President Donald Trump made 67 false claims last week, 27 of them related to Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.
This was the sixth consecutive week in which Trump made more false claims about impeachment or Ukraine than about any other subject.
Trump’s three most frequent false claims of the week were all impeachment-related. He said seven times that the whistleblower has disappeared (there is no evidence of this), four times that the whistleblower’s complaint was inaccurate (it has proven highly accurate), and four times that the Washington Post fabricated its sources for an article about how Trump had reportedly tried to get Attorney General William Barr to hold a news conference declaring he had committed no crimes in his July call with Ukraine’s president (there is no evidence the Post invented any sources; other news outlets, including CNN, quickly followed the Post scoop with similar reports).
Trump has made 1,202 false claims in the 18 weeks we have been fact checking him at CNN, about 10 false claims per day. Last week’s total of 67 false claims was his eighth-highest weekly total.
The most egregious false claim: Unearned credit in Louisiana
The Cameron LNG (liquefied natural gas) export facility in Hackberry, Louisiana, has its own website, which explains that the federal government approved the facility in 2014, then approved an expansion in 2016.
Trump visited the facility in May – and quickly began claiming he was personally responsible for securing the approvals that were granted while Obama was president.
Trump did it again during his rally in Louisiana last Wednesday. This time, he made the tale even more egregious by sprinkling some supposed quotes from himself into the fictional timeline.
“They couldn’t get their permits for years. I got them real fast,” he said. “I said, ‘How long?’ I said, ‘Let’s go get them that permit.’”
The most pointless exaggeration: Filling the judiciary
Trump gave a speech last Wednesday about milestones he had reached in his quest to shape the federal judiciary. He had impressive numbers at his disposal. As of that day, 25% of circuit judges were people he had put on the bench.
Trump recited this “one out of every four” statistic from his text. Then, because he is an incorrigible exaggerator, he added that the real number has “exceeded that by quite a bit,” though that was not true.
The most absurd false claim: Thank you for the imaginary approval rating
Trump went out of his way to express gratitude last week. Three separate times, he tweeted about his “95% Approval Rating in the Republican Party” – then added, each time, “Thank you!”
We check the polls each time he tweets the “95%” claim; it has never been true. Trump’s Republican approval last week was at 89% in Gallup polling for October and lower in the 80s in major November polls by other prominent pollsters – definitely impressive, just not as high as he keeps saying.
At this point, Trump making up numbers is to be expected. What’s more interesting is how he sometimes takes an extra step – by, say, professing thanks for a level of support he does not have – to disguise his dishonesty as authenticity.
Below is this week’s full list of 67 false claims, starting with the ones we haven’t included in a weekly update before:
Ukraine and impeachment
“I’m not concerned about anything. The testimony has all been fine. I mean, for the most part, I’ve never even heard of these people. I have no idea who they are…It seems that nobody has any firsthand knowledge. There is no firsthand knowledge.” – November 8 exchange with reporters before Marine One departure
“They’re having people – I never even heard of some of these people; I don’t know who they are. And, by the way, it’s all third-hand knowledge. But regardless of what anyone says, read the transcript.” – November 9 exchange with reporters before Air Force One departure
Facts First: It is not true that none of the people who testified in the impeachment inquiry had firsthand knowledge or that they all had “third-hand” knowledge.
Trump didn’t say what precisely he was referring to; the witnesses have had firsthand knowledge of various components of the story. But Trump was incorrect even if he was talking specifically about knowledge of his phone call with Zelensky. Witnesses Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and Tim Morrison of the White House’s National Security Council both listened to the call; so did witness Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence.
The media and Trump’s comments
Question: “You said the impeachment hearings should not be held behind closed doors, but now you say you don’t want them to be public. So –” Trump: “No, no. I don’t care if they’re public; they should be public. What I said – it was misreported, as usual. What I said is very simple: There shouldn’t be anything. There shouldn’t be impeachment hearings, is what I said. So maybe they misconstrued it.” – November 9 exchange with reporters before Air Force One departure
Facts First: The media did not misreport Trump’s comments the day prior. He had said “they shouldn’t be having public hearings,” not that “there shouldn’t be anything” or “there shouldn’t be impeachment hearings.”
