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FactChecking Trump’s ‘Fact Check’ of the State of the Union

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Former President Donald Trump promised to provide a live “play by play” via Truth Social to “correct, in rapid response, any and all inaccurate Statements” made by President Joe Biden during his State of the Union address. But we found many of Trump’s alleged corrections were … factually incorrect.

  • Under Biden, Trump claimed, “Migrant Violence is leading to the Worst Crime Wave in History!” But homicides and violent crime in general have been trending down the last two years and are nowhere near historic levels.
  • Trump alleged that Biden “wants to take away everyone’s gun.” Biden has called for a ban on so-called assault-style weapons and large-capacity magazines, but he proposed a voluntary buyback for those already legally owned. He has never proposed banning or confiscating all guns.
  • Trump said the bipartisan border security bill that failed in the Senate would have “let at least 5,000 Migrants in a day.” That’s not accurate.
  • Trump claimed that he “got the NATO Nations to pay up,” and that before he got involved, “NATO was BROKE.” NATO was not “broke” and countries don’t owe money to anyone else if they spend less on defense than other member countries.
  • Trump claimed that he “took away Nord Stream 2” — the Russian pipeline that would double the export of Russian natural gas to Germany — from Russia and Biden “gave it to them.” Neither of those statements is true.
  • The former president said that “Biden’s All Electric Car Mandate is a disaster for our Country.” But there is no such mandate.
  • He claimed that the Jan. 6 Capitol rioters “had no guns” on them. At least five people were charged with or sentenced for carrying a gun on Capitol grounds.
  • Trump claimed that “Republicans have no plan to cut Social Security,” but some Republicans have proposed raising the retirement age for some future beneficiaries. That would reduce scheduled benefits for those affected.
  • Trump claimed, “We are stronger on IVF than the Democrats!” Most Republicans have said they support in vitro fertilization, or IVF, but some want to leave the issue to the states and have rejected consideration of a federal law to protect access to IVF.

For our article on Biden’s speech, see “FactChecking Biden’s State of the Union.”

‘Migrant Violence’

When Biden referred to the country’s falling violent crime rates, Trump responded on Truth Social, “He’s talking about Violence, but Migrant Violence is leading to the Worst Crime Wave in History!”

Actually, though, there’s been a decrease in violent crime recently.

As we’ve written before, the number of homicides was 10% lower in 2023 than in 2022 in 32 cities, according to a January report from the Council on Criminal Justice, which gathered data from the participating cities. And violent crime nationwide went down in 2022, according to the most recent data released by the FBI.

In our coverage of Biden’s State of the Union remarks, we noted that despite the recent downturn, murder and violent crime rates still have not returned to their pre-pandemic levels. Nonetheless, the spike in violent crime during and after the pandemic never approached anywhere near the record-high violent crime rates during the 1990s.

Although there have been several high-profile violent crimes committed recently by immigrants living in the country illegally, studies have found that migrants are generally less prone to crime than citizens who were born in the U.S.

“Immigration’s crime suppressing impact is most notable for violent crime, especially homicide, and in places where there are well-established immigrant populations and where the social and political environments, and municipal policies, are pro-immigrant,” according to a 2023 book called “Immigration and Crime: Taking Stock” by Charis Kubrin, a criminologist at the University of California at Irvine and Graham Ousey, a criminologist at William & Mary.

“At the micro-level, studies consistently document that foreign-born individuals — first-generation immigrants — are less involved in crime as both offenders and victims compared to the native-born, including the children of immigrants,” the book said. “This pattern of findings — negative or null relationships between measures of immigration and crime — is also evident in studies of undocumented immigrants specifically.”

NBC News reviewed “2024 crime data from the cities targeted by Texas’ ‘Operation Lone Star,’ which buses or flies migrants from the border to major cities in the interior,” and found that crime levels dropped in those cities.

“Overall crime is down year over year in PhiladelphiaChicagoDenverNew York and Los Angeles. Crime has risen in Washington, D.C., but local officials do not attribute the spike to migrants,” the NBC report said.

So, violent crime rates have been falling nationally and cities that have received an influx of migrants, specifically, have seen a decline in crime, which means there’s no evidence to support Trump’s claim about a “crime wave.”


When Biden criticized his “predecessor” for boasting that he “told the NRA he’s proud he did nothing on guns when he was president,” Trump fired back with the claim, “He [Biden] wants to take away everyone’s gun. Remember that when you go to the Voting Booth, because if I’m not elected, your guns are GONE, along with your Freedom!”

That’s not an accurate reflection of Biden’s position. Biden has been a longtime advocate for banning so-called assault weapons and large-capacity magazines.

But even for those proposed gun bans, Biden has talked about voluntary buybacks — not confiscation of any legally purchased weapons — prior to a ban taking effect.

