President Donald Trump made 66 false claims last week, using relentless dishonesty to try to defend his dealings with Ukraine and attack the whistleblower who complained about them.
Twenty-five of the 66 false claims were related to the Ukraine scandal.
Trump made 20 false claims on Twitter, 11 in a speech on Medicare at The Villages retirement community in Florida, and 10 in an exchange with reporters before he boarded Marine One to visit wounded soldiers.
Trump’s total was up from the week prior, when he made 59 false claims. He is now averaging 60 false claims per week for the 13 weeks we have checked at CNN.
The most egregious false claim: The whistleblower’s accuracy
Trump made a systematic effort to convince people that the whistleblower was highly inaccurate about his July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, saying nine times that the whistleblower was “almost completely wrong,” “way off” and such.
The whistleblower was highly accurate.
The whistleblower’s complaint featured a three-point list of key allegations about the call. The rough transcript released by the White House itself proves all three points are basically right: Trump sought to get Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden, to investigate the conspiracy theory about Democratic computer servers, and to speak to Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Attorney General William Barr.
The whistleblower described these requests as pressure, which Trump is entitled to dispute. But the underlying facts are not in dispute.
The most revealing false claim: An attack on Van Jones
We don’t give special prominence to false claims about people who work for CNN, but Trump’s story about CNN host Van Jones was just so weird.
We did an extended fact check here. In short: Trump, speaking to black conservatives, told a long story about how Jones, a black liberal who has praised him repeatedly over criminal justice reform, had neglected to praise him over criminal justice reform on a recent television show, then privately apologized to him.
We could find no evidence for the existence of a television show that resembled what Trump had said. Jones says none of this ever happened, that he never made any apology, and that he thinks…Trump might be confusing him with entertainer John Legend, whom Trump had previously criticized while complaining about people failing to praise him over justice reform.
Whether Trump was mixing up two very different black men or assailing someone who has gone out of his way to be fair to him, this saga says something unflattering.
The most absurd false claim: Ukraine talk
Trump’s call with Zelensky was the biggest story in Washington last week. Trump’s opponents were talking about it at great length.
Trump said people were not talking it at all.
“All I can tell you is this: When I speak to foreign leaders, I speak in an appropriate way. If you notice, they don’t mention the call that I had with the president of Ukraine. They don’t mention that because it was so good,” Trump told reporters.
Even by the standards of Trump’s usual reality-reframing efforts, this one was special.
Here’s this week’s full list of false claims, starting with the ones we haven’t previously included in a weekly update:
The Ukraine scandal
The whistleblower complaint (nine claims)
Trump claimed nine times that the whistleblower complaint about his July phone call with the president of Ukraine was largely inaccurate, calling the whistleblower’s description of the call, “totally wrong,” “totally inaccurate,” “almost completely wrong,” “way off” and a “fraud,” among other things.
Facts First: The whistleblower’s account of the call was largely 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.
The whistleblower reported that Trump “pressured” Zelensky to investigate Biden and his son Hunter Biden, to help in locating Democratic computer servers and to speak with Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Attorney General William Barr.
Trump can argue that he was making friendly requests, not applying pressure, but he did make all three requests.
The whistleblower also alleged that Trump suggested Zelensky might want to keep Ukraine’s prosecutor general, Yuriy Lutsenko, on the job. The rough transcript does not show Trump saying this. However, it is not a verbatim transcript.
The whistleblower’s information
“So if the so-called ‘Whistleblower’ has all second hand information, and almost everything he has said about my ‘perfect’ call with the Ukrainian President is wrong (much to the embarrassment of Pelosi & Schiff)…” — October 1 tweet
Facts First: Some of the whistleblower’s information came from others, but some did not. Michael Atkinson, the Trump-appointed inspector general for the intelligence community, noted that the whistleblower had “direct knowledge of certain alleged conduct.”
As we explained above, most of the whistleblower’s allegations about the call have been corroborated.
