On Sept. 7, President Trump woke up in Billings, Mont., flew to Fargo, N.D., visited Sioux Falls, S.D., and eventually returned to Washington. He spoke to reporters on Air Force One, held a pair of fundraisers and was interviewed by three local reporters.
The day before, the president made 74 false or misleading claims, many at a campaign rally in Montana. An anonymous op-ed article by a senior administration official had just been published in the New York Times, and news circulated about journalist Bob Woodward’s insider account of Trump’s presidency.
Trump’s tsunami of untruths helped push the count in The Fact Checker’s database past 5,000 on the 601st day of his presidency. That’s an average of 8.3 Trumpian claims a day, but in the past nine days — since our last update — the president has averaged 32 claims a day.
When we first started this project for the president’s first 100 days, he averaged 4.9 claims a day. He passed the 2,000 mark on Jan. 10 — eight months ago.
Fittingly, the 5,000th claim was a tweet about the investigation led by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III: “Russian ‘collusion’ was just an excuse by the Democrats for having lost the Election!”
On nearly 140 occasions, the president has falsely claimed that the Russia investigation was made up or a hoax. But the information on Russian efforts to sway the 2016 election was developed by the intelligence community and published in a declassified report, in which the agencies said they had “high confidence” it was correct.
One of his campaign aides has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts overseas, including one connection who disclosed that the Russians had Democratic Party emails. The president’s son, son-in-law and campaign chairman met at Trump Tower in June 2016 with someone they thought was a representative of the Russian government and who had promised “dirt” on Hillary Clinton — and then tried to cover up that fact.
Whether additional criminal charges will be brought is unclear, but the investigation continues.
The president’s 5,001st claim was another tweet: He claimed that the administration “did an unappreciated great job” dealing with Hurricane Maria when it struck Puerto Rico in 2017.
That’s just spin that ignores a raft of official reports. A study by George Washington University estimated the death toll at between 2,658 and 3,290. Puerto Rico adopted the midpoint number, 2,975, as its official death toll. The island’s population dropped 8 percent because of the death toll and heavy out-migration after the hurricanes, according to the GWU study. A separate report by the Government Accountability Office found a litany of issues that prevented the Federal Emergency Management Agency from responding quickly and efficiently to the Puerto Rican disaster. Full power was not restored to Puerto Rico for 11 months after the hurricane.
A new Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll of 1,500 randomly selected adult residents of Puerto Rico found that 80 percent rate Trump’s response to Maria negatively. Many still struggle with basic necessities, with 83 percent reporting either major damage to their homes, losing power for more than three months, employment setbacks or worsening health problems, along with spotty power and dangerous, unrepaired roads.
With the new death toll of nearly 3,000 embraced by the Puerto Rican government, the president’s language when he visited Puerto Rico two weeks after the hurricane devastated the island appears tone-deaf.
“Every death is a horror, but if you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina, and you look at the tremendous hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people that died, and you look at what happened here and what is your death count? Sixteen people, versus in the thousands,” he said on Oct. 3, 2017. “You can be very proud. Sixteen versus literally thousands of people.”
Almost one-third of Trump’s claims — 1,573 — in The Fact Checker’s database relate to economic issues, trade deals or jobs. He frequently takes credit for jobs created before he became president or company decisions with which he had no role. He cites his “incredible success” in terms of job growth, even though annual job growth under his presidency has been slower than the last five years of President Barack Obama’s tenure. Almost 50 times, Trump has claimed that the economy today is the “greatest” in U.S. history, an absurd statement not backed up by data.
In the wake of the Woodward book, Trump resurrected a claim that dates from his first 100 days in office — that he has accomplished more than any other president in history in the same period of time. He made that statement six times in four days after news reports about the Woodward book.
Besides the tax bill, Trump has signed few noteworthy pieces of legislation, in contrast with the whirlwind of major bills passed in the first two years of the administrations of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Lyndon B. Johnson or Obama. As of his 600th day, Trump had signed about the same number of bills as Obama and George W. Bush but is behind every other president since Dwight D. Eisenhower, according to a calculation by Joshua Tauberer of GovTrack. He noted that Trump is just behind Obama in terms of the number of pages, indicating that much of the legislation he has signed has been about increasing government spending.
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