CNN Fact Checks Donald Trump
Posted: Jul 22, 2016 11:47 AM CDT
(CNN)The Republican Party gathered in Cleveland on Thursday for the fourth night of its convention, and CNN's Reality Check Team put the speakers' statements and assertions to the test.
The team of reporters, researchers and editors across CNN listened throughout the speeches and selected key statements, rating them true; mostly true; true, but misleading; false; or it's complicated.
Reality Check: Trump on police officers killed
By Sonam Vashi, CNN
"The number of police officers killed in the line of duty has risen by almost 50% compared to this point last year," the Republican nominee said.
Even with the recent, tragic shootings of police in Dallas and Baton Rouge, the number of officers killed in the line of duty is actually about the same as this point last year, according to data from the Officer Down Memorial Page. If we look at just police killed by gunfire, 31 officers have been killed this year, compared with 17 killed in the first seven months of 2015. That's an 82% increase.
But using percent-increase stats for such small data sets can be misleading, and 2015 was one of the safest years for police officers in history. Regarding police officers killed by gunfire during the past decade, the annual average of deaths is about 50 per year. If police deaths continued at the current rate this year, we would expect about 56 police shooting deaths in 2016. That number is not too far from the annual average, even though fatal shootings of police are up from last year.
To the families and friends of those slain police officers, the statistics likely do not matter.
We're going to rate Trump's claim about police deaths as true, but misleading, because even though police shooting deaths are up by a significant amount from this time last year, they are not far off from the annual average.
Reality Check: Trump on crime stats
By Sonam Vashi, CNN
Trump also made several statement about crime statistics.
"Homicides last year increased by 17% in America's 50 largest cities," Trump said. "That's the largest increase in 25 years."
That's true. The Washington Post's WonkBlog analyzed crime data for major cities and found that 770 more people, or 17% more, were killed in 2015 than the previous year, the biggest increase since 1990. Thirteen of the 50 cities analyzed had fewer homicides in 2015 than 2014, but homicides increased overall.
An important caveat: The Post also says that the data shows "no single explanation for the increases and reveals no clear pattern among those cities that experienced the most horrific violence." Additionally, 2015's increase in homicides doesn't reverse the decades of decline in murder rates nationally, notes FiveThirtyEight.
Trump then said, "In our nation's capital, killings have risen by 50%. They are up nearly 60% in nearby Baltimore."
According to Washington Post data, the homicide rate in Washington went up by 54% between 2014 and 2015, and Baltimore saw a 59% increase. However, homicides are down this year in DC by 9% over the same time frame, and down in Baltimore by 13%. So, while the numbers were up, they have turned down again resulting in our true, but misleading verdict.
"In the President's hometown of Chicago, more than 2,000 people have been the victims of shootings this year alone," Trump continued. "And almost 4,000 have been killed in the Chicago area since he took office."
The Chicago Tribune keeps track of the city's shooting victims. As of Thursday, 2,224 people have been shot in Chicago. And, since 2009, 3,500 people have been killed in Chicago alone. Trump's claim is true.
Reality Check: Trump on the state of the economy
By Ryan Browne and Tami Luhby, CNN
Trump made a series of claims about the current state of the American economy, focusing particularly on the fortunes of Hispanics and African-Americans.
"Nearly four in 10 African-American children are living in poverty," Trump said.
According to the 2014 US Census, 36% of black youth under 18 were indeed living in poverty.
That's close enough, therefore we rate his claim as true.
Trump also said that "58% of African-American youth are not employed."
The left-leaning Economic Policy Institute last year found that 51.3% of black and 36.1% Hispanic high school graduates, age 17 to 20, were underemployed. That means they either don't have a job, aren't working as many hours as they would like or aren't currently looking for work but would like a job.
The comparable number for whites was 33.8%.
The official unemployment rate for black youth, age 16 to 24, is 14.9%. For Hispanic youth, it's 11.6%, while for white youth, it's 10%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The government data is not limited to high school graduates and has a wider age range.
By comparison, the overall national unemployment rate is 4.9%.
The EPI underemployment number is relatively close to 58%, but Trump said "not employed" as opposed to under employed. The unemployment number is 14.9%, three times the national average, but still not 58%. Therefore, the verdict is false.
And regarding Hispanics, Trump said that "2 million more Latinos are in poverty today than when the President took his oath of office less than eight years ago."
According to the US Census, from 2008-2014, the number of Hispanics living in poverty grew by slightly more than 2 million during that period.
As a result, Trump's claim is true.
Trump also talked about the challenge of Americans leaving the workforce, saying, "Another 14 million people have left the workforce entirely."
