Democracy Dies in Darkness

Fact Checker | Analysis

President Trump made 8,158 false or misleading claims in his first two years

January 21, 2019 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 Feb. 3, 2019. (Meg Kelly/The Washington Post)

UPDATE, Feb. 3: As of 745 days, the tally is 8,459 claims

Two years after taking the oath of office, President Trump has made 8,158 false or misleading claims, according to The Fact Checker’s database that analyzes, categorizes and tracks every suspect statement uttered by the president.

That includes an astonishing 6,000-plus such claims in the president’s second year.

Put another way: The president averaged nearly 5.9 false or misleading claims a day in his first year in office. But he hit nearly 16.5 a day in his second year, almost triple the pace.

We started this project as part of our coverage of the president’s first 100 days, largely because we could not possibly keep up with the pace and volume of the president’s misstatements. Readers demanded we keep it going for the rest of Trump’s presidency. Our interactive graphic, managed with the help of Leslie Shapiro of The Washington Post graphics department, displays a running list of every false or misleading statement made by Trump. You can also search for specific claims or obtain monthly or daily totals.

In the first 100 days, the president made 492 unsupported claims. He managed to top that number just in the first three weeks of 2019. In October, as he was barnstorming the country in advance of the midterm elections, he made more than 1,200 false or misleading claims.

Not surprisingly, the biggest source of misleading claims is immigration, with a tally that has grown with the addition of 300 immigration claims in the past three weeks, for a total of 1,433.

In the president’s immigration address Saturday, the last day of his second year in office, we counted 12 false or misleading claims, including:

"Heroin alone kills 300 Americans a week, 90 percent of which comes across our southern border.”

“Many of these security ideas have been proposed by Democrats themselves, and all of them have been supported by Democrats in the past, including a physical barrier wall or fence.”

"However, the whole concept of having lengthy trials, for anyone who sets one foot in our country unlawfully, must be changed by Congress. It is unsustainable. It is ridiculous. Few places in the world would even consider such an impossible nightmare.”

"If we build a powerful and fully designed see-through steel barrier on our southern border, the crime rate and drug problem in our country would be quickly and greatly reduced. Some say it could be cut in half.”

"Thousands of children are being exploited by ruthless coyotes and vicious cartels and gangs.”

Claims about foreign policy (900) and trade (854) rank second and third, followed by claims about the economy (790) and jobs (755). But there’s also a grab-bag category of “miscellaneous” (899), which includes misleading attacks on the media or people the president perceives as enemies.

By our count, there were only 82 days — or about 11 percent of the time — on which we recorded no claims. These were often days when the president golfed.

But there were also 74 days, or about 10 percent of his presidency, in which Trump made more than 30 claims. These were often days when he held campaign-style rallies, riffing without much of a script.

Trump has made many misleading claims about the investigation into possible Russian interference in the 2016 election, claiming 192 times a variation of the statement that it was a hoax perpetuated by Democrats. The CIA, the FBI and the National Security Agency had announced that they had “high confidence” that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a campaign to influence the election, with a clear preference for Trump. Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III was appointed by Trump’s Justice Department, and the congressional committees investigating the matter have been headed by Republicans.

Trump repeated 127 times the falsehood about securing the biggest tax cut in U.S. history, even though Treasury Department data shows it would rank eighth. And 126 times, he has falsely claimed that the United States has lost money on trade deficits. Countries do not “lose” money on trade deficits. A trade deficit simply means that people in one country are buying more goods from another country than people in the second country are buying from the first country. Trade deficits are also affected by macroeconomic factors, such as currencies, economic growth and savings and investment rates.

Visit our website of Bottomless Pinocchios for highly misleading or false claims that the president has made so often that they have become a form of disinformation.

(Contributors to the database over the past two years include Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Nicole Lewis.)

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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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