Day 2 of GOP convention speeches: CNN vets the claims

Story highlights

Reporters, researchers and editors across CNN listened to the speeches

CNN rated key statements as either true; mostly true; true, but misleading; false; or it's complicated

CNN —  

The Republican Party gathered in Cleveland on Tuesday for the second night of its convention, and CNN’s Reality Check Team put the speakers’ statements and assertions to the test.

The team of reporters, researchers and editors across CNN listened throughout the speeches and selected key statements, rating them true; mostly true; true, but misleading; false; or it’s complicated.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie

Reality Check: Christie on Clinton and China

By Tami Luhby, CNNMoney

Christie attacked Clinton on multiple points, including the accusation that Hillary Clinton wanted the Chinese to purchase U.S. debt to help the Obama administration.

“In China, Hillary Clinton praised the Chinese government for buying our debt to finance Barack Obama’s bloated stimulus plan,” he said.

In February 2009, soon after being named secretary of state, Clinton traveled to China and urged Beijing to keep buying U.S. debt, according to media reports at the time. In an interview on Chinese television quoted by Reuters, Clinton said that China made a “wise” choice by buying United States debt instruments.

Based on these reports, we rate Christie’s statement as true.

Reality Check: Christie on Clinton and ‘bring back our girls’

By Ryan Browne, CNN

Christie also hammered Clinton with a series of charges about her failures while serving as secretary of state.

He was particularly critical over Clinton’s handling of the Boko Haram terrorist group in Nigeria.

“In Nigeria, Hillary Clinton amazingly fought for two years to keep an al Qaeda affiliate off the terrorist watch list,” Christie said.

Boko Haram, an affiliate of al Qaeda, was never designated a foreign terrorist organization during Clinton’s leadership of the State Department. The department eventually labeled the group a terrorist organization while under Kerry in December 2013.

According to a report obtained by Reuters, then-Justice Department official Lisa Monaco had lobbied Clinton’s State Department to designate the group a terrorist organization in 2012.

The Daily Beast also reported on the State Department’s hesitancy during Clinton’s tenure to designate the group a terrorist organization, noting that a group of bipartisan members of Congress had also lobbied the department to put the group on the list, with some members saying that the designation would allow U.S. law enforcement personnel to work more closely with governments in the region.

The kidnapping of the 200 Nigerian school girls occurred in April 2014.

While Clinton was head of the State Department at the time, Christie says she “fought” to keep them off the list and there is no evidence that she herself was personally responsible for the delay in the designation. Our verdict: false.

Christie went on to add: “Because of this reckless action by the candidate who is the self-proclaimed champion of women all around the world. These al Qaeda terrorists abducted hundreds of innocent young women two years ago. These school girls are still missing today. And what was the solution from the Obama/Clinton team? A hashtag campaign.”

While Clinton did tweet out the hashtag “bring back our girls” in the wake of the kidnapping, she was no longer in office when the kidnapping occurred. It’s impossible to know whether a U.S. terror designation would have made any difference in the girls’ kidnapping.

President Barack Obama did authorize the deployment of 80 U.S. troops to neighboring Chad about a month after the event in an effort to aid in their search.

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Therefore we rate the claim that the “solution from the Obama/Clinton team” was a “hashtag campaign” as false.

Reality Check: Christie calls Clinton ‘chief engineer’ of Gadhafi’s overthrow

By Eve Bower, CNN

Christie assumed the role of prosecutor on the RNC stage, arguing that Clinton’s policy in Libya made her “guilty” of “ruining Libya” and “creating a nest for terrorist activity by ISIS.”

He labeled her the “chief engineer” of the overthrow of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, saying Clinton’s “grand strategy” in Libya was to blame for the North African state’s current calamity.

In early 2011, as protests spread like wildfire from Tunisia to Egypt and then Libya, the world watched for weeks as Libyan security forces used increasingly brutal methods to suppress the uprisings. By mid-February, there seemed to be a coalition of European powers emerging in support of implementing a no-fly zone over Libya. The approach would decisively change the course of events in Libya, and then-French President Nicolas Sarkozy seemed eager to take the lead.

In the U.S., Obama had been elected, in part, on the basis of his opposition to the U.S. war in Iraq, and he was deeply reluctant to engage in open-ended overseas military conflict. But Sarkozy saw himself in a different situation altogether: having campaigned on his desire to enhance France’s position in the Arab world, Sarkozy promised France “would be side by side with the oppressed.” When the uprising in Libya began, Sarkozy saw an opportunity to make his mark.

Though Clinton would ultimately be described as one of the most hawkish voices on Libya in the Obama administration, senior U.S. officials say that Clinton was initially skeptical of U.S. involvement in this international coalition. Obama at first tried a less interventionist approach, signing an executive order freezing Gadhafi’s assets, and then backing a UN Security Council resolution to impose sanctions.

Days later, France and Britain pushed the UN Security Council for a quick resolution that would authorize a no-fly zone, but Clinton, still reluctant, chose instead to work with Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, to buy time in which to build broader international support for the move.