Mitch McConnell’s statement
“I read Mitch McConnell’s statement yesterday, and he read my phone call. And, as you know, he put out a statement that said that was the most innocent phone call he’s read. And I spoke to him about it, too. He read my phone call with the President of Ukraine. Mitch McConnell — he said, ‘That was the most innocent phone call that I’ve read.’ I mean, give me a break.” — October 3 exchange with reporters before Marine One departure
“I have a lot of respect for Mitch McConnell. I know that; I saw his statements. And he thinks that this is ridiculous. He thinks it’s unfair. I saw his statement yesterday that he put out where he read my phone conversation and he thought it was a wonderful conversation. And it was.” — October 4 exchange with reporters before Marine One departure
Facts First: Trump was exaggerating how positive McConnell’s statement was about his call with Zelensky. McConnell did say Democrats had “overplayed their hand” by making the call the “launching point” for their impeachment push — “It’s clear there is no quid pro quo that the Democrats were desperately praying for,” McConnell told Politico — but he did not describe the call as “wonderful” or say anything resembling “that was the most innocent phone call that I’ve read.”
A photo of the Bidens
“Sleepy Joe said he never spoke to the Ukrainian company, and then the picture came out where he was playing golf with the company boss and Hunter.” — October 6 tweet
Facts First: The photo Trump appeared to be referencing does not show Joe Biden playing golf with the “company boss” of Burisma Holdings, the Ukrainian natural gas company where his son Hunter Biden was a board member. The person in the photo is an American named Devon Archer, a longtime business associate of Hunter Biden who has also served on the Burisma board. A board member is not the “company boss” — nor an “exec,” as a previous Trump tweet had identified Archer.
The fourth person in the photo with Archer and the Bidens has not been publicly identified, but he is not Burisma owner Mykola Zlochevsky or top executive Taras Burdeinyi.
The call transcript
“… All because they didn’t know that I had a transcript done by very, very talented people, word for word, comma for comma, done by people that do it for a living. We had an exact transcript, and when we produced that transcript, they died, because you look at the whistleblower statement, and it’s vicious. Vicious.” — October 2 news conference with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö
Facts First: The document released by the White House explicitly says, on the first page, that it is not an exact transcript.
“A Memorandum of a Telephone Conversation (TELCON) is not a verbatim transcript of a discussion. The text in this document records the notes and recollections of Situation Room Duty officers and NSC policy staff assigned to listen and memorialize the conversation in written form as the conversation takes place. A number of factors can affect the accuracy of the record, including poor telecommunications connections and variations in accent and/or interpretation,” the document says.
Talk of the call
“All I can tell you is this: When I speak to foreign leaders, I speak in an appropriate way. If you notice, they don’t mention the call that I had with the President of Ukraine. They don’t mention that because it was so good.” — October 4 exchange with reporters before Marine One departure
Facts First: To the contrary, Trump’s call with Ukraine’s President was the subject of widespread discussion among members of Congress and in the media at the time; it was a central focus of Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.
Hunter Biden’s Ukraine salary (two claims)
“To have him get a billion and a half dollars, to have him — and now I’m hearing the number of $50,000 a month. Now I’m hearing the number of $50,000 a month is very low. It’s a much higher number that Biden’s son was getting per month. The fact is it’s much higher. And for him to — and for him, as a total — for him, as a totally unqualified person, to be getting hundreds of thousands a month is very, very (inaudible).” — October 4 exchange with reporters before Marine One departure
“It is INCREDIBLE to watch and read the Fake News and how they pull out all stops to protect Sleepy Joe Biden and his thrown out of the Military son, Hunter, who was handed $100,000 a month (Plus,Plus) from a Ukrainian based company, even though he had no experience in energy…” — October 6 tweet
Facts First: There was no basis for Trump to jump from “$50,000 a month” to “hundreds of thousands a month” just moments later, or to make the figure “$100,000.” The New York Times reported that Hunter Biden was paid “as much as $50,000 per month in some months” for his role on the board of directors of Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian natural gas company.
