Sun. Oct 25th, 2020

Fact check: Trump makes more than 20 false or misleading claims in accepting presidential nomination

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(CNN)President Donald Trump is a serial liar and he serially lied during his speech accepting the Republican nomination.

CNN counted more than 20 false, exaggerated or misleading claims from Trump on Thursday night. That’s in addition to a number of falsehoods from other speakers. Trump’s dishonesty touched on a range of topics, from the economy to his administration’s performance during the coronavirus pandemic. Some of Trump’s most egregious false claims were directed at Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

    Click here to explore CNN’s Facts First databaseIn his scripted remarks, Trump suggested Biden wants to take down the border wall, but Biden has specifically rejected that idea, saying only that he’ll stop further construction. Trump baselessly said that Biden’s plan would eliminate borders, which it wouldn’t. Read MoreTrump claimed he passed Veterans Choice, a law that Obama signed in 2014. Trump also touted a “record” 9 million jobs gained over the past three months, without mentioning the record 22 million job losses that preceded that. Trump also boasted about the Covid testing system and his general response to the pandemic, even though experts near-universally say the US was fatally slow in its response, especially slow in setting up adequate testing. Here’s a look at a selection of false and misleading claims from the final night of the Republican National Convention.

    Covid

    Trump made a number of misleading and exaggerated claims in touting his administration’s record on Covid-19 testing and treatments. “We developed, from scratch, the largest and most advanced testing system in the world,” Trump said.Trump also said, “America has tested more than every country in Europe put together, and more than every nation in the Western Hemisphere combined. We have conducted 40 million more tests than the next closest nation,” he said. In addition, Trump, according to prepared remarks, said the US has “developed a wide array of effective treatments, including a powerful anti-body treatment known as convalescent plasma that will save thousands of lives. Thanks to advances we have pioneered, the fatality rate has been reduced by 80 percent since April.”Finally, Trump said the US “has among the lowest case fatality rates of any major country in the world. Facts First: These claims are exaggerated and misleading. Testing in the US has been less than successful, and has never reached levels that satisfy public health experts. After getting off the ground slowly and late, Trump’s own CDC director, Dr. Robert Redfield, admits the US has missed 90% of coronavirus cases with its testing efforts. On June 25, he told reporters that the CDC had estimated there were many more cases than testing had detected. “A good rough estimate now is 10 to 1,” Redfield told a media briefing. Redfield told Congress that coronavirus has “brought this nation to its knees.” As for Trump’s claims on developing new treatments, the US has not yet developed a single new treatment for coronavirus. The only treatments that have been shown to work against coronavirus are old treatments – the steroid dexamethasone, the existing drug remdesivir, which has minimal benefits, blood thinners and convalescent plasma, which is a 100-year-old last-ditch treatment, and the FDA commissioner acknowledged he overstated its potential benefits on Sunday. Antibody treatments are in the works, but are far from approval and it’s not clear how well they might work. As for case fatality rates, the US does appear to have a case fatality rate of 3.1%, but that is still higher than Russia’s, which is 1.7%; Saudi Arabia’s, which is 1.2%; Israel’s, which is 0.8%; Norway’s, which is 2.5%; Japan’s, which is 1.9%. Johns Hopkins has a list of those rates among the most affected countries here. And deaths are not always reported. The CDC has found many more excess deaths during the pandemic than have been attributed to coronavirus. . It’s possible other countries are simply better at tallying their deaths. However, according to Johns Hopkins University, the US has among the highest mortality rates when measured per 100,000 people. The US comes in at 54.93 deaths per 100,000. Only 10 countries have higher rates, and they include Brazil, at 56.17 deaths per 100,000; Sweden at 57.12 and the UK, at 62.49. More than 100 countries have lower death rates than the US. They include Mexico, Panama, France, Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Norway, Greece, Sudan and Haiti. — Maggie Fox

    Jobs

    Trump claimed the US economy has gained a record nine million jobs over the past three months. Facts First: This is highly misleading. The economy did add about 9.3 million jobs combined in May, June and July — but that record increase immediately followed a much bigger record loss of about 22.2 million jobs in March and April. In other words, the economy is still down nearly 13 million jobs because of the coronavirus crisis. (Also, many of the jobs added were simply people returning to work after temporary layoffs.) You can read a longer fact check here. — Daniel Dale

