Among other things.
Fifty-six false claims over seven days (February 10 through February 16) is just about standard for this President. Trump is now averaging about 59 false claims per week since we started keeping track at CNN on July 8.
Immigration was the most frequent subject of Trump’s false claims, with 10, followed by the economy and Democrats at six each. He made five false claims apiece about the Mueller investigation, health care and impeachment.
Trump is now up to 1,873 total false claims since July 8.
The most egregious false claim: The “buses” to New Hampshire
The most revealing false claim: “Redemption money”
Some of Trump’s lies are extravagantly detailed, as if he has rehearsed a long imaginary script. Others are notable for their carelessness, as if he has decided that people will believe him no matter how little effort he has made to make the tale sound precise and convincing.
There is no such thing as “redemption money,” immigration experts said. Some of the experts thought Trump might have been attempting to refer, rather, to remittance money — money immigrants send back home to their countries of origin.
This wouldn’t have made the claim accurate, since Trump has not implemented any of his proposals to impound or tax remittance money to pay for the wall, but it might have seemed at least slightly more plausible if he had taken the time to memorize the right word.
The most absurd false claim: Impeachment polling
Here is the full list of 56 false claims, starting with the ones we haven’t previously included in a weekly roundup:
New Hampshire elections
A conspiracy theory about New Hampshire in 2016
Republicans voting in the Democratic primary in New Hampshire
“This has been an incredible state for us. It’s a state where the people are great, just great people. And we hear that there could be — because you have crossovers in primaries, don’t you? So I hear a lot of Republicans tomorrow will vote for the weakest candidate possible of the Democrats.” — February 10 campaign rally in Manchester, New Hampshire
Trump might have meant to refer to independents or even registered Democrats who are supportive of Republicans, but what he actually said was inaccurate.
Trump introduced “The Snake,” a song whose lyrics he uses as an allegory for what he claims is the danger posed by migrants who seem harmless, and said, “This was a song from the 1950s, Al Green…” — February 10 campaign rally in Manchester, New Hampshire
“Redemption money” and the wall
“You do know who’s paying for the wall, don’t you? Right. Redemption from illegal aliens that are coming in. The redemption money is paying for the wall.” — February 10 campaign rally in Manchester, New Hampshire
Facts First: American taxpayers are paying for Trump’s border wall. Immigration experts say “redemption money” is not even a term they are familiar with. Some guessed that Trump might have meant remittance money — money immigrants send back home to their countries of origin — but that wouldn’t make Trump’s claim any more factual: he has not implemented any of his proposals to pay for the wall by taxing or impounding remittances.
The number of Venezuelans living in the US
Facts First: Trump was exaggerating the number of Venezuelans living in the US. There were about 363,000 Venezuelan-born people living in the US in 2018, plus an additional 129,000 people of Venezuelan origin, according to an analysis of Census Bureau data by Mark Hugo Lopez, director of global migration and demography research at the Pew Research Center.
The Mueller investigation
The legality of the Mueller investigation
“And if you look at the Mueller investigation, it was a scam because it was illegally set up.” — February 12 exchange with reporters at meeting with Ecuadorian President Lenín Moreno
Facts First: The Mueller investigation was not illegal.
Only two of the four prosecutors who withdrew from the Roger Stone case after their sentencing recommendation was reversed by the Department of Justice had worked on Mueller’s team. The claim that the prosecutors were “exposed” is misleading — they made their sentencing recommendation in a public court filing, not in secret. (Stone was later sentenced to 40 months in prison.)
Roger Stone’s crimes
CNN and the Roger Stone raid
Roger Stone’s witness tampering
Trump said of Randy Credico, the witness Roger Stone was convicted of tampering with: “That person said he had no idea he was going to jail for that. That person didn’t want to press charges.” — February 12 exchange with reporters at meeting with Ecuadorian President Lenín Moreno
Paul Manafort and judges
“But Paul Manafort was put in solitary confinement by the judge…” — February 13 radio interview with Geraldo Rivera
Facts First: Trump did not name “the judge,” but no judge put Manafort in solitary confinement.
