What’s become crystal clear in the painful 12 months that we’ve suffered through with Trump in office is that he lies by default and that any truth that makes it into his statements or tweets are purely accidental. He lies to inflame his base, he lies to feed his ego, he lies to attempt to diminish his enemies, he lies, he lies, he lies.
Here’s the latest in the form of a tweet.
According to the @nytimes, a Russian sold phony secrets on “Trump” to the U.S. Asking price was $10 million, brought down to $1 million to be paid over time. I hope people are now seeing & understanding what is going on here. It is all now starting to come out – DRAIN THE SWAMP!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 10, 2018
So, Trump claims that :
- The US bought phony secrets on Trump
- For $1 million
Here’s what the story actually says.
- The deal was made by American intelligence officials working through an American businessman attempting to recover secret hacking tools stolen from the NSA.
- The Russian they were buying the information from promised “compromising material” on Trump, but was told, “they did not want the Trump material from the Russian, who was suspected of having murky ties to Russian intelligence and to Eastern European cybercriminals.”
- They paid a $100,000 first installment on $1 million, but the first delivery of materials had nothing about the stolen tools, and consisted solely of “unverified and possibly fabricated information involving Mr. Trump and others, including bank records, emails and purported Russian intelligence data.”
- The material was refused by the Intelligence officials and remained in Europe in the hands of the American businessman.
- “The episode ended this year with American spies chasing the Russian out of Western Europe, warning him not to return if he valued his freedom.”
According to the Times story, “the Americans desperately wanted the hacking tools. The cyberweapons had been built to break into the computer networks of Russia, China and other rival powers. Instead, they ended up in the hands of a mysterious group calling itself the Shadow Brokers, which has since provided hackers with tools that infected millions of computers around the world, crippling hospitals, factories and businesses.”
So, the purpose of the operation was totally legitimate, the material on Trump totally incidental and refused by the Intelligence officials. The Times story specifically states, “The United States intelligence officials said they cut off the deal because they were wary of being entangled in a Russian operation to create discord inside the American government. They were also fearful of political fallout in Washington if they were seen to be buying scurrilous information on the president.”
What’s critical here is that Trump cites the New York Times story in his tweet, in essence saying that the story is factual. He’s not saying that the Times is wrong and the focus was entirely on obtaining negative materials on him. Rather, he’s totally misrepresenting (lying) about what the Times story actually says, secure in his belief that few if any of the 120,000 who liked or retweeted the story would actually read it.
So Trump lies, and in the process criticizes efforts made by intelligence officials to recover valuable NSA tools. Unfortunately, the most remarkable thing about this story is that it’s totally unremarkable. At this point, it would be more shocking if Trump actually told the truth.
(Author’s Note: Image from the Daily Nooze)