Columns

As I See It: A Tale of Twin Lies

As a citizen, I’m bothered by latest developments happening in the political arena these days. In fact, I am wondering why our leaders have the nerve to tell a lie, own it and then refuse to resign!

It is really very heartening to note that an incumbent congressman and a former president propelled and perpetuated themselves to power and insisted to be in power by committing lies and misrepresentations.

A jury determined on Tuesday that former president Donald Trump is liable for defamation and battery of E. Jean Carroll. (Ryan Bort @ Rolling Stone).

On the other hand, Congressman George Santos (R-N.Y.) was criminally-indicted and had no indication he will resign. He gave his first public statement following his arrest flanked by protesters holding signs decrying the many lies he’s told the public. (https://www.rollingstone.com/author/nikki-mccann-ramirez/)

With the findings, both Trump and Santos denied the indictment and both pleaded not guilty and insisted they should be acquitted. Santos is not resigning and is holding on to his position as congressman and Trump is continuing his bid for GOP standard bearer and his quest for the 2024 presidency.

In fact, Trump wanted to know from the jurors, who will begin deliberating on Tuesday, if he is the real victim. He didn’t believe of the jury decision and is trying to question their decision.

The former president wrote on Truth Social on Tuesday: “Waiting for a jury decision on a False Accusation where I, despite being a current political candidate and leading all others in both parties, am not allowed to speak or defend myself, even as hard-nosed reporters scream questions about this case at me. In the meantime, the other side has a book falsely accusing me of Rape, & is working with the press. I will therefore not speak until after the trial, but will appeal the Unconstitutional silencing of me, as a candidate, no matter the outcome!”

What’s worse is, Trump claimed he was not allowed to speak or defend himself, but the author said that was a lie because Trump had every opportunity to defend himself in the trial. During the trial Judge Kaplan still gave Trump a chance to speak, but his legal team failed to file the paperwork, so Trump lost his chance to speak on his own behalf.

So, Trump had every opportunity to defend himself in front of jurors, but he opted to stick to his Truth Social account. Judge Kaplan told Tacopina last week that Trump may be “tampering with a new source of potential liability” by railing against Carroll on social media. The warning came hours after Trump called the allegations a “made up SCAM” and accused Carroll’s lawyer of being a “political operative.”

Trump was accused in 2019 by Carroll, a columnist who has written for Elle and other publications, of raping the latter in a department store dressing room in the mid-’90s. Trump bashed her repeatedly following the allegation, leading her to sue him for defamation. She filed another suit late last year, this one for battery, under New York’s recently enacted Adult Survivors Act. Trump has denied Carroll’s allegations, largely by claiming he would have never raped her because she is not his “type.” Video of Trump’s deposition released last week showed the former president mistaking Carroll for his second wife.

As to the representative from Long Island Congressman George Santos (R-N.Y.), he was indicted and arraigned Wednesday on 13 criminal counts that included wire fraud, money laundering, and lying to Congress. “I will not resign” declared a defiant Santos in a press conference outside of the Central Islip, New York, courthouse, where he sparred with reporters and incensed protesters. 

When he attempted to claim that the charges against him were a “witch hunt” and shifted attention to the finances of the Biden family, a chorus of booing interrupted the congressman. “The reality is it’s a witch hunt,” Santos said, “it makes no sense that in four months — four months, five months — I’m indicted. You have Joe Biden’s entire family receiving […] money from foreign destinations into their bank accounts […] and yet no investigation has launched unto them.”

When questioned by reporters on allegations that he collected unemployment benefits while working at a Florida investment firm and receiving a $120,000 salary, Santos said, “I don’t understand where the government is getting their information but I will present my facts.”

The 20-page indictment against Santos covered three major allegations against the congressman: Unemployment fraud, donor fraud, and making false statements to Congress in campaign disclosure forms. Authorities alleged that Santos used funds raised through his campaign to purchase designer goods, paid off his credit cards, and even financed his car payments. 

In a statement released by the Justice Department Wednesday, U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said: “This indictment seeks to hold Santos accountable for various alleged fraudulent schemes and brazen misrepresentations. Taken together, the allegations in the indictment charge Santos with relying on repeated dishonesty and deception to ascend to the halls of Congress and enrich himself… My Office and our law enforcement partners will continue to aggressively root out corruption and self-dealing from our community’s public institutions and hold public officials accountable to the constituents who elected them.”

Bernarda Villalona, former prosecutor and criminal defense attorney, offered Santos on CNN some free advice: “Shut up, shut your mouth, no interviews because anything you say can be used against you. So, shut up, callate.”

What’s bothering me more is that despite all these lies and misrepresentations, Trump is still the front runner of GOP’s standard bearer in his bid for the 2024 presidential election and Santos is still an active member of Congress and a member of important committees in the lower house.

Trials for both politicians may have to be slow and stale, but if it will drag up to the 2024 elections, it will be upon the voters if they tolerate these when they cast their votes.

So, where will we go next?

(Elpidio R. Estioko was a veteran journalist in the Philippines and an award-winning journalist here in the US. He just published his book Unlocking the Chain of Poverty: In Pursuit of the American Dream which is now available with Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Xlibris Publishing. For feedbacks, comments, email author at estiokoelpidio@gmail.com).