fact check
January 3, 2020

Vice President Mike Pence may want to check a middle-school history textbook for this one.

The U.S. carried out an airstrike Friday morning that killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran's elite Quds Force and one of the country's top leaders. After President Trump gave his first remarks acknowledging the strike, Pence tweeted out a thread outlining Soleimani's "worst atrocities," including one that wasn't exactly accurate.

Pence's most questionable tweet outlined Soleimani's alleged role in the 9/11 attacks. Soleimani, Pence said, "assisted in the clandestine travel to Afghanistan of 10 of the 12 terrorists who carried out the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States."

The most obviously incorrect bit of information here is the number of hijackers: There were 19, and "8-10" of them "traveled into or out of Iran between October 2000 and February 2001," per the 9/11 commission report. And while the report does conclude "there is strong evidence Iran facilitated the transit of al Qaeda members into and out of Afghanistan before 9/11," Charlotte Clymer of the Human Rights Campaign says Soleimani probably wouldn't have been involved in that.

A New Yorker article from 2013 also points out that the U.S. actually worked with Soleimani "to help the United States destroy their mutual enemy, the Taliban." That lasted until former President George W. Bush declared Iran part of his "Axis of Evil" in the Middle East. Kathryn Krawczyk

January 2, 2020

As 2019 drew to a close, many Americans looked back on the year and the past decade and ran through their accomplishments and things they hope to improve in the 2020s. President Trump apparently did at least the first half of that exercise, tweeting a few hours before midnight on New Year's Eve that one of his "greatest honors" was "to have gotten CHOICE approved for our great Veterans. Others have tried for decades, and failed!" Maybe others failed, but former President Barack Obama did not — he signed the Veterans Choice Act into law in 2014.

What's more, the law was written by the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a frequent Trump critic, and current 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

Trump has been making this same false claim for months. In its fact-check from May, The Associated Press notes that "Trump did expand eligibility for the program," allowing veterans to opt for a private doctor if the VA wait was more than 20 days (28 days for specialists), not 30 days as under the Sanders-McCain bill, or they had to drive more than 30 minutes to a VA facility, not 40 miles. And VA Secretary Robert Wilkie — who also falsely claimed credit for changes implemented under Obama, AP notes — acknowledged that full implementation of the expanded Choice program won't happen for "years." Maybe by that point, the next president can take an undeserved victory lap. Peter Weber

September 13, 2019

Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro isn't the only one sick of former Vice President Joe Biden's Obama nostalgia.

In an attempt to distance himself from former President Barack Obama's immigration policies during Thursday night's Democratic debate, Biden mistakenly said "I'm the vice president of the United States." Pence heard Biden, and, borrowing an overused yet favorite phrase of Biden's, told reporters Friday "Let me be clear, I am the vice president of the United States."

Univision's Jorge Ramos questioned Biden on Thursday night on the Obama administration's deportation of 3 million migrants, asking if he was "prepared to say tonight that you and President Obama made a mistake about deportations." "The president did the best thing that was able to be done at the time," Biden responded, and when asked about his own record, simply said "I'm the vice president of the United States." That didn't answer the question and, as Pence pointed out on Friday, is very untrue. Kathryn Krawczyk

July 22, 2019

A claim by President Trump has never been so demonstrably false.

Trump started his Monday morning with a stream of tweets, including one in which he attacked a Washington Post article from Sunday that reported "advisers wrote new talking points and handed [Trump] reams of opposition research" on the four Democratic congresswomen he attacked last week. Trump's tweet claimed "there were no talking points, except for those stated by me," and that "'reams of paper' were never given to me."

Yet as the Post's Aaron Blake pointed out in a tweet, Post photographer Jabin Botsford captured several photos of Trump holding what can only be described as talking points during a press conference on July 15.

Those bulleted points are easily readable, and detail the disparaging, often untrue, and occasionally misspelled attacks he made on Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (Minn.), Ayanna Pressley (Mass.), and Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) during the conference. Kathryn Krawczyk

July 17, 2019

President Trump's racist tweets are apparently just his defense against an ongoing culture war.

At least that's what Trump's son Eric Trump suggested in Tuesday appearance on Fox & Friends. After Trump's attack on four democratic congresswomen led to his official condemnation in the House, Eric Trump claimed "95 percent of this country is behind him" in this message despite polls showing the opposite.

During Tuesday's Fox & Friends episode, host Brian Kilmeade declared that he "believe[s] calling the president a racist is personally offensive." Eric Trump then arrived, praised his father for "fighting for American pride and standing up for the national anthem," and spouted a very inaccurate statistic about the president's approval in this so-called battle.

