U.S. President Donald Trump has a history of saying false things, big and small. Canada’s Toronto Star newspaper’s Washington Bureau reporter Daniel Dale has been tracking them all.
This is Mr. Dale’s current running tally of the bald-faced lies, exaggerations and deceptions the president of the United States of America has said, so far.
33. Feb. 3, 2017 — Twitter
The claim: “Thank you to Prime Minister of Australia for telling the truth about our very civil conversation that FAKE NEWS media lied about.”
In fact: The media did not lie about their phone call, which was not civil. A senior Trump official acknowledged to the Washington Post that it had been “hostile and charged,” and prominent news outlets in both countries reported that Trump had berated Malcolm Turnbull. Turnbull denied that Trump had “hung up” on him, but he did not deny that the call had ended abruptly after 25 minutes, as the Post reported. “Was it cut short?” an Australian radio host pressed Turnbull. “The call ended courteously. That’s all I want to say about that,” Turnbull responded.
32. Feb. 2, 2017 — White House meeting with Harley-Davidson
The claim: “I love Australia as a country, but we had a problem where for whatever reason, President Obama said that they were going to take probably well over 1,000 illegal immigrants who were in prisons, and they were going to bring them and take them into this country. And I just said, ‘Why?’…1,250. It could be 2,000, it could be more than that.”
In fact: The people in question are refugees, not illegal immigrants, who are living in island detention centres off of Australia. As Australia’s prime minister repeatedly told Trump, and as Trump’s own press secretary concurred, the agreement covers 1,250 people, not 2,000.
31. Feb 2, 2017 — Twitter
The repeated claim: “Do you believe it? The Obama Administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia.”
In fact: The people in question are refugees, not illegal immigrants; the agreement covers 1,250 people, not “thousands.”
30. Feb. 2, 2017 — Twitter
The claim: “Iran was on its last legs and ready to collapse until the U.S. came along and gave it a lifeline in the form of the Iran Deal: $150 billion.”
In fact: Iran was nowhere near collapse before it signed the 2015 nuclear deal with the U.S. and five other major countries. Iran did not get $150 billion in the deal. Rather, a smaller amount of Iranian assets were unfrozen. The Treasury Department told Congress in 2015 that total Iranian assets were estimated at $100 billion to $125 billion; it put the “usable liquid assets” at around $50 billion. John Kerry, then the secretary of state, said Iran would get about $55 billion.
29. Jan. 30, 2017 —Remarks at the White House
The claim: “But we cut approximately $600 million off the F-35 fighter, and that only amounts to 90 planes out of close to 3,000 planes. And when you think about $600 million, it was announced by Marillyn (Hewson), who’s very talented, the head of Lockheed Martin. I got involved in that about a month ago. A lot was put out, and when they say a lot, a lot meant about 90 planes. They were having a lot of difficulty. There was no movement and I was able to get $600 million approximately off those planes.”
In fact: Whether or not Trump secured additional discounts from Lockheed, he is wrong that there had been “no movement” until he got involved: the company had been moving to cut the price well before Trump was elected, multiple aviation and defence experts say. Just a week after Trump’s election, the head of the F-35 program announced a reduction of 6 to 7 per cent — in the $600 million to $700 million range.
“Trump’s claimed $600 million cut is right in the ballpark of what the price reduction was going to be all along,” wrote Popular Mechanics. “Bottom line: Trump appears to be taking credit for years of work by the Pentagon and Lockheed,” Aviation Week reported, per the Washington Post.
28. Jan. 30, 2017 — Twitter
The claim: “Only 109 people out of 325,000 were detained and held for questioning. Big problems at airports were caused by Delta computer outage, protesters and the tears of Senator Schumer.”
In fact: This is false and misleading in multiple ways. The Delta computer outage happened a full day and a half after the chaos over Trump’s ban on all new refugees and on travel by nationals from seven mostly Muslim countries. The peaceful protesters at airports did not cause “big problems.” Nor, of course, did Schumer’s emotional speech.
In reality, the poorly explained order caused confusion around the word, resulting in hassles at airports and beyond for tens of thousands of people — far more than were detained upon entry. And while it is not clear if Trump was correct that “only” 109 people had been detained at the time, Homeland Security officials said a day later that 721 people had been denied boarding.
27. Jan. 29, 2017 — Facebook statement on travel ban affecting seven predominantly Muslim countries
The claim: “My policy is similar to what President Obama did in 2011 when he banned visas for refugees from Iraq for six months.”
