Trump made 16 false claims about Ukraine, 13 about impeachment and nine about the economy.
While 44 false claims in one week would be a lot for most politicians, it is below Trump’s average of about 60 false claims per week since July 8, when we started tracking this data at CNN. The week we’re discussing here, from January 20 through January 26, ranks 22nd out of the 29 weeks we have tracked.
Trump is now up to 1,729 false claims since July 8.
The most egregious false claim: Obama and trade
Last week, touting his trade discussions with the European Union, Trump said at the Davos press conference: “They haven’t wanted to negotiate with past Presidents, but they’re going to negotiate with me.” He continued later: “…Our country wanted to make a deal under President Obama. The EU refused to talk to him.”
The most revealing false claim: Manufacturing jobs
Instead, Trump often chooses to spout fiction. He said in a speech to mayors last week: “We’ve created 700,000 manufacturing jobs.”
The most absurd false claim: Trump’s lying
Trump noted at the Davos press conference that he had opposed the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. He mused, though, that Clinton did “a lot of bad things” — such as “a lot of lying.”
Fair enough. But then Trump said the following with a straight face: “Now, with me, there’s no lying.”
Here’s this week’s full list of 44 false claims, starting with the ones we haven’t previously included in one of these weekly roundups.
John Bolton and the Democrats
Facts First: Trump can criticize House Democrats for being in “too much of a rush” with their impeachment inquiry to subpoena Bolton, Trump’s former national security adviser. But it’s not true that “they didn’t want” Bolton. Democrats asked Bolton on October 30 to testify voluntarily on November 7. He declined to appear — because Trump’s White House directed current and former administration officials not to participate in the inquiry.
What happened after Trump released the transcript
“When Schiff made up the phony story, and he repeated it to Congress and the world — and it was a totally phony story — then I released the transcript…When we released that conversation, all hell broke out with the Democrats, because they say, ‘Wait a minute. This is much different than Shifty Schiff told us.'” — January 22 press conference in Davos, Switzerland
A Fox News poll on the impeachment trial
Mark Zuckerberg’s White House visit
The individual mandate and Obamacare
“We’ve done well with health care anyway. We got rid of the individual mandate. And if you look at that, that was a big thing with Obamacare. That was the end of Obamacare.” — January 22 interview with Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo
Obama, the European Union and trade
Trump said he was going to start negotiating a trade deal with the president of the European Commission, then added, “They haven’t wanted to negotiate with past Presidents, but they’re going to negotiate with me.” He also said: “…Our country wanted to make a deal under President Obama. The EU refused to talk to him.” — January 22 press conference in Davos, Switzerland
Michael Bloomberg and Hillary Clinton
Facts First: There is no evidence Clinton had a deal to give the Secretary of State post to either Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor now running for the Democratic presidential nomination, or McAuliffe, the former governor of Virginia.
Tanden then forwarded the exchange to Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, but the emails do not show any kind of deal. Bloomberg’s campaign did not respond this week to a request for comment; Tanden told CNN this week: “There was absolutely no deal. Period. It was a random email from me to a good friend, who works for him.”
Tanden said she has never even heard any discussions about McAuliffe as Secretary of State, “like ever.” At CNN’s request, Chris Bolling, executive director of McAuliffe political action committee Common Good VA, put Trump’s claim to McAuliffe, then quickly called back laughing. He said McAuliffe had said, “I would love to be Secretary of State, but I had no deal to be Secretary of Sate.”
The length of drug trials
“The typical possession with intent to distribute or drug conspiracy federal drug trial concludes after two to three days tops. Of course there are outliers in a few more complicated cases but the President’s comment is nonsensical,” he said in an email.
Trump was exaggerating even if he was describing the timeline for an entire case, not just the trial alone. “President Trump’s statement is a gross exaggeration and it is not true,” said David Haas, a former federal prosecutor in Florida who is now a criminal defense lawyer and has represented people accused of drug trafficking. “Most federal cases are resolved, either by plea or trial, within months of being filed. That length can vary but it would be unusual for any federal case to be pending longer than 12-18 months.”
Here are the repeat false claims we have previously fact checked in a weekly roundup:
The timing of Schiff’s comments
“Remember this: When Schiff made up the phony story, and he repeated it to Congress and the world — and it was a totally phony story — then I released the transcript.” And: “We have people that are corrupt, like Adam Schiff, who misquotes — I don’t mean ‘misquotes’ — makes up a statement. He had no idea that I was going to release the transcript. He never thought I’d do that. And for that, I thank the President of Ukraine, because we got their approval. He had no idea I was going to do that.” — January 22 press conference in Davos, Switzerland
“It was so bad, where he goes before Congress, and he makes a statement that I made, and it was a total fraud. I never made it…That’s why I released the conversation, because if I didn’t release it, people would have said that I made the statement that he made.” — January 22 interview with Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo
Schiff’s comments and the law
Marie Yovanovitch and Trump’s portrait
“But I am not a fan of that ambassador, just so you understand. From what I understand, and I heard this a long time ago — she wouldn’t put my picture up.” — January 24 interview with Fox News’ Raymond Arroyo
A State Department official who has recently served in Kiev said the former ambassador never sought to prevent Trump’s photo from being put up at the embassy. The official said the photo did not arrive until late 2017.
