FactCheck.org http://www.factcheck.org A Project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center Thu, 29 Sep 2016 22:09:23 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.1 Is Stop-and-Frisk Unconstitutional? http://www.factcheck.org/2016/09/is-stop-and-frisk-unconstitutional/ http://www.factcheck.org/2016/09/is-stop-and-frisk-unconstitutional/#comments Thu, 29 Sep 2016 22:09:23 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=114714 Q: Was the police technique of “stop-and-frisk” found unconstitutional?

A: The practice is not unconstitutional, but a judge ruled in 2013 that New York City’s stop-and-frisk program was carried out in a manner that violated the U.S. Constitution. 


Was the police technique of “stop-and-frisk” found unconstitutional?


We received several questions about the police practice known as “stop-and-frisk” after the first presidential debate between Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. 

A few readers even wondered why we did not say in our debate story that Clinton and moderator Lester Holt were wrong when they said that stop-and-frisk was ruled unconstitutional in New York City. The reason is simple: Clinton and Holt were correct on that point. In 2013, U.S. District Court Judge Shira A. Scheindlin ruled that city police violated the U.S. Constitution in the way that it carried out its stop-and-frisk program, calling it “a form of racial profiling” of young black and Hispanic men. 

But we understand the confusion that some of our readers expressed because the judge did not rule the practice itself unconstitutional — just the way that the city police had carried it out.

In fact, Judge Scheindlin pointedly wrote in her opinion that she was “not ordering an end to the practice of stop and frisk.” She said they could continue if the city complied with court-ordered remedies to make sure that the stops and frisks did not violate the Constitution. (Scheindlin called these “Terry stops,” referring to Terry v. Ohio, in which the U.S. Supreme Court in 1968 ruled that a police officer can stop and frisk individuals where there is a reasonable basis for suspicion.)

However, we did, in researching this Ask FactCheck, find that Clinton was wrong about one thing; Clinton falsely claimed at the debate that stop-and-frisk was found to be unconstitutional “in part, because it was ineffective.” The judge did not consider the effectiveness of the program in making her decision.

“This Court’s mandate is solely to judge the constitutionality of police behavior, not its effectiveness as a law enforcement tool,” the judge wrote in her opinion.

Trump and Holt on Stop-and-Frisk

During the debate, Trump spoke about the need for “law and order” and pointed to New York City’s stop-and-frisk program as an example of policing programs that could be adopted by other cities. It was after this that Holt noted that the city’s stop-and-frisk program was found to be unconstitutional.

Holt, Sept. 26: Your two — your two minutes expired, but I do want to follow up. Stop-and-frisk was ruled unconstitutional in New York, because it largely singled out black and Hispanic young men.

Trump: No, you’re wrong. It went before a judge, who was a very against-police judge. It was taken away from her. And our mayor, our new mayor, refused to go forward with the case. They would have won an appeal. If you look at it, throughout the country, there are many places where it’s allowed.

It seemed to us that the two men were talking past each other at this point.

Holt was right when he said, “Stop-and-frisk was ruled unconstitutional in New York, because it largely singled out black and Hispanic young men.” So Trump’s retort to Holt — “No, you’re wrong” — seems clearly wrong. However, Trump immediately went on to say why he thought Holt was wrong, and he had a point.

Trump said he disagreed with the ruling and seemed to be arguing that the practice itself is constitutional. Trump is entitled to offer his opinion of the ruling, and he is right that there is nothing inherently unconstitutional about the practice if it is carried out properly.  

In the executive summary of her opinion, Scheindlin wrote that there were 4.4 million stops made by New York City police between January 2004 and June 2012, and 83 percent of them were made of blacks and Hispanics — even though those racial groups represented 52 percent of the city’s population in 2010.

During trial, 12 plaintiffs testified about 19 of those stops and the judge said she found that 14 of the 19 stops constituted an unconstitutional stop or unconstitutional frisk.

“In addition, the evidence at trial revealed that the NYPD has an unwritten policy of targeting ‘the right people’ for stops,” Scheindlin wrote. “In practice, the policy encourages the targeting of young black and Hispanic men based on their prevalence in local crime complaints. This is a form of racial profiling.”

Scheindlin, Floyd v. the City of New York, Aug. 12, 2013: In conclusion, I find that the City is liable for violating plaintiffs’ Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The City acted with deliberate indifference toward the NYPD’s practice of making unconstitutional stops and conducting unconstitutional frisks.

But Scheindlin did not order the city police to end its stop-and-frisk program. Instead, she ordered remedies to ensure that it was carried out without violating the Constitution.

Scheindlin, Floyd v. the City of New York, Aug. 12, 2013: To address the violations that I have found, I shall order various remedies including, but not limited to, an immediate change to certain policies and activities of the NYPD, a trial program requiring the use of body-worn cameras in one precinct per borough, a community-based joint remedial process to be conducted by a court-appointed facilitator, and the appointment of an independent monitor to ensure that the NYPD’s conduct of stops and frisks is carried out in accordance with the Constitution and the principles enunciated in this Opinion, and to monitor the NYPD’s compliance with the ordered remedies.

“To be very clear: I am not ordering an end to the practice of stop and frisk,” she wrote. “The purpose of the remedies addressed in this Opinion is to ensure that the practice is carried out in a manner that protects the rights and liberties of all New Yorkers, while still providing much needed police protection.”

Clinton on Stop-and-Frisk

When it was Clinton’s turn to speak, the former New York senator criticized the city’s stop-and-frisk program.

Clinton, Sept. 26: There are the right ways of doing it, and then there are ways that are ineffective. Stop-and-frisk was found to be unconstitutional and, in part, because it was ineffective. It did not do what it needed to do.

At this point, Clinton is right that the stops and frisks carried out in New York were found to be unconstitutional, as we have already explained. But Clinton got it wrong when she said the judge found the city’s widespread practice unconstitutional “in part, because it was ineffective.”

Scheindlin wrote more than once in her opinion that she did not consider the effectiveness of the program in her ruling.

Scheindlin, Floyd v. the City of New York, Aug. 12, 2013: I emphasize at the outset, as I have throughout the litigation, that this case is not about the effectiveness of stop and frisk in deterring or combating crime. This Court’s mandate is solely to judge the constitutionality of police behavior, not its effectiveness as a law enforcement tool. Many police practices may be useful for fighting crime — preventive detention or coerced confessions, for example — but because they are unconstitutional they cannot be used, no matter how effective.

The judge also noted that she did not consider the testimony of one of the city’s expert witnesses, Dr. Dennis Smith, an associate professor at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University. Smith testified about the effectiveness of the stop-and-frisk program.

“While Dr. Smith’s research makes him specially qualified to opine on the effectiveness of the NYPD’s practices in controlling crime, the effectiveness of stop and frisk is not at issue in this case, as I have repeatedly explained,” the judge wrote.


Kiely, Eugene, et al. “FactChecking the First Debate.” FactCheck.org. 27 Sep 2016.

Goldstein, Joseph. “Judge Rejects New York’s Stop-and-Frisk policy.” New York Times. 12 Aug 2013.

Floyd, et al. v. the City of New York, et al. 08 cv 01034. U.S. District Court Southern District of New York. 12 Aug 2013.

Findlaw.com. Terry v. Ohio (1968). Accessed 29 Sep 2016

FactCheck.org. “Presidential Debate at Hofstra University.” Transcript. 26 Sep 2016

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Trump on the Stump http://www.factcheck.org/2016/09/trump-on-the-stump/ http://www.factcheck.org/2016/09/trump-on-the-stump/#comments Wed, 28 Sep 2016 14:17:17 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=114286 Summary

Speaking to about 2,500 supporters in downtown Miami’s packed and steamy James L. Knight Center, Donald Trump revealed a little bit about his campaign strategy.

“These rooms weren’t designed for this many people,” Trump said on Sept. 16. “And it is hot in these rooms. And we stand up here and we talk. And we do two or three and sometimes we’ll be hitting four a day. Do you think Hillary Clinton can get through one?”

“You ever see her 18-minute speech? Bomb. Bomb. Bomb. See ya. See ya. I’m going home,” Trump said.

“No,” Trump said. “We’re doing it the right way. And frankly, when they spend hundreds of millions of dollars on advertising I don’t have to because I do it the old-fashioned way. I come into your neighborhood, right. It’s a lot cheaper. It’s a lot harder work, but it’s a lot cheaper.”

Trump’s frenetic pace of campaign speeches also keeps fact-checkers that much busier. We took a look at three recent stump speeches from Trump. Among the misleading statements:

  • Though Trump talked about violence “happening all over our country,” homicides and violent crimes overall have declined over the past several decades.
  • Trump falsely claimed Clinton plans to bring in “620,000 refugees in her first term.” Clinton has not said how many refugees she would accept in fiscal 2017 or beyond.
  • Trump said Bill Clinton signed NAFTA, which “destroyed our manufacturing in this country.” Economic studies say NAFTA’s overall net impact on jobs has been small, and NAFTA was actually signed by President George H.W. Bush, though Clinton signed a bill enabling NAFTA.
  • Trump promised to provide “big league tax reduction” for middle-class families. The Tax Foundation says everyone would get tax cuts under Trump’s plan, though the biggest cuts — both in raw dollars and as a percentage of income — would go to the wealthiest.
  • Meanwhile, Trump said Clinton would “raise your taxes substantially.” She would not, unless you are among the top 10 percent of taxpayers.
  • Trump said “58 percent of African American youth are not employed.” But that includes millions of 16- to 24-year-olds who are not looking for work, including many in school. The unemployment rate among this group was 15.7 percent in August.
  • Trump blamed Obama for the fact that “14 million people have left the workforce entirely.” But it’s part of a decades-old trend, largely driven by aging baby boomers and other changing demographics.
  • Trump said under Obama “another 2 million Hispanic Americans have fallen into poverty.” That’s an outdated figure that has since been trimmed to 1.1 million. Moreover, the percentage of Hispanic Americans living in poverty has dropped under Obama.
  • Trump falsely claimed that his promise to “repeal and replace disastrous Obamacare” would “instantly save another 2 million jobs.” The Congressional Budget Office estimated the Affordable Care Act would encourage some to work less or retire earlier, not that jobs would be “lost.”
  • Trump also cherry-picked high rate increases on the ACA exchanges in claiming that “your premiums” are “through the roof.” Most people get their insurance through employers, where premiums have been growing at historically low rates. Premiums on the exchanges vary, with one analysis finding an average proposed increase of 9 percent across 17 major cities.
  • Trump, as usual, claimed that “I was against going into the war in Iraq.” We found no evidence for that. Trump voiced an opinion only once on whether to invade Iraq before the war started, and he said, “Yeah, I guess so.”

This is just a sample of what we found. We will delve more deeply into these and a number of misleading or false claims from those speeches in our Analysis section.

And as part of one of our new features, we’ve posted an annotated version of Trump’s Miami speech. Click on highlighted text to read our corresponding fact-checks.

Note to readers: This is the first part of a two-part series examining the factual claims made by both major candidates. We will post our findings about Hillary Clinton’s stump-speech claims in a subsequent article.


Donald Trump, a businessman who has never held or run for public office, takes pride in campaigning “the old-fashioned way,” as he put it in Miami.

He boasts that he is spending less on advertising than Hillary Clinton – and he is right.

According to Kantar Media, which tracks political advertising, Clinton has spent nearly $100 million on 131,500 ads in the general election campaign though Sept. 20, compared with just under $16 million spent by the Trump campaign on 24,500 ads. (A Kantar spokesman told us to keep in mind that Trump also has been spending some on satellite and local cable TV, neither of which Kantar tracks.)

Trump boasts that he speaks at rallies more frequently and far longer than Clinton does at her rallies — and he is right again.

We looked at three recent Clinton speeches and found she spoke for an average of 28 minutes. Trump, on the other hand, regularly speaks for 45 minutes or longer.

Trump’s rallies – interrupted by applause and punctuated by chants of “U.S.A.” — get tremendous national media coverage. Trump leads Clinton in “earned media” — press interviews and appearances on various media including TV, radio, online and print publications, according to mediaQuant, a media measurement company.

But those reports on his campaign rallies don’t often include more than a sound bite or two.

In the Miami speech, for example, Trump made headlines for his call on Clinton to disarm her bodyguards. “Take their guns away,” Trump said. “She doesn’t want guns. Take their — let’s see what happens to her. Take their guns away. OK? It’ll be very dangerous.”

The next night, in Colorado, much of the media attention was on Trump’s comments about the bombings in New York and New Jersey, and on his comments calling former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates an “absolute clown.”

The day-to-day appeals in stump speeches often go largely uncovered, though. The words are nearly identical in stop after stop for weeks and weeks. And the media are looking for new things to report. But those speeches — repetitive as they may be — represent the core appeal to voters.

And so, as we began doing in the 2012 campaign, we will take a deeper dive looking into the accuracy of both Clinton’s and Trump’s stump speeches. In this story, we will look at claims from Trump’s speeches in Miami on Sept. 16, Colorado Springs on Sept. 17 and Fort Myers, Florida, on Sept. 19.

There’s a lot of misinformation, so we decided to break it down by subject.


Trump, Sept. 19: Altogether, [Clinton’s] plan would bring in 620,000 refugees in her first term with no effective way to screen them or vet them. Law enforcement said there’s no way.

This claim, which Trump made in Fort Myers, is a combination of two misleading talking points. First is the claim that Clinton “would bring in 620,000 refugees in her first term.” She has not said how many she would accept in fiscal 2017 or beyond.

As we have written, Trump is relying on an unsupported assumption made in a Senate Republican staff report. Clinton last year said that she would have accepted up to 65,000 Syrian refugees in fiscal year 2016, which will end Sept. 30, instead of the 10,000 set by Obama. The partisan report assumes that Clinton would accept an additional 55,000 Syrian refugees in each of her four years in office, increasing the total number of refugees the U.S. annually accepts from 100,000 this year to 155,000.

That’s faulty logic. The Clinton campaign told us that she remains committed to accepting more than 10,000 Syrian refugees — provided that they can be properly screened. But she has not said how many more she would accept in the future or how many refugees in total she would admit.

Trump also said there is “no effective way to screen [Syrian refugees] or vet them.” The process for admitting a refugee has multiple steps, including background checks.

First, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, or sometimes a U.S. embassy, refers a refugee for resettlement in the U.S. After that, there’s an initial multistep security clearance by the National Counterterrorism Center, the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense that is followed by an in-person interview abroad with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services — which has to approve the application. That’s followed by a medical screening and a match with one of the voluntary agencies in the U.S. that sponsor refugees. And then there’s another security clearance to complete the process.

Although Trump often says that the Syrian refugees seeking admission to the U.S. have “no documentation” and “no paperwork,” that’s not accurate. As we have written, Barbara Strack, chief of the refugee affairs division of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, told Congress last year that “we’ve found with Syrian refugees … in general they have many, many documents.”


Trump, Sept. 16: It’s the same reason why she won’t take responsibility for her central role in unleashing ISIS all over the world.

This statement, which Trump made in Miami, is another version of Trump’s demonstrably false claim that Obama “founded ISIS,” and Clinton was a “co-founder.”

Trump points to the withdrawal of troops from Iraq in 2011, under Obama, as “the founding of ISIS,” but experts told us the expansion of the Islamic State can’t be pinned on the troop withdrawal alone — if at all. And there’s the fact that President George W. Bush had signed the agreement and set the date for that withdrawal.

Trump himself supported withdrawing troops from Iraq as early as 2007, telling CNN in a March 16, 2007, interview that the U.S. should “declare victory and leave, because I’ll tell you, this country is just going to get further bogged down. … [T]his is a total catastrophe and you might as well get out now, because you just are wasting time.”

Experts have pointed to a variety of actions that could have contributed to the rise of ISIS, including: the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003; the decisions by the U.S.-led provisional coalition government in 2003 to disband the Iraqi army and dissolve and ban the Baath Party, which drove Sunnis into militant groups; the rule of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, whose Shia government further ostracized Sunnis; the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq by Dec. 31, 2011; the weakening of the Iraqi army, which abandoned posts in 2014 rather than fight ISIS; and the Syrian civil war, which began in 2011.


Trump, Sept. 16: People who support the police, who want crime reduced and ended, and who are not prejudiced. They’re concerned and loving citizens whose hearts break every time an innocent child is killed violently on the streets, which is happening all over our country.

Trump regularly refers to rising violent crime in America, and often cites rising violence or murder rates in selected cities like Chicago. In his Miami speech, where he said violent crime is “happening all over our country,” Trump also said African Americans “can’t walk down the street” without getting shot.

Recently released FBI data show the number of overall violent crimes in the U.S. increased by nearly 4 percent from 2014 to 2015, and murder and nonnegligent manslaughter went up by 10.8 percent. While authorities are concerned about the one-year violent crime increase, as USA Today reported, the 2015 figure is still lower than in 2011, and 16.5 percent below the level a decade ago.

As we have noted, the long-term trend nationwide is a decline, not only in murder rates, but for violent crime in general.

As this graph of violent crime rates for the nation shows, the rate has been on a decline since it peaked at 758.2 in 1991. It was less than half that, 372.6 in 2015.  (The FBI describes its data as “estimated,” and it comes from the voluntary reports of local law enforcement agencies.)



The murder and nonnegligent manslaughter rate nationwide, at 4.9 in 2015, is less than half the peak of 10.2 in 1980.



As for cities, the New York Times ran a story in May on increases in homicides in some cities, and decreases in others, for the first three months of 2016 compared with the first three months of 2015.

New York Times, May 13, 2016: Data released Friday by the Major Cities Chiefs Police Association, based on reports from more than 60 cities, showed notable increases in murders in about two dozen cities in the first three months of the year compared to last year and a 9 percent increase nationwide. But nearly 40 cities showed a decline or remained essentially flat.

Criminology and statistics experts told us we can’t discern a trend from such small snapshots in time.

An analysis from the Brennan Center for Justice released on Sept. 19 concluded: “Overall crime rates in 2016 are projected to be nearly the same as last year, with crime remaining at an all-time low.” The analysis found that murder increased by 14 percent “with just three cities — Baltimore, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. — responsible for half that increase. All told, 2015’s murder rate was still near historic lows.” The analysis also called reports of a national crime wave “premature and unfounded,” and said that “the average person in a large urban area is safer walking on the street today than he or she would have been at almost any time in the past 30 years.”


Trump, Sept. 16: We’re going to renegotiate NAFTA. Probably the worst trade deal ever agreed to, signed in the history of the world, not in the United States. It’s destroyed our manufacturing in our country. It’s destroyed. And by the way, guess who signed it? Bill Clinton.

First, to clarify, the North American Free Trade Agreement was negotiated and signed by President Bill Clinton’s predecessor, President George H.W. Bush. It is true that Clinton signed the bill enabling NAFTA in 1993; however, it took Republican congressional support to get that bill to his desk. The Senate passed the North American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act, 61-38, in November 1993, with 34 Republican votes, and the House passed it 234-200, with 132 Republican votes.

As for Trump’s claim that NAFTA destroyed manufacturing in the U.S., economic studies say NAFTA’s net impact on U.S. jobs has been small.

There has been a 27 percent drop in manufacturing jobs from December 1993, the month before NAFTA took effect, to August of this year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many factors, beyond the 1994 trade agreement, impact jobs and the economy, and as we have written before, economists have debated the effects of the trade agreement. But overall, economists have found the net effect on jobs from NAFTA has been small.

A 2015 report from the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service called the net overall effect of NAFTA “relatively modest.”

CRS, April 16, 2015: In reality, NAFTA did not cause the huge job losses feared by the critics or the large economic gains predicted by supporters. The net overall effect of NAFTA on the U.S. economy appears to have been relatively modest, primarily because trade with Canada and Mexico accounts for a small percentage of U.S. GDP.

That report also noted that it was difficult to gauge the overall economic impact “since trade and investment trends are influenced by numerous other economic variables, such as economic growth, inflation, and currency fluctuations.” CRS said: “The agreement may have accelerated the trade liberalization that was already taking place, but many of these changes may have taken place with or without an agreement.”


Trump, Sept. 17: We’re going to have a massive tax reduction, big, big league tax reduction, for working and middle-class families.

As he did in Colorado Springs, Trump routinely pitches his tax plan as a boon for “working and middle-class families” without mentioning the benefits for the wealthy.

Trump’s new tax plan — which offers more modest tax relief than his initial plan — would result in tax cuts for everyone, according to an analysis by the pro-business Tax Foundation. But the cuts get bigger — both in terms of raw dollars and as a percentage of income — the higher one’s earnings, with those with the highest incomes getting the largest tax breaks.

The Tax Foundation analyzed the plan’s impact two ways: without taking into account the projected effect on the U.S. economy (static) and with taking into account those effects (dynamic).

Whether the tax cuts for middle-class families would be “massive” is a matter of opinion, of course, but according to the Tax Foundation calculations under a static assumption, those in the bottom 80 percent of taxpayers would see an increase in after-tax income of between 0.8 percent and 1.9 percent.

For a family making $50,000, a 1 percent increase in after-tax income would mean an extra $500, the Tax Foundation’s Alan Cole told us in an email. “Arguably that’s a lot. Arguably it’s not,” he said.

Gains for those in the upper-income categories would be more dramatic. Those in the top 20 percent of taxpayers would see an increase in after-tax income of between 4.4 percent and 6.5 percent (on a static basis), the Tax Foundation concluded. The largest gains — 10.2 percent to 16 percent — would come to the wealthiest 1 percent of taxpayers.

The tax cuts would be bigger provided the economy grows as the Tax Foundation projects (dynamic), with the bottom 80 percent of taxpayers seeing an increase in after-tax income between 6.7 percent and 9 percent. But again, higher gains would be realized among those at the top of the income ladder.

The Tax Foundation also projected that Trump’s tax plan would reduce federal revenue by between $4.4 trillion and $5.9 trillion on a static basis over 10 years, and by between $2.6 trillion and $3.9 trillion after accounting for the larger economy.

Trump, Sept. 16: And by the way, Hillary Clinton is raising your taxes substantially.

In fact, Clinton’s plan would not raise “your taxes substantially,” as Trump said in Miami — unless you are among the top 10 percent of taxpayers.

Analyses by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center and the Tax Foundation both concluded that almost all of the tax increases proposed by Clinton would fall on the top 10 percent of taxpayers. Hardest hit would be the less than 0.1 percent of taxpayers who earn more than $5 million per year.

The Tax Policy Center concluded that the sum of Clinton’s proposed tax changes — including changes to both individual and business taxes — would increase revenue by $1.1 trillion over the next decade.

“Nearly all of the tax increases would fall on the top 1 percent; the bottom 95 percent of taxpayers would see little or no change in their taxes,” the Tax Policy Center concluded.

The top 1 percent in 2017 — those with incomes above $730,000 (in 2015 dollars) — would see a reduction in after-tax income of about $78,000, or 5 percent, the Tax Policy Center estimated.

“Taxpayers outside the top 5 percent (those earning less than $300,000 in 2015 dollars) would see little change in average after-tax income,” according to TPC.

 ‘Corrupt Hillary’

Trump, Sept. 17: But her comments display the same sense of arrogance and entitlement that led her to violate federal law as secretary of state, hide and delete 33,000 emails.

Trump regularly claims, as he did in Colorado Springs, that Clinton violated federal law by setting up a private email account that she used for government business when she was secretary of state. Clinton, of course, was not charged with a crime. FBI Director James Comey said “there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information,” but he declined to pursue the matter — stating that “no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.”

“In looking back at our investigations into mishandling or removal of classified information, we cannot find a case that would support bringing criminal charges on these facts. All the cases prosecuted involved some combination of: clearly intentional and willful mishandling of classified information; or vast quantities of materials exposed in such a way as to support an inference of intentional misconduct; or indications of disloyalty to the United States; or efforts to obstruct justice,” Comey said. “We do not see those things here.”

So, at this point, it is Trump’s opinion that Clinton violated the law, while the FBI says there were “potential violations.”

Trump also routinely accuses Clinton of deleting 33,000 emails as part of a criminal cover-up. But there is no evidence that she intentionally deleted any work-related emails.

Clinton’s lawyers identified 30,490 work-related emails and 31,830 personal emails on Clinton’s private server. She turned over the 30,490 work-related emails to the department in December 2014, and told her staff that she no longer needed the rest. Trump is referring to the roughly 32,000 emails that Clinton deemed personal. But the department’s email retention policy allows its employees to determine which emails are work-related and requires those records to be preserved. “Messages that are not records may be deleted when no longer needed,” according to the State Department’s Foreign Affairs Manual (5 FAM 443.5).

The FBI did recover 15,000 emails that were not turned over to the State Department, which is currently reviewing them for public release. Comey has said that “several thousand” of them were work-related, but only three of them contained classified information. He also said the FBI “found no evidence that any of the additional work-related e-mails were intentionally deleted in an effort to conceal them.”

Comey said the FBI investigation found that “like many e-mail users, Secretary Clinton periodically deleted e-mails or e-mails were purged from the system when devices were changed.”

African-American Youth

Trump, Sept. 17: Fifty-eight percent of African-American youth are not employed.

Trump, who repeated this talking point in Colorado Springs, leaves the misleading impression that 58 percent of black youths want jobs but cannot find them. That’s not the case.

When Trump used a similar figure in early August, his campaign cited annual average data for 2015 from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for African Americans 16- to 24-years-old. But that 58 percent figure included not only the unemployed, but nearly 2.88 million African-American youths who were not in the labor force, which means that they were not working and not looking for work. Many of them are high-school and college students.

Using the Trump campaign’s math, 55 percent of black youth were “not working” as of August, according to BLS data. We found the comparable figure for white youth would be around 46 percent. It would be 51 percent for Hispanic youth and 61 percent for Asian youth.

The official unemployment rate for African Americans age 16 to 24 was 15.7 percent in August, according to the most recent nonseasonally adjusted data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

U.S. Workforce

Trump, Sept. 17: Another 14 million people have left the workforce entirely, it all came in, entirely since President Obama came into office.

It’s true, as Trump said, that the total number of people “not in the workforce” has increased by nearly 14 million during Obama’s presidency, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But to lay that trend entirely at Obama’s feet is misleading.

As the chart below from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows, the number of people “not in the workforce” has been steadily rising for decades.

A report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office in 2014 estimated that about half of the decline in the labor force participation rate was due to long-term structural trends, mainly aging baby boomers reaching retirement age.

A smaller part of the decline, the CBO said, was “the result of temporary weakness in employment prospects and wages,” as a result of the recession. It found that about 17 percent of the decline in the labor force participation rate was “attributable to unusual aspects of the slow recovery that led workers to become discouraged and permanently drop out of the labor force.”

In other words, Trump can argue that Obama’s policies have contributed to at least some of that rise in the number of people who have left the workforce. But some of that is due to demographics, and economists predict the labor force participation rate will continue to decline for the next decade and more.


Trump, Sept. 16: Since President Obama came into office another 2 million Hispanic Americans have fallen into poverty. It’s catastrophic. And it’s totally unacceptable.

This is an outdated figure that is nearly double the most recent number.

Using the latest 2015 data from the U.S. Census Bureau — which was available when Trump made his comment in Miami — the number of Hispanic Americans living below poverty increased by 1.1 million between 2008, the year before Obama took office, and 2015. Trump was referring to the 2014 Census estimate.

While the number of Hispanics living in poverty is still higher than it was in 2008, the Hispanic population also increased dramatically — by more than 9 million — over that same period. As a result, the percentage of Hispanics living in poverty actually decreased over that same period, from 23.2 percent to 21.4 percent.

Trump also does not acknowledge that the Great Recession led to a spike in poverty, which peaked in 2010 and has now begun to decline.

Trump also blamed Clinton more generally for poverty among all Americans when he said, “Her policies have created disaster overseas and poverty at home. … I’m running to reverse these failures.”

Actually, it already has mostly reversed. The percentage of Americans living in poverty in 2008 was 13.2 percent. It climbed as high as 15.1 percent during the Great Recession. But in 2015, the rate dropped to 13.5 percent, a mere 0.3 percentage points higher than it was in 2008. The poverty rate plunged 1.2 percentage points from 2014 to 2015, the biggest drop since 1999.


Trump, Sept. 16: Now you know she’s very much against the Second Amendment. She wants to destroy your Second Amendment. Guns, guns, guns, right. I think what we should do is she goes around with armed bodyguards like you have never seen before. I think that her bodyguards should drop all weapons. They should disarm right? Right? I think they should disarm immediately. What do you think? Yes? Yes. Take their guns away. She doesn’t want guns. Take their — let’s see what happens to her. Take their guns away. OK? It’ll be very dangerous.

Trump’s comment on disarming Clinton’s bodyguards received a lot of media attention, as mentioned earlier.

But Clinton’s gun violence prevention proposal does not call for banning all guns. As we have written, it would impose restrictions, including a ban on semi-automatic “assault weapons.” Clinton has said her gun proposals are “consistent with constitutional rights,” acknowledging that gun owners have a constitutional right to own firearms.


Trump, Sept. 16: Also on my first day I’m going to ask Congress to send me a bill to immediately repeal and replace disastrous Obamacare. It has turned out to be a disaster. This alone will instantly save another 2 million jobs. And if you look at your premiums, it’s through the roof. And by the way, on November 1, just before the election on November 8, new numbers are coming out which will show 40, 50, 60 percent increases. They want to delay it until after the election because it’s election — it’s a disaster. It’s a disaster.

Repealing the Affordable Care Act wouldn’t “save another 2 million jobs,” as Trump said. His false claim is now a years-old twisting of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office’s analyses of the ACA.

The CBO has estimated a decline in the amount of labor that workers choose to supply — not a reduction in the number of jobs. CBO’s December 2015 report, which Trump’s campaign cited when he made this claim in August, described workers deciding to work fewer hours or retire earlier than they otherwise would, mainly in response to the law’s income-based subsidies and other coverage-expanding provisions.

A day after the 2014 report was released, then CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf told Congress that claims about “lost jobs” would be wrong. “The reason that we don’t use the term ‘lost jobs’ is there’s a critical difference between people who would like to work and can’t find a job or have a job that is lost for reasons beyond their control and people who choose not to work,” Elmendorf said on Feb. 5, 2014.

As he has done before, Trump also cherry-picks proposed rate increases on the ACA exchanges in claiming that “your premiums” are “through the roof.” Premiums for employer-based plans, where most insured Americans get their coverage, have been rising at historical low rates for the past several years. Only 7 percent of the U.S. population bought their own insurance on the individual market, such as through the exchanges, according to the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.

It’s true that some insurers have requested rate increases for 2017 premiums above 50 percent. Any increase above 10 percent has to be submitted and approved by government regulators for the next open enrollment period, which begins Nov. 1. But those high increases could well be outliers.

The Kaiser Family Foundation analyzed preliminary rates in cities in 16 states and Washington, D.C., and found the second-lowest cost silver plan would increase by a weighted average of 9 percent from this year if the rates hold, varying widely from a drop of 13 percent in Providence, Rhode Island, to a hike of 25 percent in Nashville. For 2016, the increase was only 2 percent for those areas, and KFF’s experts do believe exchange premiums will rise more this year than they have in the past. Also, 80 percent of those buying exchange plans get federal subsidies, which lower premium contributions to a percentage of their income.

As for Trump’s claim that “they want to delay [open enrollment] until after the election,” the Washington Post Fact Checker found no proof that the Obama administration is trying to delay the Nov. 1 start date, and the Trump campaign didn’t provide any. The Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement that the open enrollment dates are “the same as this past year” and “won’t be moved.”

Foreign Policy

Trump, Sept. 19: I was against going into the war in Iraq, but we got out the wrong way.

Throughout his campaign, Trump has repeatedly claimed — as he did in Fort Myers — that he opposed the Iraq War before the March 19, 2003, invasion, often taking credit for his judgment and vision, but he has yet to produce any evidence that it’s true.

Trump cites as evidence a January 2003 TV interview to claim that he opposed the war from the beginning. In that interview, Trump said polling showed the economy is a “much bigger problem” for President Bush than Iraq, but he did not say whether the U.S. should or should not invade.

He also has pointed to an interview with Esquire that ran in the August 2004 edition — 17 months after the Iraq War started.

As we have written, Trump was an early critic of the war after it started, but we can find no evidence that he voiced opposition to it before it started. In fact, radio personality Howard Stern asked Trump on Sept. 11, 2002 — about six months before the war started — if he supported invading Iraq. Trump responded, “Yeah, I guess so. You know, I wish it was, I wish the first time it was done correctly.”

Trump, Sept. 19: The failures in Iraq were compounded by Hillary Clinton’s disaster in Libya.

Also in Fort Myers, Trump referenced his oft-stated belief that it was a mistake for the U.S. to get involved in Libya, and that we would be better off if Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi was still in power. But he fails to mention that he called at the time for just such an intervention. In February 2011, Trump, referring to Gadhafi, said that the U.S. should go into Libya “on a humanitarian basis” and “knock this guy out very quickly, very surgically, very effectively and save the lives.”

Trump, Sept. 19: Do you all remember President Obama’s apology tour? He apologized for the United States. We’re sorry, we’re so sorry. We’re so sorry.

We wish this bogus talking point had died in 2012, when it was a frequent attack line from GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Indeed, the title of Romney’s book, “No Apology,” is a play on that theme. But as we wrote then — a couple times — we read through all of the speeches in question and concluded that “we didn’t see that any of them rise to the level of an actual apology.”

In a speech in Cairo, in June 2009, for example, Obama spoke about tensions between the U.S. and the Muslim world, and placed blame on both sides. And then he called for a “new beginning.” That’s not the same as apologizing. Our fact-checking colleagues at PolitiFact and the Washington Post Fact Checker reached the same conclusion: Obama never apologized.


Corsaniti, Nick, Confessore, Nicholas and Barbara, Michael. “Donald Trump Says Hillary Clinton’s Bodyguards Should Disarm to ‘See What Happens to Her.’” Washington Post. 16 Sep 2016.

Diamond, Jeremy. “Trump on Clinton’s guards: ‘Take their guns away, see what happens to her.‘” CNN. 17 Sep 2016.

Louis, Errol. “Donald Trump’s dangerous rush to judgment.” CNN. 20 Sep 2016.

Smith, Candace and Santucci, John. “Trump Calls Former Defense Secretary Gates a ‘Clown,’ Following Scathing Op-Ed.” ABC News. 17 Sep 2016.

Kiely, Eugene. “Trump’s Terrorism Speech.” FactCheck.org. 15 Aug 2016.

White House website. “Infographic: The Screening Process for Refugee Entry into the United States.” 20 Nov 2015.

Farley, Robert. “Cruz Misquotes Clapper on Refugees.” FactCheck.org. 8 Oct 2015.

U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary. “Oversight of the Administration’s FY 2016 Refugee Resettlement Program: Fiscal and Security Implications .” 1 Oct 2015.

Robertson, Lori and Kiely, Eugene. “Trump’s False Obama-ISIS Link.” FactCheck.org. 11 Aug 2016.

CNN Transcripts. “The Situation Room: Donald Trump Interview.” 16 Mar 2007.

Thompson, Mark. “How Disbanding the Iraqi Army Fueled ISIS.” Time. 28 May 2015.

Carter, Chelsea J. “Iraqi soldiers, police drop weapons, flee posts in portions of Mosul.” CNN. 13 Jun 2014.

Robertson, Lori. “Dueling Claims on Crime Trend.” FactCheck.org. 13 Jul 2016.

FBI website. “Latest Crime Statistics Released: Increase in Violent Crime, Decrease in Property Crime.” 26 Sep 2016.

New York Times. “U.S. Homicide Rates Rise in Early 2016.” 12 May 2016.

Friedman, Matthew, Grawert, Ames and Cullen, James. “Crime in 2016: A Preliminary Analysis.” Brennan Center for Justice. 19 Sep 2016.

Wallace, Caroline. “Groundhog Friday.” FactCheck.org. 1 Jul 2016.

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FactCheck.org. “Trump’s Foreign Policy Speech.” 28 Apr 2016.

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Robertson, Lori. “More NAFTA Nonsense.” FactCheck.org. 3 March 2008.

M. Angeles Villarreal, Angeles M. and Fergusson, Ian F. “The North American Free Trade Agreement
(NAFTA).” Congressional Research Service. 16 Apr 2016.

Cole, Alan. “Details and Analysis of the Donald Trump Tax Reform Plan, September 2016.” Tax Foundation. 19 Sep 2016.

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Gass, Nick. “State Dept. ordered to review 15,000 Clinton emails for potential release.” Politico. 22 Aug 2016.

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Edwards, Ashley.  “2015 Drop in Poverty is Largest on Record Since 1999.” U.S. Census Bureau. 13 Sep 2016.

Kiely, Eugene. “Trump Distorts Clinton’s Gun Stance.” FactCheck.org. 10 May 2016.

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Harris, Edward. “How CBO Estimates the Effects of the Affordable Care Act on the Labor Market.” Congressional Budget Office. December 2015.

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Cox, Cynthia. “Analysis of 2017 Premium Changes and Insurer Participation in the Affordable Care Act’s Health Insurance Marketplaces.” Kaiser Family Foundation. 28 Jul 2016.

Claxton, Gary and Levitt, Larry. “What to Look for in 2017 ACA Marketplace Premium Changes.” Kaiser Family Foundation. 5 May 2016.

Trump, Donald. “Donald Trump: How I’d Run the Country (Better).” Esquire. 8 Sep 2016.

Kiely, Eugene. “Donald Trump and the Iraq War.” FactCheck.org. 19 Feb 2016.

YouTube.com. “From The Desk Of Donald Trump.” 28 Feb 2011.

Kaczynski, Andrew. “Trump Says Removing Qaddafi Was Mistake, But Pushed For Libya Intervention In 2011.” BuzzFeed. 19 Jan 2016.

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Video: FactChecking the First Debate http://www.factcheck.org/2016/09/video-factchecking-the-first-debate/ http://www.factcheck.org/2016/09/video-factchecking-the-first-debate/#comments Tue, 27 Sep 2016 18:15:13 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=114667 Several claims from the first presidential debate are highlighted in this video from FlackCheck.org, our sister site for political literacy.

For more information on these false and misleading statements, and others made during the debate between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump, see our full debate story, “FactChecking the First Debate.

Shorter videos of each individual claim can be found on our social media outlets, including Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.

Our source for the video for these clips was the Internet Archive’s TV News Archive.


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FactChecking the First Debate http://www.factcheck.org/2016/09/factchecking-the-first-debate/ http://www.factcheck.org/2016/09/factchecking-the-first-debate/#comments Tue, 27 Sep 2016 08:56:50 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=114546 Summary

LONG ISLAND, N.Y. — The first presidential debate between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump certainly kept fact-checkers busy. The less-than-accurate claims included:

  • Clinton wrongly said that the only tax returns that anyone has seen from Trump “showed he didn’t pay any federal income tax.” Trump paid federal taxes in three out of five years in the 1970s.
  • Trump was right in saying that Ford is moving its small-car division overseas, but wrong in claiming that as a result, thousands of jobs are leaving Michigan and Ohio. Ford’s CEO insists not a single job will be lost in the U.S.
  • Trump left the false impression that the Obama administration failed to disclose the full amount paid to Iran in January to settle a long outstanding claim.
  • Clinton said Trump thinks “climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese.” Trump denied it. In 2012, he tweeted that the Chinese had created global warming but later said he was joking.
  • Trump claimed without evidence that the Clinton campaign in 2008 was pushing “very hard” the false story that President Obama was born in Kenya, not in Hawaii.
  • Trump claimed “the record shows” he was opposed to the Iraq War before it started, but there is no record of that.
  • Trump said “murders are up” in New York City since ending stop-and-frisk policies, while Clinton said “crime, including murders” is down. Both are correct.
  • Clinton claimed she had said she “hoped” the Trans-Pacific Partnership would be a “good deal,” when she originally supported it. But at the time, Clinton said it “sets the gold standard.”
  • Clinton said “independent experts” concluded that Trump’s plans would cause a loss of 3.5 million jobs while hers would create 10 million jobs. But Trump has released a new tax plan since that report, and the projected job creation under Clinton is 3.2 million more than what would be added under current law.
  • Clinton said Trump’s businesses had filed for bankruptcy six times; he said it was four. Clinton is right.

And that’s not all. There were several other claims that we have fact-checked before — on trade, Iraq, ISIS and oil, and more.

Note to Readers: Our director, Eugene Kiely, was at the debate at Hofstra University. This story was written with the help of the entire staff, based in the Philadelphia region and Washington, D.C. FactCheck.org plans to send one representative to each of the four debates. An annotated transcript of the Hofstra debate with our fact-checks can be found here.


The debate was held at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, and was moderated by NBC News’ Lester Holt.

Trump’s Tax Returns

Clinton said that the only tax returns that anyone has seen from Trump “showed he didn’t pay any federal income tax.” That’s not correct.

Clinton: Or maybe he doesn’t want the American people, all of you watching tonight, to know that he’s paid nothing in federal taxes, because the only years that anybody’s ever seen were a couple of years when he had to turn them over to state authorities when he was trying to get a casino license, and they showed he didn’t pay any federal income tax.

Trump paid federal income taxes in three out of five years from 1975 to 1979, according to a report to the New Jersey Casino Control Commission, which viewed Trump’s tax returns when the Trump Plaza Corporation applied for a casino license in the state in 1981. (See page 37.)

Although the returns were not disclosed, the report indicated that Trump paid $18,714 in taxes on $76,210 in income in 1975, $10,832 in taxes on $24,594 in income in 1976 and $42,386 in taxes on $118,530 in income in 1977. Trump reported income losses of $406,379 in 1978 and $3,443,560 in 1979, and thus paid no federal income tax for those years.

Ford Jobs Leaving?

Trump claimed that Ford is moving its small-car division overseas and that as a result, thousands of jobs are leaving Michigan and Ohio. Trump is half right. Ford is moving its small-car division to Mexico, but Ford’s CEO insists not a single job will be lost in the U.S.

Trump: So Ford is leaving. You see that, their small-car division leaving. Thousands of jobs leaving Michigan, leaving Ohio. They’re all leaving. And we can’t allow it to happen anymore.

Ford CEO Mark Fields confirmed on Sept. 16 that “[o]ver the next two to three years, we will have migrated all of our small-car production to Mexico and out of the United States,” the Detroit Free Press reported.

The Free Press added that the “impact on Ford’s U.S. employment will be minimal in the near-term. … There is an expectation that Ford will build a new Ranger mid-size pickup truck in Wayne and possibly a new Bronco compact sport-utility. The automaker also still will make the Ford Mustang at its plant in Flat Rock, Michigan and will begin making the full-size Lincoln Continental there later this year. It also makes the full-size Ford Taurus in Chicago.”

The Free Press article also states that last year, “the automaker made a commitment to invest $9 billion in U.S. plants and create or retain more than 8,500 jobs as part of a new four-year contract with the UAW. Of that, $4.8 billion goes to 11 facilities in Michigan.”

In a Sept. 15 interview on CNN, Fields insisted no jobs would be lost in the U.S. as a result of moving the small-car division to Mexico.

CNN’s Poppy Harlow asked if Trump was accurate that Ford will be “firing all of its employees in the United States.”

“Will Ford cut any of its jobs as a result of this move? One? Any single one?” she asked.

“Absolutely not. Zero,” Fields said. “And what we announced is that we’ll be moving our Focus out of Michigan so that we can compete more financially in that particular segment but at the same time, and that’s an agreement we have with the UAW and what we’ll be doing is we’ll be replacing those products with two very exciting new products so not one job will be lost. And most of our investment is here in the U.S. and that’s the way it’s going to continue to be.”

Payment to Iran

Trump left the false impression that the Obama administration failed to disclose the full amount paid to Iran in January to settle a long outstanding claim.

Trump claimed $400 million paid to Iran in January “turned out to be wrong. It was actually $1.7 billion.” But the administration accurately described the total payment as $1.7 billion — $400 million in principle and $1.3 billion in interest — on the day it was announced.

In criticizing the Iran nuclear deal during the debate, Trump referenced the $400 million payment to Iran. Trump described the payment as being “for the hostages,” because it was paid on the same day in January that Iran released U.S. prisoners. The Obama administration has insisted the U.S. did not pay Iran ransom for the prisoners’ release.

Trump: One of the great giveaways of all time, of all time, including $400 million in cash. Nobody’s ever seen that before. That turned out to be wrong. It was actually $1.7 billion in cash, obviously, I guess for the hostages. It certainly looks that way.

The $400 million was the first installment in a $1.7 billion payment to resolve a dispute that dates to 1979, when Iran paid the U.S. $400 million for military equipment it never received. The U.S. refused to provide the equipment after the Shah of Iran was overthrown during the Iranian Revolution in 1979.

The agreement ended a claim that Iran had filed against the U.S. in an international tribunal in The Hague. President Obama announced it on Jan. 17 as part of a series of agreements involving Iran.

Although the president did not get into details of the payment, Secretary of State John Kerry on that same day described it as a $1.7 billion agreement in a statement released by his office.

Kerry, Jan. 17: Iran will receive the balance of $400 million in the Trust Fund, as well as a roughly $1.3 billion compromise on the interest. Iran’s recovery was fixed at a reasonable rate of interest and therefore Iran is unable to pursue a bigger Tribunal award against us, preventing U.S. taxpayers from being obligated to a larger amount of money.

CNN reported at the time that the amount was $1.7 billion.

Obama has been criticized for leaving the false impression in January that the payment was made after the prisoners were released. The Wall Street Journal in August reported new details on the January payment, and the administration was forced to acknowledge that it delayed paying Iran until the prisoners were released — fueling criticism that it was ransom.

We will leave it up to readers to decide whether the payment was ransom or not, but Trump is wrong when he implies that the administration misled the public on the amount.

Climate Change a Hoax?

Clinton said Trump thinks “climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese.” Trump denied it. He did tweet that the Chinese “created” the “concept of global warming,” but later said it was a “joke.” Trump has also called global warming a “hoax” repeatedly.

In contrast to her opponent, Clinton said she thinks climate change is “real,” adding, “I think science is real.”

On Nov. 6, 2012, Trump tweeted, “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”

But on Jan. 18, 2016, when asked about the tweet, Trump told Fox News that he was joking.

Trump, Jan. 18: Well, I think the climate change is just a very, very expensive form of tax. A lot of people are making a lot of money. … I often joke that this is done for the benefit of China. Obviously, I joke. But this is done for the benefit of China, because China does not do anything to help climate change. They burn everything you could burn; they couldn’t care less.

Trump also has a record of calling global warming a “hoax.”

For example, on Jan. 28, 2014, Trump tweeted, “Snowing in Texas and Louisiana, record setting freezing temperatures throughout the country and beyond. Global warming is an expensive hoax!”

At a campaign rally in Hilton Head, South Carolina, on Dec. 30, 2015, Trump also said, “Obama’s talking about all of this with the global warming and the — a lot of it’s a hoax, it’s a hoax. I mean, it’s a money-making industry, OK? It’s a hoax, a lot of it.”

And there are more and more examples.

So Trump may have been joking about global warming being invented by the Chinese. Still, he has said time and again that global warming is a “hoax.” And Clinton is right — 97 percent of scientists say it’s “extremely likely” that human-caused global warming is real.

Still Wrong on ‘Birther’ Claims

Trump claimed without evidence that the Clinton campaign in 2008 was pushing “very hard” the false story that President Obama was born in Kenya, not in Hawaii.

Trump, who on Sept. 16 finally acknowledged that “Obama was born in the United States,” had a long, somewhat rambling response when asked by the moderator why he continued to question that Obama was born in Hawaii even after the president produced his long-form birth certificate in 2011.

Here is the exchange with Holt:

Holt: Mr. Trump, for five years, you perpetuated a false claim that the nation’s first black president was not a natural-born citizen. You questioned his legitimacy. In the last couple of weeks, you acknowledged what most Americans have accepted for years: The president was born in the United States. Can you tell us what took you so long?

Trump: I’ll tell you very — well, just very simple to say. Sidney Blumenthal works for the campaign and close — very close friend of Secretary Clinton. And her campaign manager, Patti Doyle, went to — during the campaign, her campaign against President Obama, fought very hard. And you can go look it up, and you can check it out.

And if you look at CNN this past week, Patti Solis Doyle was on Wolf Blitzer saying that this happened. Blumenthal sent McClatchy, highly respected reporter at McClatchy, to Kenya to find out about it. They were pressing it very hard. She [Clinton] failed to get the birth certificate.

When I got involved, I didn’t fail. I got him to give the birth certificate. So I’m satisfied with it. And I’ll tell you why I’m satisfied with it.

Holt: That was…


Trump: Because I want to get on to defeating ISIS, because I want to get on to creating jobs, because I want to get on to having a strong border, because I want to get on to things that are very important to me and that are very important to the country.

Holt: I will let you respond. It’s important. But I just want to get the answer here. The birth certificate was produced in 2011. You’ve continued to tell the story and question the president’s legitimacy in 2012, ’13, ’14, ’15 …

Trump: Yeah.

Holt: … as recently as January. So the question is, what changed your mind?

Trump: Well, nobody was pressing it, nobody was caring much about it. I figured you’d ask the question tonight, of course. But nobody was caring much about it. But I was the one that got him to produce the birth certificate. And I think I did a good job.

Secretary Clinton also fought it. I mean, you know — now, everybody in mainstream is going to say, oh, that’s not true. Look, it’s true. Sidney Blumenthal sent a reporter — you just have to take a look at CNN, the last week, the interview with your former campaign manager. And she was involved.

It is simply false that Patti Solis Doyle, Clinton’s 2008 campaign manager, “was involved” in spreading the rumor of Obama’s birthplace. In fact, Solis Doyle said — in the CNN interview that Trump cites — that a “rogue volunteer coordinator” in Iowa was immediately fired when the campaign found out that the aide forwarded an email promoting the birther conspiracy.

Solis Doyle said she called Obama campaign manager David Plouffe and apologized for the incident. “This was not the kind of campaign we wanted to run,” she said she told Plouffe.

The Blumenthal case is more complicated, but it doesn’t provide clear evidence that the Clinton campaign was “pressing it very hard.”

Blumenthal was a senior adviser to President Bill Clinton and he remained in close contact with Hillary Clinton after she became secretary of state, as Vanity Fair detailed in an article in July. So, Trump is right, when he says that Blumenthal is “a very close friend” of Hillary Clinton. In fact, Blumenthal left his position at Salon in 2007 to become a senior adviser to Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.

Trump said “Blumenthal sent McClatchy, highly respected reporter at McClatchy, to Kenya to find out” if Obama was born in Keyna. Blumenthal didn’t send a reporter to Kenya. However, McClatchy’s respected former bureau chief James Asher said he had a meeting with Blumenthal during the 2008 campaign, and at that meeting Blumenthal encouraged McClatchy to chase the story of Obama’s birth.

Shashank Bengali, who now works at the Los Angeles Times, said Asher told him to “look into everything about Obama’s family in Kenya,” according to Politico. Asher gave Politico an email that he received from Bengali that said, “I can’t recall if we specifically discussed the birther claim, but I’m sure that was part of what I researched.”

Blumenthal denies urging Asher to investigate Obama’s birthplace, and Asher has nothing in writing — so there is no clear evidence to support Asher’s account.

Iraq War, Again

Trump got into a disagreement not only with Clinton, but also with the moderator, on whether Trump opposed the Iraq War before it started. Trump claimed “the record shows” he was opposed to it, but there is no record of it.

Trump: Wait a minute. I was against the war in Iraq. Just so you put it out.

Holt: The record shows otherwise, but why — why was…

Trump: The record does not show that.

Holt: Why was — is your judgment any…

Trump: The record shows that I’m right. When I did an interview with Howard Stern, very lightly, first time anyone’s asked me that, I said, very lightly, I don’t know, maybe, who knows? Essentially. I then did an interview with Neil Cavuto. We talked about the economy is more important. I then spoke to Sean Hannity, which everybody refuses to call Sean Hannity. I had numerous conversations with Sean Hannity at Fox. And Sean Hannity said — and he called me the other day — and I spoke to him about it — he said you were totally against the war, because he was for the war.

We asked the Trump campaign about the “numerous conversations” with Hannity, a Trump supporter and sometimes adviser. It responded with an email that said, “Sean Hannity Substantiates That He And Trump Had Many Private Conversations About Iraq.” It provided a link to a Sept. 19 column in the Washington Post, which included a tweet from Hannity saying he had arguments with Trump about the Iraq War after his show.

The campaign provided no record of these private conversations, just the word of a Trump supporter.

As for the Cavuto interview, we have already been over that several times, mostly after the NBC “commander-in-chief” forum. The interview was Jan. 28, 2003, before the Iraq War started in March of that year, but Cavuto does not ask Trump whether he supports or opposes invading Iraq. And Trump doesn’t say.

Instead, Trump urged President Bush to make a decision on Iraq. “Either you attack or you don’t attack,” he told Cavuto.

Trump, Jan. 28, 2003: Well, he has either got to do something or not do something, perhaps, because perhaps shouldn’t be doing it yet and perhaps we should be waiting for the United Nations, you know. He’s under a lot of pressure. He’s — I think he’s doing a very good job. But, of course, if you look at the polls, a lot of people are getting a little tired. I think the Iraqi situation is a problem. And I think the economy is a much bigger problem as far as the president is concerned.

The record still doesn’t show Trump was opposed to the war before it started. (See “Donald Trump and the Iraq War” for our timeline of statements that Trump made before and after the war started.)

Stop and Frisk

Trump and Clinton dueled over whether ending stop-and-frisk police stops in New York City had been accompanied by more crime and killings.

Clinton said “crime, including murders” is down, and Trump said “murders are up.” Turns out, both are correct.

Trump: [S]top and frisk has a tremendous impact on the safety of New York City. Tremendous beyond belief. So when you say it has no impact, it really did, a very, very big impact.

Clinton: It’s also fair to say, if we’re going to talk about mayors, that under the current mayor crime has continued to drop, including murders.

Trump: (interrupting) No, you’re wrong. You’re wrong.

Clinton: No, I’m not

Trump:  Murders are up. All right. You check it. You check it.

Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio was sworn in Jan. 1, 2014, after being elected on a promise to halt the stop-and-frisk practice. And during that first year in office, homicides did fall — by two — to 333, the lowest number on record. However, last year, the number of killings went up by 5.7 percent to 352 — the third lowest year on record, but still 17 more than in 2013.

So far this year, the number is down once again. But if the current rate continues, the total for the year would still be slightly above where it was before De Blasio took office. According to the most recent weekly report issued by the city’s police department, 257 murders had been reported in 2016 as of Sept. 18, which is 4.3 percent below the same period in 2015. That’s just a little under one per day, but at that rate, 2016 (a leap year with 366 days) would end up with 345 killings, 10 more than the 335 recorded in 2013.

Since Clinton said “crime, including murders” had fallen, we also looked at the broader category of murder and other major felonies. And despite the uptick in murders last year, the city did record the lowest number of major crimes on record in 2015.

Furthermore, the total is currently running 2.67 percent lower so far this year, according to the NYPD’s most recent report.

So Clinton was correct to say “crime, including murders” has fallen, and Trump was off base when he said she was “wrong.” On the other hand, Trump was correct to say “murders” are up — though not by much.

Trans-Pacific Partnership

Clinton attempted to rewrite the history of her past support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

Trump: You called it the gold standard of trade deals. You said it’s the finest deal you’ve ever seen.

Clinton: No.

Trump: And then you heard what I said about it, and all of a sudden you were against it.

Clinton: Well, Donald, I know you live in your own reality, but that is not the facts. The facts are — I did say I hoped it would be a good deal, but when it was negotiated …

Trump: Not.

Clinton: … which I was not responsible for, I concluded it wasn’t. I wrote about that in my book …

As we’ve written before, Clinton didn’t say she “hoped” it would be a “gold standard.” At the time, she said it was a gold standard.

She said in 2012: “This TPP sets the gold standard in trade agreements to open free, transparent, fair trade, the kind of environment that has the rule of law and a level playing field,” Clinton remarked in Adelaide, Australia, on Nov. 15, 2012. “And when negotiated, this agreement will cover 40 percent of the world’s total trade and build in strong protections for workers and the environment.”

Clinton came out against the TPP in October 2015, saying in a statement: “I appreciate the hard work that President Obama and his team put into this process and recognize the strides they made. But the bar here is very high and, based on what I have seen, I don’t believe this agreement has met it.”

As for Clinton’s statement that “I wrote about that in my book,” it’s true that she wrote in her memoir “Hard Choices” that it makes sense to “reserve judgment” on the final product, which was then in negotiation. And while some of what she wrote about TPP was cut from the paperback edition, that caveat about reserving judgment appears in both hardcover and paperback editions.

However, she also wrote that TPP was “important for American workers, who would benefit from competing on a more level playing field. And it was a strategic initiative that would strengthen the position of the United States in Asia.”

Worth noting is that Clinton’s “gold standard” comment was in 2012, and her book came along two years later, as she was preparing another run for the White House.

Analysis of Candidates’ Plans

Clinton said “independent experts” have looked at the candidates’ economic plans and concluded that under Trump’s plan “we would lose 3.5 million jobs and maybe have another recession” and under Clinton’s plan “we will have 10 million more new jobs.” But that report relies on an outdated version of Trump’s tax plan, and Clinton exaggerates the impact of her ideas on job creation.

Clinton: Independent experts have looked at what I’ve proposed and looked at what Donald’s proposed, and basically they’ve said this, that if his tax plan … were to go into effect, we would lose 3.5 million jobs and maybe have another recession. They’ve looked at my plans and they’ve said, OK, we can do this, and I intend to get it done, we will have 10 million more new jobs, because we will be making investments where we can grow the economy.

As we have written before, Moody’s Analytics concluded that if Clinton were able to fully implement the plans she has outlined in her campaign, the economy would add 10.4 million jobs during Clinton’s presidency. But that’s 3.2 million more than it projects would be added under current law.

Moreover, Moody’s Analytics doesn’t expect Clinton would likely be able to pass all of her proposals through a divided Congress. “Given the current political discord,” Moody’s expects Congress would put up “substantial roadblocks” to Clinton’s policy proposals, and under its “most-likely scenario,” a Clinton presidency would result in employment going just “a bit higher” than it otherwise would.

Moody’s forecast that if Trump were able to implement all of his proposed policies, the economy would suffer an extended recession and result in 3.4 million job losses over the course of Trump’s presidency. But under its “most-likely scenario” under Trump — again assuming Congress would balk at many of his proposals — Trump’s outlook is not as dire. Moreover, the Trump analysis does not include Trump’s recently revised tax plan — which markedly reduced the tax cuts he proposed earlier in the campaign.

Mark Zandi, the chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, told us in August that he wasn’t sure how Trump’s “changes to his tax plan impact federal government deficits and debt and thus the economy’s performance.” Zandi, who has donated to Clinton’s campaign, said he thinks “the net impact of the changes will reduce the costs to the budget, but there is no way to know unless the campaign provides more information.”

Six, Not Four, Bankruptcies

Clinton said Trump has “taken business bankruptcy six times.” In response, Trump said the number was four. “On occasion, four times, we used certain laws that are there,” he said.

Clinton is right: The correct number of bankruptcies is six.

Trump first filed for Chapter 11 reorganization in 1991 after his Trump Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City landed him with $900 million in personal liabilities. Two more Atlantic City properties, Trump Castle and Trump Plaza and Casino, followed the Taj Mahal into bankruptcy within a year. His fourth bankruptcy filing also occurred in 1992, this time for his Plaza Hotel in New York.

There were two more bankruptcy filings from the 2000s. The parent company of his Atlantic City properties, Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts, filed for Chapter 11 protection in 2004. His sixth and last bankruptcy was Trump Entertainment Resorts, which was filed in 2009 amid the economic recession.


There were a lot of claims that we have fact-checked before, including:

Trump on Father’s Loan — Trump claimed his father gave him a “very small loan in 1975 of $1 million, from which he built his real estate company. But Clinton claimed it was $14 million. Clinton was right and Trump was wrong. According to the Wall Street Journal, “a casino-license disclosure in 1985 … shows Mr. Trump taking out numerous loans from his father and his father’s properties near the start of his career in the late 1970s and early 1980s,” which totaled around $14 million. As Politico points out, that’s $31 million in today’s dollars. And as we wrote during the 11th GOP debate, these loans included more than $3 million illegally transferred to the Trump Castle Casino in Atlantic City in poker chips in 1990. To top it off, Trump’s father also co-guaranteed the construction loan on his first Manhattan project, the Grand Hyatt. So Trump sells his father’s contributions short by a long shot.

Clinton on Trump and Equal Pay — Clinton claimed Trump said “women don’t deserve equal pay unless they do as good a job as men.” Trump claimed that he “didn’t say that.” As we’ve written, Trump doesn’t support equal pay legislation, but he has said that he believes in paying people based on performance, not gender.

Trump on Trade Deficit  Trump said the U.S. has “a trade deficit with all of the countries that we do business with, of almost $800 billion a year.” Trump has made this claim over and over again, but it’s not true. The U.S. trade deficit was $531.5 billion in 2015. Trump’s $800 billion number involves a generous rounding-up and pertains to the trade deficit for goods only, which was $758.9 billion in 2015. The U.S. exports a lot in services.

Trump on Tax Returns — In explaining why he has yet to release his tax returns, Trump claimed that “you don’t learn that much from tax returns.” But experts disagree. As we’ve written, tax returns could provide information on overseas income, foreign bank accounts, effective tax rates and charitable giving habits. Conflicts of interest could also be exposed, as well as how Trump’s individual tax policy squares with his proposals. Every major party nominee since the late 1970s has released tax returns before Election Day.

Trump on NAFTA — Trump said that President Bill Clinton “approved NAFTA, which is the single worst trade deal ever approved in this country.” Actually, the North American Free Trade Agreement was negotiated and signed by President George H.W. Bush. President Clinton signed the legislation to implement the agreement. Trump also said NAFTA “was one of the worst things that ever happened to the manufacturing industry.” Actually, economic studies say NAFTA’s impact on U.S. jobs has been small.

Trump on Withdrawal from Iraq — Trump said “President Obama and Secretary Clinton created a vacuum the way they got out of Iraq, because they got out — what, they shouldn’t have been in, but once they got in, the way they got out was a disaster.” Later, Trump scoffed, “Not only that, you named the day. They couldn’t believe it.” As we’ve said before, the final date to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq — Dec. 31, 2011 — was set when President George W. Bush signed the Status of Forces Agreement on Dec. 14, 2008. The Obama administration was then unsuccessful in renegotiating the deal to leave a residual American troop force of up to 10,000.

Trump on ISIS and Oil in Libya — Trump said that ISIS has “oil all over the place, including … a lot of the oil in Libya, which was another one of [Clinton’s] disasters.” That’s wrong. Claudia Gazzini, a senior analyst for Libya with the International Crisis Group, told us there’s no evidence that the Islamic State is producing or selling oil out of that country. The Islamic State’s strategy thus far has largely been to disrupt oil operations in Libya rather than to try and make a profit off of them, she said.

Trump on Chicago Murders — Trump claimed that “almost 4,000 have been killed [in Chicago] since Barack Obama became president.” That’s missing context. Like the nation overall, Chicago has seen a drop over the last several decades in the number of homicides, as we wrote in July. According to the Chicago Police Department’s CLEAR (Citizen Law Enforcement Analysis and Reporting) system, there were 3,176 homicides from 2009 to 2015, during Obama’s presidency. That’s a drop from the 3,606 homicides in the previous seven-year period, from 2002-2008.


New York City Police Department. “Citywide Seven Major Felony Offenses 2000-2015.” Undated. Accessed 27 Sep 2016.

New York City Police Department. “Compstat; Report Covering the Week 9/12/2016 Through 9/18/2016.” Undated. Downloaded 27 Sep 2016.

CBS New York. “Police: Overall Crime Hits Record Low For 2015, But Murders, Other Categories Up” 4 Jan 2016.

FactCheck.org “Fact Checking the Democratic Debate” 14 Oct 2015.

Hillary Rodham Clinton. “Remarks at Techport Australia.” U.S. Department of State. 15 Nov 2012.

Tang, Ming Ming Chun. “Hillary Clinton’s Memoir Deletions, in Detail.” The Americas Blog; Center for Economic and Policy Research. 26 May 2016.

New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety. Division of Gaming Enforcement. Report to the Casino Control Commission. 16 Oct 1981.

Yee Hee Lee, Michelle. “What we know about Donald Trump and his taxes so far.” Washington Post Fact Checker. 1 Aug 2016.

Farley, Robert. “Trump on Birtherism: Wrong, and Wrong.” FactCheck.org. 16 Sep 2016.

Scott, Eugene. “Clinton’s ’08 campaign chief: We didn’t start ‘birther’ movement.” CNN. 16 Sep 2016.

Warren, James. “The Hillary Confidant You Can’t Escape.” Vanity Fair. 5 Jul 2016.

Walsh, Joan. “Sidney Blumenthal departs.” Salon. 15 Nov 2007.

Hounshell, Blake. “Did Sid Blumenthal really push birtherism?” Politico. 19 Sep 2016.

Rutenberg, Jim. “Sean Hannity turns adviser in the service of Donald Trump.” New York Times. 21 Aug 2016.

Wemple, Erik. “Donald Trump says he voiced his Iraq War opposition to Sean Hannity.” Washington Post. 19 Sep 2016.

Kiely, Eugene et al. “FactChecking the NBC Forum.” FactCheck.org. 7 Sep 2016.

Kiely, Eugene. “Donald Trump and the Iraq War.” FactCheck.org. 19 Feb 2016.

Toosi, Nahal. “Iran releases 5 detained Americans, including Washington Post reporter.” Politico. 16 Jan 2016.

Tully, Shawn. “5 Things You Need to Know About the $400 Million America Sent to Iran.” Fortune. 5 Aug 2016.

White House. “Statement by the President on Iran.” 17 Jan 2016.

U.S. Department of State. “Hague Claims Tribunal Settlement.” Press statement. 17 Jan 2016.

Koran, Laura. “U.S. to pay Iran $1.7 billion in legal settlement.” CNN. 17 Jan 2016.

Solomon, Jay and Carol E. Lee. “U.S. Sent Cash to Iran as Americans Were Freed.” Wall Street Journal. 3 Aug 2016.

Sanger, David. “U.S. Concedes $400 million payment to Iran was delayed as Prisoner ‘Leverage.’” New York Times. 18 Aug 2016.

Berzon, Alexandra and Rubin, Richard. “Trump’s Father Helped GOP Candidate With Numerous Loans.” Wall Street Journal. 23 Sep 2016.
Arnsdorf, Isaac. “Clinton is right about Trump’s ‘very small’ $14 million loan.” Politico. 26 Sep 2016.

Farley, Robert, Kiely, Eugene and Gore, D’Angelo. “Clinton’s Economic Speech.” FactCheck.org. 11 Aug. 2016.

Moody’s Analytics. “The Macroeconomic Consequences of Secretary Clinton’s Economic Policies.” Jul 2016.

Moody’s Analytics. “The Macroeconomic Consequences of Mr. Trump’s Economic Policies.” Jun 2016.

Farley, Robert. “Clinton Plays Partisan Game.” FactCheck.org. 17 Aug 2016.

Gardner, Greg and Snavely, Brent. “Ford shifting all U.S. small-car production to Mexico.” Detroit Free Press. 16 Sep 2016.

CNNMoney. “Ford CEO: Trump is wrong on U.S. jobs.” 15 Sep 2016.

Kiely, Eugene. “Clinton’s Equal Pay Claim.” FactCheck.org. 23 Jun 2016.

Trump, Donald. “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” Twitter.com. 6 Nov 2012.

Fox & Friends. “Donald Trump slams Iran deal.” 18 Jan 2017.

Trump, Donald. “Snowing in Texas and Louisiana, record setting freezing temperatures throughout the country and beyond. Global warming is an expensive hoax!” Twitter.com. 28 Jan 2016.

Trump, Donald. “Transcript of Donald Trump’s Dec. 30 speech in Hilton Head, S.C.” The Kansas City Star. 20 Jan 2016.

Trump, Donald. “NBC News just called it the great freeze – coldest weather in years. Is our country still spending money on the GLOBAL WARMING HOAX?” Twitter.com 25 Jan 2014.

Trump, Donald. “An America First Energy Plan.” donaldjtrump.com. 26 May 2016.
NASA. “Scientific consensus: Earth’s climate is warming.” Accessed 26 Sep 2016.

Groundhog Friday.” FactCheck.org. 9 Sep 2016.

Groundhog Friday.” FactCheck.org. 16 Sep 2016.

Robertson, Lori and Farley, Robert. “Trump’s Tax Returns.” FactCheck.org. 12 May 2016.

FactChecking the 11th GOP Debate.” FactCheck.org. 4 Mar 2016.

New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety. Division of Gaming Enforcement. Report to the Casino Control Commission. 16 Oct 1981.

Yee Hee Lee, Michelle. “What we know about Donald Trump and his taxes so far.” Washington Post Fact Checker. 1 Aug 2016.

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Follow the Debate with FactCheck.org http://www.factcheck.org/2016/09/follow-the-debate-with-factcheck-org/ http://www.factcheck.org/2016/09/follow-the-debate-with-factcheck-org/#comments Mon, 26 Sep 2016 14:20:10 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=114486 LONG ISLAND, N.Y. – The first presidential debate between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton is tonight at Hofstra University, and we will be there to fact-check what they say.

Here’s how viewers can get the facts when the candidates make false and misleading statements:

  • We will tweet during the debate and include links that provide more information. Follow us on Twitter at @factcheckdotorg.
  • We will post an annotated transcript that highlights statements we fact-checked and provides a short summary of our findings. Visit our website in the morning after the debate for a link to our annotated transcript.
  • We will post a full analysis on our website several hours after the debate. Visit our website in the morning after the debate to read the story.
  • We will produce short videos that highlight individual false and misleading claims made by the candidates. The videos will be posted to our website the day after the debate, as well as on our social media sites. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr.

We want to thank the Annenberg Foundation, the Stanton Foundation and the thousands of individual supporters like you for funding for FactCheck.org. The Stanton Foundation provided funding for our enhanced campaign coverage, including our attendance at the national political conventions and the debates, as well as production of the debate videos.

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Pre-Debate Patterns of Deception http://www.factcheck.org/2016/09/pre-debate-patterns-of-deception/ http://www.factcheck.org/2016/09/pre-debate-patterns-of-deception/#comments Mon, 26 Sep 2016 13:27:21 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=114468 Ahead of the first presidential debate, FlackCheck.org explores some patterns of deception that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have used on the campaign trail.

On several occasions, Trump has used “hearsay,” which, according to FlackCheck.org, asserts that “something must have occurred because someone told you that it has.” That was the case when Trump said that he “heard” the U.S. unemployment rate was 42 percent, which is not correct.

Clinton has used the deception known as “misleading by not telling the whole story.”

For example, Clinton said an analysis by Moody’s Analytics found “that with our plans the economy would create more than 10 million new jobs.” She left out that the analysis said that most of those jobs would be created under current law over the first four years of her presidency, and only 3.2 million jobs would be added if all of her proposals were implemented, which the report noted was unlikely to happen.

For more on these and other patterns of deception, visit FlackCheck.org, our sister site for political literacy.

Correction, Sept. 26: We have changed this story to reflect that Clinton’s proposals are projected to add 3.2 million jobs over four years, not 10 years. The error was introduced during the editing process. 

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Video: Clinton on Russia’s Nuclear Arms http://www.factcheck.org/2016/09/video-clinton-on-russias-nuclear-arms/ http://www.factcheck.org/2016/09/video-clinton-on-russias-nuclear-arms/#comments Fri, 23 Sep 2016 18:24:07 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=114456 This week, CNN’s Jake Tapper examines an exaggerated claim that Hillary Clinton made in a TV ad about “cutting Russia’s nuclear arms” through a treaty signed when she was secretary of state.

As we’ve written before, Clinton is overstating the impact of the 2011 New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) agreement, which limits the number of deployed strategic nuclear warheads, or nuclear weapons, that are on long-range (or strategic) launchers. The agreement does not require the U.S. or Russia to destroy nuclear warheads or reduce their nuclear stockpile. In addition, Russia was already below the treaty’s limit on deployed strategic nuclear warheads when the treaty took effect, and Russia has increased the number since then, according to the most recent data available.

The following video is a collaboration between CNN’s “State of the Union” and FactCheck.org. It is based on the article “Clinton Misrepresents Trump Quote,” which also looks at Clinton’s claim that “Donald Trump says he alone can fix the problems we face.”

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Groundhog Friday http://www.factcheck.org/2016/09/groundhog-friday-13/ http://www.factcheck.org/2016/09/groundhog-friday-13/#comments Fri, 23 Sep 2016 17:50:56 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=114307 Yes, there were repeated debunked claims yet again in the presidential campaign this week. We summarize our fact-checking of these familiar talking points in our “Groundhog Friday” feature. Follow the links to our original stories for more on each claim.

Groundhog2Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton on GOP nominee Donald Trump’s comments on wages, Sept. 21 op-ed in the New York Times: “Donald J. Trump has a different approach. … He has actually said that wages are too high.”

Clinton repeats a claim we heard during the first and second days of the Democratic National Convention, and from other Democrats since then. Trump has not said that overall wages are too high. At a Nov. 10, 2015, GOP debate, Trump was asked about raising the federal minimum wage to $15, and he said he was opposed to that.

“[T]axes too high, wages too high, we’re not going to be able to compete against the world. I hate to say it, but we have to leave it the way it is,” he said. When he was asked about that “wages too high” comment two days later, he told Fox News: “And they said should we increase the minimum wage? And I’m saying that if we’re going to compete with other countries, we can’t do that because the wages would be too high. … The question was about the minimum wage. I’m not talking about wages being too high, I’m talking about minimum wage.”

“Democratic Convention Day 1,” July 26




Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence on Clinton’s gun proposals, Sept. 18 interview on ABC’s “This Week”: “I mean the point that [Trump] was making is that Hillary Clinton has had private security now in her life for the last 30 years, but she would deny the right of law abiding citizens to have a firearm in their homes to protect their own families.”

Trump and his supporters have repeatedly misrepresented Clinton’s position on guns throughout the campaign. She has not proposed abolishing the Second Amendment, nor has she called for a ban on all guns, as Pence implies here. Instead, Clinton’s gun violence prevention proposal calls for expanded background checks and a ban on semi-automatic “assault weapons.”

Clinton said in April, “We aren’t interested in taking away guns of lawful, responsible gun owners,” and she has spoken about the “constitutional rights of responsible gun owners.” Her critics point to past comments that have been distorted. The NRA, which put out a TV ad in August, pointed to Clinton’s statement that “the Supreme Court is wrong on the Second Amendment.” Her campaign confirmed she was referring to the Supreme Court’s 2008 Heller decision that found Washington, D.C.’s handgun ban was unconstitutional. Clinton “believes Heller was wrongly decided in that cities and states should have the power to craft common sense laws to keep their residents safe,” spokesman Josh Schwerin told us.

“Trump Distorts Clinton’s Gun Stance,” May 10




Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine on Trump’s tax returns, Sept. 20 rally in Exeter, New Hampshire: “This [releasing tax returns] is what every president has done going back, even President Nixon released his tax returns. I mean, if you can’t come up to the standard of President Nixon, the ethical standard, you’ve got a problem.”

As we explained earlier this month, and in a previous edition of Groundhog Friday, comparing Nixon to other presidential candidates isn’t accurate. Nixon did not release his tax returns while he was a presidential candidate. His returns between 1969 and 1972 were eventually released, but only toward the end of his presidency in 1973 amid speculation about tax improprieties. During the 1968 Republican presidential primary, Nixon would only allow a reporter for Look magazine to inspect photocopies of three years worth of his tax returns.

“Kaine Muffs Trump-Nixon Comparison,” Sept. 2




Priorities USA Action quoting Trump, Sept. 7 in a TV ad: “I love war, in a certain way … including with nukes, yes, including with nukes.”

As it did in a previous TV ad, the pro-Hillary Clinton super PAC shows Trump in November 2015 saying, “I love war, in a certain way.” Then, as video of a nuclear explosion is shown on screen, a clip plays of Trump from April 2016 saying, “including with nukes, yes, including with nukes.” The fact that those two statements were made at separate events, several months apart, may not be clear to those who see or hear the ad.

Trump has previously said that he wouldn’t rule out using nuclear weapons as president. But when he said “including with nukes” in that April interview, he was talking about Japan possibly needing nuclear weapons to defend itself against North Korea. Trump wasn’t talking about the U.S. using nuclear weapons, and he wasn’t saying that he “loves” nuclear war.

“Ad Suggests Trump Loves Nuclear War,” June 21


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Pence’s Obsolete Poverty Point http://www.factcheck.org/2016/09/pences-obsolete-poverty-point/ http://www.factcheck.org/2016/09/pences-obsolete-poverty-point/#comments Wed, 21 Sep 2016 14:19:56 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=114310 Old talking points die hard. Mike Pence is still claiming that the number of people living in poverty has gone up by 7 million under President Obama, nearly a week after the news came out that 3.5 million escaped poverty last year alone.

At a campaign event in Dubuque, Iowa, on Sept. 19, the GOP vice presidential nominee said:

Mike Pence, Sept. 19: We have the lowest labor participation rate since the 1970s, when I got out of high school. And, most shockingly of all, today there are more than 7 million Americans more living in poverty than the day that Barack Obama became president of the United States.

Pence has been using that 7 million figure for some time. He sent it out via Twitter on Sept. 8, getting his words a bit garbled.

Technically, Pence’s claim wasn’t true even then. He was referring to the poverty level in 2014, not “today.” There’s a big difference. We won’t know what the 2016 figure is until it’s released in September 2017.

But there’s no excuse for continuing to use his outdated talking point nearly a week after the Sept. 13 release of new poverty figures covering 2015, showing the largest one-year drop in the official poverty rate in 16 years.

As shown in the U.S. Census Bureau’s historical tables, the number living in poverty last year was 43,123,000, or 13.5 percent of the entire U.S. population. Compared with the number in poverty in 2008, the difference is 3,294,000 — less than half the 7 million figure Pence incorrectly claims. And the poverty rate plunged 1.2 percentage points from 2014 to 2015, the biggest drop since 1999.

Also worth noting is that the U.S. population grew by more than 17 million between 2008 and last year. As of last year, the poverty rate was a mere 0.3 percentage points higher than it was in 2008.

As for the labor force participation rate — the percentage of the population age 16 and older that is working or looking for work — Pence was correct to say that it recently has been at the lowest levels since the 1970s, when large numbers of women were flooding into the workforce.

What Pence failed to acknowledge was that the rate peaked in 2000, and has gone down mostly because of predictable demographic factors, including the postwar baby-boom generation reaching retirement age.

Pence also failed to mention that lately the labor force participation rate has been going up, not down. In August the rate was 62.8 percent of the population age 16 and older, up from 62.4 percent 11 months earlier. But why spoil a dramatic-sounding talking point by getting into the facts?


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Does Zika Cause Blindness? http://www.factcheck.org/2016/09/does-zika-cause-blindness/ http://www.factcheck.org/2016/09/does-zika-cause-blindness/#comments Tue, 20 Sep 2016 17:58:33 +0000 http://www.factcheck.org/?p=114115 Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid claimed that Zika “affects everyone” — not just pregnant women and their babies — because recent research found that it “causes people to go blind.” That’s false. Temporary vision impairment is a symptom of Zika, but no adults have gone blind because of the virus.

In fact, one author of a study cited by Reid’s office told us his study “did not claim” that Zika causes blindness. The study found that the virus “infects specific target cells in different regions of the eye.” Some infected mice in the study experienced inflammation, but none went blind.

However, studies have shown that severe vision impairment is a Zika-related birth defect.

SciCHECKsquare_4-e1430162915812The Zika epidemic first began in Brazil in May 2015. The World Health Organization declared the outbreak a global public health emergency in February 2016. The first locally acquired infections in the U.S. were reported in Puerto Rico on Dec. 31, 2015, and in Florida on July 29, 2016.

On Aug. 12, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared a public health emergency in Puerto Rico. On Aug. 1, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also advised pregnant women to avoid an area of Miami where health officials had identified local Zika transmission. The CDC defines a “local” case as one transmitted through a mosquito bite on U.S. soil.

Zika spreads “primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito,” says the CDC. The virus can also be transmitted from mother to child during pregnancy and through sex and blood transfusions. However, the CDC is investigating whether Zika also spreads via bodily fluids, such as saliva, vomit or urine.

On Feb. 22, President Obama submitted a request to Congress for $1.9 billion in emergency funding to combat Zika, but Republicans and Democrats in Congress have yet to agree on legislation. In the partisan battle, Republicans and Democrats, including Reid, have blamed each other for stalling the legislation, although a compromise could come as early as today.

Reid made some additional comments concerning Zika that aren’t exactly accurate. We will address those, too, but first we will focus on his claim about blindness.

Zika and Vision 

Reid exaggerated what scientists know about the health effects of Zika on vision on at least three occasions — on the Senate floor, while answering questions posed by the press and during a news conference.

Reid, Sept. 7, on the Senate floor: One of America’s pronounced scientists today said that now Zika affects everybody. Zika is now infecting eyes – the virus goes in people’s eyes and leads to vision impairment and blindness. So it’s not just women of child-bearing age. It is going to affect a lot of people.

Reid, Sept. 7, answering press questions: One of the op-eds today was from a physician, well known, reputable professor. He said he’s very concerned because they keep finding new things that this virus affects. For example, eyes. Now, in certain cases, they’ve proven that the virus goes into people’s eyes and certainly impairs your vision and causes people to go blind. … It doesn’t affect only women of child-bearing age. It affects everyone.

Reid, Sept. 8, during a news conference: Yesterday we learned that scientists have found that the Zika virus goes into people’s eyes causing blindness and a lot of visual impairment.

To be clear, many people who contract Zika have little or no symptoms. When individuals do have symptoms, they last around a week and can entail fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis, or pinkeye.

But “Zika infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects and is associated with other pregnancy problems,” explains the CDC. Zika can cause underdeveloped heads and brains (microcephaly) in newborns. The virus is also “linked to other problems in infants,” such as eye defects, hearing loss and impaired growth.

When we contacted Reid’s office, Dan Yoken, Reid’s deputy communications director, referred us to a Wall Street Journal op-ed by Ian Lipkin, a professor of epidemiology at Columbia University.

Lipkin’s piece mentions nothing about Zika-related blindness or vision impairment in adults or newborns, though he does discuss the potential wider societal costs of a generation of children born with Zika-related defects.

Yoken also referred us to two research papers, one published in Cell Reports on Sept. 6, and another published in The New England Journal of Medicine on July 28. Neither of them directly supported Reid’s claims about Zika and blindness.

In fact, we contacted the authors of the first paper, and Michael S. Diamond, an expert in infectious diseases and virology at Washington University in St. Louis, told us his study “did not claim” that “the Zika virus goes into people’s eyes causing blindness and a lot of visual impairment,” as Reid said.

What did the researchers find?

After infecting mice under the skin with Zika, the group found that the virus “infects specific target cells in different regions of the eye.” The scientists also uncovered Zika’s genetic material in the tears of mice, which suggests the virus could be transmitted through this bodily fluid. Like humans, some infected mice in their study experienced inflammation in different regions of the eye, including conditions such as panuveitis and conjunctivitis, or pinkeye. None of the mice went blind.

It’s worth noting that a study published in the Journal for the American Medical Association Ophthalmology on Sept. 15 confirmed Zika genetic material on the eyes of human adults.

The July study cited by Reid’s office outlined the case of a man in his early 40s whose vision in one eye dropped from 20/40 to 20/60 acuity after contracting Zika, a condition called uveitis. After treatment, the man’s vision returned to 20/40. In other words, he didn’t go blind, and his vision was only impaired temporarily. If untreated, this condition can lead to permanent vision loss.

Likewise, the September Cell Reports paper also explains, “The most common form of ZIKV-induced ocular disease is conjunctivitis, which occurs in 10% to 15% of [human] patients, but whether conjunctivitis is a direct consequence of ZIKV infection of the eye is not known. In contrast, ZIKV-induced uveitis is less common, although it has been described in humans.”

When we contacted Reid’s office again to point out that the cited research didn’t support Reid’s claims, Yoken responded by stating, “We don’t yet know all the effects of the Zika virus. Senator Reid was citing published research into the virus that has raised questions about Zika and how it affects vision and the eye. Sen. Reid could have been more exact in describing the results of the [Cell Reports] study.”

We agree on all accounts.

It’s worth mentioning that at least three studies have shown that mothers infected with Zika during pregnancy can give birth to babies with severe vision impairment. However, the generalizability of these studies is limited, given that one study evaluated vision impairment in one child, a second study examined three children, and a third study evaluated 29 babies. The last study found vision abnormalities in roughly a third of the babies considered.

An author on the third study, Rubens Belfort Jr., told CNN, “These are severe retina lesions that will impede the ability of the children [in his study] to see well.” An expert in ophthalmology at the Federal University of Sao Paulo in Brazil, he added, “Many of these children could be blind.”

In fact, on Sept. 6, Reid did correctly summarize Zika-related birth defects when he said on the Senate floor that newborns with Zika also suffer from “vision impairment.”

To be clear, we do not aim to minimize the gravity of the Zika epidemic. And we agree with Reid when he said that “we need more study” in order to understand the effects of the virus on both newborns and adults. But at present, there isn’t conclusive research to support Reid’s statements on Sept. 7 and 8.

Other Zika Claims

On Sept. 6 on the Senate floor, Reid said, “2,000 Puerto Ricans are infected each week” with Zika. The number of new Zika cases peaked at roughly 1,900 infections in the second week of August, according to the territory’s health department.

Screen Shot 2016-09-16 at 3.58.43 PM

As of Sept. 15, Puerto Rican health officials have confirmed 19,967 cases of Zika infection total. The U.S. territory also has seen one fetus born with Zika-related birth defects.

When we asked about Reid’s claim, Yoken cited a Sept. 2 article from NBC’s Dallas-Fort Worth station, which states: “Some 2,000 people a week are getting infected and, if current trends hold, a quarter of the island’s 3.5 million people could get Zika by the end of this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

But as of Sept. 14, the CDC also stated: “The Puerto Rico Department of Health is retroactively reporting cases, resulting in larger than normal increases in cases in recent weeks.” The territory has seen roughly 570 new infections on average each week since the first case was confirmed on Dec. 31, 2015.

To be clear, the number of actual infections may be higher than the number of reported cases. For example, CDC Director Tom Frieden told STAT, a health and science news website, in June that as many as 2 percent of adults in the territory could be infected monthly.

While Reid’s statement may turn out to be correct once all the data come in, at this point 2,000 cases per week is not quite right.

Reid also claimed, “The Centers for Disease Control predict by the end of the year 25 percent of Puerto Rico’s population will be infected by Zika.” But that’s a worst-case scenario prediction, the CDC told us.

Yoken of Reid’s office pointed us to a Wall Street Journal article from June 8 that did state, “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 25% of Puerto Rico’s 3.5 million population will be infected with Zika by the end of 2016,” quoting Tyler Sharp, a CDC epidemiologist based in San Juan.

But Benjamin Haynes, a spokesman for the CDC, told us by email, “The projection of 25% was based on ‘worst case’ projections based on weekly incidence and looking at the spread of chikungunya in previous outbreaks. Obviously interventions can affect that number and it’s too soon to tell. The projection was more of a ‘could be’ if the rates of transmission continued to accelerate at the same pace. That also assumes there are no interventions or preventive measures in place to slow the spread of the virus.”

Lastly, Reid exaggerated the extent to which Zika has spread in the continental U.S. when he said, “Local transmission of Zika was confirmed in Florida and elsewhere.”

According to the CDC, local transmission of the virus has taken place only in Florida. As of Sept. 15, the state’s health department has reported 77 locally acquired Zika infections. Ten non-Florida residents have also contracted the virus while visiting the state.

Yoken told us by email that “Senator Reid misspoke” when he said “and elsewhere,” pertaining to Zika’s spread in the continental U.S. “This was corrected in our released remarks,” Yoken added.

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


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