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Fact check: 65 ways Trump has been dishonest about Ukraine and impeachment

President Donald Trump is dishonest about a whole lot of things. But he is rarely as comprehensively dishonest as he has been about his dealings with Ukraine and the impeachment process.

From the eruption of the Ukraine controversy in September to the Senate trial that officially began on Thursday, relentless deceit has seemed to be Trump’s primary defense strategy in the court of public opinion. He has made false claims about almost every separate component of the story, from his July phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, to the whistleblower who complained about the call, to Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s own relations with Ukraine.

The President has been dissembling about so many different things at once that it can be difficult to keep track of what is true and what isn’t. To help you fight Trump-induced dizziness as the trial gets underway, we’ve tallied his dishonesty on the subject of Ukraine and impeachment. Our original list from mid-November included 45 false claims he has made and a brief fact check of each one.

We have since added 20 more for a total of 65.

The phone call with Zelensky

1. Trump released an “exact transcript” of his July call with Zelensky. (The document says on its first page that it is “not a verbatim transcript.”)

2. When Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman wanted to add in a word that was missing from the rough transcript, “they added the word.” (Vindman testified that two “substantive” changes he suggested were not made, though he also testified that the document remained “substantively correct.”)

3. Trump did not ask Zelensky for anything on the call. (Trump asked Zelensky to look into former Vice President Joe Biden, look into a debunked conspiracy theory about Democratic computer servers, and speak with his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Attorney General William Barr.)

4. Zelensky criticized former US ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch “out of the blue” on the call. (Trump brought up Yovanovitch first.)

5. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was “angry” when she saw the rough transcript of the call, and she said, “This is not what the whistleblower said.” (Pelosi has said no such thing in public, and there is no evidence she has said anything like that in private. Her public statement on the call was scathing.)

6. “Everybody” that looked at the text of the call agreed that it was “perfect.” (Some of Trump’s staunch defenders agreed with this characterization, but clearly not “everybody” did.)

7. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell spoke to Trump about the call and said, “That was the most innocent phone call that I’ve read.” (McConnell said he doesn’t recall speaking to Trump about the call. His public statement on the call was far less effusive than Trump’s description.)

8. People were not talking about the call anymore in late October. (People continued to talk about the call, a central focus of the impeachment inquiry.)

9. The Washington Post made up fictional sources for its article on how Trump had allegedly tried to get Barr to hold a news conference saying Trump had broken no laws in the call. (There is no evidence that the Post invented sources. Other major news outlets, including CNN, quickly reported the same thing the Post did.)

10. Zelensky affirmed in December that “President Trump did nothing wrong.” (Zelensky has said Trump applied “no pressure,” but he did not say Trump did nothing wrong. Zelensky did say, “Look, I never talked to the President from the position of a quid pro quo. That’s not my thing.” But he 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.”)

The whistleblower

11. The whistleblower was “sooo wrong.” (The rough transcript and witness testimony have proven the whistleblower to have been highly accurate.)

12. The whistleblower should be investigated for “fraud.” (Nothing the whistleblower is known to have done remotely resembles fraud.)

13. The whistleblower, a second whistleblower and the first whistleblower’s source have all “disappeared.” (There is no evidence for this. Whistleblowers do not have an obligation to speak publicly after filing their complaints.)

14. The whistleblower had “all second hand” information. (While the whistleblower did get information about the call from other people, the whistleblower also had “direct knowledge of certain alleged conduct,” noted Michael Atkinson, the Trump-appointed inspector general for the intelligence community.)

15. The whistleblower “said ‘quid pro quo’ eight times.” (The whistleblower did not even use the words “quid pro quo” in the complaint, much less specify a number of times Trump allegedly said those words. Trump may have been referring to a Wall Street Journal article that had asserted that Trump urged Zelensky “about eight times to work with Rudy Giuliani” on a probe that could hurt Biden; the article did not say this claim came from the whistleblower.)

16. The whistleblower “works now for Biden.” (There is no evidence for this. The whistleblower’s lawyers said their client has never worked for or advised a candidate, campaign or party; the lawyers said the whistleblower has come into contact with presidential candidates for both parties while working as a civil servant in the executive branch.)

17. Someone “changed the long standing whistleblower rules” just before this whistleblower submitted their complaint. (Contrary to a report on a right-wing website, the whistleblower rules were not changed.)

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff

18. Schiff committed “a criminal act” by delivering an exaggerated interpretation of Trump’s July 25 call at a committee hearing. (The Constitution gives members of Congress immunity for comments they make at committee.)

19. Schiff did have immunity for his comments at the committee, but not when he tweeted a video of those comments. (Experts say members of Congress also have immunity for videos of their comments at committee.)

20. Schiff might have committed “treason.” (Treason has a specific constitutional definition that Schiff’s actions do not come close to meeting.)

21. Schiff made his comments before Trump released the rough transcript of the call, not expecting Trump to release it. (Schiff spoke the day after Trump released the document.)

