President Donald Trump made 31 false claims last week and 55 the week before, including 22 at a campaign rally in Des Moines, Iowa, in late January and 13 in an official speech at a community college in Charlotte, North Carolina, in early February.
Trump spread the dishonesty around a variety of subjects. Over this period stretching from January 27 to February 9, he made 17 false claims about health care, 15 about the economy, 15 about Democrats, and five or more about each of six additional topics: trade, energy, impeachment, China, immigration, and the military.
We counted five blatant false claims in Trump’s State of the Union address. Other claims in that speech were misleading, lacking in key context, or questionable predictions. We don’t include such claims in this false-claims-only tally, but you can read fact checks on them here.
Trump is now averaging about 59 false claims per week for the 31 weeks we have checked at CNN since July 8, so both of these two weeks were better than his usual. They were still, of course, highly dishonest by any non-Trump standard.
Trump is now up to 1,816 false claims since July 8.
The most egregious false claim: Saving Social Security
Trump is a dishonesty maximalist: He often seems to prefer an egregious lie, told confidently, to spin that might be more accurate but might also make him seem defensive or evasive.
Asked in a Fox News interview on January 30 about allegations that he plans to take away people’s Social Security — he had vaguely mused in a CNBC interview about tackling entitlement programs “at some point” — Trump could have responded in any number of factual or semi-factual ways.
Instead, he offered up this fiction: “I’m the one that saved it. The Democrats wanted to do it last time.”
The Democrats did not want to take away or even cut Social Security in 2016. Trump did not save it.
There was no follow-up question.
The most revealing false claim: Pelosi and the speech
Trump is not only a relentless fabricator of his own nonsense but a gleeful purveyor of nonsense he has heard from others.
The White House made a fair argument about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s decision to publicly rip up her copy of Trump’s State of the Union address, saying she was disrespecting the heroes, victims and other citizens Trump had mentioned in the speech. But Trump allies like Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz and Charlie Kirk, the executive director of conservative group Turning Point USA, went further — suggesting Pelosi may have broken a federal law prohibiting the destruction of government records.
Legal experts said this claim was nonsense, since Pelosi’s copy of the speech never qualified as an official government record. That did not stop the President from telling reporters: “First of all, it’s an official document. You’re not allowed — it’s illegal what she did. She broke the law.”
The most absurd false claim: Bloomberg and the “box”
When Trump tweeted on February 2 that Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg was negotiating to “have the right to stand on boxes, or a lift, during the debates,” it seemed like a mocking joke that wasn’t worth fact checking.
But then we watched Trump’s Super Bowl interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity later that day — in which the President made clear, in tone, manner and content, that his allegation about Bloomberg trying to obtain a height aid was absolutely serious.
So we had to do our solemn duty and look into it. And, as so often, we found no evidence for it whatsoever.
Here is the full list of false claims for these two weeks, starting with the ones we haven’t previously fact checked in one of these weekly roundups:
Democrats and the 2020 election
Michael Bloomberg and the debates
“Mini Mike is now negotiating both to get on the Democrat Primary debate stage, and to have the right to stand on boxes, or a lift, during the debates. This is sometimes done, but really not fair!” — February 2 tweet
“You know, now he wants a box for the debates, to stand on. Okay, it’s okay, there’s nothing wrong — you can be short. Why should he get a box to stand on, okay? He wants a box for the debates. Why should he be entitled to that?…Really. Does that mean everyone else gets a box?” — February 2 Super Bowl interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity
Facts First: There is no evidence Bloomberg has requested a box to stand on to make him seem taller during debates. Bloomberg campaign spokesperson Julie Wood told CNN that Trump is “lying”; she called Trump a “pathological liar.” A Democratic National Committee official said on condition of anonymity that “no, there have been no discussions” about Bloomberg getting any height aid for a debate.
Trump’s polling against Democrats
Trump said of Bloomberg: “Michael’s doing very poorly. You look at his poll numbers, he’s spending a lot of money. And what can I say? He’s doing poorly. I think they’re all doing poorly because according to every poll, I’m leading every one of them by a lot.” — January 30 interview with Fox News’ Peter Doocy
Facts First: It’s not true that every poll on potential election matchups shows Trump leading every Democratic candidate, let alone leading them “by a lot.”
Some recent polls show Trump leading some Democrats. But some other polls in late January and early February have shown Trump trailing multiple Democratic candidates, including Bloomberg, both nationally and in key states. You can see a list of recent polls here.
The emoluments lawsuit
Trump hailed a federal appeals court’s decision to toss out a lawsuit filed against him by Democratic members of Congress, then said, “This was brought by 230 Democrats in Congress on emoluments.” — February 7 exchange with reporters before Marine One departure
Facts First: The lawsuit was brought by 215 Democratic members of Congress, not 230.
The numbers matter here. The lawsuit, which alleged that Trump violated the Constitution by obtaining financial benefits from foreign government officials who stay at his properties, was tossed out by the three-judge panel precisely because the lawsuit had not been brought by a sufficient number of members of the House or the Senate.
The judges wrote: “Our conclusion is straightforward because the members — 29 senators and 186 members of the House of Representatives — do not constitute a majority of either body and are, therefore, powerless to approve or deny the President’s acceptance of foreign emoluments.”
Two-hundred thirty Democrats would be a majority. Two-hundred fifteen is not.
Pelosi ripping up the State of the Union
“Well, I thought it was a terrible thing when she ripped up the speech. First of all, it’s an official document. You’re not allowed — it’s illegal what she did. She broke the law.” And: “That was on display the other night when she ripped up the speech. That was terrible. It was a terrible — so disrespectful to our country. And actually very illegal, what she did.” — February 7 exchange with reporters before Marine One departure
Facts First: It was not illegal under government records laws for Pelosi to rip a copy of Trump’s address, since Pelosi’s copy of the speech does not qualify as a government record, experts have told various news and fact checking outlets.
Trump did not invent this claim himself. Charlie Kirk, executive director of conservative group Turning Point USA, and Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz, among others, said Pelosi may have broken the law, and Donald Trump Jr. amplified the claim. Still, the President was wrong when he repeated it himself.
Democrats and Social Security
Asked about allegations he wants to take away Social Security — Trump vaguely told CNBC the week prior that entitlement programs will be on his plate “at some point” — he said, “I’m the one that saved it. The Democrats wanted to do it last time.” — January 30 interview with Fox News’ Peter Doocy
Facts First: Trump wasn’t clear what he meant by “do it,” but prominent Democrats did not want to cut Social Security, much less take it away, when Trump was running in 2016; Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton proposed to increase Social Security benefits.