The day before, Trump was asked, “And what do you expect for the public hearings next week?” Trump responded, “Well, they shouldn’t be having public hearings. This is a hoax. This is just like the Russian witch hunt. This is just a continuation.”
It makes sense that Trump had actually meant that he doesn’t think there should be any kind of hearings at all. But that’s not what he said, so the issue was with the clarity of his original comments, not with the reporting of them.
Gordon Sondland’s comments
“Let me just tell you, I hardly know the gentleman [Gordon Sondland]. But this is the man who said there was no quid pro quo, and he still says that … and he says that I said that. And he hasn’t changed that testimony. So this is a man that said, as far as the President is concerned, there was no quid pro quo.” – November 8 exchange with reporters before Marine One departure
Facts First: Trump was accurate on one part of this claim, inaccurate on another. Trump was correct that Sondland, his ambassador to the European Union, had not changed his testimony that Trump said there was no quid pro quo with Ukraine. But the additional testimony Sondland submitted last Monday effectively conceded that there was indeed a quid pro quo.
You can read a full fact check on Trump’s comments about Sondland here.
Rep. Adam Schiff’s comments
“But here’s a guy [Schiff] that made up a conversation, totally, I mean, not even like – he didn’t use one word that I said. He just totally made it up, and it sounded terrible.” – November 4 interview with WKYT of Lexington, Kentucky
Facts First: Trump can reasonably criticize Schiff for Schiff’s comments at a House Intelligence Committee hearing in September; as we’ve written before, Schiff’s mix of near-quotes from Trump, his own analysis, and supposed “parody” was at the very least confusing. But Trump exaggerated when he said Schiff “didn’t use one word that I said.”
You can read our full breakdown of Schiff’s comments here.
The Washington Post’s article on Barr
“The story in the Amazon Washington Post, of course picked up by Fake News CNN, saying ‘President Trump asked for AG Barr to host a news conference clearing him on Ukraine,’ is totally untrue and just another FAKE NEWS story with anonymous sources that don’t exist.” – November 7 tweet
“Bill Barr did not decline my request to talk about Ukraine. The story was a Fake Washington Post con job with an ‘anonymous’ source that doesn’t exist.”– November 7 tweet
“The degenerate Washington Post MADE UP the story about me asking Bill Barr to hold a news conference. Never happened, and there were no sources!” – November 7 tweet
“With that being said, it’s fake news. They wrote a fake story. We’ve told them that before they wrote the story. But today, when you tell the press something, it’s meaningless because they write whatever – it’s all fiction. And I’ll tell you, they don’t have sources. You know what they do? They make it up. Not everybody – not John, not everybody. But they make it up.” – November 8 exchange with reporters before Marine One departure
Facts First: We won’t call Trump inaccurate for denying this Washington Post report – though CNN, the New York Times and other news outlets soon reported the same thing – but there is simply no evidence that the Post fabricated the existence of its sources for the article.
Post executive editor Marty Baron said in a statement: “The Post fully stands behind its story and its reporters, who are among the finest journalists anywhere. The president continues to make false accusations against news organizations and individual journalists. Despite his repugnant attempt to intimidate and harass The Post and its staff, we will continue to do the work that democracy demands of a free and independent press.”
The economy under Trump
“We’ve never had an economy like this before in our history, and it does make things easier. But if our opponent had gotten in, this economy, instead of being up 60, 70%, would have been down 60 or 70%, and that’s guaranteed.” – November 8 speech to Black Voices for Trump
Facts First: We can’t fact check the hypothetical about what would have happened if Hillary Clinton had been elected, but “the economy” is not up 60% or 70% under Trump. The economy grew by less than 3% in 2017 and 2018.