While Manafort was held alone at Virginia’s Northern Neck Regional Jail, he was not subjected to the harsh conditions commonly associated with solitary: he was given a large private room, bathroom, shower, workspace, phone and laptop. He even said during a monitored phone call that he was being treated like a VIP, according to a court filing by prosecutors.
Robert Mueller and Congress
Facts First: It has not been proven that Mueller had applied for the job of FBI director when he met with Trump in May 2017. Mueller’s testimony — that he met with Trump because he had been asked to provide advice on the vacant job of FBI director, not because he was seeking the job again — has been corroborated by former senior Trump aide Steve Bannon.
Bannon, who was serving as White House chief strategist at the time, told Mueller’s team that the White House had invited Mueller “to offer a perspective on the institution of the FBI,” according to the Mueller report. The Mueller report also said: “Bannon said that, although the White House thought about beseeching Mueller to become Director again, he did not come in looking for the job.”
Ukraine and impeachment
Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman’s claims about Trump’s call
Vindman’s response to the call
Trump said Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council before he was ousted earlier this month, “ran and said he didn’t like the call. First of all, that’s very insubordinate. Why wouldn’t he go to his, his immediate — you know, he went to Congress or he went to Schiff or he went to somebody.” — February 13 radio interview with Geraldo Rivera
Vindman did eventually speak to Congress in the impeachment inquiry, but only under subpoena.
A claim in the New York Post
John Bolton and Senate confirmation
James Wolfe and classified information
Trump said: “Look, you had somebody — just recently, you saw what happened. He got two months. He got sentenced to two months for leaking classified information at the highest level.” And: “But think of it: A man leaks classified information — highly classified. They give him two months.” — February 12 exchange with reporters at meeting with Ecuadorian President Lenín Moreno
The inspector general and Andrew McCabe
Facts First: Department of Justice inspector general Michael Horowitz did not recommend the firing of former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe.
The 2008, 2016 and 2020 elections
Hillary Clinton’s campaign spending
Trump claimed it would be “easy” to beat Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg. When interviewer Geraldo Rivera noted that Bloomberg has a lot money, Trump said, “Yeah, he’s got money but, you know, they spent $2 billion on me, Hillary Clinton, and mostly negative ads, and I won. And I won really easily if you look at — you know, the Electoral College, I won some states that were — I won by massive numbers. She spent $2 billion. I mean, they had a $2 billion campaign.” — February 13 radio interview with Geraldo Rivera
John McCain and the 2008 election
Trump said he thought Sen. Mitt Romney should have beaten President Barack Obama in the 2012 election, then said of 2008 Republican nominee John McCain: “I don’t — I’m not a McCain fan, never was. But I didn’t think he could have possibly won that one because, you know, he was handed over sort of a rough time in terms of many different things. And first African American — I said that the whole thing was really stacked against McCain. And again, I’m not a fan, but I never said he should have won.” — February 13 radio interview with Geraldo Rivera
Sen. Sherrod Brown
The US, ISIS and the Philippines
“But if you look back — if you go back three years ago, when ISIS was overrunning the Philippines, we came in and, literally, singlehandedly were able to save them from vicious attacks on their islands.” — February 12 exchange with reporters at meeting with Ecuadorian President Lenín Moreno
According to Carlos Conde, the Philippines researcher for Human Rights Watch’s Asia division, the militant groups “operated mainly on the southern island called Mindanao, but even then just a small portion of Mindanao.” Conde added that the conflict Trump may have been referring to happened only in one city, Marawi.
“There’s no way also that the US or any other foreign government can ‘singlehandedly’ engage in a battle like Marawi because the Philippine Constitution forbids it,” Conde told CNN. “Foreign troops and foreign military may help by providing intel, logistics, weapons but they can’t, technically, actively participate in combat.”
Henri Barkey, adjunct senior fellow for Middle East studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, who studies ISIS, said Trump’s claim is a “total fabrication.”
Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán
While complaining how Paul Manafort was put in “solitary confinement,” Trump said, “El Chapo I don’t think was placed in solitary confinement.” — February 13 radio interview with Geraldo Rivera
Past presidents and their lawyers
In an interview with Geraldo Rivera, Trump defended having personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to deal with the government of Ukraine.
