FactCheck.org http://www.factcheck.org A Project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center Fri, 24 Jun 2016 21:44:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.1 ‘What Evidence Do You Have?’ http://www.factcheck.org/2016/06/what-evidence-do-you-have/ http://www.factcheck.org/2016/06/what-evidence-do-you-have/#comments Fri, 24 Jun 2016 20:37:33 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=110112 It’s a simple question, one that we ask candidates, campaigns and political committees all the time: “What evidence do you have?” We almost always get an answer. But that has not been the case with Donald Trump’s campaign, which typically does not respond to fact-checkers or provides scant information when it does.

That’s why we were heartened to see NBC’s Lester Holt ask Trump “what evidence do you have” to support two of Trump’s claims in a June 22 speech that we and other fact checkers found contained numerous false claims.

Holt asked Trump about his claim that Clinton’s private email “server was easily hacked by foreign governments.” Trump went on to say “our enemies” probably even have the emails Clinton deleted, meaning they have a “blackmail file” on her. “This fact alone disqualifies her from the presidency,” Trump said.

But it is not a fact. As we wrote, there is no evidence that Clinton’s server was hacked — let alone by hostile foreign governments. We have written that the private server was not approved by the State Department, and it was the subject of security concerns within the department and a target of attacks outside the department. But there’s no evidence at this point that any of the attempts were successful.

Holt asked Trump, “What evidence do you have?” that her server was successfully hacked. When that didn’t elicit a response, Holt asked again, “But is there any evidence that it was hacked other than routine phishing?” Trump finally said that he heard or read about Clinton’s email being successfully hacked. Asked where he got that information, Trump said, “I will report back to you. I’ll give it to you.”

Holt asked Trump how he could make his claim “with such certainty” without evidence. Trump replied, “I don’t know if certainty. Probably she was hacked.”

Similarly, Holt pressed Trump on his claim that U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens “was left helpless to die as Hillary Clinton soundly slept in her bed.” As we wrote, there is no evidence for that, either. We know that Clinton was involved in the government’s response to the attacks, which began at about 3:45 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, and we know that she sent the last of two emails about Stevens’ death at 11:38 p.m. EDT.

We also know that she went home at some point during the attacks. She testified that she stayed up all night, but as we wrote, we cannot independently verify whether Clinton did sleep that night — but neither can Trump, and he admitted as much to Holt. Trump said “who knows if she was sleeping … she might have been sleeping.”

Holt isn’t the only one who has demanded evidence from a presidential candidate.

CNN’s Jake Tapper did the same earlier this month when he asked Trump to provide evidence to support the claim that Trump was opposed to the Iraq war before it started. There is no evidence of that, either, as we have written. Trump responded to Tapper by saying, “I think there is evidence. I will see if I can get it.”

And CBS’ Charlie Rose, reading from one of our articles, asked Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders in April about his claim that Clinton relies heavily on campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry. Sanders’ response to Rose was misleading, so we wrote about that, too.

But these are exceptions rather than the rule. As Washington Post Fact Checker Glenn Kessler has written, “astonishingly, television hosts rarely challenge Trump when he makes a claim that already has been found to be false,” adding that Trump’s campaign “does not even bother to respond to fact-checking inquiries.”

We, too, would like to see more TV news anchors challenge the presidential candidates on statements that fact checkers universally agree are false and misleading, especially those that are made without any evidence. It just takes a simple question, “What evidence do you have?”

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Gary Johnson’s False Marijuana Claim http://www.factcheck.org/2016/06/gary-johnsons-false-marijuana-claim/ http://www.factcheck.org/2016/06/gary-johnsons-false-marijuana-claim/#comments Fri, 24 Jun 2016 19:53:52 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=109907 Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson claimed that “no politicians outside of Bernie Sanders and myself support legalizing marijuana” at the “congressional, gubernatorial, senatorial level.” He’s wrong.

There are at least 20 other members of Congress and one governor who, as Johnson and Sanders do, support the legalization of marijuana.

Johnson, a former governor of New Mexico, made the claim in a June 16 interview with USA Today‘s Susan Page. Page asked Johnson about his efforts to appeal to young voters who supported Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

Page, June 16: Some people think you have the potential to be appealing to millennial voters, who were, many of them supported Bernie Sanders, now have to consider Hillary Clinton. In part because you’re a longtime and the most prominent supporter in the country of legalized marijuana. Is that a good issue for you, do you think?

Johnson: I think it’s a litmus test for having a brain, myself. When 56 percent of Americans now support legalizing marijuana and no politicians outside of Bernie Sanders and myself support legalizing marijuana — and I’m talking now at the congressional, gubernatorial, senatorial level — it’s amazing. It’s an unbelievable disconnect.

Johnson is wrong that no other governor, representative or senator, besides Sanders, supports legalizing marijuana at the federal or state level.

We reached out to Johnson’s campaign for an explanation of his position on legalizing marijuana, but did not hear back.

Johnson, who also ran for president in 2012, explained his position this way at the time:

Johnson 2012 campaign website: Proposals to regulate marijuana similarly to alcohol have been considered in several states, and Governor Johnson has supported those efforts; he believes the federal government should end its prohibition mandate and allow each state to pursue its own desired policy.

Sanders introduced a bill in 2015 that would do exactly that. The bill, “Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act,” would remove marijuana from the list of federally controlled substances and repeal all federal penalties for growing, possessing or using marijuana. States, on the other hand, would be allowed to impose their own restrictions on the drug.

The Sanders proposal has no cosponsors and has never been brought up for a vote in the Senate. But a similar bill in the House of Representatives has 18 cosponsors.

The “Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act” was introduced earlier in 2015, by Democratic Rep. Jared Polis of Colorado. It would also declassify marijuana as a federally controlled substance and make it subject to the same regulations as alcohol under federal law, while allowing for state-specific restrictions.

“It is time for us to replace the failed prohibition with a regulatory system that works and let states and municipalities decide for themselves if they want, or don’t want, to have legal marijuana within their borders,” Polis said in a statement announcing the bill.

Also, Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley supported legalizing marijuana for recreational use in his home state of Oregon in 2014. Merkley was reportedly the first U.S. senator to do so.

“I lean in favor of this ballot measure,” Merkley said, referring to Measure 91, which Oregon residents voted into law that year.

So, at least 20 “congressional level” politicians, other than Sanders, support the legalization of marijuana. And at least one “gubernatorial level” politician does as well.

Democratic Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, in his State of the State address in January, outlined a legalization plan in his state. Sanders’ home state of Vermont decriminalized marijuana in 2013.

“I believe we have the capacity to take this next step and get marijuana legalization done right,” Shumlin said.

Johnson’s statement that “no politicians outside of Bernie Sanders and myself support legalizing marijuana” at the “congressional, gubernatorial, senatorial level” is inaccurate. At least 20 others in Congress and one governor favor legalizing the drug.

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Mailbag: All About Trump http://www.factcheck.org/2016/06/mailbag-all-about-trump/ http://www.factcheck.org/2016/06/mailbag-all-about-trump/#comments Fri, 24 Jun 2016 18:29:32 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=109573 This week, readers sent us letters regarding our coverage of Donald Trump’s speech on the mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, and his speech about Hillary Clinton.

In the FactCheck Mailbag, we feature some of the email we receive. Readers can send comments to editor@factcheck.org. Letters may be edited for length.


Syrian Refugees

It is obvious that your article [“Donald Trump on Orlando Shooting,” June 14] is absolutely political and biased. I would ask you just one thing. You can easily see what one person can do. So, if I give you 1,000 M&Ms and tell you that one of them is poison, would you eat any? I am sure the answer is NO! While it is a shame that that the Syrian refugees have this great problem, we have the problem of first protecting the people of the United States. A temporary ban on people coming from a terrorist country is a proper thing to do at this time. We know that our government cannot properly vet all of these people and if just one gets in, it is disaster. You people should wake up and get rid of your political correctness and be fair about your reporting.

I’m not holding my breath.