“Seven or eight times”
“… because the whistleblower report — didn’t he say, seven or eight times I said ‘quid pro quo’?” — October 2 news conference with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö
Facts First: The whistleblower report did not even use the words “quid pro quo,” much less specify a number of times Trump allegedly said them. Trump seemed to be confusing the whistleblower report with a Wall Street Journal article — published before the rough transcript was released — that said, “President Trump in a July phone call repeatedly pressured the president of Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden’s son, according to people familiar with the matter, urging Volodymyr Zelensky about eight times to work with Rudy Giuliani on a probe that could hamper Mr. Trump’s potential 2020 opponent.”
The “eight” figure may not be correct. (Trump did not mention Biden’s son or Giuliani eight times in the rough transcript — but it is not an exact transcript, and ABC News counted eight times that Trump mentioned that he made some sort of request of Zelensky.) Regardless, the figure is not from the whistleblower report.
A newspaper mix-up
Speaking to reporters at an October 2 meeting with the Finnish President, Trump told a story about how he knew a new book on his immigration policy was inaccurate because it was written by journalists from The Washington Post.
Facts First: The Post had nothing to do with the book, “Border Wars: Inside Trump’s Assault on Immigration.” It was written by two New York Times journalists, and an adaptation was published as an article in the Times.
“But when a whistleblower takes that very nice, innocent — Lindsey Graham said ‘I never knew you were that nice a person.’ He said, ‘You never asked him for anything. You were really, really nice.’ Lindsey was saying, ‘I never knew you were so nice. That was a perfect conversation.'” — October 2 exchange with reporters at meeting with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö
Facts First: We can’t fact check how nice or not-nice Trump was to Zelensky, but it’s flat false that he never asked Zelensky for anything. Again, Trump asked him to look into Biden and the situation with the server, and to speak with Giuliani and Barr. In fact, prior to launching into the request about the server, Trump said, “I would like you to do us a favor though.”
You can read a full fact check of this claim here.
The unemployment rate (four claims)
“But the unemployment numbers just came out: 3.5% unemployment. And that is a tremendous number; the lowest in over 50 years.” And: “We have the best job numbers we’ve had in 51 years.” — October 4 exchange with reporters before Marine One departure
“Last month, the unemployment rate dropped to the lowest level in over 51 years — 3.5%.” — October 4 speech at Young Black Leadership Summit
“The unemployment rate has reached a 51-year low.” — October 3 speech on Medicare at The Villages in Florida
“Unemployment Rate just dropped to 3.5%, the lowest in more that 50 years. Is that an impeachable event for your President?” — October 6 tweet
Facts First: This was one of Trump’s trademark little exaggerations of numbers that would seem to need no embellishment. The 3.5% unemployment rate for September was the lowest since December 1969 — just under 50 years ago, not “over 50 years” or “over 51 years” ago.
In his October 4 speech to the Young Black Leadership Summit, Trump told a detailed story about watching a television show in which CNN host Van Jones, a prominent advocate for criminal justice reform, omitted Trump from a long list of people to thank for the justice reform bill Trump signed last year, the First Step Act — though Jones had thanked the Rev. Al Sharpton. Trump said Jones later spoke to Jared Kushner and “he apologized.”
Facts First: Jones said Friday that he has never made any such apology to Trump or Kushner. He has never praised Sharpton on his CNN show, and he has habitually given Trump credit for the First Step Act — including in a CNN appearance three weeks ago, in which he said, “I think Trump has gotten too little credit for what he did on criminal justice reform.” Jones said Friday: “I literally do not know what he’s talking about.”
You can read a full fact check of this claim here.
An award “from the Marines”
“…I would say, in 2015, I sat with Joe (Dunford) at a dinner. And believe it or not, I was getting a big award from the Marines. And Joe was presenting the awards…” — September 30 speech at welcome ceremony for new Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley
Facts First: It seems possible that Trump was genuinely confused, not being intentionally deceiving, but the award he received was not from the Marine Corps; it was from a charitable foundation that has the words “Marine Corps” in its name: the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation, which provides financial assistance to the children of Marines and law enforcement personnel who have been killed.
