A hurricane is a serious event. A Category 5 hurricane potentially threatening the United States is a very serious concern. The minimal standards we would expect of a President is to at least provide accurate information to the American people regarding the looming threat.
As Hurricane Dorian threatened America’s East coast, President Trump failed in even that basic test. It started with what was likely a simple misstatement. Trump said the storm threatened Alabama.
Within minutes the National Weather Service quickly repudiated the President’s false statement.
A local meteorologist, James Spann, directly responded to Trump’s tweet, correcting his misstatement.
Spann would later tweet, “I have zero interest in politics. Dorian will not affect Alabama in any way. That is not a political statement.”
ABC correspondent Jon Karl noted that Trump “misstated the storm’s possible trajectory” in a broadcast on ABC World News Tonight.
So Trump made a mistake, no big deal, at least for most of us grown ups. He just needed to correct himself. All Trump had to do was admit he made a misstatement, ask for people to pay attention to the weather service reports for their area, and move on.
But nope, we aren’t dealing with a grown up here. Unable to admit error, Trump instead doubled down on his claim. It was Karl’s broadcast that set him off as he declared Karl’s accurate reporting “fake news.”
So now Trump is all in and he can’t back out. His misstatement is elevated to a lie. He would later elevate that lie to a criminal fraud.
In a bizarre briefing with reporters Trump held up a National Weather Service map altered (apparently by hand with a sharpie) to include part of Alabama in the potentially somehow affected area of the storm.
This is quite arguably a crime. As is my custom, I give you the statute at 18 U.S.C. 2074.
“Whoever knowingly issues or publishes any counterfeit weather forecast or warning of weather conditions falsely representing such forecast or warning to have been issued or published by the Weather Bureau, United States Signal Service, or other branch of the Government service, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ninety days, or both.”
How sad is it that the lies by the President of the United States regarding a hurricane actually reach criminal proportions? There is nothing this man does not lie about. The risk becomes that his credibility is so non-existent that no warning from him can ever be regarded as truthful.