Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump made 99 false claims over the two weeks that ended last Sunday.
The economy was Trump’s top subject of dishonesty, with 25 false claims. He made 22 false claims about military affairs, largely on account of his presence at a NATO summit. He made 15 false claims about NATO itself, 11 about impeachment.
Trump is now averaging 63 false claims per week since we started counting at CNN on July 8, 2019. He made 38 false claims last week, 61 the week before.
He is now up to 1,450 total false claims since July 8. A breakdown of the lowlights from the last two weeks:
The most egregious false claim: An imaginary restraining order
Trump has no shortage of factual ammunition for bashing former FBI senior counterintelligence official Peter Strzok and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page, who exchanged anti-Trump texts while being involved in the investigation into the Trump campaign’s relationship with Russia (and while having an affair).
But Trump is rarely satisfied with accurate attacks when he can do more damage to his foes’ reputations with inaccurate ones. At his December 10 campaign rally in Pennsylvania, he alleged that one of either Strzok or Page had obtained a restraining order against the other.
Most presidents try to limit their public storytelling to stories they know to be accurate. Not Trump, an eager purveyor of rumor and insinuation, he told the crowd: “I don’t know if it’s true. The fake news will never report it. But it could be true. No, that’s what I heard, I don’t know.”
There is not a hint of evidence that the story is true. Page tweeted that it was a “lie.”
The most revealing false claim: An assault in Maryland
Trump comes to many of his rally speeches armed with graphic accounts of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants. At the Pennsylvania rally, he recited accurate details of a horrifying recent Maryland case during which a man allegedly strangled and raped a woman who was trying to enter her apartment.
Then, appearing to ad-lib for a moment, Trump said, “She was raped and killed, strangled to death.”
The victim was not killed. Police reported that doctors said she could have been killed by the strangulation, but she survived.
We might be inclined to think Trump had made an innocent error had he not done this kind of needless exaggerating before. At one event last year, for example, he began to read out his text’s accurate claim that the MS-13 gang on Long Island, New Yorkhad called for the murder of a police officer, then decided to turn it into a false claim that MS-13 actually did murder the police officer.
The most absurd false claim: Rewriting campaign history
Trump’s general approach to history: if you don’t like it, rewrite it.
The Louisiana governor candidate for whom Trump campaigned hard, Eddie Rispone, lost to incumbent John Bel Edwards by 2.7 percentage points. Trump claimed twice this month that Rispone lost by less than one percentage point.
And that was not the month’s most egregious attempt to revise his political past. At the NATO summit, Trump told reporters that, with the exception of that race in Louisiana and another governor’s race in Kentucky, “I’ve won virtually every race that I’ve participated in.”
“Virtually” is vague, but Trump was wrong however you slice things. He was omitting the defeats of two Alabama Senate candidates he had touted at rallies in 2017, a Virginia governor candidate he had repeatedly tweeted to promote in 2017, and a Pennsylvania congressional candidate and Montana and West Virginia Senate candidates he had promoted at rallies in 2018.
Here’s the full list of 99 false claims, starting with the new ones we haven’t previously included in one of these roundups:
Foreign and military affairs
The Turkey-Syria border
“We pulled our soldiers out and we said, ‘You can patrol your own border now. I don’t care who you do it with, but we’re not going to have soldiers patrolling the border that’s been fought over for 2,000 years.'” — December 3 exchange with reporters at meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron
“And I read a couple of stories just two days ago that, ‘Wow, that deal that Trump did with Turkey’ — because I want to get our soldiers out of there. I don’t want to be policing a border that’s been fought over for 2,000 years.” — December 3 exchange with reporters at meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg
Facts First: There is no basis for the claim that there has been fighting over the Turkey-Syria border for 2,000 years; modern-day Turkey and Syria were both part of the Ottoman Empire that was only dissolved after World War, and the border between them is less than 100 years old.
“The border he refers to — the Turkish-Syria border — was established in 1923 with the Treaty of Lausanne and the founding of the Republic of Turkey. The exception to this is the province of Hatay, which passed from Syrian to Turkish control following a referendum,” said Lisel Hintz, assistant professor of international relations and European studies at Johns Hopkins, who called Trump’s claims “patently and irresponsibly false.” Of the current conflict between Turkey and Kurdish groups based in Turkey and in Syria, Hintz added, “Not only have these groups not been fighting over a border for 2,000 years, none of these groups or even the border in question existed 200 years ago.”
Augusta University history professor Michael Bishku said “Trump is totally incorrect with his history.”