Trump might also have been confused because the award was called the Commandant’s Leadership Award, and Dunford, then commandant of the Marines, did hand it to him.
“President Trump received the award for his support to our military and law enforcement. The Marines Corps is not involved in the choice,” foundation executive director Sue Boulhosa said in an email to CNN.
An inaccurate map
On October 1, Trump tweeted a map that purported to show the county-by-county results of the 2016 presidential election. The words “Try to impeach this” were written on top of the map.
Facts First: The map inaccurately displayed multiple blue counties won by Hillary Clinton as red counties won by Trump.
You can read our full fact check here.
Trump’s poll numbers
“If you look at what’s happened with my polls, they’re through the roof. You know why? Because of this phony witch hunt.” — October 4 exchange with reporters before Marine One departure
Facts First: “Through the roof” is a vague phrase, but there is no sign of Trump’s poll numbers significantly increasing as a result of Democrats’ impeachment inquiry or their investigation into his dealings with Ukraine. FiveThirtyEight’s poll average had him at 41.6% approval with 53.8% disapproval on the day he spoke here, nearly identical to his 41.4% approval with 53.9% disapproval a month prior.
CNN senior writer and analyst Harry Enten wrote here about how recent polls don’t show evidence of a pro-Trump backlash.
The history of wage growth
“People are working. They’re making money. The — if you look at one very important number that was just announced: wages up 3%. That’s unheard of. That’s unheard of. So, it’s a great thing.” — October 4 exchange with reporters before Marine One departure
Facts First: Wage growth around 3% is not “unheard of.” (Note: it was 2.9% in September, the month Trump was boasting about.) Though 3% is better than the wage growth during most of the Obama presidency, wage growth was 3.2% or higher for nine consecutive months between Aug. 2008 and April 2009. It was also above 3% from April 2007 through Nov. 2007.
It’s worth noting that the 2008-2009 period of wage growth over 3% occurred during the Great Recession, a reminder that wage growth is not the only thing we should look at to measure economic health. (Wage growth did decline over the course of the recession, hitting 1.7% in Nov. 2010.)
New York’s anti-discrimination guidelines
“I will never allow these politicians to steal your health care and give it away to illegal aliens. And now, in New York, I hear they passed a new regulation that, if you use the word, ‘illegal immigrant’ — did I hear correctly? They want to charge you a fine of $250,000. In other words, sell your home in The Villages because you happened to say, ‘We don’t like illegal immigrants pouring into our country illegally.'” — October 3 speech on Medicare at The Villages in Florida
Facts First: New York City’s new human rights legal enforcement guidelines prohibit the use of the phrase “illegal alien,” not “illegal immigrant,” when the phrase “illegal alien” is used “with intent to demean, humiliate, or harass a person” — in the context of employment, housing or public accommodations, not in other contexts. The maximum fine is $250,000.
Conditions in the VA health care system (two claims)
“… you know, before me, every night you’d see these stories, these horror stories about the VA. I haven’t seen one in a long time. Now, I don’t want to wish it because the fake news will search the system to find somebody that’s not happy. ‘We found somebody. We found a vet in Florida who isn’t quite happy with everything. Let’s do a major story.’ But do you remember all of the bad stories that used to be about the VA? Now you don’t see that because they have accountability. We can fire bad people.” — October 3 speech on Medicare at The Villages in Florida
“You know, by the way, just because a lot of people are vets — the vets were treated horribly. You don’t hear that anymore. You don’t hear it. Now, they’ll go out and find some vet somewhere in this country that isn’t happy. And that person will become a star overnight, right? But you don’t hear it anymore.” — October 4 speech at Young Black Leadership Summit
Facts First: We can’t be sure of what Trump himself has been told about conditions at the VA, but it’s just not true that the rest of us no longer hear about veterans being treated badly at VA facilities.
