In July, The Fact Checker examined every factual claim made by the president at a rally in Montana. He returned to Montana on Sept. 6, and we decided once again to put every statement of material fact to the truth test to see whether the July rally was an outlier.
In July, 76 percent of his 98 statements were false, misleading or unsupported by the evidence. Last week the tally, out of 88 statements, was 70 percent. The average percentage for the two rallies was 74 percent.
Trump may have done slightly better, fact-wise, at the more recent rally because he spoke more about bills he had signed and actions he had taken. But he veered off course with his tendency to unnecessarily hype good economic data with assertions that it was the best in U.S. history.
We didn’t double-count statements when the president repeated himself, or else the number of false claims would be higher. We avoided trivialities or opinions. (Two comments he made on Sept. 6 about Democratic candidates in other states might be fairly viewed as opinions, so they were not included.)
Here’s a breakdown for the Sept. 6 rally: 38 false statements, 22 misleading statements and two unsupported claims. We also counted 26 accurate or mostly accurate statements.
All told, on Sept. 6, only 30 percent of his statements could be considered accurate or mostly accurate. At both events, at least 40 percent of his claims were false or mostly false.
Small wonder then that the president is on the cusp of surpassing 5,000 false or misleading claims since the start of his presidency, according to The Fact Checker’s database.
Here’s our analysis of all 88 claims, in the order in which the president made them. It’s a long list, and we are grateful to any readers who make it all the way through. We thought it was important to make sure that our analysis of the earlier rally could be replicated at a second event. (Note: in response to astute comments from readers, after publication we changed two of statements from accurate to false. We have updated the calculations to reflect new ratings.)
"In the election, we won this state by a lot. That was not close.”
Accurate. Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in Montana by 20 percentage points.
"We have the best economy in history.”
False. The president can certainly brag about the state of the economy, but he runs into trouble when he repeatedly makes a play for the history books. By just about any important measure, the economy today is not doing as well as it did under Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, Lyndon B. Johnson and Bill Clinton — and Ulysses S. Grant.
"The stock market is at record highs.”
Accurate. As a plain statement, this is basically correct. But it’s worth noting the percentage increase in the Standard & Poor’s index under Obama in his first 19 months as president was 62 percent, compared to 24.5 percent under Trump. The president inherited a roaring bull market.
"Unemployment is at historic lows.”
False. The unemployment rate, currently 3.9 percent, is low but it is not historic. The unemployment rate was as low as 2.5 percent in 1953. In fact, it was below 3.9 percent for much of 1951, 1952 and 1953. The unemployment rate was as low as 3.4 percent in 1968 and 1969 and was 3.8 percent in 2000.
"More Americans are working today than ever, ever, ever before.”
Misleading. Of course there are more Americans working. That’s because there are more Americans today than ever before. More meaningful measures of the overall health of the job market take population into consideration. The unemployment rate, or the share of people who don't have jobs, was at 3.9 percent in August and that wasn't a record low.
"Our coal miners are back to work.”
False. As of August, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 53,100 coal miners were employed, a gain of 2,400, or 4.6 percent, under Trump. But that's still fewer than the number a year before his inauguration — and a far cry from the 89,700 employed in January 2012.
"We've started the wall.”
False. Trump sought $25 billion from Congress to build a southern border wall — but received only $1.6 billion with strings attached that said none of the concrete prototypes he had viewed in March could be used. Moreover, only fencing could be used, mainly to replace existing fencing. In Orwellian fashion, fences have now become walls.
"Everybody wants the wall.”
False. A survey by Gallup in June found that 57 percent of those surveyed opposed expanding the construction of walls along the nation's southern border.
"We've spent $3.2 billion on the wall.”
False. Trump inflated the money that has been appropriated — it’s $1.6 billion — and as we noted, that cannot be used for the wall. Trump appears to be adding the money authorized by Congress in the spring with another $1.6 billion proposed by lawmakers in a new spending bill in September.
"[Democrats] want to obstruct our great justices. And by the way, you obstruct these justices, you're going to lose your Second Amendment. You're going to lose your right to those guns. You're going to lose your Second Amendment.”
Unsupported. This is a straw man argument. The Supreme Court case that established that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to own a firearm, District of Columbia v. Heller, was decided in 2008 on a 5-4 vote. In theory, a more liberal court could reverse that ruling, but there’s no guarantee, and with the current makeup of the court, there is little chance of this happening.
"Can you imagine? Maxine Waters is your new leader in the party.”
False. Rep. Waters (D-Calif.), an African American legislator who has grated on Trump, is ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee and chief deputy whip, but she is not the “new leader” of the Democrats.
