He then made 29 false claims in 71 minutes.
Trump made 53 false claims in all last week. That was below his average of 66 false claims per week for the 19 weeks we have tracked at CNN. Through Sunday, Trump had made 1,255 total false claims since we started counting on July 8.
The economy was the top subject of Trump’s dishonesty last week, with 15 false claims — the first time in seven weeks that neither his Ukraine scandal or Democrats’ related impeachment inquiry topped the list.
The impeachment inquiry came second last week, with 13 false claims.
The most egregious false claim: Schiff’s non-doctoring
The committee then began releasing transcripts. None of the Republican members of the committee, and none of the witness who testified, alleged that any of these transcripts had been doctored in any way.
Before the transcripts were released, this was merely a highly dubious prediction. After the transcripts were released, it was an inaccurate smear.
The most revealing false claim: An assumption on health care
The first part, his scripted line about hospitals publishing price information, was correct. The last part, his apparent ad-lib about people being able to see “resumes on doctors,” was baseless. Neither of the two new rules contains any provision about resumes.
Most presidents would not depart from the vetted text of a policy speech to tell Americans something they merely “assume.” But Trump isn’t like most presidents.
The most absurd false claim: Marie Yovanovitch and Somalia
Trump could have ignored the testimony of the former ambassador to Ukraine, or noted that she did not have personal knowledge about many of the allegations against him, or highlighted her acknowledgment that the President has the right to remove ambassadors for any reason.
Instead, he suggested on Twitter that Marie Yovanovitch was … responsible for ruining Somalia.
“Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went turned bad,” he wrote. “She started off in Somalia, how did that go?”
Yovanovitch has won awards for her performance as a diplomat, but that’s a little beside the point. She very clearly did not cause Somalia’s social and economic problems by showing up there as a junior foreign service officer in the 1980s.
And since Trump said “everywhere,” we should note that Canada is among the countries where Yovanovitch has served.
Editor’s note: This tally will be on hiatus next week for the Thanksgiving holiday. We’ll pick it back up the following week with fact checks of the full two-week period.
Below is the full list of 53 false claims from last week, starting with the ones we haven’t included in a weekly update before:
The Ukraine scandal and impeachment
The whistleblower and “fraud”
Facts First: That is not exactly what happened. Trump omitted a second question Republican Rep. John Ratcliffe asked these two witnesses, Bill Taylor and George Kent. And Taylor did speak up after a brief silence.
Both Taylor, the top US diplomat in Ukraine, and George Kent, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, stayed silent for about three seconds after the “anyone?” But then Taylor said, “Mr. Ratcliffe, if I could just respond. Let me just reiterate that I’m not…”
Ratcliffe interrupted, saying he only had a minute left for his questioning. When the committee chairman, Rep. Adam Schiff, reminded Ratcliffe that he had asked a question the witness was trying to answer, Ratcliffe said, “I’ll withdraw the question.”
“I’m not here to take one side or the other. That’s your decision,” he said. He continued moments later that Kent was also not present to “decide about impeachment.”
Schiff and hearing transcripts
Facts First: Schiff had already released multiple transcripts of testimony from closed-door impeachment inquiry hearings, and there was no sign that any of them had been “doctored.”
Schiff and lawyers
Impeachment and gun violence
Marie Yovanovitch’s career
The impeachment hearings
Facts First: As a reporter told Trump directly, Republicans were allowed to ask questions of witnesses during the impeachment inquiry hearing that day, which featured testimony from former US ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.
Trump might well have been referring to a moment in which the Democratic chairman of the committee, Rep. Adam Schiff, denied an attempt by the top Republican on the committee, Rep. Devin Nunes, to hand some of his questioning time to another Republican committee member, Rep. Elise Stefanik. Schiff denied the request on the grounds that the rules of the hearing prohibited Stefanik from speaking at that moment.
Environment and energy
Waters of the United States
Democrats and energy
“You want to see energy shut down? Take a look at what I’m competing against on the other side. I don’t think they even believe in energy. So far, I haven’t found any form of energy that’s acceptable to them. I think they think the factories are just going to work without energy, don’t they? They don’t have a clue, these people.” — November 12 speech to Economic Club of New York
Facts First: Trump was clearly exaggerating. Many Democrats are pushing for a transition to renewable forms of energy, like solar, wind and geothermal. They do not reject “any form of energy.”