Germany’s military spending
“…Germany is paying 1 to 1.2% — at max, 1.2% — of a much smaller GDP. That’s not fair.” — December 3 exchange with reporters at meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg
Facts First: Trump’s “max” figure for Germany’s defense spending was out of date. While Germany did spend 1.24% its gross domestic product (GDP) on defense in 2018, according to NATO figures, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government increased defense spending in 2019 to an estimated 1.38% of GDP, according to NATO — still shy of the alliance’s 2% target, but higher than Trump said.
Trump might have simply been unaware of the German increase, but it also appeared in NATO’s official report in June. (At that point, the alliance estimated that Germany would be at 1.36% of GDP this year.)
Military spending by NATO members, part 1
On 10 separate instances, Trump made inaccurate claims about increases in military spending by NATO members. He claimed that: 1) He “got NATO countries to pay 530 Billion Dollars a year more.” 2) This increase in NATO spending will recur on an annual basis. 3) The increase will be $400 billion in “three years.”
Facts First: Trump was inaccurate in all three ways. NATO says that, by 2024, non-US members will have spent a total of $400 billion more on defense than they did in 2016 — not that they will be spending $400 billion more “a year.” Trump’s math was faulty when he added the $130 billion current increase over 2016 levels to the $400 billion increase expected by 2024; the $400 billion figure includes the $130 billion. And, again, the $400 billion increase is expected by 2024, not in “three years.”
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg explained during a meeting with Trump on December 3 that non-US NATO members have added a total of $130 billion to their defense budgets since 2016. By 2024, Stoltenberg said, “this number will increase to $400 billion.”
NATO has made clear in public documents and statements that the $400 billion figure represents the planned cumulative spending increase for non-US members since 2016; NATO is not saying that these countries will be spending $400 billion more every year, as Trump suggested. NATO spokesman Matthias Eichenlaub pointed CNN to November comments in which Stoltenberg said that the $400 billion was an “accumulated increase in defense spending by the end of 2024.”
We won’t call Trump wrong when he takes credit for the spending increases, since Stoltenberg himself has repeatedly given him credit, but it’s worth noting that non-US members began boosting their defense budgets following Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea and a 2014 NATO recommitment to the alliance’s target of having each member spend 2% of Gross Domestic Product on defense.
Military spending by NATO members, part 2
“In the 3 decades before my election, NATO spending declined by two-thirds…” — December 2 tweet
Facts First: There are numerous possible ways to interpret Trump’s vague claim, but we could not find any way to parse the data that resulted in a finding that “NATO spending declined by two-thirds” over the three decades prior to Trump’s election in 2016. Neither could two experts we asked to delve into the numbers.
“Short answer, this tweet makes no sense to me, and I don’t see any evidence backing up this ‘decline by two thirds’ business,” said Timothy Andrews Sayle, author of the book Enduring Alliance: A History of NATO and the Postwar Global Order and an assistant professor of history and director of the international relations program at the University of Toronto.
Expert Pieter Wezeman, senior researcher in the arms and military expenditure program at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, noted that Trump might have been closer to correct had he said that the share of gross domestic product that European NATO members spent on defense declined by two-thirds in the three decades before his election. According to official NATO data, European NATO members were spending an average of 3.7% GDP on defense between 1980 and 1984 and 3.5% in 1986; the figure had dropped to about 1.5% in 2016, a reduction at least in the general vicinity of “two-thirds.”
But, again, Trump did not say the more-accurate version of the claim. And when you crunch the actual military spending by NATO members in various ways — we won’t delve into all of the possible ways the experts said Trump’s comment could be interpreted — there was nowhere near a two-thirds decline, both experts found.
Accounting for inflation, official NATO data shows a decline well under one-third in military spending by non-US members between 1989, as the Cold War with the Soviet Union neared an end, and 2016. (NATO noted that additional countries were added to the alliance over that period, so it is not an apples-to-apples comparison.) Wezeman analyzed the data using only the NATO countries that were part of the alliance in 1986 and still found an inflation-adjusted decrease of well under one-third.