“But also, other presidents had ’em. You know FDR had a lawyer, who was practically, you know, was totally involved with government. Eisenhower had a lawyer. They all had lawyers. Bill Clinton had a lawyer. You know he had a very good lawyer, you know (who) that was. They all had lawyers and they do things for ’em.” — February 13 radio interview with Geraldo Rivera
Facts First: Experts on all three former presidents disputed Trump’s characterization that they had personal lawyers who were “totally involved with government” in any manner resembling the way Giuliani was.
Tim Rives, deputy director and supervisory archivist of the Eisenhower Presidential Library, told CNN, “While Eisenhower employed numerous personal attorneys over the years, they were all used for routine estate planning and personal business purposes.”
As for Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jeffrey Engel, Director of the Center for Presidential History, told CNN, “I can think of no one that would possibly fit the description Trump offers.”
“FDR did have a right-hand do-it-all hard-jobs man: Harry Hopkins. But Hopkins was a social worker by training,” Engel said. “So Hopkins would fit the bill, of a ‘fixer’ if you will, but he was no lawyer.”
Engel added, “FDR used lawyers for law stuff; so too Clinton — and his closest ‘fixer,’ Vernon Jordan, was a lawyer. But I really don’t see any comparison between the type of government-engaged work by a private lawyer that Giuliani seems to be (doing).”
Clinton biographer David Maraniss elaborated upon Engel’s point, saying, “Clinton used personal lawyers at various times in his own defense and to protect himself from various charges but did not assign personal lawyers to go to a foreign country to solicit dirt on a possible opponent.”
Here are the repeat false claims we have previously fact checked in a weekly roundup:
Deportations to Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Mexico
Trump claimed twice that, before his presidency, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Mexico would not accept the return of criminals the US wanted to deport. He said on one of these occasions: “You couldn’t bring them back. They wouldn’t take them. We could catch a murderer from Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador. We bring them back and they say, ‘Don’t land your plane. Your bus can’t come in. Your van can’t come in. We don’t want them. We don’t want them back.”https://www.cnn.com/”
In July 2016, ICE deputy director Daniel Ragsdale testified to Congress that there were some exceptions to the rule: “It is important to note that while countries may generally be cooperative, sometimes they may delay or refuse the repatriation of certain individuals. For example, El Salvador, a country that is generally cooperative, has recently delayed the issuance of a number of travel documents where there is no legal impediment to removal.”
So Trump could have accurately made a less sweeping claim. But he was exaggerating when he declared that the four countries simply “weren’t taking them back.”
Obama and DACA
Speaking of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative created by the Obama administration in 2012 to protect “DREAMers,” people brought illegally to the US as children, Trump said, “You know, President Obama signed that bill. It was an executive order. And when he signed it, he said — essentially, he said, ‘I don’t have the right to do this, but I’m going to do it anyway.”https://www.cnn.com/” — February 10 remarks at speech and question and answer session with governors
Mexican soldiers and the border
Trump said three times that Mexico has put 27,000 soldiers on the US border.
Facts First: Mexico has deployed around 27,000 troops, but Trump exaggerated how many are being stationed near the US border in particular. CNN reported on November 2: “Nearly 15,000 troops are deployed to Mexico’s northern border, where they’ve set up 20 checkpoints, Mexican Defense Minister Luis Cresencio Sandoval said last week at a press briefing on the country’s security strategy. At the southern border, 12,000 troops are deployed and have set up 21 checkpoints.”
Democrats and borders
Trump said on two occasions that the Democrats support “open borders.”
Facts First: Even 2020 Democratic presidential candidates who advocate the decriminalization of the act of illegally entering the country, such as Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, do not support completely unrestricted migration, as Trump suggests.