"They’re [Democrats] for open borders, meaning let all the crime come in.”
False. Democrats support measures to tighten border security, but they don’t support Trump’s plans for a border wall or other parts of his aggressive immigration agenda. There’s no evidence to show that immigration leads to higher crime. In fact, most studies have found that legal and undocumented immigrants commit crimes at lower rates than native-born people.
"On top of that, you're going to pay more taxes.”
Misleading. Democrats have called for rolling back some of the Trump tax cuts for corporations and wealthy individuals, but not necessarily for the middle-class. The individual tax cuts in the Trump tax cut mostly expire in 2025 and will require a vote in Congress to be extended.
"Jon Tester — I feel a little guilty, because, you know, he did run the most beautiful commercial. I heard yesterday it started, and he's like my best friend, President Trump this, President Trump that.”
Accurate. Tester did start running an ad just before Trump’s arrival, highlighting bills that Trump signed on veterans issues in which Tester, the ranking Democrat on the Veterans' Affairs Committee, played a major role. “The ad is a compilation of President Trump talking about Jon Tester bills he’s signed into law,” a Tester spokesman said. “Often at his rallies, when he lists off his accomplishments, President Trump praises Jon Tester legislation. During the Billings rally, he talked about three — the VA MISSION Act, the VA Accountability Act and the banking regulatory relief bill.”
"He's taken more cash from lobbyists than almost anyone in the entire Senate.”
Accurate. As of Aug. 21, Tester ranks second in the Senate in the current election cycle in terms of contributions from lobbyists, after Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), according to OpenSecrets.org. He ranked first in 2012, when he last ran for reelection. The Tester spokesman noted that Tester does not rank among the top 20 senators when lobbyist contributions over all elections cycle since 1990 are counted. (The top recipient, Hillary Clinton, raised almost four times as much from lobbyists as Tester.)
"I've only run once, and that was for president, and I won.”
Mostly Accurate. Trump never ran for public office before launching a campaign for the presidency. He briefly set up an exploratory committee for a presidential run in 2000, in order to win the Reform Party nomination, but quit the effort after only a few months. Since he never got past the exploratory stage, we will keep this in the accurate column.
"He's [Ronny L. Jackson] actually the doctor that gave me my physical. And he said that I'm in great shape.”
Mostly Accurate. “The President’s overall health is excellent,” Jackson said in January. “His cardiac performance during his physical exam was very good,” he said, though he added: “We discussed diet, exercise, and weight-loss. He would benefit from a diet that is lower in fat and carbohydrates, and from a routine exercise regimen.”
"Actually, the ones [books] that are really good [about Trump] are number one, two, and three on the bestsellers list, right?”
False. Number one on the New York Times hardcover bestseller list for Aug. 19-25 was “Unhinged,” a highly critical look by former Trump aide Omarosa Manigault Newman. Number two is “The Russia Hoax,” a pro-Trump book by Gregg Jarrett. The third book is not Trump-related, but number four is “House of Trump, House of Putin,” a critical book by Craig Unger.
“Admiral Jackson, his reputation was attacked. And all of those horrible things that were said about him turned out to be lies and they turned out to be false.”
Misleading. Tester, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Veteran Affairs Committee, made public several allegations against Rear Adm. Ronny L. Jackson. The White House conducted a review that found evidence of minor incidents but not the most serious allegations Tester had described, and the Secret Service released a statement denying several allegations. The Defense Department inspector general is investigating Jackson but has not released a report. Republicans believed Jackson to be unqualified, and Tester’s actions had the support of Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.).
"In the last election, Washington Democrats put Jon Tester in charge of electing extreme liberals. I mean, I'm talking about serious liberals, many of whom you're watching attacking Judge Kavanaugh and looking like fools, frankly. Looking like fools.”
False. Tester was chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee for the 2015-2016 election cycle, in which Democrats gained only two seats: Tammy Duckworth of Illinois and Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire. Trump appears to be speaking about Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), who was elected in 2016 and is on the Judiciary Committee. It’s a matter of opinion about whether Tester was in charge of “electing extreme liberals.” The DSCC did not endorse either Harris or her opponent, Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) in the general election.
"We have 25,000 people showing up to speeches.”
False. None of Trump’s post-election rallies attracted 25,000 people; most have been under 10,000.
"I beat 17 great Republicans, I beat senators, I beat governors, a couple of people, great people, like Ben Carson. I beat a lot of great people. Ben Carson was tough. But I beat 17 great people. And I respectfully say, I beat the Bush dynasty. Okay? That felt good. Pretty recently. Okay. Now I have the privilege of going against crooked Hillary Clinton. So I beat crooked Hillary.”