    Paycheck Protection Program

    Trump claimed that the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses, a key part of the federal government’s response to the pandemic, has “saved or supported more than 50 million American jobs.” Facts First: This is likely a significant overstatement. A private-sector report found that far fewer jobs, about 13.6 million, have been saved by the program. The Trump administration maintains that more than 50 million jobs were saved by the program, which lent forgivable loans to small business owners so that they could keep their workers on payroll. But a report from S&P Global found that the money saved about 13.6 million jobs. S&P’s estimate is based on the average size of a small business, rather than the specific loan recipients. Separately, a half-dozen economists interviewed by Reuters put the number of jobs saved at only a fraction of 50 million — ranging between 1 and 14 million. Reuters said officials from the Small Business Administration, which oversees the program, said the claims about more than 50 million jobs refers to the total number of workers reported by businesses approved for loans — not the number of jobs that were saved. — Katie Lobosco

    Taxes

    Trump claimed that Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden “has pledged a $4 trillion tax hike on almost all American families.” Facts First: This overstates the tax increase Biden has proposed and experts say it would fall largely on corporations and wealthy Americans, rather than on the middle class. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, an independent bipartisan nonprofit, estimated that Biden’s tax plan would raise between $3.35 trillion and $3.67 trillion over a decade by concentrating its tax increases on corporations and the country’s highest earners. “The Biden tax plan is highly progressive, increasing taxes for the top 1 percent of earners by 13 to 18 percent of after-tax income, while indirectly increasing taxes for most other groups by 0.2 to 0.6 percent,” wrote the CRFB in a recent report. — Alex Rogers

    Covering pre-existing conditions

    Trump again pledged that he and the entire Republican Party “will always, and very strongly, protect patients with preexisting conditions.” Facts First: Though the President has repeatedly asserted his support for covering individuals with preexisting conditions, his administration has consistently taken steps to undermine the Affordable Care Act without presenting alternative plans that would offer similar benefits. Congressional Republicans have also repeatedly put forward bills and filed lawsuits that would weaken Obamacare’s protections for people with preexisting conditions. You can read more here. — Tara Subramaniam

    Prescription drug prices

    Trump doubled down on his longtime pledge to lower prescription drug prices, mentioning it twice in his speech. “Last month, I took on Big Pharma — you think that’s easy? It’s not — and signed orders that will massively lower the cost of your prescription drugs,” said Trump, who also promised to “further reduce the cost of prescription drugs.” Facts First: The President signed four executive orders in July aimed at reducing drug prices, but it’s far from clear whether they will ever take effect or greatly lower prices if they do. Also, drug prices have continued to rise during the Trump administration, though the growth rate has slowed by some measures. The President issued four executive orders late last month, which resurfaced a kitchen sink of controversial proposals that have advanced little during his term. One, known as the favored nations measure — which has not yet been released by the White House — generally calls for setting Medicare reimbursement levels for certain drugs on their cost in other countries. Trump said at the signing that he would hold onto the order until August 24 to give drug makers time to present their ideas for reducing costs. A planned meeting at the White House in late July never took place, and it remains to be seen what Trump will do with the measure. A second order calls for effectively banning drug makers from providing billions of dollars in rebates to pharmacy benefit managers and insurers, a radical change in the way many drugs are priced and paid for in Medicare and Medicaid. Instead, drug companies would be encouraged to pass the discounts directly to patients at the pharmacy counter. The administration had to back down from this effort last summer, in part because it would have likely raised Medicare premiums. Another executive order pushes allowing drug importation from Canada, where prices are much lower. It would also allow manufacturers to import lower-cost versions of the drugs they sell in other countries. However, concerns include whether the medications would be safe and whether Canada has enough supply to make a dent in US prices. The final order directs Federally Qualified Health Centers, which provide primary care services to underserved communities, to pass along discounts on insulin and EpiPens to their patients. It’s likely the drug industry would take the administration to court if the President moves forward with the orders. As for drug prices: GoodRx, which follows several thousand brand name and generic medications, found that manufacturers hiked prices on 857 drugs by an average of 6.8% in the first six months of this year. That compares to 933 medications rising an average of 7% over the same time last year, according to the website, which provides cost comparisons and consumer discounts. The number of drugs and rate of price growth slowed between 2015 and 2019. — Tami Luhby

    Progress for Black Americans

    Trump claimed that he has done more for the African American community than any other president since Abraham Lincoln.Facts First: While we give Trump lots of latitude to express opinions, this one is simply ridiculous even if he is comparing himself only to previous presidents and excluding other Black heroes. It’s absurd to say Lincoln is a “possible” exception; emancipating the slaves was obviously more important for Black Americans than anything Trump has done. President Lyndon B. Johnson 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. You can make an argument that numerous additional presidents did more for Black Americans than Trump, but we’ll stop there. It’s worth noting, though, that Black people themselves do not, on the whole, agree with Trump’s self-assessment. Trump has had a consistently abysmal approval rating with Black citizens — just 4% in one recent Quinnipiac University poll, for example, versus 93% disapproval.– Daniel Dale and Holmes Lybrand

