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Washington Post fact-checker calls Trump claim 'a lie' for the first time

Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler on Wednesday used the word "lie" for the first time regarding a statement from President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: 'I don't trust everybody in the White House' JPMorgan CEO withdraws from Saudi conference Trump defends family separations at border MORE, declaring "the president's statement was a lie — and the people speaking for him repeated it."

In his column on the nondisclosure payments to two women who claim to have had affairs with Trump — and Michael Cohen’s assertion in court this week that Trump ordered the payments to protect his election chances — Kessler said the president’s “loose relationship with the facts” has here resulted in deliberate dishonesty.

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"President Trump and his associates misled, obfuscated and ultimately lied to the American people about hush-money payments," Kessler writes in a column titled "Not just misleading. Not merely false. A lie."

Kessler has always applied Pinocchios in rating public statements, ranging from one to four Pinocchios depending on the degree of the lie, with four being the most egregious. 

Trump’s claims that he knew nothing about the payments at the time was given four Pinocchios.

In the case of fact-checking the president, Kessler has documented 4,229 false or misleading claims, or an average of 7.6 per day, since Trump's inauguration on Jan. 20, 2017.

"How to characterize Trump’s statements has become its own pitched political battle, with many of the president’s critics demanding that they be called ‘lies,’” wrote Kessler. "The Fact Checker has been hesitant to go that far, as it is difficult to document whether the president knows he is not telling the truth." 

After breaking down various statement from Trump and his spokespeople that appear to contradict themselves regarding the payments, Kessler concluded, "After months of denial and deception, Trump was still not telling the truth. "

Cohen, Trump’s former personal attorney, pleaded guilty to charges of bank fraud, tax fraud and campaign finance violations on Tuesday in New York. 

The next day, Trump said he had no knowledge at the time of Cohen’s payments to adult-film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, despite Cohen releasing an audio recording of Trump discussing whether the McDougal payment should be made.