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Video: FactChecking Oval Office Meeting Claims


In this week’s fact-checking video, CNN’s Jake Tapper reviews some of the claims that we wrote about following the contentious Oval Office meeting on Dec. 11 between President Donald Trump and the Democratic congressional leaders, Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer.

In making his case to fund his proposed border wall, the president claimed “a lot of the wall is built” and cited statistics purporting to show “it’s very effective” at stopping illegal immigration. He cited statistics that he said showed “illegal traffic” dropped by more than 90 percent in several sectors once border wall was erected.

But the statistics Trump cited show the effectiveness of various border security strategies deployed over the last 20 years — from 1992 to 2016 — not the border barriers that his administration has built. And there is very little fencing designed to stop pedestrians in most sectors where Trump said the wall has been effective.

Trump also claimed that “people with … medical problems are pouring in … in many cases, it’s contagious.” Scientific evidence doesn’t support the idea that migrants pose a substantial public health risk. A report published last week in the journal The Lancet concluded that “the risk of transmission from migrating populations to host populations is generally low.” 

In advocating for his proposed wall, the president also claimed that his administration “caught 10 terrorists over the last very short period of time.” The figure “10” is correct, but they have not all been confirmed as terrorists and they didn’t all come across the southern border, as Tapper explains. 

When we asked the Department of Homeland Security about the president’s claim, we were told in an email: “On average last year, DHS prevented 10 individuals tied to terror — known or suspect terrorists — each day from traveling or attempting to travel to the United States.” That includes “individuals attempting to travel to the United States by air, sea, or land,” who “hit against U.S. terror watchlists,” DHS said.

Trump wasn’t the only one who made false and misleading claims at the meeting.

Pelosi, the House minority leader, said she came to the White House to address economic issues — saying “people are losing their jobs.” That’s misleading. Her office said she was referring to recent layoffs, such as at General Motors. Of course, layoffs happen even in the best of economies. But the fact is that the U.S. economy has added jobs for a record 98 months, beginning in October 2010. During that time, the U.S. has added 19.5 million jobs — including nearly 4.2 million since Trump took office in January 2017.

FactCheck.org and CNN’s “State of the Union” have been collaborating on fact-checking videos since September 2015. This video is based on our story, “FactChecking the Trump-Pelosi-Schumer Scuffle.” Previous fact-checking videos can be found on FactCheck.org.