In fact: Trump is wrong that Obama “banned” Iraqi refugees. After two Iraqi refugees were arrested on terrorism charges, Obama increased scrutiny of new refugee applicants, slowing down the process significantly, but did not ban Iraqis entirely or ban all new refugees. Iraqi refugees were admitted to the U.S. in every month of 2011, government figures show, and 9,388 were admitted in total in 2011.
26. Jan. 28, 2017 — Twitter
The claim: “Thr (sic) coverage about me in the @nytimes and the @washingtonpost gas (sic) been so false and angry that the times actually apologized to its dwindling subscribers and readers.”
In fact: This claim is false in two ways. First, the Times’ subscriber base is growing, not dwindling: the company says it added more than 300,000 subscribers in the fourth quarter of 2016. Second, the Times never apologized for its Trump coverage; Trump was referring to a post-election letter, a kind of sales pitch, in which Times leaders thanked readers and said they planned to “rededicate ourselves to the fundamental mission of Times journalism.”
25. Jan. 27, 2017 — Interview with Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody
The claim: “Do you know if you were a Christian in Syria it was impossible, very very, at least very very tough to get into the United States? If you were a Muslim you could come in, but if you were a Christian, it was almost impossible.”
In fact: There is no basis for the claim that U.S. authorities are treating Christian applicants from Syria worse than they treated Muslims. While a very small percentage of the Syrian refugees accepted by the U.S. in 2016 were Christian — 0.5 per cent, according to FactCheck.org — Christians make up a similarly tiny percentage of the Syrian refugees in nearby countries: 1.5 per cent in Lebanon, 0.2 per cent in Jordan.
24. Jan. 27, 2017 — Interview with Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody
The claim: “The Cuban-Americans — I got 84 per cent of that vote, and they voted in big numbers.”
In fact: Trump got nowhere near that percentage of the Cuban-American vote. Writes NBC: “According to exit polls, Trump won 54 per cent of the Cuban American vote in Florida, where two-thirds of people of Cuban descent live. Latino Decisions’ election eve poll showed he got about 48 per cent of the Cuban American vote nationally and 52 per cent in Florida.”
23. Jan. 27, 2017 — Press conference with United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May
The claim: “I happened to be in Scotland at Turnberry cutting a ribbon when Brexit happened and we had a vast amount of press there. And I said Brexit — this was the day before, you probably remember, I said Brexit is going to happen and I was scorned in the press for making that prediction. I was scorned.”
In fact: Trump was not in Scotland the day before the Brexit vote. He was there the day after. When he was asked about Brexit the day before the vote, he told Fox Business, “I don’t think anybody should listen to me because I haven’t really focused on it very much.” He did not venture a prediction that day.
22. Jan. 26, 2017 —Interview with Fox News’s Sean Hannity
The claim (on companies creating jobs): “Here’s another thing with the media. ‘Oh, they would’ve done it anyway. They weren’t going to do it.’ You see, Jack Ma. He had no intention of doing it until I got elected. And he went down and he said, ‘I’m only going to do this because of Donald Trump.’ And nobody put that in the papers, which is OK.”
In fact: It is not exactly clear whether Ma made his proposal to “create one million” U.S. jobs as a direct result of Trump’s election, but Trump’s claim about media bias is false regardless: upon coming down the elevator at Trump Tower, Ma, the executive chairman of Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba, did not actually tell reporters that he had made the proposal “because of Donald Trump.” He said nothing of that sort at all.
21. Jan. 26, 2017 — Interview with Fox News’s Sean Hannity
The claim: “And a wall protects. All you have to do is ask Israel. They were having a total disaster coming across and they had a wall. It’s 99.9 per cent stoppage.”
In fact: Exact numbers do not exist, but Israel’s barrier with the West Bank stops far fewer than “99.9 per cent” of people who seek to cross. The New York Times reported at length last year on “a thriving smuggling industry that allows untold numbers of people to pass over, under, through or around what Israelis call the security barrier.” A police spokesman said “hundreds” of illegal crossers were detained every week.
20. Jan. 26, 2017 — Interview with Fox News’s Sean Hannity
The claim (on refugees): “We’ve taken in tens of thousands of people. We know nothing about them. They can say they vet them. They didn’t vet them. They have no papers. How can you vet somebody when you don’t know anything about them and you have no papers?”
In fact: Refugees to the U.S. are rigorously vetted. The process includes multiple kinds of background and security checks and at least two interviews with U.S. representatives. Regardless of their paperwork situation, and regardless of one’s opinion on how good the vetting is, the U.S. knows far more than “nothing” about the refugees it approves.
19. Jan. 26, 2017 —Speech to Republican legislators at retreat in Philadelphia
The claim: “Here in Philadelphia, the murder rate has been steady — I mean, just terribly increasing.”