CNN’s coverage of Middle East protests
Trump said that, after he announced in 2017 that he would move the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, “A day went by, and a second day went by, and there was no violence. I heard there was going to be massive violence. They showed violence — because about 20 people were violent in the front row, but there was nobody behind them. So CNN had the cameras very low, pointing to the sky … They said, ‘Massive crowds have gathered. Massive crowds.’ And I looked, I said, ‘That’s a strange angle. I’ve never seen that angle.’ It was like — you had a cameraman sitting on the floor pointing up. But every once in a while, you say, ‘There’s nobody behind the people in the front row. What’s going on?’ And it was a con. It was fake news as usual.” — December 7 speech to the Israeli American Council National Summit
Facts First: CNN’s coverage of these 2017 protests did not use deceptive camera angles or exaggerate the size of the crowds. (FactCheck.org, which conducted its own in-depth review of CNN’s coverage, also found no evidence for Trump’s claims.)
It is possible Trump was referring to a CNN report from the West Bank on December 7, 2017, the day after Trump’s announcement about the embassy. The camera bobbed upward and downward during the last portion of segment — but only because the photojournalist carrying the camera was running from tear gas being used by Israeli forces.
CNN reporter Ian Lee, who now works for CBS, said in the report that “you are seeing a lot of people go out in the street and voice their anger,” but Lee did not describe the crowds as “massive.” CNN’s article on the day’s protests, written by Lee and two others, included the following sentences: “Speaking in Jerusalem, Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told CNN that protests there were relatively small and had been largely contained. ‘We’ve dealt with much larger, both in terms of number, scale, size, seriousness of incidents.'”
In a December 12, 2017, report on subsequent West Bank protests, CNN senior international correspondent Arwa Damon said, “The number of Palestinians who have taken to the streets remains, relatively speaking, low.” She said that the clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces were “in fact, a little muted, at least by what the expectations were.”
Trump is correct that there was not major violence at protests immediately following his December 2017 announcement, but there was at protests on the day the Jerusalem embassy was officially opened in May 2018. The New York Times reported that day: “By late in the evening, 58 Palestinians, including several teenagers, had been killed and more than 1,350 wounded by gun fire, the (Israeli) Health Ministry said. Israeli soldiers and snipers used barrages of tear gas as well as live gunfire to keep protesters from entering Israeli territory. The Israeli military said that some in the crowds were planting or hurling explosives, and that many were flying flaming kites into Israel; at least one kite outside the Nahal Oz kibbutz, near Gaza City, ignited a wildfire.”
Adam Schiff’s comments and defamation law
“This guy is sick. He made up the conversation. He lied. If he didn’t do that in the halls of Congress, he’d be thrown into jail. But he did it in the halls of Congress, and he’s given immunity.” — December 3 exchange with reporters at meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Facts First: Trump was correct that Rep. Adam Schiff has legal immunity under the Constitution for comments he made at a House committee meeting in September about Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. (We’ve written that those comments were at least confusing.) However, Trump was wrong when he said Schiff would be “thrown into jail” if he had made these comments outside of Congress.
Let’s temporarily set aside the question of the accuracy or inaccuracy of Schiff’s remarks. Apart the fact that it would be exceedingly unusual for an elected official to be criminally prosecuted for offering a rendition of the President’s comments, even an inaccurate rendition, there is no law under which Schiff might conceivably be charged: as PolitiFact noted, there is no criminal defamation law in Washington, D.C. (where Schiff was speaking), in California (Schiff’s home state), or in federal law.
A quote from Fox News, part 1
“‘The Democrats haven’t come up with a smocking (sic.) gun. Nancy Pelosi, by raising this to the level of Impeachment, has raised the bar impossibly high. This comes after three years of nonstop investigations of Trump, the Russian collusion narrative, the Mueller Report, & now the American people are supposed to believe that this simply isn’t a part of everthing (sic.) they’ve been trying to do for the last three years? I think it is really a hard sell for Nancy Pelosi.’ @DanHenninger The Wall Street Journal.” — December 8 tweet
Facts First: Trump omitted the portion of Henninger’s comments on Fox News in which Henninger said things less favorable to Trump — such as that the House of Representatives could have voted to censure him for trying to get Ukraine to investigate former vice president Joe Biden. In between the sentences Trump quoted, Henninger said, “Everyone can agree or disagree about the rightness or wrongness of what Donald Trump did with the president of Ukraine, intervening, trying to get him to investigate Joe Biden. And indeed that’s a voteable issue; voters can make up their minds about that, and indeed the House could have voted to censure Donald Trump, the will of the House being that this is wrong.”
We give Trump significant latitude to make errors when quoting people on television, but we call it a false claim when he alters the meaning of the quote with major changes or omissions.
