Donald Trump has now served up a grand total of 6,420 lies and misleading statements as president, according to the newly updated tally from The Post’s indefatigable fact-checking team. The dishonesty has escalated dramatically in the run-up to the midterms, and virtually all of the lies and distortions are ones Trump has repeated before, in some cases dozens of times.
But every now and then, Trump debuts a new species of absurdity, one that isn’t quite a “lie,” one that can’t be fact-checked in the form in which Trump offered it — yet at the same time, it’s so deeply absurd and so heinously destructive to common understandings that it seems to deserve a category all its own.
That’s what happened at a rally in Missouri on Thursday night. Trump once again called for an end to birthright citizenship (which is granted to all people born in the United States) for the children of undocumented immigrants. He said this:
The Democrats want to continue giving automatic birthright citizenship to every child born to an illegal alien. Even if they’ve been on our soil for a mere matter of seconds. Hundreds of thousands of children born to illegal immigrants are made automatic citizens of the United States every year, because of this crazy lunatic policy that we can end.
And they’re all made instantly eligible for every privilege and benefit of American citizenship. All of you, you get nothing more than they do. They’re full citizens. And it’s costing us many, many billions of dollars a year.
The part of this quote that generated attention was his description of “this crazy lunatic policy,” because he was actually talking about a constitutional right. But there’s something just as pernicious embedded in this riff: the idea that all these children of undocumented immigrants are “costing us many, many billions of dollars a year.”