As a Reuters/Ipsos poll published Wednesday shows, the president's overall approval hasn't changed since before he told the congresswomen to "go back" to the countries they came from. Republican support, meanwhile, did jump five percent from a week earlier, the poll showed. A separate USA Today/Ipsos poll also showed that 68 percent of people aware of the tweets considered them "offensive," though 57 percent of Republicans said they agreed with Trump's messages.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll surveyed 1,113 U.S. adults online on July 15 and July 16, with a 3 percent margin of error overall and 5 percent for Democrats or Republicans. The USA Today/Ipsos poll surveyed 1,005 people online on July 15 and July 16, and it has a 3.5 percent margin of error. Kathryn Krawczyk

May 22, 2019

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin needs a lesson in recent history.

After officially denying the House Oversight Committee's request for President Trump's tax returns last week, Mnuchin appeared before the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday to discuss an unrelated topic. Except the tax returns inevitably came up, and when they did, Mnuchin made a provably false claim about Trump's commitment to releasing them.

In Wednesday's hearing, Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Co.) asked Mnuchin to explain how the "tradition of other presidents releasing their tax returns" factored into Mnuchin's rejection of the House's tax return subpoena. "It didn't," Mnuchin answered, and went on to say "the American public knew that [Trump] wasn't releasing his tax returns prior to voting for him and they made that decision."

Here's the thing: The American public didn't know that. Back in 2014, Trump told an Irish TV station that "if I decide to run for office, I'll produce my tax returns, absolutely. I'd love to do that." He gave several similar remarks up until Sept. 2016, CNN documents. Trump then started claiming he was "under a routine audit" and that he couldn't release his returns until it ended. As of last month, Trump was still claiming that audit was still underway, though the IRS commissioner quickly made it clear there's no rule stopping Trump from releasing his returns anyway. Kathryn Krawczyk

March 4, 2019

President Trump's speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Saturday in National Harbor, Maryland was a whirlwind, with the president proudly going "off script."

The decision to ad-lib resulted in 104 "false or misleading claims" during the two-hour speech, raising Trump's overall tally of such claims to 9,014 since he entered the Oval Office 773 days ago, per The Washington Post's "Fact Checker" database.

The CPAC speech was prolific, but Saturday only registers as the fourth-highest day for "fishy" claims during Trump's presidency. Still, it boosted his daily average for 2019 up to 22 claims per day, up from 5.6 during his first year in office and 16.5 in 2018.

Among the falsehoods the Post caught during the CPAC speech, were Trump's claims that the proposed Green New Deal resolution seeks to ban air travel and energy, and that if the U.S. relies on wind power and the wind stops blowing, there will be no electricity. He also rehashed some old false favorites — that his administration passed the largest tax cut in history, the border wall is under construction, and the U.S. economy is in the best shape it has ever been. Read the full breakdown at The Washington Post. Tim O'Donnell

February 26, 2019

On Monday morning's Fox & Friends, Donald Trump Jr. dismissed Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into his father's campaign, arguing that Mueller and New York federal prosecutors have found "no actual crimes," but instead have put "incredible pressure" on "regular guys" with regular incomes to make them "slip up on say something incorrectly." CNN's Jake Tapper took issue with Trump's assertions, noting on his show Monday evening that, among other things, those "regular guys" include Michael Cohen, the president's longtime lawyer and fixer; former Trump campaign heads Paul Manafort and Rick Gates; and Trump's first national security adviser, Michael Flynn.

"Just a bunch of regular guys," Tapper deadpanned. He ran through Mueller's stats: 199 criminal charges against 37 people and companies, four people sent to jail, and counting. And no actual crimes? "Well, lying to Congress is a crime, lying to the FBI is a crime, witness tampering is a crime, violating campaign finance laws is a crime," he said. "Criminal conspiracy to defraud the United States by interfering in the U.S. election — which Mueller is charging several Russians with having done — that's definitely a crime. Conspiracy to commit wire fraud, that's is a crime. Bank fraud, that's a crime. That's just some of them. And as far as we know, Mueller's not even done."

Despite setting up an iffy meeting with Russians, "Donald Trump Jr. has not been charged with anything, and he may make it through this entire Russia investigation without being charged with anything," justice reporter Laura Jarrett noted. "But all of the crimes that you just listed are real crimes — just ask Manafort and Gates and [George] Papadopolous and Flynn, who are all going to prison." Political correspondent Sara Murray ran through some of the crimes we may never know the details about. Watch below. Peter Weber

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