In fact: The number of Philadelphia homicides in 2016, 277, was actually down from the 280 in 2015. While both years represented an increase from 2013 (246 homicides) and 2014 (248 homicides), the overall trend has been downward: Philadelphia had 391 homicides in 2007 and 331 in 2008. The number of homicides as of Jan. 31, 30, was higher than the 19 at the same time in 2016 but about the same as the 27 in 2015. Regardless, the murder rate is never calculated on a month of data.
18. Jan. 25 — Interview with ABC’s David Muir
The claim (about Chicago): “So, look, when President Obama was there two weeks ago making a speech, very nice speech. Two people were shot and killed during his speech. You can’t have that.”
In fact: There were not only no homicides during Obama’s speech but no shootings at all, the Chicago Tribune reported based on police data.
17. Jan. 25, 2017 — Interview with ABC’s David Muir
The claim: “Look, Barack Obama — if you look back, eight years ago when he first ran — he was running for office in Chicago … and he was laughing at the system because he knew all of those votes were going to him … he was smiling and laughing about the vote in Chicago.”
In fact: This is a gross mischaracterization of Obama’s remarks and behaviour during the 2008 campaign. He did not laugh or smile about the voting system in Chicago, and he did not suggest in any way that he was going to be receiving fraudulent votes. He acknowledged that his party had sometimes “monkeyed” with Chicago elections “in the past.”
16. Jan. 25, 2017 — Interview with ABC’s David Muir
The claim: Regarding voting fraud: “You look at Philadelphia, you look at what’s going on in Philadelphia.”
In fact: There is no evidence of a significant voter fraud problem in Philadelphia.
15.Jan. 25, 2017 — Interview with ABC’s David Muir
The claim: Regarding voting fraud: “Chicago, look what’s going on in Chicago. It’s only gotten worse.”
In fact: There is no evidence of a significant voter fraud problem in Chicago, and there is no evidence that its voting system has become increasingly plagued by fraud.
14.Jan. 25, 2017 — Interview with ABC’s David Muir
The claim: Regarding his false claim of “millions” of possible illegal voters: “Those were Hillary votes. And if you look at it they all voted for Hillary. They all voted for Hillary. They didn’t vote for me. I don’t believe I got one. OK, these are people that voted for Hillary Clinton.”
In fact: These large numbers of illegal voters did not “all” vote for Clinton because they do not exist. Even if they did, it would be impossible for Trump to know that not a single one voted for him, since the ballot is secret. This claim is simply absurd.
13.Jan. 25, 2017 — Interview with ABC’s David Muir
The claim: “Now you’re telling me Pew report has all of a sudden changed.”
In fact: Trump was trying to use a 2012 Pew report as supposed evidence of widespread voter fraud. Muir told him he was wrong — not because the report changed but because it never showed what Trump falsely claims it showed. “The Pew study I directed doesn’t address voter fraud at all,” report leader David Becker told the Washington Post this weekend. Rather, the study addresses non-fraud voter registration issues, such as people remaining on one state’s rolls after they move to another.
12.Jan. 25, 2017 — Interview with ABC’s David Muir
The claim: Muir: “I called the author of the Pew report last night. And he told me that they found no evidence of voter fraud.” Trump: “Really? Then why did he write the report?” Muir: “He said no evidence of voter fraud.” Trump: “Excuse me, then why did he write the report? According to Pew report, then he’s — then he’s grovelling again.”
In fact: Grovelling means “to draw back or crouch down in fearful submission.” Becker is doing the opposite: publicly explaining his work, and explaining why the president is wrong.
11. Jan. 25, 2017 — Interview with ABC’s David Muir
The claim: Regarding Healthcare.gov: “Remember the $5 billion website?”
In fact: Healthcare.gov did not cost $5 billion. The Obama administration offered a figure of less than $1 billion, while an analysis by Bloomberg found that it cost just over $2 billion.
10.Jan. 25, 2017 — Interview with ABC’s David Muir
The claim: With regard to his speech to the Central Intelligence Agency earlier in the week: “They showed the people applauding and screaming and they were all CIA. There was — somebody was asking (press secretary) Sean (Spicer) – ‘Well, were they Trump people that were put’ — we don’t have Trump people. They were CIA people.”
In fact: Most of the audience was indeed made up of CIA personnel, but Trump is wrong that there were no “Trump people.” Spicer told the press that “maybe 10” people in attendance were part of Trump’s entourage; CBS News reported that an official familiar with the event said Spicer was inaccurate, as Trump and his allies brought about 40 people.
9.Jan. 25, 2017 — Interview with ABC’s David Muir
The claim: “I think you’re demeaning by talking the way you’re talking. I think you’re demeaning. And that’s why I think a lot of people turned on you and turned on a lot of other people. And that’s why you have a 17 per cent approval rating, which is pretty bad.”
