Greg Gianforte is a Christian. I say this not to, as Mr. Gianforte seems to believe, to victimize him or somehow discriminate against him, but as a reminder that the Christian faith has tenets not included in the gospel of tax cuts and discrimination. Among the most ancient tenets of the Christian faith is one of the most absolute:
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
While there is some debate in religious communities about whether it is permissible to lie in certain circumstances, there is no question that the Christian tradition forbids deliberately lying to harm one another or for personal gain. And yet, despite his oft-professed commitment to Christianity, Greg Gianforte seems to be entirely comfortable with lying about his assault on reporter Ben Jacobs. This past weekend, his Washington communications staff lied about Gianforte’s original lie the night of the assault, asserting that, despite copious evidence to the contrary, Gianforte had not misled law enforcement the night of the assault.
Saturday, Mr. Gianforte sent out his communications staffer to lie about the original lie:
Travis Hall, a spokesperson for Gianforte, referred The Washington Post to a statement given to the Associated Press, in which he said the information in the documents was “nothing new.”
“No one was misled, and anyone who says otherwise is mistaken. Greg took responsibility for his actions and is focused on serving the people of Montana.”
Of course, that’s just not true. The Bozeman Chronicle reported this weekend that Gallatin County Prosecutor Marty Lambert believed that Gianforte lied, but that it’s not against the law to do so:
“When the police are investigating a case, suspects of crimes will say misleading things, and apparently that’s exactly what happened here on the part of both Mr. Gianforte and his campaign,” Lambert said.
“It is not a crime per se to lie to the cops,” added Lambert, a Republican. “The main thing here is he was charged with assaulting Ben Jacobs and pled guilty to that.”
It’s easy to get lost in the sea of lies here. From the moment Gianforte assaulted Mr. Jacobs, he’s lied–or directed others to lie–repeatedly. The night of the assault, Gianforte himself (before being rushed off by the chief of staff for Steve Daines) misled the police, claiming that he had not dragged Jacobs to the ground, falsely claiming Jacobs had been the aggressor. Next, his communications staff lied to the press and Montana voters on the eve of the election, repeating the false story. And now, this weekend, confronted with documentation proving the lies, Gianforte had his staff double down.
It’s understandable at some level that Gianforte lied in the aftermath of the assault. It had to have been shocking for a middle-aged man to find himself with his hands around another man’s throat and punching him in the face. In the heat of the moment, it’s understandable that a person would want to believe that he had done something other than what he had done, but there’s no excuse for continuing the lie today. Gianforte knows that he was wrong; he knows that he lied; he refuses to accept responsibility for what he’s done.
The real lie is the one that Gianforte keeps repeating, that he’s “taken responsibility” for his actions, a talking point echoed in his press release over the weekend. To truly take responsibility for the sin, one must acknowledge the wrongdoing and make amends. Gianforte, through his continued dishonesty, has made it clear he has no intention of doing the former. And he still hasn’t had an on the record interview with Mr. Jacobs, despite saying in open court that he would meet with the reporter, making the latter even less likely.
There’s just no taking responsibility without admitting the truth.
Mr. Gianforte lied to law enforcement, he lied to Ben Jacobs, he lied to the press, he lied to the people of Montana, he lied to a judge, and he keeps repeating those lies. Why should any of us believe anything he says in the future?