01 Donald Trump 0712
CNN  — 

From now on, we’ll be keeping track of each and every false claim made by President Donald Trump. And we’ll be giving you a weekly breakdown of the highlights, or lowlights, from the false claims of the previous week. You can find the full list of 29 false claims at the bottom of this article.

Where he made them: Trump uttered 11 of the 29 false claims in his Friday speech in Milwaukee about the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement. He uttered six more in his exchange with White House reporters before his departure for that speech.

Seven false claims came in his largely improvised Thursday speech at the White House about the supposed political bias of social media companies. The remaining five were scattered over other speeches and tweets.

The most egregious false claim: The social media non-conspiracy.

Trump is fond of simultaneously boasting of his success while blaming others for preventing him from being even more successful.

He tried this two-pronged approach last week when talking about the size of his following on social media. Though he boasted that “I have millions of people, so many people I wouldn’t believe it,” he alleged that Twitter is keeping his follower count down by somehow making it difficult for people to follow him.

As he has done so often, he attributed his assertion to unnamed people. His claim: “I know that we’ve been blocked. People come up to me and they say, ‘Sir, I can’t get you. I can’t follow you.’ “

There is no evidence that Twitter has done anything to impede people from following him.

The most trivial false claim: The “outside” crowd in Orlando.

The very first dishonest controversy of Trump’s presidency was over his exaggerations about the size of the crowd at his inauguration. He has been reliably inaccurate about crowd sizes since.

He returned last week to one of the false claims he regularly makes after his campaign rallies. Not only was his June campaign kickoff in Orlando packed to the rafters, he said at the White House, but there were about 20,000 people “outside” the Amway Center unable to get in.

Trump’s “outside” claims can be hard to fact check, since journalists tend to be inside the venues where he is speaking. This time, though, the Orlando Sentinel did have journalists outside – who found that there were a mere “few dozen” people in the outdoor overflow area, since everyone in line for the rally was able to get in.

The most revealing false claim: California non-vindication

Trump has a long memory for slights, and he delights in declaring that he has been vindicated about things he had been mocked for saying or doing.

Even when he has not been vindicated.

Trump was widely criticized for his claim last year that poor forest management, not climate change, was the only reason California was having a severe problem with wildfires.

Last week, he said: “When I went to California, they sort of scoffed at me for the first two weeks and maybe three weeks, and not so much – four weeks. And after about five weeks they said, ‘You know, he’s right. He’s right.’ “

We could not find evidence that any once-critic eventually admitted that Trump was right about this.

The most notable numerical exaggeration: “44 years”

Trump often boasts that he has reached heights that previous presidents were unable to ascend. In particular, often claims that people had been trying and failing to get something done for a specific, large number of years before he came along and delivered.

Last week, in a speech on kidney-health policy, he claimed that people had been attempting for “44 years” to get a Right to Try law that would make it easier for terminally ill patients to access experimental medications…

…which was rather confusing to experts, since the very concept of a Right to Try law was developed about five years ago by a libertarian think tank.

The false claim that won’t go away: The trade deficit with China

More than 100 times as president, Trump has claimed that the US has, for years, had a trade deficit of “$500 billion” with China.

He said it again last week. It continues to be wrong.

The deficit has never once been $500 billion. It was $381 billion last year – and was $420 billion even if you only count trade in goods and exclude trade in services, as Trump almost always does.

Here is the complete list of 29 false claims for the week. You can click here for the complete list of 61 false claims for the week following.

The economy

Auto companies

“And your executives know this: Companies are pouring back into our nation. Automobile companies from Japan and other nations are pouring back in. Many, many of the great auto companies are coming back into Michigan. They’re coming back into Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, North Carolina.” – July 12 speech in Milwaukee on the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement

Facts First: There are no major automotive plants in Pennsylvania, Florida or North Carolina (North Carolina does have plants making commercial buses and heavy-duty trucks), and there are no known plans to build any in those states, according to the Center for Automotive Research in Michigan.

