Facebook posts credit President Donald Trump with accomplishing a list of things that haven’t happened — claiming, for example, that he “cancelled” a proposed House bill on contact tracing and “expelled WHO.”
Popular text posts circulating on Facebook, in some cases with explicit references to the QAnon conspiracy theory, are falsely claiming that President Donald Trump has accomplished things that haven’t actually happened.
“In just a couple of days, Donald Trump did what many of us expected and knew would happen,” the posts claim, proceeding to a list of six purported actions by the president.
But most of the claims are false, misleading or unsupported. Others require a bit more context. We’ll break them down here.
- Claim: Trump “Cancelled the Democrats HR 6666 bill, known as the Covid 19 TRACE Act that was the basis for Bill Gates’s diagnosis and tracking project, which was also cancelled.”
First of all, there’s no evidence that H.R. 6666 — the COVID-19 Testing, Reaching, And Contacting Everyone (TRACE) Act — is a “basis” for a purported “tracking project” by Bill Gates. The bill outlines a $100 billion fund to be managed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in order to fund contact tracing efforts across the country, as we’ve previously explained.
Secondly, the president doesn’t have the power to “cancel” a bill. Instead, he could veto a piece of legislation if it were to come to his desk.
But the bill in question is far from that step: H.R. 6666 is currently before a House committee. It would need to advance to the House floor and be passed by that chamber, as well as by the Republican-led Senate, before it would go to Trump.
- Claim: Trump “Cancelled Bill Gates project known as ID2020.”
ID2020 is the name of a nonprofit organization with a mission to widen access to digital forms of identification — and to ensure people have control over their “digital IDs.” For example, it has partnered with iRespond and the International Rescue Committee on a program to “offer a digital identity platform” to refugees at a camp in Thailand that would allow them “to not only access improved healthcare services but also securely store educational and professional credentials.”
The organization was founded by several partners — including Microsoft, of which Gates is co-founder, and by Gavi, a Gates-backed organization that seeks to provide access to vaccines in impoverished countries.
In recent months, ID2020 has been the subject of conspiracy theories.
We’ve previously written about a false claim that Gates has proposed tracking people with microchips. Some have evidently linked such baseless claims also to ID2020. As Snopes reports, those claims misrepresent ID2020’s projects.
The notion that a Gates project was “cancelled” may be a reference to an at-home testing initiative for the novel coronavirus, backed by Gates, that was taking place in the Seattle area. The Food and Drug Administration recently ordered the project to temporarily halt its effort until additional approvals were granted; but it hasn’t been permanently canceled.
That project — the Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network — wrote on its website on May 14 that “SCAN’s test is authorized by the Washington State Department of Health. However, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) recently clarified its guidance for home-based, self-collected samples to test for COVID-19.”
“We have been notified that a separate federal emergency use authorization (EUA) is required to return results for self-collected tests,” the statement says. “The FDA has not raised any concerns regarding the safety and accuracy of SCAN’s test, but we have been asked to pause testing until we receive that additional authorization.”
- Claim: Trump “will not allow vaccines to be mandatory.”
There’s no evidence Trump has taken any recent action to mandate, or bar the mandate of, vaccines. Right now, there are some vaccine mandates under state laws, as we’ll explain.
This claim might be a reference to a statement Trump made on May 15 while discussing “Operation Warp Speed” — a federal initiative to quickly find a vaccine and treatments for COVID-19.
“We’re looking for a full vaccine for everyone that wants to get it,” Trump said while answering a reporter’s question. “Not everybody is going to want to get it.”
Trump has in the past, and recently, expressed reticence toward the flu shot — which the CDC credits with saving thousands of lives each year. But he has also recently signaled support for vaccines; in particular, he’s supported the rapid development of a vaccine for the novel coronavirus.
The objective of Operation Warp Speed “is to finish developing and then to manufacture and distribute a proven coronavirus vaccine as fast as possible,” Trump said. “Again, we’d love to see if we could do it prior to the end of the year.”
He also said the federal government would “invest in manufacturing all of the top vaccine candidates before they’re approved,” which would “eliminate any unnecessary delay and enable us to begin providing Americans with a proven vaccine the day our scientists say, ‘We’re ready. We got it.'”
“State laws establish vaccination requirements for school children. These laws often apply not only to children attending public schools but also to those attending private schools and day care facilities,” the CDC says. “All states provide medical exemptions, and some state laws also offer exemptions for religious and/or philosophical reasons. State laws also establish mechanisms for enforcement of school vaccination requirements and exemptions.”
According to the Congressional Research Service, in addition to states wielding the power to mandate vaccines in order to protect their populations, there are some powers that could permit the federal government to mandate vaccination to prevent the spread of communicable diseases into the U.S. or between states.
“It is possible for either state or federal government to mandate vaccination,” said Nicole Huberfeld, a Boston University professor of health law, ethics and human rights, but “usually vaccination is a state law matter.”