Trump may have meant the word “energy” to mean energy from fossil fuels in particular, but that’s not what he said.
The Paris climate accord
“We withdrew from the one-sided, horrible, horrible, economically unfair, ‘close your businesses down within three years,’ ‘don’t frack, don’t drill, we don’t want any energy’ — the horrible Paris Climate Accord…” — November 12 speech to Economic Club of New York
Facts First: The Paris accord would not have required American businesses to shut down within three years.
The accord allows countries to set their own targets for reducing their carbon emissions. It does not mandate countries to rapidly shutter businesses.
It also does not mandate countries to stop extracting fossil fuels through hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) or traditional drilling, though it encouraged them to move toward renewable energy sources.
The Paris climate accord and China
“You’re talking about trillions and trillions of dollars of destruction would have been done to our country with the Paris Climate Accord. And it is so unfair. It doesn’t kick in for China until 2030.” — November 12 speech to Economic Club of New York
Net energy imports
“Net energy imports — this is so great — set a historic low; it’s a 58-year low, but that’s only because they only go back 58 years, meaning, I assume if it’s low now, it’s lower than it used to be, unless something happened that’s very strange back then. But it’s at a historic low.” — November 12 speech to the Economic Club of New York
Facts First: Trump was off slightly in two ways.
New health transparency rules
“First, we are finalizing a rule that will compel hospitals to publish prices publicly online for everyone to see and to compare. So you’re able to go online and compare all of the hospitals and the doctors and the prices, and, I assume, get resumes on doctors and see who you like.” — November 15 speech on honesty and transparency in health care prices
When the new rules take effect
“And I think you’re going to see things. It’s kicking in immediately. It’ll kick in as of today, but it’s going to really start going during the course of the year, the following year — this year coming.” — November 15 speech on honesty and transparency in health care prices
Trade and the economy
Nancy Pelosi and the USMCA
Facts First: No such “bill” has been on Pelosi’s desk for three months. Though the Trump administration has pushed Pelosi to pass the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, it has not sent her any legislation to implement the trade deal. In fact, the President’s trade team has been negotiating with her to address the concerns of Democrats, rather than immediately sending her a bill to which some of her party’s caucus had significant objections.
The decline in poverty
“Nearly 2.5 million Americans have risen out of poverty. That’s a record.” — November 12 speech to the Economic Club of New York
Facts First: It is not a “record” for 2.5 million people to rise out of poverty over approximately three years.
Timothy Smeeding, a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor of public affairs and economics who directed the university’s Institute for Research on Poverty from 2008 to 2014, said that the 2.5 million figure “is not a record given that we have had much bigger drops in poverty in the past.”
A prediction about the unemployment rate
“In 2016, the Department of Labor predicted that Americans would continue dropping out of the workforce in record numbers…and they expected unemployment over 5 percent — and, really, 6, 7, and even, in some cases, 8 percent — for many years to come.” — November 12 speech to the Economic Club of New York
Even if Trump and his team wrongly thought that 5.2% was a prediction of the future rate rather than merely a basis for the bureau’s analysis: the Department of Labor did not make anything resembling a prediction of a 6%, 7% or 8% unemployment rate.
Trump made three similar claims about growth in median household income gains during his presidency, comparing these gains to gains under predecessors Barack Obama and George W. Bush. Trump claimed that, in addition to the “$5,000” income gain during his own tenure, people should add “$2,000 to $3,000 for regulatory and energy cuts,” or “$3,000 for regulation,” or “$2,000” for “the regulation benefit.”
Facts First: There is no basis for Trump adding — over and above the “$5,000” income growth he is asserting — another $2,000 or $3,000 to account for the impact of regulatory changes or for supposed energy savings.
We won’t get into the debate about whether the Sentier numbers or the Census numbers are better. What we can say for sure is that it does not make sense to add $2,000 or $3,000 for the supposed impact of Trump’s loosening of regulations, or for supposed energy savings, on top of Sentier’s $5,000.
Trump has not provided a source for these additions. (Sentier confirmed they did not come from the firm.) Regardless: Sentier’s income numbers are for pre-tax household income. Those numbers would include any income benefits from Trump loosening red tape on businesses. In essence, Trump is trying to double-count the impact of his regulatory reductions.