Merely during the two months prior to Trump’s comments, there were news stories about “11 suspicious deaths at the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center,” “How Veterans Affairs failed to stop a pathologist who misdiagnosed 3,000 cases” and wasn’t fired until 2018, how “a Veterans Affairs medical center in West Virginia is being investigated over allegations that one of its physicians sexually assaulted more than a dozen patients,” and how a veteran at a VA facility in Georgia was allegedly bitten by ants “100 times before his death.”
Here are the claims Trump made last week that we have previously fact checked in one of these weekly roundups:
The Ukraine scandal
Adam’s Schiff’s comments (four claims)
“Rep. Adam Schiff illegally made up a FAKE & terrible statement, pretended it to be mine as the most important part of my call to the Ukrainian President, and read it aloud to Congress and the American people. It bore NO relationship to what I said on the call. Arrest for Treason?” — September 30 tweet
“Congressman Adam Schiff should resign for the Crime of, after reading a transcript of my conversation with the President of Ukraine (it was perfect), fraudulently fabricating a statement of the President of the United States and reading it to Congress, as though mine! He is sick!” — October 2 tweet
“Not a thing wrong. Unless you heard the Adam Schiff version, where he made up my conversation. He actually made it up. It should be criminal. It should be treasonous.” And: “He should resign from office in disgrace. And, frankly, they should look at him for treason because he is making up the words of the President of the United States. Not only words, but the meaning. And it’s a disgrace. It should not be allowed to happen.” — October 2 exchange with reporters at meeting with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö
“Schiff has also committed a crime, perhaps treason, in making up a horrible statement and reading it to Congress, and the American people, as though it was the statement of the President of the United States, me.” — October 4 tweet
Facts First: While it’s fair for Trump to be miffed about Schiff’s comments at a congressional committee meeting — Schiff’s mix of near-quotes from Trump, his own analysis, and supposed “parody” was at the very least confusing — Schiff’s words were not illegal, much less “treason.”
As we explained here, the Constitution includes a specific provision that allows members of Congress to speak freely during official meetings. The Constitution also has a specific definition of treason that Schiff’s comments do not come close to satisfying.
“WHO CHANGED THE LONG STANDING WHISTLEBLOWER RULES JUST BEFORE SUBMITTAL OF THE FAKE WHISTLEBLOWER REPORT? DRAIN THE SWAMP!” — September 30 tweet
Facts First: The whistleblower rules were not changed.
Trump may have been basing his assertion on an inaccurate article published by the conservative website The Federalist, which he had tweeted out the previous weekend. You can read our full fact check here.
A letter from Democratic senators
“… because the whistleblower report — didn’t he say, seven or eight times I said ‘quid pro quo’? … In all fairness, you have at least four United States senators — Democrats — that said it. And they said it a lot stronger than even Schiff and his made-up story said it.” — October 2 news conference with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö
Facts First: Trump was referring to a 2018 letter from Democratic senators to Ukraine’s prosecutor general. The letter did not include any quid pro quo; contrary to Trump’s previous claims, the senators never made a threat to deny money to Ukraine if the country didn’t do as they asked.
In the letter, the senators expressed concern about a New York Times report that Ukraine had, to avoid Trump’s wrath, stopped cooperating with the Mueller investigation and frozen investigations into former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. The senators urged Ukraine to reverse course if the report was correct.
You can read our full fact check here.
Military and foreign affairs
“… Joe (Dunford) published the first Joint Military Net Assessment in 20 years. We have a lot of the ideas that we’ve brought forward. And, you know, we’ve spent $2.5 trillion since I’m President — $2.5 trillion — far more than this country has ever even thought about spending.” — September 30 speech at welcome ceremony for new Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley
Facts First: Trump was exaggerating. As noted by Todd Harrison, director of defense budget analysis at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, total defense spending for fiscal years 2017, 2018 and 2019 was $2.05 trillion — and that includes more than three-and-a-half months of Obama’s tenure, since the 2017 fiscal year began in October 2016.