Mostly accurate. Trump beat 16 other Republican candidates, including former Florida governor Jeb Bush; he was the 17th candidate.
"She [Clinton] forgot to go to a couple of very important states. Gee, I don't think I'm going to go to Michigan too much. I don't think I'm going to go, she said, to Wisconsin.”
Mostly accurate. “A couple of states” is one too many. Clinton did not go to Wisconsin after the Democratic convention, mainly spending time in swing states that she did not need to win (and lost to Trump). Clinton, in her election memoir, has pushed back at the theory that not campaigning enough in certain states cost her the election. She said she invested resources in Wisconsin and Trump did not win more votes than Mitt Romney in 2012. “There was no surge in Republican turnout,” she wrote. “Instead, enough voters switched, stayed home, or went for third parties in the final days to cost me the state,” mainly, in her view, because of FBI Director James B. Comey’s letter on the email controversy 10 days before the election.
"I beat Hillary, who stole it from Bernie. Bernie should have won, but that's okay. They stole it. Superdelegates. How do you like superdelegates? But she's got superdelegates that were handed to her.”
False. Clinton did not have all of the superdelegates (Democratic Party officials) from the start. She could claim about half of them in November 2015, about three months before the first primary votes. But she would have won the nomination even sooner if superdelegates had not existed, as she won substantially more delegates in the primary and caucus votes.
"Charles Krauthammer, when I announced that I was going to run, he said, why would he run? This is the — well, he didn't know me, so I'm not insulted. He said, this is the finest field of Republicans ever assembled. I actually did — I looked at my wife, I said, you know, that's his business. He just said these are the finest ever assembled. Why am I doing this? And then I said, ah, that's okay, I'll do it anyway.”
Accurate. Trump is referring to an interview with the late Washington Post columnist on Fox News after Trump announced that he was running for president, in which Krauthammer criticized the tenor and substance of Trump’s speech. “These are eruptions, bar stool eruptions,” he said. “And the pity is this. This is the strongest field of Republican candidates in 35 years. You could pick a dozen of them at random and have the strongest Cabinet America's had in our lifetime and instead all of our time is spent discussing this rodeo clown.”
"We have new deals being made. We have a deal we just made with Mexico. That's a fair deal. It's not that horrendous deal that was made years ago that should have been changed years ago.”
Misleading. Trump announced an agreement with Mexico, but the Mexican government says it is contingent on reaching an agreement with Canada. Any new North American Free Trade Agreement must be approved by Congress, and what Trump has been negotiating would modify NAFTA but largely leave the structure intact.
"Last year, we had a trade deficit [with China] of anywhere from $375 billion — with a B dollars — to, I say, $504 billion. Either one is not acceptable.”
False. Trump often claims the trade deficit with China is $500 billion but here at least he acknowledges there is a lower number. Even so, his lower number is only the trade deficit in goods, not the overall goods and services deficit of $335 billion. The trade deficit in goods in 2017 with China was $375 billion, according to the Census Bureau. (Note: This is an updated rating. We originally misread the Census data and gave Trump credit for $505 billion, but that figure is for the total U.S. imports to China. Perhaps the president makes the same mistake.)
"I just came on stage, and I was told that Kim Jong Un said some terrific things about me. He said I have faith in President Trump. … He said very strongly that we want to denuclearize North Korea during President Trump's tenure.”
Accurate. “He made it clear that his trust in President Trump remains — and will remain — unchanged, even though there have recently been some difficulties in negotiations between the North and the United States,” according to South Korean envoy Chung Eui-yong, who met with Kim. “He said he wished he could eliminate 70 years of hostile history with the United States, improve North Korea-U.S. relations and realize denuclearization within the first term of President Trump.”
"But in the meantime, even if he [Kim] didn't, even if he didn't, we got our hostages back. There's been no more missile testing. There's been no more rockets flying over Japan. There's been no more nuclear testing.”
Misleading. Trump highlights the visible fruits of his talks with the North Korean dictator. But The Washington Post reported in June that U.S. intelligence officials, citing newly obtained evidence, have concluded that North Korea does not intend to fully surrender its nuclear stockpile, and instead is considering ways to conceal the number of weapons it has and conceal production facilities.
"We got back our hostages. I didn't pay $1.8 billion. We got back our hostages. Paid nothing. We paid nothing.”