In fact: Saying “you” here, Trump wrongly conveys the impression that Muir himself has 17 per cent approval. In fact, there is no polling on Muir. Trump appears to have actually been referring to a 2016 poll about Americans’ views on the media. In that poll, the media’s approval rating was 19 per cent.
8. Jan. 25, 2017 — Interview with ABC’s David Muir
The claim: “No, no, you have to understand, I had a tremendous victory, one of the great victories ever. In terms of counties I think the most ever, or just about the most ever.”
In fact: Trump’s victory was not close to one of the biggest of all time. He lost the popular vote, and his Electoral College margin ranks 46th out of 58 elections. Trump did far better in terms of counties, winning more than any candidate since Ronald Reagan, but he was well short of setting the record or even “just about” tying it: Richard Nixon won more than 2,950 counties in 1972, far exceeding Trump’s 2,623.
7.Jan. 25, 2017 — Interview with ABC’s David Muir
The claim: “In terms of a total audience including television and everything else that you have we had supposedly the biggest crowd in history. The audience watching the show. And I think you would even agree to that. They say I had the biggest crowd in the history of inaugural speeches.”
In fact: “They” can mean anyone, but no expert is declaring that Trump had the biggest inauguration crowd in history. Obama’s 2009 inauguration drew far more people in person and far more television viewers. Trump’s claim relies on the people who watched the inauguration on online streams. It is possible that these people gave him a record, but it is impossible to know for sure.
6. Jan. 23, 2017 — Private meeting with Congressional leaders
The claim: Trump told Congressional leaders that “he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton in last November’s election because between three million and five million ‘illegals’ cast ballots, multiple sources told Fox News.”
In fact: This claim, also reported by numerous other major media outlets, simply has no basis in reality. Trump’s own lawyers said in a legal filing that “all available evidence suggests that the 2016 general election was not tainted by fraud.” The National Association of Secretaries of State — the state officials who run elections — said they “are not aware of any evidence that supports the voter fraud claims made by President Trump.”
5. Jan. 21, 2017 — Speech at Central Intelligence Agency headquarters
The claim: “So a reporter for Time magazine — and I have been on their cover, like, 14 or 15 times. I think we have the all-time record in the history of Time Magazine. Like, if Tom Brady is on the cover, it’s one time, because he won the Super Bowl or something, right? I’ve been on for 15 times this year. I don’t think that’s a record, Mike, that can ever be broken. Do you agree with that?”
In fact: Trump’s numbers are well off. He has been on the cover 11 times, Time told Politico, which is not even close to a record: Richard Nixon was on 55 covers. Even if we generously give Trump a pass here — he said he was on covers “like” 14 or 15 times, and he wasn’t sure if he had a record — he his claim about this year is flat wrong. Trump was on eight covers in 2016 and another one on the 2017 week he was speaking here — so either eight or nine total, depending on how you count, not 15.
4. Jan. 21, 2017 — Speech at Central Intelligence Agency headquarters
The repeated claim: “It was almost raining, the rain should have scared em away, but God looked down and He said, we’re not going to let it rain on your speech. In fact, when I first started, I said oh no. First line, I got hit by a couple of drops, and I said this is too bad … but the truth is that, it stopped immediately, it was amazing, and then it became really sunny.”
In fact: Neither of these claims is true. The rain did not stop immediately, and the sky then remained cloudy.
3. Jan. 21, 2017 — Speech at Central Intelligence Agency headquarters
The repeated claim: “Honestly, it looked like a million and a half people. Whatever it was it was, but it went all the way back to the Washington Monument.” Later: “…all the way back to the Washington Monument, was packed.”
In fact: The crowd, which may not have even been half a million people strong, did not come close to reaching the Washington Monument.
2. Jan. 20, 2017 — Post-inauguration Salute To Our Armed Services Ball
The claim: “Even the media said the crowd was massive … that was all the way back down to the Washington Monument.”
In fact: The major media reported that the crowd was much smaller than Barack Obama’s two inauguration crowds, though in line with the inaugurations of other Republicans. The crowd did not come close to reaching the Washington Monument.
1. Jan. 20, 2017 — Post-inauguration Liberty Ball
The claim: “I looked at the rain, which just never came. We finished the speech, went inside, it poured … it’s like God was looking down on us.”
In fact: The rain began right at the beginning of Trump’s speech. During the inauguration itself, Rev. Franklin Graham told Trump, “Mr. President, in the bible, rain is a sign of God’s blessing. And it started to rain, Mr. President, when you came to the platform.”