Democrats and the border wall
“But when you want to get money for a wall that most of the people in the Democrat Party wanted five years ago — they just didn’t like it when I announced that we were going to build it — they were unable to get it built. They had the money, but they were unable to get it built because it takes talent to build things, and they don’t have that talent. But we got it built.” — February 14 speech to National Border Patrol Council members
Facts First: Starting in 2015, about five years ago, Trump was campaigning for the presidency on a controversial promise to build a border wall; there is no evidence the Democrats wanted a wall at that time.
Trump would have at least a slightly better case if he spoke of 2013, just shy of seven years ago, when Democrats supported a comprehensive immigration reform bill that included 700 miles of border fencing. But that was fencing, not the giant wall Trump has proposed — and many Democrats supported it only as part of a package that included provisions they wanted, most notably a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
For example, Mary Landrieu, then a Democratic senator for Louisiana, voted for the final bill that included the fencing. But she said during the debate: “I’m not going to waste taxpayers’ money on a dumb fence…I’ve been in tunnels under the fence. I’ve watched people climb over the fence. I’m not going to send taxpayers’ money down a rat hole.”
San Diego and the border wall
Trump told a story about how, “in San Diego, they were begging us to build a wall,” and then “as soon as it was built, they said, ‘We don’t want the wall,”https://www.cnn.com/” so Trump threatened to take the wall down and move it elsewhere, and “they said, ‘No, no, no, don’t do that.”https://www.cnn.com/” — February 14 speech to National Border Patrol Council members
Facts First: It is possible that someone or some group from San Diego told him they wanted a border wall, but there is no basis for Trump’s suggestion that the city itself ever begged him for a wall, let alone begged him for a wall, changed its mind, and then reversed itself again and urged him to keep the wall. San Diego’s city council voted 5-3 in 2017 to express opposition to a wall, and even the Republican mayor, Kevin Faulconer, has made clear that he is opposed.
Ukraine and impeachment
Zelensky and the phone call
“A couple of things: The President, as you know, of Ukraine stated very strongly that there was no pressure, there was no anything, there was nothing wrong.” — February 11 exchange with reporters at signing ceremony for the Supporting Veterans in STEM Careers Act
Facts First: Zelensky did say there had been “no pressure” from Trump and made other statements to that effect, but he has not gone so far as to say Trump did nothing wrong.
The timing of Rep. Adam Schiff’s comments
“….you look at Shifty Schiff. Take a look at what he did. He made up my conversation. And then we dropped the transcript, and he almost had a heart attack.” — February 11 exchange with reporters at signing ceremony for the Supporting Veterans in STEM Careers Act
Trump has repeatedly inverted the timing of Schiff’s comments in relation to the release of the rough transcript.
Corrections to the rough transcript
“And then they all went wild when I said that we have transcripts of the calls. And they turned out to be totally accurate transcripts. And if anybody felt there was any changes, we let them make it because it didn’t matter. So we had accurate — totally accurate transcripts.” — February 11 exchange with reporters at signing ceremony for the Supporting Veterans in STEM Careers Act
Vindman testified that he had wanted to change the words “the company” to “Burisma,” the company name he said Zelensky had used on his call with Trump. And Vindman testified that he had wanted to add in Trump saying “there are recordings” related to former vice president Joe Biden and a Ukrainian prosecutor Biden had pushed Ukrainian leaders to fire. (Trump was vague about what he meant; in public comments last fall, Trump brought up a video of Biden at a 2018 event telling the story of his effort to get the prosecutor ousted.)
Trade and China
The size of the US economy and China’s economy
“When I was running, and long before I was running, I’d always heard that China…was going to be the number one economy in the world during 2019. Actually, it was 2018, 2019. You all heard it, that we were going to go to number two…But we are now so far ahead of China, in terms of the size of our economy…We, right now, have — we’re so far ahead of them. They’re not catching us for a long time.” — February 10 remarks at speech and question and answer session with governors
Facts First: The US economy remains much bigger than China’s economy in terms of total output, but China has continued to close the gap even though its own growth has slowed. In other words, it’s not true the US is only “now” so far ahead because of growth during Trump’s time in office. In fact, the US lead has continued to shrink under Trump.