Obama and AIDS
“We will achieve new breakthroughs in science and medicine, finding new cures for childhood cancer and ending the AIDS epidemic in America in less than 10 years, we’ve already started. It should have been started in the last administration. Incredible, it should have been started earlier, but we started — in less than 10 years, the AIDS epidemic will be eradicated, will be gone.” — January 30 campaign rally in Des Moines, Iowa
“We will achieve new breakthroughs in science and medicine, finding new cures for childhood cancer and ending the AIDS epidemic, can you believe this, in America, in 10 years or less. We’ve already started the process, and it could have been started sooner by the past administration. They chose not to do it. I chose to do it.” — January 28 campaign rally in Wildwood, New Jersey
Facts First: It’s not even close to true that the Obama administration did not try to stop HIV/AIDS in the United States, experts say and budget data proves. The Obama administration spent more than $5.5 billion per year on the three primary domestic programs to combat HIV/AIDS, according to figures provided by the Kaiser Family Foundation, which closely tracks health care spending. (That’s in addition to billions in spending on international anti-HIV/AIDS initiatives.) Obama also introduced a comprehensive national strategy on combating HIV/AIDS. And experts note that the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, helped people with HIV gain health insurance coverage.
“It’s outrageous to say that President (Barack) Obama did nothing on HIV,” said Jesse Milan Jr., president and CEO of AIDS United, a non-profit dedicating to ending the epidemic.
In 2019, Trump issued a plan called “Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America,” which aimed to reduce the number of new HIV infections in the US by 75% within five years and by at least 90% within 10 years. Experts said Trump’s plan builds on Obama’s 2010 National HIV/AIDS Strategy and a 2015 update to that strategy.
In fact, Trump’s administration itself had said, prior to Trump issuing his own plan, that it was being guided by the Obama-era strategy: “The domestic policies and programs of the Federal government continue to be guided by the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, and we are focused on working toward achieving the Strategy goals for 2020.”
Jen Kates, senior vice president and director of global health and HIV policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, said Trump deserves credit for his “bold” 2019 plan and for proposing a funding increase for the 2020 fiscal year (after proposing cuts in previous years) — though she said Trump’s attempts to eradicate Obamacare, including its protections for people with pre-existing conditions, would hurt the effort. “But President Obama also did much on HIV,” Kates said, “bringing domestic HIV back into the spotlight, launching the first ever comprehensive national strategy, upon which the Ending the HIV Epidemic Initiative builds, and supporting programs that led to an increase in coverage and access, particularly the ACA.”
The crowd outside Trump’s rally in Wildwood, New Jersey
Trump said Rep. Jeff Van Drew had told him there were “175,000 people” outside his rally venue in Wildwood, New Jersey, and he asked Van Drew if this was a fact. Van Drew, standing beside him on stage, responded that it was a fact. Trump soon added, “We have tens of thousands of people outside.” — January 28 campaign rally in Wildwood, New Jersey
Facts First: Trump was relying on Van Drew’s figures, so this is perhaps less egregious than when Trump makes his own inflated claims about crowds, but nonetheless, both men were way off. Ben Rose, director of marketing and public relations for the Greater Wildwoods Tourism Improvement and Development Authority, told CNN that the authority estimates there were between 3,000 and 3,500 people in the parking lot outside Trump’s rally venue and between 2,000 and 2,500 people at a park across the street. Wildwood Mayor Pete Byron told CNN that, after speaking with the city’s fire chief and police chief, he estimated there were 14,000 or 15,000 people in town for the rally, including people inside the venue.
Rose said there were 7,725 people inside the venue for the rally. He said Trump was correct that this was an all-time record for the Wildwoods Convention Center.
Trump has repeatedly exaggerated the size of the overflow crowd outside his rallies.
Hunter Biden’s career
Trump said Hunter Biden, the son of Democratic presidential candidate and former vice president Joe Biden, made millions of dollars from foreign countries after “he went from having no job, no income — he had nothing.” — February 2 Super Bowl interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity
Facts First: Trump didn’t specify when precisely he was alleging Hunter Biden was unemployed and without income, but it’s not true that Hunter Biden did not have a job or income either in the years before Joe Biden ran for vice president or before Hunter Biden was appointed to the board of directors of Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma Holdings.
Before Joe Biden became vice president in 2009, Hunter Biden, a lawyer who graduated from Yale Law School, worked as a lobbyist; he became a partner at a law and lobbying firm in 2001. (He stopped lobbying late in the 2008 election.) Before that, he had worked for financial services company MBNA, rising to senior vice president, and for the US Commerce Department.
Hunter Biden was appointed to the board of Burisma in 2014. At the time, he was a lawyer at the firm Boies Schiller Flexner, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University’s foreign service program, chairman of the board of World Food Program USA, and chief executive officer and chairman of Rosemont Seneca Advisors, an investment advisory firm. He also served on other boards.
This is not to say that Hunter Biden’s name was not a major factor in his getting the role at Burisma. Hunter Biden has acknowledged that he would “probably not” have been asked to be on the board if he were not a Biden. But Trump’s portrayal of him as a desperate unemployed man making no money without foreign income is inaccurate.
We don’t know exactly how much money Hunter Biden, a private citizen, earned from his work in Ukraine and with other countries. He was paid up to $50,000 per month for his Burisma role, according to the New York Times.
The Johnson Amendment
“Our great faith leaders. So many great people I’ve met. You know, we got rid of the Johnson Amendment so they can speak their will. Right? Right?” — February 7 speech at North Carolina Opportunity Now Summit
Facts First: Trump has not gotten rid of the Johnson Amendment, a 1954 provision of the tax code that prohibits tax-exempt religious organizations and other tax-exempt nonprofits from supporting or opposing political candidates. Trump issued an executive order in 2017 “promoting free speech and religious liberty,” but that order did not eliminate the amendment. (Experts and activists said the order did not do much at all.) Eliminating the amendment would require a vote of Congress.
Trump has sometimes seemed to acknowledge, at least implicitly, that he has not permanently eliminated the amendment. In a January campaign speech to evangelicals, he said, “We’re going to get rid of the Johnson Amendment, and we did. It’s no longer effective. And we’re going to put it through and make it permanent, too.”
A fourth-grader in Philadelphia
Trump told a story in his State of the Union address about Philadelphia fourth-grader Janiyah Davis, using Davis as an example of a child “trapped in failing government schools.” (He announced she would be receiving a scholarship to the school of her choice.) He repeated a version of the story at the North Carolina Opportunity Now Summit, suggesting Davis had been trapped in a “poorly performing” school.