“States require children to be vaccinated to enter public schools, with physician proof of vaccination being required (or proof of medical condition exemption, alternatively),” Huberfeld said in an email. “Some states allow more than medical exemptions, they have gone so far as to allow religious and even ‘moral’ objections to vaccine … Neither religious nor moral exemptions are constitutionally required.”
But, she added, “because the Constitution protects the individual right to refuse medical treatment, it would take a very serious event to create a situation where absolute mandatory vaccination would be the law of a state (or the nation). Trump certainly has not mandated vaccination, though he has touted it as a way out of the pandemic.”
- Claim: Trump “Expelled WHO.”
The World Health Organization is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, though there are regional offices, including one in Washington, D.C.
This claim appears to be a misrepresentation of recent actions against the WHO taken by Trump.
In April, Trump — who has accused the WHO of mismanaging the COVID-19 outbreak — announced that he would suspend U.S. payments to the organization.
And on May 18, Trump sent a letter to the organization and demanded that it commit to “major substantive improvements” in the next 30 days. If it didn’t, Trump said in the letter, “I will make my temporary freeze of United States funding permanent and reconsider our membership in the organization.”
- Claim: Trump opened “a platform to report censorship on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.”
The White House did create a tool for Americans to file claims of what they believe to be censorship on social media platforms — in 2019. The tool was announced in May 2019 and instructed users that it was for “information gathering only.”
The web page now says it “isn’t accepting new responses.” Trump has continued to talk about the issue, though.
“The Radical Left is in total command & control of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Google,” he wrote on Twitter on May 16. “The Administration is working to remedy this illegal situation. Stay tuned, and send names & events.”
- Claim: Trump “gave the final hit to Chinese 5 G and therefore the Chinese government.”
This is likely a reference to a recent move by the Trump administration to further cut off supplies to Huawei, a Chinese tech giant rolling out 5G networks. The U.S. has accused the company of conspiring to steal trade secrets and said its technology could be used for Chinese espionage. Huawei has denied this.
On May 15, the Trump administration announced measures designed to prevent foreign companies that use U.S. software and technology from providing chips to the company.
Those sanctions could delay the rollout of the company’s 5G technology, its chief technology officer told Yahoo Finance.
Still, some experts told the Wall Street Journal that loopholes remain that may allow supplies to flow to the company in more indirect ways.
“An Overview of State and Federal Authority to Impose Vaccination Requirements.” Congressional Research Service. 22 May 2019.
Baker, Mike. “F.D.A. Halts Coronavirus Testing Program Backed by Bill Gates.” New York Times. 15 May 2020.
“Chinese Telecommunications Conglomerate Huawei and Subsidiaries Charged in Racketeering Conspiracy and Conspiracy to Steal Trade Secrets.” Press release, U.S. Department of Justice. 13 Feb 2020.
“Commerce Addresses Huawei’s Efforts to Undermine Entity List, Restricts Products Designed and Produced with U.S. Technologies.” Press release, U.S. Department of Commerce. 15 May 2020.
Davis, Bob and Dan Strumpf. “Huawei Braces for Latest U.S. Hit, but Some Say Loopholes Remain.” Wall Street Journal. 18 May 2020.
Farley, Rob. “Trump’s Flu Shot Reticence.” FactCheck.org. 15 May 2020.
Fujita, Akiko. “US sanctions to slow down deployment of 5G technology: Huawei exec.” Yahoo Finance. 18 May 2020.
Hale Spencer, Saranac. “Conspiracy Theory Misinterprets Goals of Gates Foundation.” FactCheck.org. 14 Apr 2020.
Huberfeld, Nicole. Professor of health law, ethics and human rights, Boston University. Email to FactCheck.org. 21 May 2020.
Kasprak, Alex. “Are Bill Gates and the ID2020 Coalition Using COVID-19 To Build Global Surveillance State?” Snopes. 22 Apr 2020.
Kelly, Makena. “White House launches tool to report censorship on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter.” The Verge. 15 May 2019.
Miranda Ollstein, Alice. “Trump halts funding to World Health Organization.” Politico. 14 May 2020.
“Remarks by President Trump on Vaccine Development.” White House. 15 May 2020.
“SCAN Project Update May 14, 2020.” Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network. 14 May 2020.
“State Vaccination Requirements.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 15 Nov 2016.
“States With Religious and Philosophical Exemptions From School Immunization Requirements.” National Conference of State Legislatures. 3 Jan 2020.
Trump, Donald (@realDonaldTrump). “This is the letter sent to Dr. Tedros of the World Health Organization. It is self-explanatory!” Twitter. 18 May 2020.
U.S. House. “H.R. 6666 – COVID-19 Testing, Reaching, And Contacting Everyone (TRACE) Act.” (as introduced 1 May 2020)