President Trump tweeted a series of false or misleading claims over four days, ranging from the Russia investigation to NATO funding to North Korea to the price of soybeans.
From July 20 to July 23, accurate statements on the president’s Twitter feed were swamped by faulty claims. We rounded up 14 tweets worth fact-checking. Let’s dive in.
“Congratulations to @JudicialWatch and @TomFitton on being successful in getting the Carter Page FISA documents. As usual they are ridiculously heavily redacted but confirm with little doubt that the Department of ‘Justice’ and FBI misled the courts. Witch Hunt Rigged, a Scam!” (July 22)
Trump posted a series of misleading tweets about the FBI’s court application requesting wiretap surveillance of former Trump campaign aide Carter Page, often citing statements made by supporters that were factually wrong or politically biased.
Trump’s tweet started off by congratulating Judicial Watch, a conservative group supportive of the president, for forcing the release of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) application to monitor Page, even though numerous news organizations had filed a Freedom of Information Act request that led to the release of the documents. “As usual” is odd, since it’s the first FISA application ever released, representing a monumental disclosure to the public even with redactions that many national security professionals view with dismay.
Trump and his allies have previously claimed that the Justice Department failed to fully disclose that the FISA application relied on information contained in the dossier assembled by former British intelligence official Christopher Steele at the behest of the Hillary Clinton campaign. But the FISA application actually undermines that claim by clearly stating, in a footnote that runs almost a page long, that the source was working for political opponents of a presidential candidate.
Moreover, Trump in his tweets ignored a central contention of the FBI application — that Page was “an agent of a foreign power” and that the “FBI believes Page has been the subject of targeted recruitment by the Russian government.” (After the release of the FISA document, Page insisted to CNN that “I’ve never been an agent of a foreign power by any stretch of the imagination.”)
The president also ignores the fact that the Page wiretap was extended by different judges three more times. While the material justifying the extensions is redacted, the length of the application kept growing at every step, suggesting that the FBI was gathering useful evidence from the wiretap and using that evidence to request extensions.
“Looking more & more like the Trump Campaign for President was illegally being spied upon (surveillance) for the political gain of Crooked Hillary Clinton and the DNC. Ask her how that worked out – she did better with Crazy Bernie. Republicans must get tough now. An illegal Scam!” (July 22)
Trump has repeatedly claimed without evidence that he was a target of illegal surveillance — a statement that the Justice Department has denied in a court proceeding. In any case, the FISA application makes clear that the FBI requested Page’s wiretap after it was announced he had left the Trump campaign.
“So we now find out that it was indeed the unverified and Fake Dirty Dossier, that was paid for by Crooked Hillary Clinton and the DNC, that was knowingly & falsely submitted to FISA and which was responsible for starting the totally conflicted and discredited Mueller Witch Hunt!” (July 23)
This is false. Both the FBI and the House Intelligence Committee have documented that the investigation into possible ties between Russia and the Trump campaign began with a tip about another Trump campaign aide, George Papadopoulos, who appeared to know Russia had obtained damaging emails on the Democrats. Papadopoulos has pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents.
“No Collusion, No Obstruction – but that doesn’t matter because the 13 Angry Democrats, who are only after Republicans and totally protecting Democrats, want this Witch Hunt to drag out to the November Election. Republicans better get smart fast and expose what they are doing!” (July 21)
“The Rigged Witch Hunt, headed by the 13 Angry Democrats (and now 4 more have been added, one who worked directly for Obama W.H.), seems intent on damaging the Republican Party’s chances in the November Election. This Democrat excuse for losing the ‘16 Election never ends!” (July 21)
There’s no evidence to suggest that Mueller and his team are dragging out their investigation to hurt Republicans’ chances in the midterm elections. Mueller is a Republican, as is Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller and oversees his work.
Mueller’s investigation is ongoing, and it’s too early to say whether he has found, or will find, any evidence of cooperation between Russia and Trump’s presidential campaign, or any evidence that Trump obstructed justice.
Reporters have pieced together a series of contacts between Russian individuals and Trump campaign advisers.
On June 3, 2016, a music publicist named Rob Goldstone emailed Donald Trump Jr. offering “very high level and sensitive information” that could “incriminate Hillary.” Goldstone described this as part of “Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.” Trump Jr. responded, “If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.” Goldstone set up a meeting with a Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya.
On June 9, 2016, the meeting at Trump Tower with Veselnitskaya included Trump Jr., Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner and Trump’s then-campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, among others. A memo she reportedly brought to the Trump Tower meeting was a close match with a document Russian prosecutors had written two months earlier and shared with a U.S. congressman. This raises the possibility that Veselnitskaya was acting as an agent of the Russian government at the Trump Tower encounter.