Trump may have been conflating the economy as a whole with the stock market, which is, of course, not the same. (The NASDAQ was up more than 60% from the date of his election to the date he spoke here.)
Job creation in Kentucky
“Under his [Gov. Matt Bevin’s] leadership, Kentucky has created over 57,000 new jobs – but I helped also, we worked together.” – November 4 campaign rally in Lexington, Kentucky
Facts First: Between the month Bevin was sworn in, December 2015, and September 2019, the last month for which data was available at the time, 39,300 net non-farm jobs were added in Kentucky. The “over 57,000” figure is for a separate measure the Kentucky state government uses: “announced jobs” – jobs that “private-sector manufacturing, service and tech companies plan to create in the future,” Jack Mazurak, spokesman for the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, said in an email.
There is nothing wrong with the state counting such announcements, but this is not a count of jobs actually created. Mazurak acknowledged that announced jobs sometimes do not come to fruition.
“We remove announced projects from the rolling total when a company tells us the project is canceled. And we adjust the numbers when a company tells us the project has changed substantially,” he said. (He also noted that the announced jobs count does not include “non-profit, hospital, education, retail, restaurant, financial services or government sectors.”)
“Now, one out of every four circuit judges currently on the bench was appointed by this administration. And that number has now exceeded that by quite a bit.” – November 6 speech on judicial confirmation milestones
Facts First: Trump’s first sentence was correct. His second was not.
As of the day Trump spoke here, 44 of his nominees for circuit judge had been confirmed, precisely 25% of the 176 active-status circuit judges and just about 25% (24.6%) of the 179 circuit judgeships authorized by law, according to Russell Wheeler, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution who tracks judicial appointments. So Trump was bang on – but he then did his trademark exaggerating. (Trump was obviously vague when he said “that number has now exceeded that by quite a bit,” but he appeared to be saying the actual percentage of Trump appointees, “that,” has now exceeded “that” figure, 25%, “by quite a bit.”)
The history of judicial confirmations
“No president in history has confirmed as many circuit court judges even close – not even close – in such a short period of time.” – November 6 speech on judicial confirmation milestones
Facts First: “The statement is demonstrably false,” said Russell Wheeler, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution who tracks judicial appointments. At this point in Jimmy Carter’s presidency, Wheeler noted, “the Senate had confirmed 45 circuit judges,” one more than had been confirmed under Trump.
Wheeler added that Carter and Richard Nixon were both ahead of Trump at the time if you look at the percentage of authorized circuit judgeships they had filled – 31% for each of them to Trump’s 25%. And John F. Kennedy was also at 25%, Wheeler said.
The Trump Foundation and New York
“All they found was incredibly effective philanthropy and some small technical violations, such as not keeping board minutes.” – November 7 Twitter statement about the Trump Foundation
Facts First: The New York state investigation into the Trump Foundation uncovered issues far more significant than a failure to keep board minutes. In ordering Trump to pay $2 million in damages, a state judge wrote that a review of the record “establishes that Mr. Trump breached his fiduciary duty to the Foundation and that waste occurred to the Foundation.”
Trump acknowledged in the settlement that the Foundation did not even have board meetings between 1999 and November 2018; that Foundation money was used to resolve a lawsuit involving Trump’s private Mar-a-Lago club (he reimbursed the Foundation ten years later, in 2017) and to buy a painting of Trump (the Foundation was eventually reimbursed); and that the Foundation had made a $25,000 donation to support the re-election campaign of Pam Bondi, the former Florida attorney general (Trump reimbursed the Foundation three yeas later).
What constitutes a “small technical violation” is open for debate, but it’s clear that the Foundation’s issues went far beyond trivial administrative transgressions.
In her damages order, Justice Saliann Scarpulla addressed one issue that had not been resolved in the settlement: the Foundation’s activities related to a televised fundraiser Trump held in Des Moines, Iowa, in January 2016, days before the Iowa caucuses. She found that “Mr. Trump’s fiduciary duty breaches included allowing his campaign to orchestrate the Fundraiser, allowing his campaign, instead of the Foundation, to direct distribution of the Funds, and using the Fundraiser and distribution of the Funds to further Mr. Trump’s political campaign.”
