Fact check: Trump, Clinton and their debate claims
WASHINGTON >> Donald Trump mischaracterized the record on Hillary Clinton’s defense of her husband and her own treatment of women when he brought up Bill Clinton’s sexual history and other episodes of the past. Clinton didn’t give a square account of the fallout from her email practices.
A look at some of the claims in the second presidential debate:
TRUMP, asked whether the predatory behavior with women that he described in a 2005 video amounted to sexual assault: “No, I didn’t say that at all.”
THE FACTS: He certainly didn’t own up to sexual assault in his boastful remarks in 2005. But he clearly described groping and kissing women without their permission, using his celebrity to impose himself on them.
“I don’t even wait,” he bragged in the video. “And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.” He went on: “Grab them by the p----. You can do anything.”
He described a specific sexual advance toward a married woman. “I moved on her like a bitch. But I couldn’t get there.”
TRUMP on Hillary Clinton’s behavior when, as a young public defender, she was assigned to represent an accused child rapist: “She’s seen on two separate occasions, laughing at the girl who was raped. Kathy Shelton, that young woman, is here with us tonight.”
THE FACTS: At no point was Clinton seen laughing at the victim.
In 1975, at the age of 12, Shelton was sexually assaulted in Northwest Arkansas. Clinton was asked by a judge overseeing the case to represent her alleged attacker. After the prosecution lost key evidence, Clinton’s client entered a plea to a lesser charge.
In an interview a decade later, Clinton expressed horror at the crime, but was recorded on tape laughing about procedural details of the case. The audio has been seized on by conservative groups looking to attack Clinton’s presidential candidacy but does not convey mirth at the girl’s fate.
TRUMP on women linked to Bill Clinton sexually: “Hillary Clinton attacked those same women and attacked them viciously.”
THE FACTS: There is no clear, independent evidence that Hillary Clinton “viciously” attacked women who alleged or confirmed sexual contact with her husband.
To be sure, in the 1992 Democratic primaries, she was deeply involved in the Clinton campaign’s effort to discredit one accuser, actress Gennifer Flowers, who alleged she had a long-running affair with Bill Clinton. Both Clintons acknowledged past troubles in their marriage but sought to undermine Flowers’ claims. Bill Clinton later acknowledged in a 1998 court deposition that he had a sexual encounter with Flowers.
Hillary Clinton was also quoted over the years making disparaging comments about other women linked with her husband.
What is lacking is proof that she engineered efforts to smear their reputation. Diane Blair, a political science professor and longtime Hillary Clinton friend who died in 2000, left behind an account of private interviews with Hillary Clinton in which she told her during the Monica Lewinsky affair that she considered the former White House intern a “narcissistic loony toon.”
CLINTON: “After a yearlong investigation, there is no evidence that anyone hacked the server I was using, and there is no evidence that anyone can point to, at all ... that any classified material ended up in the wrong hands.”
THE FACTS: Maybe, maybe not. While there’s indeed no direct, explicit evidence that classified information was leaked or that her server was breached, it was nevertheless connected to the internet in ways that made it more vulnerable to hackers — and the public may never know who saw them. FBI Director James Comey has said: “We assess it is possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton’s personal email account.”
The Associated Press previously discovered that her private server, which has been a major campaign issue for Clinton and the focus of U.S. investigations, appeared to allow users to connect to it openly over the internet and control it remotely. That practice, experts said, wasn’t intended to be used without additional protective measures, and was the subject of U.S. government warnings at the time over attacks from even amateur hackers.
Since the AP in early 2013 traced her server to her home in Chappaqua, New York, Clinton hasn’t fully explained who administered her server, if it received software updates to plug security holes or if it was monitored for unauthorized access. It’s also unclear what, if any, encryption software Clinton’s server may have used to communicate with official U.S. government email accounts.
Comey has said Clinton and her staff “were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.” But he said the FBI won’t recommend criminal charges against Clinton for use of the server while she was secretary of state and closed the investigation.
TRUMP on Bill Clinton: “He lost his license. He had to pay an $850,000 fine.”
THE FACTS: Trump’s facts are, at best, jumbled. In 1998, lawyers for Bill Clinton settled with former Arkansas state employee Paul Jones for $850,000 in her four-year lawsuit alleging sexual harassment. It was not a fine, and there was no finding or admission of wrongdoing.
Trump erred in describing the legal consequences of that case. In a related case before the Arkansas State Supreme Court, Clinton was fined $25,000 and his Arkansas law license was suspended for five years. Clinton also faced disbarment before the U.S. Supreme Court but he opted to resign from the court’s practice instead of facing any penalties.
CLINTON: “We are now, for the first time ever, energy independent.”
THE FACTS: Clinton inaccurately overstates the case. For the first time in decades the United States gets more energy domestically than it imports, but it is not yet energy independent as the country continues to rely on oil imports, from the Mideast and elsewhere. Estimates vary as to when the U.S. might achieve energy independence.
Domestic oil production has greatly increased in recent years. And at the same time oil imports as a percentage of consumption have dropped, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Oil imports have dropped from 3.58 billion barrels in 2008 to 2.68 billion barrels in 2015.
TRUMP: “She (Clinton) wants to go to a single-payer plan, which would be a disaster...she wants to go to single-payer, which means the government basically rules everything.”
THE FACTS: It’s Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders — not Clinton — who supports a Canada-style governmentrun health care system.
While Clinton’s health care proposals would expand the government’s role in the health care system, she’s not talking about dismantling the current system, which is a hybrid of employer-sponsored coverage, government programs like Medicare and Medicaid, and individually purchased insurance.
As president, Clinton would push for a government-sponsored insurance plan in the health care markets created by President Barack Obama’s health care law, as an alternative to private insurance.