As he has on numerous occasions, Biden recounted an encounter he had at a fundraising event in October with a hunter in Delaware who accused him of wanting “to take my damn guns away from me.”

“I said, ‘I’m not going to take your guns away. I’m just going to take some.’ I said — no, I’m serious. I said, ‘The Second Amendment doesn’t say you can own a cannon. It doesn’t say you can own a machine gun. It doesn’t say’ — I went down the list.”

“They’re trying to make it seem like we’re trying to take everybody’s gun away. Not true,” Biden said while recounting the same anecdote during a fundraiser in June. “But we have to have some rational basis for gun ownership.”

Biden has supported various gun control measures, such as safely storing guns in homes, cracking down on “ghost guns” that are difficult for law enforcement to trace, and requiring enhanced and universal background checks.

But his plans don’t propose banning the purchase or ownership of all guns or confiscating lawfully purchased, so-called assault-style weapons that he does seek to ban.

Biden-Backed Border Bill

When Biden urged Republicans to support a bipartisan border security bill that he said included “the toughest set of border security reforms we’ve ever seen,” Trump wrote, “His Border Bill is a Disaster, it would let at least 5,000 Migrants in a day, and that is one of the better aspects of it!” That misrepresents what was in the failed Senate bill.

The $118 billion bill, called the Emergency National Security Supplemental Appropriations Act, would have provided emergency authority to the administration to “summarily remove” people who cross into the U.S. illegally between ports of entry, even those seeking asylum, when certain metrics were reached. The bill stated that temporary border emergency authority would be automatically activated by the Department of Homeland Security secretary if there is an average of 5,000 or more migrant encounters a day over seven consecutive days — or if there are 8,500 or more such encounters on any single day.

But as we have written it wouldn’t have “let in” 5,000 unauthorized migrants a day until the emergency authority kicked in.

“It’s not that the first 5,000 [migrants encountered at the border] are released, that’s ridiculous,” one of the architects of the bill, Republican Sen. James Lankford, said on the Senate floor. “The first 5,000 we detain, we screen and then we deport. If we get above 5,000, we just detain and deport.”

“The reason we’re doing that [providing emergency authority] is because we want to be able to shut down the system when it gets overloaded, so we have enough time to process those asylum claims,” Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, an independent who helped craft the bill, said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Feb. 4.


When Biden praised NATO as “the strongest military alliance the world has ever seen,” and welcomed its newest member, Sweden, Trump wrote on Truth Social, “NATO only became strong, because of ME, I got the NATO Nations to pay up. They were almost all delinquent. The United States was paying for them all!” At another point, Trump claimed that before he got involved, “NATO was BROKE.”

As we wrote recently when Trump made similar comments, he is mischaracterizing what he calls “delinquent” payments from alliance members to NATO. Although NATO countries pay direct costs for NATO’s common fund based on a formula, Trump is referring to the indirect costs countries pay toward their own defense. Countries don’t owe money to anyone else if they spend less on defense than other member countries.

“That’s not how NATO works,” James Goldgeier, a former dean of the School of International Service at American University who teaches at the university and sits on the State Department’s International Security Advisory Board, told us in an email. “There is a common budget that countries pay into, but most of what we think of as NATO defense spending refers to individual country defense spending and preparedness to be able to operate as a military alliance.”

In 2006, NATO countries made a commitment to aim to spend 2% of their gross domestic product on their own defense. A NATO spokesman at the time said: “Let me be clear, this is not a hard commitment that they will do it. But it is a commitment to work towards it. And that will be a first within the Alliance.”

A 2014 NATO declaration after a summit in Wales again said that countries that weren’t meeting the 2% goal would “aim to move towards the 2% guideline within a decade.”

According to NATO, 11 countries, including the U.S., are spending at least 2% of their GDP on their defense. Nineteen other countries do not meet that threshold, but with the exception of Croatia and Turkey, all are estimated to be spending more on defense as a percentage of their GDP in 2023 than they did in 2014.

Alliance members also pay money for NATO’s commonly funded budget. That’s a direct cost. The U.S. currently pays about 16.2% — the same as Germany — of NATO’s “principal budgets” that are funded by all alliance members based on a cost-sharing formula that factors in the gross national income of each country. The principal budget categories include the civil budget, the military budget and the NATO Security Investment Programme. But, again, when Trump is referring to NATO spending, he is referring to the indirect costs each country spends on its defense.

It’s also not true that NATO was “broke” until Trump stepped in. As we have written, after years of decreases, combined defense spending by non-U.S. NATO members has increased every year since 2015 — two years before Trump assumed office. Combined NATO defense spending increased about 11.5% between 2016, the year before Trump took office, and 2020, Trump’s last year in office, according to NATO. The amount paid by NATO members other than the U.S. increased by about 19.8% over the same period.