Scarpulla did note that money raised “ultimately” reached veterans charities, and she declined to order punitive damages.
Andy Beshear and energy
“But Beshear wants to shut down your coal, shut down your energy…” – November 4 campaign rally in Lexington, Kentucky
Facts First: There is no evidence that Beshear wants to shut down either Kentucky’s coal industry or its energy industry more broadly. Beshear opposed President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which sought to reduce carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants.
Beshear’s campaign website advocates an “all-the-above energy policy that includes renewables and clean-coal technology.” While Beshear has called for Kentucky to “diversify” its energy industry and move into “as many renewables as possible,” he has never called for a shutdown of coal.
Beshear has claimed victory in last week’s election. The state’s vote count, which has not yet been certified, shows Beshear leading incumbent Republican Matt Bevin by 5,189 votes with 100% of counties reporting. (Bevin has not conceded.) The Wall Street Journal noted in its article on the election results: “Mr. Beshear carried a number of counties in eastern Kentucky’s coal country that are bastions of support for Mr. Trump and some that Mr. Bevin won in 2015.”
Amy McGrath and borders
“She wants open borders.” – November 4 campaign rally in Lexington, Kentucky
Facts First: There is no evidence that Amy McGrath, a Democratic Senate candidate in Kentucky, wants “open borders.” McGrath has called Trump’s proposed border wall “stupid,” saying it is an outdated solution to a modern problem, but she does not support completely unrestricted migration; she has called for the use of “better technologies,” like drones, to improve border enforcement, and she has said that “it’s OK to have physical barriers” in “certain areas.”
McGrath told Insider Louisville in July that she prefers a comprehensive immigration reform package in which “we have a path to legal status for Dreamers and those folks that have been around a long time here in the United States, and we also secure our borders and make sure we know who’s coming across our borders.”
“…chain migration. You know, that’s when you come in and then everybody you ever met in the history of the world comes in with you – your mother, your grandfather, your cousin, your brother, your aunt, your uncle, any person that ever met you: come on into our country.” – November 6 campaign rally in Monroe, Louisiana
Facts First: Trump was obviously being hyperbolic here, but his claim was inaccurate regardless. “Chain migration,” also known as family reunification, does not allow immigrants to sponsor mere acquaintances or distant relatives to immigrate to the United States – much less bring such people into the country at the same time as them.
Citizens are allowed to sponsor spouses, children, parents and siblings for permanent residency. (We won’t get into all the specific rules and age requirements, which you can read here.) Permanent residents can sponsor spouses and unmarried children for permanent residency.
Through the “chain” process, it is possible for the admission of one immigrant to eventually result in distant family members being admitted. (An immigrant could become a citizen and bring in her husband, who could become a citizen and bring in his parents, who could become citizens and bring in their siblings, and so on.) But Trump’s suggestion that distant relatives are immediately welcomed into the country was inaccurate.
Trump’s victory in Alabama
“Look, Alabama is a place where my approval numbers are very good. I think I won by 42 points.” – November 8 exchange with reporters before Marine One departure
“I think I won by, I don’t know, a lot. Was it 42 points? Something like that.” – November 9 interview with ABC 33/40 of Birmingham, Alabama
Facts First: Trump won Alabama by about 28 points in 2016, 62.1% to Hillary Clinton’s 34.4%.
Here are the claims Trump made last week that we have previously fact checked in one of these weekly roundups:
Ukraine and impeachment
Biden and “corruption”
“We are looking for corruption. We’re giving hundreds of millions of dollars, and we’re looking for corruption. And all you have to do is take a look at Biden, and you’ll see tremendous corruption, because what he did is quid pro quo times 10.” And: “And the tape shows that Joe Biden is a crook. He’s 100 percent crooked. And the fake news, which is you and you – you don’t want to do anything about it.” – November 8 exchange with reporters before Marine One departure
Facts First: The “tape” Trump was likely referring to does not show Biden acting corruptly.