Here are the claims Trump made last week that we have previously fact checked in one of these weekly roundups:
The Ukraine scandal and impeachment
Gordon Sondland and “quid pro quo”
A non-quote from Nancy Pelosi
“But when I released the call, all hell broke loose on the Democrat side, including the fact that I’ve heard that Nancy Pelosi blasted them. She said, ‘You can’t impeach a man on this call!'” — November 15 interview with The Dan Bongino Show
Facts First: While we can’t be sure what Pelosi might have said in private, there is no public evidence Pelosi has said any such thing, or that she was underwhelmed by the rough transcript released by the White House.
The timing of Adam Schiff’s comments
“They never thought, Dan, that I was going to release that call. And I really had no choice, because Adam Schiff made up a call.” — November 15 interview with The Dan Bongino Show
Facts First: Schiff made his comments about Trump’s call with Zelensky the day after Trump released the rough transcript, not before. (Before he started claiming that Schiff did not expect a transcript to be released, Trump had complained that Schiff did not read the transcript available to him.)
European aid to Ukraine
“Ukraine has a tremendous reputation for corruption. And I also wanted to know why isn’t Germany and why isn’t France and UK and all of these European countries — why aren’t they giving? Why is it always the United States that’s giving?” — November 15 interview with The Dan Bongino Show
Facts First: European countries have provided hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of assistance to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion in 2014.
Zelensky acknowledged European “help” during his meeting with Trump at the United Nations in September, though he said the world’s efforts had been inadequate so far: “And, I’m sorry, but we don’t need help; we need support. Real support. And we thank — thank everybody, thank all of the European countries; they each help us. But we also want to have more — more.”
Biden and “corrupt” acts
The accuracy of the whistleblower
“I want to find out who is the whistleblower because the whistleblower gave a lot of very incorrect information, including my call with the President of Ukraine, which was a perfect call and highly appropriate. And he wrote something that was much different than the fact.” — November 13 press conference with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
“So the whistleblower gave a fake or fraudulent — I’m not sure what you’d call it — gave a fraudulent report, a fake report, and based on that report, they started this whole nonsense.” And: “…the whistleblower also made up something that bore no relationship to the real call.” — November 15 interview with The Dan Bongino Show
Facts First: The whistleblower’s account of the call has largely been proven accurate. In fact, the rough transcript released by Trump himself showed that the whistleblower’s three primary allegations about the call were correct or very close to correct.
Environment and energy
“But to me, it’s clean air and crystal-clean, clear water. And we have now the cleanest air we’ve ever had in our country, meaning over the last 40 years.” — November 12 speech to the Economic Club of New York
Additionally, there were more “unhealthy air days” for sensitive groups in 2018 than in 2016 — 799 days across the 35 American cities surveyed by the EPA, up from 702. Though there were significantly more “unhealthy air days” in Obama’s first term than there have been in Trump’s, the lowest amount of unhealthy air days — 598 — occurred in 2014 under Obama.
Louisiana auto insurance
Facts First: Louisiana has the second-highest average annual car insurance premiums in the country, not the highest, according to Insure.com rankings regularly cited by Louisiana news outlets. Michigan has ranked first for six consecutive years, Louisiana second for three consecutive years.
“They tried to shut down American energy…America is now the number-one producer of oil and natural gas on the entire planet Earth.” — November 12 speech to Economic Club of New York
“We ended the ridiculous Waters of the United States rule. What a beautiful name. The name was beautiful. The act was a disaster…I had to kill it. It was — it made land development prohibitive. It made impossible situations for farmers, for everybody. And I had 35 people in my office — farmers, and builders, and ranchers, and others. Strong people, very strong — men and women — and almost all of them were crying. They said, ‘You’ve given our life back.'” — November 12 speech to the Economic Club of New York
Trade and the economy
Ivanka Trump and jobs
“To equip them with the skills they need, we launched the Pledge to America’s Workers. Three hundred and sixty-seven private sector partners are providing more than 14 million skills and career-training opportunities for US workers. And I have to say, I’m very proud of her. My daughter Ivanka, that’s all she wants to talk about. I say, ‘Ivanka, can we please talk about something else?’ ‘No, Dad. I met today with Walmart. They’re taking a million people. I met…’ She is — she wants to make these people have great lives. And when she started this two and a half years ago, her goal was 500,000 jobs. She’s now created 14 million jobs and they’re being trained by these great companies — the greatest companies in the world. Because the government can’t train them. It’s a great thing. So, Jared (Kushner) is here and you’ll thank — you’ll thank Ivanka. She’s done an amazing job. Fourteen million from 500,000. We’re at 14 million and going up.” — November 12 speech to the Economic Club of New York
The US and the WTO
“And I will say this: Because they know that I’m very tentative on the WTO, we’re winning cases for the first time. We just won a $7.5 billion case. We never won cases. They’d rule against us because they said, ‘Hey, don’t worry about the United States. They’re the stupid people. Don’t worry. Rule against them.’…Now, we’re winning cases, because they really think that I’ll do something very powerful, which we have the right to do. And they’re right when they think that way. And we’re winning a lot of cases at the WTO level, we never — that we never even would have thought of winning before.” — November 12 speech to the Economic Club of New York
Facts First: The US has long won cases at the World Trade Organization, and there is no evidence that WTO adjudicators have suddenly changed their behavior toward the US because they are worried about Trump’s “tentative” support for the organization.
