Fact-checking Trump’s massively dishonest weekend: The President made at least 66 false or misleading claims in three days #Breaking112
Trump has been reliably deceptive for his entire presidency, filling his speeches and tweets with lies and other false statements.
For fact checkers, the period from Friday through Sunday was one of the most challenging of Trump’s entire presidency: he made at least 66 separate false or misleading claims over that three-day span. In other words, it was 66 false or misleading claims without even counting all the times he repeated some of those same 66 claims over the course of the three days.
Still, though, this was an egregious stretch for the President, no matter how much he was talking. Here is a list of the false and misleading claims we counted:
Voting and the election
In Georgia, Trump continued to suggest that mail-in voting was rife with fraud, saying that “unsolicited” ballots — where states send a ballot to every eligible registered voter — are a “big con job.”
Facts First: “Unsolicited” ballots are not a “con job.” Fraud is exceedingly rare in US elections — whether with in-person voting, mail voting in states where voters have to request ballots or mail voting in states where all eligible registered voters are sent ballots without having to make requests.
Ballots and a river
As supposed proof of his allegations about mail-in voting, Trump said in Michigan, “Did you see they found 50,000 ballots in like a river?”
Facts First: This is totally baseless. We could not find any examples of 2020 general election ballots being found in a river, let alone “50,000” of them. (Trump has previously claimed that ballots were found in rivers without saying it was “50,000.”)
Ballots and Virginia
After he baselessly alleged in Georgia that ballots were found in a river, Trump said, “They find ’em — I think 500,000 ballots in Virginia.”
This was a significant error, but it was not fraud, and it did not affect ballots themselves. Virginia authorities said they would make sure that the correct office received any applications sent to an incorrect office.
Ballots in a New York primary
Trump claimed in Georgia that there were “ballot schemes” in a New York Democratic congressional primary involving Rep. Carolyn Maloney.
Facts First: This is false. There has been no evidence to date of fraud or any “ballot schemes” in this primary in New York’s 12th District. There was a legal dispute about the fact that a large number of ballots were rejected for non-fraud reasons. And while the ballot-counting was slow because the state has had administrative problems — ranging from insufficient staffing to outdated technology — in trying to count a much larger than usual number of absentee votes, a slow count is not evidence of anything nefarious.
Supposed voter fraud in California
Trump told a story in Michigan that suggested ballots were being cast in California in the name of dead people. He added, “You have plenty of them in Los Angeles, you know, they had many people, they were over a hundred years old. Every one of ’em voted for years. Then they got to be 110, they kept voting and then people said, ‘Well this is getting to be like record territory, you know.’ When you have hundreds of them voting, nah, it’s a lot of corrupt stuff going on…”
Michigan’s governor and ballots
Trump, continuing to baselessly warn about election fraud, told voters in Michigan to “be careful” of Michigan’s Democratic governor and attorney general, “because you know, they’re like in charge of the ballot stuff. Right? So how the hell do I put my political and our country’s political life in the hands of a pure partisan like that, right.”
Facts First: Michigan’s secretary of state, not its governor and attorney general, is in charge of the election there.
Presidential history in Michigan
Trump said in both Michigan and Georgia that, prior to 2016, no Republican presidential candidate had won Michigan in “38 years.” (At his rally in Michigan, he said it was “like 38 years or something,” conveying some uncertainty.)
Facts First: Trump was exaggerating or just mistaken. He was the first Republican presidential candidate to win Michigan since George H.W. Bush in 1988 — 28 years prior, not 38.
The coronavirus pandemic
The state of the pandemic
Trump claimed in Florida, “Even without the vaccine, the pandemic’s going to end. It’s gonna run its course. It’s gonna end. They’ll go crazy. He said ‘without the vaccine’ — watch, it’ll be a headline tomorrow. These people are crazy. No, it’s running its course. We’re rounding the turn. You see the numbers, and we’re rounding the turn.”
Cases and testing
Trump’s crowds and masks
Challenged in a Wisconsin television interview about his decision to hold rallies during a spike in coronavirus cases, Trump noted that the events are outdoors, then claimed the crowds at his three events the day prior “largely” wore masks.
While there were a substantial number of people wearing masks at the seniors event, a clear majority of attendees at his rally speeches in Macon, Georgia, and Ocala, Florida, were not masked, according to CNN reporters on the scene and images of the events.
