President Donald Trump routinely deploys two vacuous evasions when he goes after his critics. He mewls that his antagonists, in particular those who have actually read the damning evidence against him in the Mueller Report, are on a “witch hunt.” Secondly, when the press digs into his preposterous tweet tantrums, the president spits up his favorite canard: “Fake News!”

Let’s take the second one first.

Trump’s “fake news” is rarely fake. It’s fact-based, irrefutable reporting that he doesn’t like. When he’s caught in a lie (every day) his response is not to defend or explain the lie, but rather to attack sources of truth. It’s bizarre behavior because it’s not misspeak or excusable foot-in-mouth brought on by sincere pique. It’s psychosis-like behavior. Lying is in his DNA. He relishes his status as liar-in-chief, thus he’s raised prevarication to a national norm. The cultists and sycophants around him who stay mum and dumb no matter what falsehood he endorses are as guilty as he is.

Regarding his vapid cliche about a “witch hunt”: History reveals that legitimate investigations to root out “witches” do so because there are witches to root out. Today’s coven convokes in the White House. Trump’s warlocks, witches and pookas have institutionalized corruption, indecency and disdain for the rule of law. Trump and his malleable minions have done more to undermine the nation’s constitutional and institutional foundations than any other president since Richard Nixon and the Watergate scandal of the 1970s. Republicans back then realized Nixon had to go.

But Trump, having gotten a pass from today’s unprincipled Republican Party, has done more damage to the nation than Nixon ever did. The onus for failure to rein Trump in falls heavily on spineless and silent Republicans in Congress. The roster of shame includes the North Dakota delegation, Sens. John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer and Rep. Kelly Armstrong. They have abandoned patriotism and decency for cheap seats on the amoral Trump train.

Don’t be surprised by the president’s lies and vulgarity. Be shocked, but not surprised. He’s lied from the start. In 2016, candidate Trump pledged to “drain the swamp” in Washington. Anyone who tries to make the case he’s done so is either daft or a member of Trump’s camarilla of fabulists. Our draft-dodging, shifty businessman of a president is king swamp rat. He’s stocked the fen with unscrupulous crocodiles — their undisguised goals to enrich themselves and trash the Constitution. It’s worked for most of them, but not all: Several Trump toadies are behind bars or on the slide to a jail cell. That’s a ripple of good news in a bog of bad news.

It must rankle Trump when he knows that Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, men Trump insults regularly, were more popular in office, and are held in higher esteem out of office than Trump will ever be. Could it be the nation is looking back at the Bush and Obama years with hope for a return to decency, civility and a first family of which Americans can be proud? If so, there is good news in the offing.