Niel C. Cavanaugh
Mendham, New Jersey


Benghazi Attacks

I read your fact-check [“Trump’s Attack on Clinton’s Character,” June 22] on Trump’s statements on Hillary’s character, and your article confuses from the first item: Trump says Clinton Slept While Chris Stevens dies in Benghazi. Your statement is: Clinton’s emails show she was awake after learning of Chris Stevens’ death. So is it true or not that she was sleeping while Mr. Stevens died…yes or no and explain your answer. When you state that you’re a fact checker, you must be above reproach. Your own article lends credence to what Trump said, that Hillary was sleeping when Chris Stevens died. From your article that would appear to be true. Again please clarify.

Don Weiler
Ashland, Ohio

FactCheck.org Responds: First, the burden is on the person making the claim to provide evidence that the statement is correct. Trump has provided no evidence that Clinton was asleep when Stevens died. Second, we explain in our story what we do know: that Clinton was engaged in the government’s response from the start of the attacks, which happened at about 3:45 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, until at least 11:30 p.m. EDT, when she last sent an email. (See “Trump on Clinton’s ‘3 a.m.’ Call” for more.) Third, we explain what we don’t know. As we wrote: “Other than Clinton’s word, we can’t independently verify whether Clinton did sleep for a brief period that night.” There is no evidence to support Trump’s claim that Clinton was asleep when Stevens was killed, and there is evidence that she was engaged before and after Stevens’ death.


‘Tired of Exaggerations and Untruths’

Thank you for your in-depth article on Trump’s “Hillary” speech [“Trump’s Attack on Clinton’s Character,” June 22].  It is SO refreshing to read an article that intelligently discusses issues without making each issue political.  I’m so tired of all the exaggerations and untruths! Please continue to be helpful to voters over the coming months!  We need your enlightenment to make sound decisions.

Betty Staples
Hampton, Virginia


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Video: Trump’s Speech on Clinton http://www.factcheck.org/2016/06/video-trumps-speech-on-clinton/ http://www.factcheck.org/2016/06/video-trumps-speech-on-clinton/#comments Fri, 24 Jun 2016 15:19:50 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=110096 The latest fact-checking video from CNN’s Jake Tapper focuses on three claims that Donald Trump made in his June 22 speech attacking Hillary Clinton’s character.

  • Trump claimed that U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens “was left helpless to die as Hillary Clinton soundly slept in her bed.” That’s false. Two emails from Clinton show that she was awake after it was learned that Stevens had died in the attack on the diplomatic facility in Benghazi.
  • Trump said that Clinton “accepted $58,000 in jewelry from the government of Brunei when she was secretary of state.” That’s misleading. Trump neglected to mention that Clinton didn’t keep the gift, which was accepted on behalf of the United States and transferred to the General Services Administration.
  • Trump also claimed that the U.S. “trade deficit with China soared 40 percent during Hillary Clinton’s time as secretary of state.” That’s an overstatement. The trade deficit increased by 17 percent when Clinton headed the State Department, which, we’d note, isn’t directly responsible for trade.

The video, part of an ongoing collaboration between CNN’s “State of the Union” and FactCheck.org, only covers some of the claims that we fact-checked from Trump’s speech. To see all 11 of our fact-checks, read “Trump’s Attack on Clinton’s Character.”

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Debate Over Gay Blood Donations http://www.factcheck.org/2016/06/debate-over-gay-blood-donations/ http://www.factcheck.org/2016/06/debate-over-gay-blood-donations/#comments Fri, 24 Jun 2016 14:21:16 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=109915 Days after the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, House members and the White House made seemingly contradictory claims concerning the Federal Drug Administration’s blood donation policy for gay and bisexual men.

California Rep. Barbara Lee said on June 14, for example, that the FDA’s one-year deferral policy, or celibacy, for men who have sex with men (MSM) is “based in fear and stigma, not science.” The White House, on the other hand, claimed on the same day that the FDA’s current policy does “rely on scientific advice.”

In fact, the FDA’s policy is supported by scientific evidence. However, Lee and others’ proposed alternative – an individual risk-based assessment which would evaluate whether potential donors’ behaviors put them at risk for transfusion-transmissible infections – also has scientific evidence to back it up.

On Dec. 21, 2015, the FDA switched its original 1985 MSM blood donation policy from a ban on any man who has had sex with another man since 1977 to a one-year deferral. The revised policy also defers blood donations from a woman who has had sex with an MSM for one year.

SciCHECKsquare_4-e1430162915812The FDA cites the high prevalence of human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, in the MSM population as support for its one-year deferral policy. While all blood donations are tested for HIV, current tests don’t work until approximately nine days after the virus is first transmitted, a so-called “window period.” Blood donations from MSM during this time pose a risk to the blood supply, the FDA says.

The FDA also uses evidence from other countries to support its case. For example, between 1996 and 2000, Australia changed its policy to a one-year deferral for MSM and saw no increase in HIV transmissions via blood transfusions. Before this change, Australian state and territory policies ranged from a lifetime ban to a five-year deferral for MSM.

But the House members and other critics of the FDA policy have argued that a one-year deferral for MSM is unnecessary because advances in HIV testing have substantially reduced the risk of transmitting the virus via blood transfusions. They also cite the FDA’s own revised policy document, which states that HIV prevalence in MSM blood donors is much lower than HIV prevalence in the MSM population as a whole.

Still, the FDA argues there is “inadequate data” to support an individual risk-based assessment for MSM blood donations for the U.S. population.

How much scientific evidence is enough for policy change is matter of opinion.

We take no position on whether the FDA’s blood donation policy is discriminatory against gay and bisexual men. But we can outline the scientific evidence backing each side of this ongoing debate.

The FDA’s Case

On June 12, 49 people were killed and 53 wounded at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, when Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old U.S. citizen launched an attack in the name of Islamic State terrorist group. After the shooting, blood banks in the region advertised a need for donors, according to the New York Times. But many gay and bisexual men, the population most affected by the shooting, weren’t allowed to donate because of the FDA’s current one-year deferral policy for MSM.

On June 14, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told a reporter that the FDA’s decision to change its original 1985 recommendation on MSM blood donations to a one-year deferral was “a policy change that was made consistent with the advice of our best scientists and public health professionals.” He added that “the president believes that when it comes to these kinds of questions, that we’re going to rely on scientific advice.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the term “MSM” indicates a behavior, not a sexual preference. In other words, as the United Nations explains, the term includes sexual acts between men who don’t identify as gay or bisexual. The CDC and AIDS.gov also note that unprotected anal sex is the riskiest type of sex for HIV transmission, in part, because of the biology of the rectum.

Today, MSM are the population most affected by HIV. MSM are roughly 2 percent of the U.S. population, according to the CDC. Yet, in 2012, 56 percent of people living with HIV were MSM. In 2010, 63 percent of new HIV infections in adults were attributed to male-to-male sexual contact. This indicates that the MSM population remains at “high risk of HIV exposure,” writes the FDA in its Dec. 21, 2015 revised policy document.

According to a study cited by the FDA and sponsored by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, a history of male-to-male sexual contact was associated with a 62-fold increase in risk of HIV transmission among blood donors compared to a control group. In contrast, a history of multiple sexual partners of the opposite sex in the last year increased the risk of HIV transmission among blood donors by 2.3-fold.

Other countries with similar HIV statistics and blood donation screening methods to the U.S. have also implemented one-year deferral policies for MSM and experienced no increased HIV risk to its blood supply, notes the FDA.

Australia, for example, saw no change in risk to the blood supply after it implemented a one-year deferral policy. Risk for this study was “defined by the number of HIV positive donations per year and the proportion of HIV-positive donors with male-to-male sex as a risk factor,” writes the FDA.

The FDA argues that sufficient data aren’t available to assess whether MSM blood donation deferral policies of less than one year would pose a risk to the blood supply.

The FDA also says “individual risk-based options were not determined to be viable options for a policy change at this time for a number of reasons.” For example, it says “individual risk assessment by trained medical professionals would be very difficult to validate and implement in our current blood donor system due to resource constraints.”

At present, blood donation assessments aren’t necessarily carried out by trained medical professionals in the U.S., Louis Katz, a trained doctor and the chief medical officer at America’s Blood Centers, told us over the phone. In contrast, in other countries, such as Italy, these assessments by law must be conducted by specifically trained professionals.