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does indeed say that from January 2009 to June 2015, an additional 13,988,000 people left the workforce, so Trump's number of 14 million is correct.
However, Trump seems to imply that the increase is tied to a poor economy, while it is possible that some of the growth is due to economic factors; a significant portion is also due to the aging and large-scale retirement of baby boomers, the large subset of Americans born between 1946 and 1964.
Therefore we rate this verdict true, but misleading.
Reality Check: Timing of Iran nuclear deal
By Jamie Crawford, CNN
Trump seemed to criticize the timing of the international deal over Iran's nuclear program, saying it occurred just after the seizure of 10 U.S. Navy sailors by Iranian forces after their vessels strayed into Iranian waters.
"We all remember the images of our sailors being forced to their knees by their Iranian captors at gunpoint. This was just prior to the signing of the Iran deal, which gave back to Iran $150 billion and gave us absolutely nothing -- it will go down in history as one of the worst deals ever negotiated," Trump said.
The landmark agreement between Iran, the United States and five other governments was reached in Vienna, Austria, on July 14, 2015, after over two years of negotiations over the final contours of the agreement, but it was not until January 12 of this year that 10 US Navy sailors were held for hours in Iran after two small U.S. naval vessels entered Iranian waters.
Trump may be referring to the actual implementation of the nuclear deal on January 16, just four days after the incident with the sailors, when the deal entered into full force following a determination that Iran had completed the necessary steps in a deal to restrict its nuclear program, which allowed for the lifting of international sanctions against Iran to begin.
Although the actual implementation of the deal with Iran occurred four days after the incident with the U.S. sailors, Trump referenced the signing of the deal which occurred the previous July. We rate his comments as false.
Reality Check: Vetting Syrian refugees
By Sonam Vashi, CNN
"My opponent has called for a radical 550% increase in Syrian -- think of this, this is not believable but this is what's happening. A 550% increase in Syrian refugees on top of existing massive refugee flows coming into our country already under the leadership President Obama," he said. "She proposes this despite the fact that there's no way to screen these refugees in order to find out who they are or where they come from."
In September 2015, the White House announced it planned to admit 10,000 Syrian refugees this fiscal year. Shortly after that, Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the US would gradually increase the total number of refugees accepted from any country to 100,000 in 2017 from the current cap of 70,000.
Since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011, fewer than 2,500 Syrian refugees had been admitted to the U.S. as of last year. More than half of those refugees are children, according to senior administration officials.
On CBS News' "Face the Nation" last September, presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton was asked if the current U.S. plan to increase the number of admitted Syrian refugees to 10,000 was enough. She replied, "I would like to see us move from what is a good start with 10,000 to 65,000 and begin immediately to put into place the mechanisms for vetting the people that we would take in."
Clinton's proposed increase in Syrian refugees is a 550% increase of the Obama administration's plan, which also aims to increases the total amount of refugees from all countries admitted to the U.S. So the first half of Trump's claim is true.
Where he goes awry is in the second half, when Trump says there's "no way to screen these refugees."
Several government and law enforcement agencies are engaged in the process of screening refugees.
Refugees that come to the U.S. undergo several screenings, such as biographic checks, in-person interviews, fingerprinting and medical screenings -- all of which involve multiple federal intelligence and security agencies.
Syrian refugees in particular go through additional screening, called the Syria Enhanced Review process, which uses information collected from the UN refugee agency to determine whether an applicant needs to go through a fraud or national security unit. Those units then conduct individualized research on each applicant's story and records. Syrian refugee applications can take much longer to process than the average case processing time of 18 to 24 months. Mark Toner, a deputy State Department spokesman, called the refugee vetting process "the most stringent security process for anyone entering the United States."
The effectiveness of these procedures may be a matter of debate, but to say that there is "no way to screen" refugees is false.
Reality Check: Trump on 'profound relief' for middle class
Eve Bower, CNN
Outlining his tax proposal, Trump said he would cut taxes more than any other candidate. In more specific terms, he said, "Middle-income Americans and businesses will experience profound relief."
The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center analyzed Trump's tax plan in detail. And while they found that middle-income earners would indeed see a cut in their tax bill, the wealthiest Americans would see a far more significant reduction.
According to the analysis, using 2015 dollars, households that earned $45,000 to $80,000 per year make up the middle fifth of American earners. For these families, Trump's tax plan would likely bring down their income taxes by an average $2,700 per year. This is about 4.9% of their after-tax income.
But the top 1% of U.S. households would see an average tax cut more than 100 times that size.