As is standard for the WTO, the US has tended to lose cases where it is defending the case rather than bringing it — but even in those cases, Trump’s advisers noted that the US did better (a 25% victory rate) than the world average (17%) or China’s rate (just 5%).
When Trump spoke here about just having won a $7.5 billion case, he was referring to an October victory in a case about European countries’ illegal subsidies to aerospace company Airbus, which the US Trade Representative says hurt US aerospace companies and workers.
The trade agreement with South Korea
“The deal from the previous administration was projected by them to add 250,000 jobs, and they were right. It did add 250,000 jobs. Unfortunately, the jobs went to South Korea, not to the United States.” — November 12 speech to the Economic Club of New York
Facts First: There is no record of the Obama administration projecting an increase of 250,000 jobs because of the United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS). President Barack Obama said the deal would “support at least 70,000 American jobs.”
Trump has previously attributed the “250,000 jobs” prediction to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in particular, but there is no record of Clinton using that figure either.
Trump said wages are “rising very fast” after “years of stagnation and decline.” — November 12 speech to Economic Club of New York
Facts First: Wages have been rising since 2014, using one common measure.
“And manufacturing was supposed to be dead in our country. You would need, according to a past administration representative at the highest level of that past administration — you would need a magic wand to bring back manufacturing jobs. Well, we brought them back, and we brought them back to over 600,000 manufacturing jobs as of today.” — November 12 speech to Economic Club of New York
Trump’s “magic wand” comment was a reference to a remark Barack Obama made at a PBS town hall in 2016. Obama scoffed at Trump’s promises to bring back what Obama called “jobs of the past” without providing specifics on how he would do so. Contrary to Trump’s frequent claims, though, Obama didn’t say manufacturing jobs could not be created at all or created in large numbers; Obama boasted of how many were being created during his presidency, saying, “We actually make more stuff, have a bigger manufacturing base today than we’ve had in most of our history.”
The unemployment rate
“Unemployment has recently achieved the lowest rate in 51 years.” — November 12 speech to the Economic Club of New York
Japanese auto investments
“Because under my administration, we’re producing jobs and incentives for these companies to come back. I’m calling, as an example, Prime Minister Abe of Japan. And I say, ‘Mr. Prime Minister, Shinzo, we have a tremendous problem. We have big deficits with your country. You’ve got to start building plants.’ He’s building many, many car plants now in the United States that he would’ve never built here if you didn’t have this kind of a President.” — November 12 speech to Economic Club of New York
Facts First: “Many, many” is an exaggeration. Japanese automakers have announced two new plants during Trump’s presidency. (It was the automakers, not Abe, who decided to make these investments.)
Toyota and Mazda announced a joint venture in 2018 to build a plant in Alabama. Kristin Dziczek, vice president for industry, labor and economics at the Center for Automotive Research, said in November there had been only one other Japanese announcement of a new auto plant under Trump: Hino Motors’ 2017 decision to move its West Virginia truck assembly operations to a bigger West Virginia location.
Unemployment for women
“Women’s unemployment, the best numbers in 71 years.” — November 12 speech to the Economic Club of New York
Highway approval times
“Highways were taking 20 years to get built, to get approved. You’d put in an application; 20, 21 years later, they’d reject it…But they were taking 20 years. We’re trying to get that down to one. And it may get rejected, and that’s okay. But you haven’t spent 20 years on environmental impact statements in order to build a simple highway or roadway that’s desperately needed. So we have it down close to one year. We want to hit the one-year number.” — November 12 speech to the Economic Club of New York
A White House report in December 2018 found an average environmental impact statement completion time of 4.5 years and median completion time of 3.6 years across the government, for various kinds of projects.
