It is now all of twenty-five days into the Trump Presidency. Last night, Gen. Michael T. Flynn (ret.) resigned — or was pushed out — from his position as National Security Advisor amid a cloud of accusations that he had discussed the sanctions that the Obama Administration had just levied against Russia with the Russian ambassador to the United States, that he had lied about that conversation to the vice president, and that he may have received payments from Russia in 2015, in violation of the Emoluments Clause to the U.S. Constitution.
It is now emerging that Sally Yates, the Justice Department official who was fired by Pres. Trump for refusing to defend Trump’s unconstitutional ban on Muslim immigration, warned the White House Counsel in late January that Flynn has misled Administration officials and was vulnerable to Russian blackmail. That leads to obvious, and so-far unanswered, questions about why the president kept Flynn in office despite his questionable and potentially illegal conduct.
But perhaps most remarkable was the defense mounted by Kellyanne Conway, a White House counselor and Trump mouthpiece. She claimed that Flynn resigned not because of his communications with the Russians, or his undermining of U.S. foreign policy under Pres. Obama, or the risk that he might be leaking national security secrets to Russia. No, that was not the reason, she claimed! Instead, she said he resigned because he had lied to Vice President Pence.
When, exactly, did truth become a virtue in this Administration? Donald J. Trump has lied to the American people on hundreds of occasions. Or, to put it more charitably, he has made untrue statements hundreds of times. He might actually believe those statements, although that would also mean that he is so detached from reality that he is unable to distinguish fact from fiction.
It is not too much to ask that the Trump Administration adhere to the truth in the way that it claims that Gen. Flynn was required to act when he spoke to other Administration officials. Truth is a universal virtue. No one can credibly insist that others tell the truth to him or her, and then tell lies to everyone else. That includes the President of the United States. In fact, it is particularly true of the President of the United States, or of any world leader to the citizens of that leader’s country.
The truth shall set you free, but a lie will trap you. I hope it is not too late for this Administration to learn that, yes, simple truth.