At his events in Michigan, Georgia and Florida, and in the Wisconsin interview, Trump claimed that there were “supposed” to be 2.2 million US deaths from the pandemic or that this is the number the US was “expected” to lose.
Facts First: Trump was wrongly describing this 2.2 million statistic.
In other words, this figure was an extreme-worst-case scenario if the authorities did absolutely nothing to address the virus, not an expectation.
China and the virus
Trump claimed in Wisconsin that China stopped the coronavirus “from going into China, but they didn’t stop it from going to the rest of the world, including our country, Europe, the rest of the world.”
Trump’s travel restrictions on China and Europe
Trump said in Nevada and Georgia that he put a travel “ban” on China.
The pandemic and jobs
Trump boasted in Florida: “Since the China virus, we have created — a record in the history of our country — 11.4 million jobs over just a short period of months.”
Trump claimed in Georgia: “We’re now setting records for employment, unemployment. We’re setting all sorts of records economically.”
Biden’s proposals, positions and past
Biden and charter schools
Trump claimed in Georgia that Biden has “vowed” to ban charter schools and in Michigan that he supports “abolishing” them.
Biden and pre-existing conditions
Biden and the timber industry
Trump said in Wisconsin: “If Joe Biden gets in, the radical left will shut down Wisconsin timber production forever. You know, they don’t want to let you touch a tree. If you happen to touch a tree, they want to put you in jail for the rest of your life.”
Biden and borders
Facts First: This is false. Biden does not support the complete abolition of US borders, nor does he support completely unrestricted migration.
Biden, Democrats and suburbs
Trump said Biden and his allies on the left want to “destroy your suburbs.” He also claimed that he “saved” the suburbs by abandoning an Obama-era anti-segregation rule.
Biden and the prosecutor
“…How ’bout this quid pro quo? ‘We’re not gonna give you the billion dollars unless you get rid of the prosecutor, get rid of him out of that company,’ which is his son. ‘Stop investigating my son and stop investigating, or I’m not giving you the billion dollars of our money,'” Trump said.
Facts First: This is not what happened; there is no evidence Biden ever sought to get Ukraine to stop investigating his son — in fact, there is no evidence Hunter Biden was even under investigation in Ukraine — or to stop any investigation. Rather, Joe Biden has openly discussed how he attempted, in accordance with US and EU policy, to pressure Ukraine to fire Shokin.
Biden and health care
Trump claimed in Nevada that Biden and running mate Sen. Kamala Harris “want to wipe out the 180 million plans” of people with private health insurance, citing the fact that Harris co-sponsored Sen. Bernie Sanders’s “Medicare for All” bill in the Senate.
Facts First: This is false. Biden himself has been a vocal opponent of the “Medicare for All” single-payer proposal Sanders is known for, which would eliminate most private insurance plans. In fact, Biden and Sanders clashed on the issue during the Democratic primary.
It’s possible that, over time, a popular public option would affect private insurers’ willingness to offer some private plans. But Trump is suggesting Biden is actively proposing to wipe out private insurance, and that’s not the case at all.
Biden, health care and undocumented immigrants
Trump claimed in Georgia that Biden is pledging “free health care for illegal aliens,” saying it was unwise to declare, “Come in, you’re gonna get free health care.”
Biden is proposing to give undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship; as citizens, they would be eligible for the same care as everyone else. But people would not get free health care immediately upon entering the country, as Trump suggested.
Biden and riots
Trump claimed in Wisconsin, “For the entire summer Biden was silent as radicals, anarchists, arsonists and vandals rampaged through Democrat-run cities in Minneapolis, Chicago, New York, Seattle, Portland, and other places…”
Biden’s descriptions of rioters
Trump claimed in Wisconsin that Biden was not only silent on “anarchists, arsonists and vandals” rampaged through cities but that “Biden called them peaceful protesters.”
Biden and the phrase “law and order”
Trump repeated a story about how Biden had supposedly refused, at their first debate, to say the words “law and order.”
“He didn’t want to say it. I said, ‘Joe just say the words ‘law and order. That’s not hard. Joe, law and order.’ He couldn’t say it, he wouldn’t say it. Then he tried — I think he said ‘law and order and safety and security,'” he said in Georgia.
Trump is free to argue that Biden adding “with justice” renders the words “law and order” meaningless. But it’s just false to suggest that Biden refused say the words “law and order” at all.