Harrison said he thinks Trump must have been including military funding for the 2020 fiscal year to get to “$2.5 trillion” figure — but since the 2020 fiscal year hadn’t even started at the time Trump spoke, Harrison said, “that funding has not been ‘spent’ in any sense of the word. Additionally, the actual appropriations bills for FY20 are still pending in Congress.” While a budget deal earlier in the year allocates up to $738 billion for defense, Harrison said, “until the appropriation bill is passed, the money cannot be spent.”
The nuclear arsenal
“Our nuclear has been totally rebuilt; some brand new and some refurbished.” — September 30 speech at welcome ceremony for new Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley
Facts First: Experts say that Trump has not yet implemented significant changes to the US nuclear arsenal. “I am not aware that Trump can claim to have done anything for the state of the nuclear arsenal — but nothing urgent needed to be done anyway,” said Scott Kemp, director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Laboratory for Nuclear Security and Policy, who served as a State Department adviser on arms control early in the Obama administration.
You can read a longer fact check here.
“You look at Venezuela; take a look at that. Fifteen years ago, it’s one of the wealthiest countries. Now they don’t have food.” — October 3 speech on Medicare at The Villages in Florida
Facts First: Venezuela was not one of the world’s wealthiest countries 15 years ago.
The International Monetary Fund ranked Venezuela 67th in the world in 2004 by GDP per capita, at $4,019 (US) — better than more than half of the world’s countries, but nowhere near the top.
“Venezuela was one of the richest countries in the world 60 years ago. The richest in Latin America 40 years ago. But not 20 years ago,” Ricardo Hausmann, a former Venezuelan planning minister and central bank board member, said in response to a previous version of this Trump claim. Hausmann, now a Harvard University professor of economic development, was chief economist of the Inter-American Development Bank from 1994 to 2000.
The border wall
“Massive sections of The Wall are being built at our Southern Border. It is going up rapidly, and built to the highest standards and specifications of the Border Patrol experts. It is actually an amazing structure! Our U.S. Military is doing a GREAT job.” — October 2 tweet
Facts First: No new miles of border wall had been built during Trump’s presidency as of September 30, according to a fact sheet from Customs and Border Protection. Over Trump’s tenure in office, 69 miles of barriers had been constructed in places where “dilapidated and outdated” barriers had existed before; that’s a pace of about half a mile of replacement barrier per week.
Democrats and borders (two claims)
“You know, at the border, where they want the open policies — they want open borders. They don’t want walls.” — October 4 speech at Young Black Leadership Summit
“They also want to have open borders, so the people can just come in and do whatever they want to do.” — October 3 speech on Medicare at The Villages in Florida
Facts First: Even Democratic presidential candidates who advocate the decriminalization of the act of illegally entering the country, such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, do not support completely unrestricted migration, as Trump suggests. Opposing a border wall is not the same as supporting open borders.
Mexican troops on the border
“Mexico gave us 27,000 soldiers guarding our border and the numbers are way down. Twenty-seven thousand. I want to thank Mexico — the government and the president.” — October 3 speech on Medicare at The Villages in Florida
Facts First: Mexico has deployed a substantial number of troops, but Trump exaggerated how many are being stationed near the US border in particular. Acting Customs and Border Protection commissioner Mark Morgan told reporters in September that 10,000 of the approximately 25,000 troops were on Mexico’s own southern border: “They’ve created a new national guard within their country: 10,000 troops to the southern border; 15,000 troops to the northern border with the United States.” Trump himself said in late July that 6,000 of the troops were near Guatemala.
Economy and trade
Wage growth (two claims)
“When I was campaigning three years ago, and people were making less and less and less –they were making less three years ago. You go back 20 years from then, they used to make more money with one job than they made with two or three jobs. And now, for the first time in many, many years, wages are rising again.” — October 4 speech at Young Black Leadership Summit
“And, I think, really, very important — again, I’ll say: Wages are up. When I was running, wages were nowhere. They were going down. And people were having two and three jobs, and they were making less money than they made 20 years before. Now wages are up. So we’re very happy about that.” — October 4 exchange with reporters before Marine One departure
Facts First: Wages have been rising since 2014, using one common measure.