But by mid-March, as intelligence warned of an imminent humanitarian crisis if government forces took on rebel-stronghold Benghazi, aides say Clinton shifted and became convinced that an immediate no-fly zone was necessary. The Security Council resolution passed March 17.

Yet even after it was decided that a coalition of NATO members would enforce the resolution, France remained eager to take the lead. On March 19, hours before the air campaign’s official start, French jets attacked Libyan government tanks on their way to Benghazi.

Where the Obama administration had been reluctant to be seen as jumping into another war, Republicans at the time used the administration’s own words against it, describing the U.S. role, with some sarcasm, as “leading from behind.”

In the first weeks after Gadhafi’s fall, when Libya’s short-term future seemed more hopeful, sources in the administration were eager to credit Secretary Clinton for her work helping to build an international coalition – and Clinton was happy to take it. “Our response,” Clinton has said, was “smart power at its best.”

But because Clinton was neither the first to call for military intervention, nor the only one to plan the administration’s handling of the aftermath, we rate Christie’s claim false.

Donald Trump Jr.

Reality Check: Donald Trump Jr. on his father’s campaign funding

By Juana Summers and Sonam Vashi, CNN

Donald Trump Jr. said his father would be “a President not beholden to special interests, foreign and domestic and one who funded his entire primary run out of his own pocket just to prove it.”

It’s a claim we’ve heard again and again.

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Although Trump has sunk a significant amount of his own money into his campaign, CNN has found that he received about $14 million in campaign contributions from 8,200 individual donors through the end of April.

Trump has loaned his campaign 76% of the the $57.7 million that the campaign has received through the end of April, according to the Federal Election Commission. While he’s funded a vast majority of his campaign, he’s also taken millions from outside donors – not just funding entirely out of his own pocket. His son’s claim is false.

Reality Check: Donald Trump Jr. on Clinton ‘destroying’ Medicare

By Amy Gallagher, CNN

The younger Donald Trump compared his father’s proposals to those of Clinton’s.

“We’re going to elect a President … who will repeal and replace Obamacare without leaving our most vulnerable citizens without health care,” Trump Jr. said, “and who will do it without destroying Medicare for seniors as Hillary Clinton has proposed.”

But did Clinton really propose to end Medicare?

Earlier this month, Clinton tweaked her previous stance on health care as a nod to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Her most recent position proposes expanding Medicare as an option to adults as young as 50. This expansion is why some conservative pundits have suggested that Clinton could destroy Medicare, since it invites more people into an already overloaded system.

“Medicare is stretched so thin to meet the needs of today’s seniors that expanding enrollment is like inviting the neighborhood for dinner when you don’t have enough to feed your own kids,” wrote Fox News commentator Betsy McCaughey in the online news outlet Newsmax.

So is expanding Medicare likely to destroy it? Medicare does have serious solvency problems, and is currently set to run out of funds by 2028. Therefore, it would seem likely that any expansion of the program would exacerbate those problems and shorten the life of the program. However, as a historically popular program, it is unlikely that Medicare will be allowed to go bankrupt.

Despite being criticized by the likes of former President Ronald Reagan, the program has continued to expand since its creation – under both Democrats and Republicans. In fact, even several small-government conservatives have expanded it – including Reagan, former President Richard Nixon and George W. Bush.

It seems likely that the next president, whoever it may be, would look for ways to shore up Medicare, rather than let it die.

Therefore, we rate Donald Trump Jr.’s claim that Clinton has proposed destroying Medicare false, however you read the phrase – Clinton has not proposed to destroy Medicare, but to expand it. While an expansion might strain the system, it is unlikely the system would be allowed to collapse.

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson

Reality Check: Carson on Saul Alinsky, Lucifer and Clinton role model

By Julie Block, CNN

Carson claimed that one of Clinton’s “mentors was Saul Alinsky … someone that she greatly admired and that affected all of her philosophies subsequently.” He also said Clinton wrote her college thesis on Alinsky’s writings, and that the dedication page for Alinsky’s book, entitled, “Rules for Radicals,” acknowledges Lucifer.

Alinksy was a community activist, regarded as a radical in the mid-20th century for his teachings about people’s empowerment.

Clinton did write her college thesis on Alinsky’s life, writings and political views, though much of her thesis was analytical. The conclusion of the thesis reads: “In the first chapter it was pointed out that Alinsky is regarded by many as the proponent of a dangerous socio/political philosophy. As such, he has been feared – just as Eugene Debs or Walt Whitman or Martin Luther King has been feared, because each embraced the most radical of political faiths – democracy.” This comparison to Debs, Whitman and King, along with Clinton’s continued exchange of letters with Alinsky well into her law school years, suggests that Clinton had a deep respect for Alinsky.

Indeed, Alinsky personally acknowledged Lucifer in his book, published in 1971. He wrote, “Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology and history (and who is to know where mythology leaves off and history begins – or which is which), the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom.”

