Powered by his two-hour stemwinder at the Conservative Political Action Conference on March 2 — which featured more than 100 false or misleading claims — President Donald Trump is on pace to exceed his daily quota set during his first two years in office.
The president averaged nearly 5.9 false or misleading claims a day in his first year in office. He hit nearly 16.5 a day in his second year. So far in 2019, he’s averaging nearly 22 claims a day.
As of the end of March 3, the 773rd day of his term in office, Trump accumulated 9,014 fishy claims, according to The Fact Checker’s database that analyzes, categorizes and tracks every suspect statement uttered by the president.
Trump’s performance at CPAC is emblematic of his version of the truth during his presidency — a potent mix of exaggerated numbers, unwarranted boasting and outright falsehoods. His speech helped push March 3 to his fourth-biggest day for false or misleading claims, totaling 104.
The speech included his greatest hits: 131 times he has falsely said he passed the biggest tax cut in history, 126 times he has falsely said his border wall is already being built and 116 times he has asserted that the U.S. economy today is the best in history. All three of those claims are on The Fact Checker’s list of Bottomless Pinocchios, as well as other claims Trump made during his CPAC speech.
Since the Bottomless Pinocchio list was introduced in December, it has continued to grow. The president now has 20 claims that qualify.
Here’s a sampling of other claims from the CPAC address, drawn from the database:
— “A state called Michigan, where — by the way — where Fiat Chrysler just announced a four and a half billion dollar incredible expansion and new plant doubling their workforce. Many, many car companies have moved back to Michigan and are continuing to do so.”
Fiat Chrysler did announce this expansion in Michigan, but Trump leaves out that it announced 1,500 layoffs in Illinois at the same time. It’s a big exaggeration to say many car companies have moved back to Michigan, though Chrysler has announced several new investments there under Trump.
— “The Green New Deal … No planes. No energy.”
The Green New Deal is a nonbinding resolution in Congress, and it would not ban air travel or energy. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, a sponsor, released an FAQ document alongside the resolution that mused about banning air travel. But it was not a definitive call to end air travel, and, in any case, Ocasio-Cortez retracted the FAQ within days.
— “When the wind stops blowing, that’s the end of your electric.”
Nope. Wind turbines do not generate power when there’s no wind, but the power grid can handle this variability.
— “I’ve learned because, with the fake news, if you tell a joke, if you’re sarcastic, if you’re having fun with the audience, if you’re in live television with millions of people and 25,000 people in an arena, and if you say something like, ‘Russia, please, if you can, get us Hillary Clinton’s emails. Please, Russia, please. Please get us the emails! Please!’ So everybody’s having a good time, I’m laughing, we’re all having fun. And then that fake CNN and others say, ‘He asked Russia to go get the emails.’ Horrible.”
Trump in previous comments has said earnestly that he wanted Russia to release Hillary Clinton’s emails. In July 2016, he said it gave him “no pause” to call for these emails’ release.
— “Of the 25 [percentage] points [in the China tariffs], we’ve paid for four points and China’s paid for 21 points. OK? Twenty-one. That’s what the numbers are, it’s very simple. You know everyone said, ‘Oh, it’s a tax on our … ’ It’s not really. And what China and other countries do sometimes is they will subsidize it.”
Trump appears to be quoting from a study by European economists that predicted that a 25 percentage point increase in tariffs raises U.S. consumer prices on all affected Chinese products by only 4.5 percent on average, while the producer price of Chinese firms declines by 20.5 percent. The study was released in November, using previously released studies from the 1990s, not actual data on prices. But a paper published the day before Trump spoke, by three prominent U.S. economists, found exactly the opposite had happened when actual trade data was studied.
— “Overall, using standard economic methods, we find that the full incidence of the tariff falls on domestic consumers, with a reduction in U.S. real income of $1.4 billion per month by the end of 2018,” the economists reported. “We find that the U.S. tariffs were almost completely passed through into U.S. domestic prices, so that the entire incidence of the tariffs fell on domestic consumers and importers up to now, with no impact so far on the prices received by foreign exporters. We also find that U.S. producers responded to reduced import competition by raising their prices.”
Another paper, published March 3, found similar results, with the impact heaviest in Republican counties. “We estimate that the U.S. economy has lost $68.8 billion due to higher import prices,” the economists concluded.
— “Robert Mueller put 13 of the angriest Democrats in the history of our country on the commission. Now how do you do that? These are angry, angry people; you take a look at them. One of them was involved with the Hillary Clinton foundation, running it.”
Eleven out of 16 attorneys on special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s team made public have contributed to Democrats, including Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. The other five have no record of political contributions, though the Daily Caller says 13 are registered Democrats. One attorney who donated the maximum amount represented the Clinton Foundation in a 2015 lawsuit; she did not run it, as Trump claimed. Another attorney without a record of political donations represented a Clinton aide at one point. Both attorneys worked for WilmerHale, a firm that also represents Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, as well as Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner. Moreover, under federal law, Mueller is not allowed to consider the political leanings of his staff when hiring them. Mueller was a registered Republican when he was nominated to be FBI director in 2001 but is considered apolitical.