The timing of aid to Ukraine
“Remember this, they got their money and they got it early.” — January 22 interview with Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo
“So they got the money. In fact they got it very early.” — January 22 interview with CNBC’s Joe Kernen
“Now, here’s the other thing: they got their money long before schedule. They got all their money.” — January 22 press conference in Davos, Switzerland
The whistleblowers disappearing
“There was supposed to be a second whistleblower. What happened to him?…There was supposed to be an informer. What happened to the informer? All of these people disappeared. And when they saw this transcript, they said, ‘We got problems.’ But they went ahead because they were already there because they — they had a phony, concocted story made up.” — January 22 press conference in Davos, Switzerland
European aid to Ukraine
“What nobody says — this is very important to me: Why isn’t Germany paying? Why isn’t UK paying? Why isn’t France paying? Why aren’t the European nations paying? Why is it always the sucker — United States? That’s one.” — January 22 press conference in Davos, Switzerland
“But I want to make sure, also, in addition to collusion, there’s something else I’m always stressing. Why isn’t Germany and France and UK and all these other countries in Europe that are much more affected than us — why aren’t they paying something?” — January 22 interview with Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo
Facts First: European countries, including France and Germany, 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.”
People talking about Trump’s calls with Ukraine’s President
“And I watched — they don’t talk about my conversation. They don’t talk about my transcripts.” And: “When we have the head of the World Trade Organization here, and he has to listen to this nonsense about a call that was perfect, that nobody talks about. I never see them talking about the transcription. I never see them talking about the call, because there’s nothing to say.” — January 22 press conference in Davos, Switzerland
“I had a first call which was perfect, and I had a second call which was perfect. You notice they don’t mention the calls, though. They never mention the calls. They talk about everything but the calls.” — January 22 interview with CNBC’s Joe Kernen
Facts First: To the contrary, Trump’s call with Ukraine’s President was the subject of widespread discussion among members of Congress and in the media at the time; it was a central focus of Democrats’ impeachment push.
Rep. Al Green’s comments
“As Congressman Green said — Al Green. He’s a beauty. As Congressman Green said, ‘We got to beat him by impeachment because we can’t beat him in the election.'” — January 22 press conference in Davos, Switzerland
Facts First: Trump was at least slightly exaggerating Green’s comments. In May, Green said this: “I’m concerned that if we don’t impeach this President, he will get reelected.” In September, when Trump previously claimed Green had said “we can’t” beat Trump without impeachment, Green told CNN, “I never said we can’t beat the President.”
Obama’s aid to Ukraine
“President Obama gave them nothing. He gave them pillows and sheets and things like that, and I gave them tank busters.” — January 22 interview with CNBC’s Joe Kernen
What Ukrainian leaders said
“There was one call, which was perfect, and then there was a second call — I guess, a couple of months later — which was perfect. The President of Ukraine said it was perfect. The Foreign Minister of Ukraine said it was perfect. So if we have a transcription, we have the call, and we have the person on the other side of the call saying it was good.” — January 22 press conference in Davos, Switzerland
Facts First: Ukraine’s President and foreign minister have made comments that bolster Trump’s argument that he did not pressure Ukraine to investigate his opponents in order to receive US military aid — but the President and foreign minister have never called the phone call “perfect.”
Zelensky did say there had been “no pressure” from Trump and made other statements to that effect, but he has not gone so far as to say Trump did nothing wrong.
The accuracy of the whistleblower
Mexican soldiers and the border
“Mexico has been terrific. Mexico has given us 27,000 soldiers at our southern border. ” — January 24 speech to mayors
Facts First: Mexico has deployed around 27,000 troops, but Trump exaggerated how many are being stationed near the US border in particular. CNN reported on November 2: “Nearly 15,000 troops are deployed to Mexico’s northern border, where they’ve set up 20 checkpoints, Mexican Defense Minister Luis Cresencio Sandoval said last week at a press briefing on the country’s security strategy. At the southern border, 12,000 troops are deployed and have set up 21 checkpoints.”
