The problem with serial lies is that it becomes hard to keep them straight. Add to that a compulsive liar with a short attention span and a penchant for impulsive outbursts, and you have a first-class challenge. Especially when that serial liar happens to be under criminal investigation by prosecutors who, unlike their target, are experts at keeping facts straight.
Exhibit A is Stormy Daniels. First Trump denied knowing anything about the $130,000 hush money, and his hapless, lapdog lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, gamely went along with the lie. Then Trump’s latest lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, blurted out on Fox News that Trump in fact was the source of the money. This was then confirmed, in more detail, by Trump, also on Fox. None of this seemed part of a coherent defense plan, just half-baked blurts.
This may not cause criminal liability for Trump since he has not said any of this under oath, but it sure puts Cohen in deeper jeopardy. It’s not clear which of the earlier lies Cohen told the FBI, but none of this bodes well for Trump, since Cohen is under increasing pressure to sing. The fact that Cohen had to advance the money out of his home-equity loan, and is essentially a lawyer without clients, does not suggest a defendant with deep resources to resist.
Exhibit B is James Comey. Trump and the White House initially fabricated an elaborate cover story to justify Trump’s firing of the former FBI director. Trump then blurted out that in fact he had canned Comey because he doubted Comey’s loyalty. And then this week, Giuliani yet again—wait for it—on Fox News, said that Trump had fired Comey because Comey had refused to say that Trump was not a target in the investigation of Russian involvement in the 2016 election.
And there are dozens more such exhibits. Dwelling in an alternative post-fact universe where you can blithely make things up and then change your story may work sometimes in politics. It doesn’t work so well in a criminal or a potential impeachment investigation.
And to compound the damage further, Trump’s latest lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, seems to have some of the same character traits as his client. Your lawyer is supposed to be circumspect, cautious, and there to rein in your impulses. Giuliani is almost as impulsive as Trump. (With a lawyer like this, who needs prosecutors?)
And why in the world openly talk strategy on Fox News? You would think that Trump and Giuliani assume that the only court that matters is Fox. That’s surely how they’ve manipulated public opinion, but at the end of the day, Trump’s fate will be decided by real prosecutors, not by fawning interviews.
There’s an old saying that a lie is halfway around the world when the truth is just getting its boots on. That may be true of ordinary, individual lies, but the truth has a way of catching up with serial lies and serial liars.
Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.