Back when there was a plague upon the nation (not the plague caused by the virus), the question whether the president was lying or merely mistaken was often discussed. Reputable journalists at reality-based news organizations didn’t want to say he was lying (30,000 times in four years) since maybe he believed all the nonsense he said. So, perhaps he wasn’t lying. It felt safer, less judgmental, to say he was merely saying things that weren’t true (30,000 times).
A very good reason to think he was lying his big boy pants off was that every “falsehood” he shared with us was self-serving. People who are merely confused occasionally say something that doesn’t make themselves look good. Not our former president. He never wavered from his fundamental message: “I’m a winner, not a loser”. He never deviated from the con man’s creed: “Never give a sucker (i.e. the rest of us) an even break”.
As the January 6th committee reviews the evidence, similar questions about this person’s state of mind are being asked. Did he really believe he won the election? Did he really intend to stop Congress from counting the electoral votes?
Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo argues that trying to figure out what the creep believed is a waste of time:
For T____, there is just what he wants. He “believes” whatever will get him what he wants.
Does he somehow convince himself of this? Like some kind of willed delusion? Stop it. You’re sticking too much to your linear way of thinking about belief. He hasn’t “convinced” himself. Why would he need to and what would that mean? He just says whatever will get him what he wants. Full stop….
Trump doesn’t “believe” anything.
… It cannot be the case that someone can evade legal culpability for a crime by consistently claiming not to know things that are obviously true, that everyone around him says are true, that he has no basis for disbelieving…. Otherwise, it’s a “get out of jail free” card for literally any crime. Just say consistently that you believe Mr. X threatened your life and you’re entitled to murder him without any legal consequences.
As we know from actual trials, you can’t just “believe” anything…. Your belief has to be reasonable….
We don’t need to go down the rabbit hole of the inner workings of [his] mind. That’s his problem. Not ours. As long as we do, we’re chasing a figment where there is only one possible witness: him. That’s silly.
The mob boss who says he’s never been a member of the mob isn’t confused. He’s lying because he doesn’t want to go to prison. That’s obvious. Just as this case is obvious.
One correction I’d make: not “everyone around him” was saying he lost. Rudy Giuliani and other sleazeballs were telling him the opposite. I hope that doesn’t make any difference when he’s prosecuted.
If you want more on this topic, two well-known lawyers who’ve worked for the government wrote an article for Salon about T____’s “criminal intent”:
As apologists prepare to defend his conduct, it is important to realize how shallow their defense will be. It is laughable to suggest that T____ genuinely believed he had won the 2020 election. We already know that experts and advisers told him the election results were legitimate. He heard this from his campaign advisers, Department of Justice lawyers, high-level officials in his own Department of Homeland Security and Republican elected officials [and at least 60 judges!]. T____ knew he had lost a free and fair election, but he wanted to remain in power anyway….
The committee’s work will be helpful, providing key evidence about … what T____ and others were saying and doing in public and what they were admitting in private.
[There is also] a foundation for showing T____’s corrupt intent: his long-established pattern of crying “fraud” to undermine results he didn’t like.
After T____ lost the 2016 Iowa caucuses to Ted Cruz, he cried fraud and demanded a do-over. He did the same thing in the general election after losing the popular vote to Hillary Clinton, despite winning the Electoral College… Throughout 2020, he made a series of statements along these lines … showing that even before the first vote was cast, he had no intention of accepting election results he didn’t like….
Even if T____ could somehow convince prosecutors and a jury that he really believed he had won — despite all the evidence to the contrary — that would not have permitted him to use dishonest means to stay in power. His legal adviser, John Eastman, made clear that the scheme he and T____ tried to execute to keep T____ in power required breaking the law. You can’t keep power illegally even if you believe you really won an election. But prosecutors won’t need to reach this point, since the evidence is so strong that T____ and those around him knew he lost.