Here’s a round-up of this week’s whoppers from the campaign trail:
Get outta my space!
During the presidential debate, Donald Trump, at times paced the stage like an angry man, sometimes bringing him physically close to Hillary Clinton. This led to an argument over just who was invading whose space.
“He was really all wrought up and you could just sense how much anger he had,” Clinton told Ellen DeGeneres in an interview. “And, so he was really trying to dominate and then literally stalk me around the stage and I would just feel this presence behind me and I thought, ‘Whoa this is really weird,’ so I was just trying to stay focused.”
Trump saw it differently.
“I was standing by my lectern, and all of a sudden from nowhere, she walks right in front of me,” Trump told Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly later in the week. “I never walked near her. She stands right in front of me. The next day, it was I was in her space. I was standing at my chair, my lectern.”
So who’s right? As the old sportscaster Warner Wolf used to say, let’s go to the videotape.
There are a couple of instances where Trump and Clinton have close encounters on stage. But the one that stands out occurs during a question from an audience member about the Affordable Care Act. Here’s the blow-by-blow:
Trump is about to answer the question when he is reminded by CNN’s Anderson Cooper, who co-hosted the debate, that it’s actually Clinton’s turn to respond. As the two candidates banter over who should speak first, Trump walks towards the front of the stage, away from the questioner and away from his chair and lectern.
When it is decided that Clinton will go first, she crosses the stage behind – not in front of – Trump towards the questioner. She stops just in front of Trump’s chair and lectern and begins her answer.
As she speaks, Trumps walks back to his chair and stands there waiting for her to finish. That takes him perilously close to Clinton who is still standing only a few feet in front of him.
There is no question that Trump, a big man, looms almost ominously behind the much smaller Clinton. It is especially jarring because the camera angle from the front makes him look even closer.
But, the fact is, he is correct. He is standing by his chair and his lectern. Sure, he could have backed away from Clinton but the area close to the chair and lectern is his space and he has every right to be there. He does not appear to be “stalking” her.
This round goes to Trump.
Latest Trump ad
A new ad from the Trump campaign called “Corruption” contains a bevy of explosive charges. Check out the script:
Pretty hard-hitting, right? The only problem is that by compiling unsubstantiated claims, misleading statements and one outright falsehood, the Trump campaign has produced an ad that is breathtaking in its dishonesty.
It is certainly true that the Clintons went from what Hillary Clinton termed “dead broke” when they left the White House in 2001 to earning more than $10 million in 2015 and $28 million the year before, as well as owning at least three properties – two in New York, one in Washington – valued in the millions.
But the ad suggests the couple became rich because of “staggering amounts of cash” given to the Clinton Foundation. This is false.
The Clintons, according to the foundation’s tax records, do not receive any income from the foundation. And according to the Clinton’s personal tax records, they receive most of their income from books and paid speeches.
Neither the narrator, nor any background text in the ad identify the criminals, dictators and countries that “hate America” that have allegedly given to the foundation. To be sure, the relief effort in Haiti following the catastrophic 2010 earthquake – an effort that was, in many ways led by Bill Clinton and the Clinton Foundation – has been a mixed-success.
The charge that Clinton personally gave American uranium rights to the Russians is, at best, misleading. The US government did, indeed, approve a deal that allowed a Russian state agency to purchase a controlling stake in Uranium One, a Canadian company with significant uranium assets in the US. The company, at one time, included investors who had contributed to the Clinton Foundation.
The State Department did approve the transaction. But it was one of nine US agencies, including Treasury, Commerce, Defense, Energy and Homeland Security, as well as at least one state regulator, that had to sign off on the deal.
Overall this ad is false.
‘She wants to knock the hell out of Social Security’
At a Pennsylvania rally last week, Trump said that excerpts of speeches Clinton gave to Wall Street bankers show the Democrat wants to gut entitlement programs.
“The speeches also show that Crooked Hillary supports cutting Medicare and Social Security benefits, one more example of how Hillary Clinton’s public position is a lie. She wants to knock the hell out of your Social Security. She wants to knock the hell out of your Medicare and Medicaid. And I am going to save them,” he said.
The excerpts were contained in Clinton campaign officials’ emails which were hacked and revealed by WikiLeaks.