The study found these households would see a reduction of their tax burden of an average of more than $275,000, or 17.5% of their after-tax income.
Because a $2,700 tax cut would be significant for many middle class families, we rate Trump's claim true, but because his speech failed to mention the fact that wealthy Americans would benefit so much more, we also rate his claim misleading.
Reality Check: Trump on undocumented immigrants with criminal records
By Lisa Rose, CNN
Trump returned to a familiar theme in his speech, warning that dangerous criminals from Central and South America have entered the United States illegally and are at large.
"Nearly 180,000 illegal immigrants with criminal records, ordered deported from our country, are tonight roaming free to threaten peaceful citizens," said Trump.
Trump likely got that number from a congressional hearing last December, when Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley said that there were 179,027 undocumented criminals awaiting removal and at large. Although the statistic is more than six months old and we can't confirm exactly how many of those criminals have been deported, we rate Trump's claim as true.
Trump then conflated criminals with families apprehended at the border.
"The number of new illegal immigrant families who have crossed the border so far this year already exceeds the entire total from 2015," Trump said. "They are being released by the tens of thousands into our communities with no regard for the impact on public safety or resources."
According to the Department of Homeland Security, the number of apprehensions of families on the southwest border has spiked in 2016 but there is no indication that the families are being released en masse. Therefore, our verdict on this claim is true, but misleading.
And then the real estate mogul said in conclusion:
"One such border crosser was released and made his way to Nebraska," said Trump. "There, he ended the life of an innocent young girl named Sarah Root."
Trump was referring to a man from Honduras, Eswin Mejia, who killed Root last January in a drunk driving accident. The incident was a tragedy -- Root had graduated from college hours before the wreck with a 4.0 grade point average -- but Trump's description of the undocumented immigrant's background had inaccuracies. Mejia did not recently arrive in America, as Trump suggested -- he has been here since at least 2013. And Mejia did not have a criminal record in Honduras, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. These claims are false.
Reality Check: Vote totals in Democratic primary seasons
By Will Cadigan, CNN
While not all Republicans are standing behind Trump, he said that at least the Republican Party got "60% more votes than it received eight years ago." Meanwhile, according to Trump, "the Democrats, on the other hand, received 20% fewer votes than they got four years ago."
There's only one problem: four years ago, Barack Obama was an incumbent president, and his presence on the ballot was merely a formality. Did the Democrats really get 20% fewer votes this year than in an election where the sitting president didn't face a significant challenge?
The answer is no. In fact, CNN estimates that there was a total of 31,377,481 votes cast in the 2016 Democratic primary season, compared to 8,571,580 in 2012, according to the Federal Election Commission. So, rather than a 20% decrease, that's a whopping 266% increase in total votes.
Perhaps Trump misspoke, and meant to refer to the 2008 Democratic primary, which featured record turnout. In 2008, Democrats received a total of 37,235,154 votes -- or 20% more than in this cycle.
As far as Trump's claim that there were 60% more votes cast in 2016 than 2008? CNN estimates that there was a total of 31,155,487 votes cast in the 2016 Republican primary fight, compared to 20,790,899 votes reported by the FEC in 2008. That's not quite as big a leap as Trump claimed, coming in at a still significant 50%.
We rate his claim about the Democratic vote tallies as false.
Reality Check: Trump on Clinton emails
By Ryan Browne, CNN
Trump returned to a common theme of the convention, slamming Clinton for her use of personal email during her tenure as secretary of state.
"And when a secretary of state illegally stores her emails on a private server, deletes 33,000 of them so the authorities can't see her crime, puts our country at risk, lies about it in every different form and faces no consequence -- I know that corruption has reached a level like never, ever before."
"When the FBI director says that the secretary of state was 'extremely careless' and 'negligent' in handling our classified secrets, I also know that these terms are minor compared to what she actually did," Trump said.
In a press conference earlier this month, FBI Director James Comey did say that Clinton and her staff were "extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information." And appearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Comey said, "I think she was negligent."
Clinton had also maintained that she never sent or received emails that were classified at the time or marked classified, but Comey said that she did receive at least 100 classified emails and that three of them were marked classified.
But did Clinton delete 33,000 emails to conceal her crimes?
Clinton sent more than 30,000 work-related emails using her personal server, handing them over to the State Department only after her use of private email came to light. She also admitted that she and her staff deleted more than 30,000 emails that she said were personal but underwent no official government review. But the FBI said that "several thousand" additional work-related emails were uncovered during their investigation into her server, some of which were deleted.
