Story highlights

Trump never mentioned his most controversial Charlottesville remarks

He got several facts wrong about data in his administration

Washington CNN  — 

For 77 minutes, President Donald Trump vigorously defended his response to Charlottesville, blamed the media for stoking US divisions and threatened to shut down the government to get a border wall built in a raucous campaign rally in Phoenix.

His discursive, spiraling speech on Tuesday enthralled his base, while it left others outwardly questioning whether he is fit to lead the country.

Here are some things Trump got wrong at Tuesday’s campaign rally.

1. On the backlash over his Charlottesville response:

What Trump said:

“So here’s what I said, really fast, here’s what I said on Saturday: ‘We’re closely following the terrible events unfolding in Charlottesville, Virginia’ – this is me speaking. We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence.’ That’s me speaking on Saturday.”

The facts:

Here’s what he actually said that Saturday (Aug. 12): “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides. On many sides. It’s been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. This has been going on for a long, long time.” I

In his speech Tuesday night, he left out the controversial “many sides” comment. And he didn’t bring up his Aug. 15 comments blaming both the white nationalists and the counterprotesters triggered widespread, bipartisan criticism.

01:48 - Source: CNN
Trump omits line while defending statement

Trump spent roughly 15 minutes of his speech going through each of the three public statements he made in response to the Charlottesville rally that left one counterprotester dead. He mentioned the victim Heather Heyer, but in the context of defending himself on his handling of the crisis.

He stuck to retelling his remarks and omitted his reference to “many sides” in his response on the day of the violence, and his reference to “both sides” last Tuesday.

2. On whether the media reported his “racism is evil” remark

What Trump said:

“Did they report that I said racism is evil? You know why? Because they are the dishonest media.”

The facts:

CNN did, in fact, report Trump’s full remarks the Tuesday following the Charlottesville protest, including his remark at “racism is evil.”

CNN aired Trump’s press conference live – when he first said it – and also published a video of Trump’s full statement online, which is headlined “Racism is evil.”

In addition to CNN, the New York Times, Politico, NPR, Time and The Guardian covered it as well, just to name a few.

3. On whether Teddy Roosevelt’s statue is next to be removed:

What Trump said:
“In the proud tradition of America’s great leaders, from George Washington – please, don’t take his statue down, please. Please. Does anybody want George Washington’s statue? No. Is that sad? Is that all sad? To Lincoln, to Teddy Roosevelt. I see they want to take Teddy Roosevelt’s down, too. They’re trying to figure out why. They don’t know. They’re trying to take away our culture. They are trying to take away our history. And our weak leaders, they do it overnight. These things have been there for 150 years, for 100 years. You go back to a university, and it’s gone. Weak, weak people.” 

The facts:

Trump referred to the monuments controversy, but didn’t mention any actual Confederate statues. Instead, he said “they” were targeting statues of US leaders like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt. He made similar statement last week in a news conference when he asked, “I wonder, is it George Washington next week?”

In Tuesday’s speech, Trump echoed a line from supporters of Confederate monuments – that these landmarks preserve culture and history.

His reference to Roosevelt may have been alluding to a 2016 protest by indigenous rights activists at a New York City museum. At the time, the activists did call for Roosevelt’s statue to be removed. But this week, Snopes debunked the notion that the activists had been demanding removal of the Roosevelt statue after the Charlottesville incident. The story was old.

4. On whether CNN shut off its cameras :

What Trump said:

– “Look back there, the live red lights. They’re turning those suckers off fast out there. They’re turning those lights off fast. Like CNN. CNN does not want its falling viewership to watch what I’m saying tonight. I can tell you.”
– “Oh boy, those cameras are going off. Oh, wow. Why don’t you just fold them up and take them home? Oh, those cameras are going off. Wow. That’s the one thing, they’re very nervous to have me on live television, because this can happen.”

The facts:

CNN carried Trump’s entire speech live. Even the part where the crowd chanted “CNN sucks.” So did other networks, including Fox News and C-SPAN.

5. On why Jeffrey Lord got fired:

What Trump said:

– “And (CNN) fired Jeffrey Lord. Poor Jeffrey. Jeffrey Lord. I guess he was getting a little fed up, and he was probably fighting back a little bit too hard. They said, ‘We’ve better get (him) out of here. We can’t have that.”

The facts:

CNN severed ties with Lord, a pro-Trump commentator, earlier this month after he tweeted the words “Sieg Heil!” at a prominent liberal activist.

“Nazi salutes are indefensible,” a CNN spokesperson said in a statement. “Jeffrey Lord is no longer with the network.”

Lord said his tweet was misunderstood and that he was mocking fascists, not acting like one.

6. On whether wages haven’t gone up

What Trump said:

“Wages haven’t gone up in a long time.”

The facts:

This isn’t the first time Trump has said this: He made the same assertion during his press conference at Trump Tower earlier this month.

However, it’s wrong – Politifact found that indeed, wages have been increasing for the past three to five years, depending on the measurement you use. Additionally, the government also said earlier this month that average hourly earnings for workers rose 2.5% over the past 12 months, to $26.36 an hour.

Many economists, including members of the Federal Reserve, feel that wage growth of 3% to 3.5% a year is healthier. That allows consumers to better keep up with inflation. But nonetheless, it’s increased.

7. On whether border apprehensions are down 80%

What Trump said:

“We want every community in America to succeed, including our immigrant communities, but we can’t do that if we don’t control our borders. Earlier today I visited with the incredible men and women of ICE and the border patrol … it was hot. Like 115 degrees. I’m out signing autographs for an hour … but it was great … In fact, General Kelly, who was in charge of Homeland Security, where people coming in (is) down 78, almost 80%. He did so good I made him my chief of staff. Right? That made sense.”

The facts:

While illegal border crossings are at historic lows, they’re not down “78, almost 80%.”

Data from US Customs and Border Protection show that in July, there were 18,198 apprehensions at the southwest border – which is a 46% decline from July 2016.

And in April, there were 11,129 total apprehensions at the Southwest border. That is the lowest in 17 years of available CBP data, the third straight month that apprehensions hit historic lows. Prior to the Trump administration, the lowest monthly total going back to 2000 was in December 2011, when 18,983 apprehensions were recorded at the southern border.

8. On whether the Trump administration’s suggestion for defense spending is the most ever

What Trump said:

“We’ve also obtained (a) historic increase in defense spending.”

The facts:

Trump’s proposal is to boost defense spending by $54 billion for fiscal year 2018, which begins October 1. That would take defense spending up to $603 billion, a 10% increase over current levels.

That certainly is a lot of money, although many Republicans, like Sen. John McCain of Arizona, say it’s not nearly enough.

Trump’s proposed defense budget would be on par with some of the highest peaks of spending since the Korean War. But as Politifact points out: “There have been 10 years since 1977 when the base level has gone up by more than that, and in some years, the increase more than doubled Trump’s.”

Large increase, sure. Historic? No.

And in order to officially “obtain” the increase, Congress will need to raise budget caps as well as actually appropriate the money – so there’s still work to be done.

CNN’s Eric Bradner and Jennifer Hansler contributed to this report.