There are various ways to measure wage growth. Median usual weekly earnings, one way that is frequently cited, began increasing in mid-2014 — though slowly — after a decline that began in the recession year of 2009. Median usual weekly warnings went from $330 per week in the second quarter of 2014 to $349 per week in the fourth quarter of 2016.
Trump could accurately boast that wage growth during his presidency has been faster than under Obama, but he is wrong that this is the first time there has been any increase in 20 years.
Who is paying Trump’s tariffs on China
“.@60Minutes ‘forgot’ to report that we are helping the great farmers of the USA to the tune of 28 Billion Dollars, for the last two years, paid for out of Tariffs paid to the United States by China for targeting the farmer. They devalued their currency, therefore paying the cost!” — October 6 tweet
World Trade Organization victories
“You never had wins with other presidents, did you? But we’re having a lot of wins at the WTO since I became president…Your wins are now, because they think I don’t like the WTO, and they want to make sure I’m happy. Because all of those countries were ripping off the United States for many years. They know that I’m wise to it. We’ve had a lot of wins.” — October 2 news conference with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö
Facts First: The US had many wins at the World Trade Organization under other presidents. Contrary to Trump’s repeated assertion, the US has long been successful in WTO disputes: his own Council of Economic Advisers said in a report in February 2018 that the US had won 86% of the cases it has brought since 1995. The global average was 84% and China’s figure 67%, according to the council.
As a reporter noted in this exchange with Trump, the WTO case that prompted his boasting here, over European subsidies to Airbus, was more than a decade old; the latest US victory in the case is the latest in a series that dates back to the early Obama administration.
As is standard for the WTO, the US has tended to lose cases where it is defending the case rather than bringing it — but even in those cases, Trump’s advisers noted that the US did better (a 25% victory rate) than the world average (17%) or China’s rate (just 5%).
A Bloomberg Law review in March of this year found that the US success rate in cases it brings to the WTO had increased extremely slightly since Trump took office, from 84.8% in 2016 to 85.4%, so there’s a kernel of truth to Trump’s claim.
The trade deficit with the European Union
“America’s trade deficit with the EU has been averaging $160 billion a year for many, many years.” — October 2 press conference with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö
Facts First: The trade deficit with the European Union was $114.6 billion in 2018, $101.2 billion in 2017, $92.5 billion in 2016.
The deficit was $169.6 billion in 2018 if you only count trade in goods and ignore trade in services. But Trump failed to specify that he was using this more limited measure.
Prescription drug prices (two claims)
“…we’ve already had the first year in 51 years where drug prices have come down, and we’re going to get drug prices much lower — prescription drug prices.” — October 3 interview with Fox 35 Orlando
“Prices coming down. As I said, prescription drug prices — first time in over 50 years, Alex, that drug prices have come down for the year. Your average prescription drug price — first time in 50 years — over 50 years.” — October 3 speech on Medicare at The Villages in Florida
Facts First: This was another slight exaggeration. Prescription drug prices declined last year for the first time in 46 years, according to one of several measures. You can read a longer version of this fact check here.
Popularity and accomplishments
The 2016 election result
“The Do Nothing Democrats should be focused on building up our Country, not wasting everyone’s time and energy on BULLSHIT, which is what they have been doing ever since I got overwhelmingly elected in 2016, 223-306. Get a better candidate this time, you’ll need it.” — October 2 tweet
Facts First: Hillary Clinton earned 232 votes in the Electoral College, not 223. This was not a one-time slip; Trump has habitually said “223.”
Veterans Choice (four claims)
Trump claimed four times that he was the one who got the Veterans Choice health care program passed, saying once that others had tried to get it passed for “over 45 years” and once that this had happened for “50 years.”