Facts First: Janiyah Davis had not been stuck in a failing school. She was attending fourth grade at a new, highly-sought-after charter school, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported, after attending a private Christian school from first grade through third grade.
Though Davis did transfer out of the private school because tuition was too expensive for her family even with a partial scholarship, according to the Inquirer, her mother, Stephanie Davis, said they do not view the charter school (an independently run school paid for by the public) as a failing entity they want to flee: “I don’t view MaST as a school you want to get out of at all. I view it as a great opportunity.”
It is likely that Trump’s staff, not Trump himself, was primarily responsible for this error, but nonetheless, what he told the country was not true.
Net farm income
“In the eight years before my election, net farm income plummeted by 20%. You know that. I got here. If you look at a chart for 15 years, actually, not eight — for 15 years. It’s like a roller coaster ride down for the farmer.” Trump drew a line downward with his hand. — January 30 campaign rally in Des Moines, Iowa
Facts First: Trump is half-right, half-wrong. He’s correct, even conservative, when he says net farm income was 20% lower in 2016 than it was eight years prior: in inflation-adjusted 2020 dollars, net farm income fell from $94.6 million in 2008 to $67.3 million in 2016, a decline of about 29%. But he’s wrong when he suggests 2016 net farm income was lower than net farm income 15 years prior — it was about 23% higher in 2016 than it was in 2001 — and when he suggests net farm income fell for 15 straight years.
In fact, net farm income was higher in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 than it was in 2008, peaking at an inflation-adjusted $139.1 million in 2013. That was the best performance since 1973.
The Congressional Research Service reported in February 2018: “U.S. farm income experienced a golden period during 2011 through 2014 due to strong commodity prices and robust agricultural exports.”
401(k)s before Trump
“For years you’ve been losing your ass with 401(k)s, now you’re making a fortune, right? Right? Now you’re making a fortune.” — January 28 campaign rally in Wildwood, New Jersey
Facts First: Trump didn’t precisely define “losing your ass,” and can’t speak about every individual 401(k) retirement plan, but there is no evidence most people were suffering major losses in their 401(k)s before Trump came along.
Workers’ 401(k) plans can include a mix of stocks and other assets. US stock markets rose significantly under Obama. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, for example, increased 148% from the day after Obama’s inauguration in 2009 to his last full day in office in 2016.
Fidelity Investments issues a quarterly report on the balances of 401(k)s in Fidelity accounts, of which there are now about 30 million. In the first quarter of 2009, when Obama took office, the average 401(k) balance was $46,300. By the fourth quarter of 2016, Obama’s last full quarter, it had increased 100% to $92,500. The average balance has increased an additional 14% under Trump, to $105,200 in the third quarter of 2019.
The relative size of Trump’s Electoral College margin
“But we had a tremendous, landslide Electoral College victory, like people haven’t seen in a long time.” — January 30 speech on the USMCA in Warren, Michigan
Facts First: Aside from Trump’s dubious characterization of his 306 to 232 Electoral College margin (304 to 227 after defections from “faithless electors”) as a “landslide” — the winning candidate has earned a larger share of electoral votes in 45 of 58 presidential elections, the New York Times has noted — it’s not true that people haven’t seen such a margin of victory “in a long time.” Obama had a bigger margin in both of the two previous elections.
The Obamacare website
“The Democrat Caucus is an unmitigated disaster. Nothing works, just like they ran the Country. Remember the 5 Billion Dollar Obamacare Website, that should have cost 2% of that.” — February 4 tweet
“Remember the Obamacare, right?… Remember? It was going to cost $5 million. It cost $15 — no, $5 billion, right? Five billion. It still didn’t work. It still didn’t work.” — February 7 speech at North Carolina Opportunity Now Summit
Facts First: The Obamacare website, Healthcare.gov, did have major problems when it was unveiled in 2013, and it was expensive, but “$5 billion” is an exaggeration.
In May 2014, the Obama administration said the website cost $834 million. A September 2014 analysis by the information service Bloomberg Government, which looked at contracts related to the website, put the total at $2.1 billion.
(The fact check website PolitiFact reported in July 2015: “We asked the Bloomberg Government study’s author, Peter Gosselin, whether he thought the number could have more than doubled to $5 billion since the study was released 10 months ago. He was skeptical, saying that even if you add on a five-year follow-up contract with the firm Accenture, it should ‘only get you about halfway to $5 billion.'”)
The Steele dossier
Trump complained about a controversial research dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele, calling it “the fake dossier,” then added, “And now Christopher Steele admits that it’s a fake because he got sued by rich people. I should have sued him too.” — February 6 speech on Senate impeachment acquittal
Facts First: Steele has not admitted that his dossier is fake. In a court filing for a defamation lawsuit against him and in a deposition, Steele acknowledged that some of the information in the dossier is raw intelligence he had not verified. But that is not the same as acknowledging that the dossier is “fake.”
Steele’s company, Orbis Business Intelligence, said on Twitter that Trump’s claim was “false”: “Contrary to his claims we have never stated any of our reporting is ‘fake.’ We stand by the integrity of our research on Kremlin interference in the 2016 election and support for Trump.”
The Chinese and American economies
“You know, if you remember, it goes all the way back — for years, I heard that China will take over as the largest economy in the world in 2019. I kept hearing that. I hated it because I said, ‘If I run, 2019 is not so far away.’ We are so far ahead. We are so far ahead now. We became a rocket ship…” — February 7 speech at North Carolina Opportunity Now Summit
Facts First: The US economy remains much bigger than China’s economy in terms of total output, but China has continued to close the gap even though its own growth has slowed. In other words, it’s not true the US is only “now” so far ahead because of growth during Trump’s time in office. In fact, the US lead has continued to shrink under Trump.
China reported 6.1% GDP growth in 2019, its slowest rate since 1990. The US reported 2.3% growth in 2019 and 2.9% growth in 2018 — both up from 1.6% in 2016 during President Barack Obama’s last full year in office, but the highest Trump-era growth tying the 2.9% in 2015. While China’s official figures are widely seen as unreliable, there is no doubt China has still grown faster than the US during Trump’s tenure.
It’s not clear where Trump heard China would pass the US as the largest economy “in 2019.” Derek Scissors, a resident scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute and an expert on the Chinese economy, told CNN in 2019 that there were some predictions at the beginning of that decade that China would pass the US around 2019, but that experts were not saying this when Trump took office — contrary to a Trump claim in October 2019.