Trump could be referring to auto parts companies or other smaller firms in the industry, but he has repeatedly created the impression that he is talking about major automakers.

Automakers have made major investments in Michigan and Ohio during Trump’s presidency.

Wisconsin economy

“And you (Wisconsin) had the greatest year you’ve ever had in the history of this state. This is a great state, but you had your best economic year that you’ve ever had, so that’s great.” – July 12 speech in Milwaukee on the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement

Facts First: This is hyperbole. Wisconsin’s economy has been growing under Trump, but it has not had its best year ever in terms of either job growth or overall growth.

The state said in an official report: “Wisconsin added just 21,500 jobs in 2017 and 23,000 in 2018, after adding an average of 33,700 jobs per year between 2011 and 2016. Wisconsin employment posted year‐over‐year growth of 0.7% in 2017 and 0.8% in 2018, compared to growth of 1.6% nationwide.”

The state’s 2018 growth rate of 2.5% was the best since 2010 – good, but not the best ever.

Women’s unemployment

“Women, I think, Kellyanne (Conway), the best in 75 years – the best unemployment numbers in 75 years.” – July 11 speech on social media

Facts First: Trump exaggerated slightly. The women’s unemployment rate for June was 3.6%, a tick above the 3.4% in April and 3.5% in May.

It has been 66 years since the women’s rate has been this low, not 75 years.

Job creation

“Since the election, we have created more than 6 million new jobs. Nobody would have believed that during the campaign. If I would have said ‘6 million jobs,’ they would have said, ‘Oh, that’s – no, he’s exaggerating.’ I did say like 4 million, but we got 6 million. So I was under-exaggerating.” – July 12 speech in Milwaukee on the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement

Facts First: The economy has added more than 6 million jobs since the election, but Trump did not promise during the 2016 campaign to create “like 4 million” jobs by this point in his presidency.

His signature jobs promise was to create 25 million jobs over 10 years.


“Our nation was made of vibrant and strong – and it’s got to be the most powerful, the best – it really was made with American manufacturing. And you know that a previous administration said, ‘Manufacturing is gone. You’re going to have to take a magic wand to bring it back.’ Well, that was wrong.” – July 12 speech in Milwaukee on the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement

Facts First: The Obama administration did not say this. In his “magic wand” comments in 2016, Obama did say that some manufacturing jobs were gone for good, but he also boasted of how many were still being created.

At a PBS town hall in Elkhart, Indiana, during the 2016 campaign, Obama mocked Trump for claiming, without outlining a specific plan, that he would bring back manufacturing jobs that had been lost to Mexico; he asked, “What magic wand do you have?”

But Obama didn’t say all manufacturing was gone. He also noted that some manufacturers were indeed coming back, and he boasted that “we’ve seen more manufacturing jobs created since I’ve been president than any time since the 1990s” and that “we actually make more stuff, have a bigger manufacturing base today, than we’ve had in most of our history.”

Energy production

“We launched an American energy revolution. The United States is now the No. 1 producer of oil and natural gas anywhere in the world, and it’s not even close.” – July 12 speech in Milwaukee on the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement

Facts First: The US became the No. 1 crude oil producer under Trump, but it had already achieved the No. 1 spot in natural gas, and in oil and natural gas combined, under Obama.

The government’s official source for energy data, the Energy Information Administration, said in 2017: “The United States has been the world’s top producer of natural gas since 2009, when US natural gas production surpassed that of Russia, and it has been the world’s top producer of petroleum hydrocarbons since 2013, when its production exceeded Saudi Arabia’s.” The US had surpassed Russia for the top combined spot by 2012, the EIA has reported.

It is crude oil production in particular in which the US became top in the world under Trump, according to the EIA: it surpassed Saudi Arabia and Russia in 2018.