Misleading. Trump is comparing his dealings with North Korea to Obama’s dealings with Iran. Obama did not pay any ransom for the release of detainees in North Korea. In the case of Iran, the money in question — which was actually $1.7 billion — was Iran’s all along, and was sent by the Obama administration to settle a decades-old claim. U.S. officials insist it was a coincidence that four American hostages, including The Washington Post’s Jason Rezaian, were released the same day as the first $400 million tranche was delivered.
"We're paying for NATO. We're paying this massive percentage of cost.”
False. The United States is the largest contributor to NATO’s organizational expenses, which includes its headquarters in Brussels and subordinate military commands, but it funds only 22 percent of these programs. Separately, the U.S. defense expenditure represents 72 percent of defense spending across all NATO members. But this reflects what the United States spends on all military programs, not just those related to Europe.
"I got them to pay billions of dollars more. … They couldn't believe — for years, NATO spending was going like this.”
False. NATO’s guideline is that defense expenditures should amount to 2 percent of each country’s gross domestic product by 2024. In 2017, the United States and three other countries met that standard, and Poland spent virtually 2 percent. NATO allies have been steadily boosting defense spending since 2014, after Russia annexed Crimea. In any case, these funds would not be going to the United States or even necessarily to NATO; this is money that countries would spend to bolster their own militaries.
"Secretary Stoltenberg, Secretary General, head of NATO … [He says] You know how much they paid extra? Forty-four billion dollars. That was last year.”
Misleading. During a visit to Washington in May, Jens Stoltenberg said Trump had made a “real impact” pushing for more defense spending from NATO allies. But again, this trend began in 2014, after Russia annexed Crimea, so NATO countries have increased defense spending for four consecutive years. In July, Stoltenberg told reporters that NATO nations had committed an extra $41 billion in spending since Trump took office in January 2017. French President Emmanuel Macron, however, denied that any agreement had been reached to increase expenditures beyond previously agreed targets. “It confirms the goal of 2 percent by 2024. That’s all,” Macron said. In any case, these numbers reflect current dollars. At constant 2010 dollars and exchange rates, the other 28 NATO members are anticipated to increase defense spending by $11.4 billion.
"He [Tester] will come home and tell you about your Second Amendment, then he'll vote for something where you knock the hell out of it.”
False. Tester has an “A-” rating from the National Rifle Association. His website states, “As a gun owner, Jon has voted against legislation that would violate Montanans’ Second Amendment rights and hinder the ability of law-abiding citizens to purchase and own a gun.”
"Look at his voting. It's the same voting as Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, and the legendary Maxine.”
False. Tester has voted with Trump 36.8 percent of the time, according to FiveThirtyEight. He has voted to confirm several of the president’s Cabinet officials and has supported major pieces of legislation Trump supported, including a rollback of some Dodd-Frank regulations and expanding private care options for veterans. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), by contrast, has voted with Trump 25 percent of time, while Pelosi and Waters have voted with Trump 20 percent and 10.1 percent, respectively.
"Jon Tester voted no on tax cuts.”
Accurate. Tester voted against the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, saying that although he favored parts of the bill, he believed it was tilted too much toward the wealthy.
"And he voted for the Obamacare disaster, which we almost repealed and replaced, but we'll get it done.”
Accurate: Tester voted for the Affordable Care Act, and Trump failed to repeal it.
"We got rid of the most unpopular element of Obamacare, right? The individual mandate … where you have the right to pay a fortune for the privilege of not having to pay a fortune for bad health care.”
Mostly accurate. The tax bill included repeal of the individual mandate — the requirement to buy insurance or pay a relatively small fine (not “a fortune”) — and the individual mandate fares relatively poorly in opinion polls. But a lot has to do with the wording of the question, with support growing to majority approval if respondents are told more details about how it works.
"Obamacare was going up 115 percent, 125 percent, 80 percent, 60 percent, 53 percent, all different places. It was going up massively.”
Misleading. The highest increase in Obamacare premiums in 2017 was in Arizona, at 116 percent, followed by Oklahoma at 69 percent and Tennessee at 63 percent. The average increase was 25 percent. But most people were not affected since few Americans buy health insurance through the exchange marketplace — and about 70 percent of those who do are protected from premium increases through cost subsidies. Trump does not mention that premiums increased in 2018 and 2019 because of changes made to the law under his administration, including repeal of the individual mandate.
"He voted no on Kate's Law.”
Accurate. Tester voted against an earlier version of Kate’s Law. The current version, which is weaker, passed the House in 2017 but has not come up for a vote in the Senate. The legislation named for Kate Steinle, who was shot by Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, who had been deported to Mexico five times. Garcia was acquitted of murder and manslaughter charges but was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
"He voted no on enhanced vetting for refugees.”
