FBI Director James Comey

Credit: Paul Morigi/Brookings Institute

At The White House, Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction

March 20, 2017

FBI Director James Comey confirmed an investigation into Russian interference during the presidential election and the possibility of collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow during a public hearing today.

Comey also said the FBI had no evidence to support President Trump’s claims about wiretaps on Trump Tower.

The hearing bubbled up old questions about the role of truth in the White House, and specifically the trustworthiness of the president.

“We live in a time when it’s as if facts don’t matter,” said GroundTruth Project Director Charlie Sennott on BPR today. “It’s as if there is no truth.”

He said Trump’s history of falsehoods won’t necessarily cause long-lasting damage, but may affect American credibility during his presidency.

“If you have a president with a history that begins with that birther lie, and continues to today, when we now found out moments ago that he wasn’t telling the truth about President Obama wire tapping his phones, then you have a problem with the truthfulness of the president of the United States,” said Sennott.

He said threats facing the U.S., like the growing aggression of North Korea, would require cooperation with allies that might be more difficult if the president isn’t known to be a “reliable purveyor of truth.”

“We live in dangerous times,” he said. “Important decisions are going to be made inside that White House, when you're going to have to speak to the world about intelligence you’ve gathered, that have led you to the very difficult decision that you need to make that might be a military action.”

“If you cheapen the truth,” Sennott added, “why would the world believe you?”

Charlie Sennott is a news analyst at WGBH, where he also heads up the GroundTruth Project. To hear his interview in its entirety, click on the audio link above.

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