It’s not clear where Trump heard China would pass the US as the largest economy “in 2019.” Derek Scissors, a resident scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute and an expert on the Chinese economy, told CNN in 2019 that there were some predictions at the beginning of that decade that China would pass the US around 2019, but that experts were not saying this around the time Trump took office.
The history of tariffs on China
“Massive tariff and tariff money is pouring in and has poured in, poured in by the billions and billions. We never took in 10 cents from China.” — February 10 campaign rally in Manchester, New Hampshire
Trump’s claim also ignores China’s hundreds of billions of dollars in purchases of US goods — more than $300 billion during Trump’s presidency alone.
China and nuclear arms negotiations
“Now, at the same time, Russia and China both want to negotiate with us to stop this craziness of spending billions and billions of dollars on nuclear weapons.” — February 10 remarks at speech and question and answer session with governors
Ivanka Trump and jobs
“She’s gotten 15 million jobs. Training, that’s what she does. She goes to the big companies, gets them to train people. Walmart, a million people — different companies, millions of people but…she had a goal of 500,000 jobs when she started at the beginning and she — she beat that in about two months. And now it’s 15 million jobs…” — February 13 radio interview with Geraldo Rivera
Facts First: Ivanka Trump has not “gotten 15 million jobs.” At the time the President spoke here, roughly 7 million jobs had been created during the entire Trump presidency.
Trump said of Iran: “Their economy went down 25% last year. Their GDP is down so much. Nobody’s ever seen anything like it.” — February 13 radio interview with Geraldo Rivera
Aid to Puerto Rico
“I’ll tell you what, the best friend that Puerto Rico’s ever had, Geraldo, is me. They’d gotten $93 billion over a fairly short period of time. There’s not a state in the union that’s gotten that much money, not even close.” — February 13 radio interview with Geraldo Rivera
The EU and NATO
The formation of the European Union
“So, Europe has been treating us very badly. European Union. It was really formed so they could treat us badly. So they’ve done their job. That was one of the primary reasons.” — February 10 remarks at speech and question and answer session with governors
Facts First: Experts on the European Union say it was not formed to take advantage of or mistreat the United States.
“The President’s claims are preposterous. The European Communities (forerunner of the EU) were formed in the 1950s as part of a joint US-Western European plan to stabilize and secure Western Europe and promote prosperity, by means of trade liberalization and economic growth, throughout the shared transatlantic space,” Desmond Dinan, a public policy professor at George Mason University who is an expert in the history of European integration, said in response to a previous version of this claim.
US presidents have consistently supported European integration efforts.
“The EU was launched in 1993, on the shoulders of the European Communities, to promote peace and prosperity in the post-Cold War era, an era also of rapid globalization. American officials may have had their doubts about the feasibility of monetary union, and about the possibility of a Common (European) Security and Defense Policy, but the US Administration strongly supported further European integration in the 1990s,” Dinan said.
The US share of NATO spending
Trump said of NATO: “I went over, made a speech, and said, ‘You got to pay more.’ Because the United States was paying everything. Essentially, they were paying close to 100%.” — February 10 remarks at speech and question and answer session with governors
Facts First: The US was not “paying everything” or “paying close to 100%” of NATO before Trump’s presidency, whether literally or “essentially.”
NATO spending before Trump
Trump said that “NATO was going down like a rocket ship” until he became president. He continued, “I think my biggest fan in the whole world is Secretary General Stoltenberg, head of NATO. And he said he can’t believe it, because for 20 years it went down. It’s like a roller coaster dip. No — none of this (temporary stabilizing); just down. They paid less and less and less.” — February 10 remarks at speech and question and answer session with governors
Trump said he worked with Sen. Jerry Moran to do something “that couldn’t be done for 44 years, they say, and that’s Veterans Choice.” — February 11 remarks at signing ceremony for the Supporting Veterans in STEM Careers Act
“If I had one empty seat here, one empty seat in this massive arena, they’d say, ‘He didn’t sell out.’ But you know what? We have never had an empty seat from the day your future first lady and I came down the escalator. Never.” — February 10 campaign rally in Manchester, New Hampshire
Facts First: There have been empty seats at various Trump rallies since he came down an escalator to launch his campaign in 2015, including an October rally Minneapolis, a July rally in Greenville, North Carolina, an October 2018 rally in Houston and an April 2017 rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, according to journalists on the scene.