The FDA also argues an individual risk-based approach isn’t viable because “the available epidemiologic data … do not support the concept that MSM who report mutual monogamy with a partner or who report routine use of safe sex practices are at low risk for HIV.” Specifically, FDA says “the rate of partner infidelity in ostensibly monogamous heterosexual couples and same-sex male couples is estimated to be about 25%.” The FDA also cites a condom failure rate of roughly 1 to 2 percent per episode of anal sex.

Conversely, many proponents of the individual risk assessment for MSM blood donations argue MSM in monogamous relationships are at low risk for HIV transmission.

Based on the papers the FDA cites, we weren’t able to independently verify infidelity rates in monogamous same-sex couples. We reached out to the FDA for clarification, but have yet to hear back. If we do receive a response, we will update this article accordingly.

Steven Kleinman, senior medical advisor for AABB, formerly known as the American Association of Blood Banks, told us by email that the organization supports the FDA’s 12-month deferral for MSM. He said “science supports that it would not increase risk of HIV transmission through transfusion.”

Kleinman also said the policy is “in line with the deferral period for other HIV risk factors,” such as a person who has had sex with an HIV-positive individual, an intravenous drug user or a prostitute. For these categories, the FDA also defers blood donation for 12 months.

A representative for the American Red Cross provided us with similar comment by email, saying it supports the FDA’s one-year deferral policy because it’s in line with deferrals for the other risk categories noted above. The representative added that, “At present, there are insufficient scientific data available to determine whether it’s safe to rely only on individual behavioral risk factors when determining donation eligibility. The FDA selected the one-year deferral to provide adequate time for the detection of all infected individuals.”

Katz, at America’s Blood Centers, agreed with the Red Cross. He told us in a phone interview that there are insufficient data to say risk assessment on an individual basis for MSM wouldn’t pose a risk to the blood supply. Katz also emphasized the complexity of the MSM blood donation issue. Given this complexity, the FDA’s “evidence threshold is incredibly high,” he said.

Overall, the FDA is concerned with HIV transmission from MSM donors during the so-called “window period,” when current tests often can’t detect the virus in blood. To support its case, the FDA cites the fact that MSM population is disproportionately affected by HIV. It also uses data collected in other countries, like Australia, which showed no increased risk to its blood supply after the implementation of a one-year deferral policy for MSM.

The Congress Members’ Case

On June 14, Illinois Rep. Mike Quigley put out a press release that included comment from Rep. Barbara Lee and other House Democrats on the FDA’s blood donation policy for MSM.

Like Lee, New York Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney called the FDA’s policy a “bigoted, backward and unscientific regulation.” California Rep. Xavier Becerra also implied science wasn’t the basis for the FDA’s policy when he said, “Science should be the basis for our policy, not sexual orientation.”

Quigley, the vice chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, also called on FDA Commissioner Robert Califf “to change the policy to be based on the risk of transfusion-transmissible infections, and not on sexual orientation.” In other words, an individual risk-based assessment.

In addition, Florida Rep. Alcee L. Hastings said, “We have the technological capabilities to screen blood donations to ensure they are safe for use, regardless of one’s sexual orientation.”

When we contacted Lee’s office for comment, a representative told us by email that, “The scientific evidence is clear. MSM blood donors are, in fact, LESS LIKELY to have HIV than the overall population.”

This is true. According to the FDA’s own revised blood donation policy document, “The prevalence of HIV infection in male blood donors who reported that they were MSM was determined to be 0.25%, which is much lower than the estimated 11-12% HIV prevalence in the population of individuals reporting regular MSM behavior … This indicates that considerable self-selection likely took place in individuals who presented to donate.”

A representative from Maloney’s office also pointed us to a commentary paper published in the Columbia Medical Review in June 2015, before the FDA changed its policy to a one-year deferral in December 2015. However, the authors — R.T. Winston Berkman and Li Zhou, law and public administration graduate students at New York University and Columbia University, respectively — do address the FDA’s then proposed one-year deferral policy for MSM.

The paper’s authors note that “significant advancements have been made in HIV testing” since the 1980s. In fact, these advancements in HIV donor testing and other factors have reduced the risk of HIV transmission via blood transfusion from about 1 in 2,500 to 1 in 1.47 million, according to the FDA’s revised policy document.

For comparison, the odds of being struck by lightning in a lifetime (80 years) is 1 in 12,000, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The odds of being struck by lightning in a given year is 1 in 960,000.

Berkman and Zhou also claim that all donated blood is tested for HIV prior to use. This is also true. A representative from the American Red Cross told use by email that, “Every unit of blood is screened for infectious diseases including HIV.”

However, while “HIV tests currently in use are highly accurate,” said the Red Cross, they “still cannot detect HIV 100 percent of the time.” The 1 in 1.47 million risk of HIV transmission via blood transfusion is “due almost exclusively from so-called ‘window-period’ donations,” the Red Cross told us.

During the window period, “a person could test negative, even when they are actually HIV positive and infectious. Therefore, blood donors are not only tested but are also asked questions about behaviors that increase their risk of HIV infection,” the Red Cross said.

So while “technological capabilities” greatly minimize the risk of HIV transmission via blood transfusion, they can’t “ensure” donations are safe for use, as Hastings claimed.

Still, Katz told us in a phone interview that he’s “certain a year is too long” because the “window period” for HIV and other pathogens don’t come close to a year. “The same can be said for six months,” he added. Still, he reiterated that the data required by the FDA to support the safety of implementing shorter deferral periods or an individual risk-based assessment for the U.S. population is not yet available.

Berkman and Zhou also cite evidence from Italy to make their case. In 2001, Italy changed its blood donation for MSM from a lifetime ban to an individual risk-based assessment.

In a paper published in in Blood Transfusion in July 2013, Barbara Suligoi, an epidemiologist at the Istituto Superiore di Sanita in Rome, and others saw “no significant increase in the proportion of MSM compared to heterosexuals … among HIV antibody-positive blood donors” after the new policy was implemented in Italy. Based on their results, the researchers argue the policy change didn’t have “a significant impact” on the HIV epidemic in the country.

But the authors also write, “our results may not be generalised to countries with different HIV epidemics, different awareness of sexual behaviours at risk, or different procedures in blood donor selection.”

In fact, in Italy in 2011, MSM accounted for  33.2 percent of new HIV infections, whereas heterosexuals accounted for 45.6 percent. Conversely, MSM accounted for the majority of new HIV infections in the U.S. in 2012, as previously noted. In Italy blood donation risk assessments are also carried out by specially trained medical professionals — which is not necessarily the case in the U.S.

Thus, proponents of the individual risk-based assessment are comparing apples to oranges when they cite Italy as evidence for their proposed policy’s safety. In fact, the FDA argues, “Although individual donor assessment for risk of HIV and other infections has been implemented in a few countries, significant differences exist regarding the situation in those countries and the situation in the United States.”

Also, based on the Columbia Medical Review paper, Maloney’s representative told us by email that, “Gay and bisexual men who have lived in monogamous relationships and practice safe sex are not at significant risk for transferring HIV or other blood-borne illnesses.” A representative from Lee’s office also made a similar claim in a phone interview.

In theory, this is true. But as we’ve noted, the FDA argues the “available epidemiologic data … do not support the concept that MSM who report mutual monogamy with a partner or who report routine use of safe sex practices are at low risk for HIV.” However, we weren’t able to verify this claim based on the evidence the FDA provided.

The congressional members and other proponents of the individual risk-based assessment for blood donations from MSM have made some worthy points. For one, MSM blood donors are much less likely to have HIV than the overall population, which suggests many HIV-positive MSM are already abstaining from donating. Proponents also correctly claim that significant advancements in HIV testing have substantially reduced the risk of transmitting the virus via blood transfusion.

However, we reiterate that how much or what scientific evidence is needed for policy change is a matter of opinion.

Editor’s Note: SciCheck is made possible by a grant from the Stanton Foundation.

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Clinton’s Equal Pay Claim http://www.factcheck.org/2016/06/clintons-equal-pay-claim/ http://www.factcheck.org/2016/06/clintons-equal-pay-claim/#comments Thu, 23 Jun 2016 22:39:22 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=110056 Hillary Clinton claims that Donald Trump said “women will start making equal pay as soon as we do as good a job as men.” But that’s not exactly what he said. Trump does not support equal pay legislation, but he has said that he believes in paying people based on performance, not gender.

Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, made her remarks in Ohio, in a speech critical of Trump’s economic policies.

Clinton, June 21: He says women will start making equal pay as soon as we do as good a job as men, as if we aren’t already.

Her campaign told us that Clinton was referring to a response that Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, gave at an Oct. 12, 2015, town hall event, where a young woman challenged him on equal pay and abortion. The woman said, “I want to get paid the same as a man,” and asked will “a woman make the same as a man” if he is president. Trump responded, “You’re going to make the same if you do as good a job.”

The Clinton campaign has made much of that quip, posting the quote on Twitter and on its website. But before and after that 13-word answer, Trump has given more expansive answers to questions about equal pay legislation that could best be described as a pro-business, free-market response favored by Republicans. Trump has said that he believes in paying people what they are worth, regardless of gender, without government involvement. 

“If they do the same job, they should get the same pay,” Trump said nearly two months earlier in an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

On that show, Trump expressed skepticism that the government could construct a workable solution to pay inequity. According to the most recent Census Bureau data, a woman working full time, year-round, earned only 79 cents for every dollar earned by her male counterpart in 2014. (As we have pointed out before, that Census figure is the median for all women in all jobs, not for women doing the same job or even necessarily working the same number of hours.)

Trump, Aug. 20, 2015: When you have to categorize men and women into a particular group and a particular pay scale, it gets very — because people do different jobs. If they do the same job, they should get the same pay. But it’s very hard to say what is the same job. It’s a very, very tricky question. And I talked about competition with other places and other parts of the world, Mika. This is one of the things that we have to look at very strongly.

Nine days before the “Morning Joe” interview, on CNN’s “New Day,” Trump told host Chris Cuomo that the concept of equal pay legislation is “good,” but implementing it would be “very complicated.” Trump said, “I just don’t want it to be a negative where everybody ends up making the same pay. That’s not our system.”

Cuomo, Aug. 11, 2015: You said I’m going to be great for women. I will do the most that can be done for women. Will you pass an equal pay? You know the statistics. You know, they don’t get paid what men do?

Trump: I’m looking into that very strongly. I was asked that question yesterday. I’m looking into it very strongly. I will have a position on it in the not too distant future. One of the problems you have is you get to have an economy where it’s no longer free enterprise economy. You know, everybody gets the saying whether the — the concept of it is good. It’s a very complicated. The whole issue is a very complicated issue. … I’m looking at that very strongly. I feel strongly — the concept of it, I love. I just don’t want it to be a negative where everybody ends up making the same pay. That’s not our system.

It was after those two interviews that Trump had an exchange with a woman who challenged his positions on abortion and equal pay. By that point, it was clear that Trump was skeptical of equal pay legislation, if not outright opposed to it.

The exchange occurred Oct. 12, 2015, in New Hampshire. It began with the woman telling Trump, “I don’t think you’re a friend to women.”

Young woman, Oct. 12, 2015: I want to get paid the same as a man, and I think you understand that. So, if you become president, will a woman make the same as a man and do I get to choose what I do with my body?

Trump: You’re gonna make the same if you do as good a job. You’re gonna make the same if you do as good a job, and I happen to be pro-life. OK? I’m pro-life.

Two days later, Trump discussed his exchange with the woman and his views on equal pay with MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski on “Morning Joe.”

Brzezinski, Oct. 14, 2015: I just wanted to know how you would make sure that’s happening, because I understand equal work for equal pay.

Trump: Well, you know, the marketplace is going to make sure of it, because I see it more and more. Women are being hired. And in fact, in many cases are being hired for more money than men based on their competence. And that’s what I say. I mean, very I said it very clearly. If they do the job, I have women that make more than men executives. I have numerous women, many men — many men are unhappy because women in a similar position are making more than they are. And they work for me. They come to me and complain about it.

About a month later, Trump equated equal pay legislation to socialism, and repeated that pay should be based on performance, not gender.

Trump, Nov. 19, 2015: Here is the problem. If you start getting involved with government on “this one gets this pay and this one gets that pay,” and then you say — “Where does it all start?” Because you could have a woman that’s much better than a man, or you could have a woman that’s not as good as man, if you sorta say “everybody gets equal pay” you get away from the whole American Dream. You get away from capitalism in a sense.

I can tell you, that I have women, honestly that are just, in many cases, they’re better than men and I pay them more than men. And to a certain extent, people have to go out there, they have to fight for themselves. … I don’t know if people agree with me, once you get where everybody gets the same, I mean you’re into a socialistic society.

Trump does not support equal pay legislation, and that is a fair point of comparison for Clinton. But his position isn’t as simple as Clinton makes it out to be.


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Trump’s Attack on Clinton’s Character http://www.factcheck.org/2016/06/trumps-attack-on-clintons-character/ http://www.factcheck.org/2016/06/trumps-attack-on-clintons-character/#comments Thu, 23 Jun 2016 00:39:02 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=109929 Summary

Donald Trump’s once delayed, and much anticipated, speech on Hillary Clinton’s character, included numerous false and misleading statements:

  • Trump falsely claimed that U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens “was left helpless to die as Hillary Clinton soundly slept in her bed.” Two emails from Clinton show that she was awake after it was learned that Stevens had died in the attack on the diplomatic facility in Benghazi.
  • Trump misleadingly claimed that Clinton “accepted $58,000 in jewelry from the government of Brunei when she was secretary of state.” He didn’t mention that the gift was accepted on behalf of the United States, and that it was transferred to the General Services Administration.
  • Trump claimed without any evidence that Clinton “wants to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to settle Middle Eastern refugees in the United States.” The numbers don’t add up. The total refugee budget was $1.67 billion in fiscal 2016, so it is unlikely that Clinton could add “hundreds of billions” to the budget for refugee assistance.
  • Trump overstated his case when he claimed the U.S. “trade deficit with China soared 40 percent during Hillary Clinton’s time as secretary of state.” It went up 17 percent, and we note that trade is under the purview of the Commerce Department, not the State Department.
  • Trump blamed Clinton for the “disastrous strategy of announcing our departure from Iraq, handing large parts of the country over to ISIS and the ISIS killers.” The departure date was set by President George W. Bush. President Obama made the ultimate call to keep the scheduled departure date, not Clinton.
  • Trump falsely claimed that Clinton would “end virtually all immigration enforcement and thus create totally open borders for the United States.” Clinton supported a Senate immigration bill that would create a path to citizenship for those in the country illegally, but it also would have included large investments in border security.
  • Trump falsely claimed that the private server that Clinton used as secretary of state “was easily hacked by foreign governments.” Attempts were made to hack into Clinton’s server, but the identity of the hackers has not been determined and there has been no evidence to date that any of them were successful.
  • Trump falsely claimed that “Hillary Clinton’s State Department approved the transfer of 20 percent of America’s uranium holdings to Russia.” The transfer was approved by a committee headed by the Treasury Department and made up of nine voting members throughout government, including one from the State Department.
  • Trump claimed he was opposed to the Iraq war “before the war ever started.” There is no evidence of that.
  • Trump wrongly said that “real wages for our workers have not been raised for 18 years.” Average weekly earnings for production and non-supervisory employees are up 10 percent, adjusted for inflation and seasonal factors, over that time period.
  • Trump described the North American Free Trade Agreement as “Bill Clinton’s disastrous and totally disastrous NAFTA.” President Clinton signed the legislation to implement NAFTA, but the agreement itself was negotiated and signed by President George H. W. Bush.


Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, originally planned to deliver a speech attacking Hillary Clinton’s character on June 13. He postponed it because of the mass shooting a day earlier in Orlando by an avowed follower of the terrorist Islamic State. Trump gave his speech in New York on June 22.

In his speech, Trump described Clinton, the Democratic presumptive nominee, as “the most corrupt person ever to seek the presidency,” and laid out his case against her. But his rhetoric was not always supported by the facts.

The 3 a.m. Call

Trump falsely claimed that U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens “was left helpless to die as Hillary Clinton soundly slept in her bed.” Two emails from Clinton show that she was awake after it was learned that Stevens had died in the attack on the diplomatic facility in Benghazi.

