Fact-checking Trump’s CPAC lies

Journalist, pesky creatures they are, like to fact-check political speeches.

CNN says Trump delivered a “doozy” at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington D.C. on Saturday, March 4, 2023 (see story here).

By now, his M.O. is familiar: Portray America as a post-apocalyptic wasteland, then proclaim himself as the only savior who has the ability to restore its former glory. (We’re so far gone, not even Jesus could save us.)

Let’s take this one assertion at a time.

(1) Trump claimed killings are occurring in Manhattan “like nobody’s ever seen.”

He’s lying. Murders are way down; Manhattan had 314 killings in 1990 and 392 in 1993, compared to 78 in 2022 and 9 in 2023 so far (equal to 51 per year). Same story for New York City as a whole.

(2) Trump claimed he “saved Minneapolis” from the George Floyd riots by sending in the National Guard.

He’s lying. The governor sent the National Guard.

(3) Trump claimed he increased criminal penalties for destroying statues and monuments.

He’s lying. He merely ordered the attorney general to prioritize those cases for prosecution.

(4) Trump claimed Portland, Oregon, doesn’t “have storefronts anymore … because they get burned down every week.”

He’s lying. Downtown Portland has hundreds of stores, and commercial vacancies far outnumber vandalized storefronts.

(5) Trump claimed he’s the “only president where Russia didn’t take over a country during my term.”

He’s lying. Russia occupied all of Eastern Europe after World War 2, invaded Hungary in 1956, Czechoslovakia in 1968, and Afghanistan in 1979; but didn’t invade or take over any countries during Clinton’s presidency.

(6) Trump claimed NATO countries were “delinquent” and “weren’t paying their bills” when he told them to pay up. 

He’s lying. The NATO countries were satisfying their treaty obligations, and began contributing more under Obama, before Trump pressured them to pay more.

(7) Trump claimed “NATO wouldn’t even exist if I didn’t get them to pay up.”

He’s lying. Member countries were covering NATO’s expenses, and the only country that threatened to leave was the U.S. under Trump.

(8) Trump claimed NATO spent $3 billion on its headquarters building.

He’s lying. It cost $1.3 billion. (See photo here.) Trump also claimed one tank round could take it out; I don’t think so. (In reality, Moscow would nuke it.) He also argued NATO should’ve built a bunker instead; but what for? Unless you’ve got a mountain to bury it under, and Brussels doesn’t, a nuke will still take it out.

(9) Trump claimed the Washington Post and New York Times “admitted” their Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting on Russian interference in the 2020 election was “a hoax.”

This is a double lie. Neither newspaper retracted their stories, and when Trump complained to the Pulitzer board, it ruled their reporting was accurate and further substantiated by the Mueller and Senate Intelligence Committee investigations.

(10) Trump claimed “nobody ever heard” of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline “until I came along.”

He’s lying. Nord Stream 2 was discussed in government, and covered by the media, long before he came along.

(11) Trump claimed he “ended” the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

He’s lying. Construction proceeded little hindered until it was sabotaged in 2022 after Russia invaded Ukraine (Russia is the prime suspect).

(12) Trump claimed he armed Ukraine while Obama only gave them “bedsheets.”

He’s lying. Trump held military assistance hostage for dirt on Biden; Obama supplied Ukraine with military radars, armored vehicles, tactical drones, night vision equipment, and medical supplies.

(13) Trump claimed Vice President Biden withheld a billion dollars of aid until Ukraine fired a prosecutor who was “after” his son Hunter and the company (Burisma) he worked for.

He’s lying. CNN says, “Biden, as vice president, was carrying out the policy of the US and its allies, not pursuing his own agenda, in threatening to withhold a billion-dollar US loan guarantee if the Ukrainian government did not sack Shokin,” who was fired (at the urging of the U.S. and its European partners) for not investigating Burisma and other corruption cases. Why would you release a billion dollars of aid to a country, if you think corrupt officials will steal if? Trump, by contrast, held military assistance hostage for dirt on Biden.

(14) Trump claimed, “We had the greatest job history of any president ever.” 

Baloney. Based purely on statistics, the net loss of 2.7 million jobs during Trump’s presidency is “the worst … for any president,” which isn’t necessarily his fault, but even if you disregard the pandemic, his pre-pandemic addition of 6.7 million jobs is far less than the 11.5 million jobs in Clinton’s first term; and the pandemic impacted employment only in the last few months of Trump’s presidency.

(15) Trump claimed his tariffs poured billions into the Treasury, while no other president got a dime from China.

He’s lying. The U.S. collected, on average, $12.3 billion a year from tariffs on China during the decade before Trump took office, and most of those and his tariffs were passed on to consumers, meaning they were paid by Americans.

(16) Trump claimed before he was president the U.S. trade deficit was five to seven hundred billion dollars a year.

He’s lying. The trade deficit in goods never exceeded $367 billion in a year before Trump was president, and some of that was offset by a trade surplus in services. That claim is also hypocritical, because the trade deficit in goods hit a new high of $418 billion during his presidency.

(17) Trump claimed, again, he won the 2020 election.

He won’t stop telling this tired lie until he’s no longer breathing.

(18) Trump claimed Democrats are only good at “disinformation” and “cheating on elections.”

Election and voter fraud are “exceedingly rare,” CNN said, and added, “There is just no basis for a broad claim that Democrats are election cheaters.”

(19) Trump claimed he “liberated the ISIS caliphate” in three weeks.  

He’s lying. The ISIS “caliphate” suffered major territorial losses before Trump took office, and liberating the rest took two more years.

(20) Trump claimed the U.S. left behind $85 billion of military equipment “that I bought” in Afghanistan.

He’s lying. The Taliban got some U.S. equipment, but nothing like the amount Trump claims, and he didn’t “buy” most of it. The U.S. provided Afghan forces with $18.6 billion of equipment over a 16-year period (2005 – 2016), of which $7.1 billion was abandoned upon U.S. withdrawal, but not before U.S. troops rendered some of it inoperable.

(21) Trump claimed the Taliban got F-16s in the withdrawal.

He’s lying. The Afghan Air Force never flew F-16s, and none were left in Afghanistan.

(22) Trump claimed he “completed” the border wall.

He’s lying. His administration completed 458 miles of border wall, with 280 miles left to go, according to Border Patrol figures.

(23) Trump claimed before he was president the U.S. couldn’t deport MS-13 gang members because El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras “didn’t want them.”

He’s lying. Only Mexico took back more migrants (because it’s a larger country, and has more migrants). Trump is drastically conflating the fact El Salvador slow-walked a small number of cases.

Bottom line: Trump told so many lies at CPAC that I had to write and post this piece in stages.

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