In this last installment of the year in our collaboration with CNN’s “State of the Union,” CNN’s Jake Tapper reviews four of the biggest whoppers told by President Donald Trump in 2018.
Topping the list is the president’s false claim that Democrats inflated the death toll in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria “to make me look as bad as possible.”
Although Puerto Rico initially estimated there were 64 deaths caused by the hurricane, it later commissioned and accepted an independent estimate of 2,975 hurricane-related deaths over about six months. The study, done by researchers at George Washington University, took into account the usual number of deaths that could be expected during the six-month period after the hurricane, and estimated the number of “excess” hurricane-related deaths. Trump claimed, “3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico.”
The video also includes Trump denying knowledge of $130,000 in hush-money paid just prior to the 2016 election to porn star Stormy Daniels, who claims she had an extramarital affair with Trump. The president’s denial was later refuted by Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen, who said in court that Trump directed him to make the payment to Daniels — as well as to arrange payment to another woman — “for the purpose of influencing the election.” In a Dec. 10 tweet, Trump called the payment to Daniels “a simple private transaction” and said three days later that he “never directed Michael Cohen to break the law.”
Also on the list: Trump’s attempt to blame Democrats for a policy that led to widespread separation of children from their parents at the border. That’s false. In fact, family separations resulted from the Trump administration’s new “zero tolerance” policy on illegal immigration and the decision to criminally prosecute immigrants for illegal entry, as opposed to using a civil removal process that allows families to stay together.
Finally, there was Trump’s revisionist claim that he “never said Russia did not meddle in the election.” In fact, among the president’s many contradictory statements about Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, he repeatedly denied or cast doubt on Russia’s involvement in the hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s servers from the first day it became public in June 2016.
That’s just a small sampling of false or misleading statements made by Trump this year. For a longer list of the biggest rhetorical transgressions by Trump — and other Republicans and Democrats alike — see our year-end wrapup, “The Whoppers of 2018.”
Previous fact-checking videos as part of our more than three-year collaboration with CNN’s “State of the Union” can be found on FactCheck.org.
Correction, Dec. 21: We originally indicated that both of Trump’s tweets on the payment to Daniels were dated Dec. 10; one was dated Dec. 13.