Here are the repeat false claims we have previously fact checked in a weekly roundup:
Ukraine and impeachment
Bolton and Democrats
“The Democrat controlled House never even asked John Bolton to testify. It is up to them, not up to the Senate!” — January 27 tweet
Facts First: It’s not true that House Democrats “never even asked” Bolton to testify: Democrats asked Bolton on October 30 to testify voluntarily on November 7. He declined to appear — because Trump’s White House directed current and former administration officials not to participate in the inquiry. Democrats decided against issuing a subpoena because they were concerned about the possibility of a lengthy court battle.
You can read a full fact check here.
“And it’s a ridiculous horrible partisan situation. We won 196 to nothing in the house. This was not supposed to happen.” — January 30 interview with Fox News’ Peter Doocy
“And with us also, we have some of our people that have been just incredible. They’re warriors. I call them warriors. We won 196 to nothing on a little vote a couple of weeks ago.” — January 30 speech on the USMCA in Warren, Michigan
“You know, it helped when we won 197 to nothing.” — February 6 speech on Senate impeachment acquittal
“It was a fix. Except, when it got up to Congress, we had 197 to nothing.” — February 7 speech at North Carolina Opportunity Now Summit
Facts First: Trump did not win any House of Representatives vote related to impeachment, let alone win “197 to nothing” or “196 to nothing.” In fact, he had decisively lost a key process vote and then the two votes to actually impeach him. He appeared to be referring to the fact that no Republican voted against him on these three occasions, but he wasn’t clear at all that this is what he meant.
The Democratic-controlled House voted 232-196 in October in favor of the Democrats’ proposed rules for the impeachment inquiry. The House voted 230-197 and 229-198 in December on the two articles of impeachment.
The timeline of military aid to Ukraine
“Additionally, I met with President Zelensky at the United Nations (Democrats said I never met) and released the military aid to Ukraine without any conditions or investigations – and far ahead of schedule.” — January 27 tweet
Facts First: The aid did not arrive “far ahead of schedule”. While Trump did lift his freeze on the aid on September 11, more than two weeks before a September 30 legal deadline, the delay caused by Trump’s freeze meant that $35 million of the $391 million in aid could not make it out the door in time to meet the deadline, according to impeachment testimony from Mark Sandy, deputy associate director for national security in the Office of Management and Budget. To deal with this problem, Congress had to pass an extension of the deadline. “Had that provision not been included, then any unobligated funds as of September 30th would have expired,” Sandy testified.
The Government Accountability Office, a nonpartisan watchdog agency that works for Congress, concluded that the aid freeze broke a law, the Impoundment Control Act. You can read a full story here.
Vindman and the rough transcript
“Fortunately, for all of us here today and for our country, we had transcripts. We had transcribers — professional transcribers. Then they said, ‘Oh, well, maybe the transcription is not correct.’ But Lieutenant Colonel Vindman and his twin brother — right? — we had some people that — really amazing. But we did everything. We said, ‘What’s wrong with it?’ ‘Well, they didn’t add this word or that one.’ It didn’t matter. I said, ‘Add it. They’re probably wrong, but add it.’ So now everyone agrees that they were perfectly accurate.” — February 6 speech on Senate impeachment acquittal
Facts First: In fact, Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the National Security Council’s top Ukraine expert, testified in the House impeachment inquiry that two “substantive” changes he suggested to the rough transcript of Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky were not made. As we have noted before, the document Trump released explicitly says on its first page that it is “not a verbatim transcript.”
Vindman testified that he had wanted to change the words “the company” to “Burisma,” the company name he said Zelensky had used on his call with Trump. And Vindman testified that he had wanted to add in Trump saying “there are recordings” related to former vice president Joe Biden and a Ukrainian prosecutor Biden had pushed Ukrainian leaders to fire. (Trump was vague about what he meant; in public comments last fall, Trump brought up a video of Biden at a 2018 event telling the story of his effort to get the prosecutor ousted.)
Vindman testified that the transcript was “substantively correct” even without the changes he had proposed. “When I first saw the transcript without the two substantive items that I had attempted to include, I didn’t see that as nefarious. I just saw it as, OK, no big deal. You know, these might be meaningful, but it’s not that big a deal,” he told the House Intelligence Committee in November.
European countries and aid to Ukraine
“But I told Mike (Pence). I said, ‘Mike, we’re giving them money, and, you know, you’re always torn about that because we have our country to build, we have our cities to build and our roads to fix. But we’re giving them money. Tell me, why isn’t Germany paying money? Why isn’t France? Why isn’t United Kingdom paying money? Why aren’t they paying money? Why are we paying them money? Is that a correct statement, Mike? I say, ‘Find out what the hell is going on.’ And I told that to all of my people, OMB. I said — I asked that question: ‘How much is Germany paying? Why isn’t Germany paying?’ Why is the United States always the sucker?” — February 6 speech on Senate impeachment acquittal
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.
Ivanka Trump and Jobs
“Ivanka has been a champion for administrative and legislative actions to combat human trafficking…And she has now created over 15 million jobs for the people of our country…15 million…Fifteen million jobs. It was going to be 500,000. ‘Daddy, I think we can do 500,000.’ Within about a week, she broke that, and now she is up 15 million jobs.” — January 31 speech at the White House Summit on Human Trafficking
“Through our Pledge to America’s Workers — spearheaded by a young woman that perhaps some of you may have heard of, Ivanka Trump — over 415 companies have committed — these are the big companies, for the most part — have committed to providing new jobs and training opportunities to nearly 15 million Americans. You know, when she started, she said, ‘Daddy, I want to help people get jobs.’ This was at the beginning of the administration. She said, ‘I’m working on 500,000 jobs.’ So she’d call Walmart. She called all these great companies. So she had a goal of 500,000 — half a million jobs. Sounds like a lot. I said, ‘That’s a lot.’ She just broke 15 million jobs. Amazing. Fifteen million.” — February 7 speech at North Carolina Opportunity Now Summit
Facts First: Ivanka Trump has obviously not “created over 15 million jobs.” At the time, roughly 7 million jobs had been created during the entire Trump presidency.
Trump was referring to the White House’s Pledge to America’s Workers initiative, in which Ivanka Trump has sought to get companies to commit to providing “education and training opportunities” for workers. As of February 11, 2020, companies had promised to create 14.6 million opportunities — but many of these opportunities are internal training programs, not new jobs. Also, as CNN has previously reported, many of the companies had already planned these opportunities before Ivanka Trump launched the initiative.