The video, from a 2018 Council on Foreign Relations event, is of Biden telling a story of how he used a threat to deny Ukraine a $1 billion loan guarantee to successfully pressure Ukrainian leaders to fire a chief prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, who was widely seen by the US government and its European allies to be ineffective in fighting corruption. There is no evidence of wrongdoing by Biden.
Impeachment and illegality
“These people are bad people and it’s so bad what they do to our country. They rip the guts out of a country and it’s a shame, and they shouldn’t be allowed to do it, and people should stop. Maybe go to the Supreme Court, maybe, but they’ve got to stop it because we have a country to run. And these people in order to do things, are willing to do illegal acts. It’s an illegal act as far as I’m concerned.” – November 6 campaign rally in Monroe, Louisiana
Facts First: Trump was vague here, but he had been talking about the whistleblower and Democrats’ impeachment push. There is no evidence of illegality by either the whistleblower or the Democrats.
The timing of Schiff’s comments
Trump claimed on three occasions that he had released the rough transcript of his call with Ukraine’s president after Schiff delivered his own account of the call – surprising Schiff, Trump claimed, who did not expect the document to be released.
Facts First: Schiff made his comments about Trump’s call with Zelensky the day after Trump released the rough transcript, not before. (Before he started claiming that Schiff did not expect a transcript to be released, Trump had complained that Schiff did not read the transcript available to him.)
The accuracy of the whistleblower
Trump claimed on four occasions that the whistleblower’s account of his call with Ukraine’s president was highly inaccurate.
Facts First: The whistleblower’s account of the call has largely been proven accurate. In fact, the rough transcript released by Trump himself showed that the whistleblower’s three primary allegations about the call were correct or very close to correct.
You can read a full fact check here.
The whistleblower disappearing
Trump claimed on seven occasions that the whistleblower “disappeared” after Trump released the rough transcript of his phone call with Ukraine’s president. He also claimed three times that a second whistleblower “disappeared.”
Facts First: There is no evidence that either the first whistleblower (who filed the complaint about Trump’s dealings with Ukraine) or the second whistleblower (whose lawyers say they have firsthand information corroborating claims made by the first whistleblower) are now somehow “gone,” let alone that they are “gone” because the first whistleblower was shown to be inaccurate.
“The whistleblowers have not vanished,” Bradley Moss, a colleague of Mark Zaid, a lawyer for the two whistleblowers, said on Twitter.
European countries and aid to Ukraine
Trump claimed again that “all these other countries,” like Germany, France and the United Kingdom, are not “putting up money” for Ukraine.
Facts First: European countries have provided hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of assistance to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion in 2014.
Zelensky acknowledged European “help” during his meeting with Trump at the United Nations in September, though he said the world’s efforts had been inadequate so far: “And, I’m sorry, but we don’t need help; we need support. Real support. And we thank – thank everybody, thank all of the European countries; they each help us. But we also want to have more – more.”
You can read a full fact check here.
Trump’s poll numbers
“It was a perfect conversation [with Ukraine’s president]. So, we’re winning. Our poll numbers are way up.” – November 4 interview with WKYT of Lexington, Kentucky
“We are winning so big. My polls are the highest they’ve ever been.” And: “Just so you know, we have the highest poll numbers.” – November 8 exchange with reporters before Marine One departure
“My poll numbers are higher than they’ve been, ever.” – November 8 interview with Fox 5 Atlanta
Facts First: There was no sign of a major increase in Trump’s poll numbers at the time. The day before he spoke here, he had a 41.2% approval rating and a 54.9% disapproval rating in FiveThirtyEight’s aggregate measure. That was a slight decline from 41.5% approval and 54.0% disapproval two weeks prior.
Trump might be able to point to an improvement in a particular poll or with a particular demographic, but there was no apparent basis for his sweeping statement.