Facts First: The Choice bill, a bipartisan initiative led by Sens. Bernie Sanders and the late John McCain, was signed into law by Barack Obama in 2014. In 2018, Trump signed the VA Mission Act, which expanded and changed the program.
Approval with Republicans (three claims)
“95% Approval Rating in the Republican Party, and record setting fundraising that has taken place over the past two weeks. Thank you!” — October 3 tweet
“I have a 95% approval rating in the Republican Party.” — October 4 exchange with reporters before Marine One departure
“95% Approval Rating in Republican Party. Thank you!” — October 6 tweet
Facts First: Trump’s approval rating among Republicans is very high, regularly in the 80s and sometimes creeping into the 90s, but it has not been 94% in any recent poll.
Trump was at 88% with Republicans, for example, in a Quinnipiac University poll conducted from Sept. 27 to Sept. 29, 80% in an Ipsos poll conducted Sept. 30 and Oct . 1, and 87% in Gallup data gathered from Sept. 16 to Sept. 30.
The special election in North Carolina’s 9th District
Trump claimed during an October 4 exchange with reporters that Dan Bishop, the Republican who won the September special election in North Carolina’s 9th District, had been “down by 17 points with three weeks to go.”
Facts First: Bishop was not down 17 points in any public poll; some did have him trailing by single-digit margins.
You can read a longer fact check of this claim here.
The special election in North Carolina’s 3rd District
Trump claimed during an October 4 exchange with reporters that Greg Murphy, the Republican who won the September special election in North Carolina’s 3rd District, had been”up by a very little bit” and had been “almost tied.”
Facts First: Murphy’s race was never close to a tie; he had always been heavily favored to win. One late poll had him up by 11 points.
You can read a longer fact check of this claim here.
Right to Try (two claims)
“Now we got that approved — Right to Try. And, by the way, miracles are happening. Right? Miracles. Miracles are happening. Hopefully, it never happens to anybody in this room. But, frankly, people would go to Asia, they’d go to Europe, they’d go all over the world seeking a cure, if they had money. If they didn’t have money, they’d go home and they’d die. But now they don’t have to do that.” — October 3 speech on Medicare at The Villages in Florida
“…now you can use medicines as they get developed, if you’re terminally ill. They call it the Right to Try. Right to Try. If somebody’s terminally ill [before the Right to Try law], they have to go to other countries, or just literally die. And we have the best scientists, we have the best doctors in the world. We have great things, but they’re in a pipeline, you couldn’t use them, and we have now the right to try.” — October 3 interview with Fox 35 Orlando
Facts First: It is not true that terminally ill patients who did not have the money to travel would simply have to go home and die until Trump signed the Right to Try law in 2018. Prior to the law, patients did have to ask the federal government for permission to access experimental medications — but the government almost always said yes. Scott Gottlieb, who served as Trump’s FDA commissioner until April, told Congress in 2017 that the FDA had approved 99% of patient requests. “Emergency requests for individual patients are usually granted immediately over the phone and non-emergency requests are generally processed within a few days,” he testified.
Hillary Clinton’s emails
“So Crooked Hillary Clinton can delete and acid wash 33,000 emails AFTER getting a Subpoena from the United States Congress…” — October 5 tweet
Facts First: A server company working for Hillary Clinton deleted emails using a free software program called BleachBit. The software involves neither actual bleach nor acid.
You can read a longer fact check of Trump’s claims about these emails here.
“We have made a clear promise to America’s patients: We will always protect patients with pre-existing conditions. The Republicans will always protect pre-existing conditions.” — October 3 speech on Medicare at The Villages in Florida
Facts First: We usually don’t fact-check promises, but this one has already proved untrue. The Trump administration and congressional Republicans have repeatedly put forward bills and lawsuits that would weaken Obamacare’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Trump is currently supporting a Republican lawsuit that is seeking to declare all of Obamacare void. He has not issued a plan to reinstate the law’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions if the suit succeeds.