Unemployment for women
Touting record unemployment rates for various groups, Trump added, “Women — best in 71 years. Sorry. We’ll have you there soon. Soon, it will be ‘historic.’ I have to apologize to the women; it’s only 71 years.” — February 6 speech at National Prayer Breakfast
Facts First: It had been 66 years, not 71 years, since the women’s unemployment rate was as low as it was every month from October through January, 3.5%. (That’s if you ignore the 3.4% in September and April.)
The estate tax
Trump claimed three times to have eliminated the estate tax, suggesting all three times that this would be beneficial to small farmers and small businesspeople.
Facts First: Trump has not eliminated the federal estate tax. His 2017 tax law raised the threshold at which the tax must be paid, from $5.5 million to $11.2 million for an individual, but did not get rid of the tax entirely. It’s also misleading to suggest that the estate tax had been a particular burden on farms and small businesses; very few of them were paying the tax even before Trump’s changes came into effect.
According to the Tax Policy Center, a mere 50 farms and closely held businesses were among the 5,190 estates to pay the estate tax in 2017, before Trump’s tax law. The Center wrote on its website: “The Tax Policy Center estimates that small farms and businesses will pay $20 million in estate tax in 2017, one-tenth of 1 percentage of the total estate tax revenue.”
Median household income
Trump claimed four times that real median household income has increased by $10,000 or almost $10,000 during his presidency.
Facts First: It’s not true that household income gains under Trump have already hit $10,000 or close in less than three years. A firm called Sentier Research says real median household income, pre-tax, was $66,043 in November 2019 — up from $61,342 in January 2017, a difference of $4,701. Trump says he is adding an additional $5,000-plus on account of his loosening of regulations and supposed energy savings, but these explanations do not make sense mathematically. You can read a longer fact check here.
“We’ve ended the war in American energy. The United States is now the number one producer of oil and natural gas anywhere on earth, by far.” — January 30 campaign rally in Des Moines, Iowa
“And we have ended, so importantly for you, the war on American energy. The United States is now the number one producer of oil and natural gas anywhere in the world.” — January 28 campaign rally in Wildwood, New Jersey
“Thanks to our bold regulatory reduction campaign, the United States has become the number one producer of oil and natural gas anywhere in the world, by far.” — February 4 State of the Union address
Facts First: The US has not just “now” become the world’s top energy producer or become the top producer because of Trump’s actions: it took the top spot in 2012, according to the US government’s Energy Information Administration — under the very Obama administration Trump is accusing of perpetrating a “war” on the industry.
The US became the top producer of crude oil in particular during Trump’s tenure. “The United States has been the world’s top producer of natural gas since 2009, when US natural gas production surpassed that of Russia, and it has been the world’s top producer of petroleum hydrocarbons since 2013, when its production exceeded Saudi Arabia’s,” the Energy Information Administration says.
Who’s paying for the tariffs on China
“We’ve taken in billions and billions of dollars from China. Billions and billions of dollars from China. And then they agreed to sign the agreement.” — January 30 speech on the USMCA in Warren, Michigan
The history of tariffs on China
“We have plenty left over because we never got 10 cents from China. China took from us. We didn’t take from China, right?” — January 30 campaign rally in Des Moines, Iowa
Facts First: Aside from the question of who is paying the cost of the tariffs, it’s not true that the Treasury has never received “10 cents” from tariffs on China. The US has had tariffs on China for more than two centuries; FactCheck.org reported that the US generated an “average of $12.3 billion in custom duties a year from 2007 to 2016, according to the U.S. International Trade Commission DataWeb.”
Trump’s claim also ignores China’s hundreds of billions of dollars in purchases of US goods — more than $300 billion during Trump’s presidency alone.
China’s agricultural spending
Trump claimed twice that the record for Chinese agricultural purchases is “$16 billion.”
Facts First: Sixteen billion in Chinese agriculture purchases is not the record: China spent $25.9 billion on American agricultural products in 2012, according to figures from the Department of Agriculture.
In 2017, the year before the trade war began, China spent $19.5 billion. In 2016, it was $21.4 billion. Chinese purchases plummeted to $9.1 billion in 2018.
The trade deficit with China
“And, honestly, I think, as tough as this negotiation was, I think our relationship with China now might be the best it’s been in a long, long time. And now it’s reciprocal. Before, we were being ripped off badly. Now we have a reciprocal relationship, maybe even better than reciprocal for us. Because we have a long way to go before we get back some of the $500 billion a year that we were losing for year after year to China.” — January 29 speech at USMCA signing ceremony
Facts First: Through 2018, there has never been a $500 billion trade deficit with China. (Trump describes trade deficits as “losing,” though many economists dispute that characterization.) The 2018 deficit was $381 billion when counting goods and services, $420 billion when counting goods alone.
Hillary Clinton and trade with South Korea
“She said it’s going to produce 250,000 jobs and she was right, 250,000. Do you know who it was for? For South Korea, not for us. It was for South Korea. So, we renegotiated the deal. I have your permission. We renegotiated the deal and now we have a good deal with South Korea, OK? ‘This deal is going to produce two’ — remember? ‘This deal is going to produce 250,000 jobs for South Korea.’ She didn’t lie, can’t say she lied.” — January 30 campaign rally in Des Moines, Iowa
“She said, ‘250,000 jobs this will produce. It’s going to produce 250,000 jobs.’ And she was right — for them. They got 250,000 jobs. She never said that. She said ‘250,000 jobs.'” — February 7 speech at North Carolina Opportunity Now Summit
Facts First: There is no record of Hillary Clinton projecting an increase of 250,000 jobs because of the United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS). Obama said the deal would “support at least 70,000 American jobs.”
Obama said in 2009 that increasing the US share of trade with Asia from 9% to 10% “could mean 250,000, 300,000 jobs,” but he was not specifically attributing that estimate to the potential effects of a trade deal with South Korea. Republican Rep. Kevin Brady later used an estimate of “about 250,000 new jobs” from trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama combined, not just the one with South Korea.
