Political News

Fact check: Trump baselessly claims Democratic politicians wrote Ruth Bader Ginsburg's dying wish

Posted September 21, 2020 12:42 p.m. EDT

— President Donald Trump did another interview on the Fox News morning show "Fox & Friends" on Monday.

As usual, he made a bunch of false or dubious claims. Some of them were new, some of them repeated.

Here is an initial list:

Ginsburg's dying wish

NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg, a longtime friend of late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, reported that the justice had dictated the following statement to granddaughter Clara Spera, a lawyer, days before she died on Friday: "My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed."

Trump suggested on Monday that Democratic politicians are the ones who really wrote Ginsburg's statement.

"I don't know that she said that, or was that written out by Adam Schiff and Schumer and Pelosi. I would be more inclined to the second, OK? That came out of the wind," Trump said. "It sounds so beautiful. But that sounds like a Schumer deal or maybe a Pelosi or shifty Schiff. So that came out of the wind. Let's see. I mean, maybe she did and maybe she didn't."

Facts First: This is a baseless conspiracy theory. There is no evidence at all for Trump's claim that Democratic politicians wrote the statement.

Rep. Adam Schiff, whom Trump disparagingly identified as "shifty Schiff," tweeted a denial of Trump's claim: "Mr. President, this is low. Even for you. No, I didn't write Ruth Bader Ginsburg's dying wish to a nation she served so well, and spent her whole life making a more perfect union. But I am going to fight like hell to make it come true. No confirmation before inauguration."

CNN has sought comment from the offices of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Ballots and the election

Trump argued that the Supreme Court vacancy should be filled before Election Day, in part because the court might have to rule on election-related matters.

"We should act quickly because we're gonna have probably election things involved here. You know, because of the fake ballots they'll be sending out," he said.

Facts First: This claim is also baseless. There is just no indication that Trump's opponents will be sending out "fake ballots." (Trump has claimed repeatedly that the use of mail-in ballots is rife with fraud, which is false.)

Trump's impeachment

Trump said, "They impeached me for a perfect phone call to say congratulations to the president of Ukraine."

Facts First: This is misleading at best. Trump was not impeached over his congratulatory April 2019 phone call with newly elected Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky; that unremarkable call had never been controversial. Rather, it was another call between Trump and Zelensky, in July 2019, that was a central component of Trump's impeachment. While Trump did begin and end that call by saying congratulations to Zelensky again, the middle of the call was the part that landed Trump in trouble: in between the congratulations, Trump asked Zelensky to investigate Biden and a debunked conspiracy theory about a Democrats' computer servers.

Tariffs on China

Trump claimed again that China is paying the billions in tariff revenue Trump's administration has distributed to farmers.

Facts First: Study after study has found that Americans are bearing the cost of these tariffs. And American importers, not Chinese exporters, make the actual tariff payments to the US government.

The history of tariffs on China

Trump said the US had never before received "10 cents" from China.

Facts First: Again, it's not true that China is paying the tariffs -- and Trump's claim that the Treasury has never received "10 cents" from tariffs on China is also false. The US has had tariffs on China for more than two centuries; President Barack Obama imposed new tariffs on China; FactCheck.org reported that the US generated an "average of $12.3 billion in custom duties a year from 2007 to 2016, according to the U.S. International Trade Commission DataWeb."

China also made tens of billions of annual purchases of US exports under Obama -- more than $100 billion in goods purchases every year from 2011 through 2016.

Biden's news conferences

Trump claimed of opponent Joe Biden, the former vice president: "He's even done news conferences and they give him the questions. I've never seen this."

Facts First: There is no public evidence that Biden has been given news conference questions in advance. Trump has previously made this allegation about a particular press conference at which Biden was not given questions in advance, according to CNN's Arlette Saenz, who was in the room, and other reporters present.

We can't definitively declare the claim false, since we aren't privy to every interaction between Biden and the media, but there is no public proof for Trump's claim as of now.

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