President Donald Trump is setting a historic pace for mistruths during his time in office. Through his first 263 days in office – which covers through October 9 – Trump has made 1,318 false or misleading claims, according to a count maintained by The Washington Post’s Fact Checker blog.
Trump added to that total, bigly, during an impromptu news conference with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell following a lunch between the two men on Monday. I went through the transcript and found nine claims made by Trump that are somewhere between debatable and totally wrong. Here are the full remarks if you want to have a go at it yourself.
1. ” We are probably now, despite what we read, we’re probably now – I think, at least as far as I’m concerned – closer than ever before. And the relationship is very good.”
This is Trump talking about McConnell. The idea that the frostiness of their relationship is entirely a media creation – “despite what we read” – is simply wrong. Don’t believe me? Check Trump’s Twitter feed around August 10. “Can you believe that Mitch McConnell, who has screamed Repeal & Replace for 7 years, couldn’t get it done,” Trump tweeted. “Must Repeal & Replace ObamaCare!” Or this quote from Trump: “I said, ‘Mitch, get to work and let’s get it done.’ They should have had that last one done. They lost by one vote. For a thing like that to happen is a disgrace, and frankly, it shouldn’t have happened.” Or when Trump refused to say whether McConnell should consider resigning if health care didn’t pass. No one who knows anything thinks that McConnell and Trump are now – or ever will be – hunky dory.
2. “We are getting close to health care. We’ll come up in the early- to mid-part of next year. We’re going to have a vote; I think we already have the votes.”
They do not. If they had the votes to repeal and replace Obamacare, the Senate would have already voted on it. As I’ve noted before, Trump doesn’t have some sort of secret plan that none of us know about to get to 50 Republican “yeses” on any sort of repeal/replace measure. The best I can figure it, Trump means that if you wait until next year and run the bill through regular order – committee hearings, markups, an open amendment process on the Senate floor – then John McCain may wind up being for it. (McCain’s objection to the latest iteration of repeal and replace was that it didn’t go through regular order.) But that would still leave Republicans at least one vote short. The votes (still) aren’t there.
3. “I looked at some of these numbers, between the judges – and I want to say that we will set records in terms of the number of judges.”
This isn’t false. It’s just very debatable. As of early August, Trump had nominated 44 federal judges. That’s a fast pace! But it’s not clear whether Trump will break the record for judicial appointments – which is held by Ronald Reagan (402). He certainly will not break the record if he serves only a single term. (Jimmy Carter appointed the most federal judges for a one-term president with 262.)
4. “Because we’re going to have a major announcement, probably next week, on the drug crisis and on the opioid massive problem.”
Maybe Trump does make this opioid announcement next week. But, if past is prologue, he won’t. Trump insisted back in August that he was on the verge of declaring the opioid crisis a national emergency. It still hasn’t happened – much to the chagrin of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie – and others.
5. “I have a fantastic relationship with the people in the Senate, and with the people in Congress.”
There is VERY little to back up this claim. In fact, the near-totality of the evidence suggests the contrary. Trump has attacked more than a dozen sitting Republican senators – either in public or via Twitter – and a number have attacked him too. McCain delivered a full and complete condemnation of Trumpism on Monday night. Arizona’s Jeff Flake wrote an entire book bemoaning what Trump has done to the Republican Party. Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse repeatedly criticizes Trump via Twitter.
6. “The Republican Party is very, very unified.”
Nope! In fact, Steve Bannon, the man who served as Trump’s chief strategist in the White House, declared war on McConnell and the entire GOP establishment last week. “It’s not my war, this is our war and y’all didn’t start it, the establishment started it,” Bannon said in a speech at the Values Voter Summit. “Right now, it’s a season of war against a GOP establishment.” That aside, you have a handful of GOP senators – see #5 above – in open rebellion against Trump and members of the so-called “governing wing” of the Republican Party in the House heading for the exits. New CNN polling also suggests a major divide between Republicans who back Trump and those who support congressional GOP leaders.
7. “Obamacare is a wreck, it’s a mess, it’s destroying lives.”
This is, obviously, very debatable. Many Democrats – and even some Republicans like Maine’s Susan Collins – believe Trump’s decision to forgo subsidies to insurance companies to help cover low-income Americans as well as his executive order allowing people to form groups to be covered that don’t adhere to all the principles of Obamacare are what is responsible for the law’s current struggles. Trump doesn’t help his cause here because he has said repeatedly in the past that “we’ll let Obamacare fail and then the Democrats are going to come to us.”
8. “So, the traditional way – if you look at President Obama and other Presidents, most of them didn’t make calls, a lot of them didn’t make calls. I like to call when it’s appropriate, when I think I’m able to do it.”
Trump’s suggestion that Obama and other past presidents didn’t call the families of American soldiers killed in action is simply wrong. Obama did, in fact, write letters and make calls to families of fallen soldiers – and also visited Walter Reed National Military Medical Center almost once a month to visit wounded troops. George W. Bush also wrote letters to families of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
9. “So there has been absolutely no collusion. It’s been stated that they have no collusion.”
Trump, again, misstates the facts – as we know them – on the Russia investigation being conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller and the parallel investigation being conducted by the Senate Intelligence Committee. What’s been “proven” is that no clear collusion has been found by either investigation – based on what we know today. Last week, intelligence committee chair Richard Burr said only that there was “more work to do” regarding possible collusion. “The committee continues to look into all evidence to see if there was any hint of collusion,” added Burr. Mueller and his team have said nothing about collusion one way or the other. So, it’s neither ruled in nor out.