Trade deficit with China

“It’s not China’s fault that we were stupid. It’s not China’s fault that we allowed it to happen. We lose $500 billion a year.” – July 12 speech in Milwaukee on the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement

“China made, over the last 10 years, hundreds of billions of dollars. You could say four to five hundred billion dollars a year. That’s not sustainable.” – July 11 speech on social media

Facts First: The US has never had a $500 billion trade deficit with China. (Trump refers to trade deficits as losses, though most economists don’t.)

The 2018 deficit was $381 billion when all kinds of trade were considered, $420 billion when counting goods alone and ignoring trade in services.

Tariffs on China

“We’re taking in billions and billions of dollars in tariffs. I’m giving billions of dollars back to the farmers because they pinpointed the farmers. They said, ‘We’re not going to buy here. We’re not going to buy there because then Trump will stop doing to us what he’s doing.’ Except the farmers said, ‘We don’t care because he’s right.’ Because for 15 years, the farmer – if you look, 15 years, it’s been like this. It’s a one-way street and it was a street downward.” – July 12 speech in Milwaukee on the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement

Facts First: US farmers had not been on a downhill slide for 15 years before Trump imposed his tariffs on China in 2018.

Net farm income doubled between 2000 and 2013, from just under $60 billion to just over $120 billion. The Congressional Research Service wrote in 2018: “US farm income experienced a golden period during 2011 through 2014 due to strong commodity prices and robust agricultural exports,” setting a record high in 2013.

Who is paying for the tariffs on China

“And, in the meantime, our government has billions of dollars of money pouring in, and that money is paid for by China through reducing – if you take a look, what they’re doing is they’re playing around with their monetary policy to a level like nobody has ever seen before. We’re not paying. And they’re also pumping out cash into their system. And China is paying; our people are not paying.” – July 12 speech in Milwaukee on the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement

“The Democrats have caused tremendous problems. What they’ve let China get away with – for years and years, China has been ripping us off. They’re not ripping us off anymore. Right now, companies are fleeing China because of the tariffs. And right now, we’re taking in billions of dollars. And, by the way, our people are not paying for it. They’re paying for it – they’re paying for it by depressing their currency and they’re putting a lot of money.” – July 12 exchange with reporters before Marine One departure

Facts First: Americans are paying these billions of dollars in Trump tariffs on imported Chinese products.

The American importers, not the Chinese exporters, make the actual payments; economic studies, including one by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, have concluded that the overwhelming majority of the costs are being eaten by Americans.

Some companies are moving some of their operations out of China in response the tariffs, but there is not good data on how many. And experts said it is not true to say the firms are entirely “fleeing” the country.

“We have stories about firms leaving China, but that was happening before tariffs were applied because Chinese labor and land costs have been rising. Now we have more stories but no documentation that ‘many’ firms are leaving, given the huge number of foreign firms operating in China. And we certainly don’t have evidence that a large number of firms are returning production to the US,” said Derek Scissors, an expert on Asian economies as a resident scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute.

“I think it’s untrue to say that companies are leaving China, though it’s possible that a handful may have done. What has been happening on a significant scale is that many firms have been moving, or plan to move, some of their supply chain operations out of China to avoid tariffs, and or to go to places where they sense greater political and policy stability,” said George Magnus, a research associate at Oxford University’s China Centre.

Magnus added: “They’re going mainly to north Asia, Vietnam and Mexico, though, not the US.”

Chinese agriculture spending

“But, in the meantime, they were targeted by China. I went to Sonny Perdue, and I said, ‘Sonny, how much has China spent, let’s say, in the – in just about the biggest year?’ He said, ‘Sixteen billion dollars, sir.’ I said, ‘Here’s what I’m doing. I’m giving our farmers $16 billion out of the tariffs, which frankly, are much more than that.’” And: “But now things are pretty good because we are doing $16 billion and that was the most that China ever purchased.” – July 12 speech in Milwaukee on the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement

Facts First: Sixteen billion dollars is not even close to the most money China has spent buying US agricultural products in a year.