Additionally, a Washington Post piece written in 2007 suggests Alinsky had great influence over Clinton’s political ideology, causing her to switch from a Republican to a Democrat. The article reads, “Arriving at Wellesley, she became president of the Young Republicans, but she soon drifted left. She said that 1968, the year she met Alinsky in Chicago, was a watershed in her ‘personal and political evolution,’ marked by the escalation of the Vietnam War and the killings of Martin Luther King Jr. and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.” The paper also noted, however, that Clinton wrote in her 2003 memoir, “Living History,” that Clinton and Alinsky had a “fundamental disagreement” about how to change the system. Because of this, it is a stretch for Carson to say that Alinsky affected “all of her philosophies subsequently.”

Verdict: Mostly true.

RNC co-chair Sharon Day

Reality Check: Day on Clinton Foundation money

By Sonam Vashi, CNN

“As head of a foundation, you accepted tens of millions of dollars from foreign countries who enslave women and who treat them as second-class citizens,” Day said, referring to Clinton.

The Clinton Foundation has accepted millions from foreign governments, according to its website, which lists cumulative amounts. Saudi Arabia, Australia and Norway each gave the Foundation between $10 million and $25 million; the Netherlands and Kuwait gave between $5 million and $10 million; and Qatar, Brunei, Oman and the United Arab Emirates gave between $1 million and $5 million.

Given that slavery is illegal in all countries but modern-day slavery exists in many countries to varying degrees, we’re going to look at the women’s rights records of these top donor countries instead. (Note: for these indices, a rank with a smaller number generally denotes better treatment of women in that country.)

According to 2014 data from the United Nations’ Gender Inequality Index, Qatar ranks 116th out of 155 countries for gender inequality. Kuwait (79th), Saudi Arabia (56th), Oman (53rd), and the United Arab Emirates (47th) all rank in a middle-performing range, while the Netherlands (7th), Norway (9th), and Australia (19th), all ranking in a higher-performing range, treat women more equally. For context, the United States is ranked 55th in this index. (Brunei was not included in the overall ranking for this index).

To compare with another index: The World Economic Forum’s 2015 Global Gender Gap Report shows that Oman ranks poorly (135th out of 145 countries), as does Saudi Arabia (134th), Qatar (122nd), the United Arab Emirates (119th), and Kuwait (117th). Brunei was ranked 88th, Australia was ranked 36th, and Norway and the Netherlands were both in the top 15. The United States was ranked 28th.

Given that at least some of the countries who donated millions to the Clinton Foundation have poor records in regards to women’s rights, we rate Day’s claim as true.

NRA official Chris Cox

Reality Check: Clinton and the Second Amendment

By Chip Grabow, CNN

Gun rights was the focus Tuesday night in a speech by Cox, the executive director of the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action. He targeted Clinton’s stance on guns and the Second Amendment, which reads in part that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Cox claimed Clinton wants to take away that right.

Cox referenced a 2008 Supreme Court ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller, which struck down Washington, D.C.’s ban on handguns, which the court said violated the Second Amendment. The court said it violated the Second Amendment. Cox said Clinton disagreed with the decision: “She said, ‘The Supreme Court is wrong on the Second Amendment.’ Think about that. All the Supreme Court said was that you have the right to protect your life in your own home but Hillary says they’re wrong.”

But Cox went further, saying that “a Hillary Clinton Supreme Court means your right to own a firearm is gone.” That echoes claims made by Trump that Clinton would abolish the Second Amendment if elected president.

In a leaked recording of a private fundraiser last year, Clinton was heard saying, “The Supreme Court is wrong on the Second Amendment,” referring to that 2008 ruling.

But in a statement earlier this year, apparently clarifying Clinton’s comments about that decision, a policy adviser to Clinton told Bloomberg Politics: “Clinton believes Heller was wrongly decided in that cities and states should have the power to craft common sense laws to keep their residents safe, like safe storage laws to prevent toddlers from accessing guns.” The statement went on to say, “In overturning Washington, D.C.’s safe storage law, Clinton worries that Heller may open the door to overturning thoughtful, common sense safety measures in the future.”

Clinton has also been on-the-record about her views of the Second Amendment. She told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that “I believe we can have common sense gun safety measures consistent with the Second Amendment, and, in fact, what I have proposed is supported by 90% of the American people and more than 75% of responsible gun owners.

So, is Cox correct in his claim that Clinton would abolish the Second Amendment?

As CNN reported in May: “Clinton … has called for universal background checks and stricter controls on firearms, but has never called for the abolition of the Second Amendment. In fact, on her website, she calls gun ownership “part of the fabric of many law-abiding communities.”

Verdict: False.

Donald Trump

Reality Check: Trump on winning by the most votes in history

By Sonam Vashi, CNN

Trump appeared at the convention by satellite to accept his official nomination. “Together, we’ve achieved historic results with the largest vote total in the history of the Republican Party,” he said.

Former President George W. Bush held the previous record in 2000, with 10.8 million votes. CNN estimates that Trump holds almost 14 million raw votes. That’s after record-setting turnouts this year during the primary season.

However, Trump also holds a record for the number of people that voted for other Republican candidates. CNN estimates 15.7 million people voted for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Ohio Gov. John Kasich or another Republican candidate – which means more people voted against Trump in the primaries than for him. The previous record for “most votes against” in a Republican primary was he