Economy and energy
“In the meantime, we’ve got the best markets we’ve ever had – stock markets. We have the best unemployment numbers we’ve ever had.” – November 8 exchange with reporters before Marine One departure
Facts First: The unemployment rates for some particular demographic groups are at their lowest levels “ever,” but the overall rate is not, though it is indeed impressively low. The overall rate was 3.6% in October – a 50-year low (if you ignore previous months in Trump’s presidency when it was slightly lower than 3.6%), but well above the record 2.5% set in 1953.
Louisiana auto insurance
“Car insurance is the highest in the country.” – November 6 interview with Moon Griffon of KPEL 96.5
“… your car insurance is the highest in the world.” And: “We have the highest car insurance in the entire nation by far. Some people call it auto insurance, call it whatever the heck you want. You have the highest in the country…” – November 6 rally in Monroe, Louisiana
Facts First: Louisiana has the second-highest average annual car insurance premiums in the country, not the highest, according to Insure.com rankings regularly cited by Louisiana news outlets. Michigan has ranked first for six consecutive years, Louisiana second for three consecutive years.
According to Insure.com, the average Michigan premium for 2019 was $2,611; the average Louisiana premium was $2,298. The national average was $1,457.
“We ended the war on American energy. We’re now the largest producer of energy anywhere in the world by far.” – November 4 campaign rally in Lexington, Kentucky
Facts First: The US has not just “now” become the world’s top energy producer, and it did not achieve this status because of Trump’s policies: it took the top spot in 2012 – under the very administration he has accused of perpetuating this “war on American energy” – according to the US government’s Energy Information Administration. The US became the top producer of crude oil in particular during Trump’s tenure.
“And we ended the war on beautiful, clean coal.” – November 4 campaign rally in Lexington, Kentucky
Facts First: Nothing about coal is “clean.”
“Clean coal” is an industry term for particular technologies that attempt to reduce the many environmental harms caused by coal, a particularly dirty source of power. The term is not meant to be used to broadly describe coal itself, though that is what Trump generally does.
The Cameron LNG plant in Louisiana
“I was at the opening of the $10 billion Cameron LNG export facility in Hackberry, Louisiana, employing thousands and thousands of Louisiana workers. They couldn’t get their permits for years. I got them real fast…I said, ‘How long?’ I said, ‘Let’s go get them that permit.’ For years and years they tried to get those permits, they couldn’t get them. I got them very fast and we cut a ribbon a couple of months ago.” – November 6 campaign rally in Monroe, Louisiana
Facts First: The permits for the facility Trump visited in May were granted by the Obama administration.
The company says on its website: “The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission authorized the project in June 2014.” The company confirmed to FactCheck.org: “You are correct, Cameron LNG was approved in 2014.” The facility made its first shipment in late May.
Democrats and undocumented immigrants
“They want to give illegal aliens free health care, free education, more advantages than our own citizens have, and more benefits than our own military gets.” – November 4 campaign rally in Lexington, Kentucky
Facts First: There is no apparent basis for this claim. Some Democrats want to give undocumented immigrants the same access to health care and other programs that citizens have, not more.
It was not clear who Trump was talking about when he referred to “our own military.” He repeatedly claimed during the presidential election that undocumented immigrants were being treated better than veterans; a Washington Post fact check concluded that this claim was “absurd.”
Mexican soldiers and the border
“We have 27,000 Mexican soldiers on our border, policing our border…” – November 4 campaign rally in Lexington, Kentucky
Facts First: Mexico has deployed around 27,000 troops, but Trump exaggerated how many are being stationed near the US border in particular. CNN reported https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/20/americas/mexico-border-wall-trump/index.html on November 2: “Nearly 15,000 troops are deployed to Mexico’s northern border, where they’ve set up 20 checkpoints, Mexican Defense Minister Luis Cresencio Sandoval said last week at a press briefing on the country’s security strategy. At the southern border, 12,000 troops are deployed and have set up 21 checkpoints.”
