Before Donald Trump was ever elected, we knew he was a truly gross man — a liar and a cheater, a misogynist and a bigot, willing to play on the worst tendencies of this country for applause or votes. It was one thing when we knew of him that way as a reality TV star. It was another when we saw him double down on his character flaws as a presidential candidate, but here we are, with him as the President of the United States — and his character is not only failing him, it’s failing our nation.
I’ve been obsessed with politics for about 30 years now. Born in 1979, I missed Richard Nixon by a few years, but over these past three decades, I’ve never seen what I saw Monday.
I watched the directors of the FBI and NSA testify under oath that Donald Trump repeatedly lied when he said on at least four occasions on Twitter that President Obama wiretapped Trump Tower. Mind you, in those tweets, he called President Obama “sick” and compared what Obama had done to him to “McCarthyism.”
Piece by piece, James Comey and Admiral Michael Rogers tore apart every single aspect of Trump’s false claims. First they said that President Obama did not have the power to order such wiretaps. Then they said that they had investigated Trump’s claims and did not find a shred of evidence that any such wiretap ever existed.
Pushed on the conspiracy theory that possibly the British government was asked to do it by Obama, Admiral Rogers, who again was appointed by Trump to replace disgraced former national security adviser Michael Flynn, stated the claim simply was not true and that the assertion from the White House that it was true was damaging to our international relationships.
To make sure his statement on the matter was abundantly clear, FBI Director Comey said he had the full permission of the Justice Department to speak on their behalf that they also found absolutely no evidence that Trump was wiretapped by Obama, or anyone else for that matter. Mind you — the Justice Department is overseen by Trump’s bestie, Jeff Sessions, and even Sessions could not bring himself to join in on the lie.
It was a bombshell. In front of the entire world, under oath, two leaders of our intelligence community testified that our current President repeatedly told flagrant lies on our previous President.
I already knew Donald Trump was a liar. Most of the country believes that, but to see these two men testify to it was about as damning of a political moment as I’ve ever seen in my 30 years of following politics.
Dan Rather, now 85 years old, said of Monday’s developments: “If you are a praying person, today is a day to pray for the future of your country. I have seen a lot in my decades in the press, but I have never seen a day like this. This is a stress test for our democratic institutions and one can only hope that the system of checks and balances we hold so dear, can indeed hold.”
I agree with Dan. We’ve reached a dangerous precipice where we can definitively say that the President of the United States is a gross, unethical liar who cannot and should not be trusted.
To make matters worse, during the hearing, using the government’s official Twitter account for the President, Trump tweeted that Democrats made up the Russia story because they lost the election. In painstaking detail, Directors Comey and Rogers testified how that simply was not true and how Russia, including Vladimir Putin himself, hated Hillary Clinton, loved Donald Trump, and wanted to do anything they could to impact the election.
I have to say this again, but these are the foremost experts on the matter. They did not speak or testify with hesitancy, but said emphatically, over and over again, that Trump was lying when he said Democrats made this whole thing up. That’s a problem.
Then, in something that could not have happened in previous generations, Congressman Jim Himes asked Comey and Rogers about the validity of a tweet that Donald Trump had just written during the hearing in which he claimed the two men testified that Russia had no impact on the election.
Again, in another moment of outrageous embarrassment, both men were forced to testify that Donald Trump was wrong — and that they had not testified to that point. In other words, Trump lied about his lies, and put his own Directors of the FBI and NSA in a position where they had to call him out on it.
I had the thought during their testimony that it could really get no worse for Trump, but it did. Just hours later, when pushed on the fact that the Directors of the FBI and NSA had just testified that Trump was not wiretapped by President Obama, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was asked if Trump would apologize.
I don’t know why I was surprised by his answer, but again, imagining it, and seeing it in real-time are very different. Without hesitation, Spicer stated that Trump was not going to apologize to President Obama or anyone else about his claims of wiretapping. In fact, he was still holding on to the belief that it was true.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is a crisis. It means that Trump is not in touch with reality. The Republican Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes, testified yesterday that Trump was not wiretapped. The heads of the FBI and NSA testified to this. Yet, Trump still believes it.
This is not normal. What it shows is that facts do not matter to Trump. Testimony from experts on the issue don’t matter. The conclusions from the leaders of his own party don’t matter. In the face of a tidal wave of truth, Trump will stare right back at the tsunami and say it’s not actually there.
He accused President Obama of a crime, on Twitter, in front of the whole world, had it soundly refuted, won’t admit his error or apologize and wants to continue sending our nation down an expensive path of investigating his false claims. It’s preposterous. Literally, my own young children, not my teenagers, but my elementary school children, saw this mess unfold yesterday and assumed he would then apologize since he had been caught in such a lie. Nah.
I think he is mentally unfit to hold the Office of President. As a result, he should be immediately removed from office.
I’m not sure how anyone, after Monday’s events, could say otherwise. He is out of touch with reality. Numerous political figures have labeled him a pathological liar. He lives in a space where evidence and testimony and science and facts matter less than what’s in his mind. And it’s undermining the Office of President.
Thankfully, Section 4 of 25th Amendment actually addresses this. It states when the President is unable to faithfully perform the duties of his office, his Vice President and cabinet and Congress can intervene.
How does anyone rationalize what Donald Trump is saying and doing? Either he is a pathological liar, which means he is absolutely unable to perform the duties of his office, or he is so mentally out of touch with reality that he does not know the difference between the truth and a lie when he sees it, which also means he should not be President of the United States.
We’re at the point where his own surrogates are telling people that what he says and what he means or feels are not the same — that his literal words and figurative words don’t line up. What else can they say?
And to put more lipstick on the pig — Trump, in a raucous rally in Louisville, Ky., Monday night, never acknowledging any of the lies he told, instead found time and mental space to rail about Colin Kaepernick, the 29-year-old NFL quarterback. In his remarks, which his audience loved, Trump bragged about the media reports that NFL teams were refusing to sign Kaepernick because they were afraid Trump would tweet about them.
Again, on the very day where his FBI Director and NSA Director called him out for his dishonesty, Trump was more interested in Kaepernick not getting a chance to play in the league. What the hell is going on? What are we talking about here?
That man should have been so contrite and apologetic, hat in hand, but instead he’s focused on that?
It’s disgusting. I don’t see how any of us trust another word that comes out of his mouth. He should be removed from office. As his approval ratings plummet, and he begins to drag down the entire Republican Party, and indeed the entire government and country with him, maybe the people around him will actually have the guts to use Section 4 of the 25th Amendment and remove him from office. With every day he remains in office, national respect for that office declines.
Sadly, I don’t think we’ve hit rock bottom. Trump and his team have already proven that they will burn it all down before they lead with integrity of any kind.
This column originally appeared on the NY Daily News website.