The size of the USMCA
“The USMCA is the largest, fairest, most balanced, and modern trade agreement ever achieved.” — January 29 speech at USMCA signing ceremony
“BIGGEST TRADE DEAL EVER MADE, the USMCA, was signed yesterday and the Fake News Media barely mentioned it.” — January 30 tweet
Facts First: “Biggest” can be defined in different ways, but trade experts say neither the USMCA or Trump’s trade deal with China is the biggest trade deal in US history. “Since ‘biggest trade deal’ has no standard meaning, it may be possible to justify his statements by constructing a measure that fits it and by limiting the number of trade agreements that one compares to. But by any sensible interpretation, he’s wrong,” said Alan Deardorff, a University of Michigan professor of international economics who focuses on trade. Deardorff said: “Both deals, measured in terms of the volume of trade that they cover, are smaller than the Trans-Pacific Partnership that Obama negotiated, and much smaller than the Uruguay Round that created the World Trade Organization.”
The USMCA includes the US, Canada and Mexico. The Trans-Pacific Partnership, from which Trump withdrew the US, included all three of those countries but also nine others. Also, the USMCA is a modification to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) rather than a deal created from scratch; many of its changes are small.
The 2016 election
Electoral votes in 2016
“But we got 306 to 223 — 306 to 223.” — January 30 campaign rally in Des Moines, Iowa
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.”
A Hillary Clinton crowd in Michigan
Trump boasted of the size of his crowd at his final campaign rally in 2016, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and said, “And Hillary — Crooked Hillary, as I call her — she had a small gathering of about 400 people. I said, ‘So…’ — in a location that was an easier location. So I said, ‘Explain to me, why are we going to lose?’ And we didn’t. We won.” — January 30 speech on the USMCA in Warren, Michigan
Facts First: Clinton had a capacity crowd of more than 4,000 people for her rally at Grand Valley State University, according to local media reports at the time. Grand Rapids’ Wood TV8 reported: “In addition to the about 4,600 inside the Fieldhouse for Clinton’s speech, there was an overflow crowd of several hundred more outside. People lined up hours beforehand to attend Clinton’s 4 p.m. rally.”
Popularity and accomplishments
Trump claimed four times to have gotten the Veterans Choice health care program approved. On two of these occasions, at campaign rallies in New Jersey and Iowa, he claimed that others had unsuccessfully tried for decades to get such a program approved.
Facts First: The Veterans Choice bill, a bipartisan initiative led by senators Bernie Sanders and the late John McCain, was signed into law by Obama in 2014. In 2018, Trump signed the VA Mission Act, which expanded and changed the program.
Michigan’s Man of the Year
“In fact, I was honored, believe it or not. About 10 years ago, I came to Michigan. I was honored by a wonderful group. I was the ‘Man of the Year.’ And I made a speech and it was a little bit controversial.” — January 30 speech on the USMCA in Warren, Michigan
Facts First: CNN and other news outlets have found no evidence Trump was ever named Michigan’s man of the year. You can read our full fact check on this claim here.
The new military agreement with South Korea
“It’s like in South Korea. I went to them and said, ‘Listen, your deal is no good. We have to make a new deal.’ South Korea, we’re protecting them with all these different things. I said, ‘Number one, you got to pay us more.’ They agreed to. They gave us $500 million a year more. They said, ‘But nobody has ever asked.’ They gave us $500 million. That’s nothing compared to what they have to do. That’s OK, that’s OK, they’ll pay more.” — January 30 campaign rally in Des Moines, Iowa
Facts First: Trump was exaggerating the increase in South Korea’s military payments to the US. As the New York Times reported in February when debunking an earlier version of Trump’s “$500 million” claim: “Under the one-year deal, this year South Korea will pay 1.04 trillion won, or $925 million, an increase of $70 million from last year’s $855 million.”
Trump has tried to get South Korea to agree to a much larger increase for 2020. Negotiations broke off in November.
Drug overdose deaths
“Drug overdose deaths have declined for the first time in nearly 31 years.” — January 30 campaign rally in Des Moines, Iowa
Facts First: This was another of Trump’s regular exaggerations of numbers that are already impressive. The decline in overdose deaths in 2018 was the first since 1990, or 28 years ago, not “nearly 31 years” ago.
If Trump had said “nearly 30 years,” we’d let it go as reasonable rounding. But “nearly 31 years” clearly suggests the number is more than 30 years.
The individual mandate and Obamacare
“We got rid of the individual mandate, the most unpopular thing, which essentially killed Obamacare.” — January 30 campaign rally in Des Moines, Iowa
Facts First: The individual mandate, which required Americans to obtain health insurance, was indeed a key part of Obamacare — but Trump hasn’t killed Obamacare, essentially or otherwise. He has not eliminated Obamacare’s expansion of the Medicaid insurance program for low-income people, the federal and state marketplaces that allow people to shop for coverage, or the consumer subsidies that help many of them make the purchases.
“To uphold the rule of law, we have confirmed 191 federal judges, a record…And two great Supreme Court justices, by the way.” — January 30 campaign rally in Des Moines, Iowa
“Working with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — thank you, Mitch — and his colleagues in the Senate, we have confirmed a record number of 187 new federal judges to uphold our Constitution as written. This includes two brilliant new Supreme Court justices, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.” — February 4 State of the Union address
Facts First: Trump had not set a record for total judges appointed as of this point in a first presidential term. Jimmy Carter had appointed 197 judges by late January of his fourth year in office, according to data from Russell Wheeler, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution who tracks judicial appointments.
Wheeler said Trump has appointed 187 judges by traditional counting methods — two Supreme Court justices, 50 appeals court judges and 135 district court judges — but that it’s possible to get to a total of 191 judges by adding Trump’s three appointments to the Court of Federal Claims and his designation of a sitting judge on that court as chief judge.
Prescription drug prices
“And I was pleased to announce last year that, for the first time in 51 years, the cost of prescription drugs actually went down.” — February 4 State of the Union address
“This year — meaning last year’s numbers just came in. First time in 51 years where drug prices, prescription drugs went down. First time in 51 years.” — February 7 speech at North Carolina Opportunity Now Summit
“…prescription drugs. You know, we had — Secretary Azar is here and I want to thank him for this, but we had — first time in 51 years, where drug prices actually came down last year. First time in 51 years.” — February 6 speech on Senate impeachment acquittal
Facts First: Trump was both exaggerating how recent the decline in prescription drug prices was and how many years it had been since there had been such a decline.
The Consumer Price Index for prescription drugs showed a 0.6% decline between December 2017 and December 2018, which was the first calendar-year decline since 1972 — the first decline in 46 years, not the “first time in 51 years.”
In addition, it’s not true that the decline was “this year” or in last year’s numbers that “just came in.” Consumer Price Index data for the period between December 2018 and December 2019 shows an increase of about 3%, not another decrease.
The Consumer Price Index has limitations as a way to measure what is really happening with drug prices; it does not capture rebates paid by drug manufacturers. Other sources of data have shown an increase both years.
