With the 2016 presidential election race coming to a close tomorrow, here’s a roundup of 29 claims being made by Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in their “final argument” speeches. Trump repeated many of his greatest hits of debunked claims, and Clinton mainly attacked Trump.
And, remember, no matter what your politics, please don’t take your right to vote for granted.
“I’m honored to have the endorsement of 200 — more than that now, much more than that — top admirals and generals.”
“Eight years ago when he [Barack Obama] was running for the first time, he essentially was talking about how corrupt the election system is in Chicago. I saw it. I said wait a minute, he’s telling us how Trump shouldn’t be saying these things. And this guy, eight years ago, is on television last night, talking about how corrupt it is and saying, ‘I’m lucky I’m from Chicago.’”
This appears to be a reference to a video of Barack Obama at a 2008 campaign event at Kent State University in New Philadelphia, Ohio. But Trump takes Obama’s answer out of context — and Obama does not say he’s lucky he’s from Chicago.
A voter asked, “I would just like to know what you can say to reassure us that this election will not be rigged or stolen.” Here’s Obama’s answer:
“Well, I tell you what, it helps in Ohio that we’ve got Democrats in charge of the machines. But look, I come from Chicago. So I want to be honest, it’s not as if it’s just Republicans who have monkeyed around with elections in the past. Sometimes Democrats have, too. Whenever people are in power, they have this tendency to try to, you know, tilt things in their direction. That’s why we’ve got to have, I believe, a voting rights division in the Justice Department that is not partisan, and that is serious about investigating cases of vote fraud, serious about making sure people aren’t being discouraged to vote. That’s why the voting rights legislation that was passed a couple of years ago to help county clerks make sure the machines were in place that were needed. That’s why we need paper trails on these new election machines, so that you actually have something that you can hang on to after you punch that letter, to make sure it hasn’t been hacked into. Those are all part of the process of making sure our democracy works for everybody.”
“Our trade deal with Mexico, NAFTA, is a defective deal. It was defective almost from the beginning because we have different tax systems. They’re on a VAT system. We’re on our system. Well, there’s almost a 17 percent difference. So every deal that we make, we are behind 17 percent before we even start. People have known that for years and years and years, and it’s a defective agreement. Nobody’s ever changed it. Believe me, it’s going to get changed very quickly, okay?”
Trump is misleading by characterizing Mexico’s 16 percent value added tax, or VAT, as a trade barrier. The VAT is a consumption tax levied on goods and services that are produced and sold in Mexico. These taxes do not apply to products exported from Mexico.
This tax works the same way as U.S. federal excise taxes on certain imported (but not exported) goods and state retail sales taxes on domestic consumption of products (and not exports), according to Eric Toder, co-director of the Tax Policy Center. Toder wrote on the Tax Policy Center’s TaxVox Blog that the VAT does not favor one country’s producers over another’s.
“The World Trade Organization rightly does not view these rules as trade barriers,” Toder wrote. “They are simply ways for a country to tax its own residents, without discriminating based on where goods are produced. In contrast, the WTO would appropriately view a tariff that is imposed only on imported goods and services but exempts domestically produced products as a trade barrier.”
“It was reported last night that the FBI is conducting a criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton’s pay-for-play corruption during her tenure as secretary of state. In other words, the FBI is investigating how Hillary Clinton put the office of secretary of state up for sale in violation of federal law.”
This is false. There were FBI agents who argued for the bureau to pursue an investigation into the Clinton Foundation and allegations of corruption and conflicts of interest. But senior law enforcement officials believed there wasn’t enough evidence to move forward, according to the Wall Street Journal‘s detailed account of the infighting over whether to investigate the Clinton Foundation.
“It isn’t unusual for field agents to favor a more aggressive approach than supervisors and prosecutors think is merited. But the internal debates about the Clinton Foundation show the high stakes when such disagreements occur surrounding someone who is running for president,” the Journal reported.
“Nationwide, murders have experienced the largest single-year increase in 45 years…. A Trump administration will work with local and fed law enforcement to end this growing crime wave. It’s very substantial.”