Accurate. Tester in 2016 voted against legislation that would have imposed additional background checks for refugees trying to enter the United States. He also opposed the president’s travel ban.
"And Jon Tester voted in favor of deadly sanctuary cities.”
Misleading. This claim lacks context. A Tester spokesman says the senator opposes sanctuary cities and “thinks they are a symptom of our broken immigration system.” He opposed these bills because they did not include funding for local law enforcement and economic development, the spokesman said. Other red-state Democrats up for reelection supported the measure, which was blocked by a Democratic filibuster.
"Jon Tester voted for very liberal Obama judges 99 percent of the time.”
Misleading. This statement also lacks context, as most of Obama’s judges were approved without controversy by Republicans and Democrats. According to records maintained by Russell Wheeler of the Brookings Institution, 70 percent of district judges and 58 percent of appeals court nominees were approved unanimous or by voice vote. Another 11 percent of district nominees and 15 percent of appeals court nominees received fewer than 10 nay votes. There were 12 contested appeal-court nominations, and Tester voted for all of them. “It’s safe to say that the great majority of Obama’s confirmations had no or negligible opposition, district more so than circuit,” Wheeler said. He added: “Put aside Trump’s throwaway reference to ‘very liberal Obama judges’ — the Democratic base complains, as you know, that Obama was less concerned with ideology than demography.”
"Jon Tester voted against our incredible Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.”
"[Gorsuch was] first in his class at Harvard. First in his class at Oxford.”
False. Gorsuch graduated from Harvard Law School cum laude, which is an honors designation but below magna cum laude and summa cum laude. Very few students earn summa cum laude, the next 10 percent earn magna cum laude and the next 30 percent earn cum laude, according to Harvard. So Gorsuch was in the top 40 percent of Harvard Law School graduates. Michelle Deakin, a Harvard Law spokeswoman, confirmed that Gorsuch did not graduate first. He earned a doctor of philosophy (DPhil) degree at Oxford’s Faculty of Law, and a spokeswoman there said doctoral students are not ranked.
"That electoral college, we won by a lot.”
False. Trump narrowly won the electoral college, as a swing of less than 50,000 votes would have flipped three states and cost him the election. He is one of the few elected presidents to have lost the popular vote.
"You look at The Washington Post or the New York Times, I can never get a good story. I mean, you look at this horrible thing that took place today, it's really — is it subversion? Is it treason? It's a horrible thing.”
False. Trump poses this as a question, but it’s not even one. Treason against the United States is limited under Article III of the Constitution to “levying war against the United States, or adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.” Writing an unflattering editorial about the president is pretty remote from either of those categories. “There is a very big difference between disloyalty to a president and disloyalty to the United States,” said Carlton F.W. Larson, a professor of law at the University of California at Davis and author of a forthcoming book on treason. “And it was precisely to prevent any such confusion that the framers drafted Article III as carefully as they did.”
"You know, when I won the election, the New York Times, all their subscribers were leaving, and when I'm ultimately no longer president, and hopefully about six and a half years from now, the New York Times will go out of business. All of them will be out of business. CNN will be out of business. They're almost out of business now, if you look at their ratings, out of business.”
False. New York Times subscriptions soared after Trump’s election, with the fourth quarter of 2016 its best in history in terms of online subscriber growth. Trump seems to suggest that will end after he leaves the presidency. CNN’s ratings have also been boosted by the “Trump bump.” The network said the second quarter of 2018 was its third-best second quarter in 23 years, with near record-high viewership in both total viewers and adults ages 25-54.
"The New York Times, you remember, it's very famous. Nobody's ever seen it before, maybe never done before. They apologized for their bad coverage of me.”
False. The New York Times did not apologize to its subscribers for its coverage of Trump.
"Had I not won, we would have been in negative — we wouldn't be at 4.2 percent [growth]. We would have been in negative numbers. We were going down. We were low, and we were headed down.”
Unsupported. When Trump was elected, the economy already was doing well, with the unemployment rate falling and the stock market rising. The trends were likely to have continued under a Democratic administration, and Trump has no basis to claim that the economy would have suddenly reversed course.
"Nancy Pelosi said yesterday she wants to raise your taxes.”
Misleading. Pelosi has said she wants to reopen the tax bill and “strengthen” middle-class tax cuts (due to expire in 2025) while rolling back tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations.
"We're respected again as a nation. We're respected again as a nation.”
False. Polls by Gallup and the Pew Global Attitudes Project show worldwide views of the United States and its president have become more negative since Trump took office. The Washington Post and others have reported that world leaders and allied nations often are baffled or upset by Trump's actions and pronouncements.