22. Schiff “didn’t use one word that I said” in his rendition of the call. (Schiff did add words Trump had never said, but he didn’t make up the whole thing; some of his remarks hewed closely to what Trump said.)

23. Schiff might have been the whistleblower’s source. (This is nonsense. The whistleblower said in the complaint that information about the call came from “multiple White House officials with direct knowledge of the call.”)

24. “A lot of people think that Schiff basically is, essentially, the whistleblower. He already told the whistleblower what to do.” (Schiff is not the whistleblower, “essentially” or otherwise. The whistleblower sought guidance from Schiff’s committee before filing their complaint, but there is no evidence Schiff dictated the content of the complaint.)

25. Schiff might have picked the whistleblower. (There is no evidence for this, either.)

26. Schiff “will only release doctored transcripts.” (Schiff has already released multiple transcripts of testimony from closed-door impeachment inquiry hearings, and there was no sign that any of them had been “doctored.” Witnesses and their lawyers were given the opportunity to verify the accuracy of the transcripts prior to release, and Republicans who attended the testimony did not allege that any transcripts had been improperly altered.)

The impeachment process

27. Republicans were not allowed into the closed-door impeachment inquiry hearings. (Republican members of the three committees holding the hearings were allowed into the room and to ask questions of witnesses. Only Republicans who were not on the committees were barred from the room.)

28. Republicans were not allowed to ask questions in the closed-door hearings. (Republicans were allowed to ask questions. Democrats and Republicans alternated questioning.)

29. Republicans were not allowed to ask questions in the public hearing held by the House Intelligence Committee on November 15. (Republicans were allowed to ask questions. Schiff would not grant a request from the committee’s top Republican, Rep. Devin Nunes, to hand some of Nunes’ questioning time to Rep. Elise Stefanik, because only Nunes was allowed to speak at that point in the hearing, but Stefanik got to ask questions later in the day.)

30. Republicans were not allowed to have lawyers participate in the public hearings chaired by Schiff. (They were. Lawyer Steve Castor questioned witnesses on behalf of the Republicans on the committee. It was Trump himself who was not allowed to have a lawyer participate.)

31. Nobody else has ever faced closed-door impeachment hearings. (Both the Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton impeachment processes involved some closed-door hearings.)

32. Trump’s opponents have committed “illegal acts” related to impeachment. (Trump wasn’t clear about who he was talking about, but there is no evidence of illegality by either the whistleblower or Democrats.)

33. The people who have testified in the impeachment inquiry have had “no firsthand knowledge.” (Various witnesses have had firsthand knowledge of various components of the story.)

34. Gordon Sondland, ambassador to the European Union, maintained there was “no quid pro quo.” (Sondland revised his original testimony. While he continued to say that Trump told him there was no quid pro quo, he said his own belief was that there was a quid pro quo.)

35. Unlike Democrats, former House Speaker Paul Ryan “would never issue a subpoena.” (Numerous Republican subpoenas were issued to the Obama administration during Ryan’s tenure as speaker.)

36. “Many” of the people who had testified as of October 21 “were put there during Obama, during Clinton, during the Never Trump or Bush era.” (FactCheck.org noted that just two of the nine people who had testified at that point had been appointed under Obama. The other seven were appointed by Trump or his appointees.)

37. Pelosi gave Trump “the most unfair trial in the history of the U.S. Congress.” (The House did not hold a trial at all. Under the Constitution, it is the Senate that has the sole power to try impeachments.)

38. Trump was “deprived of basic Constitutional Due Process” during the House impeachment process, “including the right to present evidence, to have my own counsel present, to confront accusers, and to call and cross-examine witnesses.” (The rights of criminal defendants do not apply to public officials in a House of Representatives impeachment process.)

39. “More due process was afforded to those accused in the Salem Witch Trials.” (This is absurd. Nineteen innocent people were hanged after they were accused of witchcraft in the trials of the late 1600s. The courts accepted “spectral evidence” from dreams. Some of the accused were tortured into confessions.)

40. Trump “won 196 to nothing” in the House. (Trump did not win any vote related to impeachment. He lost an October vote to set the rules of the impeachment inquiry, 232-196, then the December votes on the two articles of impeachment, 230-197 and 229-198. He appeared to mean that there were no Republican defections from his side, but he didn’t explain here.)

41. Democrats are “not doing anything” on gun violence because “all they do is the impeachment nonsense.” (The Democratic-controlled House passed a bill in February to require background checks on all gun sales. The Republican-controlled Senate has refused to hold a vote on the bill.)

The Bidens

42. Joe Biden, along with his son Hunter Biden, has “ripped off at least two countries for millions of dollars.” (There is no evidence Joe Biden has profited from his son’s business dealings abroad.)

43. Joe Biden was “possibly” paid millions of dollars by foreign countries “for doing NOTHING.” (Again, there is no evidence of this.)

44. A video of Joe Biden speaking in 2018 about his past dealings with Ukraine is evidence of “corruption.” (The tape does not show corruption. It shows Biden talking about his effort, in accordance with the policy of the US and its allies, to pressure Ukraine into firing a prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, who was widely considered unwilling to fight corruption.)