Trump is citing FBI data showing homicides were up 10.8 percent nationwide in 2015. That was the biggest percentage jump in a single year since 1971. Sometimes, he incorrectly cites this figure to say that “we have the highest murder rate in this country in 45 years.” We have awarded that incorrect version Four Pinocchios.
We frequently warn against comparing crime trends from short periods of time, such as year over year. An annual trend can show a trajectory of where the trend might be headed but still does not give a full picture. Crime trends are determined over at least five years, preferably 10 or 20 years, of data. The sharp increase in violent crime rate and homicide rates in 2015 do not necessarily indicate a “crime wave.” Overall, violent crimes and murders have been declining nationwide since their peak in 1991.
“General [David] Petraeus’s life and reputation have been destroyed, for doing nothing, by comparison, to what Hillary Clinton did.”
Trump repeats a Three Pinocchio comparison of how Petraeus and Clinton handled classified information. FBI Director James B. Comey has rejected the claim that Petraeus “got in trouble for far less” than Clinton. “It’s the reverse,” Comey has said, as the Petraeus case “illustrates perfectly the kind of cases the Department of Justice is willing to prosecute.” Mainly, the Petraeus case involved a combination of obstruction of justice, intentional misconduct and a vast quantity of classified information that did not exist in the Clinton case, and Petraeus admitted that he knew that was the wrong thing to do, Comey has said.
“They took the kid who wanted some pictures of the submarine. That’s an old submarine; they’ve got plenty of pictures, if the enemy wants them, they’ve got plenty of them. He wanted to take a couple of pictures. They put him in jail for a year.”
Trump compared the case of Kristian Saucier to the Clinton email case, to illustrate that others have been punished for doing “nothing by comparison to what she’s done.” But Saucier’s case is not exactly comparable, either. The Navy sailor was sentenced to prison after taking photos in classified areas of a nuclear submarine. He then destroyed the evidence after learning that he was under investigation. In fact, Saucier’s lawyers even acknowledged that the two cases were different: Saucier admitted knowing that what he was doing was illegal, unlike Clinton.
“As secretary of state, Hillary Clinton allowed thousands of the most dangerous and violent criminal aliens to go free because their home countries were intelligent; they wouldn’t take them back.”
We have awarded Three Pinocchios to this claim. Under section 243(d) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, the secretary of state does have power to discontinue the granting of certain types of visas to countries that refuse to take back their citizens with U.S. deportation orders, including convicted criminals. Such action is taken rarely, and is used against relatively small countries with little economic power.
Trump goes too far suggesting that Clinton decided to allow these illegal immigrants to stay here. Under Clinton, the State Department and Immigration and Customs Enforcement in 2011 signed a memorandum of understanding to increase pressure on recalcitrant countries. This formalized a series of increasingly tougher steps that could be taken when dealing with countries that refuse to accept the return of their nationals. At the end of that process, the secretary’s authority under section 243(d) could be invoked.
“Let’s do this. Let’s not worry about it. Get out and vote by the millions, and we won’t have to worry about what’s taking place behind the scenes. Remember this, 1.8 million people that are dead are registered to vote. You know, they talk about, oh, that’s a threat to democracy what I’m saying, 1.8 million people, 2.75 million people are registered to vote in two states.”
This is a reference to findings of a 2012 Pew Center on the States study of ways to make the election system more accurate, cost-effective and efficient. There were more than 1.8 million records for people who are deceased, but whose registrations were still on voter rolls. About 2.75 million people were registered to vote in more than one state, which could happen if voters move to a new state and register to vote without notifying their former state. As we have noted, the study does not say that these problems indicated signs of isolated or widespread voter fraud, as Trump suggests.
“It’s just been announced that Michigan residents are going to experience crushing double-digit premium hikes, congratulations — congratulations. In fact a number is so high, I don’t want to give it to you ’cause I want you to have a good time today, okay?”
Trump repeatedly points out premium hikes in 2017 under the Affordable Care Act, and has been using a version of this claim tailored to the state in which he is speaking. As we’ve explained, most Americans get their health insurance through their employer and thus are not impacted — and a majority of people who purchase health care on the state exchange will not be affected by the increases.
