Trump's gaslighting tactics: 3 times the president bent the truth to his advantage

Trump's gaslighting tactics: 3 times the president bent the truth to his advantage
Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

In a Jan. 22 interview on NBC's Meet the Press, Donald Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway told host Chuck Todd that press secretary Sean Spicer offered "alternative facts" on the number of people who attended Trump's inauguration. 

"Alternative facts are not facts," Todd retorted. "They're falsehoods."

Enter the new era of gaslighting, a form of psychological manipulation wherein a person is made to question their grip on reality. 

Conway's "alternative facts" comment wasn't the first instance of Trump's administration using such a tactic. Trump and his team have bent the truth on a number of issues, including voter fraud and election results. According to some experts, the state of confusion the White House is creating "is a political weapon in and of itself." 

Here are three times Trump and his team have gaslit the American people.

1. On "illegal voting"

President Donald Trump still believes in massive voter fraud.
Source: 
Pool/Getty Images

The facts: Though Trump clinched the presidency in the Electoral College, Hillary Clinton indisputably won the popular vote by nearly 3 million ballots.

The lies that followed: Trump has continuously spewed lies about the popular vote result, telling congressional leaders Monday that "millions" of undocumented immigrants had robbed him of a popular vote majority. He's offered no evidence to back that statement up.

2. On inauguration crowd size 

The facts: Viewers of Trump's inauguration on Jan. 20 noticed something about the crowd size — namely, that it looked rather small. While there is no official account of how many people attended Trump's swearing-in, images suggest roughly 250,000 showed up at the National Mall.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority released data suggesting fewer people rode the metro on the morning of Trump's inauguration than on the mornings of the previous three:

The lies that followed: Trump gave a speech Jan. 21 at CIA headquarters, where he immediately attacked the press and offered a different version of events: "It looked like a million, a million and a half people" attended the inauguration, Trump said

Spicer said it was "the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration — period — both in person and around the globe." As the Washington Post pointed out, there's simply no evidence to support these claims.

3. On Russia's involvement in the election

The facts: A secret CIA assessment revealed Russia tried to help Trump clinch the White House.

The lies that followed: Following the release of the CIA assessment, Trump's transition team issued a statement dismissing the claims. The statement suggested the CIA's worrisome findings were hardly worth a second glance — and that instead, we should be looking toward America's future.

"These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction," the statement read, according to the Washington Post. "The election ended a long time ago in one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history. It's now time to move on and 'Make America Great Again.'"

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Robert Valencia

Robert is a news staff writer based in New York. His writing has appeared in the World Politics Review, Fusion, and the Miami Herald. He's a frequent guest in English- and Spanish-speaking media, including CNN, Univision, Al Jazeera, Public Radio International, and Voice of America. You can reach him at rvalencia@mic.com

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