Trump’s first week of false claims, in­ac­cu­rate state­ments and ex­ag­ger­a­tions

The Washington Post Sunday - - POLITICS & THE NATION - GLENN KESSLER glenn.kessler@wash­

Regular read­ers know that can­di­date Don­ald Trump had dif­fi­culty with facts. He earned an as­ton­ish­ing 59 Four-Pinoc­chio rat­ings over the course of the cam­paign.

Now that Trump is pres­i­dent, he con­tin­ues to make mis­lead­ing state­ments, based on in­com­plete in­for­ma­tion, in­ac­cu­rate statis­tics or flights of fancy. Here’s an ac­count­ing of his pub­lic state­ments in the first seven days as pres­i­dent, not count­ing his er­ror-plagued in­au­gu­ra­tion speech (which had eight prob­lem­atic claims). If we wrote a full fact check, we noted the num­ber of Pinoc­chios the state­ment re­ceived. (A longer list of 24 state­ments ap­pears on­line.)

“I have a run­ning war with the me­dia. They are among the most dis­hon­est hu­man be­ings on Earth. And they sort of made it sound like I had a feud with the in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity.” — Jan. 21, re­marks at the CIA On Dec. 9, when The Wash­ing­ton Post re­ported that in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials had con­cluded that Rus­sia had sought to un­der­mine Hil­lary Clin­ton in the elec­tion, the Trump team is­sued a state­ment: “These are the same peo­ple that said Sad­dam Hus­sein had weapons of mass de­struc­tion.” Af­ter in­for­ma­tion leaked that Trump had been briefed that an un­ver­i­fied dossier al­leged Rus­sia had em­bar­rass­ing in­for­ma­tion about him, Trump lashed out at the in­tel­li­gence agen­cies and asked: “Are we liv­ing in Nazi Ger­many?” The me­dia sim­ply re­ported what Trump said about the in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity.

“We have the all­time record in the his­tory of Time Magazine . . . . I’ve been on it for 15 times this year.” — Jan. 21, re­marks at the CIA Trump has been on the cover of Time magazine a to­tal of 11 times. Richard Nixon holds the record: 55. De­pend­ing on whether you count small pho­to­graphs, Hil­lary Clin­ton has been on the cover be­tween 22 and 31 times.

“Had a great meet­ing at CIA Head­quar­ters yes­ter­day, packed house, paid great re­spect to Wall, long stand­ing ova­tions, amaz­ing peo­ple. WIN!” — Jan. 22, tweet Trump ap­peared to be re­spond­ing to crit­i­cism of his heav­ily po­lit­i­cal speech in front of the CIA’s fa­bled me­mo­rial wall. He claimed to have re­ceived stand­ing ova­tions, but he never in­vited the em­ploy­ees to take a seat. So they re­mained stand­ing the whole time.

“Wow, tele­vi­sion rat­ings just out: 31 mil­lion peo­ple watched the In­au­gu­ra­tion, 11 mil­lion more than the very good rat­ings from 4 years ago!” — Jan. 22, tweet Ac­tu­ally, Barack Obama’s rat­ings in 2009 were 7 mil­lion peo­ple higher than Trump’s num­bers. Sec­ond-term in­au­gu­ra­tions tend to get lower rat­ings, so he is cherry-pick­ing the com­par­i­son. “I’m a very big per­son when it comes to the en­vi­ron­ment. I have re­ceived awards on the en­vi­ron­ment.”

— Jan. 23, re­marks dur­ing a meet­ing with busi­ness lead­ers

There is lit­tle ev­i­dence that Trump re­ceived awards for the en­vi­ron­ment. The White House pointed us to a self-pub­lished book by Trump’s for­mer en­vi­ron­men­tal con­sul­tant. The only award men­tioned in that book was from New Jersey Audubon — but the group de­nied it ever gave an award to Trump, the Trump Na­tional club in Bed­min­ster or any of its em­ploy­ees. (This state­ment earned Four Pinoc­chios.)

“We think we can cut reg­u­la­tions by 75 per­cent. Maybe more.”

— Jan. 23, meet­ing with busi­ness ex­ec­u­tives

This is clearly a made-up fig­ure. As of the end of 2015, there were nearly 180,000 pages in the code of fed­eral reg­u­la­tions. So, in the­ory, that means get­ting it down to 45,000 pages. There were 71,000 pages back in 1975. Even un­der Ron­ald Rea­gan, the num­ber of pages climbed al­most 20 per­cent.

“Be­tween 3 mil­lion and 5 mil­lion il­le­gal votes caused me to lose the pop­u­lar vote.”