We have written before about Trump’s repeated claim that “instead of taking charge” during the Benghazi attacks, then-Secretary of State Clinton “decided to go home and sleep.” Clinton says she was continuously engaged in responding to the attack from the moment she learned of it in the afternoon and “did not sleep all night.”

Trump has used the claim to suggest that Clinton failed the “3 a.m.” test, referencing Clinton’s famous “3 a.m.” campaign ad in 2008, in which she claimed she was more “tested” and prepared than Barack Obama to handle a late-night call to the White House about a dire emergency.

Trump, June 22: Among the victims is our late Ambassador, Chris Stevens. I mean, she — what she did with him was absolutely horrible. He was left helpless to die as Hillary Clinton soundly slept in her bed. That’s right. When the phone rang, as per the commercial, at three o’clock in the morning, Hillary Clinton was sleeping.

The embassy in Tripoli alerted the State Department headquarters in Washington, D.C., about the attack on the diplomatic facility in Benghazi at about 3:45 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Sept. 11, 2012. We detailed some of Clinton’s activities in the ensuing hours, and concluded that “the evidence shows Clinton was fully engaged in the immediate response, and subsequent congressional investigations concluded the government response to the attack — including Clinton’s — was appropriate.”

It is true that, at some point in the night, Clinton decided to leave the State Department and continue working from her home. But Clinton testified before a House Select Committee hearing on Benghazi that she was continuously engaged in responding to the attack, that she stayed in constant contact with various officials through secured phone lines at home, and “did not sleep all night. I was very much focused on what we were doing.”

Other than Clinton’s word, we can’t independently verify whether Clinton did sleep for a brief period that night. She testified that she was home alone. However, two emails made public contradict Trump’s claim that Stevens “was left helpless to die as Hillary Clinton soundly slept in her bed.”

Public records show that at 11:12 p.m., Clinton sent an email to her daughter, Chelsea (who is identified in the email under her alias “Diane Reynolds”). In that email, the secretary of state wrote: “Two of our officers were killed in Benghazi by an al Qaeda-like group: The Ambassador, whom I handpicked and a young communications officer on temporary duty w a wife and two young children. Very hard day and I fear more of the same tomorrow.”

We also know that at 11:38 p.m., Clinton emailed State Department officials Cheryl Mills, Jake Sullivan and Victoria Nuland, to ask if the State Department should announce Stevens’ death that night or wait until the following morning.

Update, June 24: Trump acknowledged in a June 23 interview with NBC’s Lester Holt that he had no evidence to support his claim that Stevens “was left helpless to die as Hillary Clinton soundly slept in her bed.” Trump said “who knows if she was sleeping … she might have been sleeping.” 

Jewels from Brunei

Trump: Hillary Clinton accepted $58,000 in jewelry from the government of Brunei when she was secretary of state.

This is false. Clinton traveled to Brunei in September of 2012, and she did receive — on behalf of the U.S. — jewelry (“Mouawad Larme D’Amour 18k gold, sapphire, and diamond earrings, necklace, and bracelet”) worth an estimated $58,000, according to the Department of State’s Office of the Chief of Protocol.

However, Clinton did not keep the jewelry. The gifts were transferred to the General Services Administration, the chief of protocol report said.

This is standard practice when federal employees receive gifts from foreign countries. The U.S. Constitution (Article I, Section 9, clause 8) prohibits all federal officials from receiving any “presents” from foreign governments, kings, or princes, without the consent of the Congress, as explained in a 2012 Congressional Research Service report.

“The Congress has consented generally, in the Foreign Gifts and Decorations Act, to the acceptance of gifts of ‘minimal value’ from foreign governments offered as souvenirs or marks of courtesy, and the acceptance of other gifts when a refusal of the gift may cause ‘offense or embarrassment’ or otherwise harm the foreign relations of the United States,” the CRS report says. “A tangible gift of more than minimal value accepted for reasons of protocol or courtesy may not be kept as a personal gift, however, but is considered accepted on behalf of and property of the United States.”

In Clinton’s case, the department’s chief of protocol noted that the jewelry was accepted because “[n]on-acceptance would cause embarrassment to donor and U.S. Government,” and the gifts would be transferred to the GSA.

Bogus Refugee Budget Claim

Trump: Hillary also wants to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to settle Middle Eastern refugees in the United States, on top of the current record level of immigration that we already have.

There’s no evidence that Clinton wants to spend that much.

Clinton has said that she would admit as many as 65,000 refugees from Syria, which is a 550 percent increase from the 10,000 Syrian refugees that President Obama said that he would authorize for admission in fiscal year 2016. However, Clinton has not specified how much she would be willing to spend on those refugees.

The total authorized budget for “Refugee and Entrant Assistance” was $1.67 billion in fiscal 2016. And $948 million of that was not for refugees, but for unaccompanied minors who immigrate to the U.S. illegally. The fiscal 2016 figure was also when the ceiling for global refugee admissions, not just those from Middle East nations, was 85,000. It’s hard to see how Clinton’s proposal to add 55,000 Syrian refugees to the 10,000 authorized by Obama would add “hundreds of billions” to the budget for refugee assistance.

The Administration for Children and Families, which includes the Office of Refugee Resettlement, has asked Congress for $2.18 billion for refugee and entrant assistance in FY 2017. That’s an increase of just over $510 million from the last fiscal cycle. And assistance for unaccompanied minors accounts for $373 million of that increase.

Trade with China

Trump: Our trade deficit with China soared 40 percent during Hillary Clinton’s time as secretary of state — a disgraceful performance for which she should not be congratulated, but rather scorned.

Trump greatly exaggerated the rise in the trade deficit with China while Clinton was secretary of state.

The trade deficit with China went up 17.5 percent in that time, not 40 percent. Clinton was secretary of state from January 2009 to February 2013, and we’d note that trade is under the purview of the Commerce Department. Still, to reflect the change during her tenure, we would start the clock in 2008, when the trade deficit with China was $268 billion. By the end of 2012, two months before Clinton left office, that trade deficit was $315 billion, an increase of $47 million, or 17.5 percent.

It’s possible to look at the trade deficit with China for the particular months Clinton was in office, but the figures are not seasonally adjusted (they show a 15 percent growth, anyway).

This isn’t the first time Trump has been wrong in citing statistics on the U.S. trade deficit with China. We have pointed out several times now that he is off the mark when he repeatedly claims that it’s $505 billion. The trade deficit with China was $367 billion in 2015.

In his speech, Trump went on to say that “Clinton gave China millions of our best jobs,” and in a tweet on June 21, he directly linked a rise in the trade deficit to the loss of “millions” of jobs. As our fact-checking colleagues at the Washington Post wrote, “[a] billion dollars of exports is estimated to create about 6,000 jobs.” That’s according to a Commerce Department analysis of U.S. jobs supported by exports. So, if one wanted to run a back-of-the-envelope calculation using that formula, the $47 billion increase in the deficit over four years would amount to 282,000 jobs. That’s not “millions.”

Worth noting is that the Commerce Department analysis found that U.S. jobs supported by all exports increased by more than 100,000 from 2008 to 2012, and have gone up further since.

Iraq Departure and Clinton

Trump blamed Clinton for the “disastrous strategy of announcing our departure from Iraq, handing large parts of the country over to ISIS and the ISIS killers.” The departure date was set by President George W. Bush. Obama did not change the scheduled departure date, and ultimately it was Obama’s call, not Clinton’s.

Trump: Then there was the disastrous strategy of announcing our departure from Iraq, handing large parts of the country over to ISIS and the ISIS killers. ISIS threatens us today because of the decisions Hillary Clinton has made, along with President Obama.

As we have written before, Bush signed an agreement, known as the Status of Forces Agreement, on Dec. 14, 2008, that said: “All the United States Forces shall withdraw from all Iraqi territory no later than December 31, 2011.”

