News Journal:Trump saga suggests lying is contagious

Maybe not telling the truth is contagious — something like the flu, only worse.
Spend enough time in the same room with someone infected with the flu virus, and the odds are pretty good you’ll come down with it yourself. Spend enough time in the orbit of a leader who is a world champion at making false statements, and inevitably you’ll pick up that virus too.
For years the Washington Post has featured a “Fact Checker” column that awards one to four “Pinocchios” to politicians who have made misleading or outright false statements. It has also kept track of how many false or misleading claims President Trump has made since inauguration day—currently more than 7,000 and counting.
But last week, fact-checker Glen Kessler, perhaps out of sheer frustration at what has become a herculean task, introduced a new rating that measures repeated dishonesty among politicians — a category, he says, “that was inspired by President Trump’s misleading claims.
“The bar for the Bottomless Pinocchio is high,” Kessler explains. “The claims must have received three or four Pinocchios from The Fact Checker, and they must have been repeated at least 20 times. Twenty is a sufficiently robust number that there can be no question the politician is aware that his or her facts are wrong…The Fact Checker has not identified statements from any other current elected official who meets the standard other than Trump. In fact, 14 statements made by the president immediately qualify for the list.”
Who hangs out with a man like that? People like Paul Manafort, handpicked by Trump to be his campaign manager.
Earlier this month, prosecutors from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia said in their filings to the federal court, “Manafort told multiple discernable lies these were not instances of mere memory lapses.”
Documents revealed that Manafort said in his signed plea that he had no communications with anyone in the administration. The prosecutors said, “The evidence demonstrates that Manafort lied about his contacts.”
This week, Trump’s personal lawyer and for years his admitted fixer, Michael Cohen, was sent to prison for three years after admitting he had engaged in a pattern of deception that permeated his professional life.
During the same week George Papadopoulos, a former Trump campaign aide, was just finishing his time in federal prison for lying to the FBI. His lawyer, Thomas Breen said, “The president of the United States hindered this investigation more than George Papadopoulos ever could. The message for all of us is to check our loyalty, to tell the truth, to help the good guys.”
Just a few weeks ago the Special Counsel Mueller filed his sentencing memo on Trump’s first National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn. Flynn was the first of Trump’s top assistants to plead guilty to lying to the FBI.
Former Trump Deputy Campaign Manager Rick Gates has pled guilty to financial fraud and lying to federal investigators. He is cooperating with the government and has not yet been sentenced,
We will soon find out if there are any charges will be brought against Donald Trump Jr and son-in law Jared Kushner. There are allegations that both lied to Congress about a meeting in the Trump Tower with Russian contacts as well as about negotiations on a Trump Tower in Moscow.
I think that, from an early age, not telling the truth became a way of life for Donald Trump. Until he became President, there seemed never to be a price paid for his false or misleading statements. That viral strain was contagious and did infect the people around him.
One of the things I always told my students at the Duke Law School, where I taught for 26 years, was — no matter what happens — never lie to the FBI. I think by now a lot of people infected with the Trump virus wish they had listened to advice like that.

Ted Kaufman is a former U.S. Senator from Delaware.