Acting US Customs and Border Protection commissioner Mark Morgan has offered similar numbers, telling reporters in September that 10,000 of approximately 25,000 troops were on Mexico’s own southern border. https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/press-briefing-cbp-acting-commissioner-mark-morgan/
Democrats and borders
“Democrats want open borders.” – November 4 campaign rally in Lexington, Kentucky
…but the Democrats – think of it. They want open borders, which means crime.” And: “How do you like having an open border with Mexico? Do you like that?” – November 6 campaign rally in Monroe, Louisiana
Facts First: Even 2020 Democratic presidential candidates who advocate the decriminalization of the act of illegally entering the country, such as Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, do not support completely unrestricted migration, as Trump suggests.
Democrats, immigrants and cars
“I jokingly said once, ‘Rolls-Royces, every illegal immigrant gets a Rolls-Royce,’ and the media said, ‘Donald Trump exaggerated. He said they all get Rolls-Royces. This is a lie.’ These people are the worst.” – November 8 speech to Black Voices for Trump
Facts First: That is not exactly what happened.
Trump did make a joke at a 2018 campaign rally in Arizona about Democrats wanting to give undocumented immigrants a free Rolls-Royce – but then, at a rally the next day in Nevada, he made a non-joking claim that Democrats want to “give them cars.” He continued to joke about a Rolls-Royce in particular, but he was challenged on the assertion of fact. He said in Nevada: “They want to open your borders, let people in, illegally. And then they want to pay for those people for health care, for education. They want to give them cars, they want to give them driver’s licenses. I said last night, we did a great – we did a great, great rally in Arizona last night, and I said – I said last night, what kind of car will they supply them? Will it be a Rolls-Royce?”
Trade and China
Who is paying Trump’s tariffs on China
“We’re taking in, right now – and you know – as a reporter of finance, you know what I’m saying. They’ve devalued their currency and they ate this tariff. We’re taking in billions of dollars in tariff money from China.” – November 8 exchange with reporters before Marine One departure
“The great Sonny Perdue: he’s given away a lot of the money from China. We take in the money from China, we hand it over to the farmers, right.” – November 8 speech to Black Voices for Trump
“They’re paying us billions and billions of dollars a year in tariff. And they’re eating it. We’re not paying, they’re paying.” – November 9 interview with ABC 33/40 of Birmingham, Alabama
The history of tariffs on China
“China’s doing poorly, as you know, but they’re paying us billions and billions and billions of dollars and they’ve never given us 10 cents before, billions of dollars.” – November 4 campaign rally in Lexington, Kentucky
“America is no longer for sale. Thanks to my tariffs, we’re taking in billions and billions of dollars from a country that never gave us 10 cents, China.” – November 6 campaign rally in Monroe, Louisiana
“There’s a difference on tariffs, but we’re going to always get tariffs. We never got anything. Just so you understand, China, forever, never paid us 10 cents. Now we have – literally, we will soon have, literally, hundreds of billions of dollars coming in from China. We never got anything from China.” – November 9 exchange with reporters before Air Force One departure
Facts First: Again, these tariffs are paid by Americans. Aside from the question of who is paying, it’s not true that the Treasury has never received “10 cents” from tariffs on China. The US has had tariffs on China for more than two centuries; FactCheck.org reported that the US generated, from such tariffs, an “average of $12.3 billion in custom duties a year from 2007 to 2016, according to the U.S. International Trade Commission DataWeb.”
Trump’s claim also ignores China’s hundreds of billions of dollars in purchases of US goods – more than $300 billion during Trump’s presidency alone. The US had generated over $36 billion from Trump’s new tariffs on China as of November 13, according to official data published by Customs and Border Protection.
The trade deficit with China
“Past administrations did nothing, as China looted our factories and stole up to $500 billion of American dollars – By the way, people can’t even believe it, not five hundred million.” – November 4 campaign rally in Lexington, Kentucky
Facts First: Through 2018, there had never been a $500 billion trade deficit with China. The deficit was $381 billion last year when counting goods and services, $420 billion when counting goods alone.