— “That’s the other thing. If you use your rights, you use your power, if you use Article II, it’s called obstruction, but only for Trump, for nobody else.”
Obstruction-of-justice charges were part of the impeachment resolutions against Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon. Trump has not been formally accused by anyone of obstructing justice, though some Democratic lawmakers say they believe he did so. Potential obstruction also appears to be a line of inquiry for the special counsel, according to news reports.
— “We never had an empty seat. We went out and helped Ted Cruz. We went out and helped so many people. And I’ll tell you what, if we didn’t do those 32 rallies – and it wasn’t easy when you’re doing rallies with 25, 30 thousand people.”
There were empty seats at Trump’s Houston rally with Cruz. “Many hundreds of seats were empty, including all of the boxes on both tiers of the mezzanine,” the Dallas Morning News reported.
— “You have the best employment and unemployment numbers we’ve ever had.”
False. More people are working than ever before as a consequence of steady population growth, but the labor force participation rate is below levels seen in the 1990s and 2000s. The unemployment rate has declined but not achieved record lows under Trump.
— “And one of the other things we did in our tax package is … [allowing oil drilling in] perhaps the largest field in the world oil and gas. I got it approved.”
Trump signed legislation allowing drilling in a portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The drillable portions of the area are not the largest in the world (it’s a relatively small area), and oil production capacity is less than that of Saudi Arabia, according to congressional Republicans.
— “One in three women is sexually assaulted on the dangerous journey north.”
It’s undeniable that there is a pattern of women suffering sexual abuse on the journey north, but it’s hard to quantify. This 1-in-3 statistic comes from Doctors Without Borders, which interviewed 56 women for a report in 2017 and found that 31.4 percent were “sexually abused” on the journey; 10.7 percent were raped. But the figure was not based on a random sample and thus is not representative of the entire migrant population traveling through Mexico.
— “Nobody shows up [for immigration hearings]. Three percent of the people come back for a trial. It’s insane.”
Justice Department data shows 60 to 75 percent of non-detained migrants have attended their immigration court proceedings. For the specific group of migrants Trump was addressing, asylum seekers, data suggests the return rate is even higher. The data for a program that Trump ended in June shows participants had a 100 percent attendance record at court hearings. They also had a 99 percent rate of check-ins and appointments with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to a report by the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General.
— “We had a rally at the airport [in Macon, Georgia] where 55,000 people showed up to the airport. It was one hangar. They had three other hangars that were full. They went so far back.”
Trump says he filled airport hangars — not one but four! — during a rally with Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp in Georgia. He previously claimed it was two hangars. But there was only one hangar. The crowd at this event was divided in three: people inside, people just outside the open hangar and a third group watching a TV screen on a different part of the premises, sandwiched between the airport and a corporate office.
Kemp’s campaign estimated that 10,000 people attended in total, and the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office estimated 12,500 inside and nearly 6,000 outside, according to a fact check by WMAZ. The overflow crowd sandwiched between the airport and the corporate office numbered in the “hundreds,” according to Atlanta magazine. The most generous tally, 18,500, is a far cry from the 55,000 Trump claimed.
— “One administration gave billions of dollars to him [North Korea] and got nothing, and we haven’t given him anything yet.”
Trump may not have given North Korea cash, but he has elevated the country’s dictator on the international stage and given Kim Jong Un fodder for propaganda back home. He also exaggerates the money that previous presidents gave to North Korea. Under Bill Clinton’s 1994 accord with North Korea, between 1995 and 2003 the United States spent about $400 million supplying the fuel oil to North Korea that was required under the deal, according to the Congressional Research Service. An international consortium spent about $2.5 billion to replace the North’s plutonium reactor with two light-water reactors; the project was not completed before the deal collapsed, but the money mostly went to South Korean and Japanese companies, not North Korea. North Korea received some payments for incidentals, like phone lines, but it mostly just got the oil.
Trump says Clinton got “nothing,” but while the deal was in place, North Korea’s nuclear program was frozen and the regime did not have access to nuclear material for weapons production; Pyongyang’s stash of plutonium in spent fuel rods was kept in cooling ponds under the constant supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency. When the deal collapsed in a dispute with the Bush administration, North Korea broke the seals, removed the rods and began building nuclear weapons.
More than a quarter of Trump’s claims since he became president, 2,574, came during remarks during press events. An additional 2,088 came during remarks at his campaign rallies, and 1,576 were the result of the president’s itchy Twitter finger. Another 1,374 occurred during interviews.
In terms of subjects, false or misleading claims about immigration top the list, totaling 1,688. Claims about foreign policy were second, at 1,015, followed by claims about trade (939), the economy (840) and jobs (815).