Biden and lockdowns
Trump claimed in Wisconsin that “Joe Biden would terminate our recovery with a draconian unscientific lockdown.”
It’s also worth noting that presidents themselves cannot shut down the country. The pandemic restrictions governing people’s movements and the operations of businesses and other entities have been imposed by state and local officials, not Trump.
Biden and the law
In Michigan, Trump said of Biden: “He’s a criminal. He’s committed crimes.”
Facts First: This is baseless. Trump has presented no evidence that Biden committed crimes.
Biden and defunding the police
In Nevada, Trump described the choice between himself and Biden as a choice between “supporting the police or defunding the police.”
Biden and dismantling police departments
Facts First: This is, again, baseless. The federal government is not in charge of the size or structure of local police departments, and Biden, who has repeatedly said he opposes the “defund the police” movement, is proposing a $300 million increase in federal funding for community policing programs.
Biden, police and “the enemy”
Trump claimed in Wisconsin, “Biden referred to police as the enemy. He just referred — ‘the enemy,’ quote, quote, ‘the enemy.'”
Biden and guns
Trump said in Wisconsin that Biden’s plan includes “disarming law-abiding citizens, namely taking away your Second Amendment.”
Facts First: This is a misleading exaggeration, though there is some factual basis for the claim.
But Biden went on to say his buyback program does not mean “walking into their homes, knocking on their doors, going through their gun cabinets, etc.,” since “right now, there’s no legal way” to deny people the right to keep guns they have bought legally.
Biden and taxes
Facts First: This is false. Biden’s plan would increase taxes for people making more than $400,000 per year. He has promised not to directly raise taxes for those making less than that.
Higher-income Americans would bear the brunt of the tax hikes proposed by Biden, according to analyses from left-leaning Tax Policy Center, the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget and the Penn Wharton Budget Model.
But even the wealthiest Americans would not see their taxes quadruple. For example, the Penn Wharton Budget Model found that the top 0.1% would see an increase of up to 12.4 percentage points on average when including both the individual and the corporate tax changes proposed by Biden.
Biden’s news conferences
Trump claimed in Michigan that Biden receives questions in advance at his news conferences: “How ’bout his — how ’bout his news conferences where the fake news media gives him the questions and the answers — they say what do you think about this or that? And then he reads the answer.”
Biden and the wall
Trump claimed in Michigan: “Biden wants to knock down the wall, that’s what we hear. They said, ‘Do you wanna knock down the wall?’ I don’t think he even knew what the hell they were askin’ him, yeah. Doesn’t matter what he wants, it’s what his handlers want.”
Trump and Christmas
In Nevada, Trump told his familiar story about how department stores used to avoid the word “Christmas” to be “politically correct,” but “now they’re all saying Merry Christmas again.”
Facts First: There is no evidence that all stores that declined to use the phrase “Merry Christmas” before Trump’s presidency have changed their policies.
The cost of the embassy in Jerusalem
In Georgia, Trump repeated his familiar story about how he managed to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem for “under $500,000.”
While the initial modification that allowed the building to open as an embassy cost just under $400,000, that was not the final total.
A supposed award in Michigan
Facts First: This is among the more ridiculous false claims Trump has continued to make over the years. Trump, who has never lived in Michigan, has never provided any evidence that he has been named “Man of the Year” by any Michigan organization, let alone by the state itself. (There is no evidence the state even had a “Man of the Year” award.)
Minnesota and the National Guard
In Michigan, Trump took credit once more for the National Guard quelling unrest in Minnesota following the killing of George Floyd: “We saved it. We sent in the National Guard. We saved it.”
Facts First: This is false. Minnesota’s Democratic governor, Tim Walz, was the one who activated the Guard — and Walz, a Guard veteran, did so two days after the violent protests began, more than seven hours before Trump publicly threatened to deploy the Guard himself.
When Minnesota activated the Guard
Trump also suggested in Michigan that Minnesota was very late activating the Guard, saying, “They coulda called about two weeks earlier, right?”
Facts First: While we don’t know what a general might have told Trump in private, it’s not true that the US had “no ammunition” when Trump took office. According to military leaders, there was a shortfall in certain kinds of munitions, particularly precision-guided bombs, late in the Obama presidency and early in the Trump presidency; military leaders did not say that they had completely run out of any kind of bomb, let alone ammunition in general.
Penalties for damaging monuments
Trump again claimed that he signed a bill to impose harsh penalties on people who destroy statues.