A quote from Fox News, part 2
“‘The American people are going to see this for what it is. It is a political effort by the Democrats, and the President certainly doesn’t have to aid in the Impeachment effort.’ Robert Ray @MariaBartiromo” — December 2 tweet
Facts First: Trump again omitted an unfavorable and significant part of the quote. This time, he left out Ray saying that Democrats may (or may not) be correct that impeachment will help their chances in the 2020 election.
Here’s what Ray said on Fox News, with the key Trump omission in italics: “I think the American people are going to see this for what it is. I think they do understand at bottom that this is a political effort. The Democrats have made a calculation that this is their best way forward in order to maximize their chances in the 2020 election. They may be right or they may be wrong about that, that remains to be seen. But the President certainly doesn’t have to aid in the Impeachment effort.”
The Louisiana governor race
“And after getting them into a runoff, he picked up 14 points because they thought he was going to lose to a popular governor — John Bel Edwards. Good guy. Popular governor. He almost won. He lost by less than a point.” — December 3 exchange with reporters at meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg
“And Louisiana was a long shot. It was less than 1%. He came up 12 or 14 points — a lot.” — December 3 exchange with reporters at meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Facts First: Republican Eddie Rispone lost the Louisiana governor race to Democratic incumbent John Bel Edwards by about 2.7 percentage points, 51.33% to 48.67%, not by “less than a point” or “less than 1%.”
(In addition, Trump’s claim that Rispone had gained 12 or 14 points is highly questionable. Trump may have been referring to a single poll, a month before the vote, that had Rispone down 16 points, but most polls had the race in the single digits.)
Trump’s campaign history
“But with the exception of those two races (in Louisiana and Kentucky), where I had a huge impact because I raised them up almost to victory and they had no chance — with the exception of those two, I’ve won virtually every race that I’ve participated in.” — December 3 exchange with reporters at meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg
Facts First: Though many of the Republican candidates for whom Trump has campaigned have gone on to win, it’s not true that Trump has won “virtually every race” in which he has participated. The following candidates were all defeated after Trump touted them at campaign rallies: Alabama Republican Senate primary candidate Luther Strange in 2017, Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore in 2017 after he beat Strange in the primary, Pennsylvania Republican congressional candidate Rick Saccone in 2018, Montana Republican Senate candidate Matt Rosendale in 2018 and West Virginia Republican Senate candidate Patrick Morrisey in 2018.
Virginia Republican governor candidate Ed Gillespie also lost in 2017 after Trump tweeted repeatedly to promote him.
The Mueller investigation
“An overthrow of government”
“This was an overthrow of government. This was an attempted overthrow. And a lot of people who were in on it, and they got caught. They got caught red-handed.” — December 9 remarks at roundtable on school choice
Facts First: There is no evidence that the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s relationship with Russia was an “attempted overthrow” of Trump.
Michael Horowitz, inspector general for the Justice Department, found “basic and fundamental errors” in the FBI’s handling of applications for surveillance of former Trump campaign foreign policy aide Carter Page under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Horowitz emphasized the seriousness of these mistakes in his December report and congressional testimony.
But Horowitz did not find evidence that the department or the FBI in particular were attempting some sort of coup — nor even that there had been intentional misconduct. Horowitz found that the FBI had a legitimate basis to open the investigation into the Trump campaign’s relationship with Russia and that the decisions to investigate the campaign and individual campaign aides were not driven by political bias.
During Horowitz’s congressional testimony, Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal asked him, “Is there any evidence that you found that the FBI tried to overthrow the president?” Horowitz responded, “No, we found the issues we identified here. That’s what we found.” When Blumenthal said, “I didn’t find any conclusion that the FBI meddled or interfered in the election to affect the outcome,” Horowitz replied, “We did not reach that conclusion.”
Peter Strzok and Lisa Page
Mocking former FBI lawyer Lisa Page and former FBI senior counterintelligence official Peter Strzok, who had an affair while working together, Trump said, “This poor guy — did I hear he needed a restraining order after this whole thing, to keep him away from Lisa? That’s what I heard. I don’t know if it’s true. The fake news will never report it. But it could be true. No, that’s what I heard, I don’t know.” — December 10 campaign rally in Hershey, Pennsylvania
Facts First: There is no evidence that either Strzok or Page ever obtained or sought a restraining order against the other. Page said on Twitter: “This is a lie. Nothing like this ever happened.”