Nord Stream 2

In his speech, Biden accused Trump of “bowing down” to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Specifically, Biden criticized Trump for saying at a Feb. 10 rally that he would allow Russia “to do whatever the hell they want” to a NATO member country that is “delinquent” in its payments to NATO.

Former President Donald Trump at a campaign rally on March 9 in Rome, Georgia. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

On Truth Social, Trump responded by once again falsely claiming that he “took away Nord Stream 2” from Russia and Biden “gave it to them.” Nord Stream 2 is a Russian natural gas pipeline to Germany that was completed in September 2021, but has never received the approval it needs from Germany to operate.

“[Biden] said I bowed down to the Russian Leader,” Trump wrote. “He gave them everything, including Ukraine. I took away Nord Stream 2, he gave it to them!”

Nord Stream 2 runs under the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany, and would have doubled the export of Russian natural gas to Germany. It runs parallel with Nord Stream 1, which has been operational since 2011, according to a report by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service.

As we have written, Trump signed legislation in December 2019 that imposed sanctions against companies that were building Nord Stream 2. Pipeline construction was temporarily suspended in response to the sanctions, but resumed a year later while Trump was still in office, CRS said in its report.

When construction was suspended, the pipeline was already about 90% completed.

After assuming power, the Biden administration, like past administrations, opposed the Nord Stream 2, but suggested that its “ability to prevent the pipeline from becoming operational was limited, even with additional sanctions,” the CRS report said.

Biden waived sanctions against those involved in the Nord Stream 2 project in May 2021 — which is what Trump is referring to when he says that Biden “gave it to” Russia.

But, as we said, construction of the pipeline had resumed under the Trump administration, so Trump didn’t take it away from Russia. And, contrary to Trump’s claim, Biden didn’t give the pipeline to Russia. In fact, only Germany can approve the project, and that country’s chancellor has blocked its approval.

Nord Stream 2 “must receive certification from German regulators before it becomes operational,” another CRS report said. But German Chancellor Olaf Scholz stopped the certification process on Feb. 22, 2022 — the day that Putin recognized two separatist territories in eastern Ukraine as independent states and sent Russian troops into the Donbas region of Ukraine.

No Federal Electric Car Mandate

Trump continued to falsely suggest that Biden is requiring manufacturers to sell only electric vehicles.

“Biden’s All Electric Car Mandate is a disaster for our Country, but great for China,” Trump wrote in a social post.

There is no such federal mandate. As we’ve written, the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Transportation under Biden have proposed new vehicle emissions and fuel standards that are expected to greatly increase the number of electric vehicles sold in the U.S. To comply, the EPA estimates, EVs “could account for 67% of new light-duty vehicle sales and 46% of new medium-duty vehicle sales” in 2032.

But the proposals do not ban cars and trucks that run on gasoline and other fuels. Experts told FactCheck.org that carmakers could still produce and sell some vehicles with internal combustion engines to meet the proposed requirements for tailpipe emissions and fuel efficiency.

“Requiring vehicles to be more efficient and emit less is something that regulators in the US have done for decades, and automakers are free to comply with those standards in whatever strategy works best for them,” John Helveston, a George Washington University assistant professor of engineering management and systems engineering, told us in an email.

Some Capitol Rioters Had Guns

In another post, Trump responded to Biden’s description of Trump supporters who attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, as “insurrectionists.”

“The so-called ‘Insurrectionists’ that he talks about had no guns, they only had a Rigged Election. The only gun was that used on Ashli Babbitt, who sadly, is no longer with us!” Trump wrote.

Babbitt, a military veteran, died after she was shot by a Capitol Police officer as she was forcing her way into an area of the Capitol that leads to the House chamber. But Trump is wrong that no one protesting his 2020 election loss at the Capitol had a gun. Some did, even if they didn’t use them.

In March 2021, we wrote about Christopher Alberts, who was convicted of carrying a loaded 9mm semi-automatic handgun on Capitol grounds. In addition, the Jan. 6 committee report released in December 2022 mentioned three other men – Jerod Bargar, Guy Reffitt and Mark Mazza – who were convicted of carrying a firearm during the Capitol breach.

The Washington Post reported that in a video played at his trial, Reffitt said he saw four other people at the Capitol with guns, including two people, a couple he met, with five of them.

Then, last week, on March 8, John Banuelos was arrested on felony and misdemeanor charges for his actions during the Capitol riot, including discharging a firearm. The Justice Department said video footage allegedly shows Banuelos pulling a gun from his waistband and firing two shots in the air.

Also, the committee’s report said other people had guns stored elsewhere. For example, members of the Oath Keepers extremist group that participated “left their guns stowed away in their cars or across State lines for easy access should they be needed.” 

