One of the very few remaining mysteries surrounding Donald Trump — a very simple man prone to blurting out his feelings around the clock in whatever medium he has available — is whether or to what degree he is conscious of his lies.
Trump deceives his audience promiscuously, often on matters he knows full well are not true. (He repeatedly insisted he had “no business with Russia” when he surely knew he was engaged in a lucrative negotiation with Moscow.) But Trump also appears at times to genuinely convince himself of his own lies, which makes them no longer lies.
Is he a sociopathic liar? Delusional? Both?
A point in favor of “delusional” comes via CNN, which reports that Trump not only insists he actually won the 2020 election but has maintained at times that he will not vacate the premises on January 20, when his term ends. “In his moments of deepest denial,” it reports, “Trump has told some advisers that he will refuse to leave the White House on Inauguration Day, only to be walked down from that ledge.”
To be perfectly clear about this, Trump 100 percent will leave the White House on Inauguration Day, if not well before. Even the scholars who expressed the deepest fears of Trump’s intentions to undermine the system did not put credence in the possibility he could defy the outcome by simply refusing to leave. Squatting is not one of the tools in his authoritarian tool kit.
And yet the fact that he has apparently convinced himself that his struggle to overturn the election is not only legitimate but viable enough that he can potentially stay in office is a sign that he is engaged in more than a scheme to grift his supporters and maintain his financial and political band, but drinking his own poisoned Kool-Aid.