Deportations to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador
“And Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador — we signed a very important agreement with each. When their people come into our country, they weren’t taking them back. Now they take them back and they say, thank you very much. They weren’t taking them back. If we had a murderer from Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, we want to bring them back — under past administrations, they bring them, they said, ‘We don’t want them. Don’t land your plane with us.’ They say, ‘Thank you very much. We will take them back.’ Because we’ve let them know the price is very bad if they don’t do that.” — December 10 campaign rally in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
Facts First: Trump was mixing up two separate issues. While the Trump administration does have new agreements with all three countries, those agreements are related to the handling of people who come to the US seeking asylum, not criminals the US is seeking to deport. In 2016, just prior to Trump’s presidency, none of the three countries was on the list of countries that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) considered “recalcitrant” (uncooperative) in accepting the return of their citizens from the US.
Randy Capps, director of research for US programs at the Migration Policy Institute, a Washington think tank, confirmed that Trump was “confusing” different things. Capps said Trump was “way off base” on this claim.
Capps noted that in the 2016 fiscal year, the last full year before Trump took office, ICE reported that Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador ranked second, third and fourth for the country of citizenship of people being removed from the US. The same was true in the 2017 fiscal year, which encompassed the end of Barack Obama’s presidency and the beginning of Trump’s. ICE did not identify any widespread problems with deportations to these countries.
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 three countries simply “weren’t taking them back.”
An arrest in Maryland
“Since Montgomery County, Maryland declared itself a sanctuary jurisdiction in July, we have already identified nine illegal aliens who have been arrested for rape, sexual assault, including a 26-year-old man charged with raping and viciously strangling a young, wonderful woman, who was entering her apartment, innocently entering her apartment. She was raped and killed, strangled to death.” — December 10 campaign rally in Hershey, Pennsylvania
Facts First: The victim in this August case was not killed. The Washington Post reported that the victim “was taken to a hospital for her injuries. Police said in a statement that ‘doctors advised detectives that the severity of the strangulation the victim suffered could have resulted in her death.'”
Trump was correct that nine undocumented immigrants have been charged with rape or sexual assault in this Maryland county since July, according to local media reports and a September tweet from Ken Cuccinelli, acting deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.
Beto O’Rourke and religion
“We had one candidate who turned out not to be too good a candidate, right? Beto. Beto. Remember? So he wanted to get rid of religion — the Bible.” — December 10 campaign rally in Hershey, Pennsylvania
Facts First: Unsuccessful Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke, the former Texas congressman, never proposed to “get rid of religion” or the Bible.
O’Rourke sparked controversy by proposing to strip tax-exempt status from religious institutions, including churches, that oppose same-sex marriage. O’Rourke said “there can be no reward, no benefit, no tax break” for any entity “that denies the full human rights and the full civil rights of every single one of us.”
Trump is free to criticize O’Rourke’s proposal as a violation of the First Amendment, but it’s a major exaggeration to claim that proposing to strip certain churches’ tax exemptions is the same as proposing to eradicate religion or the Bible.
Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax
“You’re not going to vote for Pocahontas, I can tell you that. You’re not going to vote for the wealth tax. ‘Yeah, let’s take 100% of your wealth away.'” — December 7 speech to the Israeli American Council National Summit
Facts First: Warren is not proposing to take away 100% of anyone’s wealth. Her wealth tax proposal is for “an annual 2% tax on every dollar of net worth above $50 million and a 6% tax on every dollar of net worth above $1 billion.”
Elizabeth Warren’s health care plan
“Her ridiculous plan would cost $52 trillion. That’s more money than we take in in one year, two years, three years, four years, five years, six years — about seven years. That’s for one year, $52 trillion.” — December 10 campaign rally in Hershey, Pennsylvania
Facts First: Warren’s campaign says her Medicare-for-All proposal would require a total of $52 trillion in health care spending over 10 years, not one year. (The Urban Institute think tank estimates that $52 trillion is also the amount that would be spent on health care under current law.) Trump is free to question the Warren campaign’s financial assumptions, but $52 trillion for one year is inaccurate.
Trump was also inaccurate when he suggested that $52 trillion is “about seven years” worth of federal revenue. The federal government took in $3.3 trillion in 2018; at that level, $52 trillion would actually represent about 16 years’ worth of federal receipts. Trump might have been attempting to refer to how Warren’s proposal would require $20.5 trillion in new spending by the federal government over the next decade; that is roughly six years of federal revenues at the present level, so Trump would be much closer to correct.
Warren has proposed a variety of ways to generate the $20.5 trillion, including higher taxes on wealthy people, increased corporate taxes, improved tax enforcement, new employer fees, and new payments from state and local governments.