But Comey also said that although Clinton deleted work email, he added that the FBI "found no evidence that any of the additional work-related emails were intentionally deleted in an effort to conceal them."
Although Clinton did delete more than 30,000 emails, after a forensic examination, the FBI investigation "found no evidence" that the deletions were made to conceal her activity, therefore we rate this claim false.
Reality Check: Trump on NAFTA and China's admission to World Trade Organization
By Tami Luhby, CNNMoney
Trump lashed out at Clinton's support of trade agreements again.
"America has lost nearly one-third of its manufacturing jobs since 1997 following the enactment of disastrous trade deals supported by Bill and Hillary Clinton," Trump said. He went on to specifically cite the North American Free Trade Agreement, which then-President Bill Clinton signed in 1994, and China's entrance into the World Trade Organization in late 2001, for which the former president smoothed the way.
The Republican nominee is exaggerating the figures a bit. The nation has lost 29% of its manufacturing jobs since 1997. The sector, which employed 17.3 million people back then, now has 12.3 million workers.
But that masks the fact that the industry actually expanded its payrolls slightly under the remainder of Bill Clinton's term.
The bleeding really began in the early 2000s and continued through and immediately after the Great Recession.
According to the Economic Policy Institute, which the Trump campaign has cited, "more than 5 million U.S. manufacturing jobs were lost between 1997 and 2014, and most of those job losses were due to growing trade deficits with countries that have negotiated trade and investment deals with the United States."
Still, Corporate America was already shifting jobs to lower-wage countries, and technology already made it more costly for US companies to produce goods here. Also, today's factory jobs require more education and skills, leaving many less-educated Americans on the sidelines.
Trump also said that Hillary Clinton supports the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, which will "destroy" manufacturing. The former secretary of state at one point had said she was "inclined" to support the deal but now opposes it. His comments here are misleading, too, because only Congress has the power to ratify trade agreements.
In fact, manufacturers have been adding jobs since early 2010. Employment is up 7.3% since then. The US Chamber of Chamber of Commerce tweeted a new NAFTA record has been achieved: 5 million jobs have been created and another 14 million US jobs were supported over last two decades as a result of the agreement.
We therefore rate Trump's statement as true, but misleading, because there were many other factors beyond trade that led to the decline in manufacturing employment after 1997.
Reality Check: Trump on Clinton's legacy
By Amy Gallagher, CNN
Trump rattled off a litany of events he claimed would make up "the legacy of Hillary Clinton."
"After 15 years of wars in the Middle East, after trillions of dollars spent and thousands of lives lost, the situation is worse than it has ever been before. This is the legacy of Hillary Clinton: death, destruction, terrorism and weakness."
In essence, the briefest way to check his claim is simply to read this sentence. If there were 15 years of wars in the Middle East and trillions of dollars spent and thousands of lives lost, and even if it can all be laid at the feet of US foreign policy, we are actually talking about the legacy of at least two presidential administrations and four secretaries of state: Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry. At the very least, Trump is overstating Clinton's influence -- she did not become secretary of state until 2009.
As a result, we rate his claim that the state of the Middle East and Libya are Clinton's personal legacy as false.
Reality Check: Women's wages in the labor force
By Julie Block, CNN
Ivanka Trump claimed that women represent 46% of the US labor force and "40% of American households have female primary breadwinners." In 2014, she said, women made 83 cents for every dollar earned by a man, though single women without children earned 94 cents to a man's dollar, while married mothers only made 77 cents. Her point? "Gender is no longer the factor creating the greatest wage discrepancy in this country -- motherhood is."
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that, in 2015, women did indeed make up 46.8% of the total employed persons. Research from the Pew Research Center in 2015 showed that 40% of families with children under the age of 18 at home include "mothers who earn the majority of the family income," up from 11% in 1960 and 34% in 2000. Nearly 63% of these "breadwinner moms" are either unmarried or are not living with their spouses.
The bureau also reported that women's median earnings in 2014 were 83% of those of male full-time wage and salary workers -- in other words, women made 83 cents for every dollar earned by a man, as Trump claimed. According to the bureau's data, the median usual weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers for single women without children in 2014 was 94% of that of single men without children, as Trump claimed. Widows, divorcees, separated people and those who have never been married were included under the umbrella of "single." However, the median usual weekly earnings for full-time wage and salary workers for married women with children in 2014 was nearly 81% of that of married men with children. That would equate to 81 cents to the male dollar -- not 77 cents, as Trump claimed in her speech.
Other than this discrepancy, Trump's numbers appear to be correct. For this reason, CNN found her claims to be mostly true.