China’s economic performance
“They actually do like me, but they don’t like me what I’m doing exactly to them. They’re having the worst year they’ve had in 57 years…” – November 6 campaign rally in Monroe, Louisiana
“China very much wants to make a deal. They’re having the worst year they’ve had in 57 years.” – November 9 exchange with reporters before Air Force One departure
“China’s having the worst year they’ve had in 57 years. We’re having the best year we’ve ever had.” – November 9 interview with ABC 33/40 of Birmingham, Alabama
Facts First: China’s second-quarter GDP growth of 6.2% and third-quarter GDP growth of 6% were its worst since 1992, 27 years ago. Trump has repeatedly made clear that he knows that 27 years is the reported figure, but he has added additional years for no apparent reason.
Popularity and accomplishments
Approval among Republicans
Facts First: Trump’s approval rating among Republicans is very high, regularly in the 80s and sometimes creeping into the 90s, but it has not been 95% in any recent major poll we could find.
Trump was at 83% approval with Republicans in an Ipsos/Reuters poll conducted November 4-5, 88% in a Monmouth University poll conducted October 30-November 3, 74% with Republicans in a Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted from October 27-30, and 89% with Republicans in Gallup data gathered from October 14-31.
Special elections in North Carolina
“You know, we had a great election, a couple of weeks ago in North Carolina, we won two House seats. We were supposed to lose, probably both of them, and we won them by a lot.” – November 4 campaign rally in Lexington, Kentucky
Facts First: The special elections in North Carolina were eight weeks prior to Trump’s comments here, not “a couple.” While the race in the 9th District was widely considered competitive, the race in the 3rd District, which Trump carried by about 24 percentage points in 2016, was expected by pollsters and analysts to be won easily by the Republican candidate, Greg Murphy.
“You know, I got them Choice, so they have now Choice.” – November 6 interview with Moon Griffon of KPEL 96.5
Facts First: President Barack Obama signed the Choice program into law in 2014; in 2018, Trump signed another bill, the VA MISSION Act, that expanded and modified the Choice program.
“So, President Obama left Mitch and me and Rand, and all of us, he left 142 openings to the judges. You’re not supposed to allow any.” – November 4 campaign rally in Lexington, Kentucky
“And we were left by the previous administration 142 judges to fill. Can you imagine that? That’s – I thought they may have one. They may have none. I said, ‘How many?’ ‘Sir, you have 142.’ I said, ‘You have to be kidding. You have to be kidding. 142.’” – November 8 speech to Black Voices for Trump
Facts First: Trump exaggerated. According to Russell Wheeler, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution who tracks judicial appointments, there were 103 vacancies on district and appeals courts on Jan. 1, 2017, just before Trump took office, plus a vacancy on the Supreme Court.
Trump is entitled to his opinion on what a president is “supposed to” do, but it is normal for presidents to leave some judicial vacancies to their successors. According to Wheeler, there were 53 vacancies on January 1, 2009, just before Obama took office; 80 vacancies on January 1, 2001, just before George W. Bush took office; 107 vacancies on January 1, 1993, just before Bill Clinton took office.
“I will always protect Medicare for our nation’s seniors. It’s going to be protected. What they’re doing is crazy and we will always protect patients with pre-existing conditions, and we will also protect you with pre-existing physicians.” – November 4 campaign rally in Lexington, Kentucky
“We will always protect patients with pre-existing conditions.” – November 6 rally in Monroe, Louisiana
Facts First: We usually don’t fact-check promises, but this one has already proved untrue. The Trump administration and congressional Republicans have repeatedly put forward bills and filed lawsuits that would weaken Obamacare’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions; Trump is currently supporting a Republican lawsuit that is seeking to declare all of Obamacare void, and he has not issued a plan to reinstate the law’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions if the suit succeeds.