President Trump’s Nov. 14 interview with the Daily Caller had prompted much head-scratching with his comment that an ID — he said “voter ID” — is needed to buy cereal. But there were many other dubious statements in his lengthy interview, some of which we have fact-checked as part of our database on Trump’s false and misleading claims. Here’s a quick roundup of the president’s most notable errors of fact, in the order in which he made them.
“You know, it’s very interesting, because when you talk about not Senate confirmed, well, [special counsel Robert] Mueller’s not Senate confirmed. He’s heading this whole big thing; he’s not Senate confirmed.”
Trump is responding to assertions that he violated the Constitution by appointing the Justice Department’s chief of staff, Matthew G. Whitaker, as acting attorney general. The chief of staff post is not subject to Senate confirmation, unlike the deputy attorney general, who ordinarily would fill the vacancy.
But there is no expectation that a special counsel would be subject to Senate confirmation, as he is an “inferior officer” who reports to someone who has been confirmed. (The former attorney general, Jeff Sessions, had recused himself, so Mueller previously had reported to the deputy attorney general.)
In other words, Trump’s point is nonsensical.
“I’m building the wall in smaller stages, and we moved the military there, we put up barbed wire, we did all sorts of things.”
No, Trump’s wall is not yet being built. Congress inserted specific language in its appropriations bill that none of the $1.57 billion appropriated for border protection may be used for prototypes of a concrete wall that Trump observed while in California. The money can be used only for bollard fencing and levee fencing. Trump regularly makes this false claim — at last count, more than 80 times.
“You have 17 people — half, many of them worked for Hillary Clinton, some on the foundation. The Hillary Clinton Foundation.”
This is false, as we have documented previously. Five members of the Mueller team contributed to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign. One of those people, attorney Jeannie Rhee, represented the Clinton Foundation in a 2015 lawsuit over Clinton’s use of her private email server. Aaron Zebley, a former counterterrorism FBI agent and assistant U.S. attorney, made no contributions to Clinton but represented a Clinton aide at one point.
In other words, no member of the Mueller team worked for Hillary Clinton and only one had a connection to the Clinton Foundation.
“We’ve really, you know, terminated a lot of the Obamacare, as it was referred to.”
The 2017 Trump tax bill, starting in 2019, effectively eliminates the mandate that required people to pay a penalty if they chose not to buy health insurance. (A waiver was available for people under a certain income level.) The penalty must still be paid in 2017 and 2018.
Other than the individual mandate, Trump has not “terminated a lot of Obamacare.”
“This is a problem in California that’s so bad of illegals voting. This is a California problem, and if you notice, almost every race — I was watching today — out of like 11 races that are in question, they’re going to win all of them. The Republicans don’t win, and that’s because of potentially illegal votes, which is what I’ve been saying for a long time.”
Trump, without evidence, suggests that the slow process of counting California’s mail-in ballots means that undocumented immigrants are casting votes. He has never given an explanation as to why the late votes that are counted would be from undocumented immigrants. There is no evidence that undocumented immigrants are voting in California in vast numbers, let alone enough to swing an election.
Voter fraud is extremely rare, though obviously errors can be made. California’s Department of Motor Vehicles acknowledged in October that 1,500 people may have been incorrectly registered because of a processing error — including at least one noncitizen (a legal resident, not an undocumented immigrant). The incorrect registrations were canceled before the election.
“I’ve seen it, I’ve had friends talk about it when people get in line that have absolutely no right to vote and they go around in circles. Sometimes they go to their car, put on a different hat, put on a different shirt, come in and vote again. Nobody takes anything. It’s really a disgrace, what’s going on.”
Trump claims he has seen this sort of voter fraud. We highly doubt it. Perhaps it came in a dream?
At least 34 states have laws requesting or requiring voters to show some form of identification at the polls, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. So not only would a fraudster need a new hat and shirt, but also phony IDs that match records of registered voters. It is difficult to imagine how such a scheme could be implemented on a vast scale.
“If you look at what happened in New Hampshire, where thousands of people came up and voted from a very liberal part of Massachusetts, and they came up in buses and they voted. I said, ‘What’s going on over here?’ My people said, ‘You won New Hampshire easily, except they have tremendous numbers of buses coming up.’ They’re pouring up by the hundreds, buses of people getting out, voting. Then they’re supposed to go back within 90 days. And of the people that are supposed to go back, almost none of them do. In other words, they go back after the vote is over. They go back — and I think it’s like 3 percent — I mean, almost nobody goes back to show that, you know, that they were allowed to vote.”
This is another fantasy that has been repeatedly debunked. The New Hampshire attorney general’s office investigated this claim after complaints of out-of-state busing in 2014 and found no evidence that out-of-state voters were ever bused into the state to shift the outcome. Instead, some colleges in the state had hired out-of-state buses to help ferry college students to the polls. In other words, the bus company might have been from Vermont, but not the voters on the bus. After the state asked that in-state buses be used, there were no complaints in 2016 — except from the Trump White House after the president narrowly lost the state to Clinton.
When Trump aide Stephen Miller made a similar claim in 2017, Tom Rath, a former New Hampshire attorney general and prominent Republican in the state, tweeted this after Miller’s comments:
“In fact, they say in 80 years, I think, the presidential party’s only picked up two Senate seats, I picked up three. I mean, assuming that they don’t do any further shenanigans in Florida.”
The president needs to work on his basic math skills. Republicans flipped at least three seats from the Democrats: North Dakota, Indiana and Missouri. But Democrats flipped two: Arizona and Nevada. So that’s a one-seat gain for the Republicans. Assuming Republican Rick Scott holds on to his narrow lead in Florida, the Republicans would have a gain of two. There is a pending runoff in Mississippi, which is already Republican and expected to remain Republican. So the maximum Trump can expect is two seats, not three. (If the Democrat, Mike Espy, manages an unexpected victory in Mississippi, that would be a flip toward the Democrats and Trump would only be plus one seat.)
George W. Bush gained two Senate seats in 2002, so Trump has tied something that happened 16 years ago, assuming Scott wins. John F. Kennedy earned a gain of three seats in 1962 — which was 56 years ago, not 80. (Since the Republicans started the 2016-2018 cycle with 52 seats, the net result will be a one seat pick-up, assuming Espy does not win.)
“Almost picked up Tester. Almost picked up, you know, if you look — and that was somebody that wasn’t even in play. … Tester, nobody wanted even to contest it. Well, look at what happened in North Dakota with Heidi. Heidi, they said don’t contest. One year ago when we were looking, they all said don’t contest Heidi, she can’t be beat. She lost by a lot.”
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) was always rated the most vulnerable Democrat given Trump’s commanding victory in North Dakota. We cannot imagine any Republican strategist telling Trump that it was not worthwhile to contest her.
Trump made four trips to Montana in four months in an effort to topple incumbent Jon Tester, but Tester had the biggest victory of his career, for the first time topping 50 percent of the vote. More people voted in the midterms than in the 2016 election in 15 counties, with much of the increased turnout in Democratic areas. That indicates that Trump’s efforts helped motivate the opposition.
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