— Jan. 23, re­marks to con­gres­sional lead­ers

This is a fan­tasy, wor­thy of Four Pinoc­chios. Trump is ob­sessed with how he lost the pop­u­lar vote by nearly 3 mil­lion votes, and so he keeps mak­ing this claim, even though there is no ev­i­dence to sup­port it. “This is on the Key­stone pipe­line . . . . A lot of jobs, 28,000 jobs. Great con­struc­tion jobs.”

— Jan. 24, re­marks on sign­ing ex­ec­u­tive me­moran­dum

In con­trast to Obama, who al­ways played down the num­ber of jobs that would be cre­ated by the Key­stone XL pipe­line, Trump in­flated the num­bers. The project would cre­ate part-year work in four states for 10,400 work­ers, the State De­part­ment de­ter­mined. That added up to a to­tal of 3,900 an­nual con­struc­tion jobs. About 12,000 other an­nual jobs would stem from di­rect spend­ing on the project. So that adds up to 16,000, most of which are not con­struc­tion jobs. (This state­ment earned Three Pinoc­chios.)

“We ended up win­ning by a mas­sive amount, 306. I needed 270. We got 306.”

— Jan. 25, in­ter­view with ABC News

Trump’s elec­toral col­lege mar­gin was rel­a­tively nar­row by his­tor­i­cal stan­dards. He ranks 46th out 58 elec­tions. A switch of about 40,000 votes in three states would have swung the elec­tion to Clin­ton.

“Then he’s grov­el­ing again. You know I al­ways talk about the re­porters that grovel when they want to write some­thing that you want to hear but not nec­es­sar­ily mil­lions of peo­ple want to hear or have to hear.”

— Jan. 25, in­ter­view with ABC News

Trump at­tacked the author of a 2012 Pew Cen­ter on the States re­port for say­ing his re­port did not back up Trump’s claims of voter fraud. Trump sug­gested the re­searcher had changed his tune, but when the re­port was is­sued the author re­peat­edly ex­plained it did not re­flect voter fraud. (This claim earned Four Pinoc­chios.)

“They say I had the big­gest crowd in the his­tory of in­au­gu­ral speeches . . . . We had the big­gest au­di­ence in the his­tory of in­au­gu­ral speeches.”

— Jan. 25, in­ter­view with ABC News

Crowd es­ti­mates are dif­fi­cult, but at­ten­dance for Trump’s speech ap­pears to be at least 80 per­cent smaller than Obama’s 2009 swear­ing-in, 70 per­cent smaller than Lyn­don B. John­son’s in­au­gu­ra­tion and 60 per­cent smaller than Obama’s sec­ond in­au­gu­ra­tion in 2013. In terms of TV view­er­ship, Trump ranks fifth, far be­hind Ron­ald Rea­gan. Even on­line es­ti­mates don’t boost him to “big­gest au­di­ence.”

“When Pres­i­dent Obama was there two weeks ago mak­ing a speech, very nice speech. Two peo­ple were shot and killed dur­ing his speech.”

— Jan. 25, in­ter­view with ABC News

No one was shot and killed on Jan. 10, 2017, in Chicago, the day Obama gave his farewell speech, ac­cord­ing to the Chicago Po­lice De­part­ment.

“We have spent as of one month ago $6 tril­lion in the Mid­dle East.”

— Jan. 25, in­ter­view with ABC News

Trump is lump­ing to­gether the wars in Iraq (in the Mid­dle East) and Afghanistan (in South Asia), which to­gether cost about $1.6 tril­lion from 2001 to 2014. He is also adding in es­ti­mates of fu­ture spend­ing, such as in­ter­est on the debt and veter­ans care for the next three decades.

“You had mil­lions of peo­ple that now aren’t in­sured any­more.”

— Jan. 25, in­ter­view with ABC News

In at­tack­ing the Af­ford­able Care Act, Trump re­peats a FourPinoc­chio whop­per. Some 20 mil­lion peo­ple have gained health cov­er­age be­cause of the law. About 2 mil­lion peo­ple were told their old plans no longer qual­i­fied un­der the law, but af­ter an uproar, most re­ceived waivers that kept the plans go­ing un­til the end of 2017. In any case, any­one whose plan was ter­mi­nated could buy new in­surance.

“NAFTA has been a ter­ri­ble deal, a to­tal dis­as­ter for the United States from its in­cep­tion, cost­ing us as much as $60 bil­lion a year with Mex­ico alone in trade deficits.”

— Jan. 26, re­marks to con­gres­sional Repub­li­cans

The trade-deficit num­ber is close to cor­rect, but Trump ap­par­ently does not un­der­stand the mean­ing of “trade deficit.” He of­ten sug­gests this money could be used to pay for his planned wall along the south­ern border. But that’s non­sen­si­cal. A trade deficit only means that peo­ple in one coun­try are buy­ing more goods from an­other coun­try than peo­ple in the sec­ond coun­try are buy­ing from the first coun­try. No money passes from govern­ment to govern­ment.

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