“But now they’re not doing it too much, ’cause I signed into law, I signed a bill that gives you 10 years in jail if you rip down any federal statue,” he said in Michigan.
Trump issued the executive order on June 26. Among other things, it directs the attorney general to “prioritize” investigating and prosecuting certain cases of vandalism — especially of monuments and memorials of US veterans — in accordance with “applicable law,” and to prosecute monument vandals “to the fullest extent permitted under Federal law.”
One of the laws cited in the order is about the “destruction of government property,” which carries a potential “fine of up to $250,000, ten years imprisonment, or both” if the purposeful damage to government property exceeds $100. The law has been around since 1964.
Mexico and the border wall
Trump claimed again, over and over, that “Mexico is paying for the wall.”
Facts First: This is a lie. Mexico hasn’t contributed any money toward the construction of the border wall. The wall is being funded by the US government.
Highway approval times
Trump claimed in Wisconsin that “it used to take 18 to 21 years” to get a highway approved through the federal environmental process. (In Florida, he said, “You know it used to take 18, 17, 20, 21 — it would take years and years, 21 years to get a highway approved.”)
Facts First: There is no apparent basis for the claim that the federal environmental approval process for highways used to take this many years.
“I’ve never heard of a 20-year NEPA approval process. That’s not to say there’s never been one, but if so it would be an extremely rare outlier, not the norm,” said Brad Karkkainen, a University of Minnesota law professor and expert on environmental and land use law. “I have heard of the approval process for some unusually complex projects taking up to 10 years, but even that hasn’t happened more than once or twice to my knowledge.”
Great Lakes restoration funding
Trump boasted in Michigan that “we got $900 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, all done, it’s all done.”
The Trump tax cut
Trump claimed in Wisconsin: “We gave the greatest — the biggest tax cut in history…”
Facts First: This is false. There have been bigger US tax cuts when measured both in inflation-adjusted dollars or as a share of the economy.
Tax cuts in 1981, 2010, and 2013 were larger, both in inflation-adjusted dollars or as a share of the economy. As a share of the economy, there were even others that were bigger, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a think tank focused on fiscal policies.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, passed in 2017 under Trump, provided for cuts that are among the largest in nominal terms, but even then they are still smaller than tax cuts passed at the beginning of 2013.
In 2018, Trump signed the VA MISSION Act, which expanded and changed the Choice program.
Trump and Lincoln
In Wisconsin, Trump repeated his claim that he has done more for the Black community “than any President with the exception of Abraham Lincoln. It’s true. It’s true.”
Facts First: It’s not true. We don’t usually fact check opinions, but this one is just false. President Lyndon B. Johnson, for example, signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act, monumental bills whose impact dwarfed the impact of any legislation Trump has signed.
Hillary Clinton and trade with South Korea
In Michigan, Trump repeated a story about how Hillary Clinton had supposedly said of a trade agreement with South Korea: “This deal is great, it’s gonna produce 250,000 jobs.” (He then proceeded to his punch line about how the deal produced 250,000 jobs for South Korea, not the US.)
Facts First: There is no record of Clinton projecting an increase of 250,000 jobs because of the United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS). President Barack Obama said the deal would “support at least 70,000 American jobs.”
The money in the Iran deal
Democrats and borders
Trump said in Nevada of Democrats generally: “They want open borders.”
Facts First: This is false; Democratic leaders do not support completely unrestricted migration. Though the Democratic majority in the House opposes Trump’s signature proposal for a border wall, congressional Democrats have long supported other border security measures.
Michelle Obama and Georgia
Boasting in Georgia about Gov. Brian Kemp’s victory in the 2018 midterms, Trump claimed that in that race, “We had Barack Obama, Michelle Obama — they practically lived in Georgia, and all Brian had was Trump, and Brian won fairly easily.”
The Clinton campaign and Michigan
Trump said in Michigan that, on the night before the 2016 election, there was an unexpected campaign trip to Michigan by “Barack Hussein Obama, Michelle Obama, Oprah and Hillary.” (He then joked, “They actually forgot about Hillary.”)
Clinton’s rally size
Trump claimed in Michigan that, at Clinton’s final rally in Michigan in 2016, a mere “500 people showed up.”
“Acid washed” emails
Trump claimed in Nevada that Hillary Clinton not only deleted but “acid washed” emails.
The name of the Democratic Party
In Wisconsin, Trump repeated a bizarre claim about how the Democratic Party’s official name is actually the Democrat Party.