The stock market
Trump was asked about the Dow falling 400 points early that day, December 3, in apparent response to comments he made earlier in the day about the state of trade talks with China. He responded, “Well it’s up — let me tell you. We took it up — it was about at 16,000 or 15,000. And now it’s almost at 30,000. It’s gonna be at 30,000.” — December 3 exchange with reporters at meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Facts First: The Dow has increased by more than a third during Trump’s presidency, but he was exaggerating where it started. The Dow opened (and closed) just under 20,000 points on the day of his inauguration, not at 15,000 or 16,000. If you go back to the day of his election, as Trump prefers to do, the Dow was over 18,000 points.
The Dow closed over 27,000 on December 3.
November jobs expectations
“The numbers came out, as you saw on Friday, with a number of jobs that nobody believed possible: 200 — well over 200,000. They were thinking about 50. Some people thought it would be 50,000, 60,000.” — December 9 remarks at roundtable on school choice
“It was announced that 266,000 jobs were added in November. And that shattered all expectations. They were thinking about 70,000. They were thinking about 90,000 — which isn’t so bad. Two hundred and sixty-six thousand.” — December 7 speech to the Israeli American Council National Summit/
“Just last week, we announced that we smashed expectations and created 266,000 jobs in November — a number that was unthinkable a day before. A day before, they were guessing, ‘Would it be 80? Would it be 90? Would it be 160?’ Somebody said — an optimist. And this was 266,000…” — December 12 speech at White House Summit on Child Care and Paid Leave
Facts First: While the number of jobs added by the US economy in November, 266,000, did exceed analysts’ expectations, those expectations were much higher than Trump claimed. The median estimate from economists surveyed by Reuters was 180,000 jobs added — and the lowest of the economists’ estimates was 120,000 jobs added. (So one of Trump’s many figures, the “160,000,” does fall within the range of estimates.)
Trump did not specify who he was talking about when he repeatedly referred to an unnamed “they”; it is certainly plausible that somebody somewhere thought that a mere 50,000, 60,000, 70,000, 80,000 or 90,000 jobs would be added. But Trump created the impression that he was talking about the expectations of economic experts.
The currencies of Brazil and Argentina
“Brazil and Argentina have been presiding over a massive devaluation of their currencies. which is not good for our farmers. Therefore, effective immediately, I will restore the Tariffs on all Steel & Aluminum that is shipped into the U.S. from those countries. The Federal Reserve should likewise act so that countries, of which there are many, no longer take advantage of our strong dollar by further devaluing their currencies.” — December 2 tweet
Facts First: While the Brazilian real and the Argentinian peso had declined against the US dollar in the weeks prior to Trump’s announcement, and for the year, experts say there was no evidence either country had been intentionally devaluing either currency. To the contrary, “the evidence shows that Argentina and Brazil have been trying to do the opposite of what President Trump accuses,” said Paul Angelo, fellow for Latin America Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. “In fact, this year alone the Brazilian government has repeatedly intervened to slow devaluation of the real and Argentina has spent hundreds of millions of dollars in August trying to shield the peso following a political shock.”
The Wall Street Journal reported after Trump’s announcement: “…few economists and analysts agreed with Mr. Trump’s claim that the two countries have been manipulating their currencies…Neither Brazil nor Argentina has been featured in the U.S. Treasury Department’s currency report, the official vehicle for designating nations as manipulators.” Bloomberg reported: “While it’s true the Brazilian real and Argentine peso have weakened against the greenback this year, policy makers in Brasilia and Buenos Aires appear worried rather than happy about this. ‘Trump should be thanking Brazil and Argentina,’ said Andre Perfeito, chief economist at Necton, a Sao Paulo-based brokerage. ‘Their governments have adopted measures that seek to rein in the depreciation of their currencies.'”
Russian energy production
Claiming that Russia wishes he had lost the election, Trump said, “We are now number one in the world in energy; Russia’s number three. We’re beating out Russia and Saudi Arabia.” — December 10 campaign rally in Hershey, Pennsylvania
Facts First: Russia was second in the world in petroleum and natural gas production every year from 2014 through 2018, far exceeding the production of third-place Saudi Arabia in each of those years, according to an August report from the US government’s Energy Information Administration. (Russia was in first place from 2008 through 2013.)
If you include “biofuels, and refinery processing gain, among other liquid fuels” in the count, as the Energy Information Administration did in a 2017 analysis, the US became number one in the world in 2012, not 2014. Regardless, Russia has consistently been in second place by this broader measure as well since the US became number .