    Iraq War

    Trump noted Joe Biden voted for the Iraq War in an attack on Biden’s record.Facts First: This omits important context. While Trump is correct that Biden voted for the war, Trump didn’t mention that he himself expressed tentative support for the 2003 invasion in a 2002 interview with Howard Stern.Trump did not become an explicit opponent of the war until 2004, more than a year after the invasion. His running mate, Mike Pence, also voted for the war as a member of Congress.You can read a longer fact check here.– Andrew Kaczynski

    Veterans health care

    Trump falsely claimed he passed the Veterans Choice program.Facts First: The Veterans Choice bill, a bipartisan initiative led by Sens. Bernie Sanders and the late John McCain was signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2014. In 2018, Trump signed the VA Mission Act, which expanded and changed the Choice program.Trump has told this lie more than 150 times.– Daniel Dale

    Border wall

    Trump said, “We have already built 300 miles of border wall.” Facts First: This needs context. As of August 7, some 275 miles of barriers had been constructed on the US border with Mexico — but just 5 of those miles were erected in places where no barriers had existed before, according to official statistics provided to CNN’s Priscilla Alvarez by US Customs and Border Protection. Of the remainder, 245 miles were erected in place of old barriers, while 25 miles of new “secondary wall” were erected to fortify primary barriers. The Trump-era replacement barriers are often much larger than the older ones they are replacing. But still, it’s worth noting that Trump has not erected 300 miles of wall where no barriers existed before. — Daniel Dale

    Immigration

    According to Trump, “the Biden-Bernie manifesto calls for suspending all removals of illegal aliens.” Facts First: The Sanders-Biden “unity task forces” actually recommended a “100-day moratorium on deportations of people already in the United States” to allow for the development of transformative changes to enforcement practices at Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection.So, there was some basis for Trump’s claim here, but a moratorium is not a permanent halt. And even a moratorium would not apply to people who are apprehended trying to cross the border during the 100-day period.– Holmes Lybrand

    China

    During his speech, Trump claimed that he has “very good information” that China wants Biden to win because Biden cheers for China.Facts First: While we don’t know what information Trump may have, a recent assessment from the intelligence community reported that China preferred Trump lose the election because he was “unpredictable” and because of the many actions he has taken against China. William R. Evanina, director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, in a statement on August 7 updating the election threat landscape heading into the election, noted that “China prefers that President Trump — whom Beijing sees as unpredictable — does not win reelection. The statement went on to note that China has been critical of Trump’s “Covid-19 response, closure of China’s Houston Consulate” and “actions on Hong Kong, TikTok, the legal status of the South China Sea, and China’s efforts to dominate the 5G market.” Evanina’s report makes no mention of China preferring Biden because he would weaken the US economy.– Daniel Dale and Holmes Lybrand

    NATO alliance

    Trump claimed NATO members had agreed to pay $130 billion more a year.Facts First: NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg explained during a meeting with Trump on December 3, 2019, that by the end of 2020 non-US NATO members would have added a total of $130 billion to their defense budgets since 2016, not $130 billion per year.This figure does not take into account the possible impact of the current pandemic, NATO spokeswoman Peggy Beauplet noted in an email to CNN on Thursday morning. You can read more about Trump’s claims on NATO spending here.– Daniel Dale

    Jerusalem embassy

    Referring to the US embassy in Jerusalem, Trump claimed it cost less than $500,000 to open. “Rather than spending $1 billion on a new building as planned,” Trump said, “we took an already owned existing building at a better location, real estate deal, right? And opened it at a cost of less than $500,000.” Facts First: The State Department awarded a $21.2 million contract in 2018 for a company to design and build “compound security upgrades” related to Trump’s decision to turn the existing facility into an embassy. While the initial modification that allowed the building to open as an embassy cost just under $400,000, that was not the final total. — Tara Subramaniam

    Democrats and God

    Trump claimed that during the Democratic convention the word “God” was left out of the Pledge of Allegiance twice.”During the Democrat Convention the words ‘under God’ were removed from the Pledge of Allegiance, not once but twice,” Trump said. Facts First: The word ‘God’ was left out of the Pledge of Allegiance in at least two caucus meetings held earlier in the day that were part of the full convention, but the word was not removed during the main evening events of the DNC.– Holmes Lybrand