For example, individual health plans sold on the state exchange in Michigan will increase 16.7 percent next year. But most people in Michigan who purchase health care on the state exchange qualify for tax credit subsidies and won’t be affected, according to the Detroit Free Press. If a person makes too much income to qualify for a subsidy, then they would face a premium increase.
“Hillary is the one who destroyed 33,000 emails after she got the subpoena, after. Before it’s no good, but after, no; that’s why something should’ve happened then, but that’s okay.”
Trump is technically correct on the timeline, but Clinton’s staff had requested the emails to be deleted months before the subpoena, according to the FBI’s August 2016 report. An employee of the company that managed her server told the FBI he had an “oh s— ” moment and realized he did not delete the emails until after the subpoena.
Moreover, there’s no evidence Clinton deleted the emails in anticipation of the subpoena, and FBI director James B. Comey has said his agency’s investigation found no evidence that any work-related emails were “intentionally deleted in an effort to conceal them.” Here’s PolitiFact’s helpful timeline of events relating to Clinton’s release of her emails.
“Your car production facilities, like the Ford facility, will continue to leave Michigan. Nothing’s gonna get done.”
Ford is moving its small-car production to Mexico, but the company has said the expansion will not affect U.S. workers. Production of Ford Focus models will shift to Mexico, but the plant in Michigan will build other, larger vehicles, Ford said.
Mexico is increasingly attractive for automakers because of the low cost of labor, which makes it cheaper to make labor-intensive small cars in Mexico. But it tends to be cheaper to build larger and more expensive cars in the United States, where electricity is cheaper and there is more access to equipment and skilled technicians.
“I don’t know if you know, Hillary wanted a wall. Did you know that?”
Not exactly. Clinton supported the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which authorized the construction of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border. The fence is mostly vehicle barriers and single-layer pedestrian fence. Trump has called for a border wall of precast concrete, as tall as 30 to 60 feet.
In a January 2016 interview with Jorge Ramos, Clinton said the fence is different from Trump’s wall. “So we do need to have secure borders, and what that will take is a combination of technology and physical barrier.… I voted for border security, and some of it was a fence.” Trump himself has called the fencing under the Secure Fence Act of 2006 “such a little wall; it was such a nothing wall.”
“And they don’t take care of monetary manipulation, which is the single biggest weapon that foreign countries use to kill us, especially China. They’re grand masters.”
As we have pointed out repeatedly, Trump’s complaints about currency manipulation by China are out of date. China has not manipulated its currency for at least two years, and the yuan has appreciated over the past decade. Recently, China has been selling dollars and running down its reserves in an effort to strengthen the currency.
“Twenty-two veterans a day commit suicide. Can you believe that number? Twenty-two veterans a day are committing suicide.”
Once upon a time, not too long ago, we awarded Trump the rare Geppetto Checkmark for using the most up-to-date figure of 20 veteran suicides a day. Alas, he has reverted since then to using the 22 figure — a rough and outdated estimate based on partial data.
In 2014, an average of 20 veterans died from suicide a day. This is based on the findings of the most comprehensive, data-driven study of veteran suicides to date, published August 2016. For the first time, federal agencies pieced together 55 million veteran records over 35 years using military, health and mortality data. The study confirmed that veterans generally have higher suicides rates than civilian populations, though the degree of difference varies for specific populations.
“We’re the highest taxed nation in the world.”
Trump revived an oldie but goodie that he repeated throughout the primaries, but it’s still inaccurate.
Pew Research Center, using 2014 data, found that the tax bill for Americans, under various scenarios, is below average for developed countries. In 2014, according to comparative tables of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), revenue as a percentage of the gross domestic product — the broadest measure of the economy — was 26 percent for the United States. Out of 34 countries, that put the United States in the bottom third — and well below the OECD average of 34.4 percent.
“You look at unemployment rate of African American youth, you look at it, it’s 58 percent.”
Trump repeats a Four Pinocchio claim. The Bureau of Labor Statistics unemployment rate for black youth as of July 2016 is 20.6 percent — about one-third of the rate Trump uses.