"Republicans stand for stopping illegal immigration, fixing horrible trade deals, cutting your taxes in a major, major way, biggest tax cut in the history of our country.”
False. Trump’s tax cut is nearly 0.9 percent of GDP, much smaller than Reagan’s tax cut in 1981, which was 2.89 percent of GDP. Trump’s tax cut is the eighth-largest since 1918 — smaller than two tax cuts passed under Obama.
"And in addition to that, we've got ANWR. You know what that is, right, in Alaska? They've been trying to get that approved for 50 years. We got it approved.”
Mostly accurate. President Dwight D. Eisenhower first created the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge more than 50 years ago. But most of the legislative action on whether to allow oil exploration has taken place since 1980, when an expansion of the refuge prohibited oil and natural gas production in the refuge as a whole without congressional authorization. Trump’s tax bill removed ANWR’s Coastal Plain from the prohibition.
"Democrats [are] going to get rid of ICE, so that as the crime comes in, we're going to have none of our people that are so tough — these are great people, but these are tough, strong — these are — these are warriors.”
Misleading. Some Democrats have been calling to abolish U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, but it’s not a widely held position, and some Democrats say the agency should be reformed, not abolished. In any case, ICE is only one of several agencies tasked with immigration enforcement.
"The last time Democrats were in power, they cut Medicare by more than $700 billion to pay for the scandalous Obamacare. Now Democrats want to steal trillions of dollars from Medicare.”
False. Trump is referring to an old 2012 claim made by Republicans that Obama took $700 billion from Medicare to fund the Affordable Care Act. The savings mostly were wrung from health-care providers, not Medicare beneficiaries — who, as a result of the health-care law, ended up with new benefits for preventive care and prescription drugs. The Obama health-care law also raised Medicare payroll taxes by $318 billion over the 10-year time frame, further strengthening the program’s financial condition. Republicans in Congress and the Trump administration in their budget plans have pocketed virtually all of those savings — and sought even more reductions in Medicare spending on top of that.
"They will destroy your Social Security. And I'm going to save your Social Security. We're not touching your Social Security.”
False. Democrats have not proposed plans that would reduce Social Security benefits, unlike some Republicans, and in fact many have pushed for greater benefits.
"I could do that whole thing [the wall] in one year, but these guys are holding back.”
False. There is no way that the border wall could be built in a year. Estimates are it would take several years, if not longer.
"In Maryland, the Democrat candidate for governor wants to give illegal aliens free college tuition, courtesy of the American taxpayer.”
Misleading. Maryland Democrat Ben Jealous has proposed providing free community college tuition for all Maryland residents, including undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children, commonly referred to as “dreamers.” Trump himself has claimed he would like to find a way for dreamers to stay. Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, has said he thinks dreamers ought to be able to qualify for tuition aid at community colleges.
"People have no idea how bad they [MS-13] are. Nancy Pelosi got extremely angry at me when she started yelling. 'They're human beings, don't talk to them like that. Don't call them animals.' Remember, she said don't call them animals.”
False. Trump appeared to suggest on May 16 that illegal immigrants were “animals,” but he clarified on Twitter on May 18 that he was referring to MS-13, complaining that his remarks had been misinterpreted by the media. The day after Trump’s “animals” comment, on May 17, Pelosi said “calling people animals is not a good thing” and defended “undocumented immigrants.” She was speaking more generally about undocumented immigrants, not MS-13, before Trump issued his clarification. She did not yell.
"If I would have said this on the campaign trail, if I would have used 4.2 percent, you saw it was adjusted upward from 4.1 percent, 4.2 percent GDP, the press would have gone after me, they would have said impossible.”
False. Trump touts second quarter GDP growth of 4.2 percent, suggesting that the figure was unheard of before he took office. Most recently, GDP growth hit 5.1 percent in the second quarter of 2014 while Obama was still in office. Moreover, Trump regularly promised 4 percent annual growth when he campaigned for president.
"Jobless claims just fell to a 50-year low. Fifty years.”
Accurate. Jobless claims for that week were the lowest since 1969.
"We've created over 4 million new jobs since the election.”
False. Trump often inflates his totals by including nearly three months when he was not yet president. At the time of this speech, 3.4 million jobs had been created during the first 19 months of his presidency, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The monthly rate of job growth is less than the last 19 months of Obama's presidency.
"[We’ve] lifted almost 4 million Americans off of food stamps.”