In the excerpts, Clinton spoke approvingly of the approach taken by Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, who co-chaired a commission to come up with ways to reduce the federal debt.
“So, you know, the Simpson-Bowles framework and the big elements of it were right,” she told a gathering sponsored by Morgan Stanley. “The specifics can be negotiated and argued over. But you’ve got to do all three. You have to restrain spending, you have to have adequate revenues and you have to have growth. And I think we are smart enough to figure out how to do that.”
Among the recommendations that Simpson and Bowles made was a plan to shore up the Social Security Trust Fund. The plan included gradually increasing payroll taxes on high earners, a restructuring of benefits to increase the amount of retirement payments for lower income workers while decreasing the amount for upper income ones. The plan also called for gradually increasing the age a person could draw full Social Security benefits from age 66, which it was in 2010 when the recommendations were made to 69 in 2075.
Whether one agrees that raising taxes on high earners and raising the retirement age by three years over a 65-year-period is “knocking the hell out of Social Security,” the fact is the excerpts released by WikiLeaks so far do not show Clinton specifically calling for cuts in Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. Indeed, she said the specifics of Simpson-Bowles approach “can be negotiated.”
Who knows what Clinton will do if she is elected president. But, based on what she has said so far, there is no evidence that she would severely cut Social Security or Medicare.
Clinton wrong on whether intelligence agencies say Russia is favoring Trump
During the presidential debate, Clinton asserted that Russia was behind the hacking of computer systems related to the Democratic Party as well as WikiLeaks’ release of thousands of emails. Clinton said Moscow was trying to influence the presidential election to favor Trump.
“Our intelligence community just came out and said in the last few days that the Kremlin, meaning (Russian President Vladimir) Putin and the Russian government, are directing the attacks, the hacking on American accounts to influence our election and WikiLeaks is part of that as are other sites where the Russians hack information,” she said.
“We have never in the history of our country been in a situation where an adversary, a foreign power, is working so hard to influence the outcome of the election,” Clinton added. “And believe me, they’re not doing it to get me elected. They’re doing it to try to influence the election for Donald Trump.”
Recently, the Obama administration said it was “confident” Russia was behind recent hackings of the Democratic National Committee emails and the sites of other Democratic Party-linked organizations over the summer.
“We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities,” the Department of Homeland Security and Office of the Director of National Intelligence said in a joint statement.
The statement also said the hacks and then publishing of these emails are “intended to interfere with the US election process.”
Russia has denied all involvement in hacking attacks on US servers and organizations, saying the accusations are “nonsense.”
While there has been speculation that the hacking benefits Trump as it has targeted Democrats and Clinton, the intelligence community has not reached that conclusion.
So Clinton’s assertion that the hack was meant to benefit Trump may be her hunch, but not the conclusion of investigators. We rate that false.
Obama wrong on Trump calling vets weak
In his speech on Friday in Cleveland, President Barack Obama put out a litany of reasons he said made Trump unfit to be commander in chief.
“You can’t have a guy who’s insulted POWs and attacks a Gold Star mom and has called our troops and veterans weak,” Obama said.
Just a minute here. Called troops and veterans weak?
Obama is, no doubt referring to remarks that Trump made recently to a group of veterans. In response to a question about programs he would use to combat PTSD, Trump said: “When you talk about the mental health problems, when people come back from war and combat and they see things that maybe a lot of the folks in this room have seen many times over and you’re strong and you can handle it. But a lot of people can’t handle it. And they see horror stories. They see events that you couldn’t see in a movie, nobody would believe it.”
This kind of stream-of-consciousness sentence could easily confuse anybody. It has led many people to conclude that Trump was saying anyone who suffers from PTSD is weak.
But a fair parsing of his words done by some fact-checkers such as Snopes.com does not lead to that conclusion. Just because some people in the room, in Trump’s view are strong and can handle the horrible things they have seen in war, doesn’t necessarily mean that others in the room – or outside for that matter – who can’t handle horrible memories of war are weak, a term Trump never used.
But, even if that is what Trump meant, Obama takes it a step too far by suggesting that the Republican called all troops and veterans weak.
CNN’s Justin Gamble contributed to this report.