” but that’s not my point. My point is the connection between Trump’s public support and the people bringing charges against him. It’s a proportional relationship. The more prosecutors try holding him accountable for his crimes, the more Trump’s supporters find reasons to stay home. Inversely, the more they stay home, the more prosecutors hold him accountable. 

This proportional relationship is true, because Trump believes it is. The legal case against him is damning (as are the other cases in Georgia, Florida and Washington, DC). So he lies about supporters being “rudely and systematically shut down and ushered off” to bring out more of them. He lies, because he’s desperate. Turning this proportional relationship upside down is what’s standing between him and a jail cell.

John Stoehr is the editor of the Editorial Board. He writes the daily edition. Find him @johnastoehr.

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