President Trump said Tuesday that his father was born in Germany, which is not true. This would have been chalked up to a slip of the tongue (it was actually his grandpa who was born in the Vaterland) … except that it is the third time he has said this. So I promptly declared that, among Trump’s most bizarre claims, “this one may take the cake."
Then Trump made me feel silly. Just a few hours later, in a speech at a National Republican Congressional Committee fundraiser, Trump suggested that wind farms cause cancer.
Which got me thinking: What are Trump’s most truly puzzling and obscure claims? I’m not talking about conspiracy theories like birtherism or that vaccines cause autism, which may be his most harmful claims. But what are the things that seem based on the least logic, are so divorced from reality and are unique to Trump?
Here are the top 10 I came up with:
10. Exercise shortens your life.
The claim: Washington Post reporters Marc Fisher and Michael Kranish reported in their Trump biography that Trump “believed the human body was like a battery, with a finite amount of energy, which exercise only depleted.”
Why it makes the list: Because it sounds like a theory people had 100 years ago, before modern medicine and science.
9. Global warming is a Chinese hoax.
The claim: “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”
Why it makes the list: This 2012 claim was so out there that even Trump, when confronted with it during the 2016 campaign, was loath to stick by it. He suggested it was really just a “joke.” “I often joke that this is done for the benefit of China,” Trump said. “Obviously, I joke. But this is done for the benefit of China, because China does not do anything to help climate change.”
8. His inauguration crowd was bigger than Obama’s.
The claim: “I made a speech. I looked out. The field was — it looked like a million, a million and a half people.’’ White House press secretary Sean Spicer assured that it was the “largest audience to ever witness an inauguration — period — both in-person and around the globe.”
Why it makes the list: Because we have eyes and there are pictures. Also because they went down this road literally within hours of Trump assuming the presidency.
7. Wind farms cause cancer.
The claim: “If you have a windmill anywhere near your house, congratulations, your house just went down 75 percent in value. And they say the noise causes cancer. You tell me that one, okay?”
Why it makes the list: As The Post’s Philip Bump writes, this is part of a long-running, anti-wind farm effort Trump has undertaken, so that’s where it’s coming from. But it’s so bizarre that it’s not even clear how you would fact-check it. Is there something about the frequency? Can you even get cancer audibly? How would that even work?
6. There were 3 million to 5 million illegal votes in 2016, and none were for Trump.
The claim: “Of those votes cast, none of 'em come to me. None of 'em come to me. They would all be for the other side. None of 'em come to me."
Why it makes the list: The 3 million to 5 million allegedly illegal votes is one thing. But if it weren’t for the second part — the thing where people only voted illegally for Hillary Clinton somehow — this might not be on the list. It’s a truly underrated aspect of this conspiracy theory. Even if it were somehow possible to perpetrate such massive voter fraud, how is it possible nobody would illegally vote for Trump? Trump, of course, needed them all to be for Clinton, because his conspiracy theory had to account for his 2.9 million vote loss in the popular vote. And it’s not like you could say there were 10 million illegal votes … right?
5. His father was born in Germany.
The claim: “My father is German — was German. Born in a very wonderful place in Germany, so I have a great feeling for Germany.”
Why it makes the list: As mentioned above, if this were a one-off, it wouldn’t qualify. That Trump has said his New York-born father was born in Germany three times now — once Tuesday and twice in July 2018 — earns a spot. Did nobody on his staff correct him after he uttered this twice in a few days last year? And what is even the motivation here? If he’s claiming affinity with Europe, he’s already got a Scottish-immigrant mother he could use.
4. Pershing executed Muslim terrorists with blood-tipped bullets.
The claim: He said of U.S. Gen. John J. Pershing during the U.S.-Philippine War: “They were having terrorism problems, just like we do. And he caught 50 terrorists who did tremendous damage and killed many people. And he took the 50 terrorists, and he took 50 men and he dipped 50 bullets in pigs’ blood . . . And he had his men load his rifles, and he lined up the 50 people, and they shot 49 of those people. And the 50th person, he said: You go back to your people, and you tell them what happened. And for 25 years, there wasn’t a problem. Okay? Twenty-five years, there wasn’t a problem.” It was a clear reference to Muslims, and the idea that the pig’s blood would prevent them from going to heaven.
Why it makes the list: This is also something Trump has repeated despite it being discredited. And it’s really scraping the bottom of the barrel when it comes to fake anti-Muslim stories on the Internet.
3. Foul play in Antonin Scalia’s death.
The claim: Within days of the Supreme Court justice’s 2016 death, Trump told conservative talker Michael Savage, “I’m hearing it’s a big topic. It’s a horrible topic but they’re saying they found the pillow on his face, which is a pretty unusual place to find a pillow.” He added: “I can’t give you an answer. It’s just starting to come out now.”
Why it makes the list: The idea that a conservative Supreme Court justice would be assassinated in the final year of a Democratic president’s second and final term would obviously have been a historic American scandal. Trump wasn’t the only one suggesting it was possible, but the magnitude of the suggestion and the baselessness are jaw-dropping.
2. His stage-rusher was tied to ISIS.
The claim: In a tweet, Trump said of a man who rushed the stage at a rally in Ohio and was apprehended, “USSS [Secret Service] did an excellent job stopping the maniac running to the stage. He has ties to ISIS. Should be in jail.” He attached a video detailing the man’s alleged ties to ISIS.
Why it makes the list: Trump often uses suggestion to wield conspiracy theories, without technically subscribing to them. In this case, though, he flat-out said the man was tied to ISIS, which was debunked as a hoax. Then, when confronted with that evidence, Trump seemed baffled that it wasn’t true. He punctuated it all by declaring, infamously, “All I know is what’s on the Internet.”
1. It might not be his voice on the “Access Hollywood” tape.
The claim: After Trump apologized for his “locker room talk” on that tape, he privately floated the idea that it wasn’t actually him at all, according to the New York Times. “We don’t think that was my voice,” he reportedly told a GOP senator he was imploring to investigate.
Why it makes the list: There are many good Trump impersonators, but none who are that good. Also, he admitted to this at a very crucial juncture in the 2016 race. And the video also includes portions where he’s talking on camera.