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 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
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.
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.”
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
Rep. Adam Schiff’s comments
The Washington Post’s article on Barr
“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
The economy under 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
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.”)
Facts First: Trump’s first sentence was correct. His second was not.
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
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.
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
Amy McGrath and borders
“She wants open borders.” — November 4 campaign rally in Lexington, Kentucky
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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
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
Louisiana auto insurance
“… 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
“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
“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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
“You know, I got them Choice, so they have now Choice.” — November 6 interview with Moon Griffon of KPEL 96.5
“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.
“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