No matter which measure you use, Trump’s use of the word “now” is arguably misleading. The US has been number one since the presidency of Barack Obama, whom Trump has repeatedly accused of perpetrating a “war on American energy.”
The American and Chinese economies
“We’re much larger than China now, because we’ve gone up and they’ve gone down.” — December 3 exchange with reporters at meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Facts First: The US has not just “now” become a larger economy than China; that was also the case before Trump took office. And China continues to close the gap: while China’s economy is growing at its slowest rate since 1992, It is still reporting growth greater than that of the US.
China reported 6% economic growth in the third quarter of 2019; the US reported 2.1% third-quarter growth. China’s official figures are not always reliable, but there is no doubt that growth is occurring. In October, the International Monetary Fund predicted 6.1% growth from China in 2019 and 5.8% growth in 2020.
Global warming and the oceans
Mocking fears about global warming, Trump said, “The ocean’s going to rise. One eighth of an inch within the next 250 years. We’re going to be wiped out!” — December 10 campaign rally in Hershey, Pennsylvania
Facts First: Trump was greatly understating scientists’ estimates of rising sea levels. Even in 80 years, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change expects sea levels to rise by a foot or more.
As FactCheck.org noted, a September report from the UN panel estimated an increase in the global mean sea level by about 1 feet to 2 feet over 1986-2005 levels by 2100 — even under a lower-carbon-emissions scenario; the report projected much higher increases in a scenario in which emissions were higher. “Under a higher emissions scenario, the report said, 2 to 3.5 feet of sea level rise are expected,” FactCheck.org noted. “By 2300 — three decades after the president’s timeframe — sea level rise is likely to be 2 to 3.5 feet, even under lower emissions, according to the IPCC report. With higher emissions, the likely range is between a whopping 7.5 to 18 feet.”
Here are the claims Trump made over these two weeks that we have previously fact checked in one of these weekly roundups:
Ukraine and impeachment
The timing of Rep. Adam Schiff’s comments
“He made up my statement, because — see, I did one thing very good. As soon as I heard about this deal, I released my statement immediately. But he had already made horrible statements.” — December 10 campaign rally in Hershey, Pennsylvania
Facts First: Trump can reasonably criticize Schiff for Schiff’s comments at a House Intelligence Committee hearing in September; as we’ve written before, Schiff’s mix of near-quotes from Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, his own analysis, and supposed “parody” was at the very least confusing. But Schiff spoke the day after Trump released the rough transcript, not before Trump released the transcript.
The accuracy of the whistleblower
“By the way, the whistleblower: the whistleblower defrauded our country, because the whistleblower wrote something that was totally untrue…They wrote something totally different from what I said.” — December 10 campaign rally in Hershey, Pennsylvania
“The whistleblower wrote a totally false statement. So it’s a fraud.” — December 13 exchange with reporters at meeting with Paraguayan President Description Mario Abdo Benítez
Facts First: The whistleblower’s account of Trump’s call with Zelensky has largely been proven accurate. In fact, the rough transcript released by Trump himself showed that the whistleblower’s three primary allegations about the call were correct or very close to correct. (You can read a full fact check here.)
The rough transcript
“They didn’t even know, probably, that we had it transcribed, professionally transcribed, word-for-word transcribed, so beautiful.” — December 10 campaign rally in Hershey, Pennsylvania
Facts First: The document released by the White House explicitly says, on the first page, that it is not an exact transcript of Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The National Security Council’s top Ukraine expert, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, testified to Congress that he tried to make edits to the document to include two things that were said on the call but not included in the document. Vindman testified that the document was “substantively correct,” but he made clear that it was not a verbatim account.
The whistleblower being “gone”
“Where’s the whistleblower? He’s disappeared, he’s gone…the whistleblower is gone. He flew the coop because he reported incorrectly…” — December 10 campaign rally in Hershey, Pennsylvania
“But once I released it, all of a sudden the second whistleblower disappeared. The first whistleblower, who was all set to testify, he — all of a sudden, he becomes this saint-like figure that they don’t need him anymore. The one that everybody wanted to see, including Schiff, was the whistleblower. Once I released the text of what happened — the transcript — that was the end. Everybody disappeared. So now there’s no informer. There’s no second whistleblower. Everybody has gone.” — December 13 exchange with reporters at meeting with Paraguayan President Description Mario Abdo Benítez
Facts First: There is no evidence that either the first whistleblower (who filed the complaint about Trump’s dealings with Ukraine) or the second whistleblower (whose lawyers said they had firsthand information corroborating claims made by the first whistleblower) are now somehow “gone,” let alone that they are “gone” because the first whistleblower was shown to be inaccurate.