45. There is a photo of Joe Biden playing golf with “the company boss” of Burisma, the Ukrainian company for which Hunter Biden sat on the board. (Neither Burisma’s owner nor chief executive is in the photo. The person Trump had identified as a “Ukraine gas exec” was Devon Archer, another American board member at Burisma and a longtime business associate of Hunter Biden.)

46. That golf photo contradicts Joe Biden’s claim to have “never met the gentleman.” (Joe Biden had not claimed to have never met Devon Archer.)

47. Hunter Biden was under investigation by Shokin. (There is no public evidence that Hunter Biden was ever himself under investigation. The prosecutor’s former deputy, Vitaliy Kasko, has said that the actual investigation, into the owner of Burisma, was dormant at the time of Joe Biden’s pressure.)

48. Shokin was “prosecuting” Burisma. (There was no prosecution, only the investigation that Kasko has said was dormant.)

49. Joe Biden pressured Ukraine to take Shokin “off the case.” (There is no evidence that Biden ever tried to get Shokin taken off the Burisma case. Rather, Biden, like the US government more broadly, tried to get Shokin fired.)

50. Biden admitted in an NPR interview that this effort to get Shokin fired “looked bad.” (Biden’s “looked bad” comment was not about Shokin. Rather, Biden said “the appearance” of Hunter Biden’s presence on the board “looked bad and it gave folks like Rudy Giuliani an excuse to come up with a Trumpian kind of defense.”)

51. Before Joe Biden denied that he had spoken to Hunter Biden about Hunter’s overseas business activities, Joe Biden had said he did speak to Hunter about those business activities. (Joe Biden had not said he did speak to Hunter Biden about those business activities. Hunter Biden said they had one brief conversation in which Joe Biden asked him if he knew what he was doing.)

52. Hunter Biden’s acts were “illegal.” (Hunter Biden has acknowledged using “poor judgment” in accepting the seat on the Burisma board, but there is no evidence of illegality.)

53. Before Hunter Biden got business opportunities during Joe Biden’s vice-presidency, he had “never made 10 cents in his life.” (Hunter Biden, a lawyer, had worked prior to Joe Biden’s vice-presidency as a bank executive, at the Department of Commerce and as a lobbyist. He had also served on the board of Amtrak.)

Dealings with Ukraine

54. Trump “didn’t delay” the military aid to Ukraine. (His administration did delay the aid.)

55. The aid “got there two or three weeks ahead of schedule — long before it was supposed to be there.” (Because of Trump’s freeze, $35 million of the aid could not get out the door before the legal deadline of the end of September, forcing Congress to pass a deadline extension.)

56. Democratic senators sent a letter to Ukraine that threatened to deny US aid if the Ukrainians did not comply with their demands. (The letter did not make any threat to Ukraine. 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 letter urged Ukraine to reverse course if the report was true.)

57. President Barack Obama sent mere “pillows and sheets” in aid to Ukraine. (Trump was correct that Obama refused to provide lethal military assistance, but Obama sent other military assistance: drones, armored Humvees, counter-mortar radars, night vision devices and medical supplies.)

58. The US is the “only” country providing assistance to Ukraine, and “nobody else is there.” (European countries have provided billions in grants and loans to Ukraine since Russia’s 2014 invasion.)

59. Cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike is primarily owned by someone from Ukraine. (CrowdStrike is a publicly traded, US-based company co-founded by Dmitri Alperovitch, an American citizen who was born in Russia.)

Polls

60. Impeachment has caused Trump’s poll numbers to go “way up” to “higher than they’ve ever been, ever.” (There has been no sign of a significant increase in Trump’s poll numbers. His approval rating has fallen slightly since the Ukraine scandal began, according to FiveThirtyEight’s poll aggregate.)

61. It was “announced” that a Fox News poll showing majority support for impeaching and removing Trump from office was “incorrect.” (Fox News says it stands by the poll.)

62. Support for impeachment dropped “down into the 20’s in some polls” in November. (CNN could find no scientific public polls at the time with support for impeachment as low as the 20s.)

63. November polling on impeachment showed that, “Everybody said, ‘That’s really bullshit.’…Everybody.” (Not even close to “everybody.” Polls had consistently shown support for impeachment at or above 40%.)

Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch

64. “Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad. She started off in Somalia, how did that go?” (There is no basis for Trump’s suggestion that Somalia “turned bad” because Yovanovitch served there as a new foreign service officer in the mid-to-late 1980s; Somalia had severe economic and social problems before she arrived. And since Trump said “everywhere,” it’s worth noting she also served at the US embassy in Canada.)

65. Yovanovitch refused to hang Trump’s picture at the US embassy in Ukraine for “like a year and a half, or two years.” (There is no evidence for this claim. The Trump administration itself caused a delay: it took the administration more than nine months after Trump’s inauguration to distribute his official photo to government buildings, CNBC reported in 2017.)

CNN