Nevertheless, Obama had three years to negotiate a new agreement prior to the Dec. 31, 2011, withdrawal date to keep some U.S. troops in Iraq. Leon Panetta, who was Obama’s defense secretary from July 2011 to February 2013, wrote in his 2014 book, “Worthy Fights,” that as the deadline neared “it was clear to me — and many others — that withdrawing all our forces would endanger the fragile stability” in Iraq. As a result, the Obama administration sought to keep 5,000 to 10,000 U.S. combat troops in Iraq.

But negotiations with Iraq broke down in October 2011 over the issue of whether U.S. troops would be shielded from criminal prosecution by Iraqi authorities. Panetta said the Obama White House did not press hard enough to reach a deal, and that the U.S. “had leverage” and could have “threatened to withdraw reconstruction aid” if Iraq didn’t agree to “some sort of continued U.S. military presence.”

Clinton was involved in the negotiations as Obama’s secretary of state and, at least publicly, supported the president’s decision. Days after Obama announced he would withdraw all troops by Dec. 31, 2011, Clinton was asked on “Meet the Press” if critics had a point that such a withdrawal would “endanger recent success in Iraq by not having any residual force.” She replied: “They should have raised those issues when President Bush agreed to the agreement to withdraw troops by the end of this year.”

She later defended Obama’s actions at a 2014 town hall meeting televised by CNN. This time, she blamed the Iraqi government.

Clinton, June 17, 2014: Some now say, well, you should have made him or you should have — but that’s not the way it works. You have to — if you’re going to having American troops in harm’s way — and we knew Iraq would be quite dangerous for a long time, unpredictable, at the very least — you have to have the host government, in this case Iraq, say, OK, here’s what we want. We’re signing this agreement which will protect American soldiers. We didn’t get that done. And I think, in retrospect, that was a mistake by the Iraqi government.

Trump is free to argue that Clinton should have done more to persuade Obama to renegotiate a withdrawal agreement with Iraq, but it was ultimately Obama’s call, not Clinton’s. And the initial departure date was set by Bush.

Clinton Doesn’t Support ‘Open Borders’

Trump falsely claimed that Clinton would “end virtually all immigration enforcement and thus create totally open borders for the United States.” Clinton supported the 2013 Senate immigration bill that, in addition to a path to earned citizenship for those currently in the country illegally, would have included significant investments in border security.

Trump: She’s pledged to grant mass amnesty and in a first 100 days, end virtually all immigration enforcement and thus create totally open borders for the United States, totally open borders.

Clinton has said she supports “comprehensive immigration reform,” and she has vowed that within the first 100 days as president, she would send a plan to Congress that would include “a path to full and equal citizenship” for those currently in the country illegally. She has also said that she would defend Obama’s executive orders that “provide relief from deportation for DREAMers and parents of Americans and lawful residents.”

But that’s a far cry from ending “all immigration enforcement” and “open borders.” Clinton’s campaign website says she supports “humane, targeted immigration enforcement.” Specifically, the website says she would “focus enforcement resources on detaining and deporting those individuals who pose a violent threat to public safety.”

In her book, “Hard Choices,” Clinton said she supported the 2013 Senate immigration bill, S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act. (page 459)

Clinton, “Hard Choices”: I only wish that the bipartisan bill passed in the Senate in 2013 reforming our immigration laws could have passed the House.

The bill would have funded an enhanced border security plan, additional border fencing, the implementation of an E-Verify system, and an exit visa system to stop visa overstays.

“Border security has always been a part of that debate,” Clinton said during a Democratic debate in November.

In short, Trump goes too far with his claim that Clinton’s support for an immigration overhaul that includes an earned path to citizenship would mean she would “end virtually all immigration enforcement, and thus create totally open borders in the United States.”

Clinton’s Server ‘Easily Hacked’?

Trump: Her server was easily hacked by foreign governments, perhaps even by her financial backers in communist China. Sure they have it. Putting all of America and our citizens in danger, great danger.

Trump is wrong. There were attempts to hack into Clinton’s server, but there’s no evidence to date that shows any attempts were successful.

We wrote about this topic earlier this month when Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, the chairman of the homeland security committee, said “you have to assume that our enemies and our adversaries had access to every email that ever went over her private server.” The senator’s office provided no evidence that hackers were successful in gaining access to Clinton’s emails — only evidence that attempts were made, including by hackers originating in China and Russia.

Update, June 24: Trump said in the June 23 interview with NBC that he read or heard that Clinton’s email was successfully hacked. Asked where he got that information, Trump said, “I will report back to you. I’ll give it to you.” When asked how he could make his claim “with such certainty” without evidence, Trump said, “I don’t know if certainty. Probably she was hacked.”

Russia and U.S. Uranium 

Trump: Hillary Clinton’s State Department approved the transfer of 20 percent of America’s uranium holdings to Russia, while nine investors in the deal funneled $145 million to the Clinton Foundation.

Trump is referring to the sale in 2010 of Uranium One, a Canadian-based company with uranium mining stakes in the West, to Rosatom, the Russian nuclear energy agency. He is right about investors making contributions to the Clinton Foundation, but Trump vastly overstates the State Department’s role in approving that sale.

As we have written, the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States is required by law to investigate all U.S. transactions that involve a company owned or controlled by a foreign government, including the sale of Uranium One. As secretary of state, Clinton was one of nine voting members on the foreign investments committee, which also includes the secretaries of the Treasury, Defense, Homeland Security, Commerce and Energy, the attorney general, and representatives from two White House offices — the United States Trade Representative and the Office of Science and Technology Policy. (Separately, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission needed to approve (and did approve) the transfer of two uranium recovery licenses as part of the sale.)

Peter Schweizer — author of “Clinton Cash,” which Trump referred to in his speech — claimed in a TV interview last year that Clinton, as a committee member, had “veto power” and “could have stopped” the sale. But that’s not accurate. The committee can approve a sale, but it cannot stop a sale. “Only the President has the authority to suspend or prohibit a covered transaction,” according to guidelines adopted by the Department of Treasury, which chairs the committee.

Correction, June 23: Our original story incorrectly stated that Schweizer wrote in his book that Clinton had veto power over the sale. Schweizer said that in a TV interview, not in his book. We have revised our story to correct the record.  

Opposition to Iraq War

Trump: Though I was not in government service, I was among the earliest to criticize the rush to war, and yes, even before the war ever started.

As we have said before, there is no evidence that Trump opposed the war before it started. We wrote a timeline of all Trump’s public comments that we could find in 2002 and 2003, and found no instances of Trump voicing his opposition before the war started on March 19, 2003. Trump has stated during primary debates that his opposition was “loud and clear” and well covered by newspapers, claiming erroneously that he could provide “25 different stories” to prove his opposition. He has yet to provide any evidence.

Trump is right, however, that he was an early critic of the war. As our timeline showed, Trump said four months into the war that the U.S. was wasting money in Iraq that could be better spent in U.S. cities, and after six months he suggested it was a mistake going to war in Iraq. “I guess maybe if I had to do it, I would have fought terrorism but not necessarily Iraq,” Trump said in a TV interview on Sept. 11, 2003.

Wages Actually Are Up

Trump wrongly said that “real wages for our workers have not been raised for 18 years.” Average weekly earnings for production and non-supervisory employees are up 10 percent, adjusted for inflation and seasonal factors, over that time period.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ figures show average weekly earnings were $280.90 in May 1998, as expressed in 1982-84 dollars. The figure was $309.22 in May 2016, 18 years later. Here’s the BLS chart showing the increase:

BLS chart on real wages

Trump isn’t the only politician to claim that wages have stagnated. Democratic candidates Clinton and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley made similar claims about real wages last year.

NAFTA and Free Trade 

Trump: Hillary Clinton supported Bill Clinton’s disastrous and totally disastrous NAFTA. Just like she supported China’s entrance into the World Trade Organization.

It is true that President Bill Clinton signed the enabling NAFTA legislation in 1993. However, the trade agreement was negotiated and signed by the prior president, George H.W. Bush in 1992. Also, the NAFTA bill could not have reached Clinton’s desk without Republican support in Congress.

The Senate passed the North American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act, 61-38, on Nov. 20, 1993, with 34 Republican votes, and the House passed it three days earlier, 234-200, with 132 Republican votes.

So to call it “Bill Clinton’s disastrous NAFTA” ignores the trade agreement’s history.

