President Trump’s speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference at National Harbor in Maryland was littered with some of the president’s favorite and frequently cited falsehoods. Here’s a roundup of 13 of his more dubious claims, listed in the order in which he made them:
“I saw one story recently where they said, ‘Nine people have confirmed.’ There are no nine people. I don’t believe there was one or two people. Nine people. . . . They make up sources.”
Trump is referring to a Washington Post article that disclosed that then-national security adviser Michael Flynn privately discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with that country’s ambassador to the United States during the month before Trump took office, contrary to public assertions by Trump officials. The Post report prompted a firestorm that led to Flynn’s firing by Trump, because it turned out that Flynn had misled Vice President Pence and other administration officials about whether he had discussed sanctions.
The article cited information provided by “nine current and former officials, who were in senior positions at multiple agencies at the time of the calls.” (Calls by the Russian ambassador are monitored by intelligence agencies.) No White House official has disputed the accuracy of the article — and indeed, it resulted in Flynn’s departure from the administration.
“The dishonest media did not explain that I called the fake news the enemy of the people. The fake news. They dropped off the word ‘fake.’ And all of a sudden the story became the media is the enemy.”
Trump is making a distinction without a difference. This is the tweet in question:
Trump listed five mainstream media organizations — the New York Times, NBC, ABC, CBS and CNN — as the “FAKE NEWS media” and declared that they are the enemy of the American people. By listing major media organizations as the enemy, Trump was clearly making a statement about the broader news media.
“But it was a little rigged against him [Bernie Sanders], you know, superdelegate, superdelegate. She [Hillary Clinton] had so many delegates before the thing even started, I actually said to my people, ‘How does that happen?’ ”
The primary election rules of the Democratic Party require a combination of 4,051 delegates elected through primaries and 714 “superdelegates” (elected officials and other influential Democrats who can back whomever they want). Superdelegates make up 15 percent of the total delegate pool, and Clinton would not have obtained the 2,383 delegates needed to clinch the nomination without the support of superdelegates.
Trump says the system was rigged against Sanders because of the superdelegates. In June, when the media began declaring Clinton the presumptive nominee, Clinton was on track to win the nomination even without superdelegates. We dug into this in depth in a separate fact check.
“These are bad dudes. We’re getting the bad ones out, okay? We’re getting the bad — if you watch these people, it’s like gee, that’s so sad. We’re getting bad people out of this country, people that shouldn’t be, whether it’s drugs or murder or other things. We’re getting bad ones out. Those are the ones that go first, and I said it from Day One. Basically all I’ve done is keep my promise.”
Trump is referring to the recent arrests of undocumented immigrants convicted of crimes, or the “bad dudes.” Trump takes credit for fulfilling his campaign promise of cracking down on illegal immigration, but these arrests are routine. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has always targeted dangerous criminals in enforcement priorities. The recent arrests, however, did include people who would not have fallen under narrowed enforcement priorities under Obama.
Still, 25 percent of the arrests were of people who had lesser charges and noncriminal convictions. According to anecdotes of recent arrests, undocumented people with traffic violations were subject to arrest. They are not the “bad dudes,” such as drug dealers or murderers, that he describes.
“In the Middle East, we’ve spent, as of four weeks ago, $6 trillion. Think of it.”
Trump is lumping together the wars in Iraq (in the Middle East) and Afghanistan (in South Asia), which together cost about $1.6 trillion from 2001 to 2014. He is also adding in estimates of future spending, such as interest on the debt and veterans care for the next three decades.
“Obamacare covers very few people — and remember, deduct from the number all of the people that had great health care that they loved that was taken away from them. It was taken away from them.”
Trump essentially repeats a false GOP talking point that previously earned Four Pinocchios. The Obama administration calculated that about 20 million people have gained health coverage as a result of the Affordable Care Act, a figure that seems reasonable. Meanwhile, the number of plans that were canceled is far lower, though there appears to be no research that has determined exactly how many people had their policies canceled because the health insurance did not comply with the ACA.
An estimated 2.6 million people received notices of cancellations, but there was such an outcry over reports of cancellations that the Obama administration rushed to issue waivers that would allow people to keep their plans. Forty states accepted the waiver policy — which in most cases remains in effect until December 2017. So a vast majority of the people who might have received notices actually were able to keep their plans, even up until today.
It’s important to remember that the individual insurance market has a lot of ebb and flow, with people moving in and out of it as they change jobs, so the odds are many people who might have been affected by plan terminations would have already switched plans. One study found that in the 2008-to-2011 period, only 42 percent of policyholders in the non-group market retained that coverage after 12 months, with many moving to an employer-provided plan when obtaining a new job.
“ICE came and endorsed me. They never endorsed a presidential candidate before. They might not even be allowed to.”
This is one of Trump’s favorite claims. Federal agencies can’t endorse political candidates. The unions representing Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and Border Patrol agents did endorse Trump. Both groups said Trump was their first-ever endorsement. But they did not do so unanimously. The National Border Patrol Council endorsement was based on the vote of 11 union leaders, which sparked controversy among union members. Agents in El Paso, in a 14-to-13 vote, narrowly failed to have the local union disavow the endorsement.