We previously drew up a list of all known contacts between Russians and Trump campaign advisers. Several Trump advisers met with the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, during the campaign, including Michael Flynn, who later resigned as Trump’s national security adviser for failing to fully disclose those contacts to Vice President Pence and pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. Papadopoulos pleaded guilty on Oct. 5, 2017, to lying to federal agents about his contacts with people with connections to the Russian government during the campaign.
The Washington Post reported that Manafort during the campaign “offered to provide briefings on the race to a Russian billionaire closely aligned with the Kremlin,” Oleg Deripaska.
The House Intelligence Committee’s Republican majority released a report that found “no evidence” of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. But the report said investigations “by other committees, the special counsel, the media, or interest groups will continue and may find facts that were not readily accessible to the Committee or outside the scope of our investigation.” Democrats on the panel strongly disagreed with the majority report’s conclusions, noting that there were many documented contacts between Trump campaign officials and Russian individuals during the campaign.
“When you hear the Fake News talking negatively about my meeting with President Putin, and all that I gave up, remember, I gave up NOTHING, we merely talked about future benefits for both countries. Also, we got along very well, which is a good thing, except for the Corrupt Media!” (July 23)
Officials have given conflicting accounts regarding Trump and Putin’s one-on-one meeting in Helsinki and whether any deals were reached.
Russian officials have claimed the two presidents reached “important verbal agreements” at their July 16 summit. A spokesman for Trump’s National Security Council told The Post, “There were no commitments to undertake any concrete action, beyond agreement that both sides should continue discussions.”
Trump said after the summit that he was considering turning over U.S. officials to Russia for questioning. The group being sought by Putin included former U.S. ambassador Michael McFaul. Putin proposed this in exchange for letting special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s team observe an interview between Russian law enforcement and the 12 Russian intelligence officers Mueller charged with interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Trump called this an “incredible offer” from Putin before the White House rejected it days later.
Trump and Putin also discussed the preservation of the New START and INF arms control treaties, as well as a joint effort from Russia and the United States “to fund reconstruction of war-ravaged Syria and facilitate the return home of millions of Syrians who fled the country,” The Post reported.
The NSC spokesman told The Post that Putin suggested establishing a “cyber-group” and “restarting a counterterrorism group,” and the Trump administration has said the two presidents “discussed forming groups of businesspeople and of retired diplomatic and military officials to provide ideas for cooperation.”
Trump and Putin had interpreters at their meeting, which lasted more than two hours, but no aides or note-takers. Senior Trump administration officials are still being briefed on the details of the summit this week.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders has said Trump and Putin discussed “Syrian humanitarian aid, Iran’s nuclear ambition, Israeli security, North Korean denuclearization, Ukraine and the occupation of Crimea, reducing Russian and U.S. nuclear arsenals, and of course your favorite topic, Russia’s interference in our elections.”
“So President Obama knew about Russia before the Election. Why didn’t he do something about it? Why didn’t he tell our campaign? Because it is all a big hoax, that’s why, and he thought Crooked Hillary was going to win!!!” (July 22)
That President Barack Obama knew about Russian attempts to interfere in the 2016 election in real time is nothing new. Trump asked, “Why didn’t he do something about it?” Obama did take actions, although it’s a matter of debate whether they went far enough.
The FBI warned Trump in a counterintelligence briefing in late July or August 2016 that “foreign adversaries, including Russia, would probably try to spy on and infiltrate his campaign,” according to NBC News. “The situation was complicated by the fact that the FBI had already become aware of contacts between members of the Trump campaign and Russia, and was beginning to investigate further,” NBC News added.
Senior Obama administration officials met with congressional leaders in September 2016 to discuss the Russian cyber-campaign, but “the meeting devolved into a partisan squabble,” The Post reported. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) expressed skepticism at the time “that the underlying intelligence truly supported the White House’s claims.”
Two senior Obama administration officials released a statement about the Russian cyber-campaign on Oct. 7, 2016, a month before the election: “The U.S. intelligence community is confident that the Russian government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from U.S. persons and institutions, including from U.S. political organizations. We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities.”
More than a month after the election, on Dec. 29, the Obama administration expelled Russian intelligence officers and imposed a round of sanctions.
“A Rocket has not been launched by North Korea in 9 months. Likewise, no Nuclear Tests. Japan is happy, all of Asia is happy. But the Fake News is saying, without ever asking me (always anonymous sources), that I am angry because it is not going fast enough. Wrong, very happy!” (July 23)
Trump is criticizing an article published July 22 in The Washington Post that relied on interviews with “a half-dozen White House aides, State Department officials and diplomats, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive negotiations.”
After Trump met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on June 12, the two leaders released a vague joint statement calling for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. The initial rush of fanfare and high expectations seems to have given way, and now the president is “frustrated” by the lack of progress as the two countries negotiate the actual terms of their agreement, The Post reported.
