The president crossed the 10,000 threshold on April 26, and he has been averaging about 16 fishy claims a day since then. From the start of his presidency, he has averaged about 12 such claims a day.
About one-fifth of these claims are about immigration, his signature issue — a percentage that has grown since the government shut down over funding for his promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. In fact, his most repeated claim — 172 times — is that his border wall is being built. Congress balked at funding the concrete barrier he envisioned, so he has tried to pitch bollard fencing and repairs of existing barriers as “a wall.”
False or misleading claims about trade and the investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign each account for about 10 percent of the total.
Trump’s penchant for repeating false claims is demonstrated by the fact that The Fact Checker database has recorded more than 300 instances in which he has repeated a variation of the same claim at least three times. He also now has earned 21 “Bottomless Pinocchios,” claims that have earned Three or Four Pinocchios and which have been repeated at least 20 times.
The president’s interview with Laura Ingraham on Fox News Channel during the D-Day commemorations on June 6 is emblematic of his approach to the facts. Here’s a sampling of some of his claims, drawn from the database:
“They [Mexico] send in $500 billion worth of drugs, they kill 100,000 people, they ruin a million families every year if you look at that, that’s really an invasion without the guns.”
This is a flawed estimate. The White House Council of Economic Advisers estimated in a 2017 report that “the economic cost of the opioid crisis was $504.0 billion, or 2.8 percent of GDP” in 2015. But that’s not all a result of drugs coming across the border. It also “includes individuals who abuse prescription painkillers such as OxyContin and Vicodin and individuals who abuse heroin or other illicit opioids,” the report said. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that prescription drugs were involved in more than 35 percent of all opioid overdose deaths in 2017.
“I would say Germany has not stepped up much, Germany’s paying 1 percent [to NATO], they should be paying much more than that. Well, think of it, 1 percent. So we protect Germany and then Germany takes advantage of us on trade.”
Trump never gets this correct. There are two types of funding for NATO: direct funding and indirect funding. Direct funding, for military-related operations, maintenance and headquarters activity, is based on gross national income — the total domestic and foreign output claimed by residents of a country — and adjusted regularly. With the largest economy in NATO, the United States pays the largest share — about 22 percent. Germany is second, with about 15 percent. Indirect funding refers to how much a country's defense spending is a percentage of the gross domestic product, and NATO members have set a goal of 2 percent of GDP by 2022. Germany in 2018 spent 1.23 percent of its GDP on defense, but this money does not go to NATO.
“Secretary [Jens] Stoltenberg [of NATO] has been maybe Trump’s biggest fan, to be honest with you, he goes around — he made a speech the other day, he said, 'Without Donald Trump, maybe there would be no NATO.’”
False. Stoltenberg had been complimentary of Trump’s jawboning on boosting NATO-member defense spending, but he made no such remark.
“They [Mexico] stole 32 percent of our car business with NAFTA, the stupidest deal, one of the truly stupid deals of our time, they stole 32,000 — they have 32 percent of our car business.”
It’s unclear where Trump gets this 30 percent estimate. The studies we reviewed indicate the North American Free Trade Agreement had a modest effect on the U.S. economy. Auto industry representatives and independent analysts seem to agree the NAFTA dynamics have helped rather than hindered automakers with U.S. operations. Mexico was a relatively small player in North American vehicle production before NAFTA, producing only 3 percent of the continent’s vehicles in 1987, and it now makes about 20 percent of light vehicles. The U.S. share of North American vehicle production was 70 percent in 2007 and is projected to be about 60 percent in 2020, according to a 2016 report by the Center for Automotive Research. But about 80 percent of Mexico’s production is for export. Mexico has signed nearly 50 free-trade agreements, and so much of the new auto production there is coming from Asia and Europe, not the United States. Moreover, unlike Mexico, the United States cannot export to many South American countries duty free because it does not have the same free-trade agreements.
“It’s [Mexico’s] fault also because they’re letting millions of people walk up through their country and they shouldn’t let anybody walk up through their country.”
The Central American migration phenomenon to the United States is driven by a mix of factors, including rampant gang violence and poverty in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Mexico has deported people from those countries more than 2 million times since 2001, and its numbers for apprehensions and deportations rival those of the United States. Migrants have a right under international law to petition any country for asylum, including the United States.
“What people don’t report is the letter [special counsel Robert S. Mueller III] had to do to straighten out his testimony because his testimony was wrong.”
False. Mueller has not corrected any element of his report or public statement on May 29.
“We’re taking in tens of billions of dollars [from China]. We had a 3.2 [percent] GDP first quarter. It’s always 1 percent, less than 1 percent, it’s always the worst quarter — we’re at 3.2, a point and a half above schedule. And you know why? Because so much money’s coming in from China. We’ve never took in any money from China.”
Virtually every economist says that Trump’s trade wars have helped slow economic growth, not enhance it. The money raised from tariffs is just a drop in the fiscal bucket. Meanwhile, tariffs have been collected on Chinese goods since the early days of the Republic. President George Washington signed the Tariff Act of 1789, when trade between China and the United States was already established. Tariffs on Chinese goods have generated at least $8 billion every year since 2009. But it’s not China that pays the tariffs; it’s American importers who generally pass on the costs to Americans in the form of higher prices.
“I’ll tell you the greatest people, the farmers, our patriot farmers and now they’re really — they’re going to benefit like — and you know, remember this about the farmers, for 15 years before I got here everything was coming down, so this didn’t happen.”
This statement requires context. In the past 15 years, developing nations have gained a larger share of agricultural trade, though the percentage held by North America has declined only slightly, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Meanwhile, U.S. agricultural exports grew steadily over the past two decades, reaching $140.47 billion in 2017, from $56.2 billion in 1995. Moreover, the United States has maintained a surplus in agricultural trade since 1960, which the agency says has helped counter the persistent deficit in nonagricultural U.S. merchandise trade.
“We had a really great time. There are those that say they have never seen the queen have a better time, a more animated time.”
This is not a credible claim Trump makes about his interactions with Queen Elizabeth II.
Note: The Fact Checker welcomes academic research into the Trump claims database. Recent examples include Erasmus University, University College London and the University of California at Santa Barbara. You can request our data files with an explanation of your research plans by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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