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Trump’s untruths about Veterans Choice illustrate the sheer audaciousness of his lies

Trump takes credit for a program he didn’t create in order to demean the late war hero who in fact created it.

President Trump Visits U.S. Army Tank Plant In Ohio
Trump speaks in Ohio on Wednesday.
Andrew Spear/Getty Images

One particular untruth from President Donald Trump’s speech on Wednesday at a tank factory in Lima, Ohio, illustrates just how audaciously he lies.

As part of his bizarre, one-sided feud with the late Sen. John McCain, Trump boasted about an expansion of Veterans Choice legislation he signed into law last May that allows veterans to see doctors and go to facilities outside the VA system, and contrasted that with McCain’s purported failure to pass the law.

“McCain didn’t get the job done for our great vets and the VA, and they knew it,” Trump said, before continuing:

That’s why, when I had my dispute with him, I had such incredible support from the vets and from the military. The vets were on my side because I got the job done. I got Choice and I got accountability. Accountability — meaning, if somebody mistreats our vets — for 45 years they were trying — they mistreat our vets, and we say, “Hey, you’re fired. Get out.” You can’t mistreat our vets. They never got it done. [applause]

And Choice — for years and years, decades, they wanted to get Choice. ... For many decades, they couldn’t get it done. It was never done. I got it five months ago. ...

Instead of waiting in line for two days, two weeks, two months — people in line, they’re not very sick. By the time they see a doctor, they’re terminally ill. We gave them Choice. If you have to wait for any extended period of time, you go outside, you go to a local doctor. We pay the bill; you get yourself better. Go home to your family. And we got it passed. We got it done.

Here’s footage:

Despite what Trump would have you believe, McCain was far more instrumental than Trump in getting Veterans Choice legislation passed. Back in 2014, before Trump was even a presidential candidate, McCain and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) co-sponsored the bill, which was signed into law by then-President Obama. It allows veterans to see doctors outside the Veterans Affairs system if they have to wait a long time for an appointment or travel a long way to a VA facility.

Not only that, but the expansion of the program that Trump signed into law last year is named after McCain. Speaking on the floor of the Senate after the bill was passed, Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) credited McCain for the legislation, saying, “I want to thank John McCain, whose idea this was originally. ... John is the one who started the movement toward Choice, and he deserves the credit for it.”

As Daniel Dale of the Toronto Star notes, Wednesday’s speech was far from the first time Trump has falsely taken credit for Veterans Choice, but it’s the first time he’s used that false claim to demean the man who actually created the program.

As Vox detailed, during another part of his speech on Wednesday, Trump ranted about how McCain and his family weren’t sufficiently thankful for the funeral the president thinks he gave the war hero, who died last August after a struggle with brain cancer.

“I gave him the kind of funeral that he wanted, which, as president, I had to approve,” Trump said. “I don’t care about this, I didn’t get a thank-you — that’s okay. We sent him on the way. But I wasn’t a fan of John McCain.”

Brazen lies; bizarre, macabre rants — just another day at the office for the 45th president.

The news moves fast. To stay updated, follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter, and read more of Vox’s policy and politics coverage.