“The whistleblowers have not vanished,” Bradley Moss, a colleague of Mark Zaid, a lawyer for the two whistleblowers, said on Twitter in October, when Trump made another version of this claim.
The first whistleblower’s lawyers, Zaid and Andrew Bakaj, wrote in the Washington Post in October: “Because our client has no additional information about the president’s call, there is no justification for exposing their identity and all the risks that would follow.”
The existence of the second whistleblower — who never planned to file a separate whistleblower complaint — was revealed after Trump released the rough transcript of his call with Zelensky, not before.
European assistance to Ukraine
“The other thing nobody remembers and nobody likes to talk about — and I talk about it all the time — is why isn’t Germany, why isn’t France, why aren’t other European countries paying? Because we’re paying. The suckers… Why aren’t European countries paying? Why isn’t France paying a lot of money? Why is it always the United States?” — December 13 exchange with reporters at meeting with Paraguayan President Description Mario Abdo Benítez
Facts First: European countries, including France and Germany, have provided hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of assistance to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion in 2014.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky acknowledged European “help” during his meeting with Trump at the United Nations in September, though he said the world’s efforts had been inadequate so far: “And, I’m sorry, but we don’t need help; we need support. Real support. And we thank — thank everybody, thank all of the European countries; they each help us. But we also want to have more — more.”
You can read a full fact check here.
“Breaking News: The President of Ukraine has just again announced that President Trump has done nothing wrong with respect to Ukraine and our interactions or calls.” — December 2 tweet
“The Ukrainian president came out and said, very strongly, that ‘President Trump did absolutely nothing wrong.'” — December 2 exchange with reporters before Marine One departure
“I had a very, very good conversation with the head of Ukraine. And, by the way, yesterday, he came out again and reaffirmed again that we had a very, very respectful, good conversation — that President Trump did nothing wrong.” — December 3 exchange with reporters at meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg
Facts First: Trump was mischaracterizing Zelensky’s comments in an interview published by Time magazine. Zelensky did not say Trump “did nothing wrong.”
Asked about “this issue of the quid pro quo” with regard to US military aid to Ukraine and the investigations Trump and his allies wanted, Zelensky responded, “Look, I never talked to the President from the position of a quid pro quo. That’s not my thing.” But Zelensky continued: “I don’t want us to look like beggars. But you have to understand. We’re at war. If you’re our strategic partner, then you can’t go blocking anything for us. I think that’s just about fairness. It’s not about a quid pro quo. It just goes without saying.”
Trump is entitled to tout Zelensky’s statement about not talking to Trump “from the position of a quid pro quo,” but those words aren’t equivalent to Zelensky saying Trump did nothing wrong.
Trump complained about an impeachment hearing that the House Judiciary Committee had scheduled, then said, “For the hearings, we don’t get a lawyer, we don’t get any witnesses.” — December 3 exchange with reporters at meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Facts First: Unlike the impeachment inquiry hearings that were held in November by the House Intelligence Committee, Trump was allowed to have his lawyer participate in the House Judiciary Committee proceedings in December. Trump declined the offer to have a lawyer appear at the particular hearing he was complaining about here, during which four constitutional law scholars appeared. Also, a Republican lawyer was permitted to question witnesses at the House Intelligence Committee hearings, though Trump’s own lawyers were not.
White House counsel Pat Cipollone said in a letter to Democratic House Judiciary Committee chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler that “an invitation to an academic discussion with law professors does not begin to provide the President with any semblance of a fair process.”
Though the Democrats got to control the witness lists, since they hold the House majority, the House Intelligence Committee did hear testimony from three former officials whom Republicans had requested as witnesses: Kurt Volker, the former special representative for Ukraine; Tim Morrison, former National Security Council senior director for Europe and Russia; and David Hale, undersecretary of state for political affairs.
Ivanka Trump and jobs
“Fourteen million people she’s gotten jobs for, where she would go into Walmart, she would go into our great companies and say, ‘They really want help. They really want you to teach them,’ because the government can’t teach like the companies can teach. And companies would take a half a million people, a million people. And her goal when she started it two years ago was 500,000 jobs; she’s done over 14 million.” — December 12 speech at White House Summit on Child Care and Paid Leave
Facts First: Ivanka Trump has obviously not “gotten jobs for” 14 million people. At the time, roughly 7 million jobs had been created during the entire Trump presidency.