Democracy Dies in Darkness

Fact Checker | Analysis

President Trump has made 4,713 false or misleading claims in 592 days

September 4, 2018 at 3:00 AM

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The Fact Checker is keeping a running list of the false or misleading claims Trump says most regularly. Here's our latest tally as of Oct. 30, 2018. (Meg Kelly/The Washington Post)

In the 592 days since he took the oath of office, President Trump has made 4,713 false or misleading claims, according to The Fact Checker's database that analyzes, categorizes and tracks every suspect statement uttered by the president.

That's an average of about eight claims a day.

When we first started this project for the president's first 100 days, he averaged 4.9 claims a day. But the average number of claims per day keeps climbing as the president nears the 600-day mark of his presidency.

In fact, in the past three months, the president averaged 15.4 claims a day, so almost one-third of the total claims made as president have come in this period. At that pace, he will top 5,000 claims in September.

On July 5, the president had reached a new daily high of 79 false and misleading claims, but he came close on Aug. 30 with 73 claims, when he held a campaign rally and had an extended interview with Bloomberg News. On a monthly basis, June and August rank in first and second place during Trump's presidency, with 534 and 469 claims, respectively. July is in third place, with 448 claims.

Our award-winning interactive graphic, created with the help of Leslie Shapiro of The Washington Post’s graphics department, displays a running list of every false or misleading statement made by Trump.

Trump has a proclivity to repeat, over and over, many of his false or misleading statements. We’ve counted nearly 160 claims that the president has repeated at least three times, some with breathtaking frequency.

Almost one third of Trump’s claims — 1,458 — relate to economic issues, trade deals or jobs. He frequently takes credit for jobs created before he became president or company decisions with which he had no role. He cites his “incredible success” in terms of job growth, even though annual job growth under his presidency has been slower than the last five years of Barack Obama’s term. Almost 40 times, he has claimed the economy today is the “greatest” in U.S. history, an absurd statement not backed up by data.

Just on trade, the president has made 496 false or misleading claims. He frequently gets the size of trade deficits wrong or presents the numbers in a misleading fashion. Five times in one week, he touted the false claim that the trade deficit fell by $52 billion from the first to the second quarter, calling it one of the “biggest wins” in the latest GDP report. In a somewhat unusual move, he stopped making this claim after we published a fact check showing his math was faulty.

More often than not, the president can’t let go of a favorite talking point. On June 20, he claimed he had received a phone call from the head of U.S. Steel and learned the company had announced it would open “six major facilities.” But U.S. Steel had made no such announcement and we debunked this claim as worthy of Four Pinocchios. Yet 23 more times over 10 weeks, the president has asserted that U.S. Steel was building new plants, inflating it even to seven facilities and then to eight.

Not surprisingly, immigration is the top source of Trump’s misleading claims, now totaling 592. Forty-three times just in the past six months, for instance, the president has falsely claimed his long-promised border wall with Mexico is being built, even though Congress has denied funding for it.

But moving up the list quickly are claims about the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether people in the Trump campaign were in any way connected to it. The president has made 445 statements about the Russia probe, using hyperbolic claims of “worse than Watergate,” “McCarthyism” and, of course, “witch hunt.” He often asserts the Democrats colluded with the Russians, even though the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign were victims of Russian activities, as emails were hacked and then released via WikiLeaks. All told, more than 200 times the president has made claims suggesting the Russia probe is made up, a hoax or a fraud.

Misleading claims about taxes — now at 356 — are also a common feature of Trump’s speeches. One hundred times, Trump has made the false assertion that he passed the biggest tax cut in U.S. history.

On foreign policy, the president consistently misstates NATO spending. Nearly 70 times, he has falsely said the United States pays as much as 90 percent of the alliance’s costs and that other NATO members “owe” money. But he is conflating overall defense spending with NATO obligations — and the United States, unlike many NATO allies, has global responsibilities. Nearly 50 times, Trump has made misleading claims about negotiations with North Korea, either suggesting previous administrations had not tried to restrain North Korea's nuclear ambitions or that he had solved the problem with ease.

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Glenn Kessler has reported on domestic and foreign policy for more than three decades. Send him statements to fact check by emailing him, tweeting at him, or sending him a message on Facebook.

Salvador Rizzo is a reporter for The Fact Checker. He previously covered New Jersey politics, courts, state finances and Gov. Chris Christie, with stints at the Star-Ledger, the Bergen Record and the Observer.

Meg Kelly produces video and reports for the Fact Checker. She previously covered the 2016 election for NPR where she was a visual producer.

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