Sen. Bernie Sanders issued a fiery response to critics who take issue with him labeling President Donald Trump a "liar" on Tuesday, penning a Medium post titled "What should we do if the president is a liar?"
Sanders took specific issue with a recent Washington Post piece by Amber Phillips denigrating the senator for lowering the "state of political discourse" by calling Trump a liar. Phillips argued several of Sanders' "corrosive" tweets represented how "Political norms — like, don't accuse the president of the United States of lying without evidence, or don't accuse the former president of the United States of wiretapping your phones without evidence — have been eviscerated."
"To say someone's lying suggests that you know they don't believe what they're saying," Phillips added.
Sanders was not pleased, to say the least. In his post, he burned Phillips, saying her "complaint appears to be that it is improper for a United States senator to state the obvious."
The senator distinguished between disagreements that are "a normal part of the political process" and several examples in which Trump misled the public.
"How do we deal with a president who makes statements that reverberate around our country and the world that are not based on fact or evidence?" Sanders wrote. "What is the appropriate way to respond to that? And if the media and political leaders fail to call lies what they are, are they then guilty of misleading the public?"
While there's certainly room to debate whether specific Trump claims qualify as "lies," there's not as much room to debate whether Trump, in general, is a credible source of information. Politifact, a site which gauges politicians' statements for accuracy, currently has Trump at a 16% "true" or "mostly true" rating, while 20% of his statements are categorized as "mostly false," 33% are "false" and 17% are "pants on fire." That's a cumulative 70%.
Moreover, Sanders is right on the merits: Trump has inarguably been caught spreading misinformation that cannot be explained away as mere good-faith disagreement.
One of Trump's first acts as president was to lie — and send out his press secretary Sean Spicer to lie — about the size of crowds at his inauguration, and the scale of his electoral college victory. The president's statement millions of undocumented immigrants illegally voted for Clinton was an outright lie. He's also repeatedly lied about his own record on the issues, lied to the press and falsely accused the media of covering up terror attacks.
Most recently, the president provided a misleading accounting of his administration in a joint address to Congress and falsely accused Barack Obama of freeing 122 "vicious prisoners" who "returned to the battlefield" from Guantanamo Bay (113 of them were freed under George W. Bush).
In fact, Trump largely launched his political career around one hell of a lie: that Barack Obama was hiding something suspicious about his birth certificate.
Trump has a record of lying to, and misleading, the public. That is a fact. It might be an unfortunate one, but no amount of tone policing will change it.
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