For example, the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science, which studies drug prices, found that “net drug prices in the United States increased at an estimated 1.5% in 2018.” The list price of brand name drugs rose 3.2%, on average, over the 12 months ending in September 2019, after adjusting for inflation, according to SSR Health, a consulting firm that captures about 90% of these medications sold in the US.
“Right now, we have a love affair with Mexico because the Democrats, the Democrats, wouldn’t give us what we needed and I got Mexico. They’re great. They put up 27,000 soldiers on our southern border.”– January 30 campaign rally in Des Moines, Iowa
Facts First: Mexico has deployed around 27,000 troops, but Trump exaggerated how many are being stationed near the US border in particular. CNN reported on November 2: “Nearly 15,000 troops are deployed to Mexico’s northern border, where they’ve set up 20 checkpoints, Mexican Defense Minister Luis Cresencio Sandoval said last week at a press briefing on the country’s security strategy. At the southern border, 12,000 troops are deployed and have set up 21 checkpoints.”
Acting US Customs and Border Protection commissioner Mark Morgan has offered similar numbers, telling reporters in September that 10,000 of approximately 25,000 troops were on Mexico’s southern border.
Mexico and the wall
“It’s a tough situation, but Mexico is in fact, you will soon find out — paying for the wall, OK? You know they’d hit you with that. No, the wall is ultimately and very nicely being paid for by Mexico, and it’s an advantage for Mexico too, when you think about it.” — January 28 campaign rally in Wildwood, New Jersey
Facts First: There is still no evidence Mexico is paying for Trump’s border wall, which his administration is seeking to fund in part with taxpayer money appropriated by Congress and in part with taxpayer money taken from the military.
Mexico is spending a significant amount of money to help the US on migration issues, deploying thousands of troops to both its Guatemala border and its US border to thwart would-be asylum seekers. It’s possible to argue that this is like Mexico paying for a kind of human wall. But Trump’s wall is an actual, physical project that Mexico is not funding.
A Joe Biden crowd
“I mean, Joe had a crowd that was so small the other day that they set up a roundtable, right? No, it’s true. No, they were in a gymnasium. They were in a gymnasium and they set up a roundtable, and people that went there to hear his speech are now being asked, ‘What do you think of socialism?’ They just said, ‘I just want to be here to watch a speech.’ They set up a roundtable because the crowd was so small.” — January 30 campaign rally in Des Moines, Iowa
Facts First: We could not find any cases in which Biden was supposed to make a campaign speech but drew so few attendees that his campaign roped the people who did come into having a roundtable discussion with him instead. The Biden campaign told us this did not happen; the Trump campaign did not respond to a request to identify the event Trump was talking about.
Sen. Mazie Hirono and the Green New Deal
“They said, what do you think of the Green New Deal? I said, well, it should be studied carefully. We should look at it. Look at it closely. I don’t want to talk about it until about two months before the election. And then, I’ll tell you how totally insane it is. How about this crazy senator — how about this crazy, crazy senator from Hawaii? They said ‘I’m totally in favor’ — not the smartest. She said, ‘I’m totally in favor of the Green New Deal.’ Well, you know, that would mean there’s no more airplanes. ‘Oh.’ So they started screaming at her in Hawaii. They said how the hell are we going to get to Hawaii? They said we’re going to build a railroad. She said, ‘The world’s longest track, it’s the world’s longest.’ She doesn’t know that they don’t want airplanes anymore,.” — January 30 campaign rally in Des Moines, Iowa
Facts First: It is not true that Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono decided to support the Green New Deal and then was informed afterward that the proposal “would mean there’s no more airplanes,” nor that she later started talking about building a train to Hawaii. Trump was mischaracterizing an exchange Hirono had with a reporter in February 2019. You can read a full fact check here.
Democrats, immigrants and the Rolls-Royce
Trump said the media humorlessly accused him of lying when he had told a joke that California Gov. Gavin Newsom wanted to give undocumented immigrants a free Rolls-Royce: “One of the newscasters said, ‘Donald Trump said that the Governor of California promised a Rolls-Royce to illegal immigrants. He didn’t promise them. This was a lie and a misrepresentation by President Trump. ‘They can’t take a little humor, they can’t take it. These people are sick, they’re sick.” — January 30 campaign rally in Des Moines, Iowa
Facts First: That is not exactly what happened. Trump did make a joke at a 2018 campaign rally in Arizona about Democrats wanting to give undocumented immigrants a free Rolls-Royce — but then, at a rally the next day in Nevada, he made a non-joking claim that Democrats want to “give them cars.” He continued to joke about a Rolls-Royce in particular, but he was challenged on the assertion of fact.
He said in Nevada: “They want to open your borders, let people in, illegally. And then they want to pay for those people for health care, for education. They want to give them cars, they want to give them driver’s licenses. I said last night, we did a great — we did a great, great rally in Arizona last night, and I said — I said last night, what kind of car will they supply them? Will it be a Rolls-Royce?”
Democrats and borders
Trump claimed three times that the Democratic Party supports “open borders.”
Facts First: Even prominent Democrats who advocate the decriminalization of the act of illegally entering the country, such as Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, do not support completely unrestricted migration, as Trump suggests.
The Russia investigation
Sen. Chuck Grassley’s exchange with James Comey
“But I’ll tell you, Chuck Grassley — he’s looking at Comey: ‘Well, you tell me, what did you say?’ Now, he wasn’t being rough. That was just the way he talked. And that was when Comey — I think that was when Comey announced that he was leaking, lying, and everything else, right? He choked because he never heard anybody talk like that.” — February 6 speech on Senate impeachment acquittal
Facts First: Comey, then the director of the FBI, didn’t announce during this exchange with Grassley at the Senate Judiciary Committee in May 2017 that he was leaking or lying. Rather, Comey denied to Grassley that he had been a leaker. It was during separate Senate Intelligence Committee testimony the next month, after Trump fired Comey, that Comey acknowledged having leaked accounts of his conversations with Trump, after his firingh in an attempt to prompt the appointment of a special counsel.
During the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in May 2017, Comey flatly denied having been a leaker. Grassley said, “It is frustrating when the FBI refuses to answer this committee’s questions, but leaks relevant information to the media. In other words, they don’t talk to us, but somebody talks to the media. Director Comey, have you ever been an anonymous source in news reports about matters relating to the Trump investigation or the Clinton investigation?“
Comey responded, “Never.” Grassley: “Question two, relatively related: have you ever authorized someone else at the FBI to be an anonymous source in news reports about the Trump investigation or the Clinton investigation?” Comey: “No.” Grassley: “Has any classified information relating to President Trump or his association — associates been declassified and shared with the media?” Comey: “Not to my knowledge.”
