Trump’s 10,000 Lies
The President has hit a dubious milestone barely two years into his administration.
The Washington Post has been cataloging President Donald Trump’s prevarications, untruths, fibs, and other assorted misstatements since he took office. This past Friday, he hit a new milestone.
But on April 26, just 226 days later, the president crossed the 10,000 mark — an average of nearly 23 claims a day in this seven-month period, which included the many rallies he held before the midterm elections, the partial government shutdown over his promised border wall and the release of the special counsel’s report on Russian interference in the presidential election.
This milestone appeared unlikely when The Fact Checker first started this project during his first 100 days. In the first 100 days, Trump averaged less than five claims a day, which would have added up to about 7,000 claims in a four-year presidential term. But the tsunami of untruths just keeps looming larger and larger.
As of April 27, including the president’s rally in Green Bay, Wis., the tally in our database stands at 10,111 claims in 828 days.—Glenn Kessler, Salvador Rizzo, and Meg Kelly, “President Trump has made more than 10,000 false or misleading claims“
The number is staggering. But, of course, we should always challenge spectacular claims. After all, having started such a list, the motivation is high to code every statement possible as “misleading” in order to add to the total.
In recent days, the president demonstrated why he so quickly has piled up the claims. There was a 45-minute telephone interview with Sean Hannity of Fox News on April 25: 45 claims. There was an eight-minute gaggle with reporters the morning of April 26: eight claims. There was a speech to the National Rifle Association: 24 claims. There was 19-minute interview with radio host Mark Levin: 17 claims. And, finally, there was the campaign rally on April 27: 61 claims.
The president’s constant Twitter barrage also adds to his totals. All told, the president racked up 171 false or misleading claims in just three days, April 25-27. That’s more than he made in any single month in the first five months of his presidency.
Again, though, Trump supporters are unlikely to click through these links and weigh each of the charges.
About one-fifth of the president’s claims are about immigration issues, a percentage that has grown since the government shutdown over funding for his promised border wall. In fact, his most repeated claim — 160 times — is that his border wall is being built. Congress balked at funding the concrete wall he envisioned, and so he has tried to pitch bollard fencing and repairs of existing barriers as “a wall.”
Trump’s penchant for repeating false claims is demonstrated by the fact that The Fact Checker database has recorded nearly 300 instances when the president has repeated a variation of the same claim at least three times. He also now has earned 21 “Bottomless Pinocchios,” claims that have earned Three or Four Pinocchios and which have been repeated at least 20 times.
Aha. So, we don’t have 10,000-plus separate lies but 10,000-plus instances where something deemed “misleading” has been uttered or Tweeted, with unlimited counting of duplicates. Indeed, there are 21 claims that account for at least 420 of the total and another 300 that account for at least 900. I’m not sure that’s the best methodology. (This is the same mentality that had President Obama’s constant repetition of the “If you like your health care, you can keep it” mantra as the Lie of the Year for 2013. Personally, the size of the lie matters more to me than the number.)
Still, quantity has a quality all its own. And Trump’s sheer disregard for veracity is breath-taking:
Trump’s campaign rallies continue to be a rich source of misstatements and falsehoods, accounting for about 22 percent of the total. The rally in Green Bay on April 27 was little different, with claims that covered a range of issues:
— He exaggerated the size of trade deficits with Japan, China and the European Union and falsely claimed the United States loses money from such deficits.
— He said he had “nothing to hide” from the Russia investigation but refused to testify under oath.
— He continued his practice of inflating the jobs created under his administration by starting the count from the election, not his inauguration.
— He launched a series of exaggerated or false attacks on Democrats, including claiming the Green New Deal will require every building in Manhattan be replaced (no) and saying Democrats support the killing of healthy babies that have been born (no).
— He overstated the possible impact of the new trade agreement with Canada and Mexico in myriad ways and trashed the North American Free Trade Agreement, even though the differences are modest.
— He took credit for funding a program — the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative — his administration tried to eliminate.
— He made a series of false claims about immigration, such as “open borders bring tremendous crime” (there is no documented link between illegal immigration and crime).
— He claimed he passed the biggest tax cut in history (no) and he said he had cut the estate tax to “zero” (no).
— He said he was one vote away from repealing Obamacare (no).
— He falsely said the United States paid for “almost 100 percent” of NATO (no), that Saudi Arabia inked $450 billion in deals with the Trump administration (no) and even that the United States subsidizes the Saudi military (U.S. aid amounts to $10,000 a year).
— He even claimed that he insisted the new embassy in Jerusalem be made of Jerusalem stone even though ever since the British mandate in then-Palestine, municipal laws have required that all buildings must be faced with this local form of limestone that has a warm, golden hue.
That Trump is a serial liar with no regard for the truth is rather self-evident. That “all politicians lie” is both true and beside the point: Trump isn’t just in a different weight class, he’s playing a different sport.
Still, many of the above-listed “lies” are problematic.
- It’s theoretically possible to have “nothing to hide” and refuse to testify. Now, I think he’s got plenty to hide. But the mere listing of the dichotomy doesn’t make it so.
- If your argument is that businesses gained the confidence to spend upon the news that Donald Trump was going to be President rather than Hillary Clinton, it’s not dishonest to start from Election Day rather than Inauguration Day. (Again, I think it’s a BS argument. But it’s not a “lie.”)
- Taking credit for funding a program his administration tried to eliminate is an example of extreme chutzpah. It is not, however, a lie. After all, his signature was required to fund it.
- He might indeed have “insisted” that the Jerusalem embassy be built of Jerusalem stone. That it would have been built out of it regardless doesn’t make it a lie.
Most of the remaining examples, though, are either clearly lies or, perhaps just as damning, a sheer disregard for facts.
For example, I think it’s entirely that he sincerely believes “open borders bring tremendous crime.” If that’s the case, it’s not a lie when he says it. That’s there’s no evidence for it, however, is something the President of the United States should surely have had pointed out to him many, many times by now. But he doesn’t seem to be a guy who cares much about pesky things like facts.