As for China, the Clinton administration in 1999 negotiated the U.S.-China WTO trade agreement, as explained in a Congressional Research Service report updated in November 2001. It officially joined the WTO in December 2001, when President George W. Bush was in office.

Hillary Clinton supported both trade deals, but did not vote on either one. She did not join the Senate until January 2001.

Trump: We’ve lost nearly one-third of our manufacturing jobs since these two Hillary-backed agreements were signed.

Trump overstates the job losses. NAFTA took effect Jan. 1, 1994. As of December 1993, the U.S. had 16,815,000 manufacturing jobs and as of May it had 12,285,000 jobs — a decline of 4,530,000 jobs since NAFTA took effect, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s a decline of 27 percent – closer to a quarter than a third.

But more importantly, Trump ignores the impact of jobs created elsewhere by trade agreements that offset manufacturing job losses, and he ignores other reasons for the loss of manufacturing jobs, such as technological advances that have reduced employment.

As we have written, a 2015 report from the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service called NAFTA’s impact “relatively modest.” CRS said, “In reality, NAFTA did not cause the huge job losses feared by the critics or the large economic gains predicted by supporters.” That’s because NAFTA, like all trade agreements, created and destroyed jobs. For example, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace did a report in 2004 called “NAFTA’s Promise and Reality” that said the NAFTA Trade Adjustment Assistance program provided assistance to 525,000 workers affected by the agreement as of September 2003. However, the report said that those jobs “were likely offset by other jobs gained” and resulted in “either a neutral or very small net positive effect on employment.”

China’s entry into the WTO had a greater impact. In fact, China, in 2010, displaced the U.S. as the largest manufacturing nation in the world, based on the value of each country’s manufacturing in U.S. dollars, according to a CRS report called “U.S. Manufacturing in International Perspective.” China’s manufacturing rise, which can be seen in Figure 2 of the report, has taken place since China entered the WTO.

But the CRS report also notes that “U.S. manufacturers’ large investments in automation … have eliminated many routine assembly jobs; only two in five workers in U.S. manufacturing establishments are now directly engaged in production.” So not all the job losses can be attributed to trade deals and those job losses were offset in part by job gains elsewhere.

— by Eugene Kiely, Lori Robertson, Robert Farley and D’Angelo Gore


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We Know Plenty About Clinton’s Religion http://www.factcheck.org/2016/06/we-know-plenty-about-clintons-religion/ http://www.factcheck.org/2016/06/we-know-plenty-about-clintons-religion/#comments Wed, 22 Jun 2016 16:57:31 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=109849 Speaking to a group of evangelical Christian leaders, Donald Trump claimed there’s “nothing out there” about Hillary Clinton’s religion even though “she’s been in the public eye for years and years.” That’s inaccurate. Clinton’s religious practice as a Methodist has been well-documented and widely reported.

Trump’s comments came during a closed-to-the-press meeting with evangelical leaders in New York City, but his comments were videotaped by one of the faith leaders and posted on the internet. The video begins with Trump saying, “… don’t know anything about Hillary in terms of religion.”

“Now, she’s been in the public eye for years and years, and yet there’s no — there’s nothing out there,” Trump continued. “There’s like nothing out there. It’s going to be an extension of Obama but it’s going to be worse, because with Obama you had your guard up. With Hillary you don’t, and it’s going to be worse.”

In fact, there is a lot “out there” about Clinton’s religion, and its influence on her world view, starting with her religious involvement as a child.

According to the Religious News Service, “As a girl, she was part of the guild that cleaned the altar at First United Methodist Church in Park Ridge, Ill. As a teen, she visited inner-city Chicago churches with the youth pastor, Don Jones, her spiritual mentor until his death in 2009.”

A Time magazine profile, which ran under the headline “Hillary Clinton: Anchored by Faith,” had this to say about Clinton’s early religious training:

Time, June 27, 2014: Clinton grew up attending First United Methodist Church of Park Ridge in Chicago, where she was confirmed in sixth grade. Her mother taught Sunday school, and Clinton was active in youth group, Bible studies and altar guild. On Saturdays during Illinois’s harvest season, she and others from her youth group would babysit children of nearby migrant workers.

The article notes that in college at Wellesley, “Clinton regularly read the Methodist Church’s Motive magazine,” that she and Bill Clinton were married by a Methodist minister, and that in 1993, she joined a women’s prayer group.

When Bill Clinton was president, the Clinton family regularly attended Washington’s Foundry United Methodist Church. Hillary Clinton spoke at the church’s 200 anniversary in September. In that address, she spoke about the Methodist churches she attended as a child, in college, in Arkansas when Bill Clinton was governor, and in Washington, D.C., when he served as president.

“In place after place after place,” Clinton said, “the Methodist church and my fellow Methodists have been a source of support, honest reflection and candid critique.”

During a presidential forum in 2007, Clinton said that “a lot of the talk about and advertising about faith doesn’t come naturally to me.” She said that faith “is something that — you know, I keep thinking of the Pharisees and all of Sunday school lessons and readings that I had as a child. But I think your — your faith guides you every day. Certainly, mine does. But, at those moments in time when you’re tested, it — it is absolutely essential that you be grounded in your faith.”

CNN noted that in May 2015, Clinton impressed a voter in a bakery after she cited and discussed Corinthians 13 on the spot.

In an interview with the New York Times in 2014, Clinton cited the Bible as “the biggest influence” on her thinking. “I was raised reading it, memorizing passages from it and being guided by it,” she said. “I still find it a source of wisdom, comfort and encouragement.”

As a senator, she participated in weekly Senate prayer breakfasts. The New York Times noted that she was also once a Sunday school teacher.

That article goes on to say: “In a brief quiz about her theological views, Mrs. Clinton said she believed in the resurrection of Jesus, though she described herself as less sure of the doctrine that being a Christian is the only way to salvation. As for how literally to interpret the Bible, she takes a characteristically centrist view.”

Although Clinton rarely speaks about her religious faith on the campaign trail, she did — in length — when a woman asked her about it at a campaign rally in Iowa in January. Clinton began, “I am a Christian. I am a Methodist.” Here is some, but not all, of the rest of her answer.

Clinton, Jan. 25: I am a Christian. I am a Methodist. I have been raised Methodist. I feel very grateful for the instructions and support I received starting in my family but through my church, and I think that any of us who are Christian have a constantly, constant, conversation in our own heads about what we are called to do and how we are asked to do it, and I think it is absolutely appropriate for people to have very strong convictions and also, though, to discuss those with other people of faith. Because different experiences can lead to different conclusions about what is consonant with our faith and how best to exercise it. …

My study of the Bible, my many conversations with people of faith, has led me to believe the most important commandment is to love the Lord with all your might and to love your neighbor as yourself, and that is what I think we are commanded by Christ to do, and there is so much more in the Bible about taking care of the poor, visiting the prisoners, taking in the stranger, creating opportunities for others to be lifted up, to find faith themselves that I think there are many different ways of exercising your faith.

There is even an entire book devoted to Clinton’s faith, “God and Hillary Clinton: A Spiritual Life.” The author, Paul Kengor, executive director of the Center for Vision & Values at the conservative Grove City College, writes in the preface that “some things regarding Hillary Clinton and her faith are clear: Although no one can profess to know any individual’s heart and soul, there seems no question that Hillary is a sincere, committed Christian and has been since childhood.”

In an interview with Christianity Today, Kengor said that Clinton has often butted heads with conservative evangelical Christians on issues such as abortion, and that Clinton “walks step by step with the Methodist leadership into a very liberal Christianity. She is with them lockstep on almost all issues.”

“We do, in fact, know about Hillary’s religion,” Kengor wrote to us in an email. “In fact, we know enough about Hillary’s faith that I was able to write a 334-page book titled God and Hillary Clinton way back in 2007, and I’ve written dozens of articles and given numerous interviews on the subject since—and I’m not the only one. I think that what Donald Trump was telling us is that he knows nothing about Hillary’s faith. For me as a conservative, that doesn’t surprise me one bit, as I’ve noticed painfully and repeatedly that Donald Trump also knows nothing about conservatism.”

We could go on and on about the public treatment of Clinton’s faith. But suffice to say that when Trump says there’s “nothing out there” about Hillary Clinton’s religion, that’s just not so.