The BLS unemployment rate refers to people who are actively looking for jobs but can’t find one. Trump’s rate includes anyone who doesn’t have a job, whether they are looking for one or not. That’s particularly problematic with this age range of 16 to 24 years old, because Trump is counting students as “unemployed,” even though they are in school full-time.
“Now ISIS is in 32 countries all around the world, and what a shame it is.”
Trump’s statement lacks context, and has earned Two Pinocchios. He could point to 32 countries — and probably more — where the Islamic State has conducted attacks, occupies territory or has terrorist cells that have pledged some sort of allegiance. But that is half the size of a comparable list for al-Qaeda after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Moreover, Trump implies that Islamic State has operational control in 32 countries. The Congressional Research Service, in a June 2016 report, listed only six affiliates beyond Iraq and Syria — in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Nigeria, Afghanistan and Yemen.
“We have illegal immigrants coming into the country that are taken better care of than our vets.”
We have awarded Four Pinocchios to this absurd comparison. Broadly speaking, people who are in the United States illegally aren’t granted the same rights as people here legally — both civilians and veterans. Unauthorized people, who are not granted any deferred-action status that deems them lawfully present in the country, are not eligible to receive Social Security benefits or any other federal means-tested benefits, even though many of them pay into Social Security.
“I am running against a man who says he doesn’t understand why we can’t use nuclear weapons. He actually said, then why are we making them? And he wants more countries to have nuclear weapons, Japan, South Korea, even Saudi Arabia.… When he was asked who he consults on foreign policy, Donald Trump said he didn’t need to consult because, and I quote, ‘I have a very good brain.’ … He says he knows more about ISIS than our generals do.”
These lines are all derived from actual statements by Trump, though in many cases he may have said it only once.
- In a March 30 interview, after Chris Mathews told Trump nobody wants to hear an American president about possibly using nuclear weapons, Trump responded: “Then why are we making them? Why do we make them?”
- In a March 29 interview on CNN, Anderson Cooper asked Trump: “So if you said, Japan, yes, it’s fine, you get nuclear weapons, South Korea, you as well, and Saudi Arabia says we want them, too?” Trump responded: “Can I be honest with you? It’s going to happen, anyway. It’s going to happen anyway. It’s only a question of time. … Wouldn’t you rather in a certain sense have Japan have nuclear weapons when North Korea has nuclear weapons?”
- Asked on March 16 by MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski about his foreign policy consultants, Trump replied: “I am speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good brain.” He then went onto cite a previously debunked claim that he had predicted Osama bin Laden would attack the United States.
- Trump, at a Nov. 12, 2015, rally in Fort Dodge, Iowa, said: “I know more about ISIS than the generals do, believe me.”
“After the world watched with horror as the twin towers fell, he called in to a New York TV station, and even on that horrible day when thousands of people lost their lives, he couldn’t stop himself from pointing out that now, because the towers had fallen, a building he owned was the tallest in Lower Manhattan.”
This is correct. On Sept. 11, 2001, Trump called WWOR-TV in New York and made this observation during the 10-minute interview: “Forty Wall St. actually was the second-tallest building in downtown Manhattan, and it was, actually, before the World Trade Center, was the tallest. And then when they built the World Trade Center, it became known as the second-tallest, and now it’s the tallest.”
“He is praising tyrants and dictators, like Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong Un in North Korea and Bashar al-Assad for their supposed strong leadership. He even praised the Chinese government for massacring protesters in Tiananmen Square.”
There are strong elements of truth in this line, but some of it is exaggerated.
- We’ve previously given Clinton Two Pinocchios for claiming that Trump had praised Kim Jong Un. The use of the word “praise” certainly reflects some news headlines, but Trump’s actual remarks were a bit more nuanced (though confusing). Trump made it clear he thought Kim was a threat, in part because of how he ruthlessly seized power.
- As for Hussein, Trump at a July 5 campaign rally called him a “bad guy” but added: “But you know what he did well? He killed terrorists. He did that so good. They didn’t read them the rights. They didn’t talk. They were terrorists. It was over.” This statement was actually wrong — Hussein supported terrorists — and earned Trump Four Pinocchios.