Economy and trade
“I’ve created almost 700,000 manufacturing jobs.” — January 22 interview with CNBC’s Joe Kernen January 22 interview with CNBC’s Joe Kernen
“And we’ve created 700,000 manufacturing jobs…” — January 24 speech to mayors
What Obama said about manufacturing jobs
“I’ve created almost 700,000 manufacturing jobs. The past administration said manufacturing is dead, which I said, ‘Tell me about that. How do you — you can’t do that.'” — January 22 interview with CNBC’s Joe Kernen
“A lot of that goes to farmers and manufacturers. And we’ve created 700,000 manufacturing jobs, which we were told by past administrations — but one, in particular — that you would never have manufacturing jobs. I would say, you have to be — I mean, how can you not have manufacturing jobs? So we’re at 700,000 manufacturing jobs.” — January 24 speech to mayors
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 claims, though, Obama didn’t say manufacturing was dead or that new manufacturing jobs could not be created; Obama boasted of how many manufacturing jobs 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.”
Why the European Union was formed
“But we find, I find, that the European Union is tougher to deal with than anybody. They’ve taken advantage of our country for many, many years. It was actually formed for the purpose of taking advantage of the United States, if you really think about it.” — January 22 interview with Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo
Facts First: Experts on the European Union say it was not formed to take advantage of the United States.
“The President’s claims are preposterous. The European Communities (forerunner of the EU) were formed in the 1950s as part of a joint US-Western European plan to stabilize and secure Western Europe and promote prosperity, by means of trade liberalization and economic growth, throughout the shared transatlantic space,” Desmond Dinan, a public policy professor at George Mason University who is an expert in the history of European integration, said in response to a previous version of this claim.
US presidents have consistently supported European integration efforts.
“The EU was launched in 1993, on the shoulders of the European Communities, to promote peace and prosperity in the post-Cold War era, an era also of rapid globalization. American officials may have had their doubts about the feasibility of monetary union, and about the possibility of a Common (European) Security and Defense Policy, but the US Administration strongly supported further European integration in the 1990s,” Dinan said.
The trade deficit with the European Union
Trump claimed three times that the US has long had a trade deficit with the European Union of $150 billion per year, or “more.”
Facts First: The trade deficit with the European Union was $114.6 billion in 2018, $101.2 billion in 2017, $92.5 billion in 2016. The deficit was $169.6 billion in 2018 if you only count trade in goods and ignore trade in services. But Trump, as usual, failed to specify that he was using this more limited measure.
We’ll ignore Trump’s characterization of trade deficits as losses, which is sharply disputed by many economists.
Median household income
Trump claimed twice that median household income has increased by about $10,000 during his presidency. (He once said “over $10,000 a family,” once said “almost a $10,000 increase.”)
China’s economic performance
“You know, they’re having the worst year that they’ve had in 67 years, right?” — January 22 interview with Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo
China’s agricultural spending
“The fact is: We love our farmers, but they were doing — the maximum they ever did was $16 billion in one year to China.” — January 24 speech to mayors
Facts First: China spent $25.9 billion on American agricultural products in 2012, according to figures from the Department of Agriculture.
Highway approval time
Trump claimed that highways used to take “21 years to get approved,” but “we have that down to two years now. And we think we’ll have it down to one year.” — January 24 speech to mayors
Brad Karkkainen, a University of Minnesota law professor and expert on environmental and land use law, said in an email 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.” He said some projects can “sail through” much faster than the median time, “but to suggest as Trump does that the typical time has gone from 17+ years to two years is just nonsense.”
The Electoral College margin in 2016
Trump claimed that his Electoral College margin of victory in 2016 was “306 to 223.” — January 22 interview with Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo
Facts First: Hillary Clinton earned 232 votes in the Electoral College, not 223. This was not a one-time slip; Trump has habitually said “223.”
“We want to have the cleanest water on Earth. We want to have the cleanest air on Earth. Our numbers, as you saw — we had record numbers come out very recently. Our numbers are very, very good — our environmental numbers. Our water numbers, our — our numbers on air are tremendous…But we are doing better right now than we’ve ever done, in terms of cleanliness, in terms of numbers.” — January 22 press conference in Davos, Switzerland
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.
Military spending by NATO members
“Well, you look at what I did with NATO, $530 billion more. Not total. More.” — January 22 interview with Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo
The $130 billion current increase cannot be added to the $400 billion increase expected by 2024; the $400 billion is a cumulative figure that includes the $130 billion.
Facts First: Trump had not set a record for total judges appointed as of this point in a first presidential term.
Regardless, Trump did not hold the record at the time: President Jimmy Carter had appointed 197 judges as of the same date in his presidency, Wheeler said. And as a percentage of the federal judiciary, Trump’s 187 appointments represented 21% of all judgeships — lower than the percentage for President Richard Nixon (32%), Carter (29%) and Clinton (22%).
Trump did have the record for the total number of appeals court judges appointed, Wheeler said.