False. Data show that as of June 18, 2.8 million fewer people collect food stamps since Trump took office. But this trend began before Trump took office. Experts say the decline is not just the result of a stronger economy. Several states have rolled back recession-era waivers that allowed some adults to keep benefits for longer periods without unemployment. Reports have also suggested that immigrant families with citizen children have dropped out for fear of the administration’s immigration policies.
"We've added over 400,000 new manufacturing jobs that the Democrats say are gone and that number is going to very shortly, with what's happening in certain areas, be well over 600,000 manufacturing jobs.”
False. U.S. manufacturing employment has been increasing at a steady rate since 2010, and Democrats had not said manufacturing was going away; during the debates, Hillary Clinton spoke of investing in manufacturing. Obama also used to brag that “we've seen more manufacturing jobs created since I've been president than any time since the 1990s.” When Trump delivered this speech, the Bureau of Labor Statistics had said that 382,000 jobs had been added since Trump took office, but the next morning, in a report on the August job picture, the BLS revised the figure downward, to 348,000, indicating that the president’s tariff war was taking a toll on manufacturing.
"African American unemployment recently achieved the lowest — think of this — the lowest — lowest ever recorded in the history of our country.”
Misleading. African American unemployment is at a low point but “in the history of the country” goes too far. The data has only been collected since the 1970s.
"Hispanic American and Asian American unemployment have also reached their lowest rates in the history of our country.”
Misleading. The Asian American statistic has been around for only about two decades, and it has increased to 3 percent in August since it reached a low of 2 percent in May. It was as low as 2.6 percent under Obama. The statistic for American Hispanics has been collected only since the 1970s. It reached a low of 4.5 percent in July, but the day after the speech, the August figure showed an increase to 4.7 percent.
"Youth unemployment has just reached its lowest rate in nearly half a century.”
Accurate. The youth (age 16-24) unemployment rate was 8.6 percent in July and 8.4 percent in August. It was as low as 8.1 percent in 1969.
"Unemployment for Americans — this is so important — without a high school diploma has reached the lowest level ever recorded.”
Accurate. Unemployment for high school dropouts fell to a record low of 5.1 percent in July, though the data has been collected only since the mid-1990s. The day after Trump spoke, the rate jumped to 5.7 percent in August.
"Women's unemployment recently reached its lowest rate in nearly 65 years.”
Misleading. The jobless rate for women dipped to 3.6 percent in May, its lowest level in 65 years, but climbed back up in June, July and August.
"We've added 100,000 jobs building pipelines and supporting the production of oil and natural gas.”
Mostly accurate. Trump appears to be citing a BLS statistic for mining jobs, of which about 75 percent are in support of oil and gas production. The plunge in oil prices that started in 2014 wiped out nearly 200,000 jobs in the oil and gas support sector by October 2016, but a recent stabilization in oil prices has helped bring some of those jobs back. Trump goes too far to suggest this is mostly due to his administration’s policies.
"We've added something great to our portfolio by increasing exports of clean, beautiful coal by over 60 percent. Sixty percent.”
Misleading. Coal exports increased by 61 percent from 2016 to 2017, to about the level in 2014. But the United States did not export “clean coal.” There is no such thing as clean coal. It is rhetoric often used to describe carbon capture and storage, a technique to capture carbon emissions from power plants, transport it through pipelines and inject it deep into the ground to make oil wells more productive. This technology has been developing in the United States since 2015 but remains expensive and not viable economically without being linked to an enhanced oil-recovery project.
"In the first eight months of 2018, Montana coal production increased by 2.5 million tons.”
Mostly accurate. In the first six months of the year, Montana coal production increased by 20 percent, to 17.9 million tons. But local news reports said that a temporary partial shutdown of the coal-fired Colstrip power plant may affect production numbers for the rest of the year.
"The average Montana family of four will take home $2,281 extra this year, and many will take home much more than that.”
Misleading. Trump cites a statistic circulated by congressional Republicans, focusing on a family of four, but the Montana Department of Revenue said the average tax cut would be $1,618 in 2018, with big differences in income levels. For the top third of income earners, those making more than $64,000, the average cut will be $3,881. It will be $945 for a household earning between $64,000 and $20,000, and $307 for those making less.
"Our tax cut saves family farms and ranchers and small businesses from unfair estate tax, also known as the death tax.”
False. The federal estate tax rarely falls on farms or small businesses, since only those leaving behind more than $5 million pay it. According to the Tax Policy Center, nearly 5,500 estates in 2017 — out of nearly 3 million — were subject to the tax. Of those, only 80 taxable estates would be farms and small businesses.
"By the way, Dodd-Frank, little thing, I fixed it. Dodd-Frank has been changed.”