    Criminalizing protest

    Trump said that when demonstrators began tearing down statues and monuments, “I signed an order immediately. Ten years in prison.”Facts First: Trump’s actions have simply directed the attorney general to enforce already-existing laws. The President’s executive order doesn’t create new laws or possible prison sentences.Trump issued the order on June 26 that, among other things, directed 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.”One of the laws cited in the order is 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.– Holmes Lybrand

    School choice

    Trump claimed Biden “vowed to oppose school choice and close all charter schools, ripping away the ladder of opportunity for Black and Hispanic children.” Facts First: The claim about charter schools is an exaggeration. The claim about “school choice” is debatable.The Democratic Party platform recommends banning for-profit charter schools from receiving federal funding, not abolishing all charter schools. It also takes a generally skeptical approach to charter schools, calling for “conditioning federal funding for new, expanded charter schools or for charter school renewals on a district’s review of whether the charter will systematically under-serve the neediest students.” That is not abolition. The claim that Biden wants to end “school choice” is less clear-cut, since the phrase can be defined different ways. Biden and the task force oppose school vouchers that provide government money to students who go to private schools. However, Biden supports some alternatives to standard public schools. “Joe Biden opposes the Trump/DeVos conception of ‘school choice,’ which is private school vouchers that would destroy our public schools. He’s also against for-profit and low-performing charter schools and believes in holding all charter schools accountable. He does not oppose districts letting parents choose to send their children to public magnet schools, high-performing public charters, or traditional public schools,” a Biden spokesperson said in an email.– Daniel Dale

    Child care costs

    First daughter Ivanka Trump claimed that the Trump administration had lived up to promises to make child care more affordable and accessible by boosting child tax credits as part of the 2018 tax overhaul. “As part of Republican tax cuts in 2019 alone, our child tax credit put over $2,000 into the pockets of 40 million American families,” she said. Facts First: This is mostly correct. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act doubled the child tax credit to $2,000 per child and added another $500 credit for older children and other dependents. The Treasury Department estimates that about 39.4 million families received child tax credits and additional child tax credits in 2019, totaling $88.1 billion. That amounts to an average $2,234 per family. However, the tax overhaul bill also denied the full $1,000 child tax credit increase for more than 26 million children in low-and moderate-income families — those whose earnings are so low they owe little or no federal taxes — according to Chuck Marr, senior director of federal tax policy at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal-leaning think tank. Their analysis is here. — Anneken Tappe

    Trump’s finances

    Outlining reasons why Americans should vote for Trump, White House social media director Dan Scavino said, “You know the President cannot be bought.” Facts First: Trump has refused to release his tax returns, preventing the public from gaining a clear picture of his financial interests — including details of any outstanding debts. Trump is the first President since Watergate not to divest his business interests while in office and the first President in decades not to release his tax records, which would offer the public a truer picture of his income and net worth. His annual financial disclosures, which are self-reported and are not vetted by federal ethics officials, give only a veiled view into the President’s finances. You can read more about Trump’s finances here. — Tara Subramaniam and Maegan Vazquez

    Police reform

    Rudy Giuliani, a former New York City mayor and Trump’s personal lawyer, claimed that failure by Congress to enact a police reform bill was to deny Trump a victory during an election year. “It seemed for a few brief shining moments, Democrat and Republican leaders would come together with a unified proposal to reduce police misconduct. This possibility was very dangerous to the left. They had a President to beat and a country to destroy. And although an agreement on action against police brutality would be very valuable for the country, it would also make President Trump appear to be an effective leader. They could have none of that.” Facts First: There is no indication Congress’ failure to agree on a police reform bill or demonstrators’ decisions to protest was motivated by concerns that was Trump looking too “effective.”Amid nationwide protests and civil unrest in response to high-profile episodes of police misconduct, there was bipartisan consensus in Congress earlier this summer that federal legislative action was necessary. But hopes of a prompt police reform bill were dashed in June when Senate Democrats blocked their chamber’s bill after criticizing it as an inadequate response to nationwide calls for action to address police misconduct and racial injustice, with McConnell taking a noncommittal stance on bringing up police reform legislation following the Democrats’ block. The next day, the House passed policing legislation that is not expected to be and has not been taken up in the Senate. Despite several states passing new laws regulating their police forces, Congress has failed to advance national police reform legislation since then.– Caroline Kelly