The peak was $29.6 billion in 2014, according to the Department of Agriculture.

US-Mexico-Canada trade agreement

“And here at Derco, you’ll be able to expand your commerce with Canadian customers and suppliers (because of the USMCA), and they’ll be buying your product. Now they have an incentive to buy your product. Before this deal, they had no incentive whatsoever to buy product in the United States.” – July 12 speech in Milwaukee on the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement

Facts First: This is nonsensical. Trump’s trade agreement with Mexico and Canada is an update to NAFTA.

If Canadians will have an incentive to do business with this Lockheed Martin aerospace company under the USMCA, they had an incentive under NAFTA.

Qatar’s US investments

“And, Tamim, you’ve been a friend of mine for a long time, before I did this presidential thing, and we feel very comfortable with each other. And I have to say that the investments that you make in the United States – one of the largest in the world – but the investments that you make are very much appreciated. And I know the planes you’re buying and all of the other things you’re investing in. And I view it differently; I view it as jobs. Because for me, it’s jobs.” – July 8 dinner in honor of the Emir of Qatar

Facts First: Qatar is not one of the largest investors in the United States.

Out of 46 countries whose 2017 investments were tracked by the US government’s investment promotion body SelectUSA, Qatar ranked 35th, with $3.5 billion in investment. Its investments totaled less than $3.5 billion in the four previous years.

The Census

What is asked on the Census

Referring to the census, Trump said, “They go through houses, they go up, they ring doorbells, they talk to people. How many toilets do they have? How many desks do they have? How many beds? What’s their roof made of? The only thing we can’t ask is, ‘Are you a citizen of the United States?’ ” – July 11 speech on social media

Facts First: The decennial census does not ask about the number of toilets, beds or roofing materials. The Census Bureau’s supplemental American Community Survey does ask detailed questions about the dwellings of a small sample of households – but those surveys also ask about citizenship, so Trump would be wrong that they can’t ask both at the same time.

The 2019 version of the American Community Survey asks people whether their homes have hot and cold running water, a bathtub or shower, and a sink with a faucet. It does not mention toilets, desks or roofing materials.

The citizenship question

Question: “Did you back down on that (Census decision)?” Trump: “No. No. Not only didn’t I back down, I backed up. Because – anybody else would’ve given this up a long time ago. The problem is we had three very unfriendly courts…So I asked, ‘Is there another way?’ And somebody said there’s a way that might be better. It might be more accurate. They explained it…So, when I heard this, I said, ‘I think that’s actually better. I think what we’re doing is actually better.’ And only the fake news, which there’s plenty, would say differently.” – July 12 exchange with reporters before Marine One departure

Facts First: We give Trump leeway for political rhetoric, but there is no reasonable argument that he did not back down, or that he did the opposite and “backed up,” on the question of putting a citizenship question on the 2020 Census.

The option Trump chose – collecting citizenship data from government entities, without a census question – was the same one the Census Bureau recommended in a memo to his administration before the administration launched its effort to get the question on the census.

The Mueller report

What Mueller said

Question: “But on Robert Mueller, is there anything you’d like Robert Mueller to say about you?” Trump: “There’s nothing he can say. He’s written a report. The report said, ‘No collusion.’ And it said, effectively, ‘No obstruction,’ because there’s no obstruction.” – July 12 exchange with reporters before Marine One departure

Facts First: Mueller’s report did not say “no obstruction” in any way.

Mueller laid out a case that Trump may have committed obstruction, but he explained that he would abide by a Justice Department policy that holds that a sitting president cannot be indicted.

“If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. We are unable to reach such a judgment,” Mueller’s report said.

It was Attorney General William Barr who determined that the evidence laid out by Mueller was “not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.”


Mexican troops at the border

“But it’s all changing and it’s changing very rapidly, and we’re doing really well right now. Mexico has 21,000 troops on the border, guarding our border.” – July 12 speech in Milwaukee on the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement