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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Clinton’s Greatest Hits

A compendium of the top false and misleading claims by the Democratic presidential candidate.

In advance of the Democratic National Convention, which begins July 25 in Philadelphia, we present a wrap-up of some of the more egregious falsehoods from Hillary Clinton, who is set to accept her party’s nomination for president later this week.

We focused on claims most relevant for the general election and those that Clinton has repeated, or that could likely be repeated by her or others this week. For more on each statement, follow the links to our full stories. And all of our articles on Clinton can be found here.

We posted an article on claims by Donald Trump, the GOP nominee for president, on July 17 in advance of the Republican convention in Cleveland.

Claims About Her Emails

The New York Times on March 2, 2015, reported that Clinton “exclusively used a personal email account to conduct government business as secretary of state.” The emails were stored on a private server at her New York home. At the State Department’s request, Clinton turned over 30,490 work-related emails totaling roughly 55,000 pages, and deleted 31,830 emails she deemed personal. Clinton’s defense of her unusual email arrangements resulted in numerous false and misleading claims. 

Clinton said she “fully complied with every rule that I was governed by” in preserving her emails. But department policy says all “correspondence and memorandums on substantive U.S. foreign policy issues” should be retained “at the end of the Secretary’s tenure or sooner.” Clinton left office Feb. 1, 2013; she gave her emails to the department on Dec. 5, 2014. The department’s Office of Inspector General in a May 26 report confirmed that “Clinton should have surrendered all [work-related] emails” before leaving government and, by not doing so, “she did not comply” with the Federal Records Act.

Clinton claimed the “vast majority of my work emails went to government employees at their government addresses, which meant they were captured and preserved immediately” by the State Department. The department’s IG report said that is “not an appropriate method of preserving any such emails that would constitute a Federal record.”

Clinton has frequently remarked that her decision to use a personal email account exclusively for government business was “allowed” and “permitted” by the State Department. But the IG report cited department policies dating to 2005 that require “normal day-to-day operations” to be conducted on government servers. The IG report also said Clinton, who was secretary of state from January 2009 to February 2013, “had an obligation” to discuss her email system with security and information technology officials, but she did not and, if she had, the request would have been denied.

Clinton said “turning over my server” to the government shows “I have been as transparent as I could” about her emails. But she did so in August of 2015 after the FBI opened an investigation. Five months earlier, she rejected calls to turn over the server to a neutral party, saying “the server will remain private.”

Clinton has said that previous “secretaries of state” did the “same thing” in using personal emails for government business. But the State Department has said that only Colin Powell used a personal email account for official business, and Powell did not use a private server. In addition, the IG report said the rules governing personal email and the use of nongovernment systems were “considerably more detailed and more sophisticated” during Clinton’s tenure, making comparisons to her predecessors invalid. “Secretary Clinton’s cybersecurity practices accordingly must be evaluated in light of these more comprehensive directives,” the report said.

“Clinton Spins Immigration, Emails,” July 8, 2015

“More Spin on Clinton’s Emails,” Sept. 8, 2015

“IG Report on Clinton’s Emails,” May 27, 2016

Clinton has repeatedly denied mishandling classified information. At a March 10, 2015, press conference, she said, “I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email. There is no classified material.” But FBI Director James Comey said that the FBI found that about 2,000 of the 30,490 emails Clinton turned over to the State Department contained classified information, including 110 emails that contained classified information at the time they were sent or received. In addition, the FBI recovered “several thousand” emails that Clinton did not turn over to the State Department, including three that had classified material. Finally, Comey said three emails had “portion markings” that indicated the presence of classified information, although the State Department has since said that at least two of them were marked in error.

Clinton said her lawyers “went through every single email” on her private server to determine which ones were personal and which were work-related, and that they were “overly inclusive” in which ones were provided to the State Department. But Comey said the lawyers did not go through every email. Rather, they used header information and search terms to identify work-related emails, and, he said, it is “highly likely” they missed some.

“Clinton’s Handling of Classified Information,” July 5, 2016

“Revisiting Clinton and Classified Information,” July 7, 2016

Claims About Trump

Clinton has falsely claimed that Trump cited hosting the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow when “asked about his foreign-policy experience.” She was referring to a Trump interview with Fox News anchor Bret Baier. But Baier never asked Trump for an example of his foreign-policy experience. Baier asked Trump whether he had talked to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Trump refused to answer, and went on to say that “I know Russia well” because “I had a major event in Russia two or three years ago,” referring to the 2013 pageant. Clinton recently repeated the false claim, saying Trump “says he’s qualified to be commander in chief because he took Miss Universe to Moscow.”

“Pageants and Foreign Policy, ” June 10

“Groundhog Friday,” July 15

At a campaign rally in Kentucky, Clinton said that she “read” that Trump “said he wants to … abolish the VA.” That claim, which Clinton said she did not verify, was based on a Wall Street Journal article that said Trump’s campaign co-chair and chief policy adviser indicated that Trump “would likely push VA health care toward privatization and might move for it to become more of an insurance provider like Medicare rather than an integrated hospital system.” But the same policy adviser told the paper that Trump doesn’t “want to take away the veterans hospitals and the things that are working well.” In fact, in a speech last year, Trump said, “I don’t want to get rid of it,” when talking about the Department of Veterans Affairs and its health care system.

“Trump ‘Wants to Abolish VA’?” May 20

Clinton also went too far in a CBS News interview when she claimed that Trump said “we should pull out of NATO.” Trump has said that he would “certainly look at” pulling the United States out of the international security alliance because it is “obsolete” and “is costing us a fortune.” But Clinton’s campaign provided nothing indicating that Trump advocates pulling out now.

“What’s Trump’s Position on NATO?” May 11

In a speech criticizing Trump, Clinton again twisted the Republican nominee’s words when she claimed that he said “women will start making equal pay as soon as we do as good a job as men.” Trump doesn’t support equal pay legislation, but he has said that he believes in paying people based on performance rather than gender.

“Clinton’s Equal Pay Claim,” June 23


Clinton, pushing for changes to background checks, falsely claimed that the FBI needed “just one more day” to stop Dylann Roof from being able to purchase the handgun that he allegedly used to kill nine people at a church in Charleston, South Carolina. One more day wouldn’t have mattered in that case. The FBI director said that clerical errors led to Roof being able to legally purchase the gun in April 2015, and the FBI didn’t confirm that the sale shouldn’t have been allowed until after the shooting two months later.

“Clinton’s ‘Charleston Loophole’ Claim,” Feb. 18

 Health Care

Clinton, at a Democratic debate, claimed that private insurance premiums have “gone up so much” in some states that didn’t expand Medicaid because hospitals shifted their costs for providing emergency care for the uninsured. In doing so, she was singling out Republican-controlled states. But we found no evidence to support that claim, and experts disagree on whether such cost shifting occurs.

“Clinton’s Shaky Cost-Shifting Claim,” Dec. 23

A Clinton TV ad made the misleading claim that “in the last seven years drug prices have doubled.” To support that claim, her campaign cited a report that said brand-name drug prices, on average, have more than doubled in that time. But more than 80 percent of filled prescriptions are for generic drugs, the prices of which have declined by nearly 63 percent, according to the same report.

“Clinton’s Misleading Ad on Drug Prices,” Jan. 7

During another Democratic debate, Clinton defended the Affordable Care Act by saying, “We now have driven costs down to the lowest they’ve been in 50 years.” Instead of going down, costs have continued to increase, although at historically low rates. Also, economists say the cause of the slowdown was mainly the economy — not the actions of politicians or the Affordable Care Act.

“FactChecking the Fourth Democratic Debate,” Jan. 18

Clinton claimed a recent study showed “white middle-aged Americans without a high school education … are dying earlier than their parents and their grandparents.” The study found an increased mortality rate since 1999 among middle-aged white Americans with a high school degree or less — not just those without a high school education — and it made no comparisons with past generations. Princeton economist Angus Deaton, a co-author of that study, told us his work “doesn’t establish any of what she says.”

“FactChecking the MSNBC Democratic Forum,” Nov. 9


Clinton has continued to make variations of the false statement that “Americans haven’t had a raise in 15 years.” The latest numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show real average weekly earnings for production and nonsupervisory employees have actually gone up 9 percent since January 2001.

“Groundhog Friday,” July 1

“FactChecking the Sixth Democratic Debate,” Feb. 12

Clinton has repeatedly made the claim that the U.S. economy does better when a Democratic president is in the White House, citing research by two Princeton economists who do not credit Democratic fiscal policies for the economic growth.

“Clinton: Economy Better Under Democrats,” Oct. 20

In addition, Clinton has often wrongly said that “the average American CEO makes 300 times more than the typical American worker.” Clinton was referring to a study that looked at pay disparity between CEOs and average workers only at the top 350 companies. That’s a small fraction of the 246,240 chief executives in the U.S., who, on average, earn far less than the average CEO at the biggest 350 firms.

“Clinton Misuses Stat on CEO Pay,” May 21

Wall Street

Arguing that she has been tough on Wall Street, Clinton falsely stated that she is “the only candidate” in the presidential campaign “on either side” who has been attacked in advertising funded by “Wall Street financiers and hedge fund managers.” Actually, several candidates have been the target of ads funded in part by those in the financial industry, and Trump appeared at that time to be the top target.

“Clinton Wrong About Wall Street Attacks,” April 5

Prior to that, Clinton said that “the Wall Street guys are trying so hard to stop me.” But Clinton and political action committees that support her have raised more than $39 million from Wall Street workers in the securities and investment industry, the most of any candidate, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

“FactChecking the MSNBC Democratic Debate,” Feb. 5

Clinton distorted the facts when she claimed Bernie Sanders “took about $200,000 from Wall Street firms” through the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. The DSCC did provide about $200,000 to support Sanders’ 2006 Senate race, and the DSCC did receive about $10 million from the political action committees and employees of companies in two financial industries: securities and investment, and commercial banks. But the DSCC also received $2 million in that campaign cycle from Clinton’s PAC, Friends of Hillary. By Clinton’s logic, Sanders “took about $200,000″ from Friends of Hillary.

“Clinton’s Exaggerated Wall Street Claim,” Feb. 11


Clinton was flat out wrong when she told a “Good Morning America” town hall participant that “you can’t do any research about” marijuana because it’s a Schedule I drug. That classification makes it difficult, but not impossible, to conduct research on the substance.

“Clinton on Marijuana Research,” April 22

Clinton was also off in another interview when she said late-term abortions “are because of medical necessity.” That gave the impression that most, if not all, late-term abortions are medically necessary. What little data that exist on the topic do not support her claim.

“Clinton Off on Late-Term Abortions,” Sept. 29

Foreign Policy

Clinton claimed that all government investigations into the terrorist attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi concluded that “nobody did anything wrong” at the State Department. But an independent board found “systemic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels.” Four State Department employees were placed on administrative leave on the day the report came out, and all four were later reassigned. Also, a bipartisan Senate report said department officials ignored “increasingly dangerous threat assessments” that indicated the Benghazi facility was “particularly vulnerable.” That report said the department should have increased security or “closed or temporarily shut down” its Benghazi mission, calling the decision to leave the facility open “a grievous mistake.”

“Clinton and the Benghazi Reports,” Oct. 7

A TV ad from the Clinton campaign said that she was responsible for “securing a massive reduction in nuclear weapons” as secretary of state. That’s an overstatement. The agreement, known as New START, does not require the U.S. or Russia to destroy nuclear warheads or reduce their nuclear stockpile, nor does it place limits on short-range nuclear weapons. Besides, Russia was below the limit for deployed strategic, or long-range, nuclear warheads when the treaty took effect in 2011, and it has increased them since then.

“Clinton Overstates Nuclear Achievement,” April 27

And more than once, Clinton revised history when she claimed that she said she had “hoped” that the Trans-Pacific Partnership would be the “gold standard” of trade agreements. What Clinton originally said in 2012 was that “[t]his 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.”

“FactChecking the Democratic Debate,” Oct. 14

— By D’Angelo Gore and Eugene Kiely, with the staff of FactCheck.org

Editor’s Note: D’Angelo Gore, Robert Farley and Eugene Kiely will be covering the Democratic convention in Philadelphia for FactCheck.org from July 25 to July 28.