Accurate. Congress passed a watering down of Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which Trump signed. He does not mention that Tester was a co-sponsor of the legislation.
"We're canceling Obama's illegal anti-coal, so-called clean power plan. Clean power plan is out of business now. We're going to have clean power, but it's not going to be under the clean power plan.”
Misleading. This claim lacks important context. Obama’s Clean Power plan never took effect because it was stayed by the Supreme Court in 2016. Trump's efforts to rework it also face litigation.
"We passed veterans choice, giving our veterans the right to see a private doctor if he has to wait on line for the rest of his life.”
Misleading. The law passed, but veterans are still facing long wait times. A 2018 report by the Government Accountability Office found that veterans referred to Trump’s “choice” program “could potentially wait up to 70 calendar days” to be seen by a doctor, which is not consistent with the requirement that they receive care within 30 days. On average, the study found veterans using the choice program wait 64 days.
"We also passed the landmark VA Accountability Act. They've been trying to pass both of them for more than 45 years. I got them both passed.”
Misleading. The Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017 builds on the firing authority given to the VA secretary through the Choice, Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014, which was enacted in response to the 2014 Phoenix VA scandal.
"We secured a record $700 billion for our military this year and $716 billion next year for our military.”
False. The military budget is $700 billion in the current fiscal year. Congress this summer passed — and Trump signed — authorization for $716 billion in spending in fiscal 2019. But Trump referred to these defense budgets as a “record," which is wrong. The budget authority was larger in fiscal years 2010 and 2011 in nominal dollars, and outlays was higher in many years, including recently, in inflation-adjusted dollars. A better way to measure over time is as a percentage of the economy, and Trump’s is only one-third the size of the defense budget at the height of the Vietnam War. (Note: this is an updated rating, as a reader pointed out we had missed Trump’s use of the word “false.”)
"At my direction, the Pentagon is working hard to create a sixth branch of the United States Armed Forces, the Space Force.”
Mostly Accurate. Trump has announced the creation of a Space Force, but reaction has been cool in Congress.
"I withdrew the United States from the horrible Iran deal.”
Accurate. Trump withdrew the United States from the international agreement to restrain Iran’s nuclear ambitions, despite pleas from allies that it was working.
"I also recognized the capital of Israel and opened the American Embassy in Jerusalem.”
Accurate. Trump took this step Dec. 6, 2017.
"The embassy is already built. It's built about 20 years ahead of budget and schedule. I would say we're probably about 20 years — you know that story, I'm not going to tell it — but we built it real fast. We have the best location. They're all looking for a location. And a friend of mine, the ambassador to Israel, said, oh, but we already have the best piece of land in all of Israel. Best piece of land in Jerusalem. And we have a building on it. Let's renovate it. So instead of spending $1.2 billion, we spent $400,000. That was a sale.”
False. The U.S. spent about $400,000 to upgrade a consular facility and to relabel it an embassy. But it also signed a contract for more than $20 million in security upgrades for the facility, so the initial cost is 100 times more than Trump’s claim. Moreover, this is only a temporary facility; a major embassy generally costs between $500 million and $1 billion.
"When Abraham Lincoln made the Gettysburg Address speech, the great speech, do you know he was ridiculed? He was ridiculed. … He was excoriated by the fake news. They had fake news then. He was excoriated. They said it was a terrible, terrible speech.”
Misleading. Reaction to Lincoln’s speech was divided along partisan lines. The New York Times, then Republican-leaning, praised it and printed it in the newspaper. Democratic-leaning publications were critical.
"He took the horse and carriage up from the White House, he wrote it partially in that carriage and partially at a desk in the Lincoln Bedroom, which is incredible, by the way, in the White House.”
False. Lincoln took a train. The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad furnished the president with a special four-car train for an 80-mile journey, and then he transferred to Northern Central Railway to go as far as Hanover Junction, Pa. Then his cars were transferred to the Gettysburg Railroad for the remainder of the trip. He wrote the speech over a two-week period in the White House before his departure.
"For years, you watched as your leaders apologized to other countries for America. They apologized. We're so sorry. We're so sorry. So sorry.”
False. Trump here references a phony talking point advanced by Republicans during Barack Obama's presidency — that Obama “apologized” for America. The Fact Checker examined each of the citations for Obama's so-called “Apology Tour” and found they were often taken out of context. Obama never said he apologized or was sorry. (George W. Bush, however, did say he was “sorry for the humiliation suffered by the Iraqi prisoners and the humiliation suffered by their families” after reports of prisoner abuse emerged in Iraq.)
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