There is one thing that all parents teach their offspring from a very early age; likely soon after they start communicating on a reasonable level. Likewise, any child who has ever attended more than a few Sunday School sessions has had that parental teaching reinforced under fear of deadly retribution from “the almighty.” It really is true, no-one likes a liar and yet the practice is pervasive among Republicans and everything related to their politics. However, the idea of Republicans lying in speeches or in their comments to the press, as nasty as it is, it is not violating any criminal statute. It is despicable and very un-Christian-like for Republicans claiming to be devout Christians, but it is not a crime in a secular democracy.
But lying during a Senate confirmation hearing, particularly after being sworn to answer honestly, is considered perjury and as compiled and reported by Paul Phillips at Reverb Press, thus far five members of Donald Trump’s cabinet committed perjury during their Senate confirmation hearings; his cabinet is a veritable liars club. Unfortunately for Americans and democracy, Republicans controlling Congress cannot be bothered to do their jobs and demand criminal charges against the offending perjurers.
All the focus of the moment is on Trump’s deceitful racist evangelical Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and it begs the question; is he even religious? On the one hand he wants the Old Testament’s Ten Commandments posted so every student has to look at them every day, supposedly to “keep them honest” in the eyes of god. But on the other hand, Sessions had no problem blatantly, on camera no less, lying during his Senate confirmation hearing after standing, holding up his right hand, and “taking an oath” not to lie; or technically not to “commit perjury” before Congress. But Sessions isn’t alone in the cabinet-level liars club. He has four partners-in-crime serving with him at Trump’s table and they are all guilty as Hell of committing perjury before Congress.
Education Secretary and religious person Betsy DeVos lied through her private school teeth when she was queried about whether or not “she sat on the board of her mother’s foundation” while it was doling out millions of dollars to anti-gay groups to persecute the LGBTQ community. DeVos didn’t equivocate whatsoever and responded “I do not” sit on the board. She also added that she had no part in the decision-making process. It was an answer to a question that wasn’t asked and a fairly good sign she was lying.
Sure enough, Jeremy Scahill with the Intercept posted several years’ worth of tax documents listing Betsy DeVos as the foundation’s vice president. It is noteworthy that like cabinet member Jeff Sessions, DeVos is an avowed Christian and openly expressed her heartfelt intent to use the Education Secretary position to “advance god’s kingdom.” One thing is certain; if DeVos was nearly as Christian religious as she claims, she would know, like Jeff Sessions knows, that lying is a violation of her Christian bible’s Ninth Commandment and one of those Old Testament sins punishable by death. Committing perjury before Congress will never garner a death sentence, but it is a federal crime or Congress would not require witnesses, or cabinet nominees, to stand up, raise their right hand, and take an oath swearing not to lie.
According to 18 U.S. Code § 1621:
“Anyone, after having taken an oath before a competent tribunal…and willfully subscribes as true any material matter which he does not believe to be true is guilty of perjury and shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both. This section is applicable whether the statement or subscription is made within or without the United States.”
Joining DeVos and Sessions in the liars club is Trump’s choice to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Scott Pruitt. Pruitt actually is so corrupt and dishonest that he told a lie, after “taking an oath” not to lie, about something as innocuous as which email account he used. Pruitt was queried during his Senate hearing about “whether he had ever conducted any official business as Oklahoma Attorney General using personal email accounts.” Instead of answering honestly, Pruitt responded, “I use only my official OAG [Office of the Attorney General] email address and government issued phone to conduct official business.” Again, he was asked about email accounts and he just had to signal he was lying by including some extra information about a government-issue phone. According to the Oklahoma Attorney General’s office, Scott Pruitt did, in fact, use his personal email account to conduct official state business and he committed perjury violating a federal statute.
When Trump’s Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin was asked about his company, OneWest, and if it had ‘robo-signed,’ signed without properly reviewing, any documents relating to evictions and foreclosures he violated number “Nine of the Big Ten.” Mnuchin responded firmly and with conviction that, “OneWest Bank did not ‘robo-sign’ documents, and as the only bank to successfully complete the Independent Foreclosure Review required by federal banking regulators to investigate allegations of ‘robo-signing,’ I am proud of our institution’s extremely low error rate.” Notice again the extra information that signaled Mnuchin was probably lying. And as court documents and employee testimony confirmed, Mnuchin’s company, OneWest, did engage in the act of “robo-signing.”
Trump’s new Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary, Tom Price, lied in answer to questions about his stock purchases. In particular, Price was asked about a “sweetheart stock deal” he received related to Innate Immunotherapeutics Ltd. Instead of telling the truth, Price lied and stated that “the discounted shares were available to every single individual that was an investor at the time.” However, when the truth was revealed, it turns out that “fewer than 20 investors” received an offer for the “special deal.” And in Price’s case, he knew it was a very special deal because his very “special opportunity came about from an invitation from a company director and fellow congressmen.”
Here’s the thing. A child will be reprimanded for lying. A student can be suspended for lying. A regular citizen can be arrested for lying to a police officer. A seasoned criminal or law-abiding citizen can be arrested and prosecuted for committing perjury in a court proceeding; it’s why court witnesses take an oath swearing to tell the truth. But when five of Donald Trump’s cabinet-level nominees “take an oath” before “a competent tribunal,” like the United States Senate, and promise not to lie, and then lie for a position, they get confirmed as members of the Trump cabinet and become members in good standing as part of the Trump cabinet liars club. No arrests, no handcuffs, no charges, no prosecutions and according to Trump and the Republicans running Congress, no big deal.