We should note that the Hill and others reported that Trump said, “we don’t know anything about Hillary in terms of religion.” The emphasis on “we” is ours.

Later in the day, David Muir of ABC’s “World News Tonight” asked Trump about his comments, and Trump responded, “I don’t know much about her.”

Trump said his comments were prompted by a question from someone at the event.

“Somebody asked me the question,” Trump said. “I didn’t bring it up. Somebody asked me the question. I said I don’t know much about her religion.”

Based on the tape, we couldn’t determine whether Trump said “we” don’t know anything about Clinton’s religion or “I” don’t know anything about her religion.

ABC News reported, “A source who attended the meeting said that no one asked about Clinton’s religion.” We couldn’t determine that either, based on the available video.

We reached out to E.W. Jackson, the man who posted the clip on Twitter, to see if he had a fuller version of Trump’s remarks, but we did not hear back from him. Jackson, a conservative religious leader, is president of the national organization Ministers Taking a Stand. Nonetheless, Trump’s comments extended beyond responding to what he, personally, knew about Clinton’s religion, to include the claim that despite being “in the public eye for years and years” there is “nothing out there” on Clinton’s religion.

— Robert Farley, with Zachary Gross


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Sanders Wrong on Homeless http://www.factcheck.org/2016/06/sanders-wrong-on-homeless/ http://www.factcheck.org/2016/06/sanders-wrong-on-homeless/#comments Wed, 22 Jun 2016 13:35:09 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=109831 In his recent video address to supporters, Sen. Bernie Sanders said homelessness “is increasing.” Actually, the number of homeless people has decreased steadily each year since 2010, going down by more than 72,000, or 11.4 percent.

Sanders made his claim in online video remarks he recorded June 16 from a studio in Burlington, Vermont. He said the “political revolution” started by his presidential campaign “is about ending the disgrace that too many veterans still sleep out on the streets. That homelessness is increasing.”

That’s just not so, according to the most recent figures from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which conducts an annual survey of the homeless population.

HUD’s “2015 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress,” released last November, estimated that there were 564,708 homeless individuals when the survey was taken in January 2015, which was 72,369 fewer than in 2010, and 82,550 fewer than 2007, the earliest year in that report.

Sanders would have been correct to say that homelessness is increasing in some places, such as Los Angeles. But not nationally.

His campaign referred us to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, which noted that 16 states reported increases in homelessness in 2015. But twice as many — 33 states and the District of Columbia — reported decreases.

Homeless Veterans

We won’t argue with Sanders’ statement that “too many” veterans are homeless; HUD estimated the number at 47,725 last year. But the fact is, the number of homeless veterans has gone down even more rapidly than the overall homeless population.

HUD has only tracked the number of homeless veterans since 2009. The number hit a peak in 2010 of 74,087, and it has declined by 35.6 percent since then.

Furthermore, Sanders made a specific reference to veterans who “still sleep out on the streets.” Two-thirds of homeless veterans are in shelters, while 34 percent are sleeping on the streets, in cars or other unsheltered locations.

And the number of those unsheltered vets has declined by 47.1 percent since 2010, an even more dramatic decline than the overall reduction in veteran homelessness.

So the fact is, both homelessness in general, and veteran homelessness in particular, are going down steadily.


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Ad Suggests Trump Loves Nuclear War http://www.factcheck.org/2016/06/ad-suggests-trump-loves-nuclear-war/ http://www.factcheck.org/2016/06/ad-suggests-trump-loves-nuclear-war/#comments Tue, 21 Jun 2016 20:19:00 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=109772 A TV ad from a Democratic political action committee could leave voters with the false impression that Donald Trump said he “loves” war “including with nukes.” The ad uses two clips back-to-back of Trump speaking at events that were actually several months apart.

In the ad, Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, is heard saying, “I love war, in a certain way.” After that, a clip is shown of Trump saying, “including with nukes, yes, including with nukes.” But those two statements are separate from one another, which may not be clear to those who see or hear the ad.

When Trump said “including with nukes,” he was talking about Japan possibly needing nuclear weapons to defend itself against North Korea. He wasn’t talking about the U.S. using nuclear weapons in war.

The ad, titled “Presidential,” comes from Priorities USA Action, a liberal super PAC supporting presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. The multimillion-dollar ad buy, set to air in eight swing states, says that Trump is “too dangerous for America.”




Trump did say that he “loves war, in a certain way,” at a campaign rally in Iowa last year. He made the comment after he said that former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein claimed to have weapons of mass destruction as a strategy “to scare” Iran.

Trump, Nov. 12, 2015: This is the Trump theory on war. But I’m good at war. I’ve had a lot of wars of my own. I’m really good at war. I love war, in a certain way, but only when we win.

But Trump’s “including with nukes” comment was unrelated to that and came several months later. He said that during an April 3 interview with “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace. Trump suggested that Japan might need to acquire nuclear weapons to defend against neighboring North Korea, which does possess nuclear weapons.

Wallace, April 3: You want to have a nuclear arms race on the Korean peninsula?

Trump: In many ways, and I say this, in many ways, the world is changing. Right now, you have Pakistan and you have North Korea and you have China and you have Russia and you have India and you have the United States and many other countries have nukes.

Wallace: Understood.

Trump: It’s not like, gee whiz, nobody has them.

So, North Korea has nukes. Japan has a problem with that. I mean, they have a big problem with that. Maybe they would in fact be better off if they defend themselves from North Korea.

Wallace: With nukes?

Trump: Maybe they would be better off — including with nukes, yes, including with nukes.

Wallace: And South Korea, with nukes?

Trump: South Korea is right next door, just so you understand.

Wallace: But that means you can have a nuclear arms race on the Korean Peninsula.

Trump: You already have it, Chris. You already have a nuclear arms race.

It’s clear, in that exchange, that Trump wasn’t talking about the U.S. using nuclear weapons, and he wasn’t saying that he “loves” nuclear war.

But Trump has previously said that he wouldn’t ever rule out using nuclear weapons as president. That’s a point that Priorities USA Action spokesman Justin Barasky made in an email to FactCheck.org.

At an MSNBC town hall in March, when asked by moderator Chris Matthews about the possibility of using nuclear weapons against the Islamic State terrorist group in the Middle East or even in Europe, Trump said that “I’m not going to take it off the table” even though “nuclear should be off the table.”

Trump, March 30: Look, nuclear should be off the table. But would there be a time when it could be used, possibly, possibly?

Matthews: OK. The trouble is, when you said that, the whole world heard it. David Cameron in Britain heard it. The Japanese, where we bombed them in ’45, heard it. They’re hearing a guy running for president of the United States talking of maybe using nuclear weapons. Nobody wants to hear that about an American president.

Trump: Then why are we making them? Why do we make them? We had (inaudible).

Matthews: Because of the old mutual assured destruction, which Reagan hated and tried to get rid of.

Trump: (inaudible) I was against Iraq. I’d be the last one to use the nuclear weapon.

Matthews: So can you take it off the table now?

Trump: Because that’s sort of like the end of the ballgame.

Matthews: Can you tell the Middle East we’re not using a nuclear weapon on anybody?

Trump: I would never say that. I would never take any of my cards off the table.

Matthews: How about Europe? We won’t use it in Europe?

Trump: I — I’m not going to take it off the table.

Matthews: You might use it in Europe?


Trump: No, I don’t think so. But I’m not taking …

Matthews: Well, just say it. “I will never use a nuclear weapon in Europe.”

Trump: I am not — I am not taking cards off the table.

Matthews: OK.

It’s not our place to say whether a potential U.S. president should or should not talk about using nuclear weapons in war. However, Trump saying that he would not rule out using nuclear weapons as president is not the same thing as saying, “I love war, in a certain way … including with nukes, yes, including with nukes.” That’s what someone might wrongly think Trump said, given the way the ad uses the two quotes one after the other.

Barasky disagreed. “It’s obvious to anyone that these are different clips and there’s no suggestion all 5 are one statement,” he wrote in an email.

Viewers can be the judge of that. But the two Trump quotes come in quick succession in the ad, and there’s no context given for the “nukes” comment.


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