    Violent crime

    Giuliani claimed that violent crime has been increasing at percentages unheard of in the past. “New York City once described as America’s crime capital, had become by the mid-1990s, America’s safest large city,” Giuliani said, blaming current New York Mayor Bill De Blasio. “Murders, shootings, and violent crime are increasing at percentages unheard of in the past. We’re seeing the return of rioting and looting.”Facts First: While there have been significant increases in the rates of murder, shootings, robberies and grand larceny of automobiles in New York to date in 2020 compared to the same period in 2019, violent crime rates in every major crime category tracked by NYPD are down significantly since Giuliani was mayor. According to the NYPD’s stats, the rates of seven major felony offenses have dropped 290 percent since Giuliani was in office. There’s been 259 murders in New York in 2020 so far this year. In the last two years — of Giuliani’s mayorship (2000 and 2001) there were 673 and 649 respectively.Giuliani saw significant rates of crime drop during his time as mayor, but those drops have largely continued since he left office and remain significantly lower than when Giuliani was in office.– Paul Murphy

    Green New Deal

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell criticized Democrats for wanting to pass more regulations, including suggesting that Democrats want to tell Americans “how many hamburgers you can eat.” Facts First: This is a clear exaggeration. Democrats have not called for limiting how many hamburgers Americans can eat. Sen. Kamala Harris of California, Biden’s running mate, has said she would support changing dietary guidelines, a far cry from mandating what people can eat. Several Democratic presidential candidates talked about cattle production and its negative impact on the environment at a CNN town hall on climate change held in September 2019. When asked if she would support changing dietary guidelines to reduce the consumption of red meat, Harris said she would, but that “the balance that we have to strike here, frankly, is about what government can and should do around creating incentives.””I love cheeseburgers from time to time,” she added.Republicans have often repeated this claim that Democrats want to control what Americans eat. They’ve also criticized Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s initial rollout of her Green New Deal to radically tackle the climate crisis. Critics seized on a line that mentioned cow flatulence that appeared to be based on a single sentence in a Frequently Asked Questions document posted by Ocasio-Cortez’s office.The New York Democrat’s staff later walked back the document, but Republicans have focused on the “cow farts” line. — Katie Lobosco

    Gun rights

    McConnell claimed, speaking of Democrats, “They want to … take away your Second Amendment rights.” Facts First: This needs context. While some on the left have advocated repealing the Second Amendment, leadership in the Democratic Party does not support this. Democrats do broadly support a range of gun control measures. For instance, the Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, has proposed to “end our gun violence epidemic and respect the Second Amendment, which is limited.”Along with banning the “manufacture and sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines,” Biden’s plan includes mandating that people who own assault weapons either sell them to the federal government or properly register them with the authorities, along with other measures. In 2019 House Democrats passed a gun control bill to extend the time allowed for federal agents to review background checks and to require that all gun sales go through background checks. Democrats certainly support more strict gun control measures than Republicans. — Holmes Lybrand

    Immigration

    New Jersey Rep. Jeff Van Drew, who switched parties in 2019 from Democratic to Republican, told a story about his political conversion. He said one of the reasons was that the Democratic Party had become “radical”: “Now they were for open borders.”Facts First: This is false. Democratic congressional leaders and the presidential candidates who were running for the Democratic nomination at the time of Van Drew’s party switch — including eventual nominee Joe Biden — simply did not and do not support completely unrestricted migration.– Daniel Dale

    ISIS

    Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton said, “Joe Biden let ISIS terrorists rampage across the Middle East. President Trump eliminated ISIS’s leader — and destroyed its caliphate.” Facts First: Trump did preside over the destruction of ISIS’s so-called “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria and the killing of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. However, Trump doesn’t deserve sole credit for the liberation of the caliphate. The US was part of a multinational coalition President Barack Obama launched in 2014, and Kurdish forces did much of the ground fighting. In addition, it’s not true that the Obama administration simply let ISIS roam free. Though the caliphate was indeed established under the Obama administration, Obama and Biden also presided over significant progress in retaking that territory. It’s fair game for Cotton to fault the Obama administration for ISIS’s rise, though it’s worth noting the group emerged out of the instability following the invasion launched by Republican President George W. Bush. However, it’s inaccurate to suggest Obama and Biden did nothing about ISIS once it was formed. IHS Markit, an information company that studied the changing the size of the caliphate, reported two days before Trump’s 2017 inauguration that the caliphate shrunk by 23% in 2016 after shrinking by 14% in 2015. “The Islamic State suffered unprecedented territorial losses in 2016, including key areas vital for the group’s governance project,” Columb Strack, senior analyst and head of the IHS Conflict Monitor, said in a statement at the time.

      Under Trump, the military did kill ISIS leader al-Baghdadi. — Daniel Dale

      Source: edition.cnn.com

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