Trump promised twice to always safeguard protections for people with pre-existing conditions, once claiming, “We left it.”
Highway approval times
Trump touted a proposal to reduce the time it takes to get environmental approvals for infrastructure projects. He said, “Highways that were taking 12 years to get approved, 14, 15, 17, 21 years, we’re trying to get it down to one year.” He then added: “So we have it down to two years now, but we — I think we’re going to get it down to one.” — February 10 remarks at speech and question and answer session with governors
Facts First: There is no apparent basis for Trump’s claim that it now takes just two years to get environmental approvals for highways. According to the Federal Highway Administration’s National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) page, the department’s median environmental impact statement completion time was 47 months in 2018, up from 46 months in 2017 and 44 months in 2016.
Brad Karkkainen, a University of Minnesota law professor and expert on environmental and land use law, said in an email in response to a previous version of this Trump claim that he has “never heard of a highway project taking 18 or 20 years, though it’s certainly possible that when the median time was six or seven years, a few projects took twice as long, perhaps more.”
Prescription drug prices
“We’re also ready to lower drug prices very substantially. We did — last year was the first time in 51 years that drug prices — prescription drug prices — went down. First time in 51 years.” — February 10 remarks at speech and question and answer session with governors
The Consumer Price Index has limitations as a way to measure what is really happening with drug prices; it does not capture rebates paid by drug manufacturers. Other sources of data have shown an increase both years.
For example, the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science, which studies drug prices, found that “net drug prices in the United States increased at an estimated 1.5% in 2018.” The list price of brand name drugs rose 3.2%, on average, over the 12 months ending in September 2019, after adjusting for inflation, according to SSR Health, a consulting firm that captures about 90% of these medications sold in the US.
“And you know, I always say it, we want the cleanest air, the cleanest water. You know we have our cleanest numbers in many years this year, just got released, the cleanest numbers on carbon, on water, cleanliness, on air, purity, on, you know, air cleanness. I want the cleanest air.” — February 13 radio interview with Geraldo Rivera
Additionally, there were more “unhealthy air days” for sensitive groups in 2018 than in 2016 — 799 days across the 35 American cities surveyed by the EPA, up from 702. Though there were significantly more “unhealthy air days” in Obama’s first term than there have been in Trump’s, the lowest amount of unhealthy air days — 598 — occurred in 2014 under Obama.
Trump’s approval rating
It is possible Trump was taking an actual poll result and adding nine points because of what he claims is a phenomenon in which his supporters decline to tell pollsters that they support him. But even if there are some shy Trump supporters, that’s just not how approval ratings work; you can’t take the findings of a poll and give yourself a guessed number of additional approval points.
Trump was at 94% approval with Republicans in the latest Gallup poll at the time of his tweet. Even 95% would not be an all-time high. Gallup’s website features data on approval rating by party for every president since Harry Truman; George W. Bush hit 99% in Gallup polling after the 9/11 terrorist attacks of 2001. His father, George H.W. Bush, hit 97% at the end of the Gulf War in 1991. Reagan, Richard Nixon, and Dwight Eisenhower all went higher than 90%.
The existence of Obamacare
“But when I took over, I had a choice. We got rid of the most unpopular thing in Obamacare, almost got rid of Obamacare, but essentially we did.” — February 10 remarks at speech and question and answer session with governors
Facts First: The individual mandate, which required Americans to obtain health insurance, was indeed a key part of Obamacare — but Trump hasn’t killed Obamacare, essentially or otherwise. While he did eliminate the mandate, he has not eliminated Obamacare’s expansion of the Medicaid insurance program for low-income people, the federal and state marketplaces that allow people to shop for coverage, or the consumer subsidies that help many of them make the purchases.
The military under Trump
Trump claimed to have rebuilt a military that was depleted, saying: “Now, it has all brand-new jets.” — February 10 campaign rally in Manchester, New Hampshire