“I always say ‘Democrat.’ Do you know why? Because it sounds worse. They should actually change the name to the Democratic — ‘Democrat’ sounds lousy, but you know what, that’s actually their name, the Democrat Party, right? The Democrat Party. So I always say Democrat. They say ‘Democratic.’ I say, why don’t you try changing your name officially?”
Facts First: The party is already named the Democratic Party. (We realize this is a strange-sounding fact check, but Trump has repeatedly insisted that the actual name is the Democrat Party, so we thought it was worth setting the record straight.)
Michael Bloomberg’s presidential campaign
China and the World Trade Organization
Trump claimed in Florida that, before China entered the World Trade Organization, “China was flat-lining” economically.
Facts First: This is false; China had experienced significant growth for years prior to joining the WTO in late 2001. According to World Bank figures, China grew by 7.7% in 1999, 8.5% in 2000 and 8.3% in 2001. It then grew by 9.1% in 2002, 10.0% in 2003 and 10.1% in 2004. Its post-WTO growth peaked at 14.2% in 2007 — almost identical to its growth in 1992. Nicholas Lardy of the Peterson Institute for International Economics wrote in 2008: “China has been the fastest growing economy in the world over almost three decades, expanding at 10 per cent per year in real terms.”
In an email to CNN in July 2019, when Trump made another version of this comment, Lardy said, “Uninformed would be the best characterization of the President’s comment.”
China and tariffs
In Wisconsin, Trump again claimed that China is “paying us billions and billions of dollars a year” in tariffs.
The history of tariffs on China
Trump also claimed in Wisconsin that before he put tariffs on China, “They never paid us 10 cents.”
Japan’s prime minister and auto companies
Trump told a story in Michigan about a supposed conversation “six months ago” with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in which he told Abe to “get” Japanese auto companies to build more US factories, Abe said this was a matter for the companies, Trump pressed him, Abe said, “Well, we will look in to it” and “the next day they announced five factories coming in.”
Facts First: We have no idea what Trump and Abe said to each other, but the punch line of this story is false. There was no day — six months ago or at any point during Trump’s term — when five Japanese auto companies announced US factories.
Kristin Dziczek, vice president for industry, labor and economics at the Center for Automotive Research in Michigan, said that there has only been one new Japanese auto assembly plant in the US under Trump, a Toyota-Mazda joint venture in Alabama.
The history of auto plants in Michigan
Trump claimed at separate events that, before him, Michigan didn’t have an auto plant built for 40 years, 42 years and 44 years.
Trump said in Wisconsin, “Everyone thinks stocks, oh, it’s rich people. Everybody owns stocks.”
NAFTA and the USMCA
Trump claimed in Michigan, “I ended the NAFTA nightmare and signed the brand new US Mexico Canada Agreement into law…”
Facts First: This is misleading. While Trump did renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico, the agreement they made, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, retains most of NAFTA’s contents. “NAFTA was like a 25 year-old house that needed updating and refreshing: USMCA makes it look new and improved (for the most part), but the fundamental structure still is NAFTA,” said Robert Fisher, who was a US negotiator for the original NAFTA and is now managing director of the consulting firm Hills and Company.
“USMCA did not replace NAFTA, but rather built on NAFTA’s foundation. In areas such as tariff elimination on agricultural and industrial goods, the opening of services markets, removing non-tariff trade barriers such as unfair product standards, and protection of intellectual property and investment, USMCA remains largely NAFTA. USMCA brought needed updates in areas such as digital trade, labor and the environment,” Fisher said. (He added that, in his view, it also “took a few questionable steps,” such as sunset clauses.)
“She’s like disappeared. Nobody can find her,” he said in Florida. “In fact, nobody’s seen Savannah for two days. What happened to Savannah?” he said in Wisconsin.
Facts First: Trump’s claims were false; Guthrie has not disappeared. She co-hosted NBC’s “Today” show as usual on Friday morning.
A Trump claim about undocumented immigrants
In Michigan, Trump repeated his story about how he told a joke about Democrats wanting to give undocumented immigrants a free Rolls-Royce and then CNN said he “lied” about this, not understanding that he was “kidding.”
Here’s what he said in Nevada in 2018: “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?”
CNN’s Tami Luhby, Holmes Lybrand, Tara Subramaniam and Katie Lobosco contributed to this article.