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Editorial: Truth isn’t partisan. Burr and Tillis need to call out Trump’s lies

May 8, 2019

CBC Editorial: Wednesday, May 8, 2019; Editorial #8419 The following is the opinion of Capitol Broadcasting Company

It is a milestone worth note, but no point of pride.

Last week the Washington Post’s Fact Checker reported President Donald Trump surpassed 10,000 false or misleading claims – about a dozen a day since his inauguration.

Concern about all this is not about differences of opinion over policies. It is not about partisan tugs-of-war between Republicans and Democrats. It is about truth – the basic and most critical commodity to a functioning democracy.

Policies and billion-dollar decisions are being made based on these false claims and the blind loyalty that too many in Congress. That’s particularly true for North Carolina senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis – who bow to partisan expediency above reason and truth.

False claims about trade deficits have led to the imposition of damaging tariffs. North Carolina’s hog, soybean and tobacco farmers have been particularly hard hit. “Out of Washington, there just doesn’t seem to be that sense of urgency and crisis that is really out here in the farm world right now. And every little thing that happens just adds to the pain,” said N.C. Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. And he’s a Republican.

False claims about immigration and the situation on the U.S.-Mexico border led to a disastrous and costly federal government shutdown. Our government has even been separating young children from the parents in prison-like detention camps. Tillis, horrified at the prospect of a GOP primary opponent, knows all-to-well the toll falling victim to Trump gyrations can take.

And where are the leaders North Carolinians sent to Washington to speak for them and uphold the U.S. Constitution’s checks and balances on a president’s abuse of power?

Thanks to revelations in the Mueller Report, Burr is famous for cozying up to Trump and leaking details of a confidential FBI briefing on Russian election meddling – sharing the names of key U.S. targets of the investigation.

Tillis is now best known for his “flip-flop for the ages” first offering high-profile opposition on separation of powers concerns, the president’s boarder emergency order and then voting to support it.

Why is Burr – who leads an important Senate committee charged with determining what really happened with Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election – not more concerned about Trump’s lack of commitment to the truth? Is it worth destroying his own reputation for honesty and fairness?

Is Tillis so intimidated by a primary challenge that he’ll sacrifice every last shred of integrity. Don’t doubt Garland Tucker will make all that an issue in his primary challenge. North Carolina congressman Mark Meadows, leader of the Trump-loyalist Freedom Caucus, has been tepid in his descriptions of Tillis and withholding an endorsement of his re-election effort.

The founders of our nation didn’t establish equal and separate branches of government – executive, legislative and judicial – as some nicety to government theory. In framing the Constitution, they knew that human frailties and excesses could only be checked in a government where truth and the law prevailed.

Burr and Tillis must stand up to Trump’s lies, stand with the Senate and the legislative branch of government. Sacrificing their integrity for momentary expedience is too high a price to pay for the long-term damage of Trump’s dishonesty.

Trump isn’t the party or the nation. Tillis and Burr’s allegiance is to the nation and significantly their constituents – Republicans, Democrats and unaffiliated citizens in North Carolina who are owed, above all else, the truth.