- In the third presidential debate, Trump asserted that Syrian President Assad is “just much tougher and much smarter than her [Clinton] and Obama. And everyone thought he was gone two years ago, three years ago. He aligned with Russia, he now also aligned with Iran, who we made very powerful.”
- The comment regarding Tiananmen Square is more than a quarter-century old. Trump made these observations in a 1990 interview with Playboy: “When the students poured into Tiananmen Square, the Chinese government almost blew it. Then they were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength. That shows you the power of strength. Our country is right now perceived as weak … as being spit on by the rest of the world.”
“It’s no surprise that not a single former president, secretary of state or national security adviser from either party has endorsed him.”
This is true. Most former Republican presidents, secretaries of state and national security advisers have remained silent, in stark contrast to the strong endorsements of Mitt Romney in 2012. Clinton has been endorsed by Brent Scowcroft, national security adviser under George H.W. Bush, and Colin Powell, secretary of state under George W. Bush (who also endorsed Obama). Condoleezza Rice, who was national security adviser and then secretary of state for George W. Bush, called on Trump to drop out of the race.
“We’re going to finally guarantee equal pay for women’s work.”
There is no way to guarantee this. Clinton is referring to a proposed law called the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would make it easier to sue an employer. As we have often noted, the pay gap shrinks when factors within a women’s control, such as choice of occupation and work hours, are taken into consideration. But there remains a smaller, unexplained gap that may be the result of discrimination.
“He doesn’t think we should raise the national minimum wage.”
Trump has said this, but he’s also said the opposite. We counted at least five flip-flops by Trump on this issue. More recently, he has been open to raising the federal minimum wage.
“He’s hired hundreds of small business and contractors to do work for him and his hotels and his casinos, cabinet-makers, piano-sellers, drapery-printers, so many more. They did the work and then Donald refused to pay what he owed.”
Trump’s practice of not paying bills to contractors has been well documented. See, for instance, this investigation by USA Today.
“He told the students at Trump University that they would get an Ivy League education. They paid $10,000, $20,000, even $70,000 for courses that turned out to be worthless. Now they’re suing him for fraud, but he — he walked away with $5 million.”
The Clinton campaign can document all of these assertions.
- The reference to “Ivy League quality curriculums” appeared in Trump University press materials and on its website.
- Court documents in one of the lawsuits against Trump over the university identify at least eight students who paid at least $70,000.
- New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who described Trump University as a fraud, has said “initial estimates are that [Trump] personally pocketed 5 million” from the university. Trump has denied any wrongdoing.
“When I was in the Senate, I was there mostly when the Republicans were in charge. There are 400 pieces of legislation with my name on it, as a sponsor or a co-sponsor.”
Clinton appears to have modified this claim after our colleagues at PolitiFact found her use of the term “bills” was half true. That’s because the list includes nonbinding resolutions and amendments. Of bills that Clinton sponsored, only three (all noncontroversial) became law. Clinton is listed as a co-sponsor on 74 bills that became law. Of those, 27 bills were sponsored by a Republican.
“Just last year he said again it wouldn’t have mattered if we’d rescued the auto industry or let it go bankrupt. What is he talking about? I’m proud that President Obama saved the auto industry.”
Clinton has recast a talking point that previously earned her Four Pinocchios. She used to say Trump opposed the government-led rescue of the auto industry in 2008-2009, but that was false. Now she has focused on a meandering comment about the auto bailout on Aug. 11, 2015, in which he tried to have it all ways.
“You could have let it go, and rebuild itself, through the free enterprise system,” Trump said. “You could have let it go bankrupt, frankly, and rebuild itself, and a lot of people think that’s the way it should have happened. Or you could have done it the way it went. I could have done it either way. Either way would have been acceptable. I think you would have wound up in the same place.”
As can be seen from the full statement, Trump said the outcome would have been the same no matter what path was chosen. (Experts would disagree.) He did not say, as Clinton suggested, that it would not have mattered if the auto industry disappeared.
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