“I’m also working with the Department of Justice to begin reducing violent crime. I mean, can you believe what’s happening in Chicago, as an example? Two days ago, seven people were shot and I believe killed. Seven people, seven people, Chicago, a great American city, seven people shot and killed. We will support the incredible men and women of law enforcement.”
Seven people were shot and killed in Chicago on Wednesday, the deadliest day in the city so far this year. Homicides in Chicago are on track with the same period in 2016, when Chicago recorded the most homicides in two decades, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Overall, violent crime is on a decades-long decline since the height of the crack cocaine epidemic in the early 1990s. In 2016, there was an uptick in the homicide rate in the 30 largest cities. It’s too early to say whether this uptick indicates the return of a crime wave. One outlier city, Chicago, was responsible for 43.7 percent of the total increase in homicide rates in 2016. Trump continues to focus on one outlier city, whose violence — while a growing concern for local officials — is not representative of overall national trends.
For more, check out our in-depth fact check on Trump’s rhetoric on crime.
“Take a look at NAFTA, one of the worst deals ever made by any country having to do with economic development. It’s economy un-development, as far as our country is concerned.”
Trump’s attack on the North American Free Trade Agreement is over the top. It is often difficult to separate out the impact of trade agreements on jobs, compared with other, broader economic trends. But the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service in 2015 concluded that the “net overall effect of NAFTA on the U.S. economy appears to have been relatively modest, primarily because trade with Canada and Mexico accounts for a small percentage of U.S. GDP,” though it noted that “there were worker and firm adjustment costs as the three countries adjusted to more open trade and investment among their economies.”
As a result of NAFTA, the United States, Canada and Mexico constitute an economically integrated market, especially for the auto industry. Auto parts and vehicles produced in each country freely flow over the borders, without tariffs or other restrictions, as thousands of part suppliers serve the automakers that build the vehicles. This is known as the “motor vehicle supply chain.”
“[The Keystone XL pipeline] could be 42,000 jobs, somewhere around there — a lot of jobs.”
Trump constantly changes the number of jobs that might be created by the pipeline. This is a high-end estimate that we have previously given Two Pinocchios.
The pipeline project would create short-term jobs, lasting on average 19.5 weeks, to assemble the pipeline that would help carry heavy crude oil from Canada’s Alberta province to the gulf coast. Those short-term jobs were calculated by the State Department to be the equivalent of 3,900 annual jobs. About 16,000 jobs (including nearly 4,000 in construction jobs) would stem from direct spending, such as building the high-strength line pipe.
The other 26,000 jobs are even more fuzzy — what are termed “indirect and induced spending.” Some of that could be goods and services purchased by contractors, but it also means spending by employees working for a supplier of goods and services.
An appendix to the State Department report, for instance, says that 634 people would be employed in the “arts, entertainment and recreation services” in the United States as a result of Keystone — and only 138 of those jobs would be in the construction states. No dancer in New York City is going to get a job because of Keystone, but just as the part-time work of the construction workers adds up to jobs expressed in annual terms, the economic model assumes some of that spending reverberates through the economy and eventually lands in the pockets of people across the country, thus contributing to a portion of their annual wage.
The State Department report adds an important bit of context — the pipeline project would represent just 0.02 percent of annual economic activity across the nation.
“Ford and Fiat Chrysler, General Motors, Sprint, Intel and so many others are now, because of the election result, making major investments in the United States, expanding production and hiring more workers. And they’re going back to Michigan and they’re going back to Ohio and they’re going back to Pennsylvania and they’re going back to North Carolina and to Florida.”
Trump keeps giving himself credit for business decisions made before he became president. For instance, Ford’s decision has more to do with the company’s long-term goal — particularly its plans to invest in electric vehicles — than with the administration. Here’s what Ford chief executive Mark Fields said about the company’s decision to abandon plans to open a factory in Mexico: “The reason that we are not building the new plant, the primary reason, is just demand has gone down for small cars.”
Meanwhile, the January jobs report, showing 230,000 jobs were created, reflects the last month of the Obama administration. The data was collected in early January, when Obama was still president.
“It’s time for all Americans to get off of welfare and get back to work — you’re going to love it, you’re going to love it, you’re going to love it.”
“Welfare” is a broad term and can apply to people who are working but receiving some government assistance. If someone is receiving means-tested assistance, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are not working.
Not all people eligible for welfare collect benefits. When they do, many of the benefits are contingent on the recipients working or actively searching for jobs, as a result of an overhaul of welfare signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996. And even low-income families receive some level of public assistance.
Trump is apparently unaware that participation has declined in means-tested programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps).
“I took a lot of heat on Sweden. And then a day later, I said, has anybody reported what’s going on? And it turned out that they didn’t — not too many of them did. Take a look at what happened in Sweden. I love Sweden, great country, great people. I love Sweden. But they understand. The people over there understand I’m right.”
Trump had referred to rising crime rates in Sweden, but the country’s overall rate has fallen in recent years. Sweden has welcomed refugees and immigrants, but Swedish crime experts do not agree that the country’s immigration policies are linked to crime.
Just two days after Trump made his false claim, riots broke out in a predominantly immigrant neighborhood in Stockholm, the country’s capital. That neighborhood was the scene of riots in 2010 and 2013, stemming from anger directed at the influx of refugees and migrants into the country.
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