Jason Dolan, a member of the group who testified at a seditious conspiracy trial, said there was a “quick reaction force ready to go get our firearms in order to stop the election from being certified within Congress,” the report said. 

Trump’s focus on guns also ignores the fact that rioters attacked and injured police with other weapons, including flag poles, bats and pepper spray.

Social Security Proposal

Trump took exception to Biden saying in his address that “many of my friends on the other side of the aisle want to put Social Security on the chopping block.”

“Republicans have no plan to cut Social Security, a made up story by Crooked Joe!” the former president wrote in response.

We’re not aware of a Republican proposal that directly calls for cutting Social Security benefits for current recipients. But there is a proposal that would effectively reduce benefits for future beneficiaries.

For years, task force members on the Republican Study Committee, a caucus of more than 100 conservative House members, have proposed budgets that would make adjustments to the Social Security program, including raising the retirement age by several years for some workers. The committee argues that without changes to Social Security, benefits will automatically be cut in a few years.

In its proposed budget for fiscal year 2023, the committee proposed increasing the full retirement age to 70 — up from the current age of 67 for people born in 1960 or later. Its most recent proposal for fiscal 2024 doesn’t mention a specific age. But Rep. Ben Cline, the task force chair, reportedly said the plan would spare current retirees and those closest to retirement. 

“He said those now aged 59 would see an increase in the retirement age of three months per year beginning in 2026. The retirement age would reach 69 for those who turn 62 in 2033,” Roll Call reported in June.

The Congressional Budget Office previously said raising the full retirement age to 70 “would reduce scheduled lifetime benefits for every affected Social Security recipient, regardless of the age at which a person claimed benefits.”

Workers could still retire early, at age 62, but they would get a reduced monthly payout. Meanwhile, those who wait until the full retirement age would receive those benefits for a shorter period of time than current beneficiaries.

In Vitro Fertilization

When Biden implored Republicans, “don’t keep this waiting any longer, guarantee the right to IVF Guarantee it nationwide,” Trump responded, “IVF was just approved in Alabama, and the Republicans are totally in support of helping women. We are stronger on IVF than the Democrats!”

The controversy over protecting in vitro fertilization came to the forefront when, in February, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that frozen embryos used in IVF are children, and that a couple had the right to sue for the wrongful death of a minor when a test tube of frozen embryos was dropped on the floor and destroyed.

Dr. Paula Amato, the president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, told the New York Times that doctors would close fertility clinics in Alabama rather than risk criminal or civil charges.

In a podcast, Joanne Rosen, a practice professor in Health Policy and Management and an expert in reproductive law at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, wrote that bioethicists, legal scholars, and reproductive technology specialists had warned that if the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade “and allows states to regulate life from the moment of conception” — as it ultimately did with the help of justices appointed by Trump — “this could indeed have implications for IVF, because IVF creates embryos.”

Ever since the Alabama ruling, most Republicans in Congress have come out in support of IVF, even many who co-sponsored the Life at Conception Act, which sought protections for “every member of the species homo sapiens at all stages of life, including the moment of fertilization, cloning, or other moment at which an individual member of the human species comes into being.”

At a House leadership press conference on Feb. 29, House Speaker Mike Johnson, one of those who co-sponsored the Life at Conception Act, said he and his wife “have many close friends who have had trouble with fertility issues and they’ve had beautiful families as a result of IVF. And so it needs to be readily available. It needs to be something that every American supports and it needs to be handled in an ethical manner.”

“I don’t think there’s a single person in the Republican conference who disagrees with that statement,” Johnson said.

In an interview with CBS on March 7, Johnson repeated that position, but said it needs to be handled at the state level.

“There’s this question of embryos,” CBS Mornings co-anchor Tony Dokoupil said to Johnson. “In the process, they are destroyed, disposed of. If you believe life begins at conception, fertilization, and I know you do, do you see that as murder?”

“It’s something that we’ve got to grapple with,” Johnson said. “It’s a brave new world. IVF’s only been invented, I think, in the early ’70s, but there are an estimated eight million Americans who have been born because of that great technology. So we support the sanctity of life, of course, and we support IVF and the full access to it.”

Johnson said the issues of ethics surrounding the handling and disposal of embryos “are unprecedented, and so it takes a lot of thoughtful debate and careful consideration. But we do believe in the sanctity of life and if you do believe that life begins at conception it’s a really important question to wrestle with. It’s not one Congress has dealt with, and it won’t be. I think it’s a states’ issue, and states will have to be handling that.”

Indeed, the Alabama state legislature has, since the state Supreme Court decision, passed a law to protect IVF in the state.

However, in his State of the Union address Biden called on Republicans to guarantee IVF “nationwide.” On Feb. 28, Senate Republicans for the second time blocked a bill from coming to a vote that would have protected access to IVF nationwide.

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