Trump makes at least 12 false claims at his longest rally
Posted October 11, 2019 10:11 a.m. EDT
CNN — President Donald Trump held the longest campaign rally of his presidency on Thursday night, speaking for more than 101 minutes in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Trump made fewer demonstrably false claims than he often does when he gives speeches of great length. This time, he traded some of his inaccurate favorites for some dubious "sir" anecdotes that we can't definitively prove inaccurate.
But we've found at least 12 false claims, and we're not done checking yet. As we continue to pore over the transcript, here's an initial list:
Trump's phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky
Trump described the July call as "perfect," saying "everybody that looked at it" concurred. Given the major controversy over the phone call, it's very clearly not true that "everybody" agrees with this assessment. Trump might have been referring to some subset of his own aides or officials.
Pelosi and the call
Trump claimed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was so surprised to learn that the call was so benign that she said, "What the hell? Nobody ever told me this was the call."
There is no evidence Pelosi said or thought any such thing. Her official statement said, among other things, "The release of the notes of the call by the White House confirms that the President engaged in behavior that undermines the integrity of our elections, the dignity of the office he holds and our national security. The President has tried to make lawlessness a virtue in America and now is exporting it abroad."
The US presence in Syria
Advocating the withdrawal of American troops from Syria, Trump said, "We were supposed to be in Syria for 30 days." As we have pointed out in a previous fact check, there was never a specific time line for the US military presence in Syria, much less a time line of "30 days."
ISIS prisoners in Syria
Trump said that, of the many ISIS fighters captured, "most of them came from Europe." James Jeffrey, Trump's special envoy to the anti-ISIS coalition, said August 1 that about 8,000 of 10,000 terrorist fighters who were then prisoners in northeastern Syria were Iraqi or Syrian nationals; there were "about 2,000 ISIS foreign fighters" from all other countries.
Trump repeated his story about being told early in his presidency by a prominent general that "sir, we have no ammunition." We can't be sure what a general privately told Trump, and military leaders did report a shortage of certain precision-guided bombs around that time, but "no ammunition" is an obvious exaggeration, and one we have pointed out previously.
Trump repeated his promise to "always protect patients with pre-existing conditions." This statement is undercut by his administration's own actions. Trump has repeatedly tried to weaken or eradicate Obamacare's protections for patients with pre-existing conditions, and he is currently supporting a Republican lawsuit that seeks to get the courts to void the entirety of Obamacare.
Trump claimed "we got Choice for the vets." This is a false claim we have factg-checked repeatedly, most recently here. The Veterans Choice program was signed into law by Obama in 2014.
The 2016 election
Trump boasted about having beaten Hillary Clinton 306 electoral votes to "223." Clinton earned 232 electoral votes; Trump habitually says 223.
The border wall
Trump said he's building his border wall "faster than anyone ever anticipated it could be built."
This is a false claim that we have fact checked repeatedly, most recently here.
According to an official update from Customs and Border Protection, zero new miles of barriers had been erected as of September 30 where barriers hadn't been existed before; 69 miles of barriers had been constructed in places where "dilapidated and outdated" barriers had existed before. That's a pace of about half a mile of replacement barrier per week if you start counting from the beginning of Trump's presidency.
Democrats and the border
Trump called Democrats the party of "open borders." Even the most liberal of the Democratic presidential candidates do not support opening the borders to completely unrestricted migration.
Democrats and the wall
Trump said,"Most of the Democrats, four years ago, they wanted a wall. Now all of a sudden they don't want a wall. You know why they don't want a wall? Because I want it."
Democrats endorsed border fencing as part of the failed 2013 "Gang of Eight" comprehensive immigration reform bill. That, however, was part of a compromise package in which undocumented immigrants would be given a path to citizenship -- so Democrats did not go from supporting a fence proposal in 2013 to opposing that same kind of proposal.
Also, as we have pointed out in previous fact checks, the fencing proposed in 2013 did not resemble the giant wall Trump campaigned on and touted at this rally.
Democrats' environmental proposals
Trump called Democrats "crazy," saying, "They want to spend $99 trillion to redo buildings all over the United States."
There is no apparent basis for the "$99 trillion" figure. While the Democrats' Green New Deal proposal does call for "upgrading all existing buildings in the United States and building new buildings to achieve maximum energy efficiency," Democrats are not proposing to spend $100 trillion on these upgrades.
As mentioned in a previous fact check, Trump may have been referring to a $93 trillion figure from a conservative organization, the American Action Forum, but that is a highly imprecise estimate for the entire Green New Deal; the organization estimated it would cost $1.6 trillion to $4.2 trillion to make all housing units environmentally friendly.
This story will be updated.