“Diplomats say the North Koreans have canceled follow-up meetings, demanded more money and failed to maintain basic communications, even as the once-isolated regime’s engagements with China and South Korea flourish,” The Post reported. “Meanwhile, a missile-engine testing facility that Trump said would be destroyed remains intact, and U.S. intelligence officials say Pyongyang is working to conceal key aspects of its nuclear program.”
The North Koreans haven’t conducted missile tests since November, and they blew up tunnel entrances to an underground facility where they had tested six nuclear bombs over the years. But experts say and satellite imagery indicates that North Korea’s nuclear research efforts haven’t ceased.
“The Amazon Washington Post has gone crazy against me ever since they lost the Internet Tax Case in the U.S. Supreme Court two months ago. Next up is the U.S. Post Office which they use, at a fraction of real cost, as their “delivery boy” for a BIG percentage of their packages….
“… In my opinion the Washington Post is nothing more than an expensive (the paper loses a fortune) lobbyist for Amazon. Is it used as protection against antitrust claims which many feel should be brought?” (July 23)
Amazon chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos has owned The Washington Post since 2013 as a personal investment. The two companies operate independently of each other.
The Post has been profitable for the last two years. Amazon charged sales taxes in every state with a sales tax before the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in South Dakota v. Wayfair in June. The company also offered to charge sales taxes for third-party vendors selling products through Amazon.com before the court’s decision. The U.S. Postal Service gives Amazon bulk-shipping rates and says its relationship with Amazon is profitable.
“Inconceivable that the government would break into a lawyer’s office (early in the morning) – almost unheard of. Even more inconceivable that a lawyer would tape a client – totally unheard of & perhaps illegal. The good news is that your favorite President did nothing wrong!” (July 21)
What Trump says is “inconceivable” or “almost unheard of” happens all the time.
Trump was tweeting about his former attorney, Michael Cohen, whose office and home and a hotel room he was using were raided by the FBI in April. Since this search was conducted with a warrant, it was authorized by a judge who found probable cause. Cohen himself described the FBI agents who conducted the raid as “respectful, courteous and professional.”
The FBI was searching for records related to two women who received payments in 2016 after alleging past extramarital affairs with Trump, among other documents. Cohen at one point recorded a conversation he had with Trump about potentially buying the rights to the story claimed by one of the women, Karen McDougal. Trump said this recording was “perhaps illegal,” but New York is what’s known as a one-party consent state. That means Cohen legally could record his conversation with Trump without Trump’s knowledge.
“Farmers have been on a downward trend for 15 years. The price of soybeans has fallen 50% since 5 years before the Election. A big reason is bad (terrible) Trade Deals with other countries. They put on massive Tariffs and Barriers. Canada charges 275% on Dairy. Farmers will WIN!” (July 20)
National net farm income, a key indicator of how well farmers are doing, has been declining since 2013 — meaning five, not 15, years. “U.S. farm income experienced a golden period during 2011 through 2014 due to strong commodity prices and robust agricultural exports,” according to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service.
However, the price of soybeans has not dropped “50 percent since 5 years before the election,” according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data. In 2011, five years before the 2016 election, soybeans peaked at $13.40 per bushel. In May 2018, soybeans cost $9.84 per bushel. That’s a 27 percent drop. Measuring since 2011, the lowest price was $8.56 in March 2016. Tariffs and trade barriers are not pushing these prices down; record soybean plantings and record yields are the cause.
Canada does have high dairy tariffs, but they only go into effect after a fixed quota of products has been imported. The United States has “a favorable quota,” according to the Brookings Institution, meaning it runs a trade surplus on dairy products and “no dairy products are sold to Canada outside the quota, so no U.S. exports really pay a high tariff.”
“The NFL National Anthem Debate is alive and well again – can’t believe it! Isn’t it in contract that players must stand at attention, hand on heart? The $40,000,000 Commissioner must now make a stand. First time kneeling, out for game. Second time kneeling, out for season/no pay!” (July 20)
The NFL policy actually says players must stand if they’re on the field while the anthem plays or stay in their locker rooms for the anthem. Some teams have announced they will not fine players or coaches for kneeling on the sidelines during the anthem despite the NFL’s new policy.
Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner, signed a contract extension in late 2017 worth $200 million over five years if — and this is a big if — all incentives are met and bonuses are granted. Goodell’s base salary reportedly is less than $10 million annually. Plus, over several previous seasons, the commissioner’s salary was cut repeatedly.
“So important. Should have been done years ago!” (July 20, in a tweet linking to an article headlined, “President Trump Is Getting NATO Countries To Pay Their Fair Share”)
NATO’s guideline is that defense expenditures should amount to 2 percent of each country’s gross domestic product by 2024. Only the United States and three other countries currently meet this target. But 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 military. Trump has repeatedly claimed credit for the spending boost, and the NATO secretary general says it’s helpful to have Trump applying pressure on other allies. But this spending surge that Trump says “should have been done years ago” actually did begin years ago, in 2014, before he took office.
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