Texts and emails from Peter Strzok and Lisa Page
“But they deleted all of their emails and text messages. So when we got the phone, they were all deleted. Could you imagine the treasure trove? They illegally deleted. So they left. They left Bob Mueller.” — February 6 speech on Senate impeachment acquittal
Facts First: There is no evidence Strzok and Page, the former FBI officials who exchanged anti-Trump text messages, illegally deleted texts or emails. While the Justice Department was initially unable to find some of their texts, an investigation by the department’s inspector general later recovered everything that had been missing; the issue was an FBI technical problem with Samsung 5 phones, not anything Strzok or Page had done.
“CNN, total fake stuff. Oops, their cameras just went off. Look, their camera, it just went off. CNN! Their camera just went off. That always happens. Whenever I say CNN, their camera goes off…”– January 30 campaign rally in Des Moines, Iowa
Facts First: CNN’s photojournalists at Trump’s rallies do not turn off their cameras when Trump criticizes CNN. Also, no CNN light suddenly went off as Trump criticized CNN here: CNN’s photojournalists at Trump rallies have the “tally” lights on their cameras set permanently to off.
This false claim is a regular part of Trump’s repertoire for rally speeches.
“And we are protecting people with pre-existing conditions and we always will, the Republican Party.” — January 30 campaign rally in Des Moines, Iowa
“We are protecting people with pre-existing conditions and we always will, the Republican Party, pre-existing conditions. We saved it.” — January 28 campaign rally in Wildwood, New Jersey
“I’ve also made an ironclad pledge to American families: We will always protect patients with pre-existing conditions.” — February 4 State of the Union address
Facts First: We usually don’t fact check promises, but this one has already proved untrue. Not only did Trump and Republicans not “save” protections for people with pre-existing conditions, the Trump administration and Republicans have repeatedly put forward bills and filed lawsuits that would weaken these protections, which were created by Obamacare. 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.
Van Jones and criminal justice reform
Trump told a story about CNN host Van Jones urging him to press for a criminal justice reform bill. Trump then said this: “So I got it done and about a week later I saw Van Jones making a speech. And he was thanking everybody. I call my wife; I say, ‘Darling, come. I’m so proud of this. Come in, I’m sure he’s going to say nice things.’ He never mentioned my name. ‘I want to thank the Reverend Al Sharpton.’ Al Sharpton? I didn’t even know he was involved. ‘I want to thank…’ — people that I never even heard of. He was thanking people — he never mentioned my name. So I had somebody call him and say, just — ‘You don’t have to do that, but — if it’s so tough. Not fair. But, you know, you should do it.’ He apologized. He said he made a mistake.” — February 7 speech at North Carolina Opportunity Now Summit
Facts First: Jones said in October 2019, when Trump first uttered a version of this claim, that he has never made any such apology. He said it again this week: “Never happened,” he told us.
Jones has habitually given Trump credit for the First Step Act criminal justice reform law — including in a CNN appearance three weeks before Trump made the October claim, in which Jones said, “I think Trump has gotten too little credit for what he did on criminal justice reform.”
Jones told us in October: “I literally do not know what he’s talking about.” He added: “I have not apologized for not mentioning Trump because I’ve never not mentioned Trump. Why would I apologize for not doing something that I did?”
It’s worth noting that, in October, Trump said Jones’ offending comments had occurred “three weeks ago.” In the new version of the story, Trump put Jones’ comments much earlier — about a week after he signed the bill in December 2018.
You can read a full fact check of this claim here.
Special elections in North Carolina
“We just won two seats in North Carolina — two wonderful seats in North Carolina that were not supposed to be won. But I went and I made speeches, and we had rallies, and we did a great job and we won. We took two seats. Nobody writes about that. If we lost them, it would have been the biggest story of the year.” — February 6 speech on Senate impeachment acquittal
Facts First: It’s not true that both seats were “not supposed to be won.” While the race in North Carolina’s 9th District was considered competitive by pollsters and pundits, the race in North Carolina’s 3rd District was widely expected to be won easily by the Republican candidate, Greg Murphy.
Murphy was running in a district formerly held by the late Republican Rep. Walter Jones, who ran unopposed by the Democrats in the 2018 election. Trump had won the district by about 24 points in 2016.
Dan Bishop’s margin of victory
“We did a little bit of a rally for two guys that are very special. One of them is Dan Bishop…He campaigned and he didn’t choke. There was no choke. He had a lot of pressure, but he ended up — won by like five or six points. Wasn’t — it was like boring that evening. You were winning by too much. I thought it was going to be a lot closer than that, right?” — February 7 speech at North Carolina Opportunity Now Summit
Facts First: Bishop won the 2019 special congressional election in North Carolina’s 9th District by two percentage points, not “like five or six points.”
Greg Murphy’s margin of victory
“And this guy — it was pretty even, and I think he won by 28 points, right? It was like — Greg Murphy.” — February 7 speech at North Carolina Opportunity Now Summit
Facts First: Murphy won the special election in North Carolina’s 3rd District by 24.3 percentage points, not 28 points, and there was no sign the race had been “pretty even.” A late poll had Murphy leading by 11 points.
Right to Try
The effort to pass Right to Try
Trump twice touted the Right to Try law he signed in 2018. In one case, he said people had been trying to pass such a law for 50 years. In the other case, he said it was 45 years.
Facts First: There had not been a 45-year or 50-year effort to get a federal Right to Try law, which aims to make it easier for terminally ill patients to access medications that have not been granted final approval. Trump signed the bill in 2018; similar laws have been passed at the state level only since 2014, after the Goldwater Institute, a libertarian think tank, began pushing for them.
“I have no idea what ‘they’ve been trying to get’ for 44 years,” Alison Bateman-House, assistant professor of medical ethics at New York University’s Langone Health, said in response to a previous version of Trump’s claim. “The Right to Try law was a creation of the Goldwater Institute, and it first became state law in 2014 (in Colorado), relatively soon after it was first conceived of.”
The situation before Right to Try
“You have people that are terminally ill. If they have money, they go to Asia, they go to Europe, they go all over the world looking for help. If they don’t have money, they go home and they die, and what we did is a thing called Right to Try. People sign something and they don’t hold the country responsible.” — January 28 campaign rally in Wildwood, New Jersey
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 a 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.