Brad Karkkainen, a University of Minnesota law professor and expert on environmental and land use law, said in an email, in response to a previous version of this Trump claim, that he has “never heard of a highway project taking 18 or 20 years, though it’s certainly possible that when the median time was six or seven years, a few projects took twice as long, perhaps more.”
Who is paying Trump’s tariffs on China
“We are taking in billions and billions of dollars in tariffs that China is paying for. We’re not paying. China is paying because they’re devaluing their currency to such an extent and they’re pouring tremendous amounts of cash into their system.” — November 12 speech to the Economic Club of New York
China’s economic performance
“They’re having their worst year in more than 57 years, more than half a century.” — November 12 speech to the Economic Club of New York
Trade deficits with China
“We’d have deficits for many years — go back many years — $500 billion a year. Not million. Five hundred million dollars a year is a lot. Five hundred billion dollars a year in trade deficits with China.” — November 12 speech to the Economic Club of New York
China’s agricultural spending
“Our farmers — because I have a very good relationship with our farmers — our great American farmers — I call them ‘patriots’ — they were hurt very badly by China because China targeted them because they were my vote…And I said to Sonny Perdue, our Secretary of Agriculture, ‘Sonny, how much is it?’ And he said, ‘The year before last, it was $12 billion, and this year it’s $16 billion in orders.'” — November 12 speech to the Economic Club of New York
Facts First: China spent $19.5 billion on US agricultural products in 2017, “the year before last,” according to Department of Agriculture figures. (We can’t definitively fact check Trump’s claim about this year, since it’s not clear what “orders” he is referring to.)
Obama and judicial vacancies
“When I came into office, one of the first things I said was, ‘How many federal judges do I have to appoint?’…They said, ‘Sir, you have 142.’ I said, ‘What?’ Because I was always told you would never have any. Maybe you’d have one or two, maybe three if the previous president wasn’t doing a good job. But they said, ‘You have 142.’ I said, ‘You have to be kidding.’ And we did. We had 142.” — November 12 speech to the Economic Club of New York
Facts First: Trump exaggerated. According to Russell Wheeler, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution who tracks judicial appointments, there were 103 vacancies on district and appeals courts on Jan. 1, 2017, just before Trump took office, plus a vacancy on the Supreme Court.
The history of judicial vacancies
Trump, speaking about the number of judicial vacancies presidents tend to be left by their predecessors, said, “…I was always told you would never have any. Maybe you’d have one or two, maybe three if the previous president wasn’t doing a good job.” — November 12 speech to the Economic Club of New York
Facts First: It’s not true that presidents are usually left zero, one, two or three judicial vacancies. According to Wheeler, there were 53 vacancies on January 1, 2009, just before Obama took office; 80 vacancies on January 1, 2001, just before George W. Bush took office; 107 vacancies on January 1, 1993, just before Bill Clinton took office.
So Trump had the most judges to appoint since Clinton, but, clearly, other presidents also had appointing to do.
Mexican soldiers and the border
“We have tremendous help from Mexico, despite what you read…they have 27,000 soldiers on our border now protecting us from people coming into our country.” — November 12 speech to the Economic Club of New York
“And we have the greatest military force on Earth. It was depleted when I took over…We had a military that was so depleted, so bad…I could tell you stories about ammunition. They didn’t have ammunition.” — November 12 speech to the Economic Club of New York
Facts First: According to military leaders, there was a shortfall in certain kinds of munitions, particularly precision-guided bombs, late in the Obama presidency and early in the Trump presidency. But the claim that “they didn’t have ammunition” is a significant exaggeration. Military leaders did not say that they had completely run out of any kind of bomb, let alone ammunition in general.
Prescription drug prices
“Our efforts to reduce the price of prescription drugs — and I don’t know if you know that, but this is the first time, Secretary Azar, I think in 51 years, that prices have actually gone down…for prescription drugs. So, that’s quite an achievement.” — November 15 speech on honesty and transparency in health care prices
“We’ve gotten the prescription drugs down. First time in 53 years that prescription drug prices have gone down.” — November 12 speech to the Economic Club of New York
“And we